Sunday, January 7, 2018

Alternate Drive

The Wrong Drive Belt

We missed the 2017-2018 New years Eve Cruise due to a squeal from our Alternator (Here's the article about that) Short version was that we were towed from the Lake Boca Anchorage back to our Dock in Fort Lauderdale.

This post will hopefully be helpful for others that have little experience with Boat Diesel Engines, like us, even though we are climbing up that learning curve rapidly.

Background to the problem.

Over the past few months we have noticed a few odities when the engine on Eximius is running, here's some of them:

  • Engine hunting - RPM change briefly
  • Alternator shutting down - charge rate drops to zero
  • Digital Alternator charging indicator shows charging rate changing rapidly, varying by as much as 30Amps.
And the most recent:
  • Horrendous Squeal from the Alternator
  • Alternator Drive pulley too hot to handle.
The earlier issues were leading me to suspect the Alternator Regulator. When we purchased Eximius, it had two Regulators mounted in the Aft berth (very close to the engine) Both were by the same manufacturer and until I installed a new Alternator last May (2017) I thought that the smaller of the two Regulators was not connected. During the Alternator install, I found from tracing the wiring, that the Smaller regulator was in fact the one connected to the Alternator. The other is connected to the Digital Battery monitor at the Nav Station, but not to the Alternator. After some research, I discovered that the 2nd Regulator was actually a Stand by in case the main failed, however the Main was never attached to the Alternator so the system has been running off the Standby Alternator since we have owned the boat. Confused yet - think how I had been.

The Main Regulator is the one on the left. It's connected to the Digital Battery Monitor at the Nav Station but not connected to the Alternator

The 'Stand By' Regulator is the one on the right, it's not connected to the Digital Battery Monitor but is connected to the Alternator.

My guess is that when the system was installed, the installer connected the Stand By Regulator to test it (no point in having a spare if it does not work) but never completed the job and switch over to the Main Regulator.

We're hauling out the boat next week and I had planned to re-wire the Alternator to the Main Regulator and thus determine if the Stand By Regulator was causing those first few issues.

The more recent issues (Squeal from alternator and hot drive pulley) demanded sooner action, I certainly did not want to have an Alternator problem when we are motoring to the Boat Yard trying to keep on a schedule.

Getting the Alternator Tested

The day after we were towed back to the dock, we returned to the boat to pull the Alternator so that we could get it tested. I still had the old Balmar 75Amp Alternator sitting in my Garage, so I took both of them down to Lauderdale Battery & Electric to get them tested. In the meantime, I contacted 
Compass Marine, that's where I purchased the CMI 100Amp alternator and they were very confident that the bearings would be fine.

This video shows the testing of the CMI 100Amp Alternator. Greg, the tech, wound the load up and the Alternator pumped out 140Amps and as quiet as a mouse! Absolutely no squeal. I asked Greg if he would inspect the Belt for damage, as I pulled the Belt out of my bag and he immediately commented that 'That's the Wrong Belt!' 

When we purchased Eximius, I started to put together spares to carry on the boat, including spare Fuel Filters, Oil Filters, Air Filters, Zinc, and Alternator Belts - I took the info off of the original Belt and purchased two spares, yes, they were on the boat when we had the squeal, but I honestly thought that it was the bearings as the squeal was sooooo loud! But now I found that the belt was not the right size for the Alternator - It had a 1/2" Pulley and the Crankshaft & Coolant Pump pulleys are 13/32"

Ok, it looks like the culprit is the Drive Belt.

As I had the old Balmar Alternator with me, I had Greg test that too, plan is to carry it as a spare and I suspected that the bearings were going on that Alternator (that's why I changed it out last May)

This Video shows the Balmar 75Amp Alternator being tested. It's not so apparent in the video, but on-site it was obvious that the bearings were squealing. Greg commented that the bearings needed replacement and that the stator might also need replacement. That should be ready for pickup on Monday, we'll carry that unit as a spare.

Back at the boat, I re-installed the Alternator but could not get the belt tension right. Everyone that I have asked has indicated that the tension should be set so that the belt could only move 1/2" on it's longest leg (that's between the Alternator and the Crankshaft pulleys)

The problem was the Bolt that secures the upper end of the Alternator Support Arm, and the spring/lock washer that was between the bolt head and the Support Arm. The lock washer had deformed and damaged the bolt head. I decided to replace the bolt, washer and add a fender washer that could be bent over the side of the support arm to lock it in place. Guys from the C34 forum suggested that I use a longer bolt and nylock nut on the back of the bolt to secure it in place and prevent loosening with vibration.

The damaged bolt is shown above the new (but same length) bolt. I'll replace the new one with a longer bolt and and Nylock nut next week.

The Fender washer will be between the spring washer and the Alternator Support Arm, that should prevent vibration from loosening the bolt and thus

After installing the new Bolt, Spring Washer and Fender Washer, I was able to tension the belt sufficient to stop the Squeal, but the belt is still under tensioned! So time to buy/make a belt tensioner.

So, to recap:

  • Charging rates change rapidly (Alternator output constantly changes)
  • Engine Hunts (Alternator load changes)
  • Squeals emit from front of alternator
It could be the drive shaft tension!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

Last Sail of the Year

What a great weekend even if it didn't end well.

