Sunday, September 17, 2023

Broken boat bits

 Broke but didn't know my boat was in trouble.

We went down to the boat to clean up after a 100mile trip over the labor day weekend. Clean up included picking up the couple of things we left on the boat after the return to the dock on Tuesday, Scrubbing down the deck and resetting the Mainsail cradle cover. 

Resetting the cradle cover simply because the sail had flaked onto just the port side of the boom when we last lowered the sail. In order to sort that out, we had to raise the mainsail, it seemed it required a lot more effort, I thought that was due to the two reefing lines jamming on the boom. 

Nope! That's the first bit to break - the block at the base of the mast had broken! 
This was the new block I installed just a few years ago.

It was being used to turn the Main Halyard and the Main sheet at the base of the mast to the turning blocks on the cabin top and then to the cockpit under the Traveler & dodger.

This is how it looked when I realized the side of the block was broken. The broken piece was sitting on the deck beneath the Dingy.

Now this breakage is not a fault in production or design.

The problem was that when I installed it, I did not review how the lines lay when under full tension! 

With the Main halyard under tension, and the mainsheet tight, the block was turned at an angle that had the Main Halyard rubbing on the cheek of the block, and when at full tension ( Main hauled to the masthead ) the composite side of the block just couldn't take it and the line shredded itself on the broken edge.

Result: Replace the blocks and the  Main Halyard.
I was able to buy new 7/16" New Halyard at Sailorman in Fort Lauderdale and a pair of Seldon blocks from Nance & Underwood in Fort Lauderdale - they were about $55 each.

Back at the boat, I simply sewed the end of the new line to the end of the old main halyard and then pulled the line from out the top of the masthead and thus pulled the new line up inside the mast and back down to the deck. Removed the old line, heat treated the ends of the new line and threaded the new line through the new block, turning block and then through the line clutches on the cabin top under the dodger. It only took about 90 mins - that was because I played around with the direction that the lines went from the turning block to the new blocks so that there was no rubbing on the block sides even when the Halyard was under full tension.
Lastly, I used the excess 7/16" halyard line to replace the worn out Vang line and ran that back to the cockpit too. Now I  should install a new cam cleat under the dodger on the cabin top so that I can remove the cam cleat that is part of the lower vang line block - that way it will be easier to adjust the vang from the cockpit.

Ok, first broken bit fixed.

Next fix was not because something broke - My favorite HISC hat took a swim when we were heading down the ICW last weekend! Normally I would simply have pulled a U-turn and recovered the hat, but it was probably the busiest day of the year on the ICW - Labor Day! and just too much boat traffic to risk that maneuver for a hat - I was due a new one anyway. Luckily, our sailing club had a general meeting this past Thursday and I was able to buy two new hats - you know, one for spare!

The only other thing that needed fixing was getting our Propane tank filled - we'll go to the boat in the morning and pull that out for a refill at the local store.

Our trip up the ICW from Port Everglades to Lake Worth and back was an awesome Labor Day cruise for our sailing club and if the only issue was a broken block then I'll take that.

See you on the water.


Saturday, July 29, 2023

Soft Start Install on Dometic ECD 10K Air Conditioner

 We added a Soft Start to our Dometic AC System on board our Catalina 34 Sailboat

We have had our Dometic ECD 10K AC unit since 2016 and we would power it at Anchor with our Honda eu2000i Generator, they worked well together.

Then I upgraded the electrical system on our boat to a Victron System which is really clever, even too clever!  When we run the generator and turn on the AC, the Victron would detect that the generator output was insufficient during the AC Startup and it would then start powering the AC from our LiFePo4 Batteries. That's great, until the battery power is too low and then we're without DC power. But we could run the Multiplus in Charge only mode and recharge the batteries, but that process is a pain.

Researching pro electrician 'Google', it seemed that a Soft Start would solve the issue.

I contacted Dometic and they confirmed that a soft start would help but when I contacted a local dealer, I found that the recommended Soft Start device would cost $700 !!!!! Wow!  Searching the web, I found several vendors that sold similar devices at over $300 but then I found SpartanStart for $180, a significant difference from the local dealer $700 for the Dometic device. I called Spartan and they recommended the SpartanStart - Softstart and advised that if I had any issues with the install I could call them and they would walk me through the process.

Installation was easy! The AC unit is beneath our V-Berth, so we removed all of the bedding, mattress and locker covers from the V-Berth

Step 1: Connect Shore Power and turn on the AC - Just to make sure it's working normally.

Step 2: Disconnect Shore power

Step 3:  Remove the Cap on the top of the compressor that covers the electrical wiring that connects the electronics box to the AC unit. There's a single screw that also secures the Ground terminal to the Compressor. 
Underneath that cap are the connectors to the compressor, there's 3. Run, Start and Common. Colors are as shown in the pic below.
Now that I knew which color was what, I replaced the cap.

Step 4: The individual wires are inside a plastic, split, conduit. I separated the conduit about midway from the top of the Compressor and the Electronics unit, and pulled the three wires needed out of the conduit.

Step 5: I cut the wires one at a time and crimped them to the correct wire as shown in the diagram above.  That's 6 crimps. 

Step 6: Time to test;
First I reconnected shore power and turned on the AC unit, after it's typical delay it turned on and started to pump out cold air.  Looking good so far.

Next I disconnected shore power and connected it to our Honda eu2000i generator and switched it to, what I call is 'Turtle' mode - it's a power saving option. The generator runs at minimum power and adjusts the power on demand.  Time to test the AC on the Generator. 

Turning on the AC system, it had it's usual delay, not noticeably different from when the AC starts up on Shore power.  The AC ran and the generator barely changed it's output.

The AC unit pulls about 900Watts when running.

At this point, the AC was running and the Victron system was showing that all power was coming from the Generator ( shore power ) and that no power was coming from the Battery.

We left the AC running and tested it running on the inverter powered by the batteries. I simply switched off the master shore power switch. The AC didn't even blink, it continued running but now pulling the 900Watts from the Battery ( 12.8v x 100a *3 = 3840 Watts ) 
With the AC running off the batteries, I turned the master shore power switch back on and after the normal delay the Victron Multiplus turned on and started powering the AC system, there was plenty of  power available from the generator, so the Victron Multiplus started to recharge the batteries.

With everything working correctly, time for a bit of wire management, and a few zip ties pulled it all together.

This was a major step towards our cruising plans. With the current heatwave that is being experienced all over the East coast of the USA, we believe we'll need the ability to run the AC from the Honda Generator.

See  you on the water and if we're running our generator at Anchor, then it'll probably be for the AC unit and it will probably be running in turtle mode.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Fuel Gauge Failure

 Our Fuel Gauge Failed 

On the last couple of trips, our Fuel Gauge became erratic. I would drop from showing 3/4 full to Empty or some other significant change in reading. I would normally put that down to a bad wiring connection however, I rebuilt the entire engine control panel in 2016 and I know I did a really good job ensuring all of the connections were solid. ( Crimped ! ) But still worth checking out the wiring.

The engine instruments are all on a common power supply and a common earth and the wires are connected to the instruments via ring terminals and nut and bolt attachments. All were secure. The other earth on the fuel gauge system is at the fuel tank itself, but that was solid too and using a Multimeter the resistance was less than 1Ω.

Next suspect was the Sender.

It's a pretty simple unit. The float opens/closes a series of reed switches as it moves up or down the shaft of the sender.

That changes the resistance of the sender and the gauge displays the fuel level dependent upon the resistance.

The tank is located on the Port side aft, Access is by removing the plywood bulkhead on the port side of the Aft Berth. 
I removed the sender from the tank and we tested it by moving the float up and down, ah ha! it would intermittently operate correctly, so I have to consider that one or more of the read switches is faulty.

Disconnecting the sender from the system and testing with a multimeter confirmed it was the sender.

I had ordered a replacement Sender and Gauge so that I was prepared if it turned out to be either of them.

The new sender did not work with the old gauge but the new gauge was the same size so it was a reasonably easy swap out.

The Gauge is not just a simple voltage meter!
When the power is applied, the gauge lights up to the selected background color choice then the needle moves from E to F, back to E and then it moves to indicate the current fuel level. It does this very smoothly. I found this a really nice feature, the needle moving in that way indicates that the system is working.

