Monday, June 18, 2018

Room for a Shower

Time to upgrade the Bathroom Plumbing

Bathrooms (Heads) on sailboats are small, unless you're looking at a much bigger and newer boat than our 1987 Catalina 34, but they all mimic a home bathroom in that they include a toilet (for #1's & #2's), a sink, hot and cold water (hot is a luxury) and many, like our's, have a shower. Eximius' Shower is a pull out wand from the sink faucet. 

The Plan:
Replace the Sink Faucet with a simple design, no pull out wand

Install a Shower wand & flexible hose behind the head

Install a water temperature controller by the shower seat

Install a water flow controller (valve) 

Here's a schematic of the modified bathroom plumbing

Flow Control
Shower Wand
Wand Hook

The hardware was all purchased on Amazon Prime, total cost $64.87 plus the cost of a few feet of reinforced hose & hose clamps plus 2 Tee fittings (left over from the last boat plumbing project)

As far as connecting everything, I had considered using PEX piping and connectors, however, the cost locally was over $150 compared to less than $50 for traditional reinforced piping and barbed connectors.

The trick was finding barbed connectors that matched the fittings on the Faucet, Temp Controller and the Flow Control valve. That took a bit of time at the local hardware stored, but I was able to get everything locally.

In order to minimize the time spent at the boat doing the installation, I prepped as many of the fittings as I could at home. So when I go down to the boat, I'll have most of it ready to install.
  • Cut hole in the shower bulkhead for the Temperature Control & drill holes for the mounting brackets.
  • Cut the hole for the Flow Control Valve (forward and behind the head seat)
  • Connect the a barbed Tee to the existing 1/2" ID hoses for hot and cold water
  • Fit the Faucet thru the counter top and secure it with the 2 bolts & backing plates
  • Connect the Hot & Cold Faucet pipes to the Hot & Cold Tee's
  • Connect a hose from the Temperature Control spigots to the Hot & Cold Tee's
  • Install the Flow Control Valve in the hole cut previously (it will be held in place with a nylon washer & nut.
  • Attach the connector to the back of the Flow Control Valve
  • Feed the Hose from the Flow Control Valve connector to the mixer connection on the Temperature control 
  • Mount the Temperature Control into the hole cut previously - Cover mounting hole with pipe cover.
  • Mount the Wand Hook onto the bulkhead forward and behind the head seat
  • Pressurize the Fresh Water system and check for leaks - cure any.
  • Use hose clips to secure the hoses.
  • Clean up.
That all went pretty much as planned. It took 4 hours on boat, but we did a few other things while we were in there (what's new about that concept?) Everything works, I did lose one of the washers from the shower wand hose but easily replaced (ACE), no leaks found, yet! The only concern we have is that it really pumps out water, and that could be a problem! Options: Educate crew about need to be diligent in water use. Add a Water flow restrictor (inline flow control valve). Looking at the Fresh Water System Schematic, it would be easy to put a flow valve. Simply swap the Filtered water take off and the hot water tank tank take off then insert a flow control valve between them. That way the filtered water would not have the flow restriction, the filters do that, and the rest of the boat water system would be restricted. We'll see how the education goes first!

The new Faucet installed. It works really well. Shut off is quick and clean. At full stream it does not splash outside of the bowl.

The Water Temperature controller fits nicely near the top of the bulkhead between the bathroom cabinet and the Shower Sum Switch.

The Red button near the top of the controller is a safety device to prevent inadvertent selection of very hot water.

If the user wants water above 38ΒΊ C (104ΒΊ F) they have to press the red button while rotating the controller to the desired temperature.

I need to make a nice interface between the bulkhead and the number ring on the controller. Probably a piece of starboard machined to look good.

The shower flow controller valve is installed behind the head. On the inside of the bulkhead is a nylon elbow threaded at one end and barbed at the other.

The valve is secured in place with a nylon pipe bracket held in situ by a pair of SS screws visible just below the valve.