Plan was to spend the weekend at Lake Boca as one of the 3 host boats for the HISC New Years Eve Cruise, tides dictated that we leave the dock before 3pm Thursday and spend the night at Lake Sylvia, then sail up to Hillsboro Inlet and motor up to Lake Boca on Friday, hang out with other boats from the club on Saturday and Raft up with the other host boats on Sunday ready for the Sunday night party. Monday we would motor back to Hillsboro Inlet, sail down to Port Everglades and motor into Lake Sylvia in order to return to the dock at high tide on Tuesday morning. That was the 'Plan'

It started well, motored down the New River and it was surprisingly busy for a Thursday, but no big deal. We anchored in Lake Sylvia around 4pm. It took two attempts to dig in the anchor, but then it was a relaxed night.  Diversion was on the East side of the lake.

We took the chance to enjoy the new TV on board, and I found my new Favorite Rum.

This will become a staple in my liquor cabinet (the cupboard just forward of the galley counter) displacing Pussers Rum  - I'll have to keep the bottle out of sight when we have visitors. It's a really smooth rum and makes a great Tot - 1part Rum, 2parts Water.

Pierre & Asa aboard Charity called and we agreed to have them raft up on our Starboard side, I think they arrived about 5:30pm. Once they were secure, they went below for dinner and we for ours. Rana - 3 Cheese Ravioli, bathed in Olive Oil & Parmesan Cheese - Delicious.

After dinner we hopped over to Charity to solve the world problems. Charity is a really nice boat, very visitor friendly and Pierre & Asa take good care of her.

Friday morning, Charity left after breakfast around 8ish. We prepped Eximius to leave before 10am just to be safe as the lake has a few skinny places near the exit, but we had no issues.

We motored out of Port Everglades. Our plan was to test the waters and if it was ok, then we would sail up to Hillsboro Inlet, if it was too rough then we would duck back into the port and motor up the ditch. It was an unusually smooth ride out of the Port Everglades channel, once clear we turned North and raised the sails, then turned East North East. Conditions were perfect! There was a large swell mostly about 5' swells with occasionally 8-10' swells, but they were very low frequency and Eximius climbed each without effort and didn't rush down the back sides. It was a beautiful sail, but it was Peggy's first in big swells and she was worried that they might get bigger. Personally I was delighted how well the boat was handling the 15-18 knot winds under a single reef and barely any heel, average around 5ยบ.

I had hoped that we would sail towards the NE enough to easily make a tack East South East to Hillsboro Inlet, but we turned early and clawed our way East by East North East. We made it to Atlantic Pier then turned North and dropped the sails while motoring the rest of the way to the Inlet.

Hillsboro Inlet was Busy! The tide was rising and a lot of sports fishing boats were returning and a few much bigger boats were waiting to exit. The bridge opened a few minutes late because of Road Traffic, so we made a dash to keep up with the other boats. The bridge confirmed we were ok to go through and a large yacht, about 75', was going to wait for us to clear before they came out through the bridge. As we approached the bridge from the inlet, some boats were jumping the gun and exited before we had cleared the bridge. The inlet can get pretty choppy when there is a lot of traffic on the water, it got really choppy as we came through. But the boat handled it really well. A lighter boat would have had issues, but Eximius just pushed her way through the waves. My confidence in the way the boat handles grows every trip.

Once inside, we turned North up the IntraCoastal timing our arrival at Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge and Camino Real Bridge. Arriving at Lake Boca we found it was crowded, we had to eke out a spot to anchor and hope that a lot of the boats would depart before Sunset. They did! 

We had a really quiet night. Chilli for dinner and Apple Pie for desert, I couldn't find the Ssshhhh (Dairy Topping) for the pie, but it was fine on it's own. Time for a Tot before turning in for a sound sleep. It started to get colder as predicted. We had extra blankies.

Saturday morning got off to a great start, after breakfast, we tided up the cabin in anticipation of guests coming aboard later that date, then had a second Cuppa-coffee.

The boats from yesterday were all gone and the anchorage was clear, just 7 boats, mostly sail, including us and Endeavor - We tried to hale Jeff on Endeavor, but could see that he was busy working his boat - it's a Sailboat - of course he was doing work on the boat!

I decided to shoot a video and post it to Facebook, so while Peggy warmed up with her coffee, I went topsides onto the bow to scan the lake. Upon our return, I realized that the Video says we're on Lake Sylvia - Duh! It's Lake Boca!

  We wanted to take a shower before other boats arrived, so we started to run the engine - SQUEAAAAAAAL !!! Shut down the engine quickly!

I removed the engine cover (Steps) and we tried to restart again, same squeal, shut down in less than a minute. I felt the Alternator drive pulleys and they were too hot to touch, but no sign of any wear or damage to the drive belt, possible Alternator bearing failure. It could be either the Alternator (my first suspect), the Raw Water Pump (noticed a small oil leak but nothing really bad) or the Engine Coolant Pump. Removing the drive belt that unites the Crank Shaft, Coolant Pump and Alternator, I could not detect any significant wear on the belt, no obvious heat damage.

Because the Alternator shares the same drive belt as the Engine Coolant pump, we cannot run the engine without the belt, that would prevent an Alternator Seizure, but it would result in an overheated engine - much worse!

So, with much reluctance, we decided to cut the weekend and get a Tow home. This would be the first tow since we have owned a boat here in Florida. It's a 15+ mile trip from Lake Boca back to our dock in Fort Lauderdale.

I called Tow Boat US via Mobile Phone, answered right away and quickly determined that we were Boat US Members with Unlimited Towing (WooHoo!) and that there would be no charge. Past reviews of towing incidents have led me to believe that the fee normally covers from when the boat leaves the dock until it gets back to it's dock. I guessed it would be between 4 & 6 hours for us, but Tow Boats have the advantage that the bridges open on request rather than the tow having to wait till the bridge opens which can be up to 30mins per bridge down here.

