Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Replacing the Sliders on Eximius

Replacing the Cabinet Sliders.

The sliding doors that keep stuff inside the cabinets in the Head, Galley and above the Nav table may have been abused, damaged and some replaced over the years, it's time to bring them all up to a decent standard (mine).

I removed the old sliders, not as easy as it would seem. The old doors were not all the same size height and had to be persuaded to leave the grooves where they have lived for several years if not forever.

Two of the handles were missing, they broke off before we owned Eximius. 
These were from Amazon, pack of 10 for $40, they're actually very nice and the sizes seemed to be just right.

I took the old sliders down to Prospect Plastics, six in all along with one of the new handles.

Prospect Plastics needed a week to finish the new sliders including drilling the handle holes, total cost was $72 plus the $40 for the handles from Amazon.

The Head Cabinet with Sliders installed

The Galley Storage with Sliders installed

The Nav Table shelf sliders installed.
The Electrical pane is partially open in this photo.

It was a quick job really. Took more time to remove the old sliders as they were not cut very accurately and difficult to get them out of the grooves. I had the new plastic sliders made 1/16" shorter, they fit snug but are a lot easier to install. They are also 3/16" thick compared to the 1/8" originals.

Cross that one off the list.

See you on the water :)

Gas Bottles Recertification

 One of our Gas Bottles Leaked when at the refill station.

Eximius has two Propane Tanks, they are the Worthington Aluminum 6lb tanks, I had to change out the empty tank on board over the New Year's Eve Cruise and so had to take it to get refilled. The Propane station in Margate reported that the tank leaked, the guy demonstrated the issue. Needed to get a new valve. The Bottles cost over $200 in a good year, right now they are not available and on back order till June 2022.

We normally take the tanks to Ameri Gas in Fort Lauderdale, but when I asked them on the phone if they could replace the valve and recertify the tank, they informed me that they were only able to refill, all of their techs and office staff were out due to the pandemic, sounds a bit iffy to me.

I found the valve online and ordered one, also watched a YouTube on how to change the valve, it was easy, ok, easy in theory, difficult in practice. But with a bit of sweat I was able to change out the valve. 
The tank was new  in 2006, and apparently it has to be recertified after 12 years and then every 5 years. I had both tanks recertified a couple of years ago, but I'm pretty sure it was a rip off, there were no labels applied to the tanks.

The new Valve came from Nash Fuel via Amazon, it arrived ahead of schedule.

I always wondered what the inside of the valve looked like.

The attachment thread is on both the inside and outside of the valve so it fits our older style fitting on board as well as the newer style fitting on our Gas Grill at home.

The new valve installed, now I just needed to get the tank recertified and filled.

We found a company 'Hogans Gas' in Lake Worth that could do the refill, recertification and in a single trip. It was well worth the drive up there.

It cost $30 to get two tanks recertified and the empty filled, the second one was almost full, so they just recertified it and topped it up with Propane.

The guys at Hogans Gas were very polite, helpful and happy to share tips.

It turns out the Cylinders need to be recertified every 5 years from now on.

I'll put a note in my calendar.

As it turns out, I needn't have taken the trouble to change out the valve, Hogans Gas would have done it with a lot less sweat on my part.

So, we're all gassed up for the St. Pats Day Cruise. Hope to see you on the water.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Lost Engine Key


We lost our Engine Key

We had just done some testing of the boat's Battery Charging System as it was not charging the house batteries. Part of that test was to see if the Batteries were being charged by the engine Alternator.
I opened the engine raw water valve and Peggy went into the cockpit with the key to start the engine.

Oh! When we got to the boat today, I replaced all of the rusty hatch padlocks with Combination locks and I threw the old locks and their common key in the garbage, just before the garbage collection trucks arrived.

When Peggy tried to insert the key into the engine control panel it would not turn! It was the wrong key.
Did I toss out the wrong key? 

Of course, we have a spare, of course it's on the boat, of course.

Nope! What I thought were spare engine Ignition keys were not (I know, it's a diesel, there's no Ignition, but the key controls the Engine control panel start button, Glow Plug Button, Blower Button and the Panel Lights.)

We dug into all of the obvious places, Nav Table, Key hooks, pant's pockets, I even went out to the car to see if we had put a spare there. During the search for the missing key, I found 3 spares, but they were not the engine control panel key! Grrrr.

Peggy was trying every key we found even those that were obviously not the right key. But one did fit and it did turn and it did allow us to start the engine.

It was at that point that Peggy reminded me. The last time we took the boat out, the engine overheated because I didn't open the Raw Water valve. After that fiasco, I was reminded that some skippers put the Engine Control key on the Raw Water Thru hull valve - to act as a reminder to open the valve before trying to start the engine. I had removed the key from the boat's general key set and put it on a seperate floating key fob so that I could hang it on the Valve.

