Thursday, October 25, 2012

Raising the galley sink in a Pacific Seacraft 37 by 3 inches

Here is another post some other Pacific Seacraft 37 owners might be interested in.

My 1990 PSC 37 has had a double sink in the galley which is 10 inches deep.  Deep sinks are nice.  However the water line on my boat had risen by a little over an inch as I was outfitting her for cruising, and the water line ended up above the bottom of the sink.  With the sink drain seacock opened, at rest, both sinks would contain roughly 1/2" of water.  My solution to this has been to close the seacock and use the sink macerator to drain the sink.  This was working, although it was pretty annoying.  It would also stop working when the macerator failed, and it is bound to fail at some point.  During the year I was out cruising, having to drain the sink by turning on the macerator was something that bugged me and I wanted to fix it.

In early September I started in on the project to fix the sink.  I had been looking around for a new sink I could replace mine with, but which was only 8" deep.   I couldn't find a new sink with the same length and width dimensions, but with a shallower depth.  I phoned a local sheet metal shop and spoke to them about the possibility of having them cut my sink and re-weld it so it was 2 1/2" shallower.  They said this was possible, depending the metal's condition, but that it would cost roughly $1000.  I didn't ever get an official estimate, just the "over the phone" one so maybe when they saw it in person it would have been less.

I knew I wanted the sink problem fixed, I wasn't sure how I would fix it but the first step was definitely to get the sink out of the counter and then to proceed.  So I started on that part.

A 'before' picture.  The sink installed in the counter.
I had felt around beneath the sink and found 5 bolts under the sink lip (middle of front edge, both front corners and middle of both sides,) beneath the counter top which I needed to remove.  I thought that once those bolts were removed that the sink would come out pretty easily.  I removed the bolts and started tugging on the sink and it wasn't budging at all.  I found that there was a solid seal of silicone between the sink and the counter.  I needed to cut the seal between the sink and counter all the way around the sink before it would come out.  This would be easy on one of the four sides, as it had mostly open access and I could slide a sharp putty knife between the sink and counter to cut the silicone.  However the back and front of the sink were adjacent to teak fiddles, and the right side of the sink was beside a teak fiddle I had had installed to stop water draining into the garbage compartment and was also hard to access.  It took some experimentation, and swearing, to figure out how to get the sink out.  I ended up cutting a narrow wedge out of some hardwood I had around.  I slid this wedge under the lip of the sink on the back left corner, and then pounded the wedge along the back, left to right which was tearing the silicone seal as the wedge advanced.  The wedge needs to be narrow enough to fit behind the main mixing outlet in the center of the sink.  Once two edges were free, I kept using the wedge to free the other two sides and what I thought would be a 20 minute project was finished within a couple of days.

Some of the tools for removing the sink.  I'm holding the wood wedge

(Ignore the sink orientation in the two photos's above.  By the time I remembered to get the camera out the sink was out and into the hole in the counter many times and I wasn't worrying about it being backwards.)

The underside of the sink.  The metal was a little rusty, but basically in good shape.
The sink had a little surface corrosion and I removed it all using a metal polish (BriteBoy.)  Once this was done I saw the sink was in pretty good shape still.

I returned to the problem of how to proceed.  At this point, I felt I had four options:

  1. Take the sink to the sheet metal shop and have them cut 2 1/2" out of its middle, reweld and reinstall.
  2. Buy a new sink.  This would have different dimensions, so it would involve filling the hole in the counter with marine plywood, fiberglassing it in, grinding to blend, gelcoating to match the existing surface, and then recutting a hole for the sink I bought.
  3. Raise the sink by building a frame around the hole in the counter top and mounting the sink on this frame.
  4. Go back to using the macerator.  Put a bead of silicone around the counter top lip and put the sink back in and forget about this whole project.
#4 had its attractions.  The problem with #1 was that if it didn't work, I would be left choosing #2.  #2 was going to be challenging.  Also the more I considered buying a new shallower sink the more I realized that I liked having a deeper sink.  There are lots of reasons why a deep sink is a good idea on a sailboat.

The attraction to the third option was that if I tried to build a frame to raise the sink and it didn't work out, I could then proceed by picking one of the other three options.  I decided this option was the least risky and could potentially result in the best outcome, so its what I proceeded to work on.

