Category Archives: DIY

Charts schmarts.

IMG_0123Lets get this out of the way first. I have taken the Canadian Power Sail Squadron’s Seamanship course which has a heavy emphasis on traditional chart plotting,  so I know how to work with paper charts, but as a digital native I prefer the convenience and accuracy of electronic navigation. We can all agree that paper still works when the batteries run out.

On our trip up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa last summer, I used a chart book and my Android Samsung SII cellphone with Navionics for way finding.  There really wasn’t any plotting involved because you just need to follow the trail of red and green bouys, but occasionally you get into open water and need to know which end of the lake to head to. Despite the small screen size, that setup worked except the GPS function and the screen brightness on full, drained the cell phone battery. To keep it alive, I plugged the phone into an AC charger via an extension cord to the AC/DC inverter. It was a messy but functional set up. I resolved that I could do better for the next trip. Continue reading Charts schmarts.

Dingy dinghy – how to clean PVC (vinyl)

In my never ending quest to keep boating affordable, I am keeping my old dinghy limping along. It is dirty and wearing out (topsides of the tubes are down to the threads), but holds air so I can’t complain. I figure I better show it some love but don’t want to make things worse by using corrosive chemicals or abrasives. Looks like the ArmourAll I put on it three years ago might have expatiated it’s demise! Continue reading Dingy dinghy – how to clean PVC (vinyl)

Maintenance on the hook – chasing smells

Mid-winter, on one of my periodical visits to the boat,  I was blown away with the smell of diesel fuel when I slid the hatch open. I chalked this up to the new cover not giving the boat as much ventilation as it used to have, but I really wasn’t fooling myself. In the back of my head I’ve been wondering why the boat smells worse this year then last?

When doing my spring commissioning I discovered a drop of fuel on one of the fuel filters. I didn’t have time to look at it until now. I was partly motivated as we are are on day 10  ( I’ve lost track) of a trip to the 1000 islands. The girls still crawl into our bed some nights and last night I was squished up against the back bulkhead, getting strong wafts of diesel. That was enough to motivate me this morning to see if I can stop the leak.IMG_0613 Continue reading Maintenance on the hook – chasing smells

Battery boxes

Now that I’ve got four nice new Costco batteries, I have to get them into the boat. The original setup on the Hunter 340 was to have all the batteries in the starboard lazarette, sitting on top of the holding tanks with a few nylon straps. These batteries are 63 lbs each, four  would be 240 pounds of battery on one side.

I’m told the boot stripe is painted higher on the hull to compensate for all the weight on that side of the boat. My plan is to put two in each lazarette. This works for several reasons:

  • weight balanced between port and starboard
  • batteries can sit closer to the centreline
  • being 6volt in series it makes sense to keep them in pairs.

The starter battery an AGM yellow-top Optima and will go down below behind the aft berth bulkhead. It will sit low low and on the center-line, ignored for the season.

The boxes will have nylon webbing over top to secure the batteries in the boxes and the boxes will have stainless carrage bolts through the lazarette floor to keep them still.
I’ve decided to paint the boxes with epoxy coloured black with 423 Graphite Powder, as I have it left over from the rudder slop repair.

“423 Graphite or powdered tempera can be used up to 10% by weight.” as per West System, I’ll go with 5%.

Solar power

Aquatic Park Sailing Club has a mooring field, not docks, and the Club House itself is solar powered so our situation necessitates some thought into electricity generation and conservation. This is fine, as I love being independent of the plug.

I opted to install two solar panels, big solar panels, on my Hunter 340. They fit perfectly on top of the bimini, and provide as much power as you can squeeze out of a solar panel. The panels are Kyrocera 270w each running at 24v with a MorningStar MMPT charger. I am pleased with the installation as they are pretty inconspicuous, hovering about an inch an a half above the bimini. I have since replaced the old 12v batteries with two sets of 6v batteries.

Performance

IMG_0050_meter_30A
Yes, that is 30 amps of solar power!

