Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Did the Bilge Pump run?

Installing a Bilge Pump Counter

Recently, while at the boat doing other projects, stops me getting bored, Peggy was in the Cabin and called up to me that the Bilge Pump just ran. The pump is setup correctly so that it will automatically run if the bilge float switch rises. But we have never heard the pump run automatically before. Now, we did have a couple of really really heavy down pours in the past week, I'm not talking of a bit of rain, I'm talking of having to drain our pool at home because it was threatening to flood.

If we had a Bilge Pump Counter, we would know if the pump had run (and how many times). Knowing if it ran frequently would give us a heads up about a potential issue.

This is the unit I decided upon.
The concept is simple: The unit displays the number of times the bilge pump has run since the last time the Reset button was pressed.

Wiring it in should be pretty simple. It should have an inline fuse or a Circuit Breaker, a ground connection (always a point of mirth on a boat) and a power supply connection, plus a line to the bilge pump power so that it knows when the pump runs.

The unit arrived today, thanks UPS, the electronics look a little 'home made' but they are very well coated to ensure they are not affected by operation in a Marine (salty) environment.

Shouldn't affect the installation. We'll see how it works out.

Added feature is that it has a delay of 1 second, which means it will only record a minimum of 1 second bilge pump operation before adding the the counter. That's cool.

Installing the display unit

This looks to be pretty straight forward, Total Panel size is 3" x 2.5".
I'll use my vibro saw to cut a hole to fit the back of the panel on the side panel by the Nav Table.

That went pretty much as planned.
Next is connecting it to the Bilge pump circuit.

And that's where I hit a snag!
When I checked the electrical wiring at the Electrical Control Panel, I found a few wires from the circuit breaker and the Manual over-ride switch and the bilge pump activity lamp.

Down in the main bilge (all of the bilge compartments have limber holes that leak into the main bilge where the Electrical Bilge Pump is located) it's a nightmare! There are wires that are wrapped in household/automotive electrical tape, wires that are connected to others of smaller size and different color and none of them match the colors of the wires that are at the electrical panel! Nightmare time! Looks like I'll have to rewire the entire bilge pump circuit, replacing all of the wires that go from the bilge pump and auto float switch up to the electrical panel, and then I can connect the counter. Grrrrrrr!

Connecting the counter

Three wires:
Black: Common Ground, that will connect to a ground bus bar behind the electrical panel
Red: Power Supply - that will run to the +ve of the Bilge Pump Circuit Breaker
White: Run that to the Bilge pump +ve supply, That will attach to the powered line that goes to the pump.

The existing wiring will be pulled out and tossed. The bilge pump is a critical system, the wiring for that circuit has to be right. I'm going to run 2 over size cable pairs for the Bilge Pump and for the Float Switch up to the Electrical Control Panel, there they will connect to the -ve bus bar that I installed during a previous job and a new bus bar that is just for the bilge circuit. The counter will be connected to that bus.

Here's the diagram that I created that shows how the Bilge Pump Circuit Diagram should appear.

All of the wires should be labeled and the Bilge Pump and float switch wires should be #10 AWG to cope with voltage drop between the Electrical Panel and the 2 devices.

FYI, I use Open Office to create my diagrams.

The schematic shows the approximate physical layout of the system. The float switch and pump are about 10 linear feet from the electrical control panel. To reduce the voltage loss over that 40 feet round trip of cabling, it makes sense to use #10 AWG Tinned Multi Strand Copper wire.

The Bilge Pump Bus Bar will get mounted behind the Electrical control panel. Using it is the better alternative to having multiple wires crimped together. The Bus Bar will allow the wires to be terminated with ring terminals and heat shrink. Those wires will connect to the float switch and pump via crimped butt heat shrink connectors, which in turn will be covered again with further heat shrink tubing to make sure they are water proof in the vicinity of the bilge.
Thanks to Ken Kloeber on the C34 Forum, I modified my schematic, changing the color of the wires 'from' the two switches from Red to Brown. Apparently, Brown is the correct color for a switched power supply.