I have never been very skilled working with wood.  The corners of frames I had built in the past rarely met at 90 degrees.  The sides were often different lengths and generally the quality was not high.  I started by buying some cheap wood, 3" high and 1" wide by many feet long.  I would build a frame out of the cheap wood as practice.  I also bought a compound saw which allowed me to more easily cut any angle out of the wood I needed (90 and 45 being what I needed.)  So I measured many times, figured out on paper the geometry of what I wanted to build, and started cutting and glueing the parts together.  I decided that the corners of the frame would be two 1" pieces of wood glued together.  The sides would then meet these corners.  The corners had enough material that I could cut holes out of them, round their edges and work with them to get what I needed.

The sink on one of the temporary corner blocks, seeing how the sink looked being higher
I cut the corners pieces, glued them in pairs and then supported the sink on them to see how the sink looked being 3" off the counter top.  It looked a bit strange, but wasn't a show stopper.  I continued with the cheap wood building the frame and figured out that my first approach of joining all the pieces together using clamps wasn't going to work.  I couldn't hold the frame together accurately enough in order to let the glue dry and have the frame be square.  I then figured out that building a jig would be a better approach and bought some plywood, a 2x4 for the jig and started hammering and nailing.  Before I knew it, several days had gone by without my taking any more pictures, but here is where I ended up eventually.
The teak frame in its jig
After working with the cheaper wood I found the approach was going to work, so I bought the real wood.  I bought a teak plank at a lumber store close to the marina.  The plank was 1" x 6" and 5 feet long for $120.  Ouch.  I had them cut the plank into two 3" strips.  At this point I just replicated what I had done with the cheaper wood (which had also been the same size.)  Teak was much easier to work with as the hardwood wasn't warped at all, so I was able to cut more accurately and have all the pieces fit together more exactly.

I decided to use epoxy to fit the pieces together, rather than screws.  Two of the corner pieces would end up having large holes cut through them, so I couldn't use screws in those pieces anyway.  Since the frame would end up being bolted to the counter, the epoxy strength would end up being needed initially but not so much once the counter was installed as by then the frame is being held in place by many bolts.  Or at least this was my decision.

So, cut the corner pieces.  They end up being long rectangles (not the shape yet as in the picture above with the corners cut to a point.) Epoxy and clamp them.  After the epoxy dries, put everything in the jig and see how it all fits.  Adjust the pieces and the jig until everything is nice and tight, with right angles everywhere.  You have a choice here which corners go where and how their grain is oriented - try to make pleasing choices.  Its also a good idea now to put some tape or paper down on the jig so that when you start epoxying you don't accidentally epoxy the frame to the jig... When you're sure the dry fit is working well, make up a bunch of epoxy and carefully epoxy everything together.  Make sure to get enough epoxy along all the joins so that when you start cutting into the wood you don't find places which have no epoxy.  You might want to do this in two batches, but don't be too slow as its nice to be able to adjust everything as you progress.

Once the epoxy was dried, I used my fein tool to cut the corners into the shapes you see in the picture above.  Don't cut flush with the side boards yet, just cut fairly close.  Use a small plane to get the corners and sides to meet flush.  At this point you should have something that looks like the piece above.

I cut the five bolts off from under the sink lip so that it would sit flush on the frame, and put the frame and sink onto the counter top.

At this point, you can start to get a better feel for how its all going to look when its finished, and I was starting to like it.  I'm 6 feet tall, and with the sink 3" higher, its easier to work with for me now.  I hadn't expected that but it was a nice side benefit.

At this point the frame probably isn't sitting on the counter solidly.  My frame would rock a little side to side.  I got my plane out and started to plane the bottom of the frame in the areas that needed it to have the frame sit flush.  I then planed the top of the frame to clean it up and have the sink sit on it flush as well.  I had bought a 12" x 24" x 1/4" piece of acrylic to use as a back spash and tried to push it between the frame and the rear teak fiddle, and it wouldn't fit.  So I planed some wood out of the lower front edge of the frame until it came forward enough that the acrylic was fitting tightly.  By now you can figure out where the frame needs to be with respect to the counter top and you can start drilling the holes to hold it onto the counter top.

I used 14, 10x24 bolts which were 2 1/2" long.  I marked where I wanted the bolts (four along each long edge, three along each short edge) and drilled a hole large enough to hold the bolt head, but only down a little over an inch into the frame.  I then drilled holes through these larger ones through the remaining frame and the counter top.  Do this once, then put the bolt in that hole to lock the frame in place at that location.  Then drill a hole in an opposite side and again drop the bolt in place.  Do this a few times and the frame should end up being held tightly - then drill the remaining holes.

