Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cold Winter Sailing

I'm trying to get out on Prestissimo once a month in  the winter.  The trips have all been 3 days & 2 nights out on the water.  I've managed to pick warmish clear days for both trips, one in November with almost no wind, and another in January with fantastic winds the whole time.

Here Darius Orocz, the electrical contractor for our house "Gray Owl" in Asheboro, is sitting with me, and I'm wearing the Captain's hat Carlie gave me.

Dave Nemetz (below) is a great crew and he took these pictures.  It is always a pleasure to see him making small adjustments to the sails.  It is so easy to "set it and forget it" when the wind is steady and the autopilot is doing the steering.

We weren't the only boats out enjoying the 10-15 kt winds and clear sunny day with temperatures going up to the 50's F.  We practiced setting an intercepting course and sailed together for a while.

With the keel up to 6' and hard on the 15 kt wind we had an invigorating sail.  The wind died down each night and the central heat on the boat kept the cabin warm.  It was a real pleasure to have all the systems working properly...  except for the perennial disconnect between the SOG and speed through the water continues.  But on this trip we found that one tack was accurate and the other tack the boat speed showed 2 - 3 knots faster than SOG.

The battery bank is wearing out after 7 years.  When new, I had 40 amp hours (at 144 vdc) when fully charged, and now it is down to 5.  As a result I turned off the heat when everyone got to bed.

Even though we weren't in the Caribbean I still sounded the conch at sundown.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Winter check out - ready for spring sailing

I went to Prestissimo to replace the wind instrument (that was disabled by lightning last summer) and I used this trip to check out the rest of the systems.  I'm always surprised when something that was working when I left the boat isn't working when I get back.  This time I was surprised when I discovered that everything was working.

  • I installed all the TackTick instruments that were removed and they all worked and connected to each other.
  • The Genset, Electric Motor, and associated ventilation fans worked.
  • The VHF and entertainment Radios all worked
  • The Heat worked
  • The Windlass and Washdown pump worked
  • The Batteries all had full charge and the chargers all worked
  • The water system worked
I'm looking forward to sailing around the sounds this summer on 3 day trips.  I'll have to clean the bottom in preparation for our first trip.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

House battery dies

July 11, 2012 -- Ruthie alerted me to an unfamiliar smell, that since it was in the forward cabin I assumed it was from another boat.  Then when I grabbed my pants of the cabinet that is the battery box I noticed it was hot.  I figured it must be in the direct sun -- that was impossible.  I opened the battery box and the smell was very strong and the battery was too hot to touch.  I cut the power, it was not cooling off!  I removed it and put it in a pan of water.  I measured it at 207 F at one location, and that spot stayed hot.  After it cooled I measured the voltage at 8.5 volts.  Andy helped me get a new battery at West Marine in Newport RI.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Prestissimo in the Water

April 10, 2012
Got here before noon.  At 12:30 the crew showed up and we got it in the travel lift and then tilted the boat back to rock the keel to the aft part of the keel well so we could get the plastic "bumper" for the front of the keel in.  Got it most of the way in with some 5200 hold it.  Then she went into the water.

Genset:  I checked the oil and added coolant to half way between Max and Min. Got the software connected. Added soapy water into the water pump and re-routed the hose to reduce wear.  She didn't start the first time, so I primed the fuel and she started up.

None of the fans worked.  I traced wires to figure out what was what.  There was still this wire with a ring connector connected to nothing.  It turns out that it connects to the only place in reach to connect it to - then the fans worked.

Instruments:  Everything worked.  The thru hull flap is working nicely.  I started Coastal Explorer and got the instruments talking to it.

Refer: Turned it on, and in a few minutes the plate was covered with frost.

Plumbing:  I filled the stbd tank and got the water pumping from the head sink and hose.  Turned the heat on, and had hot water.  When I turned on the recycling shower all the flakes of brown stuff came out.  I suspect it was bacteria that had dried out inside the heat exchanger.  In any case I cleaned it all out.  Got the water flowing into the sink as well and cleaned out the sprayer heads.

April 11, 2012
Got the dingy inflated and on the bow, freshened the numbers with marker and fixed a broken clip on the strap that holds the life jackets in place.

Went on a delightful check out sail with Bill.  The battens didn't catch the lazy jacks.  I had to re-tie the reef line.  I changed out the running back control lines.  The wind transducer on the front of the mast worked beautifully to adjust the boat on a beat -- that is why I put a mount there.  It is below the top of the mast so I don't have to worry as much about bridges.  When I get into an area with no bridges I'll move it to the top.

