Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Easy Repair after Hurricane Irma

We were very lucky! The only damage that Eximius suffered due to Hurricane Irma was a broken Wind Transducer. Of course, that Transducer was at the top of the mast and a replacement cost $360, but compared to the damage that others suffered, we were very lucky!

A week ago, I climbed the mast to remove the damaged Garmin gWind Transducer, it's getting easier every time to get up the mast. This time, Peggy used our Electric Winch Handle to hoist me up the mast with the Main Halyard. The setup uses 3 halyards and 3 lines. The Jib and Spin Halyards were secured at the base of the mast so that they were taught all the way to the top of the mast, well, nearly the top, the Jib Halyard exits the mast just below the top of the Jib Stay, the Spin Halyard runs through a block on the mast head crane so that it sticks out forward of the Jib Stay.

I secure our Bosuns chair with 2 lines - 1 the climbing line goes from the seat waist strap up to a Prussic Knot on the Jib Halyard, the other line is a safety line that goes from the waist strap to a Prussic Knot on the Spin Halyard. A third line goes from my foot straps up to a prussic knot just below the other knot on the Jib Halyard. Finally, the Main Halyard is shackled to the Waist strap. So all Peggy had to do was operate the Electric Winch Handle to winch in the Main Halyard and up I go, moving the 3 prussic knots up as I ascend.

This Pic shows the damaged Wind Transducer, one of the 3 Prop Blades is missing and one of the vane tails is missing.

I discussed the damage with the very helpful folks at Garmin Support and we agreed that the most likely event to cause the damage was something hitting the transducer. Certainly the Hurricane Force Winds at the dock were likely to carry plenty of debris.

Garmin agreed that I could get a replacement at a discount if I returned the damaged unit. So Tuesday morning I took the packaged transducer to Office Depot for shipping, it would arrive the next Wednesday.

Further discussion with Garmin lead to them agreeing to ship the replacement upon receipt of the old unit. So the new item arrived at 10am Friday Morning - WooHoo.

Of course, the weather did not cooperate, so I was unable to go backup the mast until Monday.

Following the same proceedure, it took about 20 minutes to scale the mast, less than a minute to install the new unit, and 5 minutes to descend.

As always, I inspected the mast and rigging while up there, all looked ok, although I did notice that there are a couple of rivets missing from the Port Side Lower Shroud upper plate. An easy fix, but it's been fine for years, I'll fix it all the same.

Now that the damage is repaired, time to put the sails back on the boat. We got the Jib hoisted and that was enough for one day. Next day we installed the Cradle Cover and the Main Sail as well as the Dodger. 

Plan is to get the boat out on the water Thursday (that's tomorrow) and head up to Lake Boca for the HISC Oktoberfest. So we started the re-load program. Got the Generator on board, sorted out the cabin and basically got everything ready for a Thursday morning load and go.

Sure will feel good to get the boat back on the Ocean. Weather looks good so far, a big change from the Hurricane, and, compared to both land lubbers and sailors in the Keys and the Islands, we were Lucky!

At home, the only damage was a couple of screen enclosure panels ripped out and the Pool timer unit didn't like the electrical spikes we had during the Hurricane. The timer was easily replaced, the pool enclosure will take a bit more effort. But we didn't lose our home or our boat.


See you on the water, perhaps this weekend if you're in our area.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Another New Post

Port Side Vented Stanchion Post Replacement

We've had issues with the Holding tank venting since we started caring for Eximius in 2015 and finally got down to fixing the smelly woes. 

Ordered new Stanchion from - always good people to deal with. Delivery was delayed by Hurricane Irma, but that didn't matter, we had plenty on our plate to work on.

So today, Monday, we headed down to the boat to replace the stanchion.

There are a couple of issues with the old stanchion.
  • It's corroded - that's a safety issue
  • It  has been re-bedded before, but since then it has been daubed in Silicone to try and stem the leaks by a previous owner - that never works in the long run.
  • The Silicone prevents water passage to the scupper (left in the pic) so we get that grotty brown stain forward of the stanchion.

The Silicone has started to peel away from the deck, so it no longer provides any water proofing.

I spent 20 minutes cleaning out the philip head screws in order to get a screw driver to bite so that we could remove the stanchion.

