Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Routing around the Crunchy bits

 Using Fastseas.com to plan a route Pt II

A buddy asked if fastseas.com routing considered the position of shallow water when planning a route.

Looks like the answer is yes! But check it out for yourselves.

Here's an image of a quick a couple of routes I setup from starting points in the Bahamas.

Obviously, it's important to review the route zoomed in when on the Chart Plotter to make sure the Route is staying clear of the 'Crunchy' bits.

The two routes in Red and Orange were auto calculated by Fastseas.com and were both set to start off shore in the Bahamas.

By importing the route data to our Garmin, we can see that we need to modify the route to suit our preference along the way.

I'm still impressed, will report back after this weekend's trip.

See you on the Water.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Using FastSeas.com for Routing

Using fastseas.com for weather routing

We're sailing Eximius up to Lake Worth this weekend and using fastseas.com for weather routing for the first time (Paid Subscription) 

First learnt about fastseas.com from a sailing vlog on YouTube. Looked pretty interesting so tried it out first as a freebie account but quickly upgraded to a paid subscription.

So, in preparation for our trip to Lake Worth here's what I did.

Once logged in, I created a new route with a start and finish position. Both of those have to be on the water! Duh. In this case I setup a start that was 3 miles off of the Hillsboro Inlet. Chose that as we need to pump out beyond the 3 mile limit before arriving at lake worth for a few days stay.

I set the parameters for the wind speed at which I would turn on the engine and the ideal wind direction off of the bow. With all of parameters set. I chose the Start date and time then just click on the Calculate Route. A few seconds later I got the image shown above. The yellow line shows the recommended route that also includes wind direction and speed during the trip and it includes the current conditions along the route.

If I play the time line, the route is shown in action as the time passes our departure time and our position along the route as time passes. 

On this particular trip, with the weather forecast  4 days out, the route shows us moving towards the coast and tacking to make the best speed with the wind at the time of transit.

This is good, but it shows the route on the computer and I would really like it to be shown on my chart plotter - good news is that it's doable!

Step one (after establishing the route) is to download the data as a file format that suits Garmin's Home Port software. Most of the download options work.

Now that I have it downloaded, opening homeport I can import the route

Selecting the downloaded file and clicking on Open, imports the route data into homeport

Now to view the route in homeport

Now the route is shown in Home port, all of the route waypoints are displayed.

Next I need to copy them to a Micro SD Chip to transfer them to my Garmin 746xs Chartplotter on the boat. 

In practice, I would do all of this on the morning of the trip so that it is based upon the most up to date weather forecast.

Right clicking on the Route name within my collection in HomePort gives the option to 'Send To'. I select Device and the empty data SD chip.

Clicking on 'OK' copies the route data to the chip.

Now all we need do is to import the data into the chart plotter. 

On the boat, we insert the chip and import the data.
Now we have the route in our chart plotter and can simply instruct the chartplotter to follow the route, it will show us when we need to turn in order to stay en-route.

This is totally cool! Obviously, it's most accurate the closer the route is calculated to the departure time. 
I figure it takes all of 5 minutes to prep the chip from the moment I click on 'Calculate Route' till the data is uploaded to the chart plotter.

Hope you found this useful, please leave a comment and any questions you have, happy to answer them. As long as they are sailing or boat owner related :)

See you on the water.

Here's a link to another post on this subject: https://www.sailingeximius.com/2021/05/routing-around-crunchy-bits.html

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Keeping notes of things to do on the boat

 Keeping notes of things to do on the boat

It seems that every trip is responsible for pointing out that we need to do something on the boat, some before the next trip. Even though I'm retired, life is pretty hectic and I just don't keep  notes in my head as well nowadays.

I have tried using spreadsheets, but it's a little cumbersome. Then I found Google's Keep Notes.

Keep-Notes is a google app that can be installed on Android phones, Tablets but is also available on the web at https://keep.google.com/

It's a really simple App/Website (you would hardly know you were on a website) and allows multiple notes to be kept and accessible from the google account. 

If I keep notes on the web via Chrome, that same, updated, note is almost immediately available on the phone app.

Here's an example of a recent note. The items in this note are setup as Checkboxes, if I check off the box that item is shifted into the Completed Items list which is below the uncompleted items list.

Setting up a check off list is optional, if I just want to keep a text note, I just start typing or use the Voice input. Of course, voice does not always get it right as the list below demonstrates - (Just keeping it real here)

This note was created via the App (Voice is an option on the App)
The list was of the boat names that participated in a recent HISC cruise on St. Pat's Day at Sunrise Bay in Florida.

The boat name list should have read:

I kinda like the interpretations.

