Friday, June 23, 2017

New Lifelines

Overdue upgrade

If someone told me that the lifelines on our boat were the 30 year old originals, I would agree. They were the Stainless Steel Wire type that is covered in White Vinyl and tensioned with Stainless Steel Turnbuckles and very old style pelican hooks. About a month ago, I fell onto the lifeline near the bow of the boat from the dock while congratulating Peggy on a great docking maneuver, that caused the stanchion damage which required they be replaced. The turnbuckles had seized and had to be cut off. and that meant new lifelines.

Lifeline Options

After reading a gazillion topics about lifelines, choices, vinyl covered, steel, dyneema, turnbuckles, and more, I decided to replace our Vinyl Covered Steel Lifelines with 1/4" Amsteel, there was a lot to consider including:
  • Would it be ok to hang fenders from the Dyneema line? Well, I no have not secured a fender to the top life line in ages because I'm worried about bending the stanchions. I now secure the fenders to the base of the stanchions.
  • There are reports about Chaffing Dynmeea. This is an issue with the Dyneema, but it's so strong, that it will have to chafe a lot before I would be concerned - And as one of the guys on the C34 forum often says, the lifeline is just to show where the edge of the boat is located. It's not to provide a grab rail.
  • Is it difficult to work with? Turns out it's a whole lot easier than splicing double braid line and simple tools that don't require heavy duty stainless steel crimping.
  • Lifelines are exposed to UV, is that a problem? The Dyneema that I purchased has a UV coating - and it's so much easier to replace that the low cost and ease of replacement eliminates that concern.
  • How does the line connect to a Pelican hook to ease opening and closing the lifelines on either side of the cockpit. - I came up with a solution for that which works for me.

Ordering the Material

I found the Amsteel on Amazon, it was being sold at a really good price, but the 1/4" 100' is no longer available at that price, I looked today and only found 600' for close to $600 - so search around.
To secure the lines to the Bow & Stern Pulpit tubes, I needed lashing line, that came from Amazon also as did the thimbles for the ends of the line. The Pelican hooks came from

Getting down to work

I Used a 4.5" Angle grinder to cut off the old seized lifelines & turnbuckles. That's 8 lines! Port & Stbd aft upper & lower lines & pelican hooks, Port & Stbd Main lifelines, upper and lower.

Following many You-Tube videos, I spliced a thimble onto one end of each line and temporarily secured that to the pulpit (upper lower port & stbd main lines) and to the aft pulpit (upper lower port & stbd main lines) with a long length of lashing line.

For the main lines I ran them through the stanchions all the way aft and through the aft most stanchion and marked the line where it came out of the stanchion.
Then releasing the lashings at the front of the line connecting it to the pulpit, I spliced a thimble onto aft end of each line and redid the lashing to pull the splice into the holes of the aft-most stanchion.
Now the aft most thimble is tight up against the stanchion.

Next I threaded each of the forward end of the aft lines through a new pelican hook. I used the lashing line to whip the end of the Dyneema to create a binding that would not pass through the threaded tube of the Pelican hook, but small enough that it would allow the pelican hook to close. That worked well, but when a friend leaned heavily on the lifeline, that binding came out of the pelican hook.
So I then replaced the lashing line with Stainless Steel Locking wire and that will not slip through the Pelican hook.

10 Thimbles (only needed 6) $12.95
98' of 2mm Lashing line $33.20
200' of Amsteel 8600lb. average tensile strength (1/4" x 100 ft. Hank, Black) $172.00
4 Pelican hooks (marinepart depot) $48.00

Total Cost $180 plus shipping (but most of it was from Amazon prime)

I'm really pleased with the results. I did change the design slightly, moving the Pelican hooks to the forward end of the aft lines, now the lines drape nicely over the Bimini and pulpit frame when they are open and it's easy to close them. The Pelican hooks attach to the Thimbles on the aft end of the main lifelines. It works very well.

I am left with quite a bit of the Amsteel line, so I'm making several things using that. A spliced loop to attach my new Anchor Snubber to the Chain, Lanyard to secure our Winchrite cordless winch handle to eliminate the risk of it falling overboard if it jerks to a stop, and as many Soft Shackles as I could ever need.

Followup. It looks like I was really lucky to get the 200' of Amsteel 1/4" line for $86! At the much higher price now online it would make it a tougher call to choose between Synthetic line and Stainless Steel. However, the ease of doing this project using the synthetic line would still push me to using it over the Steel option.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

No Smoking Pt. 2

Getting the Injection Pump Serviced.

The guys at South Eastern Power Product recommended that I get the Injection Pump serviced, that meant that I have to pull it out and take it to a local pump servicing company. Because we keep our boat in Fort Lauderdale Florida, there are lots of Marine companies around here. I selected RPM Diesel on State Road 84, that's about 15 minutes away from our boat.

Removing the Pump

Here's a pic of the pump with the Fuel Tubes removed. To get the pump out I had to disconnect a few things. There's the Bleed Valve (on the left side of the pump in the pic), The Lifting ring to the right of the pump and the Air Intake Manifold which is at the top of the pic. Getting all of those bits off only took about 20 minutes which included little things like loosening the Glow plug connections and removing the #1 & #3 glow plugs.

Next I just had to remove the 2 nuts and 2 bolts that secure the pump in place. 
To get the pump out, I just had to move the Stop lever fully aft and that allowed the pump to lift out of its housing in the engine block, that trick is important, the pump will not come out until the Stop lever is moved aft.

Installing the new Pump

RPM completely rebuilt the inside of the Injection Pump and had it ready for pickup within 24 hours, and about $400 and, of course, other things happen, so I had to delay picking it up until my truck was out of the service shop. Installing the pump was pretty straight forward and went quickly, a little too quickly! While re-installing the Air Intake Manifold, one bolt sheared before I even got to use the torque wrench. Another trip to South Easten Power Products, I called them asking if they had that bolt in stock, they did, so I drove over there the next morning. Tommy was quick to give me the bolt ready and waiting. They never cease to amaze me about the level of knowledge, service and just plan 'be nice to the customer'. I'm so glad they are nearby - there may be more trips to their store in the future. I can certainly recommend them to any of my buddies that have Kubota engines.

