Thursday, November 25, 2021

Dinghy Inflator Carrying Bag

 Replacing the Dinghy Inflator Carrying Bag

The last time we inflated the Dinghy using our West Marine Dinghy Inflator, the bag zips had siezed and I had no choice but to rip the top open in order to be able to use the air pump. Grrrr.

It's been a few months, the inflator, in it's defective carrying bag, has been sat on a shelf in the Garage. Every time I saw it, that guilty feeling would rise and I would mentally take a note that I needed to fix that bag.

It's Thanksgiving, I have a few hours to use and figured now would be a good time to stop those guilt trips. I had a few yards of Sunbrella and a new Zipper. Spent about a half hour designing the new bag. The old (original) bag was not big enough to hold the Pump, the Extended power supply wire and the air hose because I had extended the supply cable by about 20' when we purchased Eximius as the pump would not reach to the foredeck where the dink is located and back to the 12v outlet in the cabin. The new bag is 12" wide, 9" tall and 8" deep, there's a divider between the pump and the other stuff (wire and air hose0.) I used the original bag's shoulder strap.

The new bag took about 3 hours all told. Well worth it.

It looks a bit 'baggy' no pun intended, but the extra space ensures that all of  the equipment required to inflate the dinghy are all in one bag.

The strap is the original

The zipper is a YKK #10 Black single pull.

All seams are 1/2" bottom and sides are all double stitched.

The top has a 5/8" rim so that the zipper goes around the corner rather than around the top (that would be a really tight turn for the zipper)

Despite the extra space in the bag, the air hose still requires a fight to get it inside.

I never did understand why West Marine did not include the adapter from the hose to the dinghy air valves. So the adapter has been secured in place using rescue tape.

The power cord extension wire was crimped and waterproofed with heat shrink. There's a quick disconnect at the pump end of the wire.

We'll take it down to the boat on Friday when we install the new Nav Table light.

See you on the water, please let it be soon!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

LED Nav Table Lighting

Replacing the original Navigation Table Lighting

I'm pretty sure that is the Original Nav Lamp (it's the flexible lamp in the corner of the Nav Table)

It's Red, that's good for use at night but not good for reading charts at night as it basically makes any red markings on the chart invisible.

It's not very flexible and doesn't reach far enough from the corner.

It gets very hot! It's an incandescent lamp, so it draws a comparatively high current compared to a modern LED light fixture and that's 0.5 Amps! A LED should be a lot less.

I found this one on Amazon.
"AnTom 12V LED Dimmable Reading Light, RV Boat Bedside Map Chart Light for Camper,Van,Sailboat,Caravan"

It's advantages are:- Dimmable and it is supposed to remember it's last setting. That should mean that if it's turned off when dimmed, then it should return to the same settings when turned back on ( and, apparently, it's the same when the power is turned off and turned back on, unlike other brands found on Amazon)

The instructions are confusing "Loosen the button and turn the knob to adjust brightness" Not sure how to "Loosen the button"

Looking at this image it appears that color is set by Pressing the Button and then turning it:- Left towards warm white and Right towards Bright Red.

I figured it out! When it reads 'Loosen' it really means - Don't press while turning! 

Mounting is a slight issue. I'm pretty sure that the space to which the existing lamp is affixed is not 2.6" wide and the screws being on the sides would prevent securing it in that spot. So it will have to be mounted elsewhere. That's not a bad thing as the corner location is not ideal primarily because not reach most of the Nav Table.

I'm hoping to be able to mount it close to the center of the instrument bulkhead so that it's not in the way when opening the Nav Table Lid.

I'll use an inline fuse holder for now, it will eventually be wired to a fuse block that is protected by a Voltage Regulator. 

Oh! and it has a USB charger: 5V/1.5A output, always welcome. However that does affect the size of fuse required. The USB output is 1.5Amps, the lamp is probably less than 0.2 amps. The total run both ways from the Fuse Block will be about 3'. Using the BoatHowTo wire size calculator (it's better than looking up the tables) I figure that correct size is 18AWG, however, the ABYC recommend not using an 18AWG cable. Hmmmm. I have over 100' of 18 AWG twin tinned Stranded Copper wire. The Ampacity of the cables is not an issue and the ABYC recommendation has the exception of a length less than 18" outside of the jacket, so I'm confident that it's ok to use the 18AWG cable pair.