I find that the lists being available on all of my google devices is a huge benefit. eg. I keep a list titled 'Lowes' containing items I need to get at my next visit to Lowes. I can edit the list on my laptop at home and then review the list when I'm in Lowes.

I really like the simplicity of the whole system, but it does have a few more tricks.

eg The 3 dot menu in the bottom line of any list includes the option to copy the list to Google Docs. I know, I could just cut and paste the note into a google document, but it's an easy process to copy it over.

Typically I have multiple notes: Winn Dixie, Lowes, Eximius, House and more.

Hope you find this useful.

See you on the water.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Don't feed your engine Vegitables

Engines don't like Veggies


A friend asked if I could help her out. Her heat exchanger had been taken apart and thoroughly cleaned but it needed reinstalling. Her boat, an Erricson 32, has a very similar engine to my boat. Universal M25XP (her's may not be an XP) and the cooling system is really simple.

This image shows the whole cooling system.

The Sea Water Thru Hull connects to the Oberdorfer water pump, the output of the pump is fed to the Heat Exchanger and the output of the Heat Exchanger is fed to a nipple on the Exhaust where the water is blown through the muffler and out of the back of the boat with the exhaust.

Follow the Blue line that transitions to a yellow line in the heat exchanger.

The problem occured when the skipper started the engine and no water was being blown out with the Exhaust. After discussing it with a few people she suspected the Heat Exchanger. It has a Zinc anode installed in it's body and that zinc was missing, presumably inside the heat exchanger. Hence her reason for servicing the exchanger.

With the exchanger serviced, it was ready to put back together and reinstalled. Not having a lot to do that afternoon, I agreed to help her get it installed and get the engine running.

After checking out the engine for any other obvious issues I reassembled the heat exchanger and reinstalled it. All hoses secured, Coolant replaced, Oil level checked, it was time to flash up the engine.

Thru hull opened, battery selector on and ignition ready. Blower motor ran for nearly a minute, Glow plugs for 20 seconds, check the stop lever was fully in, press the start button and the engine starts up. That's a good sign.

Sadly, still no water pumping out with the exhaust!

The skipper confirmed that the Impeller on the water pump had been inspected. I suggested that perhaps the thru hull was blocked or that the hoses were blocked.

To check the hoses meant disconnecting the raw water hose from the Thru hull, putting it in a bucket of water and running the engine, if the hoses were blocked, then we would know, if they were not then it's a blocked Thru hull.

After spending a few minutes releasing the two hose clamps securing the hose to the Thru Hull, it only took a few seconds to pull off the hose.

We immediately knew the problem.

Yep, that looks like a Green Bean stuck in the Thru hull! I could not pull it up nor push it down (when the valve was opened).

I broke it off at the top of the plastic fitting and then used a wire coat hanger to push the remainder down and out of the Thru Hull. Obviously, water started pouring in so I closed the valve.

Reconnecting the hose, we started up the engine and WooHoo! water was being expelled from the Exhaust.

We let the engine run for about 20 minutes while we checked for leaks and dried everything up.

Moral of the story: Don't feed your engine Green Beans, nor any other type of Vegitable.

Post and Photo with permission of the Skipper.

See you on the water.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Under Sink Illuminatrion

Installing lighting under the bathroom sink

The cabinet under the bathroom sink has a lot of 'stuff' in it. 
  1. Thru Hulls (3)
  2. Fuel Filter and Water separator
  3. DST 810 Transducer (Depth, Speed and Water Temperatur)
  4. Electric Fuel Pump
I remove the Transducer when we are tied up to the dock to prevent sealife growth clogging up the speed paddle on the transducer. It only takes a few seconds, but being able to see what I'm doing is a big help.

If the Engine Raw Water Thru hull gets clogged with marine debris and needs to be roto-rooted, I close the Thru Hull, remove the hose, poke a short piece of drain snake down as far as the Thru hull, close of the gap with my hand and then open the Thru Hull in order to push the snake all the way down and out, thus clearing the blockage.

If the Engine Fuel Filter has any water in it, we have to drain that filter, it's easy, but easier if we can see what we're doing

All in all, having some illumination under the sink means I don't need Peggy to be standing over me with  a Flashlight.

Ok, here's the result:

This looks pretty bright, but that's because there is nobody in front of the doorway.

The Switch is in the upper left of this photo.

On the left can be seen the Electric Fuel Pump, below that (and slightly aft) is the Fuel Filter and Water Separator, below that is the Inline Raw Water Filter.

Aft of the Raw Water filter is the Engine Muffler box.
On the right is the Exhaust pipe (Black) which goes all the way aft to the Transom.

To the right of the Exhaust pipe is the Sink Drain hose.

That little black knob that can be seen next to the door opening (to the right of the Sink Drain) is the 2nd Manual Bilge Pump handle.