We both used the shower several times this past weekend. It makes a world of difference compared to the old, original, pull out faucet hose which was a pain to pull out let alone use to shower.

The shower head has very very fine sprinkler holes, so the amount of water used is less than I thought.

Update on expense of this project. The plastic/nylon barbed fittings are not expensive, but the hose clamps are > $3.00 each so a T costs the price of the fitting plus $10 for the hose clamps. If I were to do this again, I would use 3/8" OD pex AL pex tubing and fittings. The cost would end up a lot less and also be less complex - my setup has 16 Hose Clamps (at > $3 each that's $48) and the tubing would be $12 for 40' (20' red and 20' blue), compared to $32 for 20' of the clear reinforced 5/8" tubing. Dang! And the big plus would be the absence of those 16 hose clamps that will snag my arms at some point when I'm rooting around inside the area where the plumbing is located. The PEX piping might require a couple or more additional elbow fittings in order to avoid tight radius pipe turns, but still the cost and appearance benefits would move me towards the PEX option.

After a thorough test by both of us the weekend, the new system is a hit. Now I may have to replace the shower sump pump as it is so noisy!  The shower wand is easy to use sitting or standing, the flexible shower hose makes it easy to move around while showering. 

Don't ask us for a demo πŸ˜‰

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Fuel Tank woes Part II

Need to fix it.

Replaced the Fuel supply hose and remade the pipe fittings where the hose connects to the Supply valve on top of the fuel tank.

Didn't fix it!

Time to pull out the tank.
Saturday: Went down to the boat with 3 Diesel Jugs (Cans) a new Fuel Pump and a lot of rags. 
Disconnected the tank supply hose from the Fuel Filter Input and attached the hose to the New Spare Fuel Pump. Jury rigged the fuel pump to the batteies and spent two hours pumping fuel - had to borrow a couple of extra tanks from my dock lord so now I have 5 Fuel Jugs at home full of Diesel Fuel. It took about 15 minutes to disconnect the Supply Hose, Return Hose, Fill Hose, Vent Hose and the grounding tabs as well as the Fuel level sender and just a couple more to remove the 8 screws that hold the tank in place.

This is the second time I have removed the tank and it's really not that hard. I made a sling out of 1/8" Nylon cord secured to the Fill hose inlet and the return and supply hose fittings on the tank. Manovered the tank out of the aft berth and up into the cockpit. This time I got most of the fuel out so it was very manageable on my own.

Today (Sunday) I inspected the tank and felt that I had a good candidate for the leak area. Used a Brass Wire brush to clean up around the 'hole' then tipped the tank so that the remaining fuel was in the area of the hole and WooHoo! Nailed it. (perhaps not the best pun 😏) 

That hole is about 3/32" across and now that it's cleaned out, fuel spills from the hole like from a faucet.

There's a second suspicious area, but no sign of weeping from that area, I still cleaned it up

Both of these areas are on the Outboard underside of the tank.

After cleaning them with the Brass Wire Brush, I used the wax removal chemical from my Fiber glass repair kit to de-grease the areas.

Next I mixed up about a 1" length of JB Water Weld, suitable for fuel tanks. Peggy made sure I was wearing protective gloves.

A few minutes of massaging the two part epoxy resin and it was ready to apply to the areas.

1st I forced the resin into the holes and then pressed it into the surrounding areas making it nice and smooth. 

Finally I applied some Baby Powder to the hardening surface which allowed me to make it really smooth. That was over an hour ago, so it should be ready by now but I'll wait till the morning before I test it by partially filling the tank. I'll filter the fuel as I fill, might as well.

Assuming (risky) that we're good, then I'll go down to the boat on Tuesday and reinstall the fuel tank. That should take less than an hour. Then time to bleed the system and run the engine.

WooHoo! Looks like we'll make it to the Father's Day Cruise with the HISC a week Saturday. - We're looking forward to it.

See you on the water.


Monday, May 28, 2018

Fuel tank woes

Diesel Fuel Tank Issues

We found tiny droplets of fuel in our bilge water, and that's not tolerable!