I'm using a Blue Seas Terminal Block for the Bilge Pump Bus Bar connections.

Each wire will have a crimped Ring terminal and the block will be secured to the inside of the Electrical Panel. I'll try to keep the wiring neat and tidy, but there's a forest of wires that would make any electrician worth their salt to weep!

The 4 terminals will be Jumped together, I have spare jumpers from previous work projects. Have to love keeping a glory box with my electrical supplies.

Someone asked me how to keep the electrical Butt Joints in the Pump and the Float switch wires waterproof. I use Heat Shrink Tubing, the kind that has a hot melt glue on the inside. So when they are heated (using a heat gun) the tube shrinks, and the glue melts, result - waterproof and a reinforced connection.

Testing the Counter

The counter should be powered up all the time although the Bilge Pump Power Circuit Breaker will allow it to be powered down for service. The Circuit Breaker switch is always in the On Position unless we are actually working on the Bilge Pump.

Test 1: Does it power up
Test 2: Does the counter increase when we operate the Manual Bilge Switch
Test 3: Does the counter increase when we operate the Float switch manually
Test 4: Does the Display revert to zero when we press the Reset Button.

It's good to go. 

See you on the water!


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Installing a Tank Monitor

Need to Know

As mentioned in a recent post, our holding tank was unexpectedly full and we had to visit a pump out station rather than leave 25Gallons of Poop in the tank till our next trip. If we had a Tank Level Monitor we would have realized that we were heading (no pun intended) for a problem. 

Researching online for Tank Level monitors, I found a great article on Practical Sailor that identified several units and their recommendation was the SensaTank Marine 100 and I found one on Amazon for $174. It has 3 sensors, so we could use it to monitor the Holding tank, and the two fresh water tanks. Ordered on Tuesday, arrived on Thursday - thanks Prime.

The kit has 4 components.
  • Display Panel
  • Interface Module
  • 3 x 15' Wire Harness each with 4 Sensors
  • Cat 5e Cable that connects the Interface Module with the Display Panel
Setup is really simple: Install the Display Panel, connect it to the Interface Module with the Cat 5e Cable, Connect the 3 sensor harnesses to the Interface Module and attach the Sensors to the sides of the tanks.

Of course, running the wires from the Sensors to the Interface panel is going to be an issue, The interface panel could be placed anywhere, but it's probably best if it is near the boats Main Electrical Panel, that means some of the tank wire harnesses will need to be extended. Not a big problem, the directions state that can be done. The bigger problem is finding an unobstructed side of the tanks. The holding tank is very well secured in the boat (definitely don't want that tank moving about, particularly when it's full!). The Midships Fresh Water tank is also very secure, I don't think there is an open side on that tank at all. The Aft Fresh Water tank should be easy.

Installing the Display Panel

The Display Panel has no moving parts (except an adjustable potentiometer on the back for varying the readings on an LPG tank but we're not using that option.)

It requires a flat surface 5.5" by 3.5" and a cutout of 4.5" x 2.25". I intend to install it at the Nav Station along with the existing Air Conditioning Control Panel.

It has to be connected to 12v and I'll connect it to the 12v DC Panel Meter wiring with an inline 1amp fuse.

My Harbor Freight Vibro saw gets plenty of use at home and on the boat. Marked out the panel position so that it was level with the adjacent Air Conditioner controller and then cut into the woodwork.

Once the hole was made, easy to just screw the panel in place, run power lines to the -ve bus behind the electrical panel and connect the +ve to the Water Pressure Circuit breaker (that's the only 'water' relevant breaker).

Here's a pic of the Nav table (the bulkhead that houses the VHF, Stereo, Engine Hour meter, AC Controller, and now the Tank monitor panel, is an addition by a previous owner. It certainly gives plenty of room for the additional electronics.