Once the system was wired in, all that remained was to replace the engine control panel, sealing the edges with Butyl tape - that makes it easy to remove if needed. Then secure the wiring at the tank end and replace the wooden bulkhead.

Most of the time taken was in testing the various components and wiring.

Kit details: 100TECH Boat Fuel Sending Unit with Gauge 11"(280mm) 
SUS316 Stainless Steel Marine Fuel Level Sender Sensor 240-33ohm

I opted for the 11" sender rather than the 12" that would still fit, if the gauge reads empty, then we have at least 1.5" of fuel in the tank. Consider it a reserve.

I purchased the kit from Amazon $69.

The only near hiccup was that the float on the new sender is slightly wider ( Dia. ) than the old unit but it fit snuggly. The kit included a new gasket, screws and butt connectors.

Just an FYI, we never fill the tank to Full - I really do not want to risk fuel overflow so when the gauge reads over 3/4 full we stop filling! We always carry at least 2 x 6 gallon fuel cans. So our normal capacity is 23 gallons in the tank plus up to 24 gallons in cans on deck. That gives us about 45 gallons and at 1 gallon per hour, we're good for 45 hours of motoring. 

One last thing: When we are motoring, we have a routine of 'checking the heartbeat'. About every 15 minutes, we'll check the engine status:- Look over the stern to ensure water is pumping out the exhaust, Check the engine Temperature and Fuel level.  If I'm in the cabin and Peggy at the helm, all I need do is tap my wrist with two fingers and Pegs gets the message then checks the Heartbeat.  

See you on the water.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Solar Panel Wiring & Mounts

Managing the Solar Panel Wiring

Currently, the Solar Panels on Eximius have their power wires secured with zip ties down the Bimini Support Stainless Steel tubing. The same type of zip ties are used to secure the wires that run up the Pedestal Support tubes to the electronics at the helm: Chartplotter, Depth Display unit, Auto Pilot control and display as well as the general data display and finally the VHF Remote Microphone.

Those Zip Ties have to be replaced at least once a year due to them breaking down as a result of UV damage.  

While aboard a friends boat this past weekend, I noticed that his wiring is secured using much larger zip ties. The Brand is TR Ultra Heavy Duty Multi-purpose cable ties -- UV resistant,  Black

They are 11.8" long and .49" wide, 0.067in thick.

The pic shows the typical thin zip tie that I get from Harbor Freight and the TR Zip tie. Literally a Huge difference.

The Pack of 50 is sold on Amazon $20, here's the link there are other sizes ( various lengths. ) 

When I install the new solar panels in the next week or two ( awaiting delivery ) I plan on running the wires down the Radar Support Post instead of the Bimini frame.

I see several benefits to using these larger width zip ties.
      1. UV Resistant - We live in South Florida - Enough said
      2. Larger Width - The extra width expands the area of wire reducing point loading.
      3. Appearance - they look so much better than their thin counterparts.

Moving nearer to installing the new Solar Panels !!

I have decided on the rail mounts. Recently, I assisted in the install of 1200 Watts of solar panels on a Trawler, we used Aluminium Rails and mounts to secure the Panels to the roof of the boat. That worked out really well so I'm going to use the same products.

Ok, onto the Solar Panel Mounts.

The existing panels are mounted on top of the Bimini supported by a hodge podge of rails made of Wood or Aluminum square tube or Aluminum U channel. It does not look neat and tidy and the wooden rail is suffering, I'm removing all 3 rails and replacing them with Aluminum Rails

The pieces of rail are only 30" long but can be connected together easily with a solid bar that fits in the square slot.

I have a total of 10 pieces plus 2 half lengths left over from my buddies Solar Project.

So there is 300 inches of rail and the rails are about 60" long or between 2 pieces and 2 + 1/2 piece, so I have plenty of rails and also plenty of the various fittings to attach the rails to the Bimini and the solar panels to the rails.

I purchased additional connector pieces as the kit only had 2 of them, the additional ones are solid but have the same function.

Ideally, the panels would all touch the adjacent panel, but the Back Stay cables prevent the two aft panels doing that, however, I hope that the forward edge of the two aft panels will be able to touch and connect to the front most panel.

Starting this week ( July 11th 2023 )

See you on the water.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

July 4th Cruise 2023

No Wind = more of an RV event than an SV event for Eximius

High tide dictated that we would have to leave the dock on Thursday evening so we loaded the boat Thursday afternoon, it was Hot! so we plugged in shore power in order to run the Air Conditioning. We left the dock about 18:45, it was looking like we would have good weather but no wind, so our plan was to anchor overnight at Sunrise Bay. We dropped anchor before the Sun went down and made a dinner ( see that disaster here

Oh! we tried out our new Anchor Ball in Sunrise Bay and it gets my ***** votes right now. I have it setup for a 12' 1/8" white line from the ring on the ball to a spring hook to attach to the Anchor chain close to the Anchor shaft. That way, the ball will float without trying to pull up on the anchor in waters up to 12' deep. 

It was nice being able to see where the anchor was relative to the boat, it also indicates where it is compared to other boats especially when they are dropping their anchor. The Bay was almost empty, plenty of room to anchor and our nearest neighbor was about 80' away ( we have a digital laser range finder ) and was the type of boat that would not stay overnight - no cabin.

Ouc  cabin was reasonably cool overnight so we slept well although I did get up at 2am to turn off the dry bilge system, it's not that it's loud, but just annoyingly loud enough to cause me to wake from a not very deep sleep. Once the dry bilge system was turned off, I was able to go back to sleep.

We woke up around 7am and had a cereal breakfast with skillet toast and that so important Coffee! The morning was off to a good start.  After breakfast, Peggy took the helm while I hauled in the Anchor Snubber and then we worked together as I pulled the anchor and Pegs kept the boat so that the anchor chain was mostly straight up and down. We wore our headsets and that always makes it easy to communicate. Once the anchor was up, the anchor ball removed and everything stowed, Peggy turned us to the East side of the Bay so that we could turn North on the ICW.

There was no wind, as expected, so we motored up the ICW and easily made all of the bridges. We have a Cheat Sheet with all the ICW bridges listed and the distance and time to the next bridge if we were traveling at 5 knots.  We had the ICW on the nose all the way up to Lake Boca. Not many boats on the center of the Lake, however, we were able to anchor about the center of the North side of the lake. We used the anchor ball again and this time it was really useful.  Most of the boats along that North side of the lake are in various states of abandonment and they are permanently anchored and not necessarily on reliable anchor rodes.  But we anchored safely and the anchor ball helped us know where we were relative to the anchor. Most of the night, the anchor ball was touching our hull, so we were over the top of the anchor.

We had a cooked breakfast of eggs, sausage, tomatoes and skillet toast plus the coffee. Then it was time to cleanup the deck. We get a lot of tree droppings landing on the boat at the dock. While I was sorting out the deck, a guy came along on his JetSki and asked if I knew who had set the mooring ball off of our Bow. I explained that it was our anchor marker ball. He then proceeded to tell me how a boat had broken free of it's anchor and had collided with his dock  - mind you! His dock is on the frontage of his huge home that overlooks the lake. He told me that he pays $250,000 taxes a year for the property and that he had 'poop' in the water by his dock. Then he went on to complain about the boats in the lake emptying their poop buckets in the lake and rinsing them out.

Ok, let's keep this straight. I don't care how much you pay in taxes or even if you don't pay any taxes. In my mind, it doesn't matter - we all deserve clean water and none of us want to swim in a Bay that is polluted by human waste. 

Personally, we take pride in running a clean boat. We just spent $$$$ on replacing the toilet hoses and pumping out the holding tank as well as replacing the Macerator pump on our waste system. I'm happy to report that our system is smell free. Also, the Thruhull for the waste system is locked off and cannot be accidently opened. That's the Law! To my knowledge, all of the members of our sailing club that own boats follow that same law. 

However! When we see boats anchored for months, if not years, in the Lake and never moving, plus there is no mobile pumpout facility close to the lake, then those boats do not 'pumpout' and if there are people living on the boats, they must produce some waste and they need to dispose of that in a healthy manner. By the way! Wrapping it up in garbage bags and dumping it ashore in a trash can is not a healthy manner!

