Friday, September 27, 2013

Transient in Coos Bay

I left Neah Bay knowing the weather window I had to travel south comfortably (which is a relative term at sea) was short.  I thought there might be a possibility that I could have rounded Cape Mendocina and gotten far enough south of it to avoid the worst of the weather that is approaching, but that didn't happen.  So what happened was...

The forecast strong south winds arrived in Neah Bay as expected on Sunday the 22nd.  The winds had past by mid afternoon and the rest of the day was nice.  It was forecast as a strong but fast moving system.  Any strong low on the ocean stirs up the seas and so leaving on monday I expected to the seas to be pretty active, and they definitely were.  This was probably the worst seas I left port into so far.  It wasn't serious, but after being on land for a while its nice to have a gentler introduction to the seas again.  After four or so hours I started to get hot and burpy, both signs of sea sickness approaching.  I ate some Trader Joe's candied ginger and shortly afterwards had a large dinner (of Dinty Moore stew and a baked potato added) and everything was just fine.  So far my not-being-seasick run is unbroken which continues to surprise me.

I left Neah Bay and pretty much motored for 24 hours.  There was some nice wind generated by a few rain cells which passed and I sailed a few of those.

By Tuesday at 3pm some W to NW wind had filled in and I was able to start sailing.  On a beam to broad reach I was able to head directly south, which was perfect.  This trip was going to be all about making my way south as fast as possible.  It was all about VMG (velocity made good, a sailor term for those landlubbers among you) south, not just boat speed.  By the evening, long enough after sunset that it was dark, the wind veered north which put my heading more SW than purely south, and I started losing VMG but had picked up boat speed.  The extra speed was satisfying, but as I wasn't heading as directly south anymore the extra speed wasn't useful for my goal.  I jibed a few times that night to keep my distance offshore between 20 and 40 miles.  When daylight arrived I poled out the genoa and was able to head directly south again.  The boat slowed a little as it does when heading almost directly downwind, but my VMG improved, so it was good.

By noon or so on wednesday the wind backed and slowed which put me heading more toward shore than I wanted to be for what I thought was my plan over the next few days.  I dragged the genoa back onto the port side and was on a starboard beam reach making good speed south again.

During this time I had been downloading weather updates via my SSB/Pactor/Sailmail.  The next low was forecast to arrive saturday and sunday and it looked like I didn't want to be in it.  A south gale is forecast with winds up to 35 gusting to 45.  A south bound current of up to a knot meeting gale strength south winds with a NW swell thrown in sounded like a mix I didn't want to experience.  I thought that if I could round Cape Mendocina by early or mid friday and be 20 or 40 miles south then I could stay out and would miss most of the bad weather that was fast approaching.

Thursday evening I had good wind and good VMG south with my plan still on.  By early morning the wind started to fall, but not yet enough where motoring would make a big difference.  By mid morning I started to motor and I saw my opportunity to avoid the weather disappear.

All along, I was thinking of Coos Bay as my fallback plan.  Coos Bay is a: "harbor of refuge, and can be entered at any time except in extreme weather...  It is one of the most important harbors between San Francisco and the Columbia River."  Coos Bay was 44 miles away and it was time for a decision.

A lot of things had to go exactly right for me to make my goal of being south far enough for me to be comfortable about avoiding most of the weather.  If the speed of the approaching gale changed, the winds altered sooner to more southerly which slowed down my speed heading south, or this or that, then I would be out in weather which could have been uncomfortable and which I could have avoided.

I decided to motor directly toward Coos Bay as the winds were down to around 4 knots.  As I approached I called the Coast Guard to ask for a bar report.  All of the harbors along the Washington/Oregon coast have bars across their entrances.  The bars can be exciting when there is swell arriving - you end up with large waves in the entrances which can play havoc with our boats and hence our ego's.  This was my first bar crossing.  I misheard the bar report and heard that the Coos Bay bar was closed to recreational boats less than 220 feet.  When I heard this I thought: crap!  That's serious swell arriving to be closed for boats that large.  I started heading south again going through the scenario of being out in the gale.  I later heard the hourly report on the Coos Bay bar and heard that it was closed to recreational vessels 20 feet or less.  So I changed direction and headed toward it.  As I was heading there I was stressing a little about the crossing - until I realized the bar report was being broadcast at around peak ebb for Coos Bay - so you have an ebb current leaving the bay meeting the arriving swell and there were breakers all up the channel.  I was planning to arrive early in the flood tide and expected the bar to be open to all vessels when I arrived.  It was!  Crossing the bar was completely uneventful.  There were "wrap around breakers on the north jetty" but the channel is wide enough to easily avoid those.