Installing the Interface Module

This module has a self adhesive pad on the back, so it's just a case of choosing where to install it and sticking it to a flat surface. It needs a few inches of space in front of the module in order to be able to connect the cables.

I'll install close to the back of the Display Panel.

Note. the module has 2 Cat 5 connectors, the 2nd is for connecting an optional remote display, no need for that on a 34' boat.
The Sensor plugs are labeled Fresh, Grey, Black and a 4th for LPG.

Installing the Midships Tank Sensors

The pic shows the forward side of the midships tank and the glassed in bulkhead that helps keep the tank in place. There's about a 1" gap on the inboard side (left in the pic).

I was able to clean the tank side with a paper towel taped to a 16" metal rule and soaked with 91% isopropyl alcohol, did that a few times. Then taped a sensor to the end of the rule and guided it into position, once it touched the side of the tank it stuck! So just a push on the rule detached the tape from the sensor and twisting the rule 90º I was able to use it as a lever and apply additional pressure to the sensor. It's definitely stuck in place. Repeated the process with the other 3 sensors. 

Ran the wire temporarily across the cabin and plugged it into the Interface module. Press the button and WooHoo, works.

Installing the Holding Tank Sensors

I used  my Vibro Saw to cut a 2" slot in the end panel that secures the holding tank in place. To protect the tank, really did not want to puncture the tank with the saw and have a poop leak! So I inserted my 16" metal rule between the aft end of the tank and the retaining bulkhead. It only took a few minutes to cut the slot. Turns out the bulkhead is glassed nearly all the way around except at the deeper part of the tank bottom so it does not need to be modified after the sensors are installed. Otherwise I'll attach a wooden plate over the slot to reinforce the end panel.
The sensors were easily adhered to the tank.

Then I temporarily connected the sensor wires to the Interface module to test the tank. Uh Oh! It shows the tank as being 3/4 full, but it's empty! Ok, perhaps we did not do a good pump out last week. So I opened the vent at the top of the tank and peered in (that's a first). With a flash light I could see the bottom of the tank below the vent, but very little else. The tank appeared to be almost totally empty, a small amount of sludge on the inboard side of the bottom of the tank. I could see an almost crystalline residue on the visible part of the tank bottom. Hmmmm!

Possible issues:

  • Sensors are bad (I should have tested them before sticking them to the tank)
  • There could be a 30 year old build up of crud (salt, poop, calcium) on the sides of the tank, similar to that which is visible on the tank bottom, that might interfere with the sensor operation.
  • The tank could be more than 10mm thick, a limit described on the SensaTank instructions.
I've sent an email to the manufacturers asking for advice, but I think the most likely issue is the build up on the tank sides, so I'm planning on adding an inspection port to the top of the tank and giving the tank a good clean. There has to be some pluses with that process, but it sounds like a crappy job. It can wait till the haul out in November.

Installing the Aft Tank Sensors

The aft tank is in the Aft locker and a pain, literally, to access. However, not too difficult.

Just empty the aft locker, remove the shelf that covers the rudder quadrant and then get into the locker. There's room for a couple of stowaways down there. 

The sensor wire will have to run to the port side then over along the back of the fuel tank, behind the bathroom cabinets through the hanging locker and into the Nav station area. Easy!

Pretty easy install. The pic shows the sensors applied to the back end of the Aft Water tank before I cut off the wire ties.

Using a cable fish rod, I ran it through the holes in the cabinet above the Nav Table aft into the Head and then aft into the void under the Port side Coaming and into the area behind the Engine Control Panel. I was able to attache the end of the sensor cable to the fish and pull it through into the head cabinet. The wire is only 15' long, so I had to butt join an extension to be able to reach the Interface Module. As I keep the electrical kit onboard, that was easy.

With the aft tank sensor attachment complete, I ran the wire from the midships tank aft to below the galley counter, then over to port above the hot water tank, down under the cabin sole into the are of the Holding tank, then ran both the holding tank and the midships tank wires up the port side near the main battery cables and behind the electrical panel into the area with the Interface module. Easy.

