Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Upgrading our Autopilot

Upgrading our Raymarine Wheel Pilot to a Raymarine Evolution EV-100 Auto pilot.

Our Autopilot has Alzheimer's - keeps losing it's memory and not sure where it's going. Time to upgrade.

After lots of research, despite wanting to have a Garmin Autopilot to match the rest of our Garmin Electronics, they just don't have one that is suitable for our size boat that would fit within our electrical power budget. So the Raymarine Evolution EV-100 it is.

The model I selected is the EV-100 Sail Wheel Pilot. From everything I have read on the subject, it's best to have a RPS (Rudder Position Sensor) attached (link here). Also, the Evolution system should be able to use the data and some commands from our NEMA 2000 network and Garmin 741xs Chartplotter.

Here's our current Helm Electronics setup. The Garmin GMI instrument on the Starboard Side of the 'Navigation Electronics Shelf' is mounted in a DIY holder. It's made from a piece of PVC piping and a piece of Starboard material.

The new Raymarine kit includes a p70s Pilot Controller. I specifically chose the p70s rather than the p70. The format of the p70s is more closely aligned to the Garmin GMI instrument, so if I match the housing of the GMI and mount the p70s where the existing Garmin Echo Depth instrument display is (on the port side of the Navigation Electronics Shelf' ) it will add a degree of order to the shelf. 

We'll have to figure out where to mount the Garmin Echo, probably below the shelf.

The new Autopilot has similar modules to the old system just a more updated / improved feature set.

Just a quick note here. The manuals suck! They don't even clearly identify all of the components of the system because they include the components of several other systems. It takes a lot of reading to figure out which parts of the manual are applicable to the system I purchased.

The Evolution system has:

  • ACU 100 (The Brain)
  • p70s Controller
  • EV-100 Attitude Heading Reference Sensor
  • Evolution Wheel Drive
Optional equipment:
  • RPS - Rudder Position Sensor.
The Kit includes a SeaTalkng Backbone, 2 SeaTalkng T Connectors, 2 End terminators and cables for each of the devices.

Not included are the SeaTalkng to Device net Male connector (connects NEMA 2000 to SeaTalkng) Note: That cable has to connect to a NEMA 2000 T Connector which requires a NEMA 2000 Male Connector. The cable is available in both Male and Female versions.

 I did need to order a few things to go with the kit. The RPS as mentioned, the SeaTalkng to Device Net cable, a spare NEMA 2000 T connector and a 3m SeaTalkng to SeaTalkng cable to connect from the SeaTalkng backbone to the p70s instrument.  Those should all arrive by August 6th. But as Covid is having another surge, it may impede delivery so I'm expecting they will arrive mid August. Fingers are crossed.

Location of the system parts is the first step in Installation. The Raymarine manuals repeat that the p70s should not be adjacent to the Compass and other magnetic equipment. However, every installation that I've seen on YouTube has shown the instrument being installed almost as close to the compass as it could be. At least our location of that instrument should be slightly further from the Compass.

The old Autopilot ACU is located on the Aft bulkhead of the Aft Berth just to port of the Helm wheel cables. The new ACU could be there.

The SeaTalkng Backbone could be close to the ACU but I would prefer that it was not on display and subject to being accidently knocked.

The EV-1 Sensor location is a little more problematic. Away from the engine, magnetic devices or large chunks of metal (like the spare anchor in the Lazarette) or Electrical wiring runs. We've decided that the best option is to go down to the boat and determine where to place it. The existing 'Magnetic Fluxgate Compass' unit is mounted outside of the Aft Berth access door but the new EV-1 will not fit in that location. We'll figure it out.

Lastly, the Wheel Drive is a direct replacement for our existing Wheel Drive, we're only changing it for the new one because I'm sure that Raymarine has made some improvements in the design, mechanical as it is. The new Wheel Drive also has the new Drive Motor - and though I could change the motor out to the old wheel drive, might as well just go ahead and use the new one. I'll keep the old unit until it's considered 'Hording' and then give it to the sailing club's flea market.

