Launching a boat is a process couched in optimism. The annual ritual of unwrapping, polishing, swapping fluids and slapping on bottom paint leads to a triumphal splash that marks the beginning of another sailing season.
This year I was somewhat organized but left starting the motor until the last minute. I wasn’t too concerned as my Yanmar 3GM30 has always fired up easily. This year, it was already in the water when it finally started…. but I’m getting ahead of the story.
Tortuga was already sitting by the crane when I arrived an hour ahead of my scheduled launch time. Uli was unusually efficient that morning and the crew were itching to launch. So much for a leisurely pre-splash inspection. I grabbed a pail of lake water and scrambled onboard to start the motor while the slings were being fitted. It seemed that the battery was weak as the cranking rpm was low and the motor wasn’t catching. Strange… Complicating the starting process was the crane’s diesel motor was idling six feet from my head. I think roaring is a more apt description as I couldn’t hear the engine cranking and was relying on the tachometer to see if the engine was actually turning over. This really threw me as the batteries should be, and were, fully charged by the solar panels. This was confirmed by the voltage showing. I’ve never started the engine deaf, relying solely on the tach, so I wasn’t sure how fast it usually spins on startup. Continue reading Crispy, Hard and Smoking. pt.2→
My Hunter 340 came (to me) with a Rule bilge pump, it is the kind that automatically fires every 7 minutes. If there is no resistance on the pump, indicating no water to pump out, it shuts down. So far this season (May – September) the pump has fired 70,000 times according to the counter at the Nav station.
While I appreciate the security of a pump that is always checking, I can’t imagine it is doing anything but slowly, unnecessarily wearing the pump out. It also makes a racket that I’ve gotten used to. Given I’ve got solar panels I don’t worry about the battery drain either, but that could be an issue for some owners. Continue reading Bildge float switches→
As a computer literate sailor, and convert to digital charts, I thought it would be a good idea to get all my systems talking together, ideally using the processing power of a real computer (not a phone, tablet or overpriced doodad from WestRaymin. Systems like autopilot, chart plotter, depth, wind speed, compass, and GPS should all be interconnected.
Here’s what I want to cobble together.
MacMini – or other
screen, keyboard mouse
openCPN and all apps.
Pulling data from instruments -seatalk or NEMA 0183
External GPS – USB to computer
wifi remote desktop to iPad at helm – VNC over local mac Wifi
Below is my scratch pad for research, in a coming post I will outline exactly what I actually build. I have some components and as usual, am trying to execute this in the most cost-effective manner possible.
We’ve been lucky, we have screens for our major hatches and companionway, so bugs haven’t been a big issue on our travels to date. We were plagued by black flies on the trip up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa, but that was mostly on open water and was actually an entertaining introduction to bug killing for the girls.
We were, however, missing screens for our aft birth and bathroom portlights, two rooms that would benefit from having the portlights open more often than not.I scavenged a couple of square screen frames from a condemned boat and decided to see if I could make them fit the Lewmar (New) Standard ports. Luckily the metal removed from one dimension was just enough to lengthen the other side. I used the method that the screens were originally made with, that is crimping in a piece of aluminum with a punch. I made the joints out of some aluminum scraps.
I’m a big believer in details, perhaps it’s my training as a goldsmith or a pixel perfect developer, but if there’s a speck or a design flaw it will bug me. Having a white boat is a lesson in finding serenity, I swear there is someone out there laughing at all the scrubbing boat owners do.
Having a brand new high-pressure water pump with a faulty shut-off sensor (the backstory) gave me the perfect opportunity to fashion a wash-down pump. A bit of hose, a few clips and away we go!
With 40 psi and 17 liters/min the cleaning possibilities are endless!
The fridge door/lid always made a screech when opened and the gas strut was very stiff. I found a bunch of gas struts on the sale table at Princess Auto for $4 each and they seem to be close to the right size. I only noticed when I removed the old one that there is a manufacture’s sticker and model number.
I only noticed the brackets were not in the same plane when I put on the new strut. I relocated the brackets to get the door to shut, but also the bottom bracket needed to come over by 3/4″ to line up.
The bottom bush was drilled out to fit on the existing stainless post and luckily the top fitting works!
UPDATE: Fall 2017
The cheapo strut didn’t last the season so I splurged on a new strut (It was only $13 !) I choose one from Amazon based on the weight of the lid. Here are the specs:
Load : 170N ( 17Kg)
Hole Diameter : 4mm / 0.16″
Rod Size : 172 x 6mm / 6.8″ x 0.24″
Hole Distance : 408mm / 16″
Total Size : 430 x 15mm / 17″ x 0.6″ (L*D)
After a full summer of cruising here are my thoughts.