We ran on the motor to draw the batteries down and then run the genset at full power.  No problem.  Came back to Bock Marine.  It went quite well.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Putting it all together

April 3, 2012
I didn't get in until 11:30am, and I wasn't feeling well.  The first thing I did was try and fill the grooves in the keel from the missing coat of paint.  I put the paint in the grooves with a spreader, and it did a pretty good job, but of course when it dried it was still a little shallower than the groove, but better than it would have been.  If I had more time I would have given it a few more layers of paint.

Then I got busy on the mast.  I scrubbed it clean and put in the new main halyard.  When the mast track was dry I lubricated it.  Then I cleaned the bearing surfaces at the deck and at the foot, and coated them with Vaseline.  Kenny and his team came over with the crane and we set the mast in place.

Now for the keel.  I installed the keel blocks while Kenny got the giant shackle to hook up the keel and used the crane to move the keel behind the boat.  Then we picked the boat up with the travel lift and set it over the keel.  We threaded the line through the blocks and I started to lift the keel with the winch to get it started.  It jammed.  Apparently the epoxy I coated the rust spots with made it a little bigger, and there was no extra room.  I had to tighten a nut and then we ground off the bolt that was exposed so it could fit in the trunk.  We finally got the keel in, but by then I was completely wiped out.  It was a lot harder to lift the keel in the trunk than when it was out.  I don't like that, but it sure won't wiggle.  I think some of the extra width is from the paint, and when that is rubbed off in the contact areas it should move more easily.

I collapsed in the cabin, and an hour later I realized I hadn't scrubbed the spots that I needed to paint where the stands had been.  I forced myself up and scrubbed them -- then I showered and went to bed.

April 4, 2012
First I got the boom installed and untangled all the lines on the mast, and unfortunately I realized there was a cross over of the main sheet on the running back, and I was going to have to go up the mast to correct it.

Now the morning had dried out so I was able to get the first coat on the spots and the third coat on the keel bulb, rudders and along the waterline.

Then I hoisted the sail up onto the boom from the top of the van, got the lazy jacks in place to hold it and attached it to the mast track cars.  Bill came over and hoisted me up the mast where I discovered there were a bunch of crossed lines and twisted blocks.  I got everything straightened out -- it is a good thing I went up or the new lines would have been frayed in short order.

I was resting after that and got a call from the Prop Shop that my prop was in and ready for me to pick up.  I drove to the shop and talked with the owner about an anti-singing edge that was for both powering as well as charging, so he modified the trailing edge and then re-balanced the prop.  It is a rather primitive system.  They center and level it and then put it in a very free rotating stand and find the heavy blade and grind some material off of it and check it again.  The kid who was doing the work was grinding and grinding and never seemed to get it just right.  Then the owner came in and finished it in two passes.  I stopped for lunch on the way back and then got out the prop tools and unbelievably I got the old prop off and the new on one in about 10 minutes.

I spliced the new line on the MOB pole, and then I went into the engine room and wired up the fans for the new ventilation system.  I took out the speed control and secured everything.

I looked at my watch and it was already 8:30pm

April 5, 2012

It was dry first thing so I painted the final coat of paint on the spots and keel and then took off the tape.  The blue removable tape left some adhesive on the hull, but I'm not going to try and remove it.  I'm hoping it will wear off.  The paint is pretty faded.  It needs to be painted again...

I hooked up the mast wiring and safety lines on both the mast and keel.  While coiling the lines I realized the jib halyard needed replacement, and replaced it too.  I cleaned up a bunch of stuff and made room for the outboard in its locker and put on Prestissimo's registration sticker.  Then I coated the windlass gearbox with oil, put more stuff away and then it started to rain.

As it got dark I tested the navigation lights, and everything is working correctly!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dingy Lift, Winches, Ventilation

We finally finished the Birkhead Wilderness Classic Orienteering Championship.  I was the event director and I've been working full time on it until last week.  My goal is to get Prestissimo into the water by mid April and start sailing north in early May.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I'm always amazed at how a simple job can turn into a major hassle so easily.  So I'm back working on the dingy lift ring.  I had some stainless straps at home and I bent them to the right diameter and drilled some holes to pop rivet them to the radar mast.  I got the right size rivets and my rivet gun.  I put the ring up and it fit perfectly.  I got the first hole drilled and right away the rivet gun broke.  Damn are those stainless rivets strong.  So now the rivet gun was stuck to the rivet in the mast.  I had to cut it off.  I borrowed a rivet gun from Kenny and it was brutally difficult to squeeze the rivet gun to get the rivet to "pop", but I finally got them all in, and the lifting ring looks really good and strong.  All the loading is in sheer instead of tension the way the previous fitting was.

