Sunday, July 15, 2018

Piece of Cake

Still trying for a decent loaf

After several bakes on board, I'm nearly satisfied with my bread making, but it's always a delight when a loaf actually turns out better than expected.

This loaf was baked using a dough recipe from King Arthur's Flour website, here a link: 

I substituted 1/8th cup of brown sugar for the 1/4 cup of Honey just to keep my grand daughter interested in the bake.

After kneading the dough for 10 minutes with my grand daughter's help, we left the dough to rise and it rose to over double it's size in an hour sitting on top of my cooker (off). Next, I divided the dough into three nearly equal pieces (that's a good game!) and rolled them on a slightly oiled surface into sausage shape about 12" long. Then Platted them, squeezing the ends underneath and placing into a prepared sprayed baking tin. 2nd Rise for 1 hour, heated the oven to 350º F (regular bake, not 'Fan') and baked for 40 minutes.

Turned out nicely.

This is definitely doable on the boat. I did not use city water, which probably explains why the rises were so good. It makes great toast but is delicious (Peggy & KT both gave it a 10) and it looks nice.  The lower temperature for this bake, 350ºF v 400ºF of my other bakes should make it even more repeatable on the boat. I'll have to try it on a baking sheet rather than in a bread pan, it seems to hold it's shape really well.

If you see me on the water, you might come aboard for a snack of Cheese, Grapes and some fresh baked bread. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Admiral cannot get out of the cabin

Cabin Sliding Hatch is a pain to open

Peggy has been complaining about how difficult it is to open the Cabin Sliding hatch from inside the cabin - this past weekend I realized that she cannot open the hatch from the inside! Not good!

The problem is well known to the members of the C34 Association ( and one of the members has developed a cure.

Basically the problem is that the Hatch rubs fiberglass against fiberglass which has gathered dirt and grime during it's 30 Year lifetime. Not only is the hatch difficult to open & close, but it makes a nasty screeching noise in the process.

There appears to be two solutions: #1 - Remove the hatch cover which involves removing two 7' long strips of teak and possibly some traveller hardware, then clean up the underside of the hatch and the surface that it slides upon, then put it all back together - pretty simple, but wow!
#2 - Insert a piece of UHMV plastic on the sliding surface. Done!

Mark (from forum) has taken the trouble to purchase a sheet (or more) of the UHMV 1/16" thick material and has cut it into the appropriate length strips. I contacted Mark this morning, asking if he had any of the strips left over, he does. I paid him by Pay Pal and by mid day he has packed a pair of the strips and dropped them into a USPS drop box. WOW ! 

Several of the guys that have already installed them have left very positive comments with the advice to secure the strips in place with a countersunk screw at the aft end of the strip and as far forward as can be reached without removing the hatch.

I'll take pics.

Thanks Mark! Great product.

See you on the Water.

Not a big Fan

Can you hear me or the Fan?

Fan motors really spoil my day, I detest the noise as much as that of a vacuum cleaner and we have 5 Fans on Eximius: 2 in the Salon, 1  in the V-berth, 1 in the Bathroom(head), and one in the aft Berth. I purchased them all at the same time, installed them all and all of them are NOISEY!

It finally got to me on our last trip and I plead my case with Peggy that I made a bad choice when purchasing the fans and would like to replace one to see if we could find a more bearable option.

The Galley Fan (old one shown here) was mounted just forward of the Fridge/Freezer lid and did not have a lot of room for positioning. It did have a good blow, but the noise was awful.
$40 from Amazon Prime.
This is the model I replaced it with. No cover over the blades, which the manufacturer claims will not harm fingers.

Well, that's my experience as shown in the video below.

So, with one fan replaced and the new is soooo much better than the old, I'll be swapping out the rest of them over the next few weeks/months.

See you on the water.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Upgrading my Sewing Machine

Sailrite LSZ-1 Sewing Machine Upgrade.

Ok, so I like doing stuff! Boat repairs - love it, Cooking - love it, House repairs - love it, Sewing - love it. I'd rather be busy than bored!

It's nearly two years since I purchased my Sailrite Sewing machine - it's a beast! I've made Fender covers, repaired our Dodger, made new cover for the Lifesling, New Cabin Curtains, Fire pit cover, Pressure washer cover, New Cabin base cushions, Re-designed our Asymmetric Spinnaker, New Line bag, New Hatch Covers, New Winch Covers, New Dodger frame covers, New Dodger windows, I've even repaired my shoes using it! My latest project is a huge Boom tent, with a 2nd in the works. So I feel that we're getting our use out of the machine.

The only issue I have with the machine is that I cannot sew 'slow' it's so damn fast that it's a beast to control - at least with my size 11's I feel like a beginner driver and unable to make a smooth transition using the throttle.

With more great projects in the works, I decided it's time to upgrade to a Servo Motor - and a new work bench. But pricing out the cost the new bench and the servo motor, I figured I might as well spring for the Sailrite - Workhorse Bench and Servo Motor.

It arrived today, 3 boxes, thanks FEDEX for the on time delivery.

After getting back from the store run for our weekly home provisions, I set to work putting it all together. This is not a quick 'some assembly required' project. After two hours I had the table put together and the servo motor drive pulley installed. It'll take at least another hour in the morning to get the motor installed ready to power up the new Beastie!