Testing the System

The Aft Water tank sensors are connected to the 'Fresh' tank connection on the Interface Module, the Midships to the 'Grey' tank connection and the Holding tank to the 'Black' tank connection. The Aft and Midships tanks are working fine, but the Holding tank is reading 3/4 full even though it's empty.
Talking to the C34 owners, I'm leaning towards the issue being a build up of crud on the inside face of the holding tank where the sensors are attached. But that will have to wait till I install a surface mount inspection plate in the top of the holding tank - a crappy job to say the least! Meanwhile we're trying a chemical clean of the tank, I don't hold much hope of that working, but it's cheap and easy, so worth a try.

Looks like we're going for a sail this week, probably Thursday or Friday, wooo hooo!

We really will see you on the water.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Furler won't

Fixing our Harken Furler

Ok, so I didn't read the manual on the Harken Furler that came installed on Eximius, my Bad (sorry)

When we put the Jib sail back on the furler after Hurricane Irma passed, I noticed that the lower plate of the furler was broken. If I had read the manual, I would have learned that there should be at least two turns on the furler drum. The reason - because if there are less, it will cause the strain on the furling line to go more directly to the lower furler flange plate and can cause it to fail (there's a big warning in the Furler Installation Manual... Duh!)

The pic shows the broken tab that joins the two halves of the lower flange plate. The consequence of that failure is that the drum is not securely attached to the flange and thus it can rotate - in use that would mean that the sail could possibly unfurl from a reefed position. That would not be fun. So, I called Harken after finding the part that was broken online. They impressed me at the outset - a Human answered the phone. I actually said "Wow, a Human - Thank you!" no press 1 for Sales, press 2 for something else all the way through press 99 to go back to the beginning, a Real Human!

Not only did a really nice person ask about why I was calling but the quickly passed me on to the guy that handled that particular furler (and probably others, but he seemed to know the product very well.) I described the problem, he explained that it can happen if there are less than 2 turns on the furler drum and they have the part in stock. Within just a couple of minutes I had spoken with Kim and placed the order.

The new Flange Plate pair arrived today. I have researched the replacement process and there's no need to drop the jib. I'll take pics of the process when I do the replacement on Wednesday (assuming the weather is nice, not a comfortable position to sit in the rain.)

Wednesday - replacement day
Well, that went well. The Cover plates were easy to remove (just two hex screws on the underside). I tied a line through the 'Line' openings in the cover plates to prevent them falling overboard. Once the cover plates were off, the lower flange plates easily pulled out, both had fractured tabs. I installed the new flange plates, had to use a stubby bit adapter to tighten the small hex screws, but they don't need to be overtightened, they screw into metal inserts in the tabs. Then I cleaned up the cover and bolts and reinstalled them. Finally fed the line through the 'Line' opening in the cover, 6 times around the drum, down through the hole in the flange plate out of the gap on the underside, tied a new stop knot and took up the slack. Neatly laid the line around the drum nice and tight, secured the furling back at the cockpit. All Done.

Total time was about 20 minutes.

Cross that one off the list.

Won't be out on the water for a few days, grotty weather and Peggy has pinched a nerve in her wrist, so need to babysit wrist for a few days.

Next week looks good, so see you out there.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Oktoberfest 2017

HISC - Oktoberfest 2017 - Lake Boca

Our first trip out since Hurricane Irma departed from South Florida and we were looking forward to a great weekend with buddies from the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club (HISC).

During the week, we had pretty well put the boat back together after the Hurricane: The Main and Jib Sails were setup, the Dodger was back over the companionway to provide shelter if the weather turned grumpy, and we had loaded most of the heavy stuff (Generator, Fuel, Extra Diesel) in order to reduce the loading on departure day - why does that never work? The back seat of our F150 Crew Cab was FULL. Bedding, Clothing, Frozen Foods, Drinks, Non-Perishable Foods, more Drinks, more food, Towels and there must have been more. It's like we were going away for a week rather than just the weekend.