So first step was to mop up the bilge, 2nd was to find out where the fuel leak is.

We went down to the boat today armed with empty diesel Jerry cans in case we needed to off load the tank contents. 

Inspecting the area between the fuel tank and the fuel filters, I found that there was some diesel on the tank support shelf, but could not see where it was coming from. I will have to replace that shelf as about 1/4 of it is wet with diesel. 

Thinking that it could be a leaky tank, I decided to empty the tank so that I could remove it and inspect it for leaks. Then the leak would either be fixable or I would need to buy a new tank.

So, my plan was to disconnect the Fuel pump outlet and run a temporary hose into one of the Jerry cans. We did that, but with the engine ignition system on (there is no Ignition system on a Diesel, it's actually the engine electrical supply.), the fuel pump ran, but would not pump fuel. 1st thought was that the pump had failed. So I tried to siphon the fuel out of the tank, it would just not flow.

Next I decided to use our spare fuel pump to pump out the tank. The spare pump was on board the boat when we purchased her in 2015. I connected some wiring to the pump and to a pair of electrical clamps, connected the pump to the fuel supply hose and a spare fuel hose into the Jerry can. Hooked up the pump, nothing! Wow, That's Fantastic !

Being unable to empty the tank I decided to try again tomorrow. New Plan: buy a new fuel pump before going back down to the boat.

Then a friend of mine called and during our chit chat, he asked if I had tried to start the engine?

Hmmmmm! Duh! Installed pump won't, Siphon - Won't, Spare pump wont' (won't even run) could it be a leak in the fuel hose?

My new thought: If the fuel won't pump or siphon, wouldn't that be the situation if the supply hose had a leak? Duh!

New Plan: Tuesday, head down to WM and buy some new fuel hose, connect that up and see if it pumps fuel. If so, it's the old hose and not the tank. If it still won't pump, it should siphon. If it does not siphon, then it's a fuel blockage. If it does pump/siphon, then it's just the hose.

Oh, did I mention? A new Fuel Tank is over $1,000 including shipping from CA! I really hope it's the hose!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

DIY Outboard Lifting Harness

Making a DIY Outboard Lifting Harness

Our new Mercury 4 Stroke 4hp Short Shaft Outboard weighs about 60lbs and we keep the engine on the boat secured to an Outboard Mount on the Port Side Aft Cockpit Rail. Moving the engine from the Mount to the Dink requires a decent amount of control. We had purchased an Outboard Engine Lifting Harness for our previous boat and outboard, but I was never happy with it. It always felt as though it was trying to release.

So... Time for a DIY solution.

The KISS principle is nearly always the best.

Initially I thought I would need the horizontal strap to prevent the harness slipping off the ends of the engine, but when I did a trial fitting without them, the harness was just right. There are engine parts that stick out from the main body of the engine head that prevent the harness slipping off.

The harness fits with the cover on or the cover off. I'll attach the carabiner to the moving block on the hoist tackle..

It took longer to come up with the simple concept than to make it. It feels really secure when lifting the engine.

Next is to take the Outboard down to the boat and set it on it's mount.

If the persistent gray clouds and soaking rain eventually decide to move off elsewhere, then we can load the boat and head off for our trip down to the Keys. I'm ready!

See you on the water.

I received a comment asking the the D Rings passed through each other. No they do not, I simply connect the hoisting line to them using a carabiner. Hope that helps.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New Engine

New Engine for our dinghy

We made the decision to upgrade the engine for our dinghy. Currently we have a Suzuki 2.5HP 4 Stroke Outboard which is fine, but we're concerned that the strong currents in the Bahamas will be an issue with just 2.5hp.

Our dink - Mercury 2400 has a max engine capacity of 4hp. So we have just purchased a new Mercury 4HP Short Shaft (15") from West Marine. Their price was close to what we could find online but with the 4% back in West Marine Bucks, and their price guarantee, I'm happy that we made the best choice.