Jean from Tow Boat US passed over to the local representative and Maria quickly took down our location and destination and then advised us that 'Cap't Cole' would be with us in about 20 minutes.

While waiting, I pulled up the Anchor Snubber and we prepared the boat to get underway. We soon saw a Boat US vessel on the South side of the lake and I wondered if they were looking for us. But, after contacting Boat US, they advised that he would be with us shortly, another boat had hailed him en-route to us and he was just taking down their needs before heading over to us.

Shortly after 2pm, we were attached by a bridle to the Tow boat and heading out of Lake Boca, just as we were getting connected, we saw Paul Malone arrive in his new Catamaran - very nice! But then we were underway following like a dog on a leash behind the tow boat. Cap'n Cole asked that we steer to follow him, so we manned the wheel all the way home.

The trip down the ditch was pretty much without incident, except for our speed.

Most of the trip we were doing about 6.25 knots, which is about the most we do normally through the water at 2,000 rpm.

As some of the bridges were open upon our approach, they kindly stayed open till we got there. Then Cap'n Cole throttled up to minimize the delay to the bridge closing to allow road traffic.

If you click on the picture to the left, you'll see our Speed through the water was 8.51 knots, however that was not our best speed, we touched 9.4 knots a couple of times. That tow boat has some serious power!

During the two, I put the engine in Reverse to prevent the prop spinning, I wasn't sure if that was the best option, but I did not like the prop spinning with the engine in Neutral.

Oh, that list that you can see in front of the GPS is our Bridge List, one side has the ICW bridges from Lake Boca to Port Everglades, the other has the Bridges on the New River. The Dispaly on the left show our Depth via the Garmin Echo Fish Finder/Depth meter. Our primary Depth instrument is the main display that is fed data from the Depth/Speed/Water Temperature transducer that is in a through hull inside the base of the Head Cupboard.

Ok, back to our trip home.

As we motored down the Intra Coastal, it was cold!

Peggy was all wrapped up, and she pulled a blanket off the V-berth to keep my lower half warm. It was 62ยบ F lower when you figure in the Wind Chill - Heck! This is South Florida!

I should have put on my Foul Weather Jacket, it would keep the wind out, and my Foul Weather Pants would have made a big difference, but, as I said, Heck! This is South Florida!

We may not get Snow down here, but folks do know how to celebrate Christmas.

This cheery dock brought smiles to both of us.

Under Tow, we continued down the ICW and turned West into the New River at Sand Bar Park. Cap'n Cole announced over VHF on Channel 9 that he was headed up river with a 34' sailboat in tow.

As we had neared the New River, we heard several Boat Capn's complaining about the closures of the FEC Railroad bridge between Andrews Avenue Bridge and 7th Avenue Bridge, their complaint was the bridge was down for about 15 minutes but no trains passed over the bridge. We were approaching 3rd Avenue Bridge when two other Boat US tow boats were moving, empty, our way. Cap'n Cole decided to hand us over to one of them which meant switching the tow between the two boats. And this was going to happen between 3rd Avenue bridge and Andrews Avenue Bridge, during busy water traffic time! And both sides of the river were occupied by boats tide up to the walls. Cap'n Cole easily turned us with us turning to follow by applying appropriate rudder. Now we were facing 3rd Ave bridge. The second Boat US tow went alongside Cap'n Cole's boat and the new skipper, Cap'n Jon, passed me his bridle. We quickly swapped bridles and Cap'n Cole headed off back to the East.

Cap'n Jon turned us again once the Andrews Avenue Bridge began to open and we towed through without issue. The FEC Bridge was open, but when I checked the Time on the Digital Sign board at the FEC bridge fenders, it read "4:47" but GPS time was 4:53, perhaps it's Train Time!

As we approached our home dock canal, I pointed out to Cap'n Jon that we had to take care to avoid the overhanging trees, he considerately kept us away from the trees with Peggy at the helm while I prepped the boat to come alongside.

Cap't Jon eased the bridle as we neared the dock and Peggy was able to steer us parallel to the dock, close enough that I was able to easily step off the boat to the Dock. She Aced it!

We both thanked Cap'n Jon, and he reversed back down the canal.

Within an hour, we had unloaded the boat into the truck and were on our way home. Had we or motored back from Lake Boca ourselves, we could have made it as it was Saturday, but on Weekdays, the bridges lock down during Peak Road Traffic 16:30 - 18:00 and that would have been a challenge.

Once home, we unloaded the food, put some wine in the fridge, took a shower, and enjoyed some of our Quiche that was intended for the Party on Sunday.

The Mail had arrived in our absence, Peggy brought it in while I showered.

Included in the mail was the latest edition of Good Old Boat. I don't know what it is, but so often do we get to read a sailing magazine that has articles about the very thing that we're having an issue with at that time. Two months ago I was working on remaking a Spinnaker to fit our boat and there was an article on just that subject in the Magazine when we got home from that trip. The next month there was an article about Dry Bilges which was an issue we were dealing whith, this months Good Old Boat has an Article, you guessed, it's about 'Alternator Woes'

Despite our First Tow, the sail on Friday was Awesome! I could have kept going all the way to West End.

Sunday we went back down to the boat and removed the Alternator, then brought it and our spare Water Pump home so that I can service the pump and take the Alternator to a shop in Fort Lauderdale. I'll also take our old Alternator, think I'll carry that as a spare! Never can have enough spares.

Thanks to everyone that was involved in helping us get home, Jean & Maria from Boat US, Cap't Cole and Cap'n Jon, Jeff Miskin with advice about getting the Alternator Fixed, Chip Packard for offering to help out with Spares. And to the rest of the Members that took up the slack when we dropped out of the New Year's Eve Cruise.

