Saturday, March 19, 2016

My 1st Double Braid Line Splice.

During my Navy career, I leaned that you had to blow your own horn before someone else used it as a spittoon!

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been working on moving all of the mainsail reefing lines back to the cockpit so that I don't have to go up on deck to reef the sail. Like most monohull sailboats, Eximius demands that a person (normally me) goes up on deck to put in the mainsail reef to reduce sail area in anticipation of worsening weather. Going up on the deck is not the best place to be out on the ocean, but the way the lines were positioned on Eximius, it was a requirement. So we would normally put the 1st reef in place before we headed out and we would shake them out if the weather proved light enough to put all the sail out, for us, that's about 16kts, we like the boat upright.

During this job, I took the extra step of replacing the almost new Main Halyard. I had replaced just a few months ago, and used the old line as the template for the new, but the old line was a good fit in the line clutches and I was reluctant to replace the line with something smaller, which is what the owners manual indicated should be used. RTFM! The Main Halyard line is $2.07 a foot and it's 119' long! expensive! So I replaced it with the line size from the manual. In addition to the line itself, there's also the cost of having a shackle spliced into the end of the line where it connects to the top of the Main Sail. That's a few bucks too!

This time, I bought the tool for doing the splice myself, and here's the result - Did I hear a Horn blast!

This is my first ever Double Braided Line Splice EVER! And it came out just too cool!
The line is 3/8 StaSet Double Braded Line, the shackle was from the original Halyard.

See you on the Water.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


The Bimini, Dodger, the piece that goes between, and all of the side panels that make up the enclosure around the cockpit of Eximius are all Zippered! That's the good news, it means that we can remove them if we have to! (Ok, all but the Bimini as it has our Solar Panels atop of them, bolted through!)

And those zippers are probably at least 10 years old, I'm guessing some are much much older (Eximius will be 30 next year), so some of them get a little bit grouchy when it's time to exercise. I have had to resew a couple of them because it was so difficult to get the zipper to move along the zip that the force actually tore the stitches out.

I mentioned this to a good friend, owners of Spruce Goose, Joyce Klein, and she is a diver that works for a company that sells dive equipment online. This weekend, Joyce gave me a tube of Zip Tech and suggested it might make a difference.

According to the label, the lubricant does not contain any silicone or paraffin wax, both of which I have seen in other products. It's like a large lip balm

Well folks, it works! The first zipper that I lubricated using zip tech  when from a stubborn, already broke the zip tab, pain the butt zipper to an ooooooh, this is easy zipper!

With that success, I applied it to all of the zippers on the boat Dodger, they all responded, I'm sure I could hear them saying thank you!

I checked their price compared to Amazon, Dive Gear Express is better!

Zip Tech is certainly easy to use, I just applied it to the closed zip surface and then opened/closed the zip a few times, it got easier and easier as the lubricant worked into the zip. Then I wiped off any surface residue. The lubricant is a white solid and as I wiped it on the zip surface, the zip left a groove in the soft lubricant, so I turned the tube about 90 degrees each time I wiped a new area of zip. I probably used about 1/4 tube to lubricate about 20' of zippers, but really can't tell how much is left in the tube, so I'm ordering a tube from Dive Gear Express. From now on, each time I have to operate a previously unused zipper, I'm going to lubricate it with this stuff. When I lube the boat cushions, I'll be really careful to wipe off the excess, don't want it getting onto any clothing, although we haven't had to clean it off anything yet.

I would give this product 5 stars, reasonably price, good size, does the job and easy to stow aboard, won't adversely affect the zipper plastic or metal and will make opening or closing the zips sooooo much easier.

Thanks for introducing me to this zipper lube Joyce.

See you on the water.

Update April 3rd 2016
In preparation for an upcoming race, I have been working on leading all of the lines aft to the cockpit, including the Main Halyard (the line used to raise the Main Sail to the top of the mast).

Having completed the project, I raised the sail and tested the process of putting in and taking out the 2 reefs to reduce the sail area in anticipation of worsening weather. When I dropped the sail back down to the boom it stopped halfway down due to friction between the mast and and the sail slugs that keep the main sail secured to the mast but allow it to be hoisted and lowered.
Having done all this work to reduce the necessity of going up on the cabin top  to adjust the sail, it was disappointing to still go up on the cabin top to stow the sail.

