Friday, June 11, 2021

Expensive Oil change

 Expensive Oil Change - NOT!

In preparation for the Palm Beach Regatta this weekend, our plans included doing an Oil change on Eximius - not really due - we did an oil change last year - didn't record it but barely used the boat.

Anyway... Oil changes on Eximius are actually pretty easy.

The process (there is a point to this, so bare with me.)

  • Warm up the engine for about 10 mins
  • Shut down the engine
  • Insert the Oil Extraction Pump hose into the Dipstick - as low as it will go.
  • 10 to 20 pumps on the extraction unit - 2 mins
  • Wait for a few minutes until the sound of sucking air is heard from the dipstick  - it's clearly audible.
  • Put a couple of Puppy mats beneath the Oil Filter and release the oil filter with the filter wrench
  • Coat the seal surface of the replacement Oil Filter - of course we carry spares.
  • Replace the filter tight by hand
  • Pour in 2 quarts of oil and check the oil level with the dipstick - add more - check again until oil level is correct on the dipstick.
  • Check the other fluid levels, clean up, run the engine for a few minutes, check the level again.
  • Wait till engine cools down and check again (we typically do this the next morning)
See, no big deal. I decant the oil from the pump into an empty laundry detergent bottle and take it to the city recycling center.

The actual oil change may take about 15 minutes. 'Normally'

So, yesterday, we got to the point where we were ready to install the new oil filter I noticed that it was defective. The cylinder that should be inside the threaded hole was clearly bent, totally unusable. Grr.
Not to worry, I keep spares on board, quickly pull one out, apply a coat of oil to the seal and install it. It's a different color from the other spare and original, no big deal. But we now do not have a spare, so we take pics of it in order to ease the purchase of spares.

Then we add the fresh oil, Opp! added to much. This if never a problem as long as it's no so much that it overflows from the Dipstick. Just use the oil extraction pump to suck out some of the excess oil and check with the dipstick again.  As we had to suck out some oil and test with the dipstick multiple times until the level was correct we put a flashlight in the work area of the Stbd side of the engine. Oh Look! There's  the Engine Fuel Filter just astern of the dipstick and look, that number on the side of the filter looks like the number we took a photo of the spare oil filter we just used.

DUH! I had just used a Fuel Filter for the replacement Oil Filter! Huge DUH! As I now had neither a spare Oil filter or Fuel Filter - we have to go get some.

Checking online - Walmart was nearest - no good - no equivalents.
Checking on google - West marine was pretty near, they'll have them for sure. 20 mins later - no they don't. 'But' the helpful guy at West Marine said - They're Napa Filters and their store is on the other side of the road.
Quick drive and into Napa - WooHoo! They have them $16 and $10 each. Not so bad, I'll take two of each. Surprise! The $52 dropped to $26 - at that price I'll take more! Always need spare filters on the boat.
I walked away with 15 filters and two Gallons of Engine Oil for $116 that's crazy! Sorry if you got to the store after me, but I cleaned out their stock on Thursday.

Back to the boat, prepped the new oil filter (double checked I had the right one), installed. Checked the oil lever, ran the engine for 5 mins and checked again. Time to wait overnight.

Friday morning, we're at the boat loading it for today's trip, 1st thing: Check the oil level - spot on!

So we're good to go.

We motored from our dock to the Ocean, put the sails out, headed out to the 3 mile limit, did a dump, turned up towards Hillsboro Inlet, Sailed to within a half mile, then ran the engine for the two hours it took from the Inlet up to Lake Boca. We're sat at anchor right now. Taking a break before the skipper's meeting this evening and the Regatta start at 10:05 Saturday (tomorrow)

See you on the Water.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Palm Beach Regatta 2021

Palm Beach Regatta 2021

Let's get real - We're Not Racers! Eximius probably has several hundred pounds of tools and spares onboard, plus we carry 10 gallons of Diesel on deck as well as 10 gallons of Gas and 24 gallons of fresh water, that's roughly 44 gallons of fluid, guestimate about 8lbs per gallon = 352 lbs, equivalent of 2 additional crew but they just sit there on the rail. So, as stated, we're not racers. However the Palm Beach Regatta is such a fun event we couldn't resist.

