Saturday, November 2, 2019

Something Broke on the Boat

Does something have to break every time we take the boat out?

We took the boat out to Lake Boca a couple of weeks ago and noted that our Anchor light was not working, as things that could go wrong, this is not a biggy, but it does mean I need to go up the mast.

Ok, so I should have checked the circuit breaker 1st, but they rarely go bad. It didn't!

After recovering from the weekend, we both went down to the boat intent on fixing the Anchor Light.
Up the mast #1
With a Trip up the mast to see if it was just the Lamp or the wiring or the fitting. Turned out the fitting was in pieces from Sun Damage and the LED lamp was damaged, probably got wet while lit.
Mast Cap. The block with the empty connector is the old
Wind Transducer that was broken when we purchased
Eximius. The White cable under the connector is the
Anchor Light wire that slipped inside the mast.
The old Anchor Light was sealed with Silicone, but the
Lens had dozens of cracks and several missing bits
probably due to UV damage over the years.
Up the mast #2
After getting a replacement Light fitting from Boat Owners Warehouse on State Road 84, we went back to the boat the next day. I was sore from the day before, my Bosuns 'seat' is webbing and not at all comfortable, today I could not get my butt up the mast due to the discomfort and finally gave up to go and get a decent Bosuns Chair. Down to West Marine off State Road 84, I found a Harken Bosuns Chair for $229 - Wow! But it's nice and should be comfortable. Back to the boat and in no time I was up at the top of the mast.

It took about 20 mins to install the new Lamp Fitting and prepare the wire ends for crimping to the old cable that came out of the top of the mast. First I tested the light using the wires from the mast and it worked fine, I even got the polarity of the lamp the right way around 1st time!

With the Lamp installed, I just needed to attach it with Crimped Butt Joints. Fully prepared, I had the butt joints and heat shrink tubing in my tool kit. with the cables prepared for crimping, I reached into my tool bag for a Butt Joint and Crimpers. Putting one in the Crimpers, I reached up for the supply wire - Where did it go? Oh S@%t! the wire had fallen down inside the mast, absolutely no chance of retrieving it! Grrrrrr. back down the mast, go home and figure out the process.

The following weekend, without an Anchor Light, we went up to Sunrise Bay to anchor among 12 other boats from the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club (HISC) and I used a temporary anchor light for the weekend. We purchased a pair of Dinghy lights at the Annapolis Boat Show a year ago, so I just used one of those secured to the Backstay as our Anchor light. It's Bright and easily lasted the whole night long. During the weekend, I was able to pull the fallen Anchor Light cable out from the base of the mast. I also confirmed that there were two unused cables, an old VHF cable and the old Wind Transducer Cable (our New Transducer is Wireless). The VHF cable was already cut off just outside of the base of the Mast.

Back to the Boat  today (Saturday) and Backup the mast. My Neighbor offered me a used Full Fall Arrest Harness, which is just what Harken instructs users of their Bosuns Chair to use.

With Harness attached to a safety line, and my Bosuns chair attached to a climbing rig (a couple of Prussic knots), Tool bag attached to a pull up line, my phone, and wearing my Ear Tec headset, Peggy assisted me wearing her headset while working the Main Halyard Winch (safety line was the Halyard), I headed up the mast.

Once at the top, I pulled up on the old VHF wire and the attached Anchor Light cable, luckily the two passed together through the hole in the top of the mast.

Within an hour of leaving the deck to go up the mast, the Lamp was connected, insulated and tested. We were good to go.

Of course, the tool bag hoisting line got snagged on the furled jib sail and the old VHF cable got snagged on the Radar Reflector and the spreaders, but I was able to free both and retrieve them.

Once back down on the deck after Peggy lowered me via the Main Halyard winch, we checked the Anchor Light, Steaming and Deck Lights, all working great!

Time for a lunch break, clear up and head home. We're ready for our next trip out on Eximius.

Eximius, she is Special! 😏






Tuesday, October 29, 2019

AIS - nice to know we can be seen

When you're only a small boat, it's nice to know that you can be seen.


We motored back from the HISC Oktoberfest Cruise on Monday morning. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is being put together for it's opening on October 30th. So all of the Big boats are in town.

This is what the AIS overlay looked like as we motored past the boat show.

Just in case it's not obvious, each Red Arrow is an AIS target!


Thursday, October 24, 2019

My Splicing Kit

My DIY Splicing Kit

Needing to splice different types of line for everything from Fender Lines to Soft Shackles, I've watched dozens of YouTube videos on the subject. This is despite the Navy training I had at age 15 on how to make various splices in ropes, typically Coir Rope (Coconut Husk material).