Ok, so now the project is starting to come together.

At this point I started to round the frame corners off.  My approach here was to use my fein tool to cut a number of straight cuts across the corners close to, but not right up to a circle I had drawn on the wood at each corner.  The cuts only approximate the shape you want, I used coarse sandpaper to sculpt the wood into its final shape, removing material until I was close and then starting to progress to finer grits. I started with 50 grid and moved along to 200 eventually.  This was a pretty forgiving process, as long as you don't over cut the wood initially.

Then I started to cut holes into two of the corners to fit the water spouts that the foot pumps (fresh and salt water) are connected to.  I put the frame back in the counter, placed a few bolts in it to position it correctly and then drew in a circle from under the counter outlining where the existing holes were in the counter for the spouts.  I then used a hole saw to cut these holes.  The trick is that you don't want to drill entirely through the frame.  The spout will end up mounted in the frame and needs some of the teak between the spout base and the sink itself.  So use the hole saw for a measured distance, and then use a fein tool and wood chisel to open up and enlarge the space.  Test putting the spout into the hole created and adjust with the chisel until its working.

The start of a water spout base hole in one of the corners.  Working from the bottom
The second hole, offset a little, and taken further. 

A test fit of the water spout base through the frame.

I ended up enlarging the water spout hole through the counter top to match the hole in the frame.  This allows the water spout base to be easily removed in the future if this is necessary (the whole spout base can be pulled by the hose down through the frame to beneath the sink.)

So, at this point the sink frame is starting to be finished.  The sink was originally attached to the counter top using five bolts.  However the bolts on the sink were too short to be used for this purpose anymore. So I cut them off with a dremel tool cutting disc and cleaned up the remaining bolt base with a wire brush attachment on the dremel.  I bought five weld mount female stud bases for some 10x24 threaded rod I bought.  Weldmount is a system of attaching various bases and pads to a variety of material using a strong epoxy.  I had used it in the past and the attachments end up being very strong and its easy to work with.  I cut an edge out of the five stud bases so they would fit closer to the sink edge, cleaned everything with acetone, marked on the sink approximately where I wanted the bases, and then epoxied the bases to the sink.  I then put the sink back on top of the frame and marked where the bases ended up.  You want to make sure a stud base doesn't happen to coincide with one of the holes holding the frame to the counter top.  Mark on the frame where the stud bases are, then drill holes in the frame to accommodate the wider stud base diameter, and then go to a smaller drill bit to drill through the frame and counter top for the 10x24 threaded rod.

A mounted stud base with the threaded rod
Now you have a way to mount the sink into the frame.  Its time to start to reassemble the sink.  I installed the mixer spout back into the sink.  I re-used the mixer that I had.  I bought new compression rings, installed the mixer and then installed the pipe to hose connections back onto the pipe.

As the sink had been covered in a light crust of rust when I first pulled it out, I covered its underside with a light coat of Corrosion X HD.  This step is optional I think, but I had some so used it.

At this point, try dry fitting all the remaining pieces together.  One of the remaining tricks is to test the installation of the water spout bases and the spouts on top.  I found that I had to adjust the location of the base ring, which determines how many threads of the spout base are present above the sink top, several times in order to get a tight lock between the spout top and base.  Try this.  Put the sink in the frame, put the spout base in its location, install the top of the spout and screw the spout locking bolt to the base.  It should end up tight.  It took me a few tries on each corner to get it right.  Then I used loctite to lock the base plate where it ended up.

If you haven't done it  yet, do all your fresh water plumbing now.  All of the old hoses are too short by 3" so replace them with new hose.  Attach the hose to the spout bases under the sink.  (The spout tops aren't yet installed so the sink can be removed still.)

The other part of this whole puzzle is the drain.  I wasn't happy with the drain that had been installed in the sinks.  The strainer portion was made of chrome covered steel and was starting to rust.  The attachment of the drain plumbing to the sink strainers was also a little ad-hoc.  It was strong enough but difficult to work with.  I had already replaced the drains once when I first bought the boat and found working with the drain system difficult.  I looked around for alternatives and found the Scandvik line.  I bought two of their sink strainers along with two elbows, a 'T' and a straight piece.  It was easy to work with and has ended up resulting in a nice installation.  The one downside of Scandvik is that their sink strainers are larger than the hole I had in my sink - by 1/16".  I enlarged the two holes using my dremel with a cylindrical piece of grit attached - it took a while but the two strainers ended up fitting perfectly.  The scandvik system is nice as all their parts work well together.  Also the part beneath the strainer mates to the sink underside so that the strainer ends up 'inside' the wet part of the plumbing.  This means there is no need for any sealant between the drain strainer and the sink itself.  If you go this route you'll understand.