On the Boat, I confirmed that this lamp will not fit where the base of the old lamp is located. But the good news is that if I mount it on the decorative rail above the storage over the Nav Table, not only will the lamp fit neatly, but it will also allow the lamp to illuminate the inside of the Nav Table when the lid is open. So I have two locations where it will fit.

I also confirmed that the existing lamp only draws 0.3Amps.

Decision made. I'll mount it to the decorative rail just aft of the Fan that's mounted on the same rail.

(The white battery lamp unit is long gone) With the new lamp mounted there, the light can illuminate the Nav Table, all of the Switch Panel, it can even light up the shelf behind the plastic sliding shelf doors.

The USB connection can still be accessed and the lamp base side securing screws can both be accessed for installation. That last point limits where the lamp base can be located, it has to be secured in place.

The wiring can easily be ran into the shelf area and down to the fuse block that will be located behind the area above the switch panel.

Great, we have a plan. All of the parts arrived from Amazon today (Tuesday 11/23/2021) .

Looks like we can visit the boat tomorrow and get that installed.

More later :)

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Hole in the boat, what to do?

Hole in the Boat.

After completing the new Auto Pilot installation, we're left with the old Raymarine Auto Pilot control Instrument mounted on the Starboard side of the cockpit steering well.  Right now the Instrument is still in place, but it has to go. That will leave a 3" hole in the boat.

Looking for ideas on what to put in it's place. 

I could repair the hole but the chance of getting a match on the gel coat in that particularly visible area are slim.

I could install another instrument, but that's why we moved the new Auto Pilot instrument (p70s) to the helm shelf, it's a bad place for an instrument - it gets knocked when someone enters or exits the helm station and it's difficult to see down there.

Looking for ideas, please comment if you have an idea or experience similar.



Saturday, November 20, 2021

Rewiring our LED lighting circuit

Protecting our LED Lighting Circuit

I recently completed the BoatHowTo 'Boat Electrics 101 - Safe & Reliable DC Systems' online Course and it was worth the time and effort, it will help me when I get into our rewiring job on Eximius.  With what I leaned from the course,  I recently upgraded our Auto Pilot which involved removing all of the old wiring and rewiring the Cockpit Instrument power supplies. That was due to the obvious bad wiring install that was done before we took on the boat.

As part of the Boat Electrics 101, a 'bonus' lesson was about LED lighting, it went way past what I needed to know, but, again, was worth the effort. I have a better understanding of the types of LED lighting and the various options as far as appropriate LED's for particular use. eg. Light temperatures suitable for use inside a cabin etc.

That last lesson also explained an issue with Cheap LED lighting strips, I use quite a few of those: Galley, Head, Cabin and in equipment lockers. The issue is that those low cost LEDs have no power management on the strips and so they receive whatever voltage is available at their connection. When the Batteries are charging, the voltage could be as high as 14v DC when they are designed to operate at 12v DC. This high voltage will reduce their life expectancy.

My initial thought was to install a voltage reducer with a constant 12v DC output between the Lighting Circuit Breaker and the lighting Circuit. But then I thought, what about the Navigation Lights( Bow Lights and Stern Light), Anchor Light, Deck and Steaming light? All of those are now LEDs and potentially suffer from the same issue - over voltage reducing their life expectancy.

That complicates things slightly, I'll have to check the current draw when all of the lights are on, including the Nav lights. If the current draw with all the lamps on is less than 6A, then I can simply create a sub-circuit supply to those circuit breakers which is protected by the Voltage Reducer. Worst case scenario is that I would need to add two of the reducers, one for the Interior lighting circuits and another for the exterior lighting circuits.

This 8V-40V to 12V 6A 72W Voltage Reducer converts whatever the input voltage is (between 8v and 40v DC) to a reliable 12v.

6A is more current than all of our interior LED lighting combined. I'll test it onboard before installing it just to make sure there's no radio interference.

At that time I'll turn all of the lights on the boat, interior and exterior to determine the total current flow ( our electrical management system shows the current flow both In and Out of the Battery) I'll turn off the Solar Charger to ensure we're getting a true reading of the current flow.