Here is a job that went smoothly.  Replacing all the winches.  I took them home last trip and cleaned and greased them.  I also shortened the screws that were projecting into the plastic bearing race on the main sheet winch.  I just finished putting them all back together on the boat.  The only problem was I didn't remember what angle the self tailer was supposed to be at.  I went through a bunch of  old pictures and found enough to get the angles worked out.  When I was going through the pictures I thought one was of  Steve at Schooner Creek, but it couldn't have been him and then I realized it was actually me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012
An absolutely killer day.  I wet sanded the keel, took a break and then did the bottom of the hull.  I kept thinking I would stop and finish on Friday, but figured I wouldn't be able to move on Friday, and it would set painting back a day, so I took breaks and continued on.  I got it all done.

Friday, March 23, 2012
Painting day.  I did some touch-up sanding while waiting for everything to dry out, and then got the tape on the waterline.  One gallon did the keel, the touch-up of the hull where the paint was off to the epoxy.  There were a few spots where the fairing material chipped off as well as some paint.  I scraped out the loose stuff and then faired it out.  Then on the first gallon I got a little more than half the hull done.

Saturday, March 24, 2012
Minor disaster.  Somehow diesel fuel leaked out of the top of the keel and dripped down the side of the keel completely removing the first coat of paint.  I scrubbed it all down with Simple Green, wiped it down with acetone, and pumped out a gallon of fuel out of the keel.  My guess is that the keel got hotter with the dark red color instead of the white color it was before I painted it.  The heat caused the fuel to expand enough to leak out the vent.

I tried to wipe up the water drips on the hull, but it was a long process.  Randy a really nice guy who works at the boatyard reminded me of the tape "dam" so I ran tape around the boat above the red stripe with the bottom held out away from the boat so all the drips fall off before getting past the dam. I put the blocks on top of the keel while stuff was drying out.   It just about got dry, then there were a few sprinkles.  Finally it cleared up and I painted the bottom.  By then the keel was fully dry so I painted it too.  All the stripes from the diesel on the starboard side of the keel are gone, hiding under the paint -- I'll see if they come back to haunt me.  An hour later it rained!  The tape dam worked perfectly, not a drop made it to the bottom.

After the rain I began replacing the running backs. I'm using a locked brummel splice.  It is easy to tie if you have both ends, but quite complex to do it using only one end.  I've done it a few times and it is still a surprise when it works.  In this case I have both ends.  I do the block end first and when it is done I can pass the whole splice through the rope making the splice a piece of cake.  I tapered it and stitched it in as well.  The old one still looked pretty good.  There was some wear about 5% of the fibers were broken.

As I was almost finished with the first splice it began to pour.  I finished it and the next splice inside and it had stopped when I was done and stayed clear until I got the splices attached to the mast.  I moved the blocks over to the new lines.

From 7pm - 12pm was very productive...
I finished the vent system except for wiring in the fans.  I had a somewhat complex idea, and then kept simplifying it until I didn't have to sew anything, just make a few cuts.  I have to buy the connectors to finish.
I replaced the engine room storage box and supported it with peanuts so it won't crack like the old one.
I filled the diesel tank and emptied the fuel container that doesn't belong on the boat.
The engine room is all buttoned up except for wiring the fans.
Except for one thing... when I was tracing the wiring to figure out what I needed to do one of the leads from the genset fan relay wasn't attached to anything.  It just had an exposed ring connector.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Finish the Keel & Winterize

December 2, 2011

Arrived Wednesday, Nov. 30 in the morning and got the compressor to blow water & diesel out the keel.  Got out about a cup.  Then I put in half a gallon of alcohol and blew it out, then did the same with a quart, and then again.  It was coming out a light yellow at the end.  Then I put the vacuum cleaner blowing into the keel for the rest of the day.   Meanwhile I scrubbed the paint off the bottom of the keel only to discover another tiny rust spot.  So I ground it away and got it ready to prime.

