Monday, June 24, 2013

Working through a list...

Remember that one of the reasons I keep this blog is as a record of the things I've seen and done.  Well, for the last little while, I've been working on boat projects and this post is all about things that I've done:
  • Updated my safety equipment.  Renewed the fire extinguisher inspection certificates and bought new flares and smoke
  • Replaced foam in two Settee cushions.  Two of my cushions get the most use and had lost the spring to their foam.  I found a store to replace the foam and liner.  They did a nice job
  • Built a new rope boarding ladder.  I was using a plastic boarding ladder on my last cruise and wasn't really happy with hit.  It would bang against the hull and looked a little tacky.  I built a new rope boarding boarding ladder.  It looks better but still needs to be tested
  • Installed a forward water tank gauge (SCAD solo tank monitor).  On my passage to Hawaii I arrived with a nearly empty water tank due to what I believe was a siphon effect sucking water out of the tank via the air vent.  Once underway, I couldn't inspect the water level in the tank due to equipment being stowed above it.  With the monitor I can always see the water level now.  The install went smoothly
  • Installed my 35lb CQR anchor on the bow.  During my last cruise I was only carrying two anchors - my Rocna 20 (44lb) and a stern anchor.  Luckness came with a CQR 35 and I thought it would be a good idea to bring it along next time, and so I mounted it on my bow with some amsteel lashings holding it in place.  After a few weeks of looking at it I didn't like it up there
  • Bought a new anchor - a Rocna 25 (55lbs).  Rocna has a sizing guide they use with their anchors.  They have a conservative rational with their sizing guide, and for Luckness, the Rocna 20 was entirely sufficient.  Luckness is 37' long and roughly 19,000 lbs.  The Rocna 25 is oversized.  I don't know where I'll end up this time when I leave, but having an extra beefy anchor shouldn't hurt.
    My old Rocna 20 and new Rocna 25
  • Galvanized my chain (300', 40' and 2 8' lengths) and my old Rocna 20.  My chain was starting to show signs of rust in places, as was my Rocna 20.  They both could have gone longer without being regalvanized, but as it is so easy to do here, I had it done.  There are two shops close by that do galvanizing and at least one further away - lots of choice.  Also I have a car now - later in this cruise doing a project like this will be more difficult
  • Stowed my old Rocna 20 in my lazarette.  Once I bought my Rocna 25 and found that it did actually fit on my bow, I wanted to find a way to keep my Rocna 20 as a backup.  I don't expect to ever need to use both Rocna's at once, as my primary anchor is also my storm anchor.  However I need to have a secondary that I can use if I abandon or lose my primary.  My Rocna 20 is a perfect secondary anchor as its strong enough to be used as a primary.  I wasn't happy with the CQR 35 as a secondary as its not an anchor I would trust in all conditions - and I want to be able to depend on my anchors.  I was hoping I could find somewhere to stow the Rocna 20, and found that it stows perfectly at the bottom of my lazarette.  I also installed two pad eyes that I use to lash the anchor in place
  • Marked my chain in 20' increments.  I used different color zip-ties for this.  However the trick I learned is to not attach the zip-tie around the outside of the link, but rather between two adjacent links.  Zip-ties on the outside of a link get stripped off by the windlass gypsy
  • Spliced my 40' chain back onto the 300' nylon 8-strand rode, marked the rode in 20' increments and re-stowed in aft anchor locker to be used with stern anchor
  • Bought a new 40' length of chain.  Spliced it to 300' of nylon 8-strand rode, marked in 20' increments and stowed with the backup Rocna in lazarette
  • Re-installed the Tack Tick wind instrument.  Last fall I obtained a replacement Tack Tick wind instrument and when re-installing it I stripped one of the bolt holes at the top of the mast.  This is now fixed and the mount is secure again
  • Jib and main halyard.  While up the mast I was inspecting things and discovered my jib halyard had bad chafe where it move around the halyard restrainer on the mast.  I already had an item on my list to have chafe cover added to my main halyard where it goes up and over the sheaves.  I added the jib halyard to this.  Luke who is working with Terry at Yacht Fitters did this for me.  Luke is the new rigger at Yacht Fitters and is doing really fine work with lines.  We used a core dependent line for both halyards.  Luke spliced in six feet of chafe guard to the ends of the halyards, and the work is excellent - far beyond what I could have done myself.  Far far beyond. I was there watching him perform both splices and he went really slow for the first one explaining it all to me and I still can't do it myself.  The core dependent eye splice he uses is one he used with the Americas Cup fleet in New Zealand where he spent a year as their rigger - its not the one Samson explain in their literature - and Luke's is a much nicer splice.