This is what it looks like below decks. It's an awkward place to reach, We had to reach over the Nav Table and then behind the cabinet bar which hides the wires. (The top of this pic is the inside of the Hull, the brown is the underside of the deck)

The corrosion is also evident on the vent tube.

Step 1. Remove the Lifelines from the Stanchion, this was easy as I had replaced the lifelines with Dynmea Line and all I needed to do was release the lashing at the bow pulpit and then remove the thimbles from the aft end of the lines and then pull the lines through the holes in the Gate Stanchion, that only took about 10 minutes.

Then, Peggy sat by the stanchion with a Philips head driver holding the screws still while I used a rachet and socket below to remove the nuts off of the 4 screws.

That took about an hour simply because they were difficult to reach and the corrosion hindered removal.

Initial clean up was by scraping off the silicone with a knife, wire brushing the surface and then spending the rest of an hour digging out the silicone from the none skid surface.

The good news is that when they were last re-bedded, the holes were correctly protected with a coat of resin, the deck was solid and no wet spots at all. Phew!

Those grey marks are probably a previous effort to cure a damp deck issue, they just drilled and filled with a very thin drizzle of resin.

After clean up and chamferring the holes in preparation for the application of Butyl tape on the base of the stanchion.

I also drizzled some Capn Tolley Crack filler into the thin hairline cracks in the gel coat.

New Stanchion installed! This took over an hour and a lot of sweat inside the cabin. Just reaching the bolts in order to put the new Backing Plate, Fender Washer, Small Washer, Spring Washer and 7/16" Nut on each bolt was a pain!

But when it all tightened up and the Butyl tape oozed out of the sides of the plate and around each of the screw heads, it is certainly water proof.

After a final clean up, there's an appropriate gap between the stanchion base and the toe rail that should allow water to run into the scupper.

Final clean up requires that we take our Dyson Vacuum down to the boat and some new 1/2" Hose to replace the old hose that ran from the stanchion to the holding tank, 6' should do it.

The old stanchion:

Very pleased with the outcome.
Total time was about 3 1/2" hours, a quick trip back to the house and an well earned lunch.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane Prep - 2017 - Irma

Hurricane Irma - September 2017

Well here we go again! There are currently 3 Hurricanes in the Atlantic Katie (South of the Gulf) Jose (still out there East) and Hurricane Irma - looking to make a bulls-eye on South Florida. And Irma has been the Daddy of all Hurricanes.  Hurricanes are only categorized up to Cat 5 and Irma is pushing past that. The Islands are getting pummeled if not destroyed and everyone over here is doing what they can in preparation for Irma's wrath.

Of course, it could just as easily miss us completely, but I'm not putting my family's life at that risk.

House Prep:

 Crates of Water, but all water bottles are filled and cooled/frozen. Extra bags of ice are in the freezers. Spare Propane tank for the Grill, and 2 Generators and 20+ gallons of Gasoline. 
Yesterday my neighbor & I shuttered up my Son-in-law's home, our Neighbors home and our house (except for the living room front & back windows, they can wait). All phones, Tablets, and Flashlights (and our Dyson) are fully charged. All power tool batteries are also fully charged. Also our InReach is 100% charged so that we can send messages if the worse happens.

So we have pretty well done what we can at home.

Boat Prep:

Not our first time around this buoy. Main & Jib sails are down, folded and stowed in the boat, Dodger is removed, Sail pack is also down and stowed. Dink is deflated and bagged up ready to drop into the cabin during final prep. All drinks are removed, we'll have them at home if needed.

Today I'm heading down to the boat to triple up the lines and put out fenders on the outside, port, and stern. The dock posts are well built and have bumpers on them to prevent damage to the boat (unless the boat really gets banged up against them). I'll have lines fore & aft and springs that will allow the boat to rise 7 feet in a surge. Our dock is located in pretty much of a hurricane hole, my greatest concern is about the other boats possibly breaking free and slamming against ours.

We have pretty well done all we can to keep the boat safe.

When I complete the dock line plan this morning, I'll go help a buddy shift one of his boats. Several of our sailing friends have already left town. My Son has left and is heading over to Houston to help out a buddy over there that lost everything in Hurricane Harvey.

More later.