So, assemble the drain parts.  Do a dry fit and find the proper lengths for all the parts and pieces so that the sink strainers fit naturally under the sink.  I went for a little tension pushing the strainer bases up against the sink bottom, but not too much.  This involved cutting the 1 1/2" hose connecting the drain parts to the drain seacock and test fitting.  I used 3M 4200 on all the plumbing connections except for the hose connections.  I sealed the strainer base to the elbow and the 'T' to the straight section, but did not seal the elbow's to the 'T' at this point as I wanted to be able to rotate the drains easily still.

Test fit everything again and make sure everything is present and working together.

At this point I took the teak frame out again.  I wanted to silicone seal the teak frame to the counter top. So I ran a bead of silicone around the counter edge and put the frame down again.  Install the 14 bolts tightly, using washer, lock washer and nut.

Now you need to fasten the sink to the frame finally.  I applied a very large bead of silicone around the frame top and then put the sink down into the frame for the final time.  At this point you need to do three things at once.  Mount the water spout tops and screw them down to their bases.  This will pull two of the sink corners down to the frame.  You also want to fasten the five bolts to the threaded rod attached to the sink that are beneath the counter top lip.  As you fasten these bolts the sink should be pulled down into the silicone and squish it out.  You also need to clean up the silicone around the sink lip that has squeezed out as it cures within 5 minutes and if you leave it too long it is more difficult to clean up.  I had practiced putting the five washers/lock washers and nuts on the threaded rod earlier and found a system of holding the washer and nut that worked fairly well - but the area you're working in is very constrained and its difficult to get a little wrench in there to tighten the nuts up.  I used a ratcheting wrench with a little success, but ended up taking longer than five minutes and most of the silicone was curing.  I ended up pulling a little silicone out of the sink lip area and trying to clean it up the next day by applying a fresh bead and cleaning it up immediately.  This worked ok.  At this point I left everything to cure overnight.

Attach the water hoses to the hot/cold mixer.  Its easier to do now than after the drain is installed.

Now attach the drain.  I applied a bead of 4200 around the top of the sink strainer bases and then rotated them up into position and attached the sink strainers which screw into the bases.  Cleanup the squeezed out 4200 as you go.

Apply 4200 to the area between the elbow's and 'T', clamp them together.

The final piece I worked on was the acrylic backsplash.  I cut it so that it fit behind the frame between the corner pieces.  I then made it shorter than 12" as I found that if it was too tall it made getting out of the settee forward of the sink more difficult if I can't reach over and grab the pole beneath the cabinet over the sink.  Try it out.  I rounded the edges off by putting a tupperware container approximately the right size up and drawing it off.  I then cut straight sections out with my fein tool and used rough grit sandpaper to finish to a smoothly rounded corner just as I had done with the teak corners of the frame.

The 'after' picture

I've been living with the new sink setup for a few weeks now.  Its excellent.  It drains now!  I admit for those of you who have sinks which drain, this might all seem like a lot of work.  It was.  But its done now, and I can move onto something else.


Update Nov 25/2012:

I was asked for the scandvik parts list.  I used:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Getting the stove out of a Pacific Seacraft 37 galley

This post is meant as a little contribution to other Pacific Seacraft 37 owners.  This may also apply to 34 and other models as well.

I replaced my Force 10 two burner stove when I first bought Luckness, three years ago.  We got the stove out by taking off the grab bar which crosses in front of the stove.  You can see the bar in the photo's below.  Taking the grab bar off involves drilling out four teak plugs in each side and then unscrewing the teak pads.  Its not too much work getting the grab bar out but isn't something I want to do very many times either.

While I was on my return passage from Hawaii I was watching the stove rock back and forth and scraping the surrounding frame as the pivots weren't lined up properly and the stove wasn't sitting square in the surrounding frame - this was a problem its had since I installed it originally but it had gotten worse.  I would have to take the stove out in order to fix the problem with the pivots.  I had nothing else to think about for a while so I though about how I would fix the stove eventually.  This lead to a simple idea which has worked out pretty well.