DUH! We found the key exactly where it was supposed to be, exactly where I was supposed to look.

Today I went to Lowes and had 3 spare engine control panel keys made, we have a second for on the boat, another on my car key ring and a 4th on Peggy's key ring.

I'm guessing we'll remember where the key is next time we want to start the engine.

Oh! The Battery charger - Failed :(  The Zantrax Freedom 20 Inverter Charger is least 18 years old and not worth fixing. I'll post another article about that.

Meanwhile, we can start the engine and charge the batteries because we know where the key is located. 

See you on the water (if we can find it ;)


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Saving Zippers - Thanks Peggy


The Zippers on both sides of the Cradle Cover mast wrap were jammed and the Zip pulls would not move up or down and keep the zipper closed! Grrr. Looked like I would need to remove the Cradle Cover (not a simple task) and replace the zips. I have the gear to do that, even have spare zips.

The old zippers are PK #10. I use YKK, I tried to use a YKK #10 Zip pull to replace the PK Zip Pulls but still could not close the zippers. I was ready to start removing the Main Sail and the Cradle Cover when Peggy suggested that we could replace the PK Zip pulls.

Peggy scored an 11 !! I purchased two Stainless Steel PK #10 Zip Pulls online.

When they arrived, I tested one, using it to zip the two sides of  the front panel together, WooHoo! Worked beautifully.

Back at the boat it took about 10 minutes to replace the two old PK zip pulls with the new Stainless Steel items. Another 5 minutes and I had installed Zipper stoppers on the ends of all four zip sides (two each side) 

Thanks Peggy! I was convinced that the zippers were damaged from 5 years of UV exposure, but your idea worked great. 

Gotta love a great boat partner 😍

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Scoop on Poop in Fort Lauderdale

Pump outs are an issue in the Yachting Capital of the world - Fort Lauderdale.

Lack of Pumpouts in Fort Lauderdale Florida

It's a crappy subject but boat owners have to deal with it. It's not something that can be left to rot, it will.

Locally there are not that many Pumpout Stations and there are fewer still that work. For us, the most convenient is at Smoker's Park on the New River just downstream of 3rd Avenue Bridge. We have used that facility many times. There are a bunch of boats that are tied up along the river there, notably, Musette II and a few others, they all have a need for Pump outs. If they don't pump out at that locale, they have three choices:- #1 Call a mobile Pump Out service, it will come to them either at the dockside or alongside their boats.  #2 Go to another pump out station, good luck with that one! or #3 Head out to the Ocean and 'pump and dump'

In our case, Eximius holds a maximum of 25 gallons. In fact, if we had 25 gallons of poop on board, it would probably be making a mess in our bathroom as it would flow back - Yuck! So we pump out frequently. We have the same choice as those boats tied up at the New River:- Use the shore based pump out service (DIY), hail a mobile pumpout, head up to Los Olas Marina (apparently not working and unlikely to be fixed until the rebuild of the Los Olas Marina (Sentex managed now) or we can go out on the Ocean.

Ok, so what is the process if we want to pump and dump out on the Ocean?

It's pretty simple. We head out to the 3 mile limit off shore, normally we go quite a bit further, and open the valve that is normally wired shut, turn on the Macerator Pump and whatever is in the Holding tank is pumped overboard. It might not be obvious to everyone, but on our boat, nothing goes into the head that we didn't eat or drink. No TP, no napkins and very very little fresh water. The salt water flush in our boat has been disconnected. Salt tends to cause cakes (now there's a thought you'll not easily forget) to form in the hoses and the tank.  This means that we create a lot less sewage on the boat than we do at home. A typical flush on our boat is perhaps a pint or two of fresh water. 

So our poop gets macerated before it's discharged overboard. Surprisingly, although the trail of effluent is visible over the stern of the boat, it's no longer visible within a few minutes. A boat trailing us would probably not notice that we dumped if they were sailing more than 3 or 4 minutes astern of us.

Ok, so that's the scoop on poop. It's a sad reality that there are so few public pump out facilities in Fort Lauderdale - Yachting Capital of the World.  Of course, Cruise Ships probably have sewage connections at their docks. I cannot imagine how large their holding tanks must be. HUGE!

Anyway, we have been unable to get out to Sea for a while, issues with the boat etc. But we did get to take the boat out for the New Year's Eve Cruise - Thursday, Friday, Saturday and returning Sunday.
The Smoker's park pump out facility is not working, it's not been working for months. One would think that with all of the Sewage that has leaked into the New River in the past couple of years, literally Millions of Gallons of Poop, that the City of Fort Lauderdale would be making extra effort to provide adequate pump out stations. You would think, Right?