To be fair, we did race in 2019 and scored a trophy - we didn't finish, same as everyone in our class, but we did tell the best story and scored the 1st place trophy.

This year there are 15 boats in five different classes, only two of us in Gunkhole, us and another Catalina but at 36, just a bit bigger than our 34. Only one of us will get a trophy this year as it requires at least 3 boats in a class to result in trophies going to 1st, 2nd and third. So the challenge is on!


Most of the preparation has been in getting the race setup, the pre-race party and skippers meeting, there's not much for us to do to our boat, it's going as is, but we are doing a bit or normal servicing and trip preparation:
  • Oil Change
  • Water tank flush and fill
  • Non-perishables
  • Drinks
  • Bedding (we'll be staying aboard while anchored in Lake Boca on Friday, West Palm Beach Saturday and Sunrise Bay Sunday)
  • Our serviced PFD's (we service them every year)
  • Charting our anticipated course (we're expecting very light winds, so we'll head ENE from the start line until we feel the Gulf Stream pushing us North.)
  • Loading all of our Electronics on board - including our inReach (here's the link) satellite tracking service.
  • Clothing for 5 days, including attire for the Awards Party at the Palm Beach Sailing Club on Saturday evening.
Ok, that's easily done, we do have one other thing to do:
We'll be mounting Rail Boards to the Stanchions on both sides of the boat forward of the Shrouds in order to attach the fuel/gas/water cans. The boards will be 4" White UV Plastic boards from Lowes and Stainless Steel U-bolts. The cans will get secured to the rail boards with Webbing Straps and Buckles.

Of course, we'll need some fresh baked bread, but no time on Thursday, so here's today's results
Two Loaves of Wholemeal Bread

So, the boat will be ready by Thursday afternoon.
Friday morning we'll take the perishables down to the boat and put them in the fridge. Stow our clothing, get the boat set for sailing and then pull away from the dock around 10am and head out to Port Everglades. Heading East we'll go for the 3 mile limit and pump out, then head up to Hillsboro Inlet. We hope to get some practice on setting up for the start line before going inside the Inlet and up to Lake Boca where we'll anchor overnight. We'll leave the anchorage at 6:50 in the morning so that we can catch the 7am Camino Real Bridge, the 7:30 Hillsboro Blvd Bridge and get out of the inlet around 8:45 and head up to the start line about 1.5nm North of the Inlet.

That's the plan!

See you on the water.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Memorial Day Weekend Cruise to West Palm Beach Pt. 4

West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale

Returning from West Palm Beach.

We had pulled the dink onto the deck on Sunday night after having dinner ashore with a dozen other club members. I had also planned our departure and release from the raftup with Jeff & Hector. Alarm was set for 06:00 and we had a good night's sleep excepting for a 20 minute rain shower. Once that was past we reopened the V-berth hatch and slept well.

Monday morning while we had Cereal and Toast for breakfast, I explained the Peggy the process for parting from the raftup: Because of the tide at that time and because Jeff had a Stern Anchor out, we could reduce the lines between the two boats and pretty much stay in position. I would then start to haul in the 275feet of anchor rode. The first 175' was triple stranded 1" rope which was then shackled to 100' of 5/16" chain. 

When hauling in Chain, it just falls down into the anchor locker, but when hauling in triple stranded rope, it's quite stiff and so does not just fall into the locker, but has to be pushed down. So, I anticipated it would take a little longer to haul in the rope so we would have to be ready to put the boat in reverse in order to prevent us over-riding the anchor rode and risk having line in the area of the prop.

07:00 we started releasing the lines by the time Jeff was up and ready to let go of the stern line. Once the lines were free, I started hauling in the anchor line, had to work pretty quick as I was worried that our stern would catch the bow of Affection, that would not be a happy event. Once clear of the rafted boats, I worked at pulling the rest of the 3 strand line and treading it down into the anchor locker. Once the line was in, it was then easy to haul in the Chain and to snug the anchor up to the anchor roller.