Stay safe everyone!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Planing Trip to St. Johns River or Closer

Trip Planning

I'm hoping for some input from local (South Florida) Sailors on this trip.
We took a driving weekend up to St. Augustine at the end of August (appropriately) and checked out the Anchorages, Moorings and Dock options close to the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, we also chatted to a couple of sailors that were visiting the area by boat.
So, we're looking at cruising North from Port Everglades with possible destinations of anywhere between here and Jacksonville (St. Johns River) 
If you have cruised in this area and have any input I would appreciate that. And yes, We have access to Active Captain, The Waterway Guide, Navionics, and Garmin Maps. It's the Local knowledge we're looking for.

Major Points of Entry in from Ocean to Florida.

Despite one of the highest boating densities on the East Coast of the USA, there are surprisingly few Inlets from the Ocean between Jacksonville & Miami, for our trip which will be from Port Everglades, these are the Inlets that will allow our boat passage (draft restriction of 5'7")
  • Port Everglades - 11nm
  • Hillsboro Inlet -  36nm
  • Lake Worth Inlet - 52nm
  • Fort Pierce - 30nm
  • Sebastian Inlet - (Fixed Bridge) 10ft. 35nm -> 65nm.
  • Port Canaveral - 58nm
  • Ponce De Leon Inlet - 100nm
  • St. Johns River Entrance
Total Distance as the Condor Flies to St. Johns River  - About 300 nm. But we'll add 20% to that for going around the corners. So about 360 nautical miles. If we 'Sail' or 'Motor' we'll be doing around 5knts or better.
Which will take about 72 hours of sailing and, realistically we would sail about 6 hours a day, so a 12 day trip if we didn't take any excursions, which we will!

We can look forward to a 24 day trip plus time off, let's say a month.There's a challenge. We're not committed to going all the way to St. Johns River, just going to Lake Worth would be a good start, but I do favor the longer trip. We have motored from Stuart to our Dock, but that was our delivery trip from the boat purchase to our dock in Fort Lauderdale, we really didn't have time to stop and look around any of the marina/anchorage areas on that trip.

A quick and dirty day#  plan: 
  1. Home dock to Port Everglades to Hillsboro Inlet - 4 hours.
  2. Hillsboro Inlet to Lake Worth - 9 Hours
  3. Day at Lake Worth
  4. Lake Worth to Fort Pierce 12 Hours (long day)
  5. Day at Fort Pierce
  6. Fort Piece to Sebastian Inlet - 7 Hours
  7. Day at Sebastian
  8. Sebastian Inlet to Port Canaveral - 9 Hours
  9. Day at Port Canaveral
  10. Port Canaveral to Ponce De Leon Inlet 13 Hours (long day)
  11. Day at Ponce De Leon
  12. Ponce De Leon to St. Johns River - 20 hours ( Overnight)
  13. Day at St. Johns
  14. Day at St. Johns
  15. Return Journey
Any good ideas for things not to miss?


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Time for the Kitchen Sink

I Know! It's a 'Galley' Sink

But that doesn't affect the fact that it frequently gets blocked and drips yuk onto the Cutlery tray in the draw beneath the dual sinks! So it's time to fix it.

The original drain fittings & hose. All gone :)
The problem was simple, the hose was 30 years old and had a lot of gunk in it AND the fitting beneath the sink was broken. I found that out when I tried to undo it in order to clean it out, it fell apart into 3 pieces as soon as I touched it, not even trying to unscrew it.

The drain hose, 1", also had some legacy hoses attached to it, another source of blockage. The C34 forum guys identified that extra hose as being the original fridge drain hose which has long been blocked off. I did not include that when replacing the drain hose. So now there's a nice clean run for the hose to the thru-hull.

The new unit's diameter is about 1/16" bigger than the original, but it's much better designed with a better slope 95° of the outlet.

That meant that I had to use my trusty Dremel to grind away at the sink drain hole. It only took about 5 minutes work to get it to fit in each sink. Of course, this was on a day when the AC refused to run and I did not intend to be there long enough to worry about fixing that. So I was drenched by the time it was all put back together.

Total cost was $65 for the two new drain fittings, and $25 for the new 1" hose and a tub of plumbers putty that should last me a lifetime.

We drove home and I took a long shower and drank plenty of water.

Another upgrade.