In terms of performance, the panels are great. Even on overcast days I have more electricity than I can store. During the day the batteries don’t dip, so the only cycling that happens is from evening usage for the fridge/stereo and lights. I am adding some LED strip lighting from Ikea, which should help reduce the impact from the Halogen bulbs. With something like 14 lights I don’t think it makes financial sense to swap out the bulbs for LED, besides, we never turn them on all at once.

There is some boom shading on the forward panel. I have the panels on separate breakers so I should check to see the performance impact from the shade. Two panels of this wattage is overkill but the panels were not that expensive and I figured if one is good, two would be great!

Installation

The panels were installed for the 2014 season and I spent last year on the old batteries. Spring 2015 I upgraded the batteries to 4 x 6volt, paired in two, with a set in starboard and port lazarettes.

I did the installation myself, anchored one end of the panels to the arch and the other end to a rail that runs parallel to the bimini. This arrangement creates a bit of spring on the rail end but I’m not concerned. Ideally I could run a pole to the rear railing and perhaps tab the front one to the bimini railing. I cut small wedges out of starboard keep the mounting square.

solar-diagram_actual_2

Slight alteration to the wiring configuration, one battery switch vs three.


I’ll keep chipping away at this post, apologies if it is a bit brief.

2015 upgrades

It seems there is a never ending list of little things I can do to the boat. From maintenance issues, to “wouldn’t it be nice” projects or “why did they build it like that?” modifications.
Here’s a round up of spring 2015 projects:

Cockpit Stereo

JBL_PRV175_hunter_340The cockpit speakers were controlled from the head unit at the nav station. The main problem with this setup was that in order to adjust the volume you have to do a steeple-chase down to the nav station!

I chose the JBL PRV 175 as it is a marine unit (waterproof!), accepts Bluetooth, USB for MP3 and of course am/fm. I wired it directly to the cockpit speakers and ran a line-out to the head unit at the nav station so we will hear the same music inside and out. (I will run another set of lines from the head unit to the cockpit so I can use the cd player – but that’s a low priority.) Continue reading 2015 upgrades

Battery replacement: 6v, 12v & 24v

When I bought Tortuga it had what appeared to be  the original batteries. They were monsters and I very nearly fell off the ladder carrying the 90lb Surette (far right in the photo).

battery compartment with dirty old batteries
Original Batteries?

After failed attempts to resurrect the old batteries I replaced them with three used Group 27s for the house bank and an isolated automotive starter battery. The house bank are showing their age. With the fridge on overnight they draw down to 12v by early morning. Time for new batteries.

Continue reading Battery replacement: 6v, 12v & 24v

Saga of the leaking tap.

I installed a salvaged Scandvik shower mixer, part #10466 in the hot hole in the bathroom counter when I replaced the taps. It was fine until I winterized the boat last fall and wondered why there was pink on the counter and dripping out of the facet.

Scandvik shower mixerI opened the cartridge and found that there is a o-ring that sits atop the upper ceramic disc that appeared to have been pinched. How this happened I don’t know. Perhaps it swelled from the alcohol in the antifreeze?

After searching the internet and finding the model #, then contacting Scandvik I received a parts diagram and a quote for $30 USD plus shipping for a new Continue reading Saga of the leaking tap.

wheel wrap

Last summer on the return trip from Ottawa/Kingston, the weather was particularly cold in early August.  Malcolm and I got seriously cold, numb feet and stiff hands. I noticed that the stainless wheel gets really cold in cool weather,  I never had this problem with a wooden tiller, but a cold wheel makes life that much more miserable.

I decided to wrap my wheel in the leftover marine grade vinyl I used for the cushions on my previous sailboat, the Tanzer.  I used just a small amount of contact cement to hold it in place.The thread is UV nylon I used for the cover, not that I am worried about the elements as the cockpit is covered by the bimini (and solar panels).  It took me about three hours to stitch. I cut the vinyl a little too narrow and the seam varies from closed to about a 2mm gap. The perfectionist in me says it can wait until it needs to be replaced, or I’m retired, whichever comes first!