We have to consider the tides when leaving the dock. It's skinny water nearby and we try to avoid that by moving to/from the dock within 2 hours of high tide. So we had plenty of time to load the boat, get everything stowed and prepare for sea. We cast off the lines around 2pm and headed down the river.

Due to the Hurricane, it's been weeks since we navigated the river, and it's surprising how much things change in just a few weeks. Some buildings under construction were apparently finished, trees that had been damaged in the Hurricane were gone, several nav aids were missing and replaced with temporary markers, and it looked like a lot of boats that were normally tied up alongside the river were gone!

We had an easy motor down to Sandbar Park and turned North towards Los Olas Blvd Bridge, then headed up to Sunrise Blvd Bridge and the anchorage at Sunrise Bay. It was Empty! None of the usual liveaboard boats, not even any passing visitors, just us. So we anchored in our preferred spot near the North side of the Bay. Our anchoring technique is getting better, we easily anchored, backed down to make sure it was dug in and then I setup the Snubber, even that is getting easy with practice. The Snubber makes a big difference, it almost totally diminishes the noise of the Anchor Chain grinding on the Anchor Roller at our bow as well as providing some shock load reduction thus keeping the anchor grounded in the mud below.

With everything setup at anchor, we just chilled, a glass, or two, of wine and some reading before dining on Chicken, Sweet Potatoes cooked up in a skillet. Start of what turned out to be great weekend.

Friday morning I checked my email and a buddy was going to be passing our position around noon, but we decided to head up to Lake Boca early. As I took the helm most of the way, Peggy prepared a lunch snack in the Galley below. We arrived at Lake Boca again - nearly Empty, just two liveaboard boats at anchor, neither looked like they could navigate but you just never know, sailors are resourceful folks.

We dug the anchor and setup the snubber and had an afternoon relaxing, some music, some reading, studying and clean up. A sailors life.

Later on, Sjofn arrived, Pam & Dave considered rafting with us but the weather was pretty blowy, so they moved South of us, and anchored in preparation for the other event host boats. Anticipation arrived a little later and tied up with Sjofn.

More reading, boat watching, and some Rum! Having a Rum Tot is a luxury that I enjoy aboard the boat and it's restricted to being tied up (the boat that is) to something, including an anchor. Rum & Ice and 2 parts of water. Luxury!

We ran the generator for a few hours to bring the humidity down in the cabin and cool off before bunk time, but most of the night we had the v-berth hatch open to provide some ventilation. Still, didn't sleep to well, it happens.

Saturday morning breakfast of Salmon, Cheese, Fried Bread, Grapes, OJ, and that very important 1st Cup of Coffee. My 2nd choice for breakfast but still a great one.

It was time to get the dink inflated and the engine setup. Moving the 80lbs of Mercury dinghy from the Cockpit up to the foredeck is an effort! It's not just the 80lbs, it's that huge bulky bag of boat. The electric air pump made short work on inflating the dink and then Peggy assisted in hoisting the boat over the lifelines and into the water. Once the dink was tide off on the port quarter, we lowered the outboard engine and locked it in place on the dink transom. It started up pretty easily, but it took about 10 minutes of clutsing around to get it to run consistently at idle.

As I finished preparing the dink, some other boats were turning into the lake. We could hear them calling the Camino Real Bridge or the Boca Inlet Bridge for opening. Endurance gracefully passed our Starboard side to head over to Sjofn and Affection. The host boats were in place.

With the dinghy ready to go, with Peggy listening to some music on her cell phone, I headed over to the host boats for a chin wag. Dave was keen to show off his latest electronics on their boat, and I was keen to see it. He has a great setup which I think is based on a Rasberry Pi and includes an attitude sensor which provides real time data for display on a monitor in the cabin. But even better is his TV system, very cool, basically rabbit ears antenna - digital converter and a monitor, so they have access to many local broadcast channels. On our last boat, JD, we had a 19" TV but the total cost was a bit high and not in our budget for Eximius, there are much more important things to spend money on than an expensive TV. So I was really interested in Dave's setup. Very cool.