With the new bolt in hand, Peggy & I went down to the boat after lunch today, it took about 20 minutes to complete the manifold install, connect all of the glow plugs and the fuel tubes & hoses, then we were ready to see if it all worked.

Bleeding the Fuel System.

Over the past week I have read dozens of articles and watched as many YouTubes about how to bleed a diesel engine. Turned out to not be much of a deal. Peggy sat at the helm by the Engine Control Panel. We ran the fuel pump for 10 minutes with the bleed valve on the pump open and then a couple more with the bleed valve almost closed. Engine bay vent motor for a minute, then start #1. The engine turned over just fine but did not fire up, as expected. Check drained the muffler so that we don't get back flow into the engine during a long crank period. This time Glow Plugs on for 20 seconds then start #2 - Engine turned over and coughed then died. Start #3 - Glow Plugs 10 seconds, Start - Engine ran a bit rough. I cracked open the 3 injector tube connections on top of the Injectors. and let a small amount of fuel escape from each tube. Engine kept running. Increased RPM to 2000 and let it run for 4 minutes, sounding sweet. Cranked the engine up to 2800 RPM, WooooHoo! Back down to 800 RPM, minimum and it ran just fine (not it's best idle speed, we typically idle at about 900RPM.)

Last test. Shut down the engine and try a restart. Peggy pulled the Stop level, engine shut down. Ignition off for 3 minutes. Ignition on, Press Start - WoooHooo! started without hesitation.

So, what started out as a simple Injector replacement ended up costing about $800, but at least we know that the Injectors are New, pump is as good as New, New Fuel tubes & Intake Gaskets.  Last job is to clean and spray paint the parts of the engine that don't have a protective coat with some look good gold colored paint.

I have to tell you, it was a huge relief when the engine started up. Sometimes things happen, but we're learning, just work your way through them.

So now we can .... See you on the Water!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

No Smoking

No Smoking - that's the goal

The latest saga in the maintenance of Eximius is to Stop the Engine Smoking - Kinda.

When we were over in Bimini, some sailing buddies noticed that we belched a lot of black goop out of our exhaust when we made a rapid change/ increase in engine RPM during the botched maneuver of getting the boat alongside the dock at Bimini Big Game Marina.

After speaking with several people that I have a lot of respect about their diesel engine knowledge and reading for hours on the C34 forum, I came to the conclusion that it was most likely the Injectors that needed servicing. So, plan was to remove - inspect - service/replace and install the Injectors.

Fortunately, there is a Kubota dealer just 10 minutes away from our house, I have had reason to go there in the past (there's a link to their website in my Links Page) and they are really helpful folks with half a century of expertise in the Kubota engines between just 3 of their employees.

A quick trip to the dealer and I had the new Injectors @ $67 each which was great as I had found them on the internet at $150 each. While there, I asked if they could give me a tutorial on changing out the injectors. Just so that you know what I'm talking about, here's a pic 
#3, & #2 Fuel Injectors (#1 is off the screen)

The engine is a Universal M25-XP 3 pot diesel, probably the original from 1987 and I'm guessing so are the Injectors.

The tutorial gave really clear instructions on how to do the change out and what to move as well as what to not move.
The 'Do not move' things are known as Delivery Valve Holders that are on top of the Injector Pump assembly. The fuel delivery tubes (you can see 3 in the pic) are connected to those Delivery Valve Holders (DVH) and to the top of the Injectors.

Armed with the new Injectors we went down to the boat to take care of business. Easy Peezy - really - just a couple of 'gotchas'

The instructions from the dealership was to disconnect the fuel delivery tubes from the Injectors and the DVH's without moving (rotating) the DVH's. Not so easy! The fuel deliver tubes have been in place for 30 years and have siezed to their securing nuts, so turning the nuts to release them also rotated the DVH's every so slightly, that shouldn't matter much! Oh Oh! 

Old Fuel Delivery Tubes with New Injectors
Worried that the tubes would fail if I tried to re-tighten them, it was back to the dealership and purchase 3 new tubes. Each are different. They are labeled for Cylinder #1, #2 & #3. #1 is the forward (nearest the bottom of the pic) tube.

Despite wedging the DVH's they turned. It didn't matter that some of the knowledgeable folks on the C34 forum pointed out that I should have just bent the tube rather than try to disconnect them from the DVH's - another Oh Oh!

Anyway, I tightened down on the DVH's and had no problems attaching the new Fuel Delivery Tubes to the DVH's and the new Injectors. Ten minutes and all of the fuel return tubes were back in place, the fuel stop valve opened and the Air filter all put back together. Time to start the engine. 
That didn't go well - the engine would not start, not even a hint of trying. It was rotating when the starter button was depressed, but despite turning over, it would not fire up. Time to re-inspect everything.

Found a leak. When the fuel pump was running, a visible leak appeared at the #3 DVH where it screwed into the Injector Pump housing. That's not good, that DVH is the thing the dealer said should not be moved. Too Late!

Checking the manual and talking (again) with the dealership, the problem is that movement in the DVH.s - Injection pump timing is almost certainly out of sync - and this is not something that Jon Doe can fix, requires special equipment. Options are to replace the Injector pump - $580 or get the old one rebuilt and re-timed $350ish. And, as one of the C34 forum guys pointed out, we know that the old unit fits, and a new unit may not fit - things have changed in the 30 years since the engine was first made. So we're going for the rebuild.

Back to reading the forum and the detailed tech notes from the past 30 years of C34 users that have this type of engine. At this point I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to remove the Fuel Injection Pump for service. There's a qualified service company just 20 minutes away from where we keep the boat and it's a name that I'm familiar with. To back up using them, I spoke with a Marine engine guy that has dealt with many of these types of diesel engines and confirms that they do a great job and are recommended by the Kubota dealership. That's good enough for me.