So, I understand the complaint of the home owner about finding poop along his dock - I must admit I have my doubts about that - poop disintegrates in water pretty quickly especially when there are plenty of power boats navigating around the sides of the lake away from the anchored boats. Those power boats are like floating macerators!

Anchoring restrictions are an issue in South Florida, primarily due to boats being used as a really low cost housing option.  But I see no reason why those boats cannot be maintained in a healthy manner and I support local legislation that would enforce that.  

Florida has a program that encourages mobile and static pump facility services. It's probably abused by big corporations taking some of the grant money and then closing the facility ( Los Olas Blvd Marina might be an example of that )  We really do need pumpout facilities within reach of all anchorages. It should be easy to request a pumpout that would arrive within a few days, and local law enforcement could easily monitor that the pumpouts are being used without even visiting the boats.

Ok, end of Rant!

I'll close this post and start a part II covering the great weekend on the water and the parties with the HISC members on their boats.

See you on the water.


Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Replacing the Masthead Sheaves

Replacing the Masthead Sheaves on our Catalina 34 - In the water!

I plan to replace the Standing Rigging on our 1987 Catalina 34 Tall Rig Fin Keel later this year.

My plan  is to replace the rigging while the boat is in the water and not to pull the Keel Stepped Mast.

Pulling the mast would make it a lot easier, but it's crazy expensive here in South Florida. just to have the mast pulled. Just removing the mast and replacing it will cost about $3,000 !!!!! 

So, how to complete the task with the boat in the water?

The Rigging consists of 
  1. Forestay ( $600 )
  2. Backstay ( $1000 )
  3. Port & Stbd Upper Shrouds ( two ) ( $1900 )
  4. Port & Stbd - Fore & Aft Lower Shrouds ( two pair ) ( $1250) 
Rigging materials = $4750 + Taxes and Shipping -- Guesstimate $6000 ( as sold by CatalinaDirect )

The sheaves at the top of the mast are part of the Mast head and there lies the problem. I have gone up the mast several times ( 5 times in one month when our Wireless Wind Transducer Failed ) so I'm very comfortable about going up the mast and do not see any problems working to replace the standing rigging, but the sheaves are another problem because when I go up the mast, I am supported on the halyards that run on those sheaves that I want to replace!!!!

My solution is to install Mast Steps from about 6 feet from the top of the mast, the highest being enough to support me on both sides of the mast while removing the Masthead.

So, the plan would be to measure all of the rigging, purchase the correct size cable and new turnbuckles and any beckets that need to be replaced ( most of them ) and of course, purchase the mast steps.

Then going up the mast and install the mast steps. With the steps in place, I would replace the standing rigging one cable at a time. First I would backup the cable with a halyard or dyneema cable taking the strain off of the piece of standing rigging. Remove the piece of rigging and make up the replacement using Mechanical Fittings.

Next, onto the Mast Head.

There is a halyard that does not attach to the Masthead ( Spinnaker halyard ) I would use this to climb the mast using the other halyards to climb up the mast to reach the newly installed Maststeps.

At the top, I would unbolt the masthead and remove the sheaves, replace them with new sheaves and pins then replace the mast head.

Sounds pretty straight forward, but it is a boat!!!!

Posting this hoping to get some feedback on the project.

Rigging Dimensions

Friday, June 30, 2023

Instant Pot on our boat success and failure

Having had our Instant Pot 6qt at home for a couple of months and I love it. Using it every few days to cook dinners, cakes even cheesecake. So much so that I bought a 3qt Instant Pot for on the boat, although with a little concern about power consumption. We have a total of 3×100AH batteries,  that's over 3kwh if we run them to zero.

Last night I tried the Instant Pot on the boat for the first time and it was both a huge success as well as a dismal failure. 

1st, the Sucess
So the power consumption is 1000 W for the 6 qt model. I think that's right. It's only 700 W  for the 3qt model, and that was not too certain. Different people report different wattages so I didn't know for certain. Because I have ta complete Victron system on Eximius, when I plug something in, it shows me how much power is being used. 

When I plugged in the 3 qt instant pot and set it for high pressure cooking, the system showed the power consumption was 700watts.Thats a good start, but it gets better!

The Instant Pot takes a few minutes to get up to pressure,  it's basically boiling the water inside the Pot. Once it's approaching the pressure level, the pressure lock valve will pop up and the display will soon show the countdown of the number of minutes that were set.

This is where the Instant Pot shines! Once the Instant Pot reaches pressure,  the power consumption dropped to 1 watt! Yes, 1 watt!!!

I was cooking baked potatoes,  OK, they are steamed rather than baked, but I probably cook potatoes every week at home, they are a quick and easy dinner. I make a thick cheese sauce with butter, Ricotta and grated cheese blend adding pepper and salt to taste then topping them with more grated cheese. Delicious! 

On the boat I saw the power consumption pop back up to 700 watts foe about a minute twice during the cooking of the potatoes. 

I didn't time it, but I believe that the cooker only consumed 700watts for about 8 minutes of the 17minute cook time.
Roughly that's 700×8 ÷ 60 = about 90 watthours. And that is about 2% of the available power.

OK, time to fessup on the failure. 
The potatoes cooked perfectly, 17 minutes with a quick release (in the cockpit to avoid the heat steaming the cabin) I then removed the potatoes, added 1/2 cup of milk to reminaning water and a packet of cheesey pasta shells and a couple of cups of frozen broccoli then set the Instant Pot to pressure cook high for 3 minutes. 

Don't try that!!,

After the 3mins of cook time, I unplugged the Instant Pot again and took it out to the cockpit for the quick pressure release. 

Don't do that!!!

Cheesey sauce blew out of the pressure vent!! And things didn't get any better.  I scooped the pasta out of the pot and topped each of the potatoes with cheesey broccoli pasta and sauce.

Definitely not a success! Peggy did a stellar job of maybe eating half, but did not enjoy the meal. I should not really call it a meal, more like a mess.

The good news is that the Instant Pot worked great and consumed very little power but the chef needs to practice..... a lot 

Friday, June 23, 2023

Solar Panel Update - problem with shipping

Solar Panels Damaged during shipping - it's a problem

We ordered 3 x 220 Watt Solar Panels from a company via Amazon. All three were damaged upon arrival. They probably worked, but the damage to the frames was something that I could not hide if they were mounted atop our Bimini on Eximius. Everytime I board the boat, I would see those damaged panels and you know how those scratches itch! So I returned them. I took a couple of weeks to get the money back into my amazon account. 

I have searched online many sites trying to find a local company where I could pickup the panels and inspect them before taking delivery of them. None! There was one local company that had panels almost the size I needed but they were literally 2 times the price! So 3 panels would go from $700 up to $1400!

I have previously purchased BougeRV panels, worked great both on the boat and at home ( Solar Hot Water Pump system ) so I ordered three 200Watt panels from them. Their reviews on Amazon were really good and they included details of their packing in their Ad. 

Yesterday, the 3 panels arrived. Two were perfect but the 3rd was destroyed, it had obviously been damaged in transit, the frame on one side was actually bent, the box was concaved on one side. The glass on top of the panel was shattered into several thousand pieces, totally ruined.

Of course I contacted the seller and am expecting a response within 24 hours, of course, it's Friday, so I don't expect a reply till Monday.  I was able to talk to customer service, they were on the ball and didn't hesitate to escalate it up to the Returns dept. That's a good sign!

The good news is that I can go ahead with the install, I'll use one of the panels as a template for the 3rd panel and mount the two good panels, new wiring and the new MPPT controller ( see my other post on the entire process of planning and installation.)

Meanwhile, I won't hold my breath until Monday ;)


Update - Sunday June 25th
BougeRV have been responding and their latest email indicates they are going to replace the panel directly ( not via Amazon ). Their Customer service is staying on top of this issue. They are getting ***** right now. 

Update - Monday June 26th
So far I'm impressed by the customer service at BougeRV, there was an email waiting for me this morning which indicated they are shipping the new panel and that I can toss out the broken one. Understandably, the busted panel is not worth the shipping.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Macerator Failure - you know what that means...