I mentioned that this was the first time we have had a tow, but it's not my first ever tow!

Royal Navy Sailing Cutter
Picture from Imperial War Museum.
© IWM (A 32340)

In 1965, while at the Royal Navy Training Establishment 'HMS St. Vincent' Gosport Hampshire, I was Cox'n of a Royal Navy 32' Cutter in a Race off of the Southsea Shore. The wind was barely, and our Rudder pintle broke. We had oars and could have rowed back to the boat dock but it would have taken several hours. The Race committee tugs ended up pulling us and a couple of other boats back to base. DNF! Not a bad record - 2 Tows in 52 years!

Now to get the boat fixed in time for Haul out two weeks from today.

See you on the Water!


Monday, December 25, 2017

A Christmas Tale

Sailors Lore 

Grab a jug o rum lads, be quiet and let me tell e a tale anded down years ago as best I recall.

They say that you're never alone at sea, it don't matter ow big your ship, it don't matter how big the sea, it don't matter ow long you've been away from ome, you're never alone.

Av you ever gone for'ard on the deck when the wind as been blowing ard an you av to old tight just to keep your feet on the deck an you felt that feeling you aint alone? Well you isn't! Es watching you! Hey, Cook! when you're below cooking up a feast, yea, I know, a feast at sea might not be fancy like at ome, but you know when you're tryin to make it so. Well, Es watching, E knows when you put that bit o extra spice or when you splash in a dram of rum. You're not alone!

Ever bin up the stick an out on the yard? One and for the boat and One and for yourself right! When you're up there with the ship tossing abawt, working at pulling in that reef, it's a might scary if you want to feel that way, it's a might exciting too. Not many folks ashore could do that, they don't know what it takes to keep a ship under way, but E does! and E's watching, E knows!

Naw, you dogs that have been aboard more than one deck know that not every skipper is the same, they all ave their quirks. Some shout, others whisper, but they're not alone either, Naw, they're not alone, even though they ave no one looking over them cept those that are ashore and looking for the ship's return to port, with all the crew, an the skipper knows that all you dogs av someone. But the skipper is not alone, naw! E's keeping an eye on im too, E knows when the skipper shouts, when e curses, and when e gives the nod cause you did good up forward, when the food is like a feast an when you step dan from the yard an get your feet back on deck. You all know ow good that nod feels. Well, the skipper knows e's not alone, e knows that someone watching im!

If you're aboard any ship, no matter if it be alongside tied up and nearly empty cus the crew are ashore, no matter if she's swinging at anchor and you're on watch trying to keep warm an everyone else is below under the lamps while you're big eyed under the stars. And it don't matter if you're working the ship in heavy seas an everyone else is busy. No matter where on the ship, no matter the time o day or the spot on the sea, E's watching! E knows if you're doin good, E knows if you're slacking.

Ow do I know this? Well lads, I know! I've spent more n a few Chistmas' away from ome, not all of em, but a good few, an each year around this time, E let's you know that E's been watching. It might be a bit more or a bit less grog, it might be a bit warmer or cooler, it might be a bit extra strength when you're pulling that line, it might be grin from the skipper when things are a bit heavy.

You can thank im! Cus E's been watchin, E knows when you did good, E knows when you didn't.

Who is E?

E's Santa Cruise

Monday, December 11, 2017

Can you hear me now - Update

On board Communications - just went high tech

When we are anchoring, I stand at the bow and Peggy is at the helm with the engine running (we have not 'sailed' to anchor yet.) And communication from the bow to the helm is fraught. Peggy is beneath the Bimini and I'm 30' away in front of the Mast and the Dodger is in front of the Cockpit, so a clear line of sight is often obscured. For example, when I need Peggy to put the boat into Neutral, I tap my head, and when she sees that signal, she is supposed to acknowledge, just a simple (OK) suffices, but sometimes she'll reply 'Neutral!' But, if she does not see me, then I can have a sore head from banging it furiously with one hand while trying to hold the anchor chain with the other hand or foot. If she does not see me, or I don't hear her acknowledgement, it gets frustrating and, typically, I turn, Whistle, and bang my head again.

Santa came early this year!

Peggy has been pushing for us to get headset communicators for over a year, but I thought we could get pretty good with our hand signals during anchoring and navigation around blind corners on the New River.

We saved over $500 by not going to the, now extinct, Strictly Sail Miami (saved the Hotel cost) so, logically ;)  we had some spare $$$.

Eartec Wireless Headsets $335 from Amazon (prime - no shipping cost)

So I took a break from painting our home exterior to open the box and check it out. 

Very comfortable, but I think I'll add a lanyard just in case they get knocked off when I'm at the bow.

I didn't think my glasses were normally tilted, and have to try them out wearing a hat to cover those locks.

Very neat dual battery charger, but why did they not include a 12v or USB power cable to the battery charger?

The Output of the Power supply is 5v and the input to the Charger is 5v (surprise!) and the Battery input is 4.2v

So it would seem simple enough to make a 5v USB charging cable so that we don't have to plug the charger into an Inverter aboard the boat.

We tried them out at home. With me working by the Pool Pump (it's too cold for the Noisy AC system to be running) Peggy could hear me above the sound of the TV and I could hear her very clearly outside. There was not really any wind, but there was absolutely no background noise! So far I'm impressed. 

Plan is to check them out in earnest next week (when it warms up a bit) as we have to go out for a dump trip. 

See you on the water.


Update - December 20th. 2017

We used the EarTec for the first time yesterday and again today, and I'm totally impressed with the quality of the Communication system.