See you on the Water.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Updating our GPS and Nav System

Garmin Update - long overdue

We have a Garmin GPSMap 741xs which came with the boat, but we have upgraded the system to a NMEA 2000 Network that includes a GMI20 Instrument and GND10 wind data input along with a Garmin Wireless Wind transducer, Garmin Depth/Speed/Water temp transducer and already had a GMR18 HD Radar. BUT - the software version was that from 2014 - Time for an update.

Here's the process that we followed:
  • Downloaded the Update from Garmin to our PC (We had to login to our account to get this)
  • Insert a FAT32 Formatted 4GB Micro SD Chip in the card reader of our PC
  • Run the program from the folder where the update was saved
  • The program requests the Chip ID (just pick it from the list) and then it installs the update software and data into the chip.
  • On the Boat, power up the GPS, Radar, AIS, NMEA 2000 network (On Eximius, we just turn on the Nav Instruments Breaker and that powers up the GND10 and GMI20 as well as the NMEA 2000 Network)
  • Once the GPS is running, then insert the Chip into the GPS card slot.
  • The GPS recognized the Chip and offered the option to Update the System (which in our case was from 3.80 to 6.6 - as I said, Long overdue)
  • Once we confirmed the option, and the note that we should not power down anything until the update was complete - The update began.
  • The program on the Chip updated the GPS, Radar, GND10 and the GMI20, it seems there was no update for the AIS. The whole process took about 10 minutes after which the GPS shutdown and rebooted.
  • Once rebooted, we removed the Chip - All done!
What we got in the update:
A whole bunch of features that are really cool.
  • Windward Route To Laylines - these are really useful when you know the location of a destination. It displays the Laylines on the GPS Map so that we can steer towards them for optimal speed to a windward mark. They are real time dynamic, so they change as the wind changes, very cool. But you do have to know where the mark is located or at least have a pretty good idea so that it can be entered as a way point.
  • Boundary Markers - At least, we know they are part of the upgrade but we did not get to test them out yet, that will be the next navigation how to. But they are really useful. The concept is that we can mark out an area(s) on the chart and then set our preference of either Stay within or Stay outside. eg. We could mark an area around the tip of a peninsular that had a shallow area that we wanted to avoid. Then we would create a Boundary around that area and take the option to stay outside (eg. alert if entering). Alternately, we could create a boundary and set the option to stay within (eg. alert if leaving) 
  • There were several other minor updates, they just improve the reliability of the system. 

So now we have a bunch more techy stuff to play with on our next trip. Peggy loves this stuff - and you know the old saying - Happy Wife = Happy Life 😁

See you on the water.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Turned back

Nearly got to sail last weekend

Having completed the re-bedding of the 6 Chain Plates, which required slackening the 4 Lower and 2 Upper Shroud Turnbuckles, I needed to tune the rigging. So we made a last minute decision to take the boat out on Sunday, staying overnight Sunday & Monday and return to the dock Tuesday Morning.

On the back side, we had setup for divers to come and clean the bottom but didn't have an actual date for that, we decided we would call them Monday morning and head back early if their plan was to do the boat that day.

Sunday morning we did our routine of getting everything together for a couple of days away on the boat. We had our list, Meals, Drinks, Meds, Clothing, Bedding and Fuel for the Genny as it was going to be hot that weekend.

Arriving at the boat around 10am was fine, we had to leave by 11am in order to have deep water in the canal as the tide was going out. We quickly loaded the boat, stored the food in the Fridge/Freezer, eased the lines, tested the Engine and cast off in time.

It was an easy passage down the New River, Engine ran well, Bridges opened quickly, no snags. But as we passed the Fort Lauderdale Marina, I noticed that the wind had picked up a lot. So much for the 8 to 10 knots forecast, we were seeing 20+ knots! So I changed our plan to adjust the rigging under sail on the Ocean and decided to do the initial adjustment of the rigging just the other side of 17th Street Causeway Bridge, so we turned at the West Nun Buoy so that the wind was over the Port side and 1st adjustment made. Then we turned back to the Nun Buoy and, with the wind over the Stbd side, made 2nd adjustment. Then the Police boat headed out way! Oh Oh! We were in the Security Zone, so they politely asked to move back to the Intra Coastal and to check out Charts. Local knowledge just improved.