Then it occurred to me, perhaps the Zip Tech would also lubricate the sail track? So I applied some of the lube to a cloth and inserted that into the track and raised it up the mast like a flag. A couple of times up and down and I felt it could be ready to test.
I raised the sail to the top and dropped it, quite an improvement, repeated the process, it got better. In all I treated the mast track 4 times, spreading out the lube along the length of the mast.
The result:

Pretty impressive.

I have purchased 2 more tubes of the lube from Dive Gear Express, here's a link to there website. FYI am I not affiliated in any way to Dive Gear Express, just good friends with Joyce Klein & Mike Megarity.

Thanks again Joyce.

See you on the Water.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Getting the FAX! Weather fax that is...

We're planning our trip to the Bahamas in late spring/early winter. The boat is pretty much ready all except a few rigging checks/repairs as needed.

I'm really interested in understanding the weather options: How to get weather reports and how to include them in our cruising plans. Here in the USA we can get weather reports on the boat via the VHF Radio, Locally on our Phones & Tablets.

So far I have got the radio that can receive the weather faxes, it's a Tecsun PL-880 that has an SSB receiver and is a pretty cool radio. I also ordered a long HF antenna wire, but it has not arrived yet, should be here any day now.

Also got the HF Weather FAX app for my Android Tablet. But so far we have been too close to shore in order to get the signal to noise ration on the SSB down to where we can actually get the weather fax audio which will be the input for the Tablet.

Meanwhile, I'm studying weather lessons on the web and have a bunch of resources.

Weather Surface Charts from NOAA

Legend of Weather Chart Icons

NOAA Weather Symbols & Test Chart

Jeff Haby's online Weather Course

And the list keep growing.

Right now I'm working my way to understanding the weather faxes (weather surface charts from NOAA above) by reviewing all of the charts available on a daily basis. I feel that I'm getting reasonable at interpreting them, I forecast the storm that hit the cruise ship out of New Jersey last week with really high winds and waves. - Not my work, but at least I was able to tell myself that I did not want to be in that area ahead of the reports.

Of course, we'll have cell phone coverage for much of the time we're in the Bahamas, so we should be able to get data and receive the weather faxes from NOAA from the link above. But I feel that learning to read the charts ahead and make a more informed expectation of the upcoming weather will only be a benefit. Plus, with all the spare time we'll have aboard during our trip, what else am I going to do?

See you on the Water.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A stitch in time

For Christmas, my Birthday, and probably every anniversary in the future, I purchased a Sailrite LSZ-1 Sewing Machine - just in time!

For those of you that are not familiar with SailRite, they make awesome Sewing Machines, and the LSZ-1 was my choice.

For the past 10 years, I have done various canvas repairs or new canvas projects, everything from a Cover for our onboard TV, to a full blown Riding Sail for our previous sailboat. With our purchase of Eximius, I knew that we were going to have to spend a lot of dollars on Canvas work and our experience has been that if you pay for it, you really pay for it! The Sewing Machine cost just shy of $1,000 including shipping. To rationalize the purchase, I made a list of things that could be done if I owned a 'Real' sewing machine capable of sewing canvas - multi layers.
Here's my list:

  • Winch Covers.
  • Wheel & Pedestal & Instrument Covers
  • Cockpit Engine Control Panel Cover
  • Cabin Bug screen for V-Berth & Opening Ports
  • New Covers for the V-Berth Cushions.
  • Fender Covers (we have 6 Big Fenders)
  • Tool roll for the wrenches kept on board (the original plastic tool holders fell apart)
  • Companionway Cover
  • Weather Cloths (Port & Starboard)
  • Chaps for our Dinghy
  • Dinghy Outboard Engine Cover
  • Lee Cloth for Port Settee
  • Garbage Can(cloth) for Galley
  • Boom Tent (to keep boat cooler during the summer)
  • New Dodger (old is falling apart)
  • New Dodger Side Panels (to go with the new Dodger)
If you have not spent money on Canvas work, allow me to point out, that list will cover the cost of the machine about 3 times over!

This is the 'Kit' that I purchased, it weighs about 65lb, and the carrying box is strong enough to carry it, but I need to work out more.

The kit is portable, a lot of owners take their machine on board their boat all over the world. Luckily we carry a generator on board in case we ever need to use it afloat.

Note that little DVD package leaning against the case, that's a really good video and well worth watching.