1964 That's me in the Back Row 5th from the left.
HMS St. Vincent's Rope Work Class - Jnr Seaman


Over the past 4 years, I have made Fender lines, Dock Lines, Main Halyard Loops and the list goes on. I've built up a simple Splicing Kit and find it's pretty much all I need to complete any splice on the lines sized to suit Eximius. A larger boat might need thicker lines and a couple of extra, larger splicing tools.

My DIY Splicing Kit comprises of a Small & Medium sized FID, a line puller, Marker Pen, Ruler, Line Cutting Board and Sharp Knife

Fids: Used to open the rope strands or push a line end though the parts of the line. I purchased a pack of hollow, aluminum, knitting needles from the local fabric store. Cut the blunt ends off and then ground down that end with my rotary sander (could have used my Dremel)

Line Puller: Used to pull a line or part of a line inside of the rest of the line, I know, that's not very descriptive, I'll show it in pics.

Here are the parts of my kit:
My original Line Puller, Version II, Long Fid, Short Fid
Single Sided Razorblade, Sharpie Marking Pen

I spent a few minutes making a holder for everything except the Razor and Ruler
Note: The holder is marked at 6" 8" and 12" 
so that I don't have to have a 3' rule at hand.
Still thinking about how to include the Razor in the holder


Solution for the Razor, I've started to using a box cutter to hold the blade.


I purchased these (available on Amazon)
The cutter fits easily into the Splicing Kit holder. I didn't need 12 cutters, but what's the chance I'll loose one (or more 😉







Now I can sit and watch TV while I'm making a Soft Shackle or putting an Eye Splice in a piece of Dyneema.

See you on the water!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Multi-Purpose Block and Tackle

Should have made one of these years ago.

In preparation for Hurricane Dorian's visit (didn't happen here), I realized that Peggy was having trouble hoisting our Outboard engine from the Rail Mounting so that I could remove the outboard from the boat and get it safely in our Garage. The block was small and only had a 2:1 advantage. My solution was to replace the block with a 4:1 Block and tackle.

While on my buddy's, Peder, boat, he setup a Preventer to keep the Main sail steady during a downhill run, Wow! I never realized what a difference a Preventer would make. I'll have to get one.

This week we took our 69lb Inflatable dinghy back to the boat, it's been at home for cleaning and safe from the Hurricane (didn't happen here) and that reminded me that hauling the dink from the water onto the foredeck with a spare halyard (1:1) was a real pain. I need to have a better system.

So that's 3 reasons for having a block and tackle at hand on the boat, there's a 4th! Hauling someone from the water after a MOB event is no easy task, and a block and tackle would make that doable.

So, at least 4 reasons for a Multi-Purpose Block and Tackle.

I figure the max load would be about 250lbs (heavier than that and you're not coming on my boat, sorry, it's not a big boat!). So the SWL should be about 2.5 times that load, that's around 625lbs or 1.4Kgm and the attachment point would need to be able take a load of 500lbs or 1.1Kgm


NEW ENGLAND ROPES Solid Color Sta-Set Polyester Yacht Braid


50' of 5/16" Diameter












The Top Block

Lewmar 60mm Synchro Double Block with Becket















The Bottom Block

Lewmar 60mm Synchro Single Block
















We need to give this a name, we'll call it 'The Blue Block and Tackle' 

Yesterday, we hoisted the deflated dinghy from the Dock to the Foredeck using The Blue Block and Tackle, literally - NO SWEAT!

Now I need to make a dinghy hoisting harness. It'll be a simple 4 point harness with snap shackles on the 5 ends. Easy job using my Sailrite LSZ-1 sewing machine.

See you on the water.

Paul

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Raw Toast Explosion


Exploding Bread

I have now been baking bread for just over a year and since getting the America's Test Kitchen Bread Illustrated book, my bread baking skills have risen (pun intended) greatly.

Here's a link to ATK: https://www.americastestkitchen.com

Yesterday I baked my 1st ever Soaker, Sponge, Dough bread - Whole-wheat sandwich bread (See page 209 of Bread Illustrated).

It exploded! 


This method of baking (which should not normally blow up like this)

The Soaker process seemed to go ok, although it probably had a higher hydration % (I didn't have any wheat germ and used toasted Flax Seed instead). The Sponge processing went well too (as per the book)

I followed this process when I made the dough by combining the soaker and sponge: Putting the Sponge in the mixer bowl and setting it on Low, then adding the soaker one tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Then I added the other ingredients. Finally kneading for 8 mins on med-low.  Into a greased (EVO) bowl with plastic lid to rise. It rose to the top of the bowl within 30 minutes! (15mins early) but hey, this is South Florida in Summer = Hot, Humid even with the AC running to 78º F .