Today we hailed a mobile Pump out company to empty our small (25gallon) holding tank. Chris from Mobile Pump Out Service came to our boat today and took care of business, that's #2. As his card says, they are #1 in the #2 Business.

Chris brought his truck and parked it in the road, ran a hose to the boat and quickly pumped out Eximius. Our tank was only half full and I wanted to rinse off the side of the tank (inside) adjacent to where the Level Sensors are located in order to improve their reliability. Chris was ok with me running a hose and spraying that inside of the tank, he suggested that I also spray the area of the tank that is further from the pump out point near the bottom aft corner of the tank.

Chris' rates are very reasonable, he's a cheerful and sensible business owner. He took care to make sure the work area was clean. I had setup the pump out adapter into the deck fitting. Chris said it wasn't necessary but he was happy to connect his hose directly  to the adapter. Boat owners do not need to install an adapter, Chris has a push in adapter that he normally uses.

So we're MT, no longer full of S#!t even if we did have to pay for the pleasure.  Once the current series of Northerly's pass though, perhaps a week, maybe two, we'll be back out on the water. Of course there's a few little projects to do while we wait.

If you need to get Chris to take care of your #2s, then you can reach him at 954-406-6680 or www.marinewastepumping.net

See you on the water.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Raymarine Auto Pilot - Upgrade review

Raymarine Auto Pilot - Upgrade review

I'm normally pretty easy on reviews of boat equipment, but I have to step it up with my review of the Raymarine EV100 Autopilot that we installed this year.

The installation - Here's a link to the install process, but here's a quick overview.
  • I planned the install in great detail as it was an expensive and complex install due to the existing wiring on the boat.
  • The old Autopilot was suffering, turns out it was probably due to bad wiring of the original install whenever that was done, before my time owning the boat.
  • The install was done in the summertime here in South Florida - yes - Sweaty work.
  • All of the existing navigation equipment was rewired.
After finishing the install a few months ago, we did a dockside test with the boat tied fast to the dock.
That basically consisted of calibrating the Wheel rotation. Once complete we set the wheel pilot to Auto and then adjusted the heading to see that the wheel turned in the correct direction, a simple test, but it sure gives a greater degree of confidence in the complete installation.

Ok, fast forward to the New Year's Eve Cruise on December 30th 2021. We left the dock at 6:15am dawn was just breaking, we navigated down the New River and passed all of the bridges, the last being the 3rd Avenue Bridge, from there is was simple motoring down the river then North on the Intracoastal Waterway, there were only two bridges we need to pass to get us from the River to Sunrise Bay.

I took the opportunity to turn on the Autopilot once we passed the last bridge on the New River. Initially the controller complained that there was no drive unit found, turned out that the Autopilot was not powered on, but the instrument was via the NEMA 2000 Network. Peggy turned on the Autopilot at the Electrical control panel by the Nav Table in the Cabin. 

Now the Autopilot started to obey the commands at the Helm Station. There are 4 heading control buttons:- -1º +1º, -10º, +10º. As soon as the Autopilot was put into Auto mode, the wheel drive motor took control of the Helm. Pressing any of the heading control buttons changed the heading very quickly, it was a quick as if I had manually tried to change the heading by rotating the Helm. I must admit, I was impressed! I was able to navigate all the way from 3rd Avenue bridge to the Las Olas Blvd Bridge - there I took the pilot out of Auto and manually steered through the bridge where the current was pretty heavy and there was other boat traffic the really required manual control.

Again, when we passed the Sunrise Blvd Bridge, I went back to manual operation. After the last bridge, Peggy took the helm with the Autopilot in Standby.

The old Autopilot would very slowly react to a heading change request and would often just stop steering, it was not reliable. We tried to steer via the Autopilot but had to keep a close eye because it deviated from the desired heading every few minutes. The Helm wheel would move with exaggerated turns and confidence in the Autopilot system was zero.

The new Autopilot is amazing so far! It responds immediately to a heading change request and does not make exaggerated wheel movements, in fact they are quite fine movements. We have had other people sail on Eximius, and they would not make such fine movements of the wheel despite instructions on how to hold the wheel and make small but early trims of the wheel to keep on course.

Beneath the digital heading display on the Control Instrument, there is a text bar that indicates when the system is detecting local magnetics, every now and then it would change color but it pretty much stayed visible on the first day of use.

After a great New Year's Eve cruise with the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club, we left Sunrise Bay at 7:15 Sunday Jan 2nd 2022. Once past the Sunrise Bridge, we put the Autopilot to work again and easily navigated to Las Olas Blvd Bridge, manually steered past the raised bridge and then back into Auto.