The new system does seem to need two power supply points, one to the SeaTalkng backbone and the other to the ACU. I'm contacting Raymarine to confirm that, shouldn't be a problem as we already have a dedicated Auto Pilot Circuit Breaker on the main Electrical Control Panel.

Ok, that describes the system, components and the plan to locate them.

From my previous experience working on Autopilots, the wiring has been an issue, particularly when the wiring was not via a Plug and Socket, such as the Power Supply, motor connection and the SeaTalkng connection to the ACU. The wires are typically far to small to fit properly inside of a screwed connection. 

This Ferrule Crimping Kit should take care of that issue. 
Oh! it has 2000 Ferrules! that should suffice for, well, ForEver!

It was only $30 on Amazon.

There's quite a few projects lining up for Eximius, as the last few bits for this one don't arrive till mid August, it's dropping down the priority list (see the To Do List - Projects tab at the top of this page)

Friday, July 23, 2021

Installing New Winches on Catalina 34 Pt.2

Installing New Winches on Catalina 34 Pt.2

Had an idea. Would fender washers cover up the underside of the old bolt hole on the underside of the cabin roof when I drill the new holes for the new winches?

The existing bolts are secured with 1" washers, spring washers, hex nut and hex acorn nuts. If I replace the 1" washer with a 1 1/2" washers they will probably cover up the old holes adjacent to the new holes.

That simplifies things as matching the finish on the underside of the cabin roof is nearly impossible.

Found washers on Amazon, $24 for 10, found them at the local Broward Bolt for just $4.50+tax. $4.82 such a deal.

They didn't have the new bolts in 316 Stainless, looking elsewhere for those, probably available at ACE Hardware.

Also needs some Epoxy Resin and Hardner.

The old bolts were bent, I'm guessing that was due to poorly drilled holes (not straight / vertical) and I don't have a portable drill guide, so I purchased one of these on Amazon. $8. 

Purchased 10 Stainless Steel 1/4 #20 Bolts from Broward Bolt.
Each bolt will have to be cut to length as all 5 are different lengths.

The original bolts were all bent, not sure why, but it could be that the underside of the cabin roof is not parallel to the winch base plinth.

When I drill the new holes they will be 5/16" to give a bit of wiggle room.

Now, the underside of the cabin roof where the bolt holes exit is not horizontal, but not wildly out of alignment. The new washers have 5/16" holes which should allow enough slack for them to align with the surface.

Purchased 3" x 1/4 #20 Flat Head Bolts to replace all of the winch mounting boxes and a Tube of 2 part Epoxy.

The hole drilling process will be:
  • Mark the new holes
  • Drill through using the guide
  • Route out the plywood core around all of the holes, new and old.
  • Mask off the underside of all holes
  • Mix Resin and fill the holes, let it cure
  • Re-drill the new holes
  • Countersink the top edge of the new holes and apply butyl tape around the holes
  • Apply Butyl tape around the screw heads and the base of the new winch.
  • Push the bolts through, secure with the washers, spring washers, hex nuts and tighten all down.
  • Cut the bolts down to length with my Dremel and secure the hex nuts with the Acorn nuts.

Ok, that's the plan.
I'll take pics and update this post. Should get this done this next week.

Saturday August 7th. 2021

It took a few extra trips to the boat. That's because I screwed up (pun intended) when I purchased the new Screws - I should have purchased 3 1/2" Long Screws Grrrr. Worse because the 3" fit the short holes and I mistakenly thought I had cut the remaining screws too short. I hadn't. 

Other than that screw up, I followed the process with only a slight change.  I drilled out the existing holes and the new ones with a 1/2" drill bit. Filled them with Resin, let it set for 24 hours and then redrilled 1/4". Finally I drilled 9/32" to allow the bolts to align a little when the nuts are installed. That worked well.

I figured the the original bolts bent during tightening (over tightening?) as the underside of the cabin top is not parallel to the Winch bases. 

The good news is that the new Fender Washers cover the old holes on the underside of the cabin top very neatly.

Here's some pics of the process.