The piston rod is a bit on the thin side but it doesn’t bend, in the future I might get one thicker but I don’t think it really matters.
the ends have plastic caps like automotive ends, they do snap onto the stainless mounts and only fell off once or twice if I really impacted the strut. It did come ball-end mounting hardware, but I thought I would try it and it seems to work. I could drill out the plastic caps and fit the circlips if falling off was an issue.
the struts lift is stronger than either of the two, it takes some effort to close and I had to put on two latches to keep it closed (which is how it came from the factory in the first place.
The requirements of a shelf, to be a shelf, are fairly simple. It needs to be big enough to hold the intended items and sturdy enough to stay up, but the shelf in the photo really isn’t a shelf.
For me, like the boat itself, the shelf is the physical manifestation of my dreams, personality and aspirations. A bathroom towel shelf on a cold winter’s night is less about orderly towel storage, but about making the boat into a floating home, one that we will live on and hopefully take to warmer climes, have adventures, and watch our children discover some of the wonders of the world. This shelf is about providing the best summer home for my young children to make memories in and keeping my wife happy with a nice bathroom (my idea not hers). It’s about having clean dry clean towels to wrap ourselves in after a cold swim. It is about dreaming of sailing down to the Bahamas. It is about making the boat better then new, putting my stamp on it, doing it better than the designers. It is also a great justification for having a shop full of tools and ferreting around boat yard dumpsters.
Last summer I was merrily heading into Toronto’s inner harbour through the Eastern Gap*. I was busy lounging behind the wheel and talking with friends when one casually said “we are headed straight for a big green thing”. That big green thing being the big steel buoy making the inner entrance to the Eastern Gap. I turned the boat to port and the wake pushed the buoy away from the a boat, only to have the buoy swing back back with a vengeance and smack the hull just below the rub rail on starboard. Ouch.
The impact shattered the gel-coat and the underlying layers of fibreglass. It didn’t look too bad and I left it for the season as it is well above the waterline close to the forward sling marks.
What king of sailor sails straight into a big green buoy that he knows is there… ugh.
Peeling back the layers of crushed gel-coat and fiberglass mat, I discovered the damage was much more extensive than it appeared. There was considerable de-lamination between the many layers however the lowest layers were just bruised, not cracked. The damage also extended in a much larger radius then the gel-coat damage itself, presumably from the fibreglass flexing in.
I couldn’t access the damage from the interior unless I did a massive cabin disassembly, so rather than cut a hole , I decided to grind down and re-glass from the outside, leaving the bottom most layer intact.
After applying a few layers of mat and resin I levelled the patch with a sander and enlarged the grind. You can see the wound get bigger in the photos. Complicating the repair job was an unusually cold spring. I used a heat gun to warm the hull first and then gently warm the repair at several intervals to ensure the resin kicked.
The first pump died after 15 seasons. It sounded like a jack-hammer but was a reliable crew member on our boat, sort of like Relic on The Beachcombers. Part of my bedtime ritual was turning the breaker off so as not to be awoken but sporadic bursts of pump.
This pump was made in the USA in 1999 and judging by the date, I’d say it was the original freshwater pump. It started weeping at the end of last (2014) season and I ignored it. At the end of this season, shortly after finishing out trip to the 1000 Islands, it quit (almost exactly like the fridge did last year). Upon inspection the inner sealed-bearing failed and flooded the electric motor. Rust-brown water trickled out of the motor case, it was done.
Our dinghy is a hand-me-down inflatable. It’s a bit too big, crowding the dinghy dock and it’s showing it’s age, but the price was right and it has served us well for the last 5 years.
The dinghy came with a bright blue seat, the kind Canadian Tire sells for fishing boats. Because the drain plug doesn’t drain, the seat is often an island in a floating sea of rainwater, a refuge from water, sand and slime.
The blue seat is awkward height for an adult to sit on. It’s only a few inches off the floor, but it is the perfect for height and size for the girls. They sit side by side because, well it’s the only seat on the boat.
The blue seat kept them low, stationary and safe. It was unbeknownst to me their spot. I only discovered the last aspect when I casually mentioned to the girls that we will have a new dinghy next season and was met with cries of “you can’t get rid of the blue seat, our seat”!
This summer I fried the old Xantrex xpower 1000 inverter. I can’t remember if it was the blender the did it…. This is a 2007 square wave inverter and I think the “digital” speed controller on the blender did a number on the inverter as well as frying the blender. I should upgrade to a pure sign wave to keep my electronics safe. but it will be nice to have a backup inverter to the older Xantrex onboard.