If I'm going to go to the trouble of protecting the LED lamps/strips, I might as well rewire them all so that if one shorts out it doesn't flip the breaker and turn off all of the Interior lighting. So the plan is to break the Interior lighting into separate circuits.

Here's my initial diagram for the Interior LED lighting with the Voltage. 
Note. Because some of the circuits, eg. V-Berth, have multiple LED lamps, the Blade fuses will be sized accordingly.
The Exterior lights have their dedicated Circuit Breaker, I'll have to figure those out later, I'm sure they jointly take more than 6amps which is the limit of this particular Voltage Converter. I don't have an issue installing multiple converters, but they do cost $27 on Amazon. I'll update the diagram when I figure out the current in each circuit.

See you on the water - and after another grotty weekend here in South Florida cancelled a long weekend cruise, it had better be soon!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Cockpit Table Storage Solution

 Making a storage for our Cockpit Table

The Cockpit table, affectionately called 'The Toe Buster' was refurbished a while ago, turned out pretty good but it won't last in the Florida Sun so we stow it below decks. Not having a set location for the folded table, it tends to get stuffed with all of the other boat gear in the Aft Berth and then is has to be moved around in order to get to the 'other stuff' - we needed an easy to use storage solution.

With a couple of webbing straps secured to the bulkhead just aft of the engine access door in the Aft Berth.  The TAble is not at all in the way, a good solid fixture position.

Those holes in the bulkhead were from some previous fitting that was removed before we purchased the boat.

I'll make another webbing strap that will hold the table in the folded condition when we move it to the Cockpit, that will make it much easier to move it up to the Cockpit or back down to it's new storage location.

An easy mod and already proving to be worth the small effort.

To Do: Make a 3rd webbing strap to easy moving the table around. Fill those old fixture holes in the bulkhead.

Looking forward to getting the boat out on the water.

See you there.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Annapolis Sailboat Show 2021

Our Trip to the Annapolis Sailboat Show 2021 

We planned on going to the 2020 Annapolis International Sailboat Show - but - Covid eliminated that option. Delta Airlines allowed us to save the fare for use by 2022 - and the Show was open in 2021 - had to go.
One of the Highlights of the Show

The Flight to Annapolis (BWI)

After parking in the Park-n-Fly lot at Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) we took the shuttle to the airport. We would do that again! Excellent Service, Friendly, Cheerful, Helpful and very easy to use.

At the airport, our bags were checked in at the curbside and we quickly progressed through the security system although it's a bit crowded after getting through the scanner and pat down, they should have a better system to allow travellers to sort them and their belongings, get their shoes on rather than the tiny area provided. We had breakfast before we left home and headed to the gate, that was our Steps for the day.

The flight on Delta was excellent! We travelled Comfort+ which really does have plenty of room at the seats, we would travel Comfort+ again in a heartbeat.

Our stayover at Atlanta Airport included a walk from Terminal A to Terminal D. Easy, plenty of time, a none-event. The flight from Atlanta to BWI was very pleasant no issues. We took an UBER from BWI to the Courtyards Annapolis ($55.99), easy and no stress, well, no stress for me other than when Peggy kept gripping my leg with an Iron hand each time the car changed lanes or approached a slower moving vehicle, no bruises.

The Courtyards Annapolis is undergoing renovations "Exterior Improvements" but those extend inside too. They have a Bistro - don't eat there in the evening, the bar is not bad but not a lot of choices. The airport food areas are better and they are not great.  Our room was just fine except for the Bathroom toilet cistern leaked and would drip all the time then refill noisily about every 9 or 10 minutes. I mentioned it to the reception staff before we headed to the boat show on Friday Morning, nothing was done. I called them and repeated the issue. A guy came to the room, replaced the cistern's flapper valve. It kept me awake a lot of that night too.

Ok, so we're at the Hotel and time to head to the boat show.  Uber ($18.91). We had purchased the tickets online but still had to wait in a long line (we got there before the show opened) - had we wanted to buy the tickets at the show we could have avoided the lines! go figure.

On our 'gotta do' list was visit the Catalina display, find a new pair of Bibs to replace those that fell apart (from the inside) on my trip on Grave last January and to find info about electrification of the boat propulsion system, especially about any install history on a Catalina 34.