As we continued up the New River, we heard from the FEC Railroad bridge that it was going down in 6 minutes. I called the bridge tender asked how long he expected the bridge to be down. 14 minutes.
At the rate we were travelling though the flooding river, we would be at the FEC bridge before it opened. So I decided to do a few Doughnuts downstream of the 'Tunnel' to pass some time in order that we don't end up trying to hover back from the approaching bridges. I probably made 5 or 6 doughnuts, just turning to Stbd by adjusting the heading via the Control instrument. 

During this maneuver the Control Instrument display changed completely. It displayed a message stating that the system had completed the Magnetic evaluation. WooHoo.

After accepting that info (OK) the screen returned to the normal display and the Detecting Magnetics notice was no longer visible.

We have yet to complete the Commissioning process and that requires that we are in an area that is free of obstructions (like the sides of the New River!) as we have to let the Autopilot take charge.

The Autopilot has a learning curve (the pilot, not me!) and during one phase of the commissioning process the Autopilot follows a track similar to the one shown here. We'll have to be on the Ocean to do that, it's far too crowded on the New River and ICW and the lakes are not big enough as well as normally being occupied by many boats.

I'm good with this, another reason for getting the boat out.

So far, my impression of the EV-100 is Excellent! Easy to use, Very Responsive and very conservative in the way it manages the steering.  We have a lot to learn about the system after completing the Commissioning including being able to follow a track (not sure if it will do that, but it has the systems required, just have to make sure that the Raymarine part will listen to the Garmin GPS Chartplotter which provides the data for following a track.)

Right now, I give it a **********, 10 out of 10 stars. I am delighted with the upgrade. Well worth the effort and we both look forward to using it often.

Oh! One last thing! 
Prior to installing the new Autopilot (which includes a Rudder Position Sensor) we had to look down between our legs to see which way the Rudder cap was pointed in order to determine the Rudder Position. It was almost comical, Peggy would be at the helm, I would ask her to go Amidships and she would look down between her legs and turn the wheel till the rudder cap pointed directly forwards.

The New Autopilot has a Rudder Position Display, even if the Drive it not powered up.

The display shows a Red (port) or Green (starboard) block from 0º to current rudder position. 

No more looking between our legs to see the Rudder position. BTW this was only necessary because the wheel required more than 1 turn to move the rudder from fully to port to fully to starboard, so the whipping that we have on the wheel to indicate Amidships is only useful if the rudder it nearly Amidships already. 

Stay tuned for more updates as we complete the Commissioning process and get used to using this awesome upgrade to Eximius.

See you on the water. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

2021 New year's eve Cruise 12/31

Friday - 12/31st
A great night's sleep, bodes well for the end of 2021.
We slept in but got up long after Sunrise and I got busy making Coffee before breakfast.  Today's fare was Sliced Ham Steak, Fried Eggs, big Ohio Tomatoes and whole wheat skillet toast. Brie for Peggy's Toast,  Spread, peanut butter and blueberry preserve and, of course,  some hot Coffee. 

Another beautiful day in South Florida, clear skies, temp in the 80`s surrounded by boats, suitably anchored. 

Phone calls started to come in notifying of club members on their way to the Bay. Soon the bay was getting crowded.  Overnight were Spruce Goose next to us, O'Hara and Affection. During the day Hullabaloo, Endurance,  Diversion, Commotion, Pegasus,  Swan Song, Sea View and a guest of Commotion. A good turnout for an end of year cruise that is still hampered by the continuing Covid 19 Pandemic. 

Mike and I took our dinghy out to visit with each of the boats that arrived before 3:30pm, we were chatting to Tom and Norma on O'Hara when Commotion turned into the Bay and that caused a bit of a Commotion as they were going to raft up with us, Eximius &Spruce Goose and we were not aboard for Commotion's arrival! Ross was at the helm of Commtion, Mike & I cast off from O'Hara and zipped around the front of Commotion to the back of Eximius.We quickly got over to the Stbd side of Spruce Goose just in time to accept the lines that Astrid had ready on Commotion.  10 minutes and we had our three boats secured.  Not long after, Ross' buddy arrived in his trawler and thar was quickly secured. 

About twenty minutes later,  Mike and I dinked the Trawler's anchor and rode to about 100 ft ahead of it's bow. Now we had two anchors holding our 4 boats and the known good holding as well as the good weather forecast overnight should mean another good night's sleep. 


There were several boats open for Sundowners, just about everyone is ready to socialize after this year.

It's now 21:30, we can hear fireworks from most directions, not many, but I'm sure that will not last. We're planning on making some noise at midnight. Unusually, it's not gust to welcome in the new year, new resolutions and aspirations,  but to say a loud and very clear Goodbye to 2021. Here's to doing our best to make 2022 a better year.

Wow! I actually stayed up till next year. 

OK, time to turn in without waking Peggy.
Thanks Ross, Astrid, Mike, Scotty and Gladys for the champagne and upbeat wishes for the new year. 
Let's all work on making 2022 better.