Our Macerator Pump Failed 

After a great cruise down to Biscayne Bay over the Memorial Day weekend, we headed 4 miles offshore so that we could do a black water tank PumpOut. It didn't work!

Our normal procedure is to unlock the Thru Hull valve and turn on the Macerator pump. Peggy would watch lookout over the stern for our dirty trail and as soon as it stopped she would give me the signal that it was ok to shut the pump off and relock the Thru Hull valve ( a Federal requirement that we take seriously ) 

Well, Peggy didn't see the trail! Nothing was being pumped out despite the open valve and the Pump running. I thought that perhaps it was taking it's time to prime so I left it running for another minute. Nope! that didn't work either. Then the Macerator Pump just stopped. Didn't blow the circuit breaker, it just stopped. It wasn't even hot.

After a few calls and advice from several sailing buddies, I was able to connect with a Mobile PumpOut company ( We've used them before, small business, they were having a day off and so didn't return my call till Tuesday ) 

Yesterday the truck pulled up and Chris ran the hose from the street down the side of the house to the dock and got us setup for a PumpOut. I asked if it was ok if I cleaned the tank out when it was empty, that was fine. It was not so pleasant but it was fine!

Just over a year ago, I had installed an 8' inspection plate on the top of the Black Water tank, sure glad I had now!

The tank was only about 1/2 way full measuring from the top of the tank, but it's probably less than 1/3rd full as the tank gets very narrow at the forward end. 

We use 'Oderless' after every PumpOut and it works, the stench from the tank was almost zero, but I'm guessing one quickly gets used to it.

As the PumpOut progressed, I could see pieces of calcium scale collecting near the exit point ( that would be the bottom aft port side of the tank) and guessed that was what prevented the pump working and it's ultimate demise. The pieces of scale varied in size from dust up to about 4" by 2" and about 1/16th of an inch thick

I had setup a hose and spray nozzle so that I could rinse the tank sides down. That successfully detached even more of the scale from the sides of the tank.

Wearing nitrile gloves, I scooped out the scale by the handful, there was enough to fill a 2 gallon bucket. Rinsing and repeating and then Chris helping by moving the PumpOut hose from the deck connection to down in the cabin. He was able to suction out almost all of the grot in the bottom of the tank. A few more washdowns with fresh water and a few more scoops of gross scale and stuff. The tank was as good as it was going to get.

Next step. Order new hoses to replace the hose connection from the head to the tank and from the tank to the clean out on deck. Got that! 14' of 1/2" sanitation hose $297.80

New Macerator Pump. Ordered from Amazon, got it.

New 8" access panel, ditto. I just hope that the removable lid fits the old plate holder. If it does not, then I'll remove the old and install the new.

We now have all of the pieces to complete the project. Need a few extras to make the job easier to manage:- Puppy Pads to put under the hose ends when they are removed from the Head and from the Macerator Pump.  A new box of Nitrile gloves. New hose clamps - got them, I always have spares. Finally, new Electrical Butt connectors to connect the new Macerator Pump to the power supply.

My plan is to disconnect the old hose from the head, apply some liquid soap to the outside of the hose where it passes into the forward bulkhead of the head and into the void below the Hanging locker and then the void beneath the floor of the Nav station and into the Holding tank locker area.  The tough bit is getting the new hose to follow the old.

To get the new hose from the head to the holding tank area, I'm going to join the old pipe and the new pipe with a few pieces of wooden wedges and then push the old pipe with the new pipe so that we don't lose the end of the old pipe.  Sounds awkward, probably is but I don't see any other way to get the new pipe through the bulkheads.

I'll take the opportunity to clean up the grotty area that is currently under the pipe from the tank that connects to the Macerator Pump

So, other than dealing with grot and the challenge to get the new hose from the head to the tank, I think it should be a quick job, maybe 3 or 4 hours.  But---- it is a boat!

Well, it took 3 1/2 hours just to remove the hoses. The good news ( I hope ) is that where the hose from the head passes forwards under the floor of the Nav Station is not a blind space. The hose exits forwards by the Starter Battery and then it's a clear run towards the holding tank area. That means we don't need to use the old hose as a messenger. That's good news, because it was a beast getting the old hose out without anything on the aft end! 

The hose from the tank to the Macerator pump includes a 90º elbow connector, that piece of hose was about 90% occluded. I was able to remove the entire hose assembly from the tank to the pump in a single piece and wash it out with fresh water, it came clean. We're going to replace the piece of Sheilds Hose from the tank to the elbow, but from the elbow to the pump is a rubber flexible connector. It's now clean and should ( !!!! ) be easier to install.

--- The pic shows the Connection from the tank to the elbow connector ( double clamped at each end ) it also shows the Tank Sensors that are adhered to the aft end of the tank. ( at the bottom of the picture. )

This pic shows the disconnected hose from the head that goes to the top port side of the aft end of the tank ( that Elbow connector ) I had to snip the wire reinforcements of the hose to get it off of the Elbow Connector.

I spent quite a while trying to clean the hull beneath the hoses. The pic above and the pic here show how bad it was and how well it came up.

Not sure if scrubbing it with something to see if it will come up any better, but it worth the effort

One thing I'll have to make sure to do is to clean the connections on the tank. This pic shows the build up of grot on the end of the connector.

Another thing to note is the thru hull for the pump output, the white hose is connected to that thru hull. I was very careful when easing the hose connection there. I do not believe that that particular thru hull has a suitably sized backing plate. 

Plan is to put the boat on the hard later this year, so I'll add replacing that thru hull and incorporating a decent backing plate.

Here's a close up of the tank fill connector ( for the hose that is connected to the head's Pump )

Should only take a few minutes to clean that up.

Note, I put a wadding of paper towel into the ends of the tank connections just to try and reduce the odor coming from the almost empty tank.

Next job is to finish cleaning out the tank. We put a flashlight in there this afternoon and could clearly see about a quart of grot - effluent and scale at the far end, forward, of the tank.

The opening in the top of the tank is an 8" access plate, I'll be able to get a small shovel to scoop out the goop.  Definitely going to suit up for that project.

That brown mark by the tank's connection to the Macerator Pump is the left over from a corroded Jig Saw Blade. I was able to remove the blade but need to do a bit more cleaning.

The picture is taken from above and aft of the Holding tank.

I used Spray Nine solution to try and clean the area. I'm taking some more aggressive scouring pads with me next time down at the boat.

The easiest hose connection to remove was the one in this photo. That black connector is at the aft, bottom, inboard corner of the tank. It connects to a piece of hose about 6" long. That connects to an Elbow. The elbow is connected to the Macerator Pump via a short rubber hose.

So that will be the last connection to make when I put it all back together.

So next steps are:-
  • Clean out the inside of the waste tank.
  • Clean the inside of the hull just aft of the black water waste tank.
  • Clean the ends of the tank connectors
  • Remove the toilet for easier access to the head bulkhead.
  • Use a dremel to clear out the area just inside of the bulkhead on the forward side of the head and then seal the area with epoxy. I hope to expand the hole by about 1/8" of an inch, that should leave a little room to add some caulking around the hose.
  • Install the hose from the lower outboard tank connection up to the deck pumpout plate.
  • Install the hose from the lower inboard tank connection to the Elbow for the Macerator Pump connection.
  • Run the hose from the head into the storage cabinet ( by the Starter Battery ) thru into the Tank area and connect that to the top outboard connection on the tank.
  • Replace the tank access plate as the old 'transparent' plate has broken down probably due to the chemicals we put  in the tank to reduce odors.
  • Connect the power supply cables to the Macerator Pump.
  • Give it a test and check for leaks.
Probably another 3 to 4 hours of work.. but, don't forget - It's a Boat !!!!

Well we blew through 7 hours and it's still not finished.

Removed the toilet and cleaned that up.
Cleaned up the hole in the head's forward bulkhead
Installed the hose from the tank up to the waste clean out deck cap. That actually went pretty quickly.
Installed the hose from the head area forwards thru two bulkheads. It took an hour and then a small amount of liquid soap eased the rest of it in a few minutes.
Got the tank connections made for the pumpout hose and the fill hose.