As soon as the anchor was clear of the water, I gave the signal to Peggy that we could head out to the channel that crossed from the East side of the ICW to the West side. The bridges in WPB are on the West side of the ICW.

Once we were through the short channel we turned North towards the Flagler Memorial Bridge. We made much better time that expected and had 15 minutes to spare for the bridge's 7:45 opening. Mike & Brenda on Imagine were also heading North to the Lake Worth Inlet and was also in a holding pattern just South of us. As soon as the bridge spans were open, I pushed ahead at 2,000 rpm making over 7 knots over the water, but the tide was already turning and we were only doing just over 6 knots GPS speed. Anticipating that the tide would get stronger the longer we were in the ICW, so we motored on. Imagine likes to get their sails up when chance occurs. The wind was light and we communicated that we would probably be under motor for the first couple of hours when we turned South from the Lake Worth Inlet.

We could not make it to our dock before the falling tide later that day, so we planned to anchor overnight in Sunrise Bay, we motored most of the morning and hoisted the main around 10am. Life was good until about 12am when it got cloudy, we saw a storm cloud in the North East on our Radar, at first it didn't seem a threat, we also saw Imaging closing up on our stern rapidly under sail.

Shortly after Imagine passed us on our Stbd Side, we put in a reef just in case the weather worsened. 

Within minutes, Mike called on VHF suggesting the storm was approaching, it was. So we put in a 2nd reef then decided to pull the sail down. Just in time, winds picked up and the seas got very lumpy, nothing we haven't dealt with before, but safety first. we were only about 2/3 of a mile from the shore, didn't want to be under canvas on a lee shore just then. Imagine turned to windward and doused their sails too.

Now we're motoring all sails stowed, it's lumpy, frequent rolls dipping the rails. Then, all of a sudden, the fuel gauge read nearly empty! What !! We're about an half hour or more from our entry into Hillsboro Inlet, on a Lee shore, sails down and the engine fuel gauge is touching zero. 

This is not a good place to be ! If the engine stops, there's barely time to drop anchor and stop the boat getting into shallow water - not a pleasant scenario.

We carry 10 gallons of Diesel in 2 tanks on deck - secured to the Port side just forwards of midships. Now, I was pretty sure that we had not used all of the fuel in the 23 gallon tank, but we had been pushing the engine since 7:45 this morning. Typically we use about 1/2 to 3/4 gallons an hour. I should have somewhere between 5 and 10 gallons in the tank calculated by usage, so the gauge should have been reading at least 1/4 full, so it was probably a gauge error.

The Gauge is powered by the resistance in the fuel gauge sending unit, there's a float with a magnet that can move up and down a central tube which makes/breaks reed switches, those reed switches change the resistance of the circuit to the gauge and thus the gauge is basically a volt meter but just displays the tank level in 1/8 segments as there are 8 reed switches in the sender.

So, pretty confident that we had plenty of fuel, now was not the time to gamble. I asked Peggy to take the helm in order that I could go outside of the cockpit to get the tank of diesel and add it to the fuel tank. Peggy was not certain that she could handle the boat in the rough conditions, the Auto Pilot certainly could not, but the risk of running out of fuel and heading to the shore in the storm was just not an option. 

Peggy took the wheel - I was pretty confident she could handle it, and I was right. I hooked my tether onto the Port Side Jack line (a nylon webbing strap that runs from the stern to the bow acting as a safety line when needed) an climbed out of the cockpit. The three principles of a good knot is that it has to do it's job, has to be easy to undo and look pretty. I had tied the fuel tanks to the stanchions with a couple of clove hitches, so easy to undo with one hand while I used the other to keep hold of the boat. 