Rather than taking off the grab bar, I've cut notches in the teak rails at the counter top surrounding the stove.  This allows me to lift the stove up off of its mounting plates and then forward horizontally below the teak rails over to the notches and then up very carefully and out.  I've cut the notches so that there is only a small gap between the stove pivots and the teak rails as I wanted to reduce any chance that the stove could work its way out if the boat is ever inverted.  Judging from the difficulty of lifting the stove out of this gap I've cut, I can't imagine the stove would ever come out accidentally.

With these two notches cut in place, I can now lift the stove out any time to clean or maintain the stove or surrounding region.  Maintenance is now much easier.

I didn't get pictures of every step in this project, but you should get the idea.

First I picked up the stove and got the pivots on each side out of the mounting plates.  I was then able to place the stove down on the frame it normally swings above.  This allows enough space above it to work on the teak side rails.

The basic idea is that I made two cuts in each side, at roughly 45 degrees or shallower in a short distance using a Fein tool.  I then used a chisel to cut out the wood between these two cuts.  I did this on a scrap piece of board I had around, several times, before I made the cuts in the actual teak.

The stove out and the notch cut

When choosing the location of the two grooves, make sure they aren't so far toward the boat's centerline that the stove won't fit between the groove and the grab bar.  Measure the stove from the pivots to its forward frame and add a little.

After cutting the teak and chiseling out the wood between the cuts, try to lift the stove out of the area with the pivots sliding between the rails at the cuts you just made.  If the pivots don't make it, cut a little deeper.  You don't want the grooves to be too deep - try to make the stove a close fit when it comes out.  Once the stove is out, then you can cleanup an area of the galley you probably haven't been able to access for several years.

Once the stove is out, sand the grooves you've cut out with coarse sandpaper.  I started with 50 grit.  Work up to finer and finer paper until you're happy with the results.  Apply some teak oil.  I continued after this by applying a gloss finish, but that was a separate project.

At this point you're basically done.  Drop the stove back in carefully, reattach the propane hose and make yourself some coffee.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Back to working on projects

This is a boat project post.  Its what I'm doing now.  No interesting recent sailing news.

My comfortable home, taken apart a little...

Since returning to Seattle on August 14th, my main occupation has been working on boat projects.  Its now Oct 21st and the beautiful summer Seattle has had has moved along to make way for the weather that follows summer.  From time to time I like to recap what I have worked on over the past little while in order to make myself feel better about any progress that's been made.  So.  Over the past two months, I've worked on:

  • cleaned the boat inside and out.  Mildew had started to form on many of the interior surfaces during the latter part of my Hawaii->Seattle passage.  Cleaned this up
  • changed the engine oil and transmission fluid
  • polished all the boat's exterior stainless steel.  Unless you rinse it in fresh water from time to time (via either a dock hose or rain) it just starts to rust.  It was.  Now its back to being in good shape
  • varnished all my exterior teak
  • compounded and waxed the hull
  • cleaned all my sails (put them up, washed them down, let them dry, re-stowed.)
  • inspected the rig (all good as far as I can see.)
  • figured out why my zinc's were being eaten so quickly and fixed it.  More on this later
  • took out my water maker as there was a small leak between the membrane housing and the stainless steel body it was attached to.  Sent it back to Katadyn.  Katadyn fixed it under warranty, no questions asked, and returned it to me 6 weeks later.  I paid for the shipping one way, they paid the other.  Good service
  • brought down my wind indicator and returned it to Raymarine (who had bought Tack Tick.)  They replaced the unit under warranty and have returned a new unit to me.  The new unit is installed and works.  I hope it keeps its charge longer than the old unit, I'll report when I find out (which probably won't be for quite some time...)
  • decided on a floor finish I'll use to refinish the cabin sole (Daly's FloorFin.)  Tested the finish on a board along with another product and subjected them to some abuse.  It looks good.  More on this later
  • took out the galley sink and re-installed it 3" higher.  More on this later.
  • took out my galley stove (a Force 10) as the two gimbals it swings on were not properly adjusted (my fault from years ago) and were wearing.  More on this later
It seems like much more than this was done, but I haven't logged all of my projects and some of them have faded from memory.  I'll expand on a few of these in more detail.  I'll talk about the sink project in a separate post.

The watermaker leak.  It was small, but there shouldn't be any leaks at all.

The zinc's

My boat has two zinc's, one on the max prop and one at the base of the gudgeon (which is located at the base of the skeg (which holds the rudder.))  Something changed in my preparations for departing on my first cruise which caused the zinc's to be eaten much more quickly.   By the time I left Sept 2011 on my first cruise, the zinc's were lasting 6 to 8 weeks.  This came as a surprise to me.  I was not plugged into shore power at all during my entire stay in Hawaii, and yet the zinc's were lasting 6 to 8 weeks.