Then, I thought it a good idea to test the new Macerator Pump. The old wires had been joined with solder and liquid rubber insulation, mucky stuff. Stipped the supply wires back and found they are not Tinned, Not Thin Stranded and of course, not labeled. So add an hour to replace those two wires with 10AWG Tinned Thin Stranded copper wires, new terminals and labels. A couple of butt connectors to join the supply wires to the Pump - Turn the breaker on and WooHoo! It works. Quickly cleaned up the connection and applied heat shrink.

Next job, mount the pump and connect to the waster tanks pump out connection. That took another hour of sweating and swearing but finally got it done.

All joints now have hose clamps, two where they fit.

Only thing left to do is to secure the Macerator Pump to the bulkhead, check tighten all of the hose clamps in the tank area, then reinstall the toilet and secure the hose with a couple of hose clamps.

Another visit to the boat and we have finished the project. The toilet is secured with new Stainless Steel lag bolts, the bulkhead forward of the head has been cleaned and caulked, the hole with the hose through that bulkhead is also neatly caulked.  We flushed a gallon of water with some Oderless and watched it as it poured out of the filler inlet into the tank - watching with the tank access panel lid removed.

I also ran a wire snake up the Vent hose from the tank to the elbow just below the Port side clean out and did the same for the Midships water tank vent pipe. That midships vent has proven an issue as the tank expands when we fill with water unless the fill cap is removed in the cabin.  

I'll probably replace the entire toilet in the next few months but meanwhile I need to run a bead of caulking along the base of the head's forward bulkhead and around the hole that the new hose passes through.

Things learnt that could be shared.

I could have used a pair of snips that were ground down so that it would be easier to cut the reinforcing wires of the new hose.

Apply liquid soap to ease the hose passage through the bulkheads.

Get larger size rubber gloves to make it easier to change them more frequently.

Plan on it taking a whole lot longer than anticipated.'

Measure the length of the hose removed before buying the replacement hose. I have 4' left over and at $20 per foot, that's $80 :(

Plan to replace all of the hose clamps, luckily I had enough.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

2023 Memorial Day Weekend

2023 Memorial Day Weekend Leaving the Dock

Original plan was to 'sail' down to Miami on the Ocean.  Weather forecasts this week were expecting afternoon storms. That put a bit of anxiety into the options. We finally agreed that we would go down the ditch, but there was a hiccup - The 79th Street Bridge, just North of Miami on the AICW, is undergoing maintenance,  and is basically closed from 09:300 to 15:30, opening only upon a 4 hour advance request. So basically if we go down the ditch, then we'll have to leave Port Everglades after calling the bridge to schedule an opening 4 hours later.  It's crazy! There has to be other boats that are going to request openings and it's unlikely they'll all request the same time!  Try and figure that out!

So basically it means that we have to leave PE about 3 hours before 3:30pm when the opening restriction is removed.

We left the dock around 11:45. not sure of the exact time. I would normally look back on our InReach data record online and grab the time there, however, we didn't turn the InReach on to Track until we were on the Ocean.  But I was able to find the time data on my Google account's Map Timeline.  Gotta love the technology.

We motored down to the PumpOut station on 15th Street to empty the poop tank rather than head out 3 miles off shore as that would basically take us North in the Gulfstream.  The PumpOut Station didn't work too well, it needs a new nozzle end as it leaks suction. So it's clean but the suction loss means it will take ages to empty the tank. It took over 20mins to empty a 25gallon tank.  When we approached the floating dock at the PumpOut station, there was a boat tied up but not using the PumpOut. That's a big No-No, the accepted rule is that once you're done pumping then get off the dock. But when we called to the crew, they quickly moved the boat, they were waiting use the Boat Ramp to haul out.

We finally got to leave that PO dock around 2:30 and then headed down under 17th Street Bridge, very little boat traffic. As we got to the point where we could see the Port Everglades entrance. We could see that the Ocean was like a millpond. I asked Peggy how she felt about going outside rather than down the ditch, her response:- If you helm, then we can go outside. HWHL. We headed out of the entrance and turned South on the Ocean towards Miami.  I'm really not fond of the 5 hour ride down the ditch having to either slow down or rush at max RPM to time the opening of the next bridge.  

It was an easy motor down to Miami, a few minutes of rain, didn't get wet. Unlike the ride down the ditch, sailing or motoring about 3/4 of a mile off shore is pretty boring, so we make a point of checking the weather, the clouds, if any, and what we can see on the shoreline. It's always fun to look directly into Haulover where the fixed bridge only allows power boats to risk the bumpy ride in and out of the entrance. There's even a YouTube channel that shows the seemingly endless stream of vessels that try to make it in or out of the channel during days when the Tide is ebbing and the Wind is from the East, fun.

We were passed by Affection before we arrived at the entrance to Miami - Government Cut. Jeff, on Affection, called to advise that there was at least 2 knots of current in the Cut and that he would proceed to the planned anchorage at Miami Stadium Marina. He was right! We hit 2.4 knots against our progress into the Cut.

Following the markers and keeping clear of the overhanging crane gantries of the cargo ships tied up to the docks as we passed them on our Stbd Side. Several high speed boats virtually flew past us with total disregard to ourselves and any other small craft in the local area. I guess it's a Miami thing.

It was well before dark, but as we approached the turn to port that would put us back on the ICW, there was a craft in the water that we could not distinguish, the late in the afternoon sunlight between the tall buildings seemed to make the waterline in that area appear to be much darker, one tow boat was only visible due to it's flashing lights.
Once we turned South on the ICW it seemed to lighten up, I guess that was the effect of not having the Sun low on the horizon dead ahead, it was now off to Stbd and it was magically daylight again.

The channel down to Rickenbacker causeway is well marked but very narrow, maybe just 50' in some places.  We kept in the channel almost until we were at the fenders of the underpass of the bridge, then turned to Port and followed the GPS depth markings to head East. As we approached the Rusti Pelican Restaurant, we needed to navigate around the boats that were either anchored or Sunk, yes 'Sunk' and of course the very shallow areas that are clearly marked on the chartplotter.

Image Capture from Jeff's Instant 360 Video

Once North of the Rusti Pelican, we could see Affection anchored further to the East, towards the actual Stadium. Peggy took the helm while I prepared the fenders and our new dock lines ready to pass to Affection when we got alongside.  Peggy did a great job of slowing the boat and bringing us along side and to a stop. Jeff took the Midships line and the Bow line. It's all quite hectic when coming alongside another boat, concentrating on not 'hitting' the other boat and just as important, bringing the boat to a complete stop when we are alongside. Peggy managed it perfectly. 

We all took a break to bring our stress levels down to zero. I went below and heated up my favorite dish - Sailors Pie - it's not a pie! I'll make a separate post about it.

Peggy was exhausted, it had been a pretty long day. We were up early and had been pushing the boat for about 9 hours. As the weather had promised to be pretty gnarly, that added to the stress of the day. The fact that the weather was really quite nice helped calm the crew.

We were tied up to the Stbd Side of Affection and due to the winds, facing to the North. So we could not see the view of Miami that was visible from Affection. Peggy turned in for the night and missed it. It really was a kodak moment, the sight of all of the sky scrapers lit up like christmas trees, reflecting on the water was really spectacular. Now I know why Jeff & Judy like that anchorage so much. Thanks for suggesting it Jeff!

Friday morning, we had an simple Cereal and Toast Breakfast, with Coffee, obviously. Then we discussed with Jeff & Judy about the options to move ahead down to Billy's Point. The weather today was much more certainly going to get nasty, Storms were forecast to start up over the West side of the Bay and head eastwards later in the day. We knew we were very likely to get wet but not sure how bad they would be. My conclusion was that it would be Rain storms with not much wind. Peggy anticipated the end of the world. Luckily my guess was the right one.  Of course, that didn't' stop peggy from putting our portable electronics in the oven as a Faraday Cage and ensuring we were wearing our Tethers. 

We kept an eye  out for Affection, not knowing what time they would be hauling anchor from the Stadium Marina, but knowing they could easily double our speed. Affection did not have AIS so I was unaware of their location. I shared a pic of our GPS when we were right in the middle of the rain storm. I did see a similar boat to theirs but it had something on the foredeck that I was certain was not on Affection. Turned out it was them and the thing on the foredeck was actually their fenders on the Stbd side of the foredeck. 