Plan is to take the Injection Pump out on Monday, photograph everything in the area near the pump (apparently there is a block number that has data about the injection timing for that particular engine) and will visit the Service company Monday before noon.

Stay tuned. 

See you on the water (once we get the engine running again)


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Our First Bimini Cruise in Eximius

Two Years

That's how long it took for us to get the boat ready and ourselves ready, and looking back at what we have done to the boat and the knowledge we have gained, it could have been cut shorter but worth every bit of the effort.

Not our first trip to Bimini

In 2007, just 2 years after we purchased our first sailboat, we took 'JD' over to Bimini for a short weekend. We only stayed there for 2 whole days, arriving late, next day doing the customs thing, walkabout, and then back starting at 5am on the 4th day. Exhausted. But what we didn't know was how ignorant we were about our boat, our sailing skill, navigation, and preparedness.

Bimini 2017

Short Version: Motored / Sailed from the US to Cat Cay and the Bimini Islands and back to the US during out 10 day trip.

Great Start

We took care of a few final issues (like installing a new Alternator and Starter Solenoid) and loaded the boat during the week before our trip. On departure day, we only had to load the cold stuff and our electronics & meds, must have items 😊 

On Sunday May 21st, we motored out of our slip as soon as the tide had risen enough for us to get out of the canal, then the usual trip down the New River into Lake Sylvia ready for an early start Monday Morning.

Everything working fine. Our new InReach tracker was automatically recording our position via Satellite, and as we motored beyond the 17th Street Bridge we raised the Main & unfurled the Jib, but continued to motor until we were out of the Port Everglades Channel.

As we headed South, we could see another sailboat astern. Sjofn with Dave & Pam were motor sailing headed to Nixons in Biscayne Bay - We would meet up there.

The wind was OK, but I really didn't want to arrive at the entrance to Biscayne Bay at night, we have never navigated that channel in the dark yet, so we got the motor running and motor sailed easily down past Miami and Key Biscayne to the Stiltsville channel. Tide was in our favor and we were up to 7 knots under motor sail but the engine barely running at just above idle.

Chatting with Sjofn, we advised them that our plan was for a 1am start for the Bimini Crossing. Their plan was to leave a bit later.

Departing Florida

Navigating to the channel at night takes a bit of getting used to, lights look nearer than they are and there's a tendency to give turns a wider berth just to make sure.

We followed the track on our GPS, but quickly found a marker that we didn't notice on the chart. Note to self: Zoooooom In when setting the route. Peggy stood on the Stbd combing holding onto the Dodge grab rail and panning our powerful flashlight across our path. It got a bit hairy but we came through just fine.
Then, once out of the channel, we turned towards Fowey Rocks, which was the point that I had used to calculate our course for the crossing to Gun Cay Cut.

Time to wake up the Auto Pilot and head along our Course steered which, allowing for the flow of the Gulf stream, would keep us pretty close to the Rhumb line. Although we planned on taking a break it was still a new experience for us both, and we both ended up staying awake the entire crossing.

As we neared Gun Cay, I was concerned that we were too far south of the Cut, so I made a few corrections to the course steered, thinking that we were out of the Gulf stream at that point. Wrong! I should have left it alone, we ended up having to steer further South in order to make the Cut as the Northward flow on the West side of Gun Cay was significant.

Our first ever passage through Gun Cay Cut, so we stayed extremely focused. The Cut appears to be about a 1/4 mile wide, but on the North side there is a Rocky face and not far South from that is a mostly submerged rocky outcrop that it waiting to bite the unwary sailor.  Then, just inside that cut is a moving shoal that we could see because of the clear color change in the water.

We motored along the suggested shallow draft route and easily made it down towards Cat Cay.

Cat Cay

I had read a little about Cat Cay, but didn't hoist in enough. We knew that they charged a fee to tie up a dink in order to check in at Customs & Immigration, but didn't know it was $107 !!! Just to tie up the dink (although we could have tied up Eximius, same price). So we decided to take a slip for the night and that worked out to $199 including electricity, Vat etc. The Custom & Immigration fee was $150 which included our cruising permit which I believe lasts for 6 months.

In the morning we went for a stroll around the Island. To the East is the Airfield, (cannot really call it an Air Port) and the Cat Cay Light

From the Light, we took this pic showing the crowded the marina (sic), at least it shows Eximius alongside in front of Mimms Magic.

 There's a Restaurant and Admin building, it's all very nice, very private, but very nice.

The Bay to the East of the Airfield looks really nice, but wouldn't want to be there during bad weather.

Customs & Immigration offices

Looking out from in front of the Customs building.

After paying for the slip & electricity in the morning, we cast off. Peggy did a great job of turning us around in the narrow area adjacent to the alongside slip and staying well clear of Mimms Magic (From the Lauderdale Yacht Club) and we headed out of the Marina.

Looking at the conditions reported in the weather printout from the Cat Cay Admin office, it seemed wise to just anchor rather than head out of the Cut. The Cruising guilds advised not to anchor in the glide path of the Airfield, so we dropped our hook closer to the shore, east of the glide path.

We were only the 2nd boat in the anchorage, both of us on the Shore side of the glide path. During the morning, several other boats came across the Banks from the direction (East) of the Berry Islands. They headed towards the Gun Cay Cut, slowed when they saw the conditions, hesitated for a while and then, sensibly, chickened out and decided not to try going out of the cut.
If you maximize that video, you can see the Cut just in front of the Catamaran off our Stbd Quarter. The winds had picked up substantially and the waves coming in through the cut would making transiting a really risky ride. So we didn't and neither did any of the other boats, many larger than us.
By the evening there were 7 sailboats nearby. One and a power trawler, were too close to the Glide path, so the dockmaster came out on a PWC and told the owners that they had to move. One got a bit shirty, and had to be told again a little later on.