  • Two new genoa sheets.  While on my last cruise I found that my sheets were about six feet two short on each side for what I needed.  I want to be able to have the pole deployed, and then before jibing the boat, release the active sheet from the poles jaws, swap the pole to the opposite side and set it all up.  This means the sheet needs to be long enough to be out on one side of the boat, and then cross to the other side out to the poles jaws and from there back to the cockpit.  It wasn't quite long enough - now it is.  I have also changed how I attach the sheets to the clew of my genoa - I no longer use a cow hitch.  I found the cow hitch would slide when under load making one side of the sheet longer than the other.  I also didn't like the fact that if the cow hitch failed I could potentially lose the genoa.  With the new arrangement, I've spliced thimbles into the new sheets, sized them into place with seine twine, and then I have a lashing of 1/4" amsteel between the thimble and the clew.  I believe Chris Tutmark is doing this (although without the thimble.)  I'm hoping this will let the clew move cleanly across my shrouds and inner forestay - I'll try it out anyway.  I could always cut the fancy bits off and use a bowline if needed.  I spliced the thimble in myself - which I did after practicing by doing 7 splices in some 7/16ths double braid I had laying around.  I finally understand how a non-core dependent double braid splice works.  Need to figure out core dependent still...
    My new sheet splice, thimble and seizing.  Lash with amsteel to genoa clew
  • Re-installed the sound deadening in the engine compartment.  Years ago I installed new sound deadening material.  It came in 1' by 1' squares with a strong adhesive backing.  The adhesive was not sticking in several areas, such as the deadening on the 'roof' of the engine compartment, around where the steering cables turn and wrap around the quadrant.  When I got back from my last trip I found the steering was getting heavier than usual and after inspecting the engine compartment found several of the tiles were hanging down and interfering with the steering.  Its all now mounted mechanically and is rock solid.  There are a few more gaps however...the sound deadening is safely mounted but as far as engine noise goes, its not the best work.  Doing a good job in deadening the sound may require a re-install of many systems in that compartment and that isn't going to happen.
  • Autopilot modification.  More on this later.
  • Replaced propane switch and solenoid.  There were a number of times on my last cruise when the propane switch circuit breaker was tripping.  This was continuing to happen while I've been at the dock here.  I've now replaced the electrical side of the propane system and I have spares for the solenoid and its fittings.
  • Painted knot meter with anti-fouling paint.  The knot meter fouls up like anything else that's under water.  I've pained it with anti-fouling paint, hoping to slow this down.  Also, taking it out of the water and installing the plug in its place helps!
  • Screwed in bottom edge of bag in lazarette that holds my companionway boards.  At sea on a port tack I finally tracked down an annoying bang-bang-bang noise to the bag and its contents.  I'm hoping it goes away now - will find out on my next passage
  • Performed maintenance on my pedestal.  This started with my throttle cable being difficult to move.  I ended up taking the pedestal apart and performing the maintenance it needed.  At this time I also tried to remove the wheel from its axel and found it was frozen in place by rust.  I ended up buying a gear puller to get it off.  To use the gear puller I needed to cut the monitor hub off the wheel to make space.  One thing leads to another, and a short project ended up consuming four days.  I'm glad I don't pay myself by the hour.
  • Made gaskets for the cockpit lockers.  More on this later.
  • Installed new AIS transceiver and antenna splitter, rewired NMEA network.  I'm now on my third Vesper Marine WatchMate.  I started with the 650, their first unit.  I later upgraded to the 670 which adds anchor watch.  I now have the 850 which adds the AIS transceiver.  Other than transmitting AIS and having a built in GPS, the 850 is pretty much the same as the 670 that I had before - which is good, as I really liked my old unit