About an hour before we arrived at the Featherbeds, the Channel at the mid point of Biscayne Bay, I saw Summer wind - Chris & Kelli Whitlock - appear on our AIS. We couldn't see them astern of us due to the amount of water in the air, it was just a pale grey mist back there. I called Chris on VHF and we shared our weather situation.

It was a short while later when I noticed that our speed had dropped by over a knot and that we had what looked like Steam coming out of the exhaust! That's not good! We check the 'heartbeat' of the engine at least every 10 mins - that's checking the RPM, Temperature, Fuel Status and Voltage, then we check the GPS speed and compare it to the Speed through the water. That's when  I noticed the issue with the engine, every thing was good except the speed and the steamy exhaust. 

Going for the simplest things first, I checked the Engine Intake Water Strainer - a small amount of crud but definitely not blocked.  I checked the Engine Coolant, that was fine, a little low but barely. Checked the Oil which was really a waste of time as the engine had been running and so the Oil would be dispersed all over the inside and would take a while to drain down to the sump.

Peggy wondered if we had something on the Propellor! Duh! I dropped the RPM to idel ( about 400 rpm ) shifted into Neutral and then Reverse, pushed the throttle forward and watched as a bunch of seaweed spued out from under the stern. Back into forward and back to 1800 rpm, and magically our speed climbed back up to 6+ knots. Phew! Oh, and no more steamy exhaust! 

As the weather improved we could see Summer Wind astern of us watching as we navigated through the Featherbeds Channel. Of course, we hardly saw any power boats near us between Miami and the Featherbeds, but it felt like very power boat on the Bay decided to pass us at high speed during our transit of the channel. As I said, it must be a Miami Thing.

Chris in his Catalina 36 followed us to the place I had set as our anchorage just West of Billy's point. I could see two boat in the distance but thought they could not be Affection and, our 3rd cruise host boat, Deli Marvi, they were not expected to be there yet, Deli Marvi was not expected until Saturday.

With Peggy at the helm, we dropped anchor but Summer Wind motored past us heading to those other two boats, Chris reported that Affection and Deli Marvi were already there and anchored. They were about 800 yds further to the SE from us. Chris advised that there was plenty of depth, about 9.6',  for our 5'7" keel. I figured we were over 18" above low tide and so could anchor much closer to the three of them. We agreed that the weather was too lumpy to raft up that evening and planned to review that on Saturday morning.

Summer Wind and Eximius at Sunset off of Billy's Point

The Crew from Affection and Summer Wind came over to Eximus for cocktails, but no sign of the crew from Deli Marvi - Christ took his dinghy over to wake them up. Turned out it was not Deli Marvi! Did I mention they were not due to arrive until Saturday! Duh - we all got a laugh out of that.

Saturday morning we were suffering from a lack of sleep, it had been a bumpy night and I was really glad that we hadn't rafted up with anyone overnight. It was still too lumpy to raft up and it was too lumpy to have the planned Dinghy race, so we all just hung out on our boats. I'm not sure if the others did the same but we made up for the rough night with a few Naps.

The major event for Saturday was the Host boat gathering at 6:30pm, The plan was for everyone to meet up at the Host boat ( Eximus ) and bring something to share. Eximius is 34' and Summer Wind is 36 and they have a BBQ ! Chris had planned to BBQ Burgers and Hot Dogs. We had prepared a big pan of Mac-n-Cheese ( far too much! but that's normal for HISC BSTS events ) So we agreed to move the party to Summer Wind. There was plenty of food and a bit more room than on Eximius.  By the middle of the afternoon, Lady Gray and Deli Marvi had joined us at the anchorage. So by 6:30 we had five boats and 12 members ready to party. Ok, so some of them started to party a little earlier - but what happens in Biscayne Bay stays in Biscayne Bay.

At the party, Chris had put together a quiz based on Memorial Day, I only guessed one answer - why is Memorial Day held in May? Because that's when the Spring flowers blossom at the Gravesites of those we remember.

Our part of the Party was a 'What's in the Bag' game. I had made up 12 bags with hidden contents from my garage and players had to try and guess what was in the bags just by feeling them. Everyone won a glow in the dark necklace and each boat won an LED bottle cork light kit. 

The food was great, the company was great and the weather was great - that's what it's all about!

We slept a little better Saturday night, not much, and had a light breakfast of Fruit & Yogurt before the Bagels and Cheese break Sunday aboard Deli Marvi around 10am. There's a lot more Room on Deli Marvy and all 12 members found somewhere to sit and join in the chit chat. Oz & Rita did an awesome job of laying the table. Jeff brought his Expresso Maker aboard and made custom coffee for all. Oh, and  Oz & Rita's Dog, Leeloo, seemed to want to be friends with everyone, especially anyone that had something to eat! I say Oz and Rita's Dog, but really she is just a woolly rug on legs. Totally Cute.

We didn't have anything else planned for Sunday, just as well as Eximius was getting hot and we had issues with the Air Conditioning. Our Batteries can provide power for AC for about an hour, so we have a Honda 2000 onboard. However, the Victron system was not happy and kept switching off the Inverter. It took us a few hours but finally got it working. ((  When I got home on Monday, I looked up the issue on the Victron Website and discovered that I should disconnect the USB Mk3 adapter from the Victron Cerbo GX when the USB is not in use! ))

Lady Gray departed the anchorage sometime Sunday afternoon. We were having breakfast Monday Morning ( Memorial Day ) when Affection pulled their Anchor to head North. We pulled ours and headed North at 0705. Summer Wind must have left before us and Deli Marvi were still at anchor after we left.

It was an uneventful motor into the wind up to the Featherbeds, we reversed the prop a few times to expel a build up of Sargassum. We lost sight of Affection before we exited the Featherbeds Channel.

Our plan was to head out  through the Stiltsville channel and determine if the Ocean conditions were suitable for heading up to Port Everglades or nip back in through the Miami cut and go up the ICW. 

Jeff called us on the VHF and advised that the ocean was calm, so we elected to go 4 miles offshore to gain advantage of the Gulf Streams flow northwards.

When 4 miles off shore ( we check by putting the cursor of the Chartplotter on the location of the shoreline and the Chartplotter gives us the distance from Shore ) we planned to Pump-n-Dump the holding tank. Well, we tried! but the Macerator pump failed, probably it over heated as it failed to prime. We carry a spare onboard, that was left by the previous owner 8 years ago! I'll arrange for a PumpOut at the dock in the next few days as I don't want to be playing with the Macerator Pump when the tank is full - that's a really crappy job.

Oddly, the Gulfstream was much further offshore and there was an Southerly flowing eddy of nearly 2knots. Despite that, we made it up to Port Everglades and the 17th Street bridge by 15:06 and back to our dock by 16:04, not too shabby for a lazy Motor Sail in the Ocean.

After passing 17th Street Causeway bridge, we followed the ICW to the New River Turn off at Sand Bar park, packed! No surprise it is Memorial Day.  Turning to Port to join the New River and heading up river, we joined 3 other boats inline to navigate all of the New River bridges. This was one of better days to go up the river! The first boat, a sailboat 'Rendezvous' was the first boat inline and we each called the first bridge ( 3rd Avenue Bridge ) to request an opening, before we passed under 3rd avenue, I called Andrews Avenue for an opening, we heard the FEC Bridge was going to be open and all four boats passed nicely under all three bridges, then, all lined up, we all called and passed under 7th Avenue Bridge. We didn't have to do a single doughnut in order to slow down for any of the bridges - SWEET

11th Avenue bridge opened for us and we were on the home run. No traffic on the rest of the New River, we turned into our canal and Peggy brought us alongside like a Pro! The boat was stopped and just 2" from the dock when I stepped off. 

We turned the boat and set to unloading it. That took another hour. Locked all hatches, closed all thru-hulls and swapped the Depth transducer for the blank, checked all of the electrical switches, had a bite to eat and set off home.

We slept really well Monday Night!

Any day is better when it's on a Boat, a whole weekend is better still.