Back to our boat for lunch and to prepare our Appetizer for the Oktoberfest party that evening. This was a first for me. My plan was to cook a Flaky Pastry Cheese & Spinnach Swirl in the oven on board. The only thing I had cooked in the over previously was a tray of Shrimp, not 'Baking' 

In preparation for the baking, I had made up the ingredients in tupperware so I just needed to put everything together. Flaky Pastry can get messy pretty quickly when it warms up. So I created the swirls in a single roll and put the whole thing back in the fridge to cool down before trying to cut them into individual swirls pieces. It worked out great. Once cooled, I was able to neatly cut them into 1/2" pieces and lay them out in a baking pan that fit inside the oven. The recipe suggested 15 mins at 400ºF but I knew it took longer as I had practiced them at home earlier in the week. After 25 minutes they were a nice golden brown and the pastry was looking very nicely 'Flaky' And the timing was perfect, we just had to pop the tray into our cooler and head over the host boats.

I said 'We just had to pop over' - but that's not what happened! I was loading the bag into the dink and the seat decided it didn't like to stay in it's designated position, just as I was trying to stand on it. Yep, time for an unplanned dip. I was actually laughing as I hit the water realizing what was happening, and then I'm soaked - Oh! Did I mention that I was wearing my auto life preserver? It works!

Once out of the water and back on board, time to strip down all my wet clothes and dry off. Probably less than 10 minutes and fresh clothes we tried again. No problems the second time around.

As we were heading over to the host boats, we stopped by Rhapsody to see if they needed a ride, but they were going to sit it out tonight. Then we stopped by Peder & Maria of Dalecarlia and gave Peder a ride over to the host boats too.

A bunch of club members were already aboard the host boats, they know the unwritten rule - come early, come hungry and come with good cheer. They were already diving into the many plates of great food, our appetizer was gone in minutes. Not sure if the judges got to try them, but no matter, if the food disappears quickly that's a good sign. 

We got to enjoy the flavors that others bought over for the party and had a German Beer - Dave was in charge of that. Then I had the chance to indulge my boat envy thanks to Jeff on Endeavor - What a nice boat, it was not just great quality, but the attention to detail was amazing. My envy did not dissipate easily. One of the many many features that I liked was the galley stove cover that was part of the counter top and folded back behind the stove top to act as a splash guard. Very neat concept, I'll keep that one in mind when I redo the galley counter on Eximius.

Soon it was time to head back to our boat. Dry! Dinner and some Rum. It had been a great day.

During the night it rained a couple of times, and early, before dawn Peggy heard a 5 blast signal - someone was having a problem. It was none of our boats. I was looking around from the cockpit and could see others aboard their boats, most likely they too heard the blasts. It could have been a boat further south by the Boca Inlet, there was definitely no issues on any of the HISC boats. It was tool close to dawn to go back to the bunk, so we got up and I cooked breakfast - Fried Eggs, Ham, Tomatoes, Toast and Coffee. My kind of start to a Sunday.

By dawn a couple of the club boats had left, but tide predicted that we didn't need to leave until nearly noon. Chip on Stargazer was waiting for us to move as he was concerned that he might drift back toward us if he pulled his anchor being alone on his boat. We stood by the fenders while Chip prepped his boat to pull anchor. Perfect procedure, he had time to secure the anchor to his bow and walk back to his cockpit and navigate away from the anchorage with us having to even wipe our brow.

At 11:30 we decided to head out for the 11:40 bridge opening, Peggy got the cockpit ready as I prepared to pull then anchor. We turned around to go West along the North side of the Lake, past the temporary marker due to the broken permanent green marker in the North West Corner of the lake, than South towards Camino Real Bridge.