1st use was leaving the dock. The headsets paired right away and we could almost whisper to each other and be clearly heard anywhere on the boat, inside and out, with the Engine running. The degree of stress reduction was amazing! Because of the ease of communicating, we both were passing much more info about our actions and requests that stress levels were down, like to Zero! We had the headsets tethered to our shirts using a short lanyard that I made from some thin line. There's nowhere on the headset to attach a lanyard, so I just tied a loop around the head clamp (not sure of a better description of the side of the headset that does not have the earpiece.) I am totally impressed with the improvement in communications. So for communication quality and effectiveness, I give them a 10 **********

We both wore our headsets from leaving the dock until we had the sails hoisted and were making way to our destination, we turned them off at that point - There's no Off switch for the Remote headset. but holding the top button (of three) in for 4-5 seconds shuts it off. As the manual instructs, the fact that the button is not illuminated it does not mean the set is turned off! So the procedure to turn the Master headset off is simply to flip the switch on the underside of the battery compartment, and on the Remote, hold the top button in for 4-5 seconds.

Later in the day as we were preparing to anchor, we both donned our headsets and turned them on. The master is straight forward, just flip the switch on the underside of the Battery compartment to 'on'. To turn the Remote headset on, press the top button, the blue LED will flash as it pairs to the Master and then turn solid once pairing is complete. Ours paired right away and again the audio quality is excellent.

At the end of the day I removed the batteries in order to charge them, there's no method of charging them in the headsets. Removing the battery is simply achieved by pressing the small button on the underside of each headset, the battery bay door flips open and the battery can just fall out, no fiddling to try and get them out, easy.

After inserting the batteries into the battery charger, I plugged the charger into our small 450watt inverter, it's a smart inverter and will shut down when there is no load in order to save battery power.
That's great, but the EarTech battery charger does not draw enough current to hold the Inverter on. So it immediately shuts down, which means we cannot charge the batteries on the boat. Grrrrr.

Eartec makes a 12v adapter but not a USB adapter and I have several USB Sockets on Eximius, so I'm going to make one. As it only connects to the Battery Charger and not the actual headsets, I'm not concerned about damaging them.

As mentioned before, the 110v Charger adapter has an output of 5v dc which is the typical power output of a USB charger.

A quick google search found the wiring for a USB connector, and the Charging adapter has it's diagram same as shown below.

Here's my drawing of the Adapter wiring. Easy.

Now to make the Adapter (not rocket science)

I found an Un-used USB charging cable in the Garage. Cut the phone end from that and opened the ends.

Then cut the EarTec battery charger cable leaving  about 18" from the Plug end and cut that cable open.

Matched up the +ve & -ve wires, positioned some heat shrink over the thin wires and the outer wire covering. Soldered the wires and shrank the heat shrink.

Cable complete, not pretty, I didn't have the appropriate Black Heat Shrink so used Red.

Checked out the connection using an AVO to make sure I got the wiring right. Plugged into a USB Charger wall outlet adapter. Confirmed 5v dc at the plug end.

Looks good.

Plugged the new Adapter cable into the Battery Charger, inserted the two batteries. It showed Red (Charging) on both. Left it for 10 mins and charging is complete.

Added benefit, don't need to pack the Wall adapter that came with the EarTec kit.

With the new Charging Adapter I'm happy that I can charge the batteries on the boat without having to run our 2KW Inverter which probably uses more power than the charger just to turn on.

Mr Happy. I totally recommend the EarTec headsets, get a pair, I'm sure you'll love them.

See you on the Water - smiling!


Friday, December 8, 2017

Avoiding a Boom Bust

Replacing the Boom Gooseneck Bolt

Before it breaks!

While on our weekend trip in Biscayne Bay, I noticed that the Bolt that holds the Boom Gooseneck fitting is badly corroded, if that failed, then the front end of the boom would not be attached to the mast and would slam about trying to damage all sorts of things, including the Mast!

That long, vertical bolt doesn't look so bad, but up close I thought the lower end just above the nut looked very worn.

Changing it out should not be a big deal, but as it supports the weight of the Boom, Sail, Sail bag and the strain imposed by the Boom control rigging (Main Sheet, Vang, Reefing lines #1 & #2 and the Topping lift) I'm going to secure the front end of the boom before removing the bolt.

I'll just wrap the Main Halyard around the Boom, Bag with a Loop onto itself.

I would also like clean up the surfaces and apply some Super Lube to the two surfaces at the top and bottom of the fitting. 

I have the bolt (ACE Hardware) and just need a Rain free day to do this, I'll use my Dremel to polish the whole assembly.

Here's what the threaded part of that bolt looks like.

Not as bad as I thought, but heading in the wrong direction.

The bolt is 3/8" x 5" with a Nyloc Nut.

New bolt (thanks ACE Hardware) installed.

Install was almost as anticipated. Once the bolt was partially removed, the gooseneck fitting pushed forwards against the mast plate. I used a big flat head screw driver to ease the lower bracket away from the plate and popped a spare short bolt in the two holes at the bottom of teh gooseneck to hold that part in place.
Then eased the bolt out of the top and inserted the new bolt.

Another job crossed off the ToDo list.

See you on the water.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving Cruise 2017

Biscayne Bay Cruise November 2017

What a great weekend - Friday through Tuesday, we learned a lot this trip so we're really glad we made it.

Departure - Friday Nov 24th.

The day after Thanksgiving. Due to the tides, we decided to head away from the dock around 10.30am. I had already gone a fuel run, getting 15 gallons of Diesel and 5 Gallons of Gasoline for the Generator & Outboard, but we decided against taking the Generator as temperatures over the weekend were forecast to be in the 70's / 80's and being cooler at night. We still took the Gasoline as I keep a 1 gallon portable tank on the boat, small enough to refuel the Outboard engine with ease.

