Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The boat is Eximius, but Peggy is Special

I mean that in a good way.
This past weekend, we had planned to be on the boat in Lake Sylvia for the Blue Moon. The weather wasn't looking that great and there was quite a risk of rain over the weekend, I would have understood if Peggy had begged out, but she didn't.

Friday I finished work early, and I was home by 5pm. Peggy was sat on the couch and in front of her was a pile of stuff we needed to take down to the boat for the weekend. Not just some of it, ALL of IT!
Our clothes, bedding, Food, Drinks, Boat manuals (we bring them home to read between movies) everything! All I had to do was load them into the car.

We knew that the bridges on the New River would not open during rush hour between 4:30pm and 6pm, and Sunset was around 8pm, so we planned to leave the slip by 7pm which should give us plenty of time to get to the lake before dark.

We did. Here's some pics.
Pier 66 - at least it's blue.
And the blue moon:

We were anchored on the outside edge of the lake, and I had set the anchor alarm to 75' with 50' of rode out. I know, if the boat swings 180 degrees, that's pretty close. So I woke up several times overnight to check to see if the alarm meant we were dragging. Swinging a lot, but not dragging.

Breakfast of eggs, fried turkey breast (an acquired taste) tomatoes and cuisants, creme cheese and, that oh so important, Steaming Coffee.

Then we headed out of the lake to the Ocean. As we approached 17th Street Causeway bridge at high tide, I was not sure we could get through without an opening. The bridge tenders tend to ignore us as we classify as a 'little' boat despite we need 55' of air to pass under a bridge. As luck had it, the Spirit of Lauderdale was passing us as we crept up to the bridge fenders to read the tide boards. Spirit is much taller and has to have an opening no matter what the tide, so we just poodled along behind her and called the bridge asking he keeps it open while we passed. Sweet.

The ocean was a bit lumpy, not big lumps, but plenty of them. We flew the reefed main and about 60% of the jib and headed out to the 3 mile limit. We quickly had 6+ knots through the water and nearly 8 knots on the GPS, so I guess we were inside the boundary of the Gulf Stream. It was a great sail.

After a pump out, we headed back to the shore, wind had turned up a bit, probably around 18-20knots. The boat handled it well, but Peggy didn't, but she handled not handling it very well. If we had some fishing gear we could have caught something with all the chum she put out. Peggy amazes me sometimes. After 30 minutes of being left alone to recover and a bottle of G2 she was just fine and once we turned south to head back to the port, into wind with the engine running, she took the helm while I pulled the sails down.

Now at low tide, we had clearance under the 17th street bridge, We headed up past Sandbar Park and then east towards Bahia Mar for the southerly entrance to Lake Sylvia. That's when we found how skinny it gets in the lake at low tide. We're 5'7" draft and we found a spot with only 5'3" of water!

After two hours of waiting for the tide to come back in and float us off the bottom, we finally headed into the lake and to anchor. We deserved the nice dinner and some wine. A great day.

Sunday we headed back to the slip leaving the lake at high tide (we won't ground there again!). Now the tide is ebbing out as we head in past the bridges. That's ideal, if we have to stop while a bridge opens or to let some outbound boat pass, it's easy for us to slip into neutral and keep steerage as the boat comes to a stop. Peggy has that process down now. Sure makes for a less stressful end of the day trip back to the slip.

Back at the slip we did some boat project work. I needed to test the engine temperature instrumentation, it has not worked since we have owned the boat (can you believe that it's over 2 months already!). The good news is that I was able to figure that it's the temperature sensors, not the gauge or the wiring. That's an easy repair. Also able to test the fuel gauge system (there's a manual gauge installed right now, and I have to crawl into the aft berth with a flash light and mirror to read the gauge). Turns out the gauge and wiring for the fuel level works fine, I just have to purchase a new fuel level sender.

We had a snack on the boat while we were getting everything ready to head home. Out west the rain clouds were building, quickly! So we moved into high gear and carried the remnants of the weekend trip back to the car. It started to rain as we drove home.

It really was a great weekend on the boat. And it all started with Peggy getting everything ready last Friday.

Thanks Honey!

Nav station due for an update

The old VHF, Stereo, DVD player mounted on the aft partition of the Nav Station has legacy holes all over.
Over the past 28 years, a variety of electronics have been mounted and removed and we have added to that.

I removed the DVD player, we'll be getting a 12v Flat Screen TV with built in DVD player later. Our new VHF cutout is a different template to the previous one that I removed weeks ago.

So I need to replace the forward facing and the side partitions.

Behind those partitions are a myriad of electrical wires: Power to the nav station electronics, Antenna cables, speaker cable, legacy SSB receiver cables, and some cable that go nowhere and do nothing. I hope to be able to neaten up all of the electrical wiring in that area, install the new VHF into the partition at the back of the Nav Table, also the new Stereo, and add a 3rd speaker for the stereo.