Anyway, back to the 'Stitch in Time' thing. 
I finally did a few test pieces using the new machine, WOW, it easily sewed 8 layers of Sunbrella, I mean, it did not hesitate, the biggest issue I had was learning how to be tender with the foot control, it stitches those 8 layers so fast that it's easy to pass the end of the test pieces.

Next job was to repair our dodger, that's the canvas piece that keeps the weather out of the Cabin Entrance and provides a bit of wind shield when needed. The stitching on one of the zips was failing, wrong type of thread used in some past repair. The machine zipped through that repair (pun intended). But when we went out for the chili cook off, I tripped and put my weight onto the dodger canvas. That found another area where the thread has suffered UV damage and basically just came apart. So I brought the Dodger back home again and restitched it.
This job was a bit more complex, the restitching was pretty easy, but repairing the end connectors where the canvas had torn over several years was a challenge. Challenge for me, not the machine.

So hopefully, that stitch in time will prevent future failures until I can make an entirely new dodger & side panel set.

I mentioned about reviewing the DVD that came with the kit. That turned out to be a really valuable exercise.

While working on another project, adding a strap to a shade to go outside over our swimming pool (another item to add to the list of projects to pay for the machine) I broke a needle, it was my fault, and a lesson learned. However, after replacing the needle, the machine would not sew properly, and that's where reviewing the DVD turned out to be worth while.
The needle broke because I failed to follow a basic instruction, 'always put the foot lift lever down before commencing sewing' and the needle bent and dug a hole in an internal piece of the machine.

The DVD explained how that could happen, and what would be the consequence, and it's exactly what I experienced. I followed the instructions and filed out the ding in the workings, but the stitching was still just not right. It's amazing the confidence one has when armed with the right information. I reviewed the DVD again about the things to check and that's where I was able to figure out that the problem remaining was that the needle was not inserted high enough, it was an easy diagnostic after watching the video. A quick adjustment to the needle position and a test showed that everything was now ok.

So a big Thanks to the guys at Sailrite, and if you get one of their machines, watch the video!

Next project? We have the big Raft up event coming up on March 5th, and we have to have clean fenders! So it looks like I'll be making the fender covers next. They cost around $30 each! So get ready to recoup about $120 of the cost of the machine. Only $850 to go!

See you on the Water.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Where was everyone?

Where was everyone??

Peggy & I were aboard Eximius for a day sail outside of Port Everglades with Bob & Pat from Esprit Du Vent, another Catalina 34.

Bob & Pat arrived early, thank you! and paid attention as I read though the New Crew/Passengers Check List. Then after our Preparing to cast off check list, we headed out from the slip and motored down the New River... and for the first time ever, the East Coast Railroad Bridge was down. Most likely for a few minutes before we got sight of it, and of course, Andrews Avenue Bridge was down as no point in it opening. So we hung out keeping station for less than 10 minutes, then the bridges opened and we passed though without incident.

Sneaking under the closed 17th street causeway bridge in very light winds, we turned out towards the ocean raising the main then unfurling the jib about 10:00 as expected.

Wind all over the place but mostly from the north. After It got a bit crispy, we headed back into Port Everglades around noon and got to Lake Sylvia around 12:40 at anchor.... We had our Burgee out so that everyone could find us, but nooooooobody there ??
So we enjoyed lunch, alone on the hook till after 2pm then pulled the anchor and headed home. Sorry we missed the other club members... we had 4 bottles of wine, lots of cold drinks, Veggie & Fruit Platters, Coffee, fruit, yogurts, wraps, crackers & cheeses, so we dined well! Sorry we missed them.

We heard 'Magic' calling bridges but nothing on the horizon. Then as we headed up the new river, the East Coast Railroad bridge was closed - again! This time we were east of Andrews avenue bridge and heard over the radio that a TowBoatUS was dragging a 'quite large catamaran' out of the river and were upstream of 7th avenue bridge. We called Andrews to let them know we were in line and called Tow Boat US to discuss options for us two passing between the bridges. They agreed that we should head through the bridges ahead of them. We were able to hold station really well downstream of Andrews bridge and could see the railroad bridge from our position. Several boats on our Stbd side were tide up alongside the river, and they were obviously discussing our position holding. But we did really well.

Finally the northbound train passed over the bridge and both the FEC bridge and Andrews started to open. As agreed, we snuck through first, hugging the fenders on the North side of the river. We thanked the Andrews Avenue Bridge tender for the opening and then the TowBoaUS for allowing us to go through first, and then we remarked that TowBoatUS had not told us they were towing a spaceship! Wow, what a great looking Catamaran! SyFy!