Overnight it was blustery and noisy, so we didn't sleep too well. At least the breeze kept us from sweating all night.

The next day was the same, so we just piddled about in the boat fixing / upgrading things. Seems that I always have something to work on.

Here's a link to our InReach Map Site

Friday was expected to improve and it did. We pulled anchor after a light breakfast and headed up to the Cut entrance, the conditions were much better this morning and we had no problem exiting the Cut then turning Northwards towards North Bimini. Wind was barely enough to sail, so, again, we motored. The trip up to North Bimini was without incident, we did see a couple of other sailboats, both heading North and we were able to see the Sapona to the East in Barnett Harbor, but our destination was Bimini Big Game Marina.

We had read about the entry to North Bimini and it didn't read well. But turns out it's not so bad. The GPS shows the way and the Buoys, although not quite 'Official' were a big help in getting into the channel past the shoaling near the entrance. A fueling ship was at anchor outside of the Bimini Sands Marina on South Bimini, but easily avoided. We knew about the marker in the middle of the channel, but didn't expect it to be what looks like a Concrete post with a light on top.

Calling into the BBG marina seemed a waste of time as it was obvious that other boats were not getting replies to their calls on VHF. We eventually just idled up and down the channel opposite the BG marina and were able to get a response. I'm glad we didn't have a Video cam working as we tried to pull into the dock. Next time I'll prepare lines on both sides of the boat, long lines, rather than wait to find out which side of the docks we would tie up. It turned out that there was about a 3 to 4 knot current into the dock on North side of the marina, and luckily no other boat in the slip next to the one designated for us. As we backed into the slip, the current took charge and dragged Eximius broadside to the dock with all hands ashore helping to prevent the boat getting damaged. In retrospect, I should have put the bow into the current and just held station. That way I would have been able to simply go astern by reducing the power while maintaining steerage. But friends and the dock team all helped out and we quickly got the boat facing the right way and tied along side. Thanks Astrid, Lee, and everyone else that helped out.

Once alongside and securely tied up, I headed up to the Admin office to register. We had requested the slip over a month ago and paid a deposit about a week ago, so it was an easy registration. Back to the boat and time to cool down. Hooking up the 110v shore power allowed us to get the boat's AC running. Then it was time for brunch on the Host Boat - Commotion. A bunch of us in their huge cockpit and typical banter of sailors on their boats, but everyone being in the same sailing club makes a difference. The start of a great visit to North Bimini.

Peggy & I went for a stroll down the main highway, Peggy thought it was just a lane, but Nooooo! That's the main roadway. There's enough room for 2 golf carts to pass each other, if they are careful. If one of the very few cars or fewer trucks come along then get to the side of the road. We passed the Library

On the way back we stopped at one of the house stores, I can't think of a more descriptive name, it looks like a house on the outside with a door into a front room that's a store. The owner makes her own Ice Cream - and that's worth tasting! Really good, especially in the dry heat of the day.

We had a lunch at the BBGM restaurant which was pretty good, but Dinner was on Commotion. Astrid & Ross, Tina & Lee, Guiseppi, Peggy & I shared a great Salmon & Chicken dinner which included Astrid's famous Kale Salad and more. We were trying to solve the important matters of the world, then Astrid produced her bottle of KillerPitch which I had never heard about before, but, trust me, I've been researching it since we returned, it's absolutely delicious.

After dinner, as Peggy & I stepped onto the dock from Commotion, the underside of the boat was lit up with their own lights and those of neighboring yachts, it was surreal. The boat appeared to be floating on air because the water was so clear.
Here's a pic of Eximius in the same waters.
This really is a magical picture, but the view down as we step from the dock to the boat is out of this world.

Here's what it looks like during the daytime, and yes! I know we need to clean the hull, it's on my list.

It's obvious that there's a significant tide range at the Bimini Big Game Marina, Peggy could only just manage to get on and off the boat during low tide, I'll have to look for a suitable temporary dock ladder. And in case you're wondering, they are not depth charge holders, those two white cylinders are the holders for our Propane tanks and the smaller tube is home for the Regulator and Solenoid.

The high street does have a bit of sidewalk. If you pass a building where the door is closed, then it's probably got AC inside or big fans. And it's not always obvious which are homes or Stores. Apparently, the Southern end of North Bimini has suffered by the Development to the North, it has significantly reduced the demand for the many small B&Bs that helped support the local community. There are signs that investment is happening, but there are as many signs that areas are heading in the wrong direction.

During our stay, the power went down multiple times, some for just a few minutes, at others it seemed down for over an hour. Consensus has it that the problem is poorly maintained electrical distribution and that the current fix is to reset the breakers at the power station rather than fix the problem which would benefit everyone.

I'm a die hard liberal, and it's sad to see the disparity between the wealthy yacht owners staying at the Marinas and the Locals that seem to be barely keeping things together. I'm not in favor of hand outs, but can see that with proper planning the town could benefit all around, but proper planning can only be achieved without the specter of corruption which is something that many of the locals blame for the disparity.

It's rare on a 30 year old boat to go out for a week or more and not have something break down. But when the AC shutdown while at the dock on shore power and power was available, that was something that had to be fixed right away. No surprise, the Raw Water Filter to the AC coolant pump was clogged with flotsam from the every changing water current at the dock. This was the first time I had to clean out that filter, so I didn't realize that I had screwed up when installing it. The tangs on the hose clamps were very close to the base of the filter cover and prevented it from rotating. I thought it was just stiff from never being opened during the nearly 2 years since it was installed. So when I tried to delicately unscrew the cover with a wrench, I heard a pip sqeak of a crack. Yep, the cover now had a crack in the side of it. I re-positioned the hose clamps to eliminate the problem but realized that the pump would suck air through the crack. Rescue tape to the rescue (sorry no pun intended). Now I'll have to replace that filter when we get back to Florida. I'll buy the replacement which matches the other Raw Water Filter (for the Engine) so that I have one set of spares rather than spares for different designs.