First step in replacing them was to measure for the new aft partition.

Next the side partition.

Both of these are custom to Eximius, not sure when they were originally installed, but there was obviously something mounted below the shelf in the side partition.

While at it this weekend, I installed a VHF / AM/FM antenna splitter. Basically reducing the amount of wire beneath the shelf. Again, years of additions/removals have left a hodgepodge of wiring, so I'm cleaning up all of the connections during the reconstruction.


That went well! It took less than 15 minutes to put the new partitions in place and to secure the Stereo and the VHF, including the Mic holder. Looks good. The pic I took on the boat over the weekend was at night and, it sucks, so I'll take another this evening. The stereo has a remote and a connection to our phones & tablet. Very cool playing our tunes.

Caps Off

We know the boat is 28 years old, and have no intention of spending a fortune trying to restore it to original condition. Being able to sail the boat and enjoy letting her take us to new places is where we should be spending our boat bucks.

Eximius has two water fill points, One diesel fuel fill point and One Waste Pump out point, all on the deck. In preparation for taking her for a pump out after our trip from Stuart to Fort Lauderdale, I tried to open the Waste Pump out cover, was not going to happen! As I tried to turn the cap, it started to break apart, almost as if it were sealed in place.  The other caps are degrading after years in the Florida Sun. So, time to replace them. While at it, I'm going to replace the Engine Control Panel Cover as it's so opaque that it's almost impossible to read the gauges behind the plastic cover.

Here's what I got for my boat bucks today.

Black cover - Waste pump out, they could have made it brown ;)

Blue covers - Water fill points

Red Cover - Fuel fill.

Clear plastic engine control panel cover.

So, how did it go? Good, but not great!

The fuel cover would just not fit. Not sure if the existing cover is original or not, but it'll have to stay for now.
The water fill covers fit great.
The Waste pump out cover will probably fit, but the old one is glued in place! Dang, it's broken in several pieces, but firmly glued. So I'll have to take a chisel with me to forcefully remove it. You know it's going to be odoriferous! Yuk.

Sadly, the plastic engine control panel did not fit either, so I have to return that and the fuel filler cap. Looks like a trip to Lowe's and purchase a piece of plastic that I can cut to match the old piece. Just another job.

Hope to get the cover done over the weekend.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Our first trip to Lake Sylvia

Weather looks good for a sail this weekend, I mean 'Sail' !!
We plan on getting down to Eximius around 9:30 in the morning and head out to the ocean for a couple of hours sailing. There's a few things we need to do on the boat before we leave the slip, including an oil change.
Hope to see a couple of club members on their boats on lake Sylvia later in the day.

Had a great weekend, even took a siesta. Worked on the new VHF radio installation just to pass the time :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Oil Change

If you don't change the oil, you know what happens to your engine!

Eximius' engine is the first diesel engine I have ever played with, and it needs to run right! So during the past few months, I have been studying diesel engine maintenance and servicing procedures. There's plenty of advice on the web, and hunting down what seems the most applicable info is the hard part.

I came across a site called Off Center Harbor, a great site for older boats and new, but they have a great series of videos on servicing diesel engines. Jon Bardo does a great job of covering the basics of diesel engines, that series of videos is worth the OCH membership.

Of course, the engine in the OCH videos looks new, Eximius' is much longer in the tooth, but it still has the basic engine components, I just have to find them.

The plan is to use a vacuum pump to extract the oil via the dip stick, and then put in new oil. Because I'm not sure when the last oil change was done, I plan on doing a 2nd oil change after allowing the engine to run for 10 minutes. If needed, I'll do a third oil change, right now the oil is pretty black and that's the only clue I have that I need to flush the old oil out by doing several oil changes in succession.

So, that's the plan! Let's see how it goes.

I purchased this: Air Power America 2000 LiquiVac Oil Changing System for Large Engine from Amazon.

To give an idea about it's size, it's about 20" long. I'll get to use it tomorrow when we do our first oil change before our weekend sail and anchor at Lake Sylvia.

How did it do?

Good news, it worked really well, at least until I tried to empty the pump kit, more on that later.
Following the instructions that came with the pump kit, I connected up the tubes and inserted the thin tube into the dipstick pipe. Then with the inlet valve on the pump closed, I quickly pumped a vacuum with 30 strokes on the pump handle. Was a little disconcerted by the collapse of the pump body, but understandable.

Then, with some paper towel around the dip stick pipe and under the pump kit, I opened the pumps inlet valve (the plastic connector that attaches the tube to the pump tank) and it quickly sucked the oil up the tubing and into the tank.