Thursday,  Dec 1 This morning I primed and glassed the rust spot using the heat gun to get it to kick.  I also filled some gouges in the keel with epoxy, but though I cleaned it thoroughly and sanded with 60 grit, I forgot to wet it out with thin epoxy and used the thickened epoxy directly on the keel, so I will see how that holds up.  It is no big deal if it pops off because I have to fix gouges every time I haul it out.  In the cockpit, I moved the aft hole for the cord that holds the backrests further aft so the backrest can slide aft of the awning pole.  With some of the remaining epoxy I filled the holes that were no longer being used.

In the afternoon I borrowed some jerry cans and got 35 gallons of fuel.  I set up the fuel transfer pump and pumped 32 gallons into the keel.  Then I put all the fuel hoses in place and bolted the front plastic rail onto the keel.  The rear rail didn't fit since I had to add epoxy to it's flange, and it was tight before.  I also changed the contactor for the windlass and tested it.  I put silicone sealant all around the gasket and dielectric grease on all the contacts.

Friday, Dec 2, I installed the speed seal impeller cover, and it went super easy, not a typical marine project. I also noticed wear on the original cover where the impeller rubbed against the cover.

The new easy to install SpeedSeal cover

Then I got some antifreeze, borrowed a hose to keep the strainer filled as the engine pumped the water for cooling, and started the engine.  After a few minutes I poured the antifreeze into the strainer and shut the engine off when it pumped out a gallon.  While I was sponging out the spilled water I noticed a rusted broken hose clamp.  It popped off the thru hull hose to the galley sink drain.  This could have been a big problem except 1) I have two clamps on all the thru hull hoses 2) The hoses are really stuck on the fittings such that I have to cut them off, and 3) These hoses are all in a "sea chest" such that the water tight box they are in extends above the water line.

The broken rusted hose clamp resting on its replacement
Next I drained out all the water from the tanks and removed the hoses from the pumps and used the compressor to blow out the water lines.  Never remove the fittings on the pumps!  It was a cinch blowing out the water.  Where I had to remove the hose from a barb, I heated it with the heat gun and it was easy taking it off.  When I tried to get the pump fitting back on it always cross threaded.  The "way back" fitting would not go on correctly.  I got frustrated and cut, so I decided to replace the dingy lift fitting.  I got the ladder in position and then discovered that the same part number has a different diameter tube it attaches to, so it didn't fit.  I attempted to bend it (pretty much knowing it wouldn't work) and I got it so I thought I could attach it.  When I went to remove the old fitting I discovered it was through bolted, and with the mast up and all the stuff in it there was no way i could get to those nuts.  I tied a safety line so if the fitting fails the line will catch it.  Thoroughly annoyed at no getting the ring on, and it being near the time I should leave I went back to the hose to see if I could get it now.  No luck, it only got worse.  Finally I decided that I had to remove the pump so I could see what I was doing. I should have done that an hour ago.  In a minute I got it on, and 15 minutes to get the pumps installed again.  It would have been so easy if I had just taken the hose off the fitting before the pump instead of removing the pump fitting.  When I finished that my neighbor, in a cat that he has been working on and living at Bock for over a year came over.  We brainstormed the dingy lift ring and came up with the idea of wrapping a strap around the radar mast.  I called the stainless fabricator he recommended, and the stainless guy brainstormed we me some more and we got it so simple I didn't need him any more, so I am going to wrap two straps that overlap at their ends around the mast, and fasten it with rivets so I don't have sharp screw ends projecting into the mast with the vent hose and radar cable.  I was feeling pretty successful and saw that I really didn't have to be home until 7, rather than 5, so that gave me two more hours.  I decided to tackle the front keel rail.  I decided to see if the grinder would work to remove some material.  That lousy cheep Chicago Tools grinder wouldn't start.  I pulled off the end and discovered it was the linkage between the exterior switch and the real internal switch, so I use the grinder with the cover off so I could access the internal switch.  That worked, and the grinder was just the right size.  Pretty soon I had the slot wide enough to fit on the keel.  The bolts gave me some trouble, but I sharpened one so it could align the parts and scrape the excess epoxy out of the holes, and I got all the bolts in and coated the ends with anti-seize before putting on the nuts.  That was it, I was done.  I loaded the dingy, the Honda generator, and all the regular stuff into the van, washed off the boat and got home right at 7, going directly to the party.