I read up on galvanic corrosion and bought a reference zinc (a half cell) that can be used to measure the potential difference between grounded metals onboard with the seawater outside.  In a nutshell, all connected dissimilar metals immersed in seawater form a battery, and the less noble metal is consumed in a electrochemical reaction.  Since many dissimilar metals are connected (through hulls, the engine, the prop shaft, the prop, grounding plates, etc) and are also immersed in seawater, you need to provide a metal that is the least noble so that it can be consumed rather than one of the other pieces (the engine, prop, etc.)  Zinc is a metal that is very low on the noble scale for metals and is what many boats use to protect against galvanic corrosion.  So anyway, after buying the zinc half cell, I could measure something so that when I started changing things I could measure to see if what I just did made a difference.  The initial number, the bad number, was 390mv which was too high.  (This measured the potential difference between my boat's ground a the reference zinc half cell in sea water.)

One of the changes I had made to the boat before leaving last year was that when installing the SSB, the fuel tank was also out of the boat and I saw the keel bolts exposed and decided to incorporate the 6,200lb lead keel in the SSB ground plane.  This in effect joined the keel to the boat's ground plane and meant that the zinc was not only protecting the engine, prop shaft and everything else, but it was also trying to protect the lead keel as lead is much higher up the noble chart than zinc.  When I cut the ground strap to the keel I measured the ground potential again and it fell to 160mv which according to what I read is a good number.  390mv was high, 160mv is within a safe range.  So its a bit of a mystery, but I believe the boat should no longer consume the zinc so quickly.

[Update Oct 23rd]

It was pointed out to me that the SSB RF ground shouldn't have been coupled with the boat DC ground.  i.e. cutting the connection to the lead keel shouldn't have affected the boat's ground.  I agree with this, the two should be separate.  I have been planning to do some work on my SSB system anyway and part of this was to remove the keel ground - so rather than try to figure out how to properly incorporate the keel now I just removed it from the ground and solved two problems at once.

The reason I planned on removing the keel from the RF ground was that when I installed the copper ribbon to the keel bolt, I didn't glass the ribbon in or otherwise protect it from corrosion in any way.  Oops.  This means that it is slowly corroding and at some point would no longer provide a connection.  I didn't want to be leave Seattle next year with a decent RF ground only to have it slowly degrade over the next few years and end up trying to fix it while I was in the tropics.  So I cut the connection now and will solve the RF ground problem now, in a more permanent manner.

[End of update]

The cabin sole

Over the past three years, the cabin sole's finish has gone from marginal to worse.  I decided to fix this while I'm in Seattle and have made a start on it now.  I first applied two different floor finish products to a board and tested it for a little while.  I got it wet and tested the finishes traction.  I scuffed it up, scratched it and tried to re-apply the finish to see how easy it would be to fix up problems in the future.  Daly's FloorFin appears to be the better product and is super easy to work with.  It was easy to get an initial clean smooth finish and is also easy to touch up later on.  I'm planning for the day when I accidentally drop things on the sole and scar the finish, as that's what seems to happen.  FloorFin touches up very easily.  I've learned that planning ahead for maintenance is an important part of any project, as on a boat, something you fix doesn't seem to stay fixed forever.

I used a heat gun to strip the old finish off one small region of the cabin sole - the area underneath the nav table.
Starting to strip the old finish - a bare patch on the upper level has been scraped out.
After taping and sanding, I applied three coats of FloorFin.

Old finish on left, new on right.

The grain of the wood is much more clear now, the wood looks much richer.  I haven't yet continued the project from this initial test, but after I get through the work I'm going to be happy with the result.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Numbers on my first year cruising

[Added an update toward the end: Oct 13/2012]

I've been trying to think how I can summarize my first year away sailing here and there and have been having a hard time.  "It was awesome!"  "It was a good time!"  "It was engaging and interesting!"  The year was a mixture of all of those but they don't really capture the essence of the year.  So rather than wait for inspiration to hit, as it hasn't so far, I thought I would post a bunch of numbers on the year and call that good so I can move along to blog posts about projects.  If you really want to know what a year of cruising is like...I encourage you to get out there and try it!

My first year:

It started on Sept 1st, 2011 and finished on August 14th, 2012 when I pulled into my current slip in Shilshole Marina, Seattle.  That was 349 days out.  Not quite a year.