  • Bought a better 12volt plug/socket for my WatchCommander.  While underway last cruise I found that the power plug I was using between a boat socket and the WatchCommander was becoming intermittent - I needed to wiggle it to get steady power.  This is one device I really want to be able to depend on - its the timer that gets me up every 20 minutes, which is annoying, but is something I want to do.  I bought a military/aircraft grade plug from Connector World here in Seattle as my new socket/plug pair.  The quality is much improved.  Although at $75 for two plugs and one socket they should be better!  Its part numbers MS3102E12S-3S for the socket and MS3106F12S-3P for the plug.
  • Bought a second (spare) WatchCommander.  The spare has the new plug installed as well, ready to go.
  • Made a mount for the American flag.  While on my last cruise I didn't have a good place to raise my american flag.  I used to raise it on my starboard spreader halyard, above the flag of the country I was in.  This turns out to be not the proper way to do it.  I'm trying to avoid casting shadows on my solar panels which are mounted on my stern rails.  The new flag mount is on the back of my radar/wind-generator pole.  I'll see how it works there
  • Got a ham radio license.  I'm now an amateur, my call sign is KG7 BYA.  On my last trip I could only listen in to the ham radio nets such as the Pacific Seafarers net but I couldn't participate.  Now I can
  • Installed my KISS SSB counter-poise.  I wanted to change my counter-poise from the dynaplate I have installed to the KISS as I think it may be more reliable longer term.  The copper foil from the antenna tuner to the dynaplate was starting to corrode even in the short time it has been installed - you get salt water back there...   I have no real experience with the KISS yet.  I did buy a SWR meter and measured the SWR before and after the install.  It looks roughly equivalent to the dyna-plate, better in some frequencies and fractionally worse in others.  The highest SWR I measured was 1.4, which is good.
  • Inspected my SSB installation.  I understand a little more about ham radios these days and wanted to understand my entire ham radio installation - so I took it all apart and pieced it back together.  I completed what I had started earlier by cutting the grounding foil between the SSB ground and the keel bolt.  All of the old copper ribbon is gone now.  Removing the copper foil wasn't easy.  I can't imagine the pain Justin went through installing it all, it was heroic work.  I found the antenna feed wire was zip-tied to some other cables and from there lead to the antenna - I modified this by drilling a new hole and lead the GTO-15 feed wire more directly where it needed to go and away from the other cables.  A little more on the SSB below
  • Bought a spare small winch handle to complete my winch handle spares (I already had a spare larger handle)
  • Re-stowed my 600' of 3/8" float line from off the spool it was on into two mesh bags with 300' each.  This is much easier to stow.  We'll see how easy it is to deploy and retrieve this way...but this line still hasn't been used
  • Bought line to be used as an anchor retrieval line.  I wanted to be able to attach a line to my anchor when anchoring in an area there is a danger of it becoming fouled and being difficult to retrieve.  The technique I'll try for this is, when I want the trip line attached, to attach the line to the anchor and then lower the anchor and line until there is maybe 1 1/2 times the water depth lowered and then tie the line to the chain.  When retrieving the anchor I'll then bring the trip line up with the chain, untie and secure it, and then if the anchor is fouled be able to pull on the line.  I think I prefer this to using a buoy for the trip line.  I'll try it out and see how I like this approach.
  • Installed two new gimbal pivots in my stove (more later)
  • Greased my max-prop.  My diver was unavailable, so I dove on the boat myself and greased the prop.  The water here is chilly - but with three layers of neoprene it was just fine.  Immediately after diving into the water, I lost the zerc riser that you need to attach the grease gun to the max-prop.  Luckily I had a spare.  I've since gone online and ordered a few more from PYI 
The list is dwindling, although by no means empty yet.  I still have to install my new fridge.  My stern water tank needs to be opened up, stripped and re-finished.  I had applied a two part epoxy to my stern tank before leaving last time, after fixing a leak in the tank.  The epoxy has delaminated from where the patch was made and I need to return the tank to serviceable condition.  I have a new furler which will be installed soon.  I'd like to haul the boat and add a new coat of bottom paint before leaving.  Those are the big remaining projects, then a bunch of smaller ones.  It will feel good to get the fridge and stern water tank done, those have the greatest unknowns, and potential to take a long time I think.