 The guys from the Pompano West Marine Store loaded the new Engine, in it's box, onto our F150 pickup.

They wrapped it in poly garbage bags as it was threatening to rain.

The engine weighs about 57lbs 26kg. So it's easily lifted single handed, but the box makes it a bit of a task. 

We drove down to the dock and turned the boat around. Eximius is normally docked facing East, but the dink's outboard is on the Mount attached to the Port Side aft rails and I didn't fancy carrying the engine across the boat and then trying to hang it on the lifting sling while it's over water.

The wind was from the South East, which meant that turning the boat was a breeze (no pun intended 😏) We ran a line from the Port side bow aft and around the stern then to the dock. A second line from the mid ships cleat port side, aft and around the stern to the dock. I released the stern lines and then the bow lines. The boat easily floated around to port and I was able to control the turn using the two lines from the dock.

Once the boat was secured port side to. I made up the new engine lifting tackle. The tackle for the 2.5hp engine was a simple 1:1 single block and tackle, but I figured a 3:1 advantage would help lift the heavier 4hp engine. Now we have a single block attached to the underside of the Radar mounting plate and a double block as the moving part. There are 3 lines on the moving block.

With the new lifting tackle setup, I took the Merc out of the box and carried it down to the dock. Peggy sat on the dock wall while I tied a temporary lifting harness to the engine. With that harness attached to the moving lifting block, Peggy was able to take up the slack as I move the engine over the gap between the boat and the dock. 

The good news is that the mounting bracket on the new engine fits the existing storage bracket on the boat, no need for any adjustments.

We brought the new engine home so that we could commission it in the garage and run it in the back yard.

Commissioning the engine involves: Add Engine Oil (it's shipped empty), checking oil levels, fuel up the engine and then running it for a few minutes before checking the engine oil level again.

To do that it has to be in the upright position, so I need an Engine Stand -

Using my HF Dolly, but it needed some extra stability as the weight of the engine tends to tip the dolly forwards.

I took a scrap of 3/4" Plywood, cut it in two diagonally, then cut a slit close to the vertical end using the plunge method on my table saw.

The supports fit like a glove and really make a big difference, no fear of the dolly falling forward when the engine is mounted and the supports can be pulled off easily. No screws required.

The horizontal bar of the dolly is straight 1" steel tubing, not suitable for securing the engine. I padded it out with more offcuts of the 3/4" ply, I should really cut off the excess srew length with my rotary cut off tool.

The padding can handle the torque tendency for the engine to roll forwards, the padding is held in place with a half dozen long screws and nut's n bolts.

With the engine mounted on the dolly, there's plenty of room to place a tall drum bucket around the prop, high enough to submerge the water intake. If we had the Long shaft engine, the bucket would not need to be raised up to submerge the prop, but ours is the short shaft (15") so I place a couple of stone slabs under the bucket. That also helps keep the dolly stationary when flushing / running the engine.

Most of the time, the engine will be secured to the outboard engine mount on the Port side aft of Eximius, time for some shade.

I watched the video on Sailrite several times and figured out how to adapt their concept to our engine.

Our engine seems to have the knuckle joint for the tiller slightly further aft than on the model engine that they covered. So the cut out for the knuckle was not in the corner. It worked out really well.

There are a lot of appendages on the front and sides of the engine, but the cover fits well and is very secure.

The tiller cover is separate but I don't expect to ever run the engine with the main cover in place.

Note that this dolly has a removable handle, this is great as it allows the engine to rotate on the dolly for servicing.

I reused some Sunbrella from our old Sail Cover (replaced when we got new sails in 2016 and a Cradle Cover) so the cost of the cover was minimal. It would have cost about $25 for a yard of Sunbrella, I used about 5' of cordage and one bobbin of thread. I did not use basting tape.

Tools to upgrade the dolly: Table saw (could have used a circular saw), Portable Drill/Driver, Socket, Builders square, Ruler, Marking pens.