Once back in the cockpit with the diesel can, I secured it to the rail on the Port quarter just aft of the Diesel Fuel Filler point. Then I pulled our 'Fuel Kit' out of the cockpit locker. That kit contains a fuel filler syphon, fuel filler cap key and fuel additives. I didn't worry about the additives and just used the syphon to empty the can into the fuel tank. Once complete I took over at the helm and congratulated Peggy on doing a great job of keeping us on course while worked on the fuel issue. 

Knowing there were now at least 4 gallons of fuel in the tank the tension eased and we focused on dealing with the rough water. As always, the storm began to pass and shortly Mike and Brenda on Imagine were back on our tail under sail.

We continued together in tandem as we turned into the Hillsboro Inlet channel. Called the bridge for their next opening (13:45) and we held station waiting the 10 minutes before it rose.  Both of us turned South once inside the inlet bridge and eased back on the throttle as we would arrive at 14th street bridge too early, neither of us wanted to deal with the bundle of boats that would be waiting just North of the bridge.

Tom Garvey on Ohana was already waiting with the crowd at the bridge, so all three of us passed under the bridge, once open, we headed South. Imagine didn't have far to go and Ohana not much more, while we headed down to Sunrise Bay which meant passing Atlantic Blvd Bridge, Commercial Blvd Bridge and Oakland Park Blvd Bridge.

Expecting a large, Memorial Day Weekend, crowd at the Bay, we were surprised to see less than twenty boats at anchor or rafted. We anchored easily but a bit too close to a nearby boat, so we (I) pulled it up and we repositioned a hundred feat further back from the ICW. 

Both tired, we had dinner, a glass of wine and a tot of Rum, and prepared for our early night. Breakfast on Tuesday Morning was Salmon and Guacamole, mini tomatoes and some fried bread (skillet toast) and, of course, some Hot Coffee.

We motored easily back to the dock. There was a train crossing at the FEC Bridge but we slowed down so we would not get to 3rd Avenue bridge before the FEC Bridge opened. 

Back at the dock, we unloaded, washed the boat down, checked everything was set for us to leave the boat and head home.

This was a great weekend, not only did we enjoy the sail up to Lake Boca and then the sail up to Lake Worth, but a great time spent in the West Palm Beach Anchorage. The trip home was just another lesson on how to handle the boat in slightly adverse conditions. Every time we experience a bit of difficulty we learn a lot and this weekend was no exception. 

I would give this weekend a full 5 Stars.

See you on the water.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Memorial Day Weekend Cruise to West Palm Beach Pt. 3

 Fun day at West Palm Beach Anchorage.

Dawn broke long before we awoke this morning, a good nights sleep makes a world of difference.

So we started the day with a real breakfast, none of that healthy stuff, no grapes, no fiber cereal, but a good cooked breakfast. A big slice of Breakfast Ham, some mini tomatoes (ok, I guess  they are healthy), Fried Egg over easy and the last of the Bagels with Cream Cheese and Strawberry Jam and Honey. Of course, a piping hot mug of Coffee and some OJ. Sorry health nuts, it was really good! And a second apology: No pics.

Did stuff around the boat and then took a dink ride with Jeff to deliver cruising gifts to the other boats. 
Here's the boat list:
  1. Alebrije
  2. Affection
  3. Eximius
  4. Ohana
  5. Dalecarlia
  6. Deli Mali
  7. Imagine
  8. Cookie Monster
  9. Pegasus
A couple of other boats nearly made it, the nearest was Aireze was in the area but we had all gone ashore when Bruce got here. 

Hey! I'm happy that we had Nine Boats turn out. This should give a push to others to come join us on the next cruise. 

Saturday 13 of us met up at Lorenz on Clematis just 5 mins from the dinghy dock. The staff made us welcome and moved tables to accomdate all of us, the chin wagging began.

From my position,  Jeff Keiser earned the food swoone award for his body language reply when asked how good was the lasagna. THE BEST.

Peggy  and I returned to the boat as we wanted to put the dink on deck before dark, nearly made it, the deck light helped. We were ready for the 7am breakaway from the 3 boat raft up.