The rest of the trip up the river was pretty routine and we tied up after Peggy did a great job bringing Eximius alongside our slip. Then a few minutes patiently swinging the boat to face back East before tying the lines and putting the fenders out. 

Bob and Pat were great company today, we really enjoyed sharing our experiences with them and very glad that they were able to come out even if it was a kinda short sail.

See you on the Water

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Goodbye Florida!

We have enjoyed sailing our boat on the ocean off of the coast of Florida, and we keep her at a slip in Fort Lauderdale, but we don't know how long we can continue to do that as the anchoring restrictions law has just passed it's first hurdle in the Florida House.

What does this mean for us and for other boaters?

1st, if the law is finally passed, then we will not be able to anchor in Florida! That means we have to leave our slip and sail to other places where we can anchor, that's not in Broward county! So the first loser (after ourselves) will be the home owner from whom we rent the slip... that will cost him around $4800 a year!
Next will be the local marinas - as we will not be able to anchor in Broward county, then marinas here will not be able to get our business... that will cost them about $3000 a year.

Then there will be the untold cost of tourists from out of state curtailing their visiting to south florida... they'll head directly to the Bahamas bypassing Florida. Hopefully they won't get caught in bad weather because they have nowhere to anchor until it improves, but if they are caught out in rough seas and have to call the Coast Guard, that will cost the government a fortune.

Next to feel the effect is the Miami Boat Show! When buyers find out that they cannot anchor their boat in Broward county, well... Oh, perhaps we'll by a ticket to fly to the Bahamas or even Cuba!

Whatever way you look at it, this is a disaster for Florida Business, Boat Owners, and Tax Payers!

The 1%er's are buying their politicians to get the bill through. So it comes down to the Ballet Box! They are all up for re-election soon! and their stance on this bill will be recorded.
Some really powerful lobbying has to be going on here.

For the record! If a politician promises to strike down this bill, they'll get my vote.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Under Attack! Again & I didn't win the lottery!

The latest round of attacks on boat anchoring rights is up for grabs on Tuesday this week.

Wealthy waterside home owners must be pumping big money into our politicians in an attempt to introduce legislation via Florida House Bill HB1051 - That Bill (and in my language, Bills are normally expensive) would set the stage for anyone to request implementation of anchoring restrictions in their neighborhood by quoting the HB1501 as a precedent.

In Short - If HB1501 is passed, boaters will be unable to anchor anywhere in Florida within just a few years. That means a lot of boaters will avoid Florida as they won't be allowed to anchor overnight.

And... you can bet that once they have the option to ban overnight anchoring, then daytime anchoring will follow quickly.

Please read Wally Moran's post about this Bill on Anchoring Restrictions in Florida, I have put a link to his article at the bottom of this post.

Here's the link to the Florida State Legislators. 
If you are a Floridian, then email the members of the subcommittee and then PHONE them on Monday. Put a mark in your Calendar!

Here's the email that I sent to Katie Edwards (D) 

Paul Alcock

01/24/16 8:04 AM

To the Honorable Katie A. Edwards;

Hi Katie,
I appreciate that you allow us to reach you by email and I do so today because of my opposition to HB1051.

My wife & I own a 34' Sailboat on which, this past year, has cost us approximately $60,000, all of that spent at local businesses, private marinas, city marinas, and taxes.

As a home owner and Florida voter and am writing to express my opposition to HB1051 Recreational Boating Zones.

This bill will restrict overnight anchoring in five areas that have historically been used by Florida cruisers and visitors from out of state.

The bills interfere with our maritime rights to navigation which include anchoring. Anchoring restrictions impact many Florida recreational boaters who regularly cruise the waters and rivers of the state by limiting places to safely stop for the night, reprovision and get out of severe weather. Four of the proposed areas are in Southeast Florida where thousands of boaters transit yearly. Many marinas in Florida do not allow transient docking or in many cases are full and unable to accept additional boats

I urge you to vote against this bill.

Please be aware of the basis of this Bill: There is no safety concern, no government financial benefit, and no purpose to the Bill other than to remove the rights of us Citizens to be able to anchor our boats overnight on the public waters around Florida.

Once again, I urge you to vote against this bill.

Thank you.

Paul & Peggy Alcock
Florida Democratic Voter, Broward Resident, American Citizen.

Here's the link to Wally Moran's Article