I have set up the height of the table to match the height of my existing work bench in the garage (a 6' folding table) hoping that I can figure out some way to meld the two tables.

The big plus of the new motor is the speed control! If you watch the videos online at, you would see the demo where the machine is stitching at 1 stitch per tap on the treadle control.

I have a large boom tent project that has to be sewn this weekend, it's a bit more complex compared to the over the counter boom tents as it has to cover the main cabin while leaving the lazy jacks in place.

Taking the new Table & Motor for a spin, I felt that the Treadle position was not ideally suited for my lanky legs. So I moved it far over to the right side of the work table. While at it, I also raised the table quite a bit but that resulted in the rod from the treadle to the motor being too short. Luckily, Sailrite provided a duplicate of the rods, I used one part of the extra rod set to extend the rod so that it easily reached the raised table. Sweet!

First impressions of the improvement in sewing is - WOW - the video showed it doing a really slow stitch, but it's actually better than that! When I raise my foot on the treadle, the motor stops! None of the old 'wait till the motor stops spinning', it stops dead in it's track! That makes it much easier to stitch up to a corner and STOP, with the needle buried, shift into reverse and SLOWLY backup a couple of stitches, forwards to the corner and the locking stitches are complete. All with incredible control. I'm really impressed! Oh! Did I mention that it's SMOOTH - and QUIET - it is.

With the new setup complete, tomorrow afternoon I'll get back to production. So far it looks like the investment was well worth the money, and time (to put it together).

All of the parts (Motor, Foot Control, Old Jack Wheel, and the extra items included in the two equipment packs for the upgrade) are now all stored in the Original Sewing Machine Carrying Case, just in case I ever want to change it back to a portable machine. Might happen if I need to take the machine to a boat to do work on site, but I'm not really planning on doing that kind of work. It has to be fun! and right now, it's totally fun!

See you on the water.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Father's Day Weekend Cruise with HISC

Bahia Mar for Father's Day Weekend with HISC

It was that kind of weekend!
Leaving the dock just after 11am, we motored down the New River, pleased that all of the work we did to take care of the fuel system was behind us and was working out just fine. When we passed under 7th Avenue bridge, we could see two boats holding just West of the FEC railroad bridge, we could not see the others, there were 5 boats in front of us all waiting to pass the FEC bridge. It was down for over a half hour, so we did several doughnuts around the other vessels. Finally we decided to tie up on one of the floating docks at Sailboat bend. Peggy maneuvered the boat beautifully along side the docks, I stepped off with lines in hand and the bridge promptly opened.

It was that kind of weekend!

I had called the New River Dock master in order to reserve the pump out at Smokers Family Park, they confirmed we were ok to use the pump out and we came alongside as calmly and I was able to step off without even stretching. Of course the pump out wouldn't work! Some buffoon had left one of the pump valves open way back up river by 3rd avenue bridge.

It was that kind of weekend!

Arriving at Lake Sylvia Friday afternoon. we saw Bob & Joyce on Diversion and they agreed to a raft up. Third time in one day, we came alongside without a slither! Bob & Joyce are great 'rafties' with as many stories about sailing and cruising as I have about events in the Navy. We shared a few drinks and discussed world issues, many of the solved.

It was that kind of weekend!

On Saturday we motored out of Lake Sylvia into Bahia Mar Marina. We called them on the phone to get our dock details - Oh Oh! We're going to the South Basin directly opposite the River Queen and Jungle Queen tourist vessels - We going to have a peanut gallery to watch as we try to navigate into the slip backwards - never easy! We Nailed it! backing in without touching the dock and easily passing the dock lines to the Bahia Mar Dock hand. We were the first HISC boat to arrive on the Saturday, and both the River Queen and Jungle Queen were EMPTY! No body saw us make the perfect landing!

It was that kind of weekend!

Saturday night we joined the crowd of HISC members at the Captains lounge of Bahia Mar for the After Race Party and the Father's Day Cruise Party. Christeen and Jacqui did a great job of making the event a huge success. After the party, we returned to the boat on the promise that Christeen would setup the Karaoke on the dock after dark. I should not sing Karaoke!

It was that kind of weekend!
Sunday we assisted the club boats leaving the Bahia Mar Docks if they asked, everyone got away safely and without incident, although Imagine took a little while to fix an Engine Starter problem, they proved that knowing your boat is the best solution!
We spent the rest of the day doing a few projects on Eximius, including cleaning the port side cockpit combing, and trying (unsuccessfully) curing the grating noise when opening our companionway hatch. After dinner, we invited ourselves to spend the evening aboard Pegasus - Sully & Loraine where we swapped stories and tried to solve more of the world problems.

Then, to close out the weekend, here's a video of me making my Sunday Night Rum Tott

It was that kind of weekend!

We left the Bahia Mar Dock just after 1pm in order to reach the FEC bridge before the train arrival and have the tide in our favor. Huge yachts in the New River delayed our arrival and the bridge was down. Luckily it was only down for about 10 minutes so no big deal. We got back to our dock and made a text book arrival at 14:07, unloaded, secured the boat and we were in the truck for the ride home by 14:53 - We're getting this down.

Great weekend with Great people in a Great Marina. Looking forward to doing it again.

See you on the water.

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 38º C (104º 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 😉

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.