The motor back was almost uneventful except for the weather. As we neared Hillsboro Inlet, it started to rain, and then it really rained! We had our lightweight foulies on, and the rain quickly soaked through them, it got so bad that we had to put the running and steaming lights on due to the poor visibility.

But, other than the rain, we made great time all the way back to the New river. We did need to visit a PumpOut and there are several on the South side of the New River either side of 3rd Avenue Bridge. Our first stop was at Sailboat Bend, just east of the bridge, we were focused so much on the approach to the dock that we missed the signs, yes, more than one, that warned of Shoal Area. Just as we turned parallel to the dock we felt the bottom. Good news was that we were within stepping distance of the dock so I was able to get ashore and tie up the lines. We were right next to a pumpout station, but it did not seem to be working. I walked the path from the East end to the bridge, but could not see a control panel to turn on the pumpout timer. We're stuck for about an hour with the tide rising to high tide in two, so not worried. 

A fellow sailor walked over and commented on the shoal area. Turns out, he lives aboard his boat a few docks West of us but had previously docked here. He was very aware of the shoal area and pointed out that they disappear just a few yards further West, but the overhanging tree was a constant pain as it dropped debris on his boat all day long. Still, it seemed we could just move forwards once the boat floats.

Once I saw the boat bob about, I took the lines off the cleats and walked the boat forwards off of the shoal area, easy. There was a large catamaran further ahead by I only wanted to move about 20' West of our original position. That's when I found out how strong the current was at that point of the tide. The stern moved off quicker than I could wrap a line around a nearby cleat and the boat was doing a 180 all on it's own. I pulled in on the bow line and cleated up, the boat completed it turn clearing the other boat by about 10' phew! Another lesson learned. Peggy came up from below and noted we had moved, apparently the move was subtle enough to not freak her out down below. So we prepped for moving to the other side of 3rd Avenue Bridge where there were more pumpout stations.

We docked adjacent to a pumpout that had a hose and looked in good condition and I headed down the dock path to find the control panel - not to be found! Remember it's Sunday afternoon, but the dock notice states that they are available 8am to 5pm, so I called the New River Dockmaster via cellphone. The very helpful guy answered and walked me through to the location of the pumpout timer control. It's located on the North side of the Smokers Park Monument sign (it is nicely painted with local scenic art right now), there's a small metal lidded box, just lift the flap and the timer is inside. I set it for 20 minutes and then high tailed it back to the boat, that's about a 5-7 minute walk, but I jogged back. At the pumpout there is valve that has to be open and a button above it that has to be pressed to open the vacuum line. I had already setup the hose with our own poop connector, so it only took a few minutes of holding the button in to empty the holding tank. Like a good neighbor, once the tank was empty (and Peggy had added a gallon of fresh water to flush it out) then I disconnected the hose from our adapter and dunked the hose into the river, a few seconds holding the button down cleared any poop residue from the hose. All done.

We called Andrews Avenue bridge before casting off the lines and joined in with some passing traffic to go under the bridge and head up the remaining part of the New River.

Today's trip started at 11:30am and we arrived at the first pumpout station around 3:00, just 3 1/2 hours. That's reaching all of the bridges with no wait time, pushing the boat on a couple of the legs, but not overdoing it.

Back at our dock, we tied up, spun the boat Stbd side to for the next trip. Packed up and loaded the truck and headed home. Time for a shower, some wine and dinner.

Takeaways from this weekend.
  • If we're going to move the boat along the dock, don't do it alone.
  • Use the waterproof cellphone covers before getting into the dink - my phone's usb charging port died and it cost $95 for a wireless charging station.
  • Use the galley oven more often, it smoked pretty bad, but worked great once that cleared.
  • We really could do with a Tank Monitoring System so that the holding tank poop level is not just a guess.
  • Install a T with cap to enable easy clearing of the through hulls for the engine and the Air conditioning raw water supplies.
  • Use the generator to run the AC overnight, way to sweaty here in SoFla in the summer.
See you on the water again, Soon!


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!