Left it doing that for a few minutes, and watched as the tank regained it's shape as the vacuum was replaced by oil.
Closed the inlet valve and applied another 20 strokes to the pump, then reopened the inlet valve. I did that 4 times in all and ended up with over 2 quarts of oil in the tank. A good start.

One last closure of the inlet valve and 20 strokes of the pump. Then I removed the tube from the dipstick pipe and opened the inlet valve to suck the oil out of the tubing.

So far so good, no mess. While waiting for the oil to be sucked out, I replaced the engine oil filter. Easy, just put paper towel below the oil filter and use a filter wrench to loosen it, replace the filter (applied a little oil to the filter gasket) and tightened it up with the wrench.

Now to empty the oil from the pump kit tank ... this is where I screwed up!
There was an empty oil bottle in the port side bench locker so I planned to pour the oil from the tank into that bottle. Using a funnel and plenty of paper towel covering the cabin sole, I started to pour the oil out of the tank into the bottle .... Arrggggg! There was a hole in the bottle, oil all over the cabin wood floor! 
Of course, both hand were full, one holding the funnel, the other the tank and Peggy stuck up in the cockpit with the cabin entry steps removed!

Lots of paper towel!!! Quickly found a plastic pale to put everything oily and a quick clean up of the floor with soapy paper towel.

Once clean up was complete, I put 2 quarts of oil into the engine. We flashed it up for a minute and let it sit for 10, then checking the dipstick, I added another pint of oil, ran it again for a minute, then waited 15 till checking the dipstick again. Perfect.

Phew. Now we have to do that a few more times to clean out the old oil.

And that oil bottle with the hole? Did you guess it? The bottle was stored in the port cabin bench locker at the side of the holding tank with half a dozen assorted oil bottles, but that empty one was resting on a stainless steel tube clamp. It had been there when we bought the boat, and was another thing we were going to get around to investigating/inventory. The clamp had worn a hole in the bottle, it was not empty. Now it is, and the oil is in the bottom of the locker under the holding tank. How the heck can I get that out without removing the holding tank.

Peggy came up with a solution... Use the Oil change pump! Duh! So guess what I'll be doing down at the boat this weekend.

Next oil change I'll have a container to drain the pump tank and should be able to get at least 2 oil changes done.

Another lesson learned.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

July 4th .... special

Arrived at Bahia Mar marina midday Friday. We nailed the docking but, as is the rule,  no peanut gallery.

Several HISC boats already here, so after getting checked in, we headed up to the pool. If you are familiar with Florida's summers then you know how good it felt to dive into the pool. Coool.

Later that evening we joined Dale, Jacqui, Bill, Joan, Graham, Nancy, Paul, Diane, Jeff, Bob... and a bunch more of the HISC members at the Bahia Cabana Restaurant for dinner, at least, that was the plan! The power transformer across A1A blew and all of the block had total power failure, they could not even run their Credit Card machines (that needs a plan!)

So we headed across the road to the 'B' and had a great dinner facing the roadway watching all the walkers, bikers, skateboarders, stroller pushers, and all, go by.

Saturday was the 4th, so we pulled the flag to the top of the mast and later that day, Dale came aboard and climbed the mast. Ok, he didn't 'climb' the mast, we hoisted him up using a winch while Jacqui winced. Dale successfully threaded a halyard through the existing flag halyard block under the stbd spreader. So now we can fly burgees - another item to cross off the list.

HISC Round Table
At lunchtime we all headed up to the Tower on the West side of the Marina for a patio lunch. But somehow, Jacqui & Dale (hosts of the event with Bill) managed to get an upgrade. So we had an air-conditioned room for a private party. Pool, Sag Bags, Tumble Bricks, and great conversations.

I'm not sure that anyone other than myself noticed that the rug in the room was an abstract of the British Flag. Nice to see the UK represented even if it was underfoot.

Two J's

Dig in

Suzi in charge

Everyone was visiting the boats, including ours, and making plans for the evening to watch the fireworks from the beach. We're really not crowd types, so we planned to watch from the cockpit on Eximius. Several other members planed to do the same on their boat. A few adventurous types headed out to the very crowded beach (at least I was told it was crowded, looking that packed car parking areas, it was!)

So, we had a great 4th.

I'll add some video later.

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Monday, July 6, 2015

We've got Cards

If you hang around enough sailboat owners, someone will give you their card.

Here's our first Sailing Card

The insert pic is a selfie we took this past new years eve. For the past 10 years, we have celebrated the arrival of the New Year aboard our 25' Catalina on Biscayne Bay. This year (2015) the weather was not co-operating, and we did not get to go sailing. Instead, we took a bottle of bubbly on to the boat which was sat on her trailer at the side of our house beneath the tarp.

That pic is one of my favorites.

Here's looking to celebrating on New Years eve this December aboard Eximius, not sure where we'll be, something else to look forward to.

See you on the water.