See you on the Water.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

2023 Memorial Day Weekend Sail Plan

Eximus Sailplan Memorial Day Weekend 2023

We're heading down to Billy's point for the Memorial Day Weekend 2023

Our Sailplan

Thursday May 25th 11:00 - 11:30 -- Depart our Dock on the New River Head down to Port Everglades, Turn South and head to Cape Florida Channel then up towards No Name Harbor to anchor overnight west of No Name Harbor

Friday May 26th. 0800-0900 -- Pull Anchor and head towards the ICW then South to Billy's Point (ETA 1500 )

Saturday May 27th - remain at anchor
Sunday May 28th - remain at anchor

Monday May 29th 07:00 - Pull anchor and head North - If weather is good we'll go outside, else we'll go North on the Ditch. Return to our dock by 1900

Crew: Paul & Peggy
Fuel: 35Gallons Diesel
Water: 71 Gallons
Food & Drinks for 7 days.

We'll have a cellphones and should easily be in range for cell coverage.

On the New River or ICW VHF #09

On the Ocean VHF #16

Position Tracking. 

Our InReach tracker and Victron World Locator will be on for the entire weekend.

Our AIS will be on unless we are anchor. 

We're looking forward to a fun sail to Biscayne Bay. 

See you on the Water. 







Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Storage Area Restraints

Restraining the Storage boxes beneath the cabin seats.

The previous owner raised the cabin seating around the table, that created a huge amount of storage. However, the when we're out on the water, all of the boxes that are stored beneath the raised seats come flying out when we heel during heavy weather. My solution: Add two levels of webbing between the seat supports and just buckle them up before heading out. Quick and easy to release them in order to gain access to the boxes which can barely move when strapped in.  We're going to refer to them as Seatbelts! 

I purchased the belts from Amazon, it was cheaper than making them myself from my webbing supplies. 

The picture shows Orange Straps, but the set I purchased were all black 1" wide & 60" long.

All I needed to do was cut them into two pieces and put loops on the cut ends. Then mount Footman Straps to the ends. Wrap the webbing end around the inner leg supports and thread the long end through those loops. All done. The buckles are positioned so that they are easily reached without having to climb under the table. 

I can see a lot more Seatbelts in our future. :)

The Noodles fit nicely :) Peggy was illuminating the area with a flashlight, otherwise it's pretty dark down there. 

This pic shows the storage area lit from above. I can see some LED strip lights under the high level seats in the near future.  With the two levels of strapping, I can store two boxes on on top of the other and neither will slide out when heeled.

This has not only worked out great for securing for Sea, but it also encourages being a bit more tidy.
As we don't have to worry about gear falling out in a seaway, all of the boxes ( mostly tools & spares ) are no longer in the Aft berth - we were actually able to have Crew stay overnight during the Palm Beach Regatta.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

2023 Palm Beach Regatta

Hillsboro Inlet to Lake Worth Regatta

We have sailed in the Palm Beach Regatta for the past few years and it's always a lot of fun even if it did include some not so fun periods on the water.

This year we left our dock at 0920 just after High Tide and the New River bridges all opening after the Rush hour Traffic lockdown in Fort Lauderdale ( 07:30-0900 ) and had an easy navigation down the river and out of Port Everglades on pretty calm waters. We headed offshore to the 3mile line for a pump out and then headed up to Hillsboro Inlet.

Our arrival at the Inlet was about 2hours before low tide, but we still managed to carve a groove in the sand near the edge of the inlet, we should have gone even closer to the Green markers. It was probably the tides during the Flower Full Moon that reduced the water depth.

There were 4knots of water flowing out of the Inlet Bridge, but we pushed through without any issues and headed North on the ICW towards Hillsboro Blvd Bridge, our destination was Lake Boca where the Skippers meeting was being held in a condo picnic facility.

We were going to be racing on Saturday the 6th, that was also King Charles III Coronation in the UK. As a 25 Year Veteran of the British Royal Navy, the same Navy that, then Prince Charles, flew helicopters in 1974, I respect the British Monarchy, in particular Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. I was certain that the queen would not abdicate her position and that she would die upon the throne, that was her commitment to the British people when she became queen.  I saw a picture of King Charles holding the Royal Orb while sat on the throne in Westminster Abbey, some thought he was tired, but I am certain he was looking at that Orb and considering the implication of it's history, and previous Monarchs sitting in that same seat holding that same Orb over the past 362 years and the Scepter of the same period have significant meaning, even today when the Royal Family is much less in a position of power. I'm certain that if asked, King Charles would mention the history and symbolism of those historic pieces of Royal jewelry . 

As we would not be able to watch the Coronation, I researched and found that the Official Dish of the Coronation was to be the 'Coronation Quiche', now that is something I could make. I made two. One for the 'Bring something to share' dish for the Skippers party on Friday and the other to be our dinner on Sunday night after our return from Palm Beach.  Must admit, not my favorite Quiche ever.

I couldn't find 'Broad Beans' locally, so I used Lima Beans. It was a bit heavy for me.

After the Skippers Party, Mike Megarity joined us on Eximius as Crew for the Regatta. We had made up the Aft Berth, prior to that it was barely somewhere to crawl in, let alone Sleep comfortably. Mike said it was quite comfy. :)

We set the Alarm for 5:30am in order to have breakfast and hoist the anchor to get to the Camino Real Bridge for 07:20, Then it was back down the ICW past the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge and out of the Hillsboro Inlet, this time at High Tide. We turned out to the East and hoisted the sails, taking the time to roll down the sail bag and stow the Lazy Jacks in order to get the most from our sails.

Our plans came together really well and we crossed the Start line at 10:05:40, less than 40 seconds after the 10:05 Start signal from Lady Gray which was acting as the Start Committee Boat. For us that was HUGE! Last year, Barry on Lady Gray had pulled the start line up and headed North before we even got to the start line, probably 20 minutes after our actual start. So less than 40 seconds was HUGE!

Once over the start line we headed East as best we could hoping to get to the North Flowing Gulf Stream. Our lack of experience in sail handling hit right away and we lost severa; minutes sorting out jammed running rigging when we shook out the single reef that was in place prior to the start.

We put the 1st reef back in later in the morning and screwed that up also. Here's what we did and what we should have done.

To put the reef in, we lowered the main in order to allow us to pull down on the 1st reef Downhaul and the 1st reef Outhaul.  We should have tensioned the Topping lift first. Because we did not, the boom fell down to below the top of the Dodger/Spray hood. so now we could not pull down on the reefing lines. Also the topping lift line dissappeared out of the back of the Line Stopper/Clutch so we could not just put the topping lift line on the winch and hence raise the boom to allow reefing. I had to go forward to the mast and pull on the topping lift while Mike raised the end of the boom, according to the timeline on the Inreach map, it probably took only a couple of minutes, but it felt like about 10 minutes.  Our speed dropped to almost zero except that the gulf stream was taking us North at around 2knots.

Despite our failures/ challenges with the running rigging, we did eventually get towards the finish line. That's when we had a run in with an upset dive boat captain, no names no pack drill as we used to say in the Navy. 
The situation was that while I was at the helm, I spotted a dive boat about a half mile ahead, off our port bow, and turned the boat to make sure we would comply with the 300' minimum closing distance. We were probably 500' and heading well away from the dive boat. That's when the  dive boat started to move towards us, quite quickly. The captain, I presume as she was at the helm of the dive boat, started ranting loudly out of the boat's stbd cabin window, using a variety of very salty language, she demanded that we move away from her divers. Luckily I had Mike with me, he's very fluent in Dive instructors language and requirements. The dive boat captain demanded that we turn to Port which was really weird as the dive boat was originally off to our Port side and if there were divers in the water they would have been well off of our port side also, so turning the boat to port would have taken us directly to where she claimed the divers to be located. I turned further to starboard once we confirmed by looking in that direction that there were no divers float flags off of our starboard bow. She continued to scream at us, announcing that we didn't know who we were messing with. Then she got on the VHF Radio #16 and continued the onslaught of crazy accusations. We continued on our way leaving the dive boat and her crazy skipper well astern.  Later that evening I was advised that some of the other club members that were listening out on #16 heard everything that the crazy lady screamed over the VHF.

We looked up the dive company the next evening and found that some of her prior dive clients had similar experiences of her going ballistic on the boat.   