I spent every single night on the boat during that time.

The important sailing dates are:
  • Sept 1st, 2011, left Seattle
  • Sept 5th, 2011, left Neah Bay heading south
  • Sept 15th, 2011, arrived in Drakes Bay (just north of San Francisco)
  • December 4th, 2011, entered Mexico
  • March 13th, 2012, left Mexico for Hawaii
  • April 1st, 2012, arrived in Hilo, Hawaii
  • July 14th, 2012, left Hawaii for Neah Bay
  • August 4th, 2012, arrived in Neah Bay
  • August 14th, 2012, arrived back in Seattle

During that time, I stopped 55 different times.  For 43 of those stops I was anchoring, for 8 I was entering a marina and for the remaining 4 I was on a mooring.

I spent 153 days at anchor, 83 days in a marina and 41 days on a mooring.  My longest stay at anchor was 20 days, in Hanalei Bay, Kaua'i, Hawaii.  My second longest stay at anchor was 16 days in Kane'ohe, O'ahu, Hawaii.  Of my 8 marina visits, my longest was 25 days in San Diego.  The next longest marina stay was 18 days in Costa Baja just outside La Paz, Mexico.  As for moorings, I spent 21 days on a mooring at Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii and 13 days on a mooring in Avalon in the Channel Islands.

One of the books I read before leaving talked about how cruisers spend up to 90% of their time at anchor (or in a marina, or moored - 90% not moving.)  When I read that I thought I would beat it by far, that I would be moving around all the time.  It turns out I was stopped for 277 days of my 349 which means I was stopped 80% of the time.  I could probably reduce that a little next time, but maybe not.  The point of the article was that when outfitting your boat not to forget comfort as you'll be spending a lot of time not sailing, just hanging out in your floating home.

Of all my days at anchor, at the time, I think I dragged anchor three times.  Now that I've been diving on my anchor and have learned more about how the rode swings as well as understanding my anchor alarm better (and its GPS antenna placement) I think one or maybe two of those times was a false call.

I moved where I was anchored due to another boat entering the anchorage after I had arrived and getting too close to me three times.  Its true that you can ask the other boat to move in this situation but: once was a single hander who fell asleep almost immediately after arriving; once was a boat I saw when I returned from a trip ashore and when I got back I felt immediately uncomfortable and I moved right away as that was faster (I came within 40' of the other boat as I raised anchor and moved); and the last time I forget the details but its often just easier to move myself.

I spent 60 days on passages, sailing.  11 after leaving Neah bay, 9 after leaving Ensenada, 19 after leaving Mexico and 21 after leaving Hawaii.  I sailed at night 63 nights.  The night sailing was the passage nights as well as 7 other single nights when moving along the various coasts.

I spent 1.5 days hove to in a gale.

The highest winds I experienced while away was roughly 37 knots (off the Oregon coast.)

I had the spinnaker up only three times.  There were days with light wind when I felt the sea state was too active for my to put the spinnaker up (such as when the wind falls off quickly after having been blowing strongly for a while, the waves take a while to fall off.)  I spent a lot of time with a single reef in my main, but have no numbers on this as I didn't log sail reefing all the time.  (I have since adopted a notation I use in my logbook to record the sail plan.)

I refilled my propane tank three times (San Diego, La Paz and Kane'ohe Hawaii.)  My main 20lb propane tank never ran out of propane on the trip, so for the entire year I have had my 10lb tank in reserve.

I ran the engine once during the year to charge my batteries, and that time only for one hour but bringing the charge from -152Ah to -96Ah.  This was off the coast of Mexico heading to Cabo San Lucas where it was cloudy for days on end with light wind.  It was also cloudy off the Washington and Oregon coasts, but it was windy enough that my wind generator contributed enough to keep the batteries charge high enough to not worry about.

I bought 135 gallons of diesel during the year.

I traveled something like 8000 nautical miles over the last year.

I kept rough track of the money I spent, without spending too much time on categories or detailing every purchase.  I don't know how much I spent on food for example as I would withdraw a wad of cash from an ATM every now and then and spend it on equipment, food, moorings, and whatnot until it ran out when I would go for a refill.  I spent $35,000 over the year.  My most expensive month was almost $7,000 dollars last November when I was in San Diego where I was in a marina for almost a month and I bought a bunch of equipment (such as a sextant, some machined parts, etc.)  The following month I spent around $900, as I had lockers bulging with food that I could live off for a while.  I kept my iPhone all year which I probably won't do next time.  I have private health insurance, storage lockers here in Seattle, an EarthClass mail account - my fixed monthly costs are around $700 (medical, iPhone, EarthClass, storage.)