Sleep safe everyone. 


How to save Fresh Water onboard our Boat

Water saving on our boat

Our 1987 Catalina 34 has about 70 Gallons of Fresh Water in two tanks. We carry up to an additional 24 Gallons in four on deck water tanks, so a total if 94 gallons. There's normally just 2 of on board, so that gives us about 10 days at 10 gallons a day

At home, like most folks, we probably use 20 gallons just taking a shower, our dishwasher uses 4.5 gallons per load. and we have two bathrooms with water reduction cisterns but they use about a gallon per flush. I don't know about you, but how often do you flush the toilet.

On board Eximius, we flush our loo with fresh water - to keep the qty low, we have a 64oz water bottle alongside the head and if we're flushing do do, then we use some or all of the bottle to flush the toilet. (We do not use Salt Water to flush the toilet, salty water in the holding tank is not a great idea IHMO)

On board, no Dishwasher - just me. To reduce the amount of water needed to wash up after a fried meal, which is the toughest job in the galley - mostly :)   I use a Spray bottle with a couple of drops of dish liquid to spray down the pots and pans, cutlery, plates, serving spoons etc. 

A half full sprayer typically last for about 3 days of 3 meal galley clean up and must save a huge amount of freshwater. 

To rinse the dishes, I'll turn on the faucet at a trickle but a 2nd spray bottle would save on water uses too. I just don't have that much counter space, but during our  six week cruise planned for 2022, I'll have one just to stretch our water budget to get us between shore water resources in Eluthra Bahamas.

When new Desalination processes come down in price and power consumption, I'll get a water maker, till then = I'll be using a spray bottle.

Just an aside note. We're not liveaboards and our longest cruise to date has been a month long trip to the Abaco's. 2020 put a hold on going out of the USA, and the 2021 covid requirements are not very encouraging, so we're keeping our cruises to Florida and the Keys - we might get down to the Dry Tortugas later this year. Meanwhile, our trips are mostly less then 200 nm round trip.

See you on the water - saving as much as we can ;)


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Memorial Day Weekend Cruise to West Palm Beach Pt. 2

West Palm Beach Anchoring

As mentioned in the last post (click here) We're anchored at West Palm Beach Florida.

The current is vicious here! We've seen 4 knots in the direction of the tide, right now it's flowing southerly, We're anchored with two bow anchors and one stern anchor and they are holding well. The good news is that we're in 9' of water. The Stream does give concern when taking the dinghy out into that stream, we have to be able to do at least 4 knots, "Special's Dink" should be fine, we have a 4hp outboard and it's only an 8.5' Mercury dinghy, doesn't get up on the the plane but clips along nicely if only 2 people on board. So sorry folks dinghy trips in Special's Dink doesn't look like an option. 

Ohana arrived at nearly dark last night and after dinner at Bradley's they anchored between the two city docks with several other boats. Meanwhile, as the tide changes we just hung about secure on our anchors. The only other downside of being on the East side of the Waterway is the frequent crazies on their power boats churning up the waters and making Peggy wish she had taken a dramamine. Lumpy.

lt rained briefly around 4:30 this morning and I had a mad dash about the boat to close the ports and hatches which were open to keep the boat cool. It only lasted about 10 minutes and we opened up the main v-berth hatch for the welcome breeze. FYI, I attach a spare halyard to the bow of the dinghy when it's on deck and we're at anchor so that I can raise it enough to open the v-berth hatch which is below the dink.

The Bow line that we set between Affection's Stbd side and Eximius' Port side was stretchy, so when the wind picked up a bit last night the two bows were able to wander apart a few inches and the stretch caused a shriek from the line each time it tightened. Jeff & I were both on deck and we changed it out for a larger non-stretch dock line and ran it through a Chock on Eximius to reduce the load on the cleat.  Worked great, the rest of the night was peaceful.

