Dinghy cleaner

before

I was curious if I could use my recent purchase of Vim bathroom cleaner ($1.99!) on my new/old/new again Hypalon dinghy and the self-destructing PVC dinghy. I looked up what were the active chemical ingredients on the MSDS.

The main ingredient in the cleaner is something hideous sounding, Ethoxylated C9-11-alcohols. These are very effective surfactants – interestingly it shows up in a dinghy specific cleaning product from Polymarine, one of the leading dinghy paint/cleaner brands.

As it turns out, Polymarine Duo-clean (duo=PVC & Hypalon) is comprised of :

  • Ethoxylated C9-11-alcohols
  • Sodium hydroxide – aka lye or caustic soda
  • Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate – a salt used as a buffering agent (A buffering agent can be either a weak acid or weak base,  which only slightly changes its pH in response to other acids and bases being combined with it)

Dinghy materials are very resistant to alkalines, but not petrochemicals/solvents. So I used it….!  There are still some tannin stains on the floor in the fiberglass, but the dinghy looks much better. This is the dinghy we used on our Thousand Islands trip and is now permanently ours.  Thanks Malcolm!

after

Trent Severn Waterway: part 1-Toronto to Trenton

Last summer we escaped a flooded Toronto and headed north, we had planned on leaving Toronto for Georgian Bay last year, with the heavy rains and flooding shutting down our favourite cruising grounds, beaches and amusement park (aka the Toronto Islands) the decision to leave was even easier. What was supposed to be a lazy meander through cottage country, with afternoons spent swimming with loons, ice cream in quaint towns, turned out somewhat different thanks to the unseasonably cold and wet July weather. As for the quaint towns, well there was Bobcaygeon, which could be accused of trying a bit too hard.

The trip fell into 4 stages and took us most of July. We only lingered a few places, three days in Peterborough, one in Sutton, but when we moved we moved pretty quickly because of the weather. A total of 18 days in a boat that does about 5.5knots underpower.

  1. Toronto to Trenton July 7 – 9
  2. Trenton to Peterborough July 10 – 12
  3. Peterborough to Lake Simcoe July 16 – 20
  4. Simcoe to Georgian Bay July 22 – July 24

Continue reading Trent Severn Waterway: part 1-Toronto to Trenton

Converting old winches to self tailing

My cabin top desperately needs a second winch on starboard where the mainsheet, jib sheet, outhaul and main halyard are located. I usually resort to cross winching the jib sheet to the port winch but this results in the occasional “clothes-lining” when coming up the companionway.

I was lucky to source some older Barient winches, and while they are in perfect condition it would be nice if they were self-tailing, although I do have clutches close by so it isn’t a deal breaker. Continue reading Converting old winches to self tailing

Bosun’s chair

Falling off my mast isn’t my preferred way to “go”. Having said that, enjoying my hobby probably isn’t the worst way to check out; I’m more concerned it might be a bit premature and somewhat unplanned.
I’ve been to the top of my mast many times, and a few other boats too. I currently need to replace my anchoring light and windex so I need a safe way to get up there in the spring.
My boat came with a MastMate loop-strap ladder and I’ve tried using, it was a most unsatisfying experience. There are two issues that make it a less than ideal solution on my boat. Firstly, my in-mast furler makes it impossible to use track slides. (The solution offered by MastMate necessitates taking down the main….) this leaves the ladder swaying loosely from the mast making it difficult and dangerous to climb. Continue reading Bosun’s chair

Cabin Heater

After sleeping on Georgian Bay this weekend, it occurred to me that a cabin heater might be prudent, especially with small children that like to throw off their covers and then cry “I’m cold” at 4 am.

Dawn mist on Georgian Bay
small black heater
Cheapo 120v heater

Our Hunter 340 came with a heat exchanger and blower to make use of engine heat, but that’s only useful when the Yanmar is running (incidentally, it also heats the hot water too). I have a little car 120v forced air heater I picked up on clearance at Canadian Tire. Plugged in it provides fast heat and warms the cabin quickly. It’s rated at 900w and I suppose I could plug it into the inverter but that seems like an awfully destructive thing to do to a battery bank and inverter. Continue reading Cabin Heater

Crispy, Hard and Smoking. pt.2

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

Bilge float switches

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 Bilge float switches

Navigation Electronics – part 1

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.

Continue reading at your discretion.
Continue reading Navigation Electronics – part 1