I motored over to the fuel dock where I bought 17 gallons (10 to replace the fuel I had added from my gerry jugs and 7 into the tank.)  I then moved over to the transient dock where I am now and where I expect to be at least until monday, possibly longer.

So far I've ended up motoring for 35 hours and have burned around 18 gallons (after refueling I realized the fuel I put into the tank was probably a gallon or two short of being completely full.)  This puts my burn rate at around 0.5 gallons/hour.  I was surprised by this.  I had in my mind that I burned 0.8 gallons per hour.  During my last cruise I was motoring at around 2200 rpm and as I kept speaking to cruisers I realized that most of them cruised at a lower rpm - so I've slowed to 1800 now and make just over 5 knots in flat water, less in seas, but its an efficient speed.  After slowing I never established a new baseline for fuel consumption.  0.5 gallons/hour rocks.

One thing broke and I noticed a number of things I want to now change.  I started finding ball bearings on deck after being out for a couple days.  I immediately assumed this was my new furler with some sort of problem, and went through all sorts of disaster scenarios of losing my furler.  But after walking the decks for a while I noticed my main sheet turning block at my mast organizer had blown - it was missing its ball bearings.  The block still turns and won't break apart, but I'll go through the spares I have on board and replace it in Coos Bay.

The amsteel lines I have on my Monitor have now been adjusted.  When I did this work a while ago I put knots in the ends of the control lines where they meet the wheel hub lines.  Amsteel is incredibly slippery and the knots were slipping with my ending up with a shorter and shorter lashing between them in order to keep tension on the lines.  I've now spliced eyes into the lines and have a separate lashing line connecting them which is cow-hitched to the control line and lashed between it and the hub line.  This setup shouldn't slip as the eye's all have brummel's which lock.

A lot of things worked really well and boat boat continues be very satisfying out on the open ocean.  It felt really good to be out there again.

Coos Bay doesn't appear to have to have a lot, but the folks are friendly.  The transient dock is used by people who catch crab, a lot of locals and visitors throw their pots in.  A lot of them have stopped by for a chat and I've been talking with a bunch of them as I walk the docks, its nice.  One couple visiting from the interior, Greg and Angela, asked a bunch of questions about my trip, single handing, plans and so on.  Angela later dropped off some salsa she had made along with a number of tomato's from her garden.  You meet the nicest people when out cruising!  I can see a cruise in their future :-)

Angela and I in Coos Bay

Last time heading down the coast I had a much different experience.  There was a strong well established high pressure system off the coast and I could take my time heading south and sailed the whole way.  I was becalmed for a while, hove-to in a gale for a while, went far offshore and generally had a good time for my first ocean passage.  This trip is much different, if feels like its going to be scrappier, with my making my way south in the opportunities which arise with the option of always heading back into harbor if the weather suggests that would be a good idea.

I've found that being offshore 40 miles or so is pretty comfortable.  Its far enough to avoid most of the traffic, and now that I transmit AIS the other boats seem to avoid me - or perhaps its coincidence that all my passings have been so distant.

I've been here thinking a little bit about "what if I had been out in that gale."  I continue to think it wouldn't have been a risky move.  Uncomfortable yes, risky no.  Luckness heaves to well, and I could have easily hove to during the worst of the gale, or fore reached with my trysail, run with bare poles or deployed my drogue (in order of increasing seriousness.)  So I never felt like I would be at risk, but being at dock for a few days is no hardship either.

One of the boats I met in Neah Bay, Juguete with Peter, his brother and a friend aboard pulled into Coos Bay this morning, so I'll have some buddies to hang out with.

The low that's coming.  This forecast is for sunday at 5am PST.
"California here I come!" just a little later than I was hoping.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Heading to California: day 1

Date: Sept 24, 2013
47deg 06.4' N, 125 16.5W
Wind Speed: 4 / wind dir: South, Heading: South, Speed: 5.4, Motoring, Sail Plan: M1S
Barometer: 1012, Water Temp: 61.7
Disance since rounding Tatoosh: 82nm

I decided to leave Neah Bay yesterday and was underway by 3:45pm. The wind has not cooperated and I have been under motor all by three hours this afternoon when a rain cell was passing and generated some stronger winds. I'm about to download weather information and will make my plans based on what I see over the next few days.

The first night was choppy as I expected leaving so soon after the last system passed. The ocean is finally starting to settle down and the motion is becoming much nicer now. Still waiting for wind to arrive.

Everything is well here. Its actually relatively warm out here today.

Bye for now.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Anchored in Neah Bay

The last few weeks have been pretty busy, but everything has worked out and I've now left Seattle and am presently anchored in Neah Bay waiting for a weather window.