I think I could live cheaper the next time I go out cruising.  However I may not want to.  I didn't rent any cars last year and therefore missed many sights on land that I couldn't get to easily.  I will probably spend less money on boat equipment the next time as I will probably leave Seattle next year with pretty much everything I could want on this boat.  As equipment ages I'll have to start worrying about maintenance.

A bit about the blog.  I've had almost 28,000 page views on the blog.  The most popular posts on my blog are:

  1. The post about the portlight replacement with 650 views
  2. The post detailing my first real list of outfitting on the boat with 125 views
  3. A post where I talk about sailing to and from Port Ludlow
  4. My first post where I talk about how I got here

If anybody can think of some number about the year I didn't mention, let me know what is missing and I'll see if I can find it and add it to the list above.

Anyway, like I was saying.  My first cruising year was awesome.  Really really fun.  You should try it.

Update Oct 13, 2012.

I had a request for some more data.  The first request was for the average speeds.  I calculated this data for my two offshore passages, the one from Mexico to Hawaii and then from Hawaii to Neah Bay.  I've used my daily runs for this calculation, which is simply the distance traveled over 24  hours from one point to another.  This is the distance in a straight line between two points which is not at all how I sailed.  This means all of these numbers are biased toward being conservative, the actual numbers would be greater by some unknown factor.

So from the table, my fastest day heading to Hawaii was 6.7 knots, average 5.5.  Fastest day heading to Neah Bay was 7.1, average 5.7.  The hull speed of a PSC 37 is 7.2 knots, so having an average of 7.1 is pretty speedy, that was a fast day!  I was very happy with the way Luckness performed on all of the passages and while coastal cruising.  She moves well in light air and handles stronger winds and swell gracefully.  Some of my favorite sailing times were while I was marveling at how I was moving along slowly in very light wind.

I was also asked about my most useful and least useful pieces of equipment.  This is a harder question to answer, although I have been asked it several times now.  My least useful piece of equipment may be the Interphase forward looking sonar I had installed, but that might start being useful when I get to the South Pacific so I'm not taking it out now.  I have many pieces of equipment which I consider most useful.  An offshore cruising boat is a large system, in order for the boat to work well offshore all of the related pieces of equipment need to work well together.  I love my new dodger (made by Iversons) but I wouldn't say that was more useful than my new Hasse sails.  My watermaker was very useful during  my trip, but its hard to compare its usefulness to my SSB, solar panels, wind generator or AIS.  I'm going to largely punt on this question for now...

Under the category of frequent repairs I would put general upkeep such as varnishing, waxing and polishing.  I renewed the varnish on my boat twice while away and once more when I got back to Seattle.  Its just something you need to do every now and then, hopefully before the existing varnish fails so that adding a new coat is easy.  I waxed the boat in California but not again until I got back and it showed.  When it came to wax the hull again I had to compound to remove some oxidization which was unfortunate (as its more work and hard on the gel coat.)  I was surprised how often I had to remove the rust from the stainless steel.  As the boat was in Seattle for a few year, the stainless needed very little attention.  However once you get away from a dock (where you can wash the salt water off the boat after having been out) and away from the rain all of the stainless steel just starts to rust slowly.  I bought a bottle of Bright Boy metal polish and would occasionally go around and remove the rust and polish the metal.  This was also a good opportunity to inspect all the metal for fatigue or anything unusual (which was a tip Dave M. of Swan passed along.)

The other frequent repair I had was to my head.  Before I left I rebuilt my Grocko K head and replaced all of the hose.  I didn't rebuilt the Grocko properly and ended up doing it two more times during my trip before I got it right.  This was good practice in a way...  When I first rebuilt the head in Seattle I modified a panel slightly to make maintenance easier in the future.  This proved very useful as I could then work on the head easily while at anchor.  I like the Grocko K and think after my last rebuild it should be good for a while.  Unfortunately while I was in Hawaii before leaving on my passage, while I was moving the Y-valve in the head to send the black water offshore rather than into my holding tank I broke the Y-valve handle off.  So I need to replace that valve (with something stronger) and will probably end up replacing all the hose attached to it as getting the host off the fittings will involve cutting it off rather than pulling it off.  Oh well.