Old Port Side Winch removed. Base ready to be cleaned up.

The goop looks like old grease from maintainence.

Oh, the Filter holders in the background are just drying in the Sun, it's part of our keep the fresh water system clean. We remove the Fresh Water filters whenever the boat is not going to be used for a few weeks, it's not likely that we'll take it out until around August 16th. A few projects remain before then.

Using a Drill guide to make sure the new holes being drilled into the cured resin are vertical to the Winch Base.

Holes were drilled with 1/8" pilot holes, then 1/4" thru to the cabin and finally 1/2" to just above the cabin liner.
Those holes were then filled with Resin and left to cure for 24 hours. I did use a Single sided razor to clean off the excess resin.

New holes drilled ready to be countersunk.

Starboard Winch fully installed. 
The Lewmar winches are really easy to service, no tools required, but a very small screwdriver to help ease out the brass position lock segments. 

Next service is due in January 2022.

Really this is an easy project. Important points are that the bolts need to be 3 1/2" #20 1/4" Flat Head Phillips head screws. The washers were 1 1/2" 316 Stainless steel.  

I used a 4 1/2" Cut off wheel in a shore powered grinding tool to cut the excess lengths of the through bolts. Trick - wind a nut onto the screws before cutting, it's easy to use the nut to clean up the end of the screw from the grinding/cut off operation.

Any question about this upgrade? Just make a comment.

See you on the water.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Replacing the Fixed Port Windows

Replacing the Fixed Port Windows on our Catalina 34

The fixed port windows on both sides of the boat are most certainly original, so now 34 years old and are showing it.

The C34 forum has some great advice on the project to replace them.

The Port side aft window has an opening port for the bathroom and the Stbd aft window is actually split into two pieces but installed touching each other. In both cases, the new windows will be single piece and exclude the bathroom window opening. 


3M VHB 1" Tape - Amazon

Dow Corning 795 Black Silicone Sealant - Grainger Industries

40 Grit Sand Paper


1/4" Acrylic 4 pieces
Prospect Plexiglas Plastics https://goo.gl/maps/XZKJo1M8mxR9rmAz6
836 NE 44th St, Oakland Park, FL 33334 
    • Port Side Forward 39x9 appx
    • Port Side Aft 40x9 appx
    • Stbd Side Forward 39x9 appx
    • Stbd Side Aft 40x9 appx
Image showing Catalina 30 Window Install

The pic above shows the way that the windows are installed on another Catalina model. The concept is the same. However, my install will follow the concept shown by Andy of Boatworks Today (Here's a link to his video online)

Plan is to do this job with a fellow Catalina 34 owner that keeps his boat about 1/4 mile from where we keep ours.

  • Make cardboard template of each window (that's 8 templates for 2 boats)
  • Get replacement windows made at the Plastics company
  • Prepare new windows
    • Trim 1" of protective cover from inside of windows
    • Wipe rims with alcohol
    • Fix (glue) temporary handle to outside of window for placement control
  • Remove the old windows (have waterproof covering handy in case of rain)
  • Clean window recess 
  • Paint inside edge with black or white paint
  • Paint fiberglass segment between galley window and aft cabin window (new window will be one piece)
  • Apply 3M VHB tape to outside edge of window sunken area
  • Trim tape to have round edges and very close joins
  • Plant window into opening on outside using the temporary handle.
  • Press from outside all the way around the window edges.
  • Mask off the fiberglass around the window to minimize silicone spread
  • Open Dow Corning silicone crimp end with pair of snipe nose pliers
  • Apply silicone around window and fair with wet finger
  • Peel off masking tape on outside
  • Peel off protective tape on outside
  • Peel off protective tape on inside
So, that's the plan.

I'll update this post as we make progress.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Boat Projects - keeping track of them

Keeping Track of Boat Projects.

When we get to take the boat out, even though we have owned her for six years, we still have additions to the list of 'things to do' and keeping track of those 'projects' is a challenge.