The last few projects went well.  I was on the hard at Canal Boatyard for 7 days refreshing the bottom paint of the boat.  Without getting into a lot of detail, I used SeaHawk Cutoke Biocide plus and put three coats on all over, using three gallons of paint.  The paint is $285/gallon.  For those of you thinking of repainting a room with a nice latex paint, enjoy your paint prices.  Canal boatyard is a great place to haul out, I recommend it.  (Going through the locks isn't that bad...)  

I splashed the boat on Monday the 16th and moved back into my slip at Shilshole.  I sold my car on Tuesday and made my way back to the boat to add the sea going equipment such as jack lines, fuel jugs, hanked on the staysail, mounted the trysail to the mast base and generally walked around looking for anything that looked wrong.

I left Seattle Wednesday the 18th at 5am to catch the morning tide.  There were light winds all day, and I ended up motoring all the way to Port Townsend where I met with the good folks at the Hasse sail loft as well as the now famous Jim and Karen of Sockdolager, who I hadn't seen since we both left Mexico for our different destinations (South Pacific for Sockdolager, Hawaii for Luckness.)

Looking back at sunrise down Puget Sound after leaving Port Townsend
I left Port Townsend early again to arrive at anchor in Port Angeles by 11am, again riding the favorable current the whole way.  In Port Angles I decided to test my SSB radio setup again and found a problem.  I last tested the radio a month or so ago.  After that test, Parallels came out with a new version of their product which I downloaded.  Parallels is what I use to run Windows on my MacBook, which is needed to run Sailmail which in turn controls my SSB.  The update promised generally faster, better along with more efficient battery use - but I foolishly did not test the radio setup again afterwards.  It no longer worked.  So after a few colorful words and holding my head in my hands, I headed into Port Angeles to buy a new Windows laptop.  There is a Radio Shack in town and I picked one up for $350.  It feels cheap and runs Windows 8, which is a little annoying, but I installed Sailmail on it in the store, got back to the boat and the radio is working again.  I'll try to get the Mac controlling the radio again in California.

After getting that sorted out, I left on Friday for Neah Bay.  There is a current station just off shore at Neah Bay and it showed a 0.5 flood tide starting around an hour before I expected to arrive, as the winds were again light.  Motoring the whole way was uneventful and I arrived fighting a 3 knot flood for the final few miles, making 3 knots toward my destination.  The current forecast may have been accurate for the station it represented, but closer to shore the current had increased - which is not surprising in hindsight.  After arriving, I added fuel to the tank, refueled my jugs and generally got the boat ship shape.  

I arrived in Neah Bay expecting to have a wait for weather.  There was a gale forecast to be arriving on Sunday (today as I write this) and I would definitely not want to leave facing 25 to 35 knot south winds.

With the dingy being in the water I headed over to a sailing catamaran in the harbor to talk to them.  They are also heading south and were planning after leaving Victoria to head straight to San Diego.  They holed up in Neah Bay waiting for this system to pass as well.  After speaking with them for a while I headed to shore again and walked over to the marina where I found two more sailboats.  Both of them are also heading south and are here waiting for a weather window.  We talked weather for a while, then I got a little involved with trying to figure out why one of the boats SSBs is not working (high SWR, can not connect.)

Before going to shore I used my wi-fi amplifier to connect to the marina free wi-fi and downloaded some weather information and grib files.  The grib files were showing the gale arriving on Sunday followed by generally light wind gradually increasing from the north and then dwindling again when a second larger system would arrive with strong south winds.  So on Saturday it looked like the weather window would open on monday evening or tuesday and then close again friday evening.  That's a pretty short window.

I passed along the information about the second system to the boats I met and we talked through some options.  We all feel like we are rather late in this season and don't want to miss opportunities to make some progress south.  But I do not want to be at sea facing 35+ knots from the south.

After downloading weather again this morning, Sunday, the second system forecast has changed dramatically.  Looking 8 days out on a weather forecast is prone to having large errors.  The current forecast is showing generally light and slightly variable conditions after tuesday as far as the forecast goes now.  The winds south appear to be forecast for stronger but from the north which is ideal.

I do not need to commit to the leave/stay decision until I actually leave.  The town has a good grocery store, pizza and staying here is comfortable.  When the conditions look favorable, I'll leave.  When that happens, I'll update the blog to let you all know.

After leaving Neah Bay I won't be committing to a destination.  I'll be heading south of course, but am not sure where my first stop will be, or how many stops I'll be making along the way.  I'm late in leaving this time, so will likely make my way south faster than the last time I did this trip.