Peggy prepped the Food & Bedding so we quickly loaded the truck. I took along our beach cart to save trips from the Truck to the Boat.

We navigated down the New River, called the bridge tender before we could see the 11th Street Swing Bridge and it was open by the time we got there. It was an easy motor down the River.

Once anchored, we dined on Chilli for dinner, a quick freeze a meal.

Detour - not again!

Yes, again! During breakfast, I realized that I had not included some of my meds in our kit, no choice but to go home and get them.
Choices: Go back to the slip and drive home - Tides and Bridges dictated that would have to be later in the morning - too long. Go up river to Sailboat Bend, tie up and get Uber to home and back - again, too long. See if we can tie up at Bahia Mar and get Uber to home and back. 

I called Bahia Mar on #16 (switch to #68) and asked if they had facility to allow me to tie up for a couple of hours. Not sure if they recognize the name of our boat, but they responded that we could tie up North of the fuel dock. So we quickly pulled the anchor (actually I got the engine running, pulled the anchor and went back to the wheel getting us underway while Peggy was still below sorting out the cabin.  We tied up at the dock about 10 minutes later, scratching the hull slightly (hope it will buff out) on their wooden dock edge. Requested a Uber ride and walked up to the Bahia Mar entrance to meet him.

Requesting an Uber from the Dock is not the best way to get a ride - walk out to the entrance and request the ride from there. When I requested the ride, the Uber app incorrectly identified my location as being at a residential community just North of the Bahia Mar, probably because there are no residences at the Dock! It took the Uber driver about 10 minutes to navigate what would have only taken him 2 if the App had correctly identified my location.
Chirs (Uber Driver) did a great job. We chatted all the way to my house and then he waited while I picked up a few things (you know it's always more than one thing!). 

N.B. Uber Round Trip Option

Upon arrival at our house, Chris, Uber drive, closed the ride and I tried to book a new ride back to Bahia Mar. But, despite that Chris was sat in his car at the end of my driveway, he was not selected as the driver, so I cancelled that request. Tried again, same thing, cancelled again. Chris suggested he should exit the App and I should try to request a ride from inside my house. Tried that, same thing! Grrrr.

Second N.B. There is no 'Return Trip' option in the Uber App - I confirmed this with an email to Uber help.

Hear's the reply from Uber:

Hi Paul,

Happy to explain. There is no feature in the Uber app to request a round trip ride.

After requesting a ride, connect with your driver to let them know you would like to take a round trip. If they agree to take the round trip, be sure to enter the address of your first destination in the app. When you’re approaching your first destination, update the app with the address of your final destination.

Please note that because you are altering your destination while on-trip, the quoted price will not apply.
Because I didn't know that (nor did Chris) Chris offered to take me back directly.

We got back to the Bahia Mar around 10:15am. Peggy had finished prepping the cabin, taken the garbage ashore and was ready for departure as soon as I got back.

We motored away from the dock at Bahia Mar, under the 17th Street Bridge and out onto the Ocean. Beautiful day for a sail, Otto von Helm did most of the steering, we just had to make a few minor course adjustments in order to go around the hundreds of fishing boats that were anchored over every available reef!

Wind was offshore hovering around 10 knots or less most of the time. It was a relaxing sail, about time!

We kept an eye out for Duet (Bill & Colleen), guessing they had spent the day at Fowey Rocks bug hunting, but no sign of them. We motored past Government Cut in Miami down to the channel just South of Bill Baggs State Park lighthouse, then we motored up the Channel keeping to the deeper parts. There was a very busy crowd on the Beach on the South side of the Park.

Turning up on the West side of the Park, we passed No Name Harbor and the few boats that were anchored off, then Westward in order to keep in the channel and finally North, up towards Nixons Anchorage.

There had to have been over a hundred boats, many of them blaring their boom boxes and thudding the airways around the anchorage. But, typical of Miami, we expected they would depart at Sundown.

No sign of Duet, so we anchored on the North side of the anchorage. I figured they had spent Friday afternoon at the anchorage and decided they would head south to the Boca Chita or Elliott key area to get away from the noise.

Before Sunset, Duet called on our Cellphone, they wondered if we were in the area. Bill informed me that they were on the outer limits of Nixon's Anchorage, up on deck, I could see their hull and black sail bag, so I waved. It had been a long day, and I didn't feel like re-anchoring, so we agreed to just hang out and call in the morning.

As the Sun went down, Miami Lit up. It's a beautiful city at night. Click on the pic to see the big picture. I should really get Peggy to take better shots, she's a much better photographer than I.

It was a pretty quiet night once the power boats departed. We dined on Chicken & Sauce a bottle of wine and a Tot o Rum.

Slept pretty good, very pleased with our progress today.

In the morning, the boom was swaying in the wind and squeaking with each swing.

I investigated the squeak, turned out to be due to the Gooseneck Securing bolt (the long vertical bolt in this pic)

It's pretty corroded. I applied some Super Lube and that stopped the squeak, but that's a critical bolt - will replace that next week.

While preparing for the morning sail, I decided to inspect the Furler Drum which I repaired just over a month ago, the line was bunching up at the bottom of the furler making it tough to furl in the sail.

Easy solution, I moved the block (the one on the rail to the left of the Furler Drum) up by about an inch. That moved the angle of the line parallel to the drum base. Problem solved, it's easier than ever to furl in the Jib.
Note the corrosion on the tang that is below the Furler connection! More on that later.