Sunday Morning we had breakfast at the Sharkies 'pavilion' on the South end of the Big Game Marina. Astrid seems to be able to pull a great cooked dish out from nowhere at any time. Tina made a delicious Bread pudding. Add to that a couple of Mimosas and good friends banter, it was a great close out of the HISC Memorial Day Cruise. Several of the participants were going back to Florida after that, others, like us, were going to stay around Bimini and the Cays a few more days.
An especial thanks to Ross & Astrid for making it a great weekend at Bimini Big Game Marina.

As the other boats departed, we stayed one more day at BBGM, then on Monday we checked out of the Marina and headed down to Barnett Harbor. We had seen the Sapona Wreck during our passage up from Cat Cay and several folks had mentioned it was worth a snorkel trip down there. So we headed out of the channel at North Bimini and turned South towards the Barnett Harbor cut.
When we got to the wreck there were several other boats anchored and by the time we had our snorkel gear ready, several more Yahoo boats turned up and some were anchored literally within docking distance of the wreck. I'm getting old, hearing the drunken shouts and taunts to the kids climbing on the wreck to jump off of the remnants of the wreck's Bow, was enough to stay clear. And of course, some power boaters had to let everyone know that they could blast towards and away from the wreck at great speed which didn't enhance the visit. So we didn't get to see much around the wreck. We'll plan to go back again but not on Memorial day.

After pulling the anchor, we turned towards the East and headed the mile or so towards the deeper water that would give us a clear path down to Honeymoon Harbor. The water was crystal clear, the view to the bottom and the grasses and fish was amazing. We arrived in pretty light winds and anchored off the East side of the Cay in sight of several other sailboats and a couple of multi story power yachts. Quite a few of the boat crews had taken a dinghy ride ashore, the beach looked really nice, we just relaxed with a glass, or two, of wine. Then we ran our Generator and got the AC running to make it bearable below decks.
Over night the wind picked up and I was concerned that we may get stuck inside the Cays again like the previous week, and at 0200 the Anchor Drag alarm went off, fortunately I had not had too much of the wine and was able to make sense of what was happening. We basically had swung 120° but had not dragged. Still, I remained in the cockpit for an hour just to make sure while Peggy went back down below to the V-Berth.
By morning the wind had subsided slightly, but was still high enough that I had a concern about transiting the Gun Cay Cut from the inside again. The Cut lay to the South, so, before we pulled anchor, I raised the Main with one reef set. Then we pulled the anchor, turned South.
We were headed directly into wind as we kept away from the Shoreline just West of us and avoided going too far East to waste time getting to the Cut. We turned Westward in deep water and now the wind was on our Port side, engine running well but the sail should help us sail through the cut if the engine had decided to take a break. It didn't! Once through the Cut, we turned to deeper water and then onto our heading to bring us back to Fort Lauderdale, and I unfurled the Jib to one reef also.

We were doing 6 knots on course and the Gulf Stream working in our favor by dragging us Northwards while we steered a course aimed to the South of Fort Lauderdale, finally! some sailing. The wind was on our Port Quarter, so were the waves and that's not the best situation for the Auto Pilot, so I manually steered and enjoyed the feel of the boat as she sailed smartly to our destination - Florida.

The wind only lasted for about 2 hours, then it backed and dropped so that we only had 3 knots of apparent wind almost on our stern. Time to get the engine back on line. With the engine running at about 1900 rpm, we kept up our speed around the 5 - 6 knots, and with the change in wind conditions, the Auto Pilot was able to handle the task so we let Otto take the helm while we kept lookout.

It's a long ride back home. But having a good friend (Peggy) on board helps pass the time, we talked about just about everything we had done on the trip and even some plans for future trips, what we would do and what we would not do.

My navigation planning for the route home was spot on, and we were destined to reach the entrance to Port Everglades without changing course. It takes a bit of getting used to ignoring that direction that bow is pointing towards and focusing on the direction that the boat is moving. In our case, we appeared to be headed a bit South of Hollywood, but our track on the GPS showed us heading directly towards the Outer marker of Port Everglades.

Over the VHF we heard a call from the Navy that they were performing and unmanned vessel exercise in the area South of Port Everglades, right in our path, and, of course, they asked all vessels to stay out of the area. I called the Navy Range boat Kate to confirm the extent of the navigation box that was affected, and that confirmed that we would pass right through the middle of the box, pretty much from the South East Corner up to the North West Corner. Oh well! Change course. So we turned North so that we could get directly east of the Port entrance, time for a sleigh ride! We were doing 5 knots through the water and at one moment I saw 10 knots GPS speed (Our tracker reported that our max speed was 9.42knots) WooHooo!

Of course, there was a downside to that high speed Northwards. We were now ready to turn West but had to turn almost South West to make up for the Roaring Gulf Stream Flow to the North. So we probably added about an hour to our trip, we felt the consequence of the Stream right up to where we were inside of the Outer Marker for Port Everglades. If we get caught like that again, I'll opt to take the inside track nearer to the shoreline even though there is normally a bit of a Southerly current along there.

Finally we arrived at the Port and turned up onto the Intracoastal Waterway, then down into Lake Sylvia.

Lake Sylvia is a popular anchorage for boats just arriving from the Bahamas or from Miami or even from the Palm Beaches and North, but it's also becoming crowded with Liveaboards. Now, some of those boats give the rest of us a bad name. Eximius is not the smartest boat in the South, but we maintain her and we use her, with her permission of course. And there are many folks that live on their boats full time that do likewise, keeping their boats safe and sound. The problem is that there are several boats that are lived aboard but are in almost derelict condition. I'm guessing that the problem is insufficient earnings by those that live on those boats. And there's a good chance that if they did not live on their boats then they would be homeless. The liveaboard lifestyle is not sustainable if the crew are not earning enough to take care of their boats. Eventually those boats become wrecks and that empowers local residents to take action to eradicate them. And, of course, that results in the Baby being tossed out with the Bath water. If regulations are imposed to prevent anchoring in order to eliminate the derelict boats, it also eliminates the anchoring for every boat. I'll vote for improved wages.