Folded dough the 6 times as described, next rise, that was quick too.

Split and shaped the dough then into the Bread Pans (8.5" x 4/5") and covered with greased plastic wrap.

My oven takes a while to get to temp. So I set the oven to 350 while the final rise was taking place.

15 minutes and the bread was overflowing the pans!!! I pulled the bread from over the pan sides onto the top and pressed to seal - did not slash the dough.

Popped the pans into the oven sitting on a baking sheet - just as well

I checked the bread at 25 minutes to rotate but - Explosion!! Dough had spilt over the sides of both pans and had risen even more on the baking pan (the baking pans were hardly visible)

As I have learned, if it fails - finish the cooking - it might be salvageable.  Baked until 205ºF

Pulled out of oven, had to let them cool in the pans until set sufficiently to try removing them.

I had to  do some major surgery to get the loaves from the pan, but was successful and transferred loaves to the cooling rack.

My wife buttered a couple of pieces of the lava left overs, delicious!

This morning we had some of the bread toasted - Delicious!!! Very light, lots of reasonable sized holes  and the toasted Flax seed added flavor to the bread.

So, I'm guessing that the problem was the amount of yeast in the final dough!

The recipe on page 290 indicates 2 Tablespoons of Yeast, I'm betting that's a typo and should read 2 teaspoons!


And the good news:


 None of the dough spilt over into the oven! It was close.

And the bread in the pans looks good.

They were cojoined but none of it was burnt, a hint in the left corners nearest  to the camera.








With the excess cut crusts cut off, the bread came out of the pans in one piece, the 'open' sides of the bread were not trimmed, that's how they came out of the pan.

Size and shape were just fine. It's just odd having a loaf with no side crusts.








Not too shabby!

The loaf is very light, really light! I was expecting a rock, as I have baked a few of those over the last year or so.

But the crumb was very airy, the flax seed was we distributed, and the flavor was really much better than I expected.

Next time I'll use just 2 teaspoons of yeast and will not use Flax seed but use the suggested Wheat Germ.

Oh, what did we do with the overflowing crusts? We ate about 1/3rd of it and tossed the rest. Too much bread crumbs in my galley already.




This is not a bread I would or could make on the boat! It requires a stand mixer - don't have one on the boat - and it takes 24 hours total to make - I started my prep at 14:30 and the bread came out of the oven at 18:00 the next day!  But I must say, it is really delicious.

See you on the water - and I'll probably have Boat Baked Bread on board too!

Paul

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

DIY Spool Holder

My DIY Spool Holder

DIY Thread Spool Holder

A couple of years ago we thought of getting our boat's Dodger & Bimini replaced, but the cost was going to be over $5000 - well over! So I decided I would learn to make one myself, even then, the cost will be close to $1,000 but it would include a whole lot more features. I purchased the Sailrite's LSZ-1 Sewing machine and later the Industrial table & Servo motor - they work! After two years, the machine has easily paid for itself.

During that time my sewing kit has expanded and these recent additions have been really useful.

Rectangular Ruler


This is the ARTEZA Quilting Ruler, no, I do not make quilts. But it is a huge help when trying to measure and mark material and keep the lines straight and parallel. This is one of those tools that should have been on my shopping list much sooner.

Now it's really easy to get square corners and the correct sized hems.

This comes to hand on virtually every new sewing project.

Available on Amazon





DYI Thread Spool & Bobbin holder.

When working on a sewing project, it's an annoyance to have to wind a fresh bobbin of thread in the middle of a seam or hem. So I prepare several Bobbins from the Spool of thread and put them on my Thread holder.


This pic shows the simple DIY Thread Spool holder and the Spare Bobbin holder.

The Spool holder is a simple piece of 3/16" Steel rod bent at 45º. the length of the angled part is about 3" longer than the typical height of a Spool of Thread.

This causes the spool to rotate as the thread is pulled off, avoiding twists. I didn't remove the thread holder than came with the Sailrite table.

The smaller piece of 3/16" steel rod is straight, it holds my pre-wound bobbins to match whichever thread I'm using for the current project.

In the event of the bobbin running out, I simply use another of the prepared set. I typically have five bobbins pre-wound.


This shows the Spool holder in use.