The Catalina display had 4 boats: Catalina 425, Catalina 355 and Catalina 315. They also had a small day sailer. I really liked the C355 but as we have a C34 it's not that big of an upgrade. They also make a C385, it's only 4' longer but beamier than the C34 and the beam spreads back to the stern. I would be interested in seeing that boat. All of the 300+ boats had the option for Inmast Furling with an SMS which believe stands for (or should) Smart Mainsail System - Basically is has electronic torque detection to prevent continued furling or unfurling if the SMS detects an issue. That should prevent the main getting stuck in the mast or ripped by trying to pull it out if it were stuck.

I did note on the mini brochure from the folks at the Catalina display that all of their boats over 30' are rated CE category A Ocean NMMA Yacht Certified and follow all applicable ABYC standards. They sure look pretty. Although they didn't have tbe 385 on display, right  now it's the boat I would spend the money on, if I had it. :)

Best part of the show? 

That smile on Peggy's face when Captain Q gave her one of his caps! Priceless.

We're avid watchers of Captain Q and Randay when they find boats, hither and yon reciting years of knowledge as well as researched info about the boats, their owners, builders and history. Botb Cap'n Q and Randay took time to talk about their travels and what's involved with making one of their weekly you tube videos. Just go to and search for Captain Q.

What did we buy at the show?

I purchased a tackrite boom preventer, it was 20% off so only $50. My new mustang Bibs, a Sweatshirt to keep warm (it got cool up there) and a Catalina Long-sleeved shirt. That's it!

Where did we eat?

I'll not mention the airport food, wasn't worth the money or the time in  line. Friday we had breakfast at the hotel, surprisingly good, their Egg White, ham and cheese on an English muffin were really nice. After hours walking around the boat show, Day #1, we had Lunch at Pussers right next to the boat show. Nothing special, Salads with chicken. Despite the really busy lunchtime, the staff were excellent.

For  our Friday dinner we went to a local deli and purchased a couple of Brie Sandwiches and a bottle of wine. Expensive and turned out too much food.

 Saturday Morning we had the same breakfast at the hotel. Then, Day #2 at the boat show we visited O'Brians on Main Street - Oh Sooooo Good!  Appetizer was Shrimp Cocktail, plenty for two, too much for one. Shrimp were perfect. My choice was Spinach salad with Crab Cakes, absolutely delicious, the Crab cakes were real giant Crab! Peggy only got to taste the Crab Cake. Peggy's choice was Seared Tuna platter, that was an OMG moment, way to much for one person, we almost ate all of it together. A couple of glasses of wine and two Jack & Gingers finished off an excellent lunch. Ok, so the $139 bill (including tip) was a bit steep, but we were ok with it just this once.

Sunday we headed into town (Uber) for breakfast. Mike in our Sailing Club had recommended Chick & Ruth's - THANK YOU MIKE!  The Uber driver dropped us off right next to the restaurant. It was a chilly morning and it was packed, first seats available after a 20 minute wait hanging out on the sidewalk watching people go by, were outside. I kept looking at the store across the street that looked like it sold sweatshirts.
So for Breakfast, I had Eggs Benedict with Crab Cakes and Potatoes. Peggy had a Ham and Cheese Omelette. My breakfast set me up for the day, eggs runny inside = Perfect, Crab cakes - would have them every day, potatoes - Delicious. Peggy's omelette was too much, I had to help out. Coffee was pretty good too. The bill was the lowest we had for a meal all weekend!

Back at the hotel after a great visit of the Maryland State House - (ask Peggy about that, she's the history buff) we ordered dinner from the Royal Kama Indian Restaurant. It was literally a five minute walk from the hotel and was waiting when I got there. The restaurant was almost empty, I guess time of day and it looked like it was brand new. I have not had a really good Curry in ages, theirs made up for it. Good sized chunks of nicely cooked tender chicken and delicious curry sauce and rice. Really good, worth going to Annapolis just for the Curry. 

Monday morning we left the hotel before 7am for our Uber trip back to the airport where we planned to have breakfast. As I said, airport food is not worth the mention.