Bill & I had agreed to spend Sunday night off of Elliott key Harbor. We sailed off the anchor in the morning and passed Duet which was getting the crew up for the day ๐Ÿ˜

It was another great day for a sail.

I chose to tack downwind as the wind was directly along our route. We initially headed over to the West side of the Bay putting the wind off our Starboard quarter (as can be seen from the Wind Instrument) It was a great sail!

We watched as Duet hoisted their sails and turned south, it looked like they were running downwind, they have an advantage but we kept our course.

When we tacked (gybed) over to port, we passed ahead of Duet, that surprised me, I thought they would already be ahead of us.

They stayed mostly on the West side of the ICW line down to the Featherbeds Channel, we continued to sail off the wind slightly, it's far more comfortable for us than sailing dead downwind. (But wait till we get our new spinnaker up and flying.)

Wind had piped up to the low teens by the time we got to anchor. Bill & I decided it was not a great night to raft up. They came over to offer a dink ride along the shore, but we were not really feeling the need and decided to just have dinner onboard that evening.

Turned out it roughened up a bit after Sunset.

The pic is just one of several that I took hoping to get a good one. I posted it on Facebook noting that I was glad it was not a mile further North else I would have been worried. (Turkey Point Power Station is up that way!)

1st test of our new Griddle on the Stove top (have only used it in the Oven up till now) and it works like a charm, fit's like a glove and I love it!

I boiled the Spuds and Green beans, then finished them off on the griddle. Meanwhile I cooked the small Filet Mignon and then added some Almonds to the cooking beans.

Turned out really good, the griddle came seasoned, but it's taking a few uses to complete the process, hardly any smoke at this point compared to that when we first used it in the Oven.

Despite the bumpy night, we slept pretty good.
In the morning we motored off the anchor and headed for the Feather banks with a destination of Nixon's.

I don't have any more pics of that trip! Pity, because we had plenty of time!

After passing the Featherbeds, I set the Auto Pilot for a course back to Nixon's, but got tooo comfy letting Otto steer. Peggy & I were discussing the number of fishing traps on our course. I mentioned that I had found a Crab Trap in the locker that came with the boat and pulled it out.
Just as I was reading the instructions, out of interest, Peggy exclaimed - We've Stopped!

Yep, we were solidly aground on Black Ledge. Wind in the mid teens, sails with a single reef set, but pulling hard and we're going nowhere!

Checking the tides, we were at Low Tide and rising, that's the good news. The wind was trying to push us towards the center of the ledge and we were about 170' from the shallows West of it.

I wish I had a pic that showed me hanging out on the end of the boom! I had moved the Main Halyard to the end of the boom and secured that so that both the Halyard and the Topping lift were supporting the outer end of the boom. Then, with a line attached to the end of the boom and led back to the Port side winch, we eased the Traveler and the Mainsheet so that the boom could swing out all the way to the shrouds on the Port side. With a loop of line on the end of the boom, I put my weight on the loop and swung out as far as the shrouds would allow. Well, that did nothing! The good side of that is that our boat is really stable, the bad side of it is that it did nothing to lean the boat over so that we could raise the keel off the bottom. So Peggy pulled me back aboard - just in case you're ever tempted to try it, it's damned hard work hanging off the boom even with a loop for my feet.

We spent the next couple of hours waiting for the tide to come up and gradually the depth gauge read above 4' 4", when it got to 5' I pushed the engine to very slowly turn us towards the nearest edge of the ledge, within a few minutes, we were free.

Lesson Learnt

When using the Auto Pilot, make sure that we're aware of when we need to change tack. Our GPS has a feature where we can mark a boundary line or area, so it would be easy to put in an area where the the GPS would alarm us that we need to check things out. Somehow I think we'll be using that feature a lot!

We motored the rest of the way into Nixon's anchorage and found Duet already nestled in for the night. We've been to Nixon's several times now, but tonight we had a real problem anchoring. Each time we set the anchor and backed down to dig it in, it just dragged along, failing to dig down into the sandy bottom. Normally our Delta Quickset Anchor has no problems digging in, but tonight we tried 4 times without success. Finally I suggested that we move further to the East in the anchorage to test the bottom there. As we moved over to that side of Nixon's, a 47' Catana Catamaran pulled in even further East and they dug in right away. We dropped the hook, backed down as the anchor chain was paid out and it dug right in, WooHoo! 
We were pretty pooped, and when Duet called he offered to dink over to pick us up for dinner aboard Duet. They had the Lobster, we had the Filet Mignon, so we packed the cook gear up and Bill came over in his Walmart Dink, which seems to be a pretty good deal so far.

Over on Duet, I opened the Wine and Colleen brought out the Cheese, Crackers and Rum. Big shout out to El Dorado Rum! That stuff is so Smooooth! I wonder if Jeff from Cheshire Cat will read this and guess where the Rum came from ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Bill took us back to our boat in the dark, his boat light stuck to the top of the motor, wind picking up and it was forecast to rise up to the low twenties overnight. It did! At two o clock in the morning our Anchor Alarm sounded, a quick look showed that we were drifting South and had already drifted 180' (alarm set to 150') but it looked as though the anchor had dug in again. I turned on the Nav instruments and checked the wind speed, it was up to 28knots directly from the North. But the anchor had dug in, it held for the next 20 minutes. I had reset the anchor alarm and knew that we could drag South about a half mile before hitting the shallows on the South side of the anchorage. I elected to keep watch and suggested Peggy goes back to bed, fully dressed she did and was ready to help out if we dragged again. The wind subsided after about a half hour, we hadn't moved other than swing as the wind moved us in an arc to the East and West of our anchor point. The GPS showed a nicely bunched up track indicating that we were just swinging and all was well - for the time being. 