Everything is well here.  I'm pretty excited to be underway again.  Its been a hard slog these last few months.  i seem to have started and completed more boat projects than I expected and am pretty happy to stop working on the boat for a while and start enjoying the cruising life again.

Warm waters, here I come!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Thoughts on my auto pilot

Ok, there may be a few more boat project posts before I depart...

I did a little work modifying my autopilot a few months ago but was hesitant to post details.  I've basically violated its warranty and made it a little weaker in order to achieve a tighter turning radius for the boat.  This was a tradeoff that I wasn't even aware I was making back when I had the autopilot installed.

A little background.  If you're considering buying an autopilot for your wheel steered boat (tillers are a whole different thing), you should be aware that Raymarine, Simrad and possibly other manufacturers, limit the angle the rudder is able to deflect to each side to around 35 degrees.  In talking with the Raymarine folks, they felt that if the rudder deflected much more than 35 degrees that the forces that could be imposed on the rudder could overwhelm the autopilot and reduce its lifespan.  So, they require that when you install the autopilot on the boat that you restrict the maximum rudder deflection to each side to 35 degrees.

I believe my Pacific Seacraft originally had a 55 degree maximum rudder deflection - so when the autopilot was added, I lost 20 degrees of rudder travel to each side.  This is almost a 40% loss of rudder deflection.  This means that the turns I used to be able to make were tighter than they were after installing the autopilot.  This doesn't matter when you are out in open water sailing around.  But when in close quarters maneuvering the boat to dock or move around a marina - being able to turn tightly is nice.

After realizing this limitation I started thinking about how I could compromise the system to achieve a tighter turning radius.  Basically, if you end up with something that allows the rudder to deflect more than 35 degrees, you violate the warranty.  In the end, I decided that I wanted to be able to maneuver the boat more easily and have modified my setup.

A few pictures to clarify how this all works.

The autopilot computer controls a linear drive which can push or pull a rod attached to a tiller arm which is attached to my rudder post.  This is how the autopilot turns the rudder.

The bronze arm is the tiller, the autopilot arm on the left is attached to the tiller and the tiller is attached to the rudder post.  At the top of the rudder post is the quadrant, which is how the steering cables attach to the rudder.

The steering cables wrap around the quadrant, so as  you turn the wheel you pull on the cables which rotate the quadrant and the rudder turns.  But clearly you don't want to be able to turn the rudder around until it hits the hull, so manufacturers build a support bar which crosses above the quadrant, and then there is a post on the forward part of the quadrant.  As the quadrant rotates, the post (seen with a short hose chafe sleeve above) will hit the bar and stop the wheel from turning the rudder any further.

Originally there were no pieces of wood on the support bar, which would give the maximum deflection of the rudder - it could rotate on one side until the center post hit one side of the support bar, and then rotate to the other side until the center post hit the other side.

Without the pieces of wood in the above picture, you can get 55 degrees of travel in each direction.

After my autopilot was installed, there were two pieces of starboard where the wood is now.  The starboard stops were 1 3/4" wide, which limited the travel to around 39 degrees to each side.

My modification was twofold.  I moved the attachment point of the autopilot from being 10" out along the tiller to 8".  This gave a larger deflection for a given amount of travel of the autopilot rod.  The Simrad unit uses the same tiller arm and attaches at 8" so the tiller arm is strong enough to accommodate this new attachment point.  I then found the maximum limits of travel for the autopilot and created the wood stops to have the rudder stop travel before pulling or pushing the autopilot rod out of/into the linear drive stops.

I ended up with the two pieces of wood being different sizes and my rudder now travels out to 50 degrees when turning to port and to 43 degrees when turning to starboard.  I gained a little to starboard and 11 degrees to port, roughly a 30% improvement to port.  The boat doesn't turn as well to port as starboard, as to starboard you can use prop walk in reverse to tighten a turn, this doesn't work to port.

After realizing the limits my autopilot imposed on me and going through this process, I started to think about my choice of autopilot.  There are different autopilots made which are mounted above deck and which drive the wheel directly.  These autopilots may not be as elegant, but they wouldn't impose any limit on the rudder travel.  See the CPT autopilot for example.   I would be tempted to go something like this route if I was to do it all over...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Garbage can

Oops.  I thought there would be no more project posts.  One last little one...

This is one of the simplest boat projects ever.  Other Pacific Seacraft 37 (and maybe 34?) owners may appreciate this.

The garbage can in my galley came with the boat when I bought her.  I suspect its over 20 years old.  There was some duct tape on the bottom holding a crack together, and some more on the side.  There were more cracks on the side and toward the top which were getting worse.  The garbage can was leaking and falling apart.  So I needed a new garbage can.