During breakfast, Peggy & I discussed our plans for the day - not many - I need to work on the club's Newsletter, I have a couple of projects that I could get done. Hope to be able to discuss some details of upcoming club events with the Cruise Committee (they're captive audiences :) ) and send out some emails to family and friends. Peggy is going to get in some practice and I'll do some chin wagging. Later today several other boats are going to arrive. Dalecarlia, Imagine, Cookie Monster, Aireze and a couple are arriving by car. So maybe a bit more chin wagging.

See you on the water. Oh! Today's pics:

Neighbors - Affection and Alebrije 

Looking North. City Docks are on the left (West) side.

Memorial Day Weekend Cruise to West Palm Beach Pt. 1

 HISC Memorial Day Weekend Cruise to West Palm Beach.

After spending Thursday night on Lake Boca tied up with Affection (Jeff's Boat ! ) we pulled anchor at 07:30 in order to get the 07:40 Camino Real Bridge opening while Affection motored out of Boca Inlet, his draft is just 3' ours is nearly 6' and Boca Inlet is too stressful for us.

07:43 we passed Camino Real Bridge and motored the 20 minutes to Hillsboro Blvd Bridge, then it was a long slog of 60 minutes against the current down to the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge, by the time we were ready to pass the bridge, Eximius was pretty well dressed for the Day, Sails & Sheets ready, fenders all inboard, Lines secured, ready to hoist the sails. 

Just as expected, the wind was very light as we navigated carefully out of the inlet and avoided the shallow area on the North side of the Inlet and 'gonna get you' shoals on the South side of the inlet.

We turned to 045º with the intent of trying to reach the Gulf Stream under motor while the wind was so light. We did raise the sails but they pretty much just hung there. By the time we were a mile and a half off of the shore, we were feeling the Stream pushing un north. Engine given a rest and we trimmed the sails. With less than 5 knots of wind, we were barely moving through the water, just 2knots. But the Gulf Stream was dragging us North an additional 4 knots! Expecting the wind to pick up before lunch time, we stayed on course.

Soon the wind picked up to around 7 knots, and our GPS speed was 9.5knots WooHoo! The Sea was very steady and it was an easy sail. The Autopilot managed just fine once we had some speed through the water.

The only issue was that the course that I imported from had some issues. Last night I had reviewed the route on and switched the Start and Finish over so that we could see what the return trip would be like on Monday. Totally forgot that I had switched the Start an Finished and proceeded to export the route. Once it was on a chip, we imported it on our chartplotter then set the GPS to follow the route. 

Sounds ok, except that I had not remembered the switch over. So initally the chartplotter reported that we would reach our destination by noon. That was great, a bit unrealistic, but great. As we proceeded, the arrival time got later and later.


Once I realized the problem, I simply deleted the route and set a route to arrive at Lake Worth Inlet. 

All of a sudden, our late night arrival was now around 2pm.

By 13:15, the wind had dropped back to less than 5 Knots after spending a hour or so above 8 knots. It also veered to 180º and was no fun. So time to wake up the engine and motor for the next few hours to get to our destination.

We arrived in time to get the 3:15 Flagler Memorial Bridge opening and followed a big barge through the turbid waters at the bridge. Once through, we could see Alebrije and Affection anchored on the East side of the ICW almost directly East of the new Public City Dock. A quick call to Hector and we had an agreed plan to join them in a 3 boat raft up.

Plan was to motor ahead of their anchored location leaving them to Port. Drop our anchor about 100' South of them, dig it in and then back down with the current till we were due west of them both, and finally, Toss a line to them to close the gap and tie up alongside Affection.

We were a bit more than 100' ahead of them when I dropped the anchor. Of  course, it dug in right away. I eased out the 100' of chain and another 80' of 1" rode line. Once we had a line over to Affection, we, the crews of Alebrije and Affection, were able to close the gap, setup a bunch of fenders and take a well earned break.

All of us agreed on a 5:30 happy hour. Peggy & I took a bottle of wine and a bag of Chocolate Pretzels, of course we also took a bottle of Black Magic Rum and our own wine/rum glasses.

It's a beautiful view across the waterway this evening.