As it happens, we could not find a location with enough space to anchor where our anchor would hold. I pulled the anchor four times, and puling 80' of 5/15" anchor chain is a work out! Peggy finally suggested (thank you honey!) that we head up to Sunrise Bay which is normally pretty clear and has some good holding. We did, it did and we had a quite night at anchor after cooling the boat for an hour using the generator.

While in Sunrise Bay we had great cellphone coverage and we had the chance to catch up on our emails and messages, the regular world was coming into view.

Wednesday morning we prepped the boat for unloading while still at anchor, tides were a factor and departing the lake too early would result in us being unable to get to our dock. The Fridge/Freezer was turned off, food transferred to coolers, clothes and bedding packed and lines on the boat rigged for being alongside our dock.

After pulling the anchor and heading down to the Sunrise Blvd Bridge we arrived in time for their 1100 opening. We motored easily down the ICW towards Los Olas Blvd Bridge. enroute we saw Silver Cloud waiting for the bridge opening. I hailed them on 09 and switched to 68. We had not seen them in the area before, yet their registration port was Deerfield Beach. A quick chat and found that they were preparing for a trip over to Spain. Young couple and gutsy, I would have guessed the boat to be about 38feet. Back to 09 and we passed Los Olas and Bahia Mar, then turned Westward and towards the New River. The bridges were very obliging and opened in time for us without hardly any delay. We turned into the Canal where we keep Eximius and headed towards our dock. Then, just as we got to the dock, we went aground. Dang! Too Early! With a bit of nudging using the engine we were able to turn Eximius so that she faced East, Port side too.

We're back.

It took about an hour for us to unload the boat and load the car before heading home. Exhausted! Felt like Jet Lag.

We went down to the boat the next morning to wash down the boat and unload the additional Fuel.

Time to get the laundry done.

Great Trip. Looking forward to the next one.

To Do list has grown a bit.

Here's a screen shot of our Trip's Map using InReach. If you go to this link each dot has a date and time stamp.

See you on the Water!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Preparations for Trip to Bimini

We're celebrating our 2nd Year Anniversary owning Eximius.

This time 2 years ago, we were getting the Survey, Bottom Paint, Cutlass Bearing, Hull cleaning and Poly Glowing and bringing her home.

Over the past two years we have put a lot of effort into bringing the boat up to specs, still quite a way to go, but she's working great and it's time to celebrate.

So ----
We're heading over to Bimini next week.

  •  Float Plan is recorded with the SVRS 
  • Mail is on Hold 
  • All documentation is copied and ready for Customs (US & Bahamas)
  • Family keeping an eye on the house. 
  • Boat loaded with Fuel, Drinks and Non-perishables. 
  • Frozen foods loading on Sunday along with clothing & Fresh Water. 
  • We hope to Pump out on the New River by 3rd Avenue Bridge using the city pump outs. 
  • Head down to Lake Sylvia Sunday 
  • Down to Miami (Nixons) Monday 
  • Head over to Bimini Early Tuesday. 
  • Loaf around the Cat Cays and then Big Game Marina for Memorial Day. If the weather permits, we'll hang out a few more days down by Gun Cay or we'll head back to the US and have a day or two in Biscayne Bay.
  •  You'll be able to track us Here
See you on the Water.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Searching for the Easter Bunny

Easter Spring Fling Cruise

The HISC planned to have this year's Easter Cruise (to be the Spring Fling Cruise from now on) at Lake Sylvia, however, there have been an increased number of liveaboards and visiting cruisers in the lake and that would make anchoring an additional 10 to 15 boats a bit of a squeeze. So the cruise planners moved it to Lake Sunrise, but then realized that it's Sunrise Bay. Nothing like a bit of confusion to get folks started on the search for the Easter Bunny.


As it happens, the weekend - April 14th to April 16th was a  rare one for us in that the tide suited us at both our departure from the dock on Friday and return on the Sunday.


As we were going to be able to leave the dock before lunch Friday and get back after lunch on Sunday, we had one dinner and one breakfast to take with us. The club was having a BYOA (Bring your own Appetiser) which normally translates, to 'You probably won't need to eat dinner after that'
So we took Oats for 2 days (just in case) and a Chicken Cacciatore for the Friday Night and a spare meal of pulled pork in tomato sauce. Plus a few bottles of wine, some Tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese for the appetizer which I would put together onboard Saturday afternoon. Oh, a bottle of Rum in case we had any guests along with our usual crates of water, V8, G2 and Ginger Ale. That should cope with anyone stopping by.

Beware the Bridges

It was an easy motor down the New River until we got to the FEC Railroad bridge which was down for maintenance and could only be opened via a Crane on the South side of the  bridge. We called the tender and asked for an opening. Their response was that the bridge had just closed and it would be 10 minutes before they could open it again. I advised them that I would do a few donuts in Sailboat Bend to kill the time, to which they replied - They'll open the bridge sooner if they can see me. 
So we did a couple of donuts at sailboat bend and then turned towards the bridge. At that time of the Friday morning, there were few people about at the bend, but there was a family preparing for a Kayak tour which seem pretty popular in that area.
We turned towards the bridge and could see the Crane attached to the South end of the span and as soon as they saw us, the supervisor started blowing his whistle to instruct the workers to clear the bridge for raising. It took less than 10 minutes for them to clear the bridge and raise it. Because of the crane attachment, they could open it partway, so we had to hug the south bridge fender to ensure our mast cleared the crane and raised span. I didn't hesitate in passing through once their supervisor signaled it was ok by a few more blast on his whistle and the 'come on down' arm signals.