I pulled the can out, and looked for identifying marks.  It was made by rubbermaid, and there were the numbers 2957 on the bottom.  If you google 'rubbermaid 2957' you'll get a lot of hits.  Its pretty cool that the same garbage can has been made for so long, I thought I would be out of luck buying a new one.

Home depot sells this garbage can and you can verify online to make sure your local store sells them.  It cost me a little less than $10.  So if you happen to have an old, cracked garbage can in your PSC 37, head on over to home depot and pick up a new one.  It will have four tabs you need to cut off.  As you need to modify the garbage can you buy, I'm claiming that it qualifies as a boat project - one of the simplest ones.

Last project post prior to a lot done!

I plan to leave Seattle for my next cruise in early September, perhaps around the 12th or so, maybe sooner, maybe later.  More on that later - hopefully my next blog post will be about my starting to move with a few details about my plans over the next few years.  Without giving too much away - think endless summer, blue warm waters, topical paradise's and interesting destinations.  Its sooo close at this point, but not quite there.

In the mean time, over the past six weeks I've been busy on all sorts of projects.  Some of these things probably deserve their own separate post but I'm going to glom everything together into one massive post - the mother of all blog posts.

I don't really expect anybody to read all of this.  Here are some of the things I've been working on...

Small things first:
  • Following up on my post detailing how my new locker gaskets were formed, I've also sealed the cockpit engine access on the cockpit sole.  There was a small leak in one corner of this hatch.  Fixed now.
  • I've written about how I've made it easier to remove the stove from my galley by carving little indentations in the teak surround.  This has been useful, as I had one last project to do on the stove.  After I replaced the stove gimbal pivots I discovered that the aft stove gimbal pivot lock was in the wrong spot.  There is a way of locking the stove from rocking back and forth which involves sliding a short rod into a hole in the surrounding enclosure.  Well, the hole in the aft enclosure face was in the wrong spot.  So I marked the new spot, removed the stove, made some measurements, replaced the stove, tested the spot, removed the stove, started drilling the hole, replaced the stove, tested the hole, removed the stove, adjusted the hole, replaced the stove, tested the hole, removed the stove, marked the hole, epoxied the hole, replaced the stove, tested, removed the stove, finalized the spot by adding a metal cover and sanding the epoxy, replaced the stove.  I'm pretty happy that the stove is easy to remove and install now.  The stove now locks solidly in place.  See how tedious boat projects can be...if you're really attentive to every little detail?
  • Bought passage charts for my known coming voyages.  These are charts which cover a very wide area.  One chart covers the west coast of America down to San Diego.  Another covers San Diego to Mexico and part of the South Pacific.  I had some similar charts for my trip to Hawaii and back to Seattle.   I found them useful - as I would update them daily just to prove to myself that I was actually making progress.  On longer passages its nice to have a way to track progress.  It was pretty exciting looking over my new charts and looking at my upcoming voyaging areas!
  • Created two amsteel pendants to lower the attachment point for my lazy jacks from the bow shackle at the mast where my running backs attach.  The lazy jacks were chafing my running backs as I ran them up and down.  This is now solved.  I realize this is hard to visualize.  Just think of it as yet another problem that was fixed.
  • Created new fitted sheets.  I spent some time visiting family on Vancouver Island and Vancouver.  While on Vancouver Island visiting my Mother I had her teach me how to create fitted sheets for my forward berth.  New top and bottom sheets.  They're awesome.  This sewing stuff isn't so hard.
  • Started to clean and lube my winches.  At this point I've done four of six and have found one broken spring.  The two on the mast will be finished tomorrow.
Some of the larger projects, most with pictures, follow:

Installed a new fridge:

My old fridge was a alder/barbour cold machine, one of the original DC fridges using the then new danfoss compressor.  The fridge was working - but I suspect that it was 20 years old and I just did not trust it anymore.  I wanted to do a little preventative work now to try to avoid it breaking down over the next few years.  On the one hand, changing a working system introduces the potential for the new system breaking instead...but I felt that I should do this.

I bought a frigoboat capri 35 with a Merlin smart speed controller and a Guardian thermostat.  The thermostat is digital, and is therefore much more accurate than what I used to have.  The new system should be much more efficient.  