Our Uber drivers were great although one did have his music too loud and didn't understand our request to turn it down (4 stars). The best was John on Monday Morning with his Tesla 3, very pleasant. During our discussions the subject of self driving ( no driver) cars came up. I'm not a fan: If we travelled in a Taxi, the relationship is that of Service provider and Customer. When using Uber ( the relationship is much more friendly and always (ok, nearly always) a great conversation. If we used a Driverless Self driving Auto, the relationship is not there! Just a couple of passengers sitting inside of a tool. We would probably be subjected to endless Ads on a big video screen. No thanks.

Our Flights.
The best part of of the trip travel wise was actually due to a failure! We travelled both ways on Delta Comfort Plus, that meant that we boarded earlier than most. While sitting in our seats waiting for everyone else to board the flight from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale, I noted that there was some kind of issue hearing the very quiet comments between the cabin crew. A few minutes later the Pilot announced that there was a safety issue with the plane and did not feel it safe to fly. They were trying to correct the issue but he was not confident that would happen quickly and pre-warned us that they had stopped boarding and were looking at alternative travel arrangements. A few more minutes passed and he confirmed that the issue needed much more attention and that he was going to start the de-boarding process shortly, as soon as they had confirmation about the alternative flight arrangements.

At this point I was very happy that he made a clear decision and did not take the unnecessary risk. Less than 10 minutes later, the Pilot advised that there was a similar plane waiting at another gate and that we should de-board and proceed to the to the other gate. Guess where the other gate was? Yep, at the other end of the airport terminals - We had to walk from terminal A gate 1 to Terminal T gate 2 Time to get walking! Everybody exited quietly and got the legs in motion, some needed wheelchair assistance.

By the time we arrived at the T2 Gate they had nearly completed preparation of the aircraft. We saw the pilots and crew arrive, they walked too, and less than a half hour later we were boarding with cheerful crew and fellow passengers. Well done Delta Airlines! 

The flight home was quick and on the updated time.  A bus from Park -n- Fly arrived within minutes of our bags at the baggage claim, probably less than 10 minutes to the parking lot, the driver pulled up right behind our truck. We headed home, stopped a Publix for some dinner and bread (I didn't have any bread left in the freezer). A glass of wine for Peggy and a Cap'n Morgan on ice for me, dinner and relax. We could unpack the bags in the morning.

Great trip. Especial thanks to Delta Airlines, Uber's driver John, and all of the folks we talked to at the boat show. A HUGE thank you to Cap'n Q you and Randay made Peggy's Day. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Refitting the Rubrail

Refitting the Rub Rail on our Catalina 34

Pic from Ohana
If we brush up against a piling when docking, occasionally, the Rub Rail Vinyl extrusion will pop out of the Aluminum track and form a loop that just wants to get bigger.

First time this happened I spent hours trying to get it back in place, but now have the process down so that it only takes a few minutes.

If the 'Loop' is close to the Stern then it should be moved gradually towards the Bow and if it's near to the Bow, then the 'Loop' should be moved gradually towards the Stern.

Here's how to 'move the loop'

Basically the Vinyl rub rail has stretched, it's Vinyl, of course it stretches. The trick is compress the 
vinyl as it is moved.

Let's imagine that the Vinyl has popped out several feet from the stern on the Port Side.

Start by pushing the aft most edge of the loop back into the aluminum track and the Pushing will compress the vinyl just a small amount. As the aft end of the loop is compressed and pushed back into the track, most likely the forward end of the loop will come out of the track, just a bit, but that's ok, it's not pulling out and stretching, it's just easing out of the track.

Inch by Inch, continue to press the aft end of the loop into the track and pushing that edge towards the stern and thus compressing the vinyl a little more. Again some of the leading edge of the loop will pop out of the track, don't worry. As this process is repeated, the size of the loop will diminish, eventually, it will be such a small loop that both the front and stern edges of the loop will be able to be compressed and pushed back into the track. 

Having done this several times now, I'm able to reinsert a significant loop back into the track in less than 20 mins. 

To get the Vinyl back into the track, I get the lower edge of the vinyl into the track first and then push down on the upper edge of the vinyl to force it into the track, all the while pushing the vinyl to compress it towards the end that I started from.

Hope this works for you.

See you on the water.