Heading up to Sunrise Bay

We had spoken with Pam Angel & Dave LeGrow of Sjöfn and expected they would be at the Bay this afternoon too, so we kept our ears tuned for their calls to the bridges as we continued our motor up the Sunrise Bay. Passing Los Boulevard bridge with the current carrying us towards Sunrise Blvd Bridge, we had an easy motor up to the Bay. On arrival, Peggy took the helm while I prepared the Anchor and as we came into view of the Bay, I could see that Diversion was already at anchor in pretty much their usual spot. It's funny how we are all creatures of habit, we too looked for our spot on the GPS and dropped anchor, backed down on it hard before taking sightings to look for in case we were drifting. Time to put up the sun shade and the wind break (dodger window) and make some lunch.

Arrivals and Returns

Since we arrived, Sjöfn, Affection, Endeavour, Glory Daze, Always, and a bunch of other HISC members arrived. Socializing is easy with this group, a short dink ride over to another boat is all it takes, everyone is welcome.
A few months ago, I ran out of Olive Oil during my prep of Breakfast. We tied up alongside Diversion, so I popped my head out of the cabin and asked Joyce if she had any spare olive oil - Joyce gave me the remnants of her bottle. I have been carrying around a really nice bottle of EVOO since then to give back with gratitude. So I dinked over to their boat and returned the favor. One of the many things learned is always return something borrowed in better condition than when it was received. Joyce was happy crew 😊

Party time

We've been members of the HISC for about 2 1/2 years now, and one thing we figured out from participating in the Club Cruises is 'Come Early and Come Hungry!' The come early part is what we learned when we dilly dallied arriving at one event 20 minutes late with a delicious tray of roasted shrimp. By the time we got there, most of the food was gone. The come hungry part is - well, most members bring enough food for eight people, so there's lots of food! 
Today we prepared our Appetizer early and arrived at the host boats with a bunch of other members, we had to take turns in arrving - like a skyfull of aircraft waiting to land.
The host boats did the club proud! Lots of food plus everything that the members brought over, and plenty of appropriate drinks. Food eaten, Drinks drunk, Stories were told, and friendships gained. 
When Peggy was getting into the dink, it moved away, she got her butt wet. But no harm done, even the water was warm. We got back to Eximius and both dried off. 
We didn't sleep so good, the wind was chugging along and our VHF radio woke us up around 11pm and at Midnight. But! No anchor dragging, no bumps in the middle of the night. 

Sunday Brunch

The club catered a Sunday Brunch  aboard the host boats. So we had a light breakfast of Oats and made up a thermos of Coffee then headed over to the host boats.
It was time for the Easter Hat Contest. Not sure who won, but Pam Angel stood out. There were peep shoes, Pink Cocktails and a crowd chatting aboard the boats. Always a great group, and if you want to talk sailing, there's always interest and input. Love this bunch.

Wrapping up

We didn't have to be the first to break away from the event for a change, so we stayed in the Bay till after Noon, then, after watching the most of the other boats head out, we pulled anchor just as Always was pulling their's. Peggy motored us out of the Bay and south the few hundred yards to the Sunrise Blvd Bridge and we called for the bridge opening. Always was astern of us as we motored down the ICW towards Los Olas Bridge. Always peeled off just North of the bridge and we only had to wait a few minutes to pass under the bridge and thank the tender for the opening.
Then it was the usual motor south to past Bahia Mar and West towards Sand Bar Park. Just as expected, our speed changed as we moved from the flow of the IntraCoastal into the flow of the New River, but when it changed we also heard a significant change in the engine. Our RPM stayed the same but our speed dropped by over a knot. 
First thought was - Must be a stronger ebb current than expected - OR we have something around the prop! I dropped the engine RPM and shifted into Neutral intent upon a short burst in reverse to try and clear any tangles but when the engine stalled. Worst, we're in the channel North of Sandbar Park which is only about 50' wide and no engine! I tell Peggy that I'm going to drop the anchor and dash up front. Quickly releasing the anchor and lowing with the chain in hand over hand. The anchor bites the bottom, boy! does it bite! I am barely able to keep hold of the chain. Luckily it was still wet from hauling up in Sunrise Bay, so it does not burn my bare hands (normally I wear my gloves when working the anchor) - It drags out harder, this is getting scary! I manage to get the chain around the Boat Cleat and bring the chain to a stop. Turning back to the stern to see if I can get the engine running, I realize Peggy already has it going and is in gear! That explains a lot! Quick shift into Neutral and take a breather. 
I explain what took place, Peggy had not realized I was actually setting the anchor - NOTE TO SELF - make sure everyone knows whats happening and what not to do! 
We used Prop wash and to turn the stern to Stbd and take the strain off the anchor. I pulled it back in and we were on our way, although it was obvious that something was not right. I just hoped we had not damaged our Prop.

Didn't slip up today

Unlike our last return to the slip, I didn't nearly fall off the dock! Peggy made a perfect come alongside and we quickly prepared to load the truck. We're getting this process down! By the time I had the lines in place, power cord setup and secured, dink washed down and topside ready for inspection (sorry, a flash back to my Navy Days) Peggy had the cabin bagged up and ready to take ashore.

Note to self

Need to get a diver to clean the bottom and inspect the Prop & Shaft!

See you on the Water.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Time to talk Dirty - Fuel that is

Cleaning the Fuel Tank

Recently we were motoring and the engine failed, no big deal, we just coasted to the side of the river, tied up and I went and checked the fuel system. The Fuel Filter/ Water Separator was full of crud. 10 minutes later it was cleaned out and engine started - on our way. Need to clean the fuel tank!

Emptying the Diesel Tank

The tank was just over 50% full according to our fuel gauge, that's about 12 Gallons, the tank holds 23 according to the label on the top of the tank. So we had to drain that fuel out.
Our fuel system is setup like this:

Tank - 2 Micron Fuel Filter Water Separator - Fuel Pump (with built in filter) - Engine Filter - Engine Injector Pump - Return Fuel Line - Tank

To drain the tank I disconnected the fuel hose from the output of the fuel pump and replaced it with about a 4' long spare piece of fuel hose. Stuck the end into a 5 Gallon Diesel Can and turned on the Engine Ignition. It took about 10 minutes to fill the Can.