The merlin smart speed controller is cool - it keeps track of how often the fridge comes on, and for how long, and optimizes the speed at which the compressor runs.  It turns out that to be most efficient, the compressor should be run for as long as possible - which means at a low a speed as possible.  My old fridge had a single speed (high) where it would draw 6 amps - my new fridge has 6 speeds it can run at and the most efficient (slowest) speed only draws 2.1 amps.  The speed controller will adjust the speed to try to achieve a run time of 20 minutes an hour which is can do in Seattle by running at the slowest speed for 8 minutes and then being off for 20 at which point the fridge box has risen from 40deg to 42 and the thermostat turns the cycle on again.  The guardian thermostat is accurate - it allows me to set the set point for the fridge and how many degrees it can rise before turning on.  

In the tropics I'll monitor my power usage and may need to raise the temperature of the fridge from its current set point of 40 - on my last trip I had the temperature quite a lot higher which was fine for the types of food I kept in there.

This project was fairly straight forward, just installing hardware I bought.

Installing thermostat wire high in fridge box
A little cage surrounding the thermostat
The thermostat needed to be installed on a wall of the fridge box where the evaporator wasn't.  I choose a back wall.  However I tended to pile food up in the fridge and I didn't want food to be piled up against the thermostat.  So I ended up buying a 4" PVC pipe, quartering it and drilling a bazillion holes to aid airflow.  I'll find out if this ends up being effective - if not, I'll relocate it later...
The guardian thermostat panel
Aft water tank:

This is the second time I've had to work on my aft water tank.  The last time I worked on it, I was hoping never to see the insides of this tank again.  The last time I worked on the tank it was due to their being a leak - I fixed that.  As part of that project, I decided to finish the tank liner with an epoxy in order to seal the tank better.  I don't recall spending too long on surface preparation for the epoxy step - I spent quite a lot of time fixing the leak and then gel coating the fiberglass I used - but the preparation for the final epoxy step was a little light.  I used to think of all epoxy's as some sort of magic glue which would stick to anything.  It turns out this was wrong.

When I got back from my last cruise I inspected my water tank carefully and noticed a small bubble in the epoxy which after a little prodding turned out to be a massive delamination of the epoxy from the tank interior.

Its a little hard to see from the picture, but there is a large piece of epoxy sitting on top of the divider between the aft and forward sections of the tank.  Once I had pulled some epoxy out, I could pull sheets of it off.  I briefly considered turning this into a storage area to avoid all the work on fixing the tank to make it potable water safe again, but decided to return it to use as a water tank.

Getting the lid off is a chore.

Lid removal tools
Cut and pry the bar into a gap you create, then pound the bar down between the lid and tank
Use wedges to create gaps, and pound them around the tank lid
Once the lid is off, you will have a lot of silicone to clean up.  Its not a lot of fun.

Once it was cleaned up, I needed to remove the old epoxy liner from the tank.  This should have been pretty much impossible as the epoxy should have bonded to the tank in such a way that it needed to be ground off - but by applying a lot of pressure with sharpened putty knives I was able to scrape all of the epoxy off.  I also scraped some of the gelcoat off, notice the pitting in the photo below.  This took about three days of hot sweaty work - balancing like a tripod while pressing carefully and hard on the sharp putty knife to have the epoxy flake off and shoot in all directions.  I had the whole area tented off with plastic - no photos of that, sorry.

Gelcoat pitting after removal of old epoxy liner
At this point I don't really want anybody to follow how I approached the repair and lining of the tank - its hard to get definitive answers to how to finish a potable water tank.  Companies tend to shy away from this area, as government regulations require that if a company declares a product safe for some use - they need to prove it for a particular tank size, construction and process.  Nobody is interested in certifying their product safe for water tanks on small sailboat fiberglass water tanks.

So after a lot of reading, I decided on using an epoxy liner - but with a much better epoxy than I used last time and also much better preparation to the surface.  The epoxy is a 100% solids epoxy.  I think it will be ok...

I first needed to repair the damage to the gelcoat I had inflicted with my putty knives removing the failed epoxy.  I used an Adtech product, P-17 white with a black hardener, a high head resistant rigid polyester filler.  This is an epoxy as well - combine filler and hardener, mix and apply to tank before it hardens.  I applied a good solid coat to the entire tank and then sanded with 80 grit all around to create a good surface to epoxy to.  

The epoxy I used was Fiberlay Pro Glas 1200 UV epoxy resin and the fast hardener.  Do your own research and pick your own route if you need to pursue this type of project...

The final piece of this puzzle is what type of silicone sealant to use to seal the tank.  I used the 3M marine silicone last time but have discovered that it contains chemicals that may not be good to have in a potable water tank.  I couldn't find a source for a food safe silicone, so after reading, discovered that aquarium silicone sealants are good for water, as they are used to seal tanks which have fish swimming in them, and tropical fish are very sensitive to chemicals.  So that's what I bought, through amazon.  A little later I was in Tacoma Screw here in Ballard and saw they have their own branded silicone sealant which is NSF 51 food safe - that would have been a good choice.