Ok, and with the new light on:

Literally, Night and Day difference.

The LED lamp is glued to the inside upper edge of the cabinet door opening.

The power is via a double tinned copper wire that runs from the switch, up to the underside of the sink counter, then over to the Port side loomed with some other wires. Then it passes behind the Shower Seat Cabinet, into the Cabinet behind the head, on through the main head bulkhead into the Cabinet (used to be a hanging locker but now has shelves) then up and into the area behind the electrical panel.

The +ve is connected to the Circuit breaker protected 12v terminal block and the -ve is attached to a 12v -ve terminal block. Both of those will be replaced when we do the electrical panel upgrade.

So and easy job, and very worthwhile. I'll probably install this type of 12LED Strip light in the other cabinets as we get to them.

See you on the water.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Spring Fling Cruise 2021

Cruising weekend to Lake Boca

Weather for the weekend was forecast to be ideal for an easy cruise up to Lake Boca, so we made plans to get out on the water - we were not alone!

Leaving the dock just after 12:30, we easily navigated down the New River, past the Swing Bridge, on to 7th Ave Bridge. The FEC Railroad bridge was up but there was radio traffic that indicated at least two large tows were heading up river. We communicated with the skippers that we were ok waiting on the upriver side of Andrews Avenue Bridge. Both of the big tows past us holding in pretty slack water and a third big yacht joined the upstream crowd. Once they cleared Andrews bridge, we throttled up and passed Andrew's close to the North side fender. Third Avenue bridge was already aware that we were outbound, but etiquette demands that we call to request opening. They quickly opened the bridge so we really didn't need to hang around between Andrews and 3rd.

Once past 3rd avenue bridge, we joined a few other boats that were headed down the river. Sometimes, following other boats is more stressful, some of the smaller boats are not very well educated about navigation rules, so guessing what they might do is fraught with challenges.

As we continued on down the river, I worked at getting the boat's running rigging setup for sailing.
Starting at the Bow, I released the hold back line that prevents the furler from unrolling in heavy winds, we needed to be able to unfurl (deploy) the Genoa. Back to the Mast, I connected the Main halyard to the head of the main sail, making sure it was not twisted around any of the other lines that went to the top of the mast. Made sure that the reefing lines were free and not likely to get tangled when we hoist the main. Check that the Dinghy was secured to the deck and not likely to get pulled free in heavy winds. Not that we were expecting any strong winds, the forecast was for winds gusting to 14 knots. I took a few minutes to lower the Lazy Jack lines on the Stbd Side of the stack pack. Moving back to the cockpit, setup the genoa sheets on both the port and starboard winches. Head down to the cabin and get the Winchrite electric winch handle and secure it close to the Starboard winch.

After releasing the line clutches for the 4 reefing lines (two each for the 1st and second reefs) and releasing the boom securing line which prevents the boom from moving side to side when motoring or at the dock/anchor. Checking the outhaul tension, light winds, light tension. A quick test that the traveller car was free to move on the traveller. All set, we just need to be able to turn into wind before hoisting the main.

As we passed marker #5, we left the New river, turning out towards where it joins the Intracoastal waterway, we saw a lot of boats hanging out at the Sand Bar, which included several drink bars! It was a little surprising, this was Friday early afternoon. 

We continued out joining the other craft that were heading down the ICW towards the 17th street causeway bridge, most of them small stuff, a couple of boats that had to wait till the bridge raised in order that they could pass the open bridge. No cruise ships in site, but the Port police were out in their boats to ensure that nobody strayed into the Turning basin, we've done that before and know better now.

Once past the corner on our Port side, we turned out into the Port Everglades Channel. The channel was pretty calm and the waters looked peaceful. Of course, a few dozen fast power boats quickly churn up the waters and we, travelling at around 5 knots, get pushed around quite a bit. We've been out there in much worse conditions, to we took this in our stride. Motoring, we headed out to the PE1 buoy before briefly turning South, into wind, to raise the mainsail, no issues, the electric winch handle quickly hoisted it all the way up our 50 high mast. With the Stbd lazy jacks lowered, and with the wind just off of the port bow, the main raised without issue. 

With the Mainsail up, we turned North and unfurled the Genoa, 100% no need for reefing, the wind was light. We turned to the North East in order to reach the Three Mile limit - we needed to pump out and we never break the law. Once we passed over the 3 mile line on the GPS, I went down to the cabin, unlocked the dump thru hull, opened it and ran the Macerator, meanwhile, Peggy checked over the stern to let me know when the the tank was empty. Turning off the Macerator, closing the Thru Hull and relocking it, pump out was complete. We returned to our Northerly course. We were getting 2 knots push from the Gulf Stream. 