I had two 5 Gallon jugs with me.
Later today I'll go back to the boat and drain the remaining Diesel into a 3rd Jug.

The white cloth under the tanks is actually a Puppy Training Pad. They make great work place protection sheets and are much cheaper than anything Marine.

Getting the Tank Out

The tank is located Port side aft, it's basically at the foot of the Aft Berth. So I have to empty the aft berth (cushions, as well as all the other stuff we keep in the Garage) and then remove the Wooden Panel to covers the Fuel Tank Area.

It's only held in with about a dozen screws, my DeWalt gyroscopic screw driver makes quick work of those.

That small hole in the underside of the deck above the tank is an inspection port that can is located inside the Port Aft Cockpit Locker. Pretty much useless and to get to it the locker has to be emptied, and then get myself into the locker. It's a game!

The Red covered bundle of wires is the Engine Control Harness that I replaced last year. I did a nice job on that. 

Here's hoping the fuel tank is OK, there are no signs of any leaks. It's held in by just a few screws on Tabs at each end that secure it to the shelf on which is sits.

There are 4 hoses connected to the tank: Fill Hose, Overflow Hose, Supply Hose, and Return Hose. On the top is the Fuel Sensor but that's just a couple of wires. However that sensor will get removed in order to clean the tank.

 After disconnecting the Fuel Fill hose (hose is breaking down, need to replace, so I cut that one off.), Then the Fuel Vent/Overflow (but it's illegal to let fuel overflow) and the Aft earthing straps.

Moving on to the front end of the tank.
It's cramped down here. Peggy took these pics, I'll not show those that show my wrong side! 😄

 Disconnect the Fuel Delivery hose (put end in a bottle to capture the few remaining drips in the line that goes to the Fuel Filter.) I could not get the hose off of the barbs on the end of the Fuel Shut Off valve, so I used a wrench to disconnect the barb fitting from the valve. Need fuel teflon tape to put it back.

Disconnect the Fuel Return Hose, easy.

Disconnect the Fuel Sensor - there's no plug in the line so I had to cut them. Will need to put new butt joint to reconnect them.

Unscrew the 6 screws holding the front end of the tank down to the plywood base. Discard the old unused earth strap, I had put in a new strap to the earthing block in the engine bay during the harness upgrade.
 Cleaned up the work area and eased the aft end of the tank up over the wiring and down towards the aft berth flooring.

There's definitely more fuel than I thought left in the tank. It weighs more than the 15lb advised by the forum guys.

Rubber pads on the floor to prevent scratching.
Tank is Out! Phew!
 Moved over the Stbd side of the aft berth to figure out how to get it out of the cabin.

The max width of the tank (along the edge nearest in view) is 24", the Cabin entrance is only 19" wide. The tank is 12" tall. so need to turn the tank on it's side - Fuel Return adaptor has to be down rather than have the Fuel Fill pipe, Fuel Shut off and Fuel overflow pipes down. The tank has at least a couple of gallons of fuel left in it (Yep, I forgot to take an extra fuel jug with me to decant the rest of the fuel. I figured there was less than a gallon in the tank, Wrong!)
Tank turned on it's side so that Fuel Fill pipe on the far end of the tank is now near the top right and the tank will come out of the cabin doorway.
 Awkward, but doable. Being careful not to scratch the cabin door or frame.

Once the tank was out near to the Galley Sink Cabinet, I was able to lift it above the sinks. There's only a few inches of room to spare between the back of the sink area and the cabin door frame, but not a big deal.

Grunting a bit, but the tank is coming out of the cabin.

 Happy dance. Tank out, nothing broken.
 Getting the tank ashore.

 As well as taking these pics, Peggy had the truck ready to load the tank.
Ready to strap the tank down and head up to Ohio (Kidding! the Forum guys will get this one)

The whole process from arrival at the boat, unload the Aft berth (cushions, etc.) Removing the port side panel, extracting the tank, loading onto the truck - About 1 hour. Less than 2 from house and back.

 I suspended the tank in order to drain the remaining fuel out of the Fuel Fill pipe.

Supporting it like this facilitated tipping the tank on end.

 Before removing the Fuel Sensor, I marked it's orientation with a piece of blue tape. I installed that sensor over a year ago, and still recall what a pain it was to orient the plate holes with the tank when the tank is in place.
 It's official. This is the original tank, 23Gallon capacity and for diesel fuel only.

I drained over 4 gallons of fuel out of the tank, that's about 32lb with 15lb tank weight - 57lbs explains why it felt heavier than expected.

Plan was to wash out the tank using Simple Green. I used a whole gallon, undiluted.

Poured in about a quart, swished the tank on it's suspension rigging and drained it out into a bucket. Repeated until all the SG was used up.
Grit and what!
The particles out of the tank measured upto 1/2" not much slime.

I poured the bucket contents through a filter but quickly clogged up. So that shown here is left after pouring the bucket's contents into another container.

Finally I put all of the fluid and grot into the original Simple Green bottle and set it on an angle overnight hoping that I could see the settlement in the morning.

That settlement is pretty much the same look as that in the Racor Filter base.

All of the fuel that I recovered from the tank after removal will be treated as compromised and discarded at the local recycle station.
The fuel pumped out of the tank passed through a 2 micron filter, so there's no particulate and it can be reused. I'll put some bioside in each of the four 5gal jugs before putting it back on the boat.

I'll check the Fuel overflow / vent to make sure it has a critter guard in place just in case all that grit is from something crawling into the tank.
And, of course, I'll replace the Fuel Fill hose and Fuel Filler cap, changing that from Sun damaged plastic to Stainless Steel. I'll also run a bonding strip from the new cap to the Engine -ve bus bar.

Putting the tank back in place should be easy (certainly lighter) and I'll rerun some of the wiring so that it does not wrap around the hoses.

Big thanks to the forum guys that provided lots of advice on what to expect in doing this job.

Glad I didn't have to drive up to Ohio

See you on the water.