I replaced the lid to the water tank yesterday, sealed it and will wait 7 days for the silicone to fully cure.

Bomar deck hatches:

I noticed some delamination between the silicone seals in my deck hatches and the polycarbonate lenses.  I didn't want these to leak and my buddies at Yacht Fitters have gotten good and fixing these hatches and they passed along some advice on how to proceed.  I removed the hatches, popped the lenses out and cleaned everything up.  I then saw a little corrosion on the hatch frames and thought I would just spray paint a patch as I wasn't too concerned with the appearance.  So I sanded away the corrosion, bought a zinc spray paint primer, applied it, and then added two coats of spray paint.  To cut the story short, the spray paint failed badly and I ended up sending the frames to Seattle Powder Coat, which did a fantastic job.  Clear cut plastics in Fremont cut new frames for me.  Yacht Fitters fit the frames into the hatches with my helping out.

The sealant used was Dow Corning 795, which is used in glazing.  

Looking out my new hatch!
The new hatches are really nice.  I can see through them again!


By the end of my last cruise, I discovered that my jib halyard had chafed badly.  The chafe happened just as the halyard entered my halyard restrainer.
My old jib halyard,  at the top of the splice at the sail attachment end
I've heard about riggers adding dyneema chafe guards to halyards from a few sources.  Luke at Yacht Fitters does this, and I had him build two new halyards for me - I thought I would have a new main halyard made with a chafe guard as well.  The results are really nice - I recommend Yacht Fitters for this work if you're in the area.
My new main halyard on left, my old-old main halyard which has become my trysail halyard
The new halyards are core dependent - a dyneema core with a polyester cover.  Luke removes part of the cover, splices on the dyneema chafe sleeve and then performs the eye splice in a manner which I don't really understand but which ends up being much nicer than the Samson splice they present in their splicing manual.  

Also halyard related, I added a little more organization to my mast by adding line holders to hold my lines up:
Hooks to hold halyards at the mast
Furler and halyard restrainer:

My original jib furler was as old as the boat, 22+ years.  It was another piece of gear I was losing trust in.  Getting new parts would be difficult, and there are better designs out now.  I bought a Schaefer 2100 furler, Luke came by and installed it one day.  I helped out, it was pretty interesting seeing how a furler is installed, while the mast is up.

Schaefer 2100 furler
The furler came with a new halyard restrainer which was much better than the model I already had on the mast - so I went up and drilled the old restrainer out and drilled and tapped the new restrainer in.  

The schaefer restrainer is much nicer.  I suspect that if I had the new restrainer that I wouldn't have had the jib chafe I experienced last time.  With the jib halyard having a dyneema chafe sleeve and a new restrainer at the old problem location, I think that problem should be fixed.  I'll find out...

The schaefer furler manual suggests that the top of the upper swivel be less than 6 inches away from foil top cap.  Originally the distance was 12 inches, so I constructed a circular strop made from 1/4" amsteel.  The strop worked out really well.  With the strop installed, the top of the swivel is just under 6" away from the end cap.

Sail head to strop to swivel to halyard to restrainer to sheave's and down.
Reef lines:

While I was out on my last cruise, I also noticed that my reef lines were chafing in the region of the aft boom end cap.  There are sheaves in this region, with aluminum plates separating the sheaves from each other - the plates rise above the sheaves, and the reef lines were chafing on the plates.  I ground the plates down to be smaller, which will help with the problem.  I also installed dyneema chafe sleeves in the region of the chafe - I did this work after a few hints and some instruction from Luke at Yacht Fitters.  The chafe sleeve goes on pretty easily.  I placed one of the sleeves in the wrong spot and was able to cut the whippings, remove the sleeve bury's, move the sleeve to where it needed to be and install it again without any damage to the reef lines.  Nice!

I discovered after adding the chafe sleeve to the reef lines that they no longer fit out of the boom end cap - the diameter of the line increased enough that they would not exit cleanly.  So I ground down the end cap to accommodate - no big deal.

I decided to buy new reef lines before adding the chafe sleeve - one of the lines was chafed badly enough it needed to be replaced anyway, and the second line was ok, but I wanted to keep them both in sync and so bought two new lines.

There are a few things going on in the picture above.  I have a new topping lift - I had used amsteel for the line which exits the boom, goes up to the pulley and back down to the boom cap.  Amsteel is slippery and I found it tedious to cleat it off - I needed to have a lot of wraps around the cleat or it would slip - its pretty surprising.  I had some warpspeed on board intended for something that was no longer needed, so I used that for my new topping lift - the polyester cover cleats off much easier.  This was my first core dependent splice - it worked out, I used the Samson recipe.