  • Google's Keep Notes 
  • Google Sheets
  • Blog Entry - updated as projects get done.
  • Log book entries ( our log book is online and just not used enough!)
  • Note book - the paper type
  • Rocket Book - the jury is not out on these.
  • Remarkable II - digital note book - I really like this idea.
I use Google workspace for just about all of my documentation. I keep our equipment manuals in our google drive, drawings, spreadsheets, notes, etc. all on Google Drive. I find it very appealing, easy to use and very accessible. I regularly download all of the drive contents to an external HDD so that I can get access to the material if we're out of cellphone range. Of course, there is also the big plus that if I link to a drive item then it's always updated when I make a change. So Google workspace gets really high marks.

So now it comes down to just the workspace options. 

Our Service history is already stored as a spreadsheet in google drive, the link to it in the Tabs at the top of this blog displays that spreadsheet. So maybe a 'Things to Do' spreadsheet would work.

How complex should the list be?
Here's my first pass

Monday, July 5, 2021

Dealing with Poop

Dealing with the Poop on the boat.

The Head on our boat works very well, we service the pump regularly and care for the Holding Tank after every pumpout.

We have a Holding Tank Sensor to let us know the level of the Poop, however it has never worked properly. A couple of months ago, I installed a clear (see thru) access panel in the top of the tank so that we could see the glorious contents. The word 'Sweet' comes to mind.

After a 3mile off shore pump out a few weeks ago, I could see, through the access panel, that there was a build up near the outlet for the macerator that restricted the flow to the pump. So I planned to flush the tank out, not a pleasant prospect, but you gotta to what you gotta do! In this case it involved #2 do do.

Part of our Poop Protocol is to pump out the tank often and to not put anything into the toilet that we did not eat or drink - no loo paper. Instead, we have a supply of brown paper baggies. All loo paper is put in a baggie.

So this weekend we flushed out the tank. Basically I arranged for a pump out at the dock we were visiting, and during the pump out I flushed the tank with a pressurized hose nozzle. The dock hand was very accomodating and extended the pump out process while I repeatedly flushed the inside walls and bottom of the holding tank.

The good news! Not only did we remove some of the longer term residents of the holding tank, but now the Tank Level Sensor works - for the 1st time!!

See you on the water.

Installing New Winches on Catalina 34 Pt.1

 Replacing the Cabin Top Winches on our Catalina 34

We have two winches mounted on the cabin top beneath the dodger. The port side winch is used to adjust the Jib Halyard, Topping Lift and if required, the 1st and 2nd Reef Downhaul lines. The starboard side winch is used for the Main halyard, Mainsheet and if required, the 1st and 2nd Reef Outhaul lines.

Both are Lewmar 30 winches but only the Stbd winch is self tailing, so the port winch has to be changed out. West Marine had a BOGO offer a few months ago so I purchased two new Lewmar 30 Winches.

I'll be posting the old winches on Craigs List, someone will get a bargain.

Inspecting the mounting of both winches indicated that the Port Winch should be an easy change out as the bolt pattern on the inside of the cabin roof, inside of the Head compartment, match those of the new winch. However, the Stbd winch bolt pattern show that the bolts are not perpendicular and so the bolts do not form a regular pattern where they protrude through the cabin roof in the Aft Berth.

The change out of the port side winch should be really easy. Just dismantle the old winch and remove the nuts from beneath the cabin roof, then lever up the winch. Clean the area, apply Butyl tape to waterproof the holes. The new winch will need to be dismantled, easily done, no tools required, then mount the new winch, tighten up the nuts and rebuild the dismantled winch - all done.

The starboard winch is a little more complex. Initially the same process. Dismantle the winch, remove the nuts from the underside of the cabin roof, lever up the winch and clean up the area. 

Now the tricky bit. This winch takes the load of the Main Halyard! No weakness tolerated, so I have to fix the holes in the cabin roof rather than just use the old, misaligned holes.

The process is to clear out the area where the holes are misaligned, fill them with epoxy and filler, let it cure, then redrill the correct size holes. I asked the guys on the C34 forum and they suggested that the process described is good, but when I remove the old starboard winch I may find that all is well. 