Sadly, the wind was dropping and our course had the wind over the stern, our speed dropped down to 3 knots, not a comfortable sail, downwind, slow and long! Looking at our GPS calculated arrival time at Hillsboro Inlet, I figured it was time to start up the engine and lower the sails then turn in directly to the inlet.

Despite it being close to low tide, we passed through the Hillsboro Inlet without seeing any depth less than 9 feet. Checking the Hillsboro Inlet Depth report we knew which course to follow. It pays to research before going in through any inlet.

After a short time holding for the Hillsboro Inlet bridge to open, we raised the engine RPM and got our speed up to 7 knots (this was not possible before our prop and shaft were treated with PropSpeed back in  January 2021). The stream was still pouring out of the Inlet, I increased the RPM to 2100 and we were just under 8 knots through the water, but we had over 3 knots against us, so we passed by the open bridge at just 5 knots. 

Once passed the bridge, we thanks the tender and turned to Starboard heading to Hillsboro Blvd Bridge. The Bridge opens on the hour and half hour, we passed the HI bridge on the hour that gave us 30  minutes to get to the Blvd bridge, even at our new higher speed, we would be really pushing it to make that bridge in 45 minutes and the next opening we could make would be on the hour. So we slowed down and took a very relaxed motor North. Time for lunch: Crackers, Guacamole and Potato Salad with a GZero drink, surprisingly good.

We timed arrival at the Hillsboro Blvd Bridge perfectly catching up with several boats that waked their way past us only to have to wait at the bridge. The bridge opening was delayed a few minutes, just enough to ensure we would not make the 20 minute trip up to the Camino Real Bridge, so we took it easy again, shooting for the 20 past bridge opening. 

As we passed Camino Real, we got our first glance of Lake Boca and it's popularity this weekend - CRAZY.

Most sailboats anchor in the North East Corner of Lake Boca where the depths are over seven feet, plenty deep enough for our keels. Anchoring spots were hard to find because there were so many boats on the lake, and, don't forget, it's FRIDAY afternoon!! We passed around the deeper channel around the lake and ended up anchoring on the East side of the lake half way between the North and South extremes. We were anchored just to the East of a Catalina 34 named 'Cheerios' which was owned by a club member just a few weeks ago, he sold it. In front of us was a Motor Yacht named Special K - Cheerios and Special K - We looked behind us and another motor yacht was at anchor astern of us, not behaving very politely, I guess we had Cheerios' to Port, Special K ahead of us and a bunch of Flakes behind us. 

Bada Bing Bada Boom

We could see a few other boats from the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing club on the lake, but we were ready for an early dinner and early bed. First we put the Dinghy in the water ready to use it in the morning when we would go visit.

With the Dink off of the boat, we were able to raise the hatch above the V-Berth and with the little wind we had, it was cool enough. In the Galley I prepared Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes, followed by Klondike bars, washed down with a glass of Pinot Grigio for Peggy and a mile Red Blend for me.

Goodnight. Saturday deserves it's own post! See you on the water.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Fresh Water Plumbing - Shut off valve

Shut off valve for the Fresh Water Plumbing System


This is the modified Plumbing system that I did in April 2020, this past weekend I found a defect in the design.

After purchasing new water filters (set of 3) for a change out before our trip this past weekend, it only took a few minutes to remove the 3 filters. To do so, the whole house filter is accessed by removing the center draw from the galley undercounter and then the two filters for the drinking water system.

Then the phone rang and I needed to answer it. My buddy was calling to ask about our meet up later that day. It took a few minutes to deal with the call but I could hear water running, I figured that there was a small amount of water syphoning out of the whole house filter housing. After the call and as I prepared to put the new filter in place, I realized that the 'small amount' had filled the bilge to the point where the bilge pump was about to run!! The 3 way valve does not work, it does allow selection of either the Mid or Aft tanks, but it does not stop the flow in it's third position.

During those few minutes, the aft tank and mid tank drained about 15gallons! 

Solution is to add a shut off valve between the selector and the whole house filter.

Pex Shut-off Valve installed on the pipe
from the Tank Selector to the House Filter
Shown in the Shut position.

This project took 4 hours 10 minutes.
3 hours to find the pex tools - Duh, in the Garage in a box marked 'PEX'
1/2 Hour to drive down to the boat
10 Minutes to remove the Galley Drawers, Cut the pipe, Install the Shut off valve, Test it, Reinstall the Galley Drawers.
1/2 Hour drive home.

The dribble of water on the pipe below the shut-off valve is just from the filter when I cut the pipe. We had drained the tanks earlier this week, part of our water health routine.

We filled both water tanks, no leaks. 

It's easy to reach the shut-off valve when I need to remove the water system filters. Life is good.

See you on the water, we're heading up to Lake Boca on Friday, back on Monday.