You can see the chafe guards on the reef lines.  The other new thing I added are two short amsteel lines which attach to the reef lines as they wrap around the boom.  These straps hold the reef lines back toward the end cap.  On the port side of the boom you can see an amsteel line going from the padeye, under the clew strap to the reef line wrap. This is to hold the reef line from moving forward.  I wanted the reef lines to pull back on the new sail clew, not simply pull down.  I found that the wrap around the boom would continually move forward to be under the reef clew rather than remaining further back.  I'll see if holding them in place like this works - it seems simple enough.

Monitor trim line:

On the monitor self steering wind vane, there is a line which is used to adjust the trim of the vane to allow you to make course corrections.  This line is a loop which goes around a large sheave at the monitor and then for Luckness, forward along the starboard side of the cockpit to a SS ring which is under tension by some shockcord.  

The important piece of this is that you pull on the loop of line to adjust the vane direction.  

When I was leaving last time I didn't have a good solution for this line - I used a small diameter dinghy control line and fastened the ends together by stitching and then whipping.  It was a bit of a mess.  The join would enter the sheave and then get tripped up most often popping the line off the sheave.  So I continually had to watch were the join was and adjust it to remain far from the sheave.  Anyway, it was tedious.

The Scanmar Monitor manual talks about this control line being 1/8" dacron, but beyond that, doesn't say anything else.  I couldn't find 1/8" dacron - is it even made anymore?  High tech lines have taken over now.

Once again, I'm using amsteel.  Amsteel is super easy to splice into endless loops, but is a little slippery for this application.  If I find the control line slipping, I've decided that I will add some wax to the equation.

I now have a new 7/64" amsteel trim line.  Here are my old and new trim lines, in the join areas:

New amsteel monitor trim line splice region - slick!
I don't show the bury region of the new splice - I taper the amsteel tails nicely so as you run your fingers along the line you can't feel where the bury happens at all.  I can now pull on the trim line and as the splice enters the sheave nothing happens, the line isn't tripped.  It is now a real endless loop.

This is only a small thing - but during my last cruise I was finding myself, at night, in large wind and waves, leaning over the back of my cockpit holding the monitor sheave while I tried to adjust the old splice to a more favorable area of the line.  I won't miss those moments.


During my last cruise, I found that while I was on the same tack (either) for a long time while getting water over the deck, that my port side dorade would leak.  The water was entering the headliner under the dorade, leaking into a light which is mounted there, filling it up and shorting it out.  It got to the point where the on/off switch was inoperable due to corrosion and the light was dimly staying on all of the time.  I adjusted something in Hawaii but the dorade leaked again on my trip to Seattle.

I recently took the dorade apart again.

The port side dorade
The dorade box surrounds a mushroom vent which can be closed.  I thought the mushroom vent was the problem, that water was intruding between the top of the vent and where it was meant to seal.  I took the vent off and while doing so discovered that there was no sealant between the vent base and the cabin top in a few areas - and that there were rust streaks under the vent base over to the vent hole - showing the path the saltwater was taking.  I cleaned everything up, sealed the vent well and this problem should be fixed.  Then I did it for the starboard dorade - it wasn't leaking but it ended up having the same lack-of-sealant problem, so I'm happy I fixed it.

Teak vent in hanging lockers:

My two hanging lockers continually have a mildew problem, mostly in the lower region of the locker where the air doesn't circulate due to clothes hanging above.  I think a way of helping the mildew problem will be to allow air to circulate - so I've just cut two holes in this region of the lockers and will install teak vents.

Holes ready for their vents
Teak shelf in navigation station locker:

There is a small locker beneath the nav station which was designed as a hanging locker.  I use it for footwear, but this only occupies 1/2 of the locker - the upper region was unused. 

I installed a shelf in this locker.  After measuring and cutting some teak grating, I mocked up the shelf and then epoxied four hardwood tabs into the walls of the locker.  Once the tabs were in place, I continued building the shelf, applied teak oil and have installed it.  The shelf is removable, but fits snugly when installed.  I'm not sure how I'll use this space - possibly food storage, but its now a large handy area to store something.

The four hardwood tabs to support the shelf
Note vertical tab on left of picture in front of grate to hold shelf in place

I think of my last cruise as a year long sea trial.  I came back with a big list of things I wanted to improve on Luckness before heading out on a longer cruise.  I think I've pretty well gone through the list now - there are a few things left, but they will either be done before leaving or early in my next trip.