Both the spool holder rod and the bobbin holder rods are simply inserted into 3/16" holes drilled into the table but they do not penetrate all the way through.

This took about 10 minutes to make, I simply cut the metal rod (available at most hardware stores) using an angle grinder.

This turned out to be a great improvement in thread handling. It's easy to change the spool when I need to use a different thread and the correct bobbins are always at hand.


Love my Sailrite!





Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Value of a Sailing Club

What is the Value of a Sailing Club?

Our first boat was a Catalina 250 - Swing keel water ballast 25' Trailer Sailer. We kept her on the trailer at the side of the house (it's still visible on google maps) and dragged the boat behind our F150 the 90 minutes to Black Point Marina where we would spend 2 hours rigging the boat for launch. 

After 10 years, and lots of upgrades to the boat, and pushing it even to Bimini, we would take the boat out for up to 10 days at a time, just to get the value out of the work needed to launch and retrieve the boat. But we enjoyed that boat 'Joint Decision' every trip, even when the weather went south.


I wanted us to extend our cruising area, and the 25' boat didn't do it for us. I'm 6' and needed to wear knee pads to get around inside the boat, and approaching 65 I needed a bit more comfort. We needed a bigger boat! 

After a couple of years searching the Internet looking for a new (to us) boat, I had a pretty good idea of what type of boat 'I' wanted. Peggy's 'wants' were more pricey and I knew from our first boat, that upgrades / fixes take a bite out of the budget, so I felt the need to go with the older, proven, well supported boats. Catalina yachts were at the top of my list, but there were others.

So, if we wanted to get a bigger boat, I figured we needed to be around people that had bigger boats, it's probably catching!

We joined the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club with the intention of moving up to a bigger boat. We got so much more!

The HISC is a dynamic club, they only meet monthly at a rented hall for Cocktails, General Meetings and a Sailing interests program. Typically there would be about 100 members turn up the monthly GM, and the cocktail chats often extended into the parking lots afterwards. They held a lot of events that interested both of us. Racing (not so much for us), Cruising, and Social events. 

Knowing that you only get out equal to what you put in, I jumped into the club and volunteered whenever the chance arose.

In 2015, I was assisting at the Strictly Sail Miami HISC Membership Booth with other members of the club. We had been to the SSM show for the past 10 years and knew the layout. So spending an additional day at the show was an easy decision. 

During the show, I met with another of our club's members - Tom - and he knew that I was in the market for a bigger boat. He mentioned that he had recently delivered a boat from the Bahamas to Port St Lucie that was for sale and was a great boat, a Catalina 34!

I didn't jump on it, it was not in the right price range for Peggy - too cheap - not that we had the budget for an expensive yacht, and I thought no more about it. Three months later, the owner called me and invited me to come and look at it, 'You would not be disappointed" he said. So I suggested to Peggy that we go to see the boat and make a nice weekend of it by visiting our dautghter as well. She agreed. 

We drove up to the boat and spent over an hour looking at her. 'ChrisDeek' a 1987 Catalina 34 Tall Rig Fin Keel. Then we drove to Loxahatchee, to see our daughter and grand-daughter. On the Way from the boat, I suggested that if we were to buy the boat, we should name it 'Special' but Peggy insisted that we were not going to sail around with the word 'Special' on the back of the boat - note! She did not say we were not going to buy the boat! It's a Winner!

Anyway, that's the long story about how we got our bigger boat, because we joined the sailing club and got so many points of view from other boat owners, the chance to visit their boats on the water during the many club cruises, and to confirm some of the things we needed to look for.

Joining the sailing club helped us reach our goal. But it has done so much more! Since we brought 'Eximius' (Latin for Special) home, we have really dug into our club membership. Because the club does not own a building, the fees are only $150 a year, compared to the thousands that some clubs have to charge. But the equivalent of just $3 a week it's incredible value for the money.

We participate in a sailing club event at least every month, additional socials, again at least every month, and more. The friendships we have formed over the past five years add a lot to our retirement living. When we go to the club, practically everybody knows us, primarily because we jumped into the club by volunteering. 

Now I'm the club's Rear Commodore - That's a higher rank than I had at the end of my 25 year Navy career, and that means we're on a four year commitment - Rear, Vice, Commodore, Past Commodore. But it's worth every effort. Now I'm in a position to encourage others to get more out of their sailing hobby, develop new friendships, and enjoy the camaraderie of like minded sailors.

So I suggest, if you want to really enjoy local sailing, and more, then Join a Sailing Club - and Jump In!

See you on the water.