With the dive boat incident far behind us we continued for about another hour or so towards the Green #3 Marker at the Lake Worth Inlet.

About 10 minutes before we approached the marker, Peggy got my phone ready to take a picture of the mark when we passed it and Mike got his phone ready to take a picture of our Chart Plotter. We counted down the minutes and made sure we were all ready to take that vital shot so that we could report our finish time to Eduardo the Regatta Scoring committee chair.

We were doing really good as we approached the mark.

Once past the mark, we turned into wind in order to drop the main and roll up the Genoa.

Peggy was at the helm as Mike and I went up to the mast, unrolled the Cradle Cover and then, with Mike back in the cockpit, we lowered the main into the bag. Main down, I returned to the cockpit and we furled in the genoa. Then it was back to Peggy to turn us back towards the inlet. It's important to keep an eye out for the buoys guiding the way into the deeper part of the inlet and then the turn into the ICW going South towards the Palm Beach Sailing Club mooring field and the local anchorage. There's a lot of boats there! But we've been there before and know that there are decent spaces available for anchoring between all of the moored vessels.

Time for a break! Mike & I stayed in the cockpit and closed up the cabin entrance to give Peggy some privacy in order she get ready for our dinghy ride to the club house.

The Palm Beach Sailing Club does a great job hosting the Awards party, probably over 50 people were there, some drove up to the party but most were from the racers boats.  Alisa managed the Bar and kept us all in order quickly serving our drinks. The Dinner was substantial, Chicken, Pork, Pasta, and all the bits to go with them. Desserts were awesome! Wish I had gotten a photo but to be honest, I was exhausted and ready to just enjoy the dinner, a couple of drinks and enjoy the music by the live trio. And of course the chats with the other sailors.

Eventually it was RESULTS RESULTS RESULTS! Alex, Commodore of the PBSC and Eduardo, Vice Commodore of the HISC as well as being the racing chair both did a great job of announcing the results. Here's a link. Please note! Eximius came 2nd, Ok, that was 2nd in our class. Oh All Right, it was second out of two in our class. Ok OK OK - we were last! But we still got a trophy for coming in 2nd in our class. I'll take that. Should have the engraved trophy in the next few weeks, I'll put it here

Pic of Trophy goes here

Pic of Trophy goes here

Pic of Trophy goes here

Pic of Trophy goes here

Pic of Trophy goes here

Pic of Trophy goes here

Pic of Trophy goes here

Pic of Trophy goes here

After the party we got a ride back to the boat, Eduardo and Eva were in the same dink and the weather had picked up significantly, those towards the front of the boat were soaked from the wave action.

Back aboard Eximius, Peggy was ready to turn in while Mike & I discussed club business and shared sailing stories, he has plenty about Spruce Goose and his trip with the boat from Amelia Island years ago.

Eventually, the long day won out and we all headed below with the plan to wake up early for the trip back in the morning down the ditch.

I think we all slept well, breakfast was Fried Eggs, Canadian Bacon and Tomatoes along with Skillet Toast with Peanut Butter and Strawberry jam. 

I really like my coffee, especially on the boat. In the past I would make coffee and add creamer, plain and simple, easy and no fancy equipment when on the boat, but at home I would rather have coffee with frothy creamer of oat milk, oh yes! I really like my coffee.
Recently I purchased a Milk Frother that is Rechargeable via a USB connector. It works really well. I have even used it to whisk up eggs for fluffy omelets. It does a great job of frothing oat milk creamer. 

We're growing our list of USB rechargeable gadgets. This goes well with the USB Blender that was the 2022 HISC Cruise Hosts award. 

Ok, after breakfast, we pulled the anchor and turned towards the ICW which was just about 100yds to the west of our anchored position directly east of the PBSC club house.

Oh! nearly forgot. When we returned to the boat on Saturday night, I had left my credit card at the Bar. I reached out to Alex and he was able to retrieve it then bring it to Eximius. Apparently I was not the only one, he delivered another to one of the crew on the Sharyn Leigh. Then we pulled anchor.

Once on the ICW we knew there were a couple of club member boats ahead of us, Cookie Monster, Contrails and Lady Gray. they were close enough to the first bridge to sneak through when the bridge opened early for a towed boat, so they were about a half hour ahead of us.

Continuing down the ICW, we easily made all of the bridges with Eximius hitting 8.45knots at times through the water at 2,250RPM. We reached Lake Park bridge along with Duet, Contrails and a non club member's boat. Each of calling the bridge to request an opening as it is an Opens on Demand bridge. However, the bridge's radio was out of action at that time and it took over 25 mins to reach the tender and he complete the recording of each vessels info including our boat's Height, Length and Beam. That put us another half hour behind Cookie Monster and Lady Gray.

No good deed etc. As Cookie Monster and Lady gray arrived for the opening of the Spanish River Blvd Bridge, the bridge broke in the down position and a gaggle of sailboats were hanging just North of the bridge while we were about an hour away and catching up. The news from the bridge was not good, it had already been locked down for an hour and they were not sure when it would open. Duet was pushing ahead unaware of the issue. We hung back as I really didn't want to be trying to hold station with a dozen other boats by the bridge for goodness knows how long. I advised Duet and Lady gray of my plans and, of course, in 20 more minutes the bridge opened to let a bunch of boat through. 
At that time I figured to arrive at the bridge at it's next 30min opening and we continued at a leisurely pace and the bridge did open on time although only partially. The bridge tender did ask us to confirm that we were ok going through the bridge with the north side spans only partially open. We were good and they opened the South Side spans as we approached. 

It was now a short trip down to the Palmetto Park Blvd Bridge and then into Lake Boca.

By the time we got to the lake, Mike had his gear prepared for going ashore. My plan was to nudge the bow of Eximius into an empty slip, Mike climb onto the dock and then I would back Eximius out between the pilings. 

That's almost what we did. It turned out there was a strong southerly current near the slips. I got the boat bow into the slip without a problem but Mike couldn't get a line to the dock, so not close enough. Eventually we pushed off from the adjacent dock and got the bow to the dock on our port side. 

Mike said his goodbyes and, with Peggy on the bow ready to catch the dock line from Mike, I backed the boat out and the current and wind turned the bow to starboard, Luckily I was able to reverse the boat between the pilings on our port side and once the bow was past those pilings, skoot the boat around to starboard and exit the dock area. All good.

Peggy was able to move us to our planned anchoring spot and I put down 75' of chain near the North East corner of the lake.

Of course, a floating condo with at least 3 floors dropped anchor putting his boat over our anchor. It's not unusual in Lake Boca, we're used to it.

Dinner of salad and Coronation Quiche and we were ready to turn in. I spent a little time clearing my emails then set the alarm for a 5:45 wakey  wakey so that we could get the 7am Camino Real bridge opening which would allow us to get the Hillsboro Blvd 7:30 opening.

The Hillsboro bridge had it's problems and only the East Span would open, that was not the last of the bridge problems.  Another bridge further south had a problem too. The bridge tender advised that there was a RED FLAG Warning  - turned out that the bridge was opening really really, really! slowly, but nothing more than that.

We made all of the bridges except the Sunrise bridge on time. So we dawdled from Oakland Park Bridge down to Sunrise. The rest of the trip was uneventful. Well unless you think that having to do a couple of doughnuts just downstream of Andrews Ave bridge as they had a few minutes delay. This has happened before and I wonder if the bridge tender just wants to watch as we turn our boat in the narrow part of the river dealing with the flow of the river and the wind doing what it does.  But we have done this so often it's a non-event.

Back at the dock, Peggy got us alongside easily and we set too prepping the boat for a couple of days at the dock before we go back down and wash her down.  We got to the dock at 11:08 and were on the road home by 1:45 and that included taking a few minutes for some lunch.

Home, exhausted, unloaded, showered and a quick nap! Then at 5pm I ordered Curry from Jasmine Thai. We watched a few of the youtubers we follow and then the sack called us, I don't remember my head hitting the pillow.

Great weekend, Great Crew, Great Sailing, Great Company, Ready to do it again next year, but maybe stay up there a couple of extra days.

Next trip - Memorial Day Cruise to Biscayne Bay. 

See you on the water.