The wind was still in the high teens and we just didn't feel it was worth going out, so we headed back toward Lake Sylvia, we could sail the following morning if the weather improved. Picking an anchoring spot on the lake, we quickly set the anchor and opened up the boat to allow the breeze to cool it down, it was in the high 90s °F. I set the anchor alarm and the new Snubber that I made a couple of months ago, securing it to the anchor line with a rolling hitch. Worked like a charm.

Once we were secure, it was time to chill. Bottle of wine, crackers & cheese, setup some music in the cockpit, life is good.

During the afternoon, several more boats arrived and at one point there were 21 boats anchored on the lake. Kids were having a ball trying to ski around the lake behind jet skis, there was more than one boat having a barbecue and several boats seemed to be empty. We all swung around our anchors as the tidal flow changed. It's quite usual on Lake Sylvia for boats just 100' apart to experience current flow in opposite directions, so the boats around the lake were pointing this way and that, seemingly at random. 

Heavy clouds rolled in later in the afternoon, several of the power boats pulled their anchor and left, we just closed the ports, took the cockpit cushions below and put up the dodger screen. It didn't rain much.

Dinner was to be Ravioli and Veggies, but the Veggies didn't make it, they must still be in the Freezer at home. Not a biggy, cut up some tomatoes and drench them in olive oil, add some Blue Cheese Dressing and dinner fit for a king. Note to self, we really should check off the items on the list.

Chatting in the cockpit after dinner, Peggy realized that the Veggies were not the only thing left at home, the bedding were never packed! Not a biggy, we keep several blankets on the boat and had spare pillow cases. So I setup the Generator and got the Air Conditioning running. With the boat closed up due to the potential rain, the AC made it bearable below. We left it running and got turned in. Weather forecast was looking good for Monday, great, we could get out for a sail.

It rained several times overnight and we try not to run the AC during the rain as we cover the Generator, so neither of us got much sleep. During breakfast we decided to head home as soon as the tide and bridges allow. That meant getting to the first bridge soon after 9am, after the morning rush hour bridge closing. 

Taking the Snubber off took a while longer than our normal routine of just pulling the anchor, but lesson learned, I'll make a Dynema Loop that I can use to tie a Prussic knot to secure the Snubber to the Anchor Chain. We easily motored to the 3rd Avenue Bridge around 9:30am and called Andrews Avenue Bridge to request an opening. We had to hang around a couple of minutes as there were pedestrians on the bridge delaying the opening but we handled that easily, staying East of the outflow just in case - good decision, they opened about 200' ahead of us. Andrews opened and we moved over the North side the river because the Bridge Span hinges on the South side and it does not open fully vertical. As we approached the bridge, the Tender called to advise that he had heard the FEC railroad bridge was about to go down, but we might make it if we put the peddle down. We did and passed the FEC bridge which closed about a minute after we passed and called them that we were clear.

The FEC bridge is our biggest concern in transiting the New River. If it was closed for a lengthy period while a freight train slowly passed, that could cause us to miss our tide chance which could mean not being able to get to the slip for an additional 6 hours. At present there is no published schedule for the bridge closures, but there is supposed to be an App coming out that will advise of the schedule - perhaps next year!

Back at the dock, we unloaded the boat quickly and headed home, arriving about noon. Showered and Pizza put in the oven, I checked my email. Eximius was #4 on the divers schedule that day! Oh Oh, better head back down to the boat. Bedding in a bag I headed down about 13:00 to wait their arrival,

I never get bored being on the boat, there's always something to do. So while waiting for the divers , I replaced the small solar lamp above the Bimini and repaired the Speaker wiring that had broken when I was doing the chain plate work. Then I read a copy of the Mainsheet Magazine that we had on board, especially the article about how another C34 owner had modified their dodger to increase the height, which is one of the things Peggy has asked me about. I raised the Mainsail in order to measure the height of the boom with the sail fully deployed - It's 6' - as per the instructions I gave the sail maker when we had new sails made last year. Then I sent a couple of emails to the divers letting them know I was there and wondering what time they might arrive. Turns out they had arrived shortly after we left the boat to go home! I thought the hull waterline was not looking pretty good - Duh!

Stowing the Mainsail, checking all the lines, valves, and switches, I left the boat and headed home. 

Sometimes, things go according to plan, and other time serendipity steps in.

See you on the water.