Update July 3rd 2021

Well, that didn't go as planned! 

It turns out that the bolt hole pattern in the new winches are not the same as the old. At best only 3 of the 5 holes can be aligned. So that means I have to fill the existing holes, drill new ones before fitting the new winches.

The pic shows the underside of the old port side winch, it looks cruddy, but it's actually in pretty good shape.

Not only do the new winch bolt holes not align with the old but the old holes were badly drilled as can be recognized by the 5 bent bolts that held the winch down to the cabin top.

A secondary problem is that the existing bolt ends are visible i the Head on the underside of the cabin top.

I really don't want to have the old and new holes visible, it will be ugly. So my plan it to place a plate (Stainless Steel, Wood or Starboard) such that it covers the holes. That way the new bolt holes will extend through the Winch, cabin Top and the plate, which should result in a nice clean finish.

Of course, I don't have any epoxy resin to fill the holes, back to the store!

Fixing Mainsail Crease

Fixing our Mainsail Crease

You have to look carefully, but there is a diagonal Crease in our mainsail extending from just above the 2nd Reef Cringle down to the Clew of the mainsail.

This photo was taken as we crossed the start line of the Palm Beach Regatta Coastal Race in June 2021.
We're not racers! But a great opportunity to sail with a bunch of other boats is tough to turn down. We did well, beating our nearest competitor by 14 minutes over a 30 nm race. However, that crease really spoilt our sail shape. From all of the sail trim studies we have made over the past year (thanks Covid) we know that the sail should be smooth in order to allow laminar flow of the wind over both sides of the sail. The diagonal creases caused about a 2" ruffle in the surface of the sail.

I discussed the issue with a good friend with a lot of sailing experience. He suggested that I slack off every line on every sail trim system. That includes: Main Halyard, Lazy Jacks, Vang, Main Sheet, Reefing lines (4 lines - Reef #1 Downhaul & Outhaul, Reef #2 Downhaul and Outhaul) and the Clew Outhaul and finally the topping lift.

So that's what I did and the diagonal crease remained! I was getting worried that we had stretched the sail sometime over the past 5 years since they were new, that's a $3,000 error! Grrrr!

With everything slackened off, I shook the boom to see if there was anything still causing the creases.

Found it!!!

Our Mainsail was designed as a Loose Footed Main. The only point of restraint at the boom is at the Tack (front lower corner of the sail) and the Clew (aft lower corner of the sail). However, if the clew outhaul ever broke, the main would slap itself to death or at the least a very expensive repair. In order to protect the sail, the sailmaker installed a strap that went around the boom and through the outhaul (clew) cringle. The problem was that that strap was preventing the clew from moving when the outhaul was released !!! 

The strap is a piece of 1" webbing about 3' long with velcro sewn on both sides of the strap, so when it's wrapped around the boom, the velcro adheres the surfaces together. But the strap prevented the clew moving!

What's the purpose of moving the clew?

Good question.

The outhaul pulls the clew (aft lower corner of the sail) towards the end of the boom (the end furthest from the mast). As the clew is tensioned with the outhaul, the bottom of the sail is flattened. This reduces the depth of the sail and improves higher wind performance while reducing heeling. In light air, the outhaul is eased to increase the power in light winds or in choppy seas (that power is more consistent as the boat rises and falls and so helps push the boat through the waves.)

And, the whole reason for this. By allowing the clew to actually move for and aft, it eliminated the crease in the sail. This should result in smoother, laminar flow of the wind over the sail and that means better sailing! 

So, Thanks Ira! Your advice helped solve the problem.

See you out on the water.

Oh! what do I do about the safety strap? I'm making a new one that will have more slack and thus will allow the clew to move.

Old style 'spindle' sheaves
broken and worn.
And! While doing this I found the the Sheaves on each end of the boom that allow the outhaul to be trimmed or eased were failing. They were also simple spindle sheaves. I replaced them with Ball Bearing Sheaves. Now the outhaul is easy to adjust and the clew actually moves. Here's looking forward to seeing you on the water, and hopefully it will be as we head off towards the horizon.