A little more info on the SSB audit as its somewhat illustrative of how these projects work.  Imagine this one detail multiplied many times over to get a sense of the number of decisions you get to make when doing this work.  

There is one piece of the SSB project where the antenna feed line which leads out of the antenna tuner needs to be attached to the backstay.  The antenna feed is GTO-15, which is the standard for that application.  Attaching the antenna feed to the backstay has a number of choices.  The categories to choose from are:

How to attach GTO-15 wire to backstay?
  • with a cable clamp (or two)
  • with a bronze split bolt
  • seizing it with monel wire
Where to attach the wire?
  • to the backstay directly
  • to the swedge
How does wire approach the backstay and attach?
  • wire leads directly from below up to the backstay
  • wire leads from below, up in a loop to connect to the backstay heading back down
How to finish the connection?
  • cover connection with riggers tape, try to make the connection waterproof
  • lightly cover the connection, but allow any water that enters to dry out
  • don't cover the connection at all
What shape is the wire in when it attaches to the backstay?
  • simply twist the strands of the wire together and attach
  • solder the strands of the wire together
  • loop the wire back on itself and solder all together
Basically, to finish this step you need to choose one of the options from each of the categories.  It seems like all possible combinations have someone who is supporting it.  Someone claims that attaching to the swedge give a better surface contact.  Someone else claims that is bogus.  Having the wire run straight up to the backstay (with no loop) means drips flow out and away from the connection.  Others claim this means water drips down inside the GTO-15 corroding it from the inside.  Forming a loop and attaching from above means the feed line stays dry inside and can be shortened in the future to reattach.  Some claim there is no way to create a waterproof connection as water will wick down the backstay inside the wire strands - so you might as well leave the connection open.  Others want to wrap it up to keep it out of the elements.  If you're not careful you can spend hours going back and forth between the different options.

I don't claim that my choices are the best...but I need to make some choices in order to make progress.  So I ended up with: a bronze split bolt; attached to the backstay; with the wire forming a loop and attaching from above; not covered at all; and with the wire looped back on itself twice and soldered together.  In addition I added liquid tape to the feedline attachment at the backstay with heatshrink around it - trying to keep the elements out of the GTO-15.  Time will tell how well these choices work out...

The feedline
The feedline is clamped in a split bolt

Feedline, heatshrink and liquid tape leading down into split bolt.
A few wraps of tape to secure the nut are still to come.

If you don't own a boat yet and are thinking of buying one, and then heading offshore.  Look at how much fun you can have working on various projects before going!  Last time before I left I also worked like a crazy man on projects - but once I left I didn't have that much work to do - there were many months of just enjoying myself.  I'm hoping the same will be true again this time.

One way I was thinking of my previous year out cruising was as a long sea-trial.  I came back with some things I wanted to adjust to make cruising life a little safer and easier.  Looking at Luckness now, I'm pretty happy with her progress.  There are lots and lots of improvements.  I could have not done a lot of these things, as I spent a year out cruising and it was successful.  But having an extra anchor aboard with its own rode ready to deploy is pretty nice.  The new sink is nice.  An AIS transceiver will be useful.  Doing pre-maintenance to my HF radio install was probably time well spent.  The chafe guards on my halyards is going to bring peace of mind and longer lasting halyards.  I could have been out sailing more and have done less on the boat...but I'll be getting out plenty as the year progresses and I think I'll be happy with the things I've done.

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