After an hour, I felt confident that we were set and I too went to bed, only to be woken up at 6:30 by my phone alarm in prep for the start of the trip home.

Tuesday morning I refueled from our portable diesel tanks and we left about 30 minutes after Duet, they were considering going up to Port Everglade on the outside while we had decided to go up the Ditch (ICW) 

We motored off the anchor and headed out towards the center of the Bay before we turned to go North and follow the route for the ICW to the Rickenbacker Causeway.

The wind hit 26 knots several times and we were both glad of our decision to go up on the inside.

Colleen called and advised that they too had decided to take the inside route.

This is not the first time we have taken the ICW up from Biscayne Bay. The ride up the outside would have been exciting, but perhaps a little too much so.

On the route up we had to push the engine some of the time to make the next bridge and other times we had to dawdle wasting time in order to not have to sit doing donuts in front of a closed bridge.

We did plan each bridge, so it was unexpected when we had to delay for nearly 30 minutes South of West 79th Street bridge. Our Waterway guide book reported that the bridge was open upon signal, but when we called for an opening, the bridge tender replied that the bridge next opening was on the half hour, apparently they have changed the opening from 'On Signal' to 'On the Hour and Half Hour'.

As we passed Dania Beach Blvd bridge there was a 2 1/2 knot flow against us, we crawled past that bridge, but once past we kept an eye out for the Dania Beach Cut Off canal. We'll be heading down there in a few weeks (January) to have the boat hauled out at Playboy Marina for some hull cleaning and a few other jobs.

The New River was not particularly busy and we easily navigated the bridges up to the junction between the North Fork and the South Form of the New River, then as we approached the last bridge on our route home, we saw that the 11th Street Swing bridge was open before we called and we had not heard anyone else call for an opening. Still, we called them on the VHF radio but got no reply. We carefully approached the bridge and noticed that the roadways on either side of the bridge were blocked off - seems the bridge was undergoing maintenance. 

Peggy took the helm as we passed the bridge and steered us up the canal towards our dock. 

As we approached the dock, we felt the first few drops of rain. I still needed to hose the deck down because of all the mud that was left from the anchoring demonstration the night before. 

We've pretty much got the process of unloading the boat down to an art form. I take care of the topsides, wash the deck, securing all of the lines. Peggy completes the bagging of bedding, food, clothing and laundry while I moved the truck from the parked position to the load position nearer to the front of the house and then load the bags, fuel cans, coolers, etc. etc. By the time I have everything ashore, Peggy is set to go and all I need do is secure the boat - Close all hull valves, check the electrical panel turning off everything but the bilge pump supply, setting up the damp rid and moth balls (they seem to help deter pests like rodent's and lizards), lock up the cabin, ease the dock lines and a quick check that everything is ready to leave so that we can go home.

All of that was done by 5.15pm, yep, Rush Hour! But by 6pm we were home, unloaded the truck and headed for a shower before dinner at home.

Exhausted, but what a great weekend!

As usual, we found a few 'GotADo's and we'll take care of them on Monday, including taking the boat for a dump!

Yes, we still love sailing!

See you on the water.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Regulation Issues

Charging Voltage Issues

This post is to just keep track of the issue we noticed again this last trip.

Here's the overview

We motored up the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) on Tuesday, some of the bridges are just far enough apart that we can only make them if we push our speed up a bit. That means running the engine at around 2,000 rpm for about 15 minutes. We monitor the Engine Status by checking the Engine Control panel about every 10 minutes or so, but after about 4 hours into the trip, I noticed that the Engine Tachometer was reading 0 - ZERO but everything was running just fine. And that is the issue that I'm addressing here.

More Background.

On Friday, I noticed. that there is about a 1.2 volt drop from our electrical panel to the instrument system. For example, at one point, the GPS was showing 12.6v when the Digital volt meter connected to the Bus Bar in the Electrical Control panel is reading 13.8. That's voltage drop is too high, so I need to address that, but it's important right now to consider when diagnosing the issue.

While motoring at around 1,000 rpm, the Tachometer would drop to zero and at the same time the engine sound would alter, I'm guessing it was due to a reduction in Alternator Load because the voltage display would also drop to around 12.7v (it was be higher when the Tachometer actually displayed the engine rpm.). Every few minutes, the Engine sound would alter and at that time the Tacho would correctly show the current rpm. This repeated itself, even with no throttle alteration at all, almost consistently. When we throttled up (Tach showing 0 rpm) to around 2,000 rpm, the Tach would come back on line and show the current rpm, and the voltage display at the helm (GPS) would also go backup to around 13v.


My current (no pun intended) conclusions are that there is an issue with the External Regulator and possibly the wiring of the regulator to the Alternator.

Here's my reasoning: 
  • When the Alternator is charging, there's a greater load on the engine, and the voltage display shows the charging voltage.
  • When the Regulator reduces the charging voltage, it may be turning off the control voltage to the Alternator completely, thus also removing the voltage that is used to sense the Tachometer input.
The wiring from the Regulator to the Alternator was just replaced last year when I did a complete engine harness upgrade, but that could still be an issue.

Further Research

I'm going to inspect the Regulator connections, both at the Alternator and the Battery voltage sensing connection. I have no reason to suspect the connection at the Engine Control panel as the issue is very consistent and a bad connection would either be open or intermittent, and that's not the case.

I do have a spare Regulator and intend to wire that up at some time, as it also is connected to the Link charging system that we have onboard.

Meanwhile, if you have any ideas on this issue, they would be welcome.