Tools used to make the cover: Hot knife to cut the sunbrella and cordage, Sailrite LZ-1 sewing machine, 8 plastic clamps (harbor freight), Marking chalk, Tape measure, 36" wooden rule, 48" T-Square (drywall square), Thread snips.

I find myself doing more and more canvas projects, Sailrite has been great in supplying materials for the stuff I've made as well as stock that I have purchased in anticipation of more projects. This is really the first project that I have re-used old Sunbrella, it was in pretty good shape, but it needs some cleaning - The engine cover is going for a bath in OxyClean and will then get a coat of water proofing.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Some Canvas work

Just a few Canvas jobs to help with the boat kitty.

Hatch cover
The wooden hatch near Meridian's Bow.
The cover has a lip that fits under the closed hatch and a draw string to keep it in place

The owner added a piece of something (foam) between the window and the cover to help keep it domed and shed water.

Windlass Cover
This has a lip that fits beneath the aft end of the windlass and a strap -n- buckle on the front.
The chain opening has a leather surround to reduce chafe.

Mast raising winch cover
The cover for this 12v winch is secured to the deck with Snads, it has a strap -n- buckle to keep the face closed and leather edges to reduce chafe where the steel cable enters the winch.

Meridian is heading around the great loop later this year, I'm sure they are going to have a great adventure.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Planning Trip to Marathon - Boot Key Harbor


We're working our way up to a trip to the Dry Tortugas. If we sail down to Boot Key Harbor we'll be 1/3rd of the way. And we'll get the chance to see how the harbor has recovered after Hurricane Irma in 2017


Boot Key Harbor is about 1/2 way down the chain of Keys between Miami and Key West

We have done part of this trip in our previous boat, Catalina 250 during a 10 day trip several years ago.

We'll go around a few corners to get to Marathon and hope to spend a few days in the harbor.

How (The Route)

  • Our Dock - Lake Sylvia -  5nm
  • Lake Sylvia - Dinner Key - 44nm
  • Dinner Key  - Nixons (in the Bay) 4nm
  • Nixons - Rodreguez Key Rock Harbor - 50nm
  • Rodreguez Key - Marathon - Boot Key Harbor  46nm


We're looking to take a 2/3 week trip in May, possible schedule is something like this
  1. Depart Dock to Lake Sylvia 1 hour =  Day 1 overnight at Anchor
  2. Lake Sylvia to Dinner Key 8 hours = Day 2, overnight at Slip or Mooring
  3. Day at Dinner Key =  Day 3 overnight at Slip or Mooring
  4. Dinner Key to Nixons - 4 hours = Day 4 overnight at Anchor
  5. Nixons to Rock Harbor - 11 hours = Day 5 overnight at Anchor
  6. Day at Rock Harbor = Day 6
  7. Rock Harbor to Marathon Boot Key Harbor - 10 hours = Day 7 overnight at Slip or mooring
  8. Two days at Marathon = Day 8 & 9 at Slip or mooring.
  9. Marathon - Rock Harbor / Rodreguez Key = Day 10 overnight at Anchor
  10. Rodreguez Key to Nixons = Day 11 overnight at Anchor
  11. Nixons - Elliott Key = Day 12 overnight at Anchor
  12. Elliott Key - Nixons = Day 13 overnight at Anchor
  13. Nixons - Lake Sylvia = Day 14 overnight at Anchor
  14. Lake Sylvia - Dock = Day 15, unload for ride home.

So, need to look for good weather period for 15 - 21 days, in May before 'H' Season.

Things to Do

Ok, in addition to Sailing and loafing at Anchor!

At least 2 days in Marathon and at least 2 days at Rock Harbor (1 each way minimum)

Rock Harbor - Rodgreguez Key: Dink trips: Dinner, Rodreguez Key sands, Rock Harbor

Marathon: There seems to be a lot of options at Marathon, we're scanning the guides. Looks like quite a bit within walking distance of the Boot Key Harbor City Dock as well as the other docks.

If you know of anything worth the walk? Please leave a comment.

See you on the water!