Small Projects 2017

I tend to forget how many little things I do on/to the boat. In my mind, most of them are opportunities, not maintenance as such, but if I really think about it, a lot are actual maintenance! A friend of mine remarked when I told him I was swapping gauges while underway – “Phil, you need a fidget spinner.” I did some of these projects before we left, others en route, and some up in GB at the end of the season.

glove box & trim

The glove box was an awesome update to the binnacle. Somewhere to safely store cell phones, sunglasses, keys, and sunscreen. Now we can put 4 drinks in the cup holders! I fit it into the binnacle where the VHF radio, and later an older chart plotter, was originally located. I constructed the box out of quarter-inch Corian type material (old mouse keyboard shelf). I made a teak bezel around the glove-box out of some teak scraps, slapped a few coats of gloss Epifanes and glued the bezel on. The trim is purposely slightly larger than the opening so it doesn’t get abraded. There is a small drain hole at the back bottom of the box as it sits on a backward slant, but it really didn’t collect any water over the summer and kept things secure and dry.

There is a funny/boring video of me gluing the trim. I left the camera running by accident and it is from the vantage point of the cup holder looking straight up.

fixed retractable boat hook

I used our retractable boat hook to take the boat’s weight last year pulling it closer to the mooring ball. The hook got stuck and didn’t want to retract or extend. I could just get it to turn if I put one end in a vice.

The fix was to cut the outer sleeve off with the inner fully extended. This revealed that the problem was simply that the plastic tape (provides friction to the inside of the inner walls of the sleeve) got rolled-up in the tube. This made locking and unlocking somewhat moot as the rolled tape was wedged between the locking mechanism and the outer tube. I removed the tape, put some new tape on and reassembled the pieces. I used a punch to re-crimp it.  It was a 5-minute fix and the pole was only 4 inches shorter.

We promptly lost the boat hook in the first days of the trip and bought (yet) another in Peterborough.

dripping arch bolt

This bolt was responsible for a persistent leak down the back of the liner in our aft cabin, right behind our pillows.
The fix was simple, remove nut and washer and apply some sealant. Wait…. the washer doesn’t sit flush to the fiberglass! Take washer home, grind and then reinstall with butyl.

freshwater float

The freshwater gauge was always a bit spotty, but last season it continually red empty.  I assume the sensor float has become waterlogged, and this proved true when I tested it. I wrapped some foam packing around the old float – now it works.

replace LPG valve

It took a while for me to clue into what the issue was with the original LPG safety solenoid valve which leads to the pork-loin incident.

These solenoid valves are opened by current through an electromagnet, as they age they overheat causing the magnet loses its “grip” and the needle slowly slides back, closing the valve partially. You may start out with full gas, but after 10-15 min you are back to a small trickle of gas ( leading to a very slow cooking roast on a cold spring cruise…). My workaround was to pour cold lake water on the valve to cool it and it worked quite well. I did this for a season and it was easy to do as the propane locker is located on the sugar-scoop transom, usually one splash for a kettle to boil.

I ordered a solenoid from Aliexpress a year ago as the price was right ($9 including shipping!!) but it rattled around my toolbox for a full year. I finally installed it this year along with a new sparker battery. The stove works perfectly now!

  • Model: 2W-025-08
  • Working Medium: Air, Water, Oil,Gas
  • Operating Method: Direct action
  • Type: Normal Closed
  • Flow bore: 2mm
  • Pipe Size: 1/4″
  • Working Pressure:  0.15~0.8Mpa
  • Max Pressure:1.0Mpa
  • Working Temperature: -5~60 Celsius
  • Voltage: DC 12V
  • Material: Brass

installed compass

 

Not too much to say about this one. I’ve given up on trying to refurbish old leaking compasses. I bought the compass (yes it is rebuildable….), enlarged the hole in the binnacle with a jigsaw and rasp and connected the wires. I still need to swing it and adjust the compensation, but it reads pretty accurately to the fluxgate so I’m not worried or in a rush. It does give the cockpit a nice finished look. I cheaped out and didn’t get a sun cover, but the compass doesn’t get any direct sunlight under the bimini and the boat is covered for the winter.

mahogany binnacle cap

If you look at the top of the binnacle you’ll see a hole in the fiberglass right about the word Autopilot on the left gauge (see top photo on page). The previous owner had wires coming out of there and had stuck on a couple pieces of teak with some 4200 which were growing moss when I bought the boat.
I spun a nice bung and fitted it with an o-ring to give it some grip.

LED strip lights

I love indirect LED lighting, spots are so harsh, I could fill the boat with these.  I finally got around to properly installing the starboard side.

These lights are cheap Ikea strip lights LEDBERG (same as I installed above the sink). I originally just plugged them into the cigarette lighter and let them lie in the bottom of that ledge several years ago. The lights got covered with books and brick-a-brack, so I installed them using clips and industrial velcro and wired them to the DC panel properly.

  • LEDBERG $14.95 CAD
  • LED life approx. 25,000 hours.
  • Light color: warm white (2700 Kelvin).
  • 3 pieces, 10¼” each
  • Power: 2 W
  •  wire directly to 12 volt- no controller needed

I also re-routed the speaker wire. For some reason, the previous owner had the wire coming out of the old speaker, behind the seat cushions and up the bulkhead?! I ran the wire out the back of the switch cabinet and behind the curtain valance. I got rid of the old-lady-Florida curtains too, oh so much tidier…

Aft cabin bulkhead door

The aft cabin on the Hunter 340 has a teak bulkhead hiding the fuel and waste tanks and the rudder shaft. There is a fair amount of space back there but it’s very inaccessible because of the awkward bulkhead that is screwed into place. I have seen some owners put a door in the middle for access to batteries or fuel filters, but I thought I could make use of the space behind the fuel tank.

I cut a door into the port side piece of the bulkhead and placed zero tolerance kitchen hinges on the back side.  I use this space for covers, soft coolers and toolboxes.

 

 

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