Monday, May 31, 2010

Storm Windows

This project is an excerpt from a larger article at Sail Delmarva, originally published on March 7, 2010. You may think that this is off season for this subject, but
  • It isn't off season here in Seattle
  • You need to get ready for next winter sometime
  • It'll help with air conditioning too.
It was COLD this winter and I slept on the boat a good number of nights. You need to look closely at the picture to see the reflection, the only clear evidence. They are simple: 1/8-inch acrylic cut with a plastic cutter, trimmed to size on a bench grinder, and some are fitted with fabric loops to facilitate removal (the larger ones in the cabins and next to the salon door). They fit in the bug screen groove and help just a little with the cold. Cost - $8.00 for a handful of ugly thrift store posters - I threw the posters away.

I especially like the source of the acrylic that Drew used. And I am impressed with the idea of replacing bug screens with a piece of acrylic - this is an idea that will work with the Beckson ports on Eolian too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Please don't weep!

Moisture wicking down thru the end grain of the sampson posts over the long, rainy Seattle winters was a source of water in the chain locker on Eolian. A quick and very nautical fix for this was some thin sheet copper (gotten at a craft store) and some small copper brads.

If you decide to do this and find the sheet is too stiff to work with, heat it to red heat and let it cool slowly - this should take the work-hardening out of it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ratlin' up to the yard

This project is from s/v Siempre Sabado, originally published on Thursday, December 10, 2009.
Just so you don't think that ALL I do is go to the store and sit around doing crossword puzzles, here's a picture of what I did yesterday. I installed ratlines on the starboard lower shrouds. The mast steps are great for climbing all the way up to the top of the mast but if the mainsail is up it's a little more difficult. Besides, one has to be all harnessed up when using them. Enter, the ratlines. Made from well-varnished white oak, they're about 1-3/4" thick to be semi-friendly to bare feet. They're very easy to climb and, because they cant inboard, they feel quite safe. Just the ticket for working on the spreaders or, more often, for "ratlin' up" to get a better view when navigating shoal waters or looking for coral heads to avoid. Most boats that have ratlines only seem to have them on one side of the mast. But I plan to put them on both sides so that there is always a clear view regardless of which tack we happen to be on. People without ratlines are always yappin' about windage and weight aloft, but I have a feeling we're going to love them regardless of what the detractors say.

BTW: they have been Lulu-tested and declared "Safe-feeling" and "fun". So there.

So there indeed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Need a pilot?

Steve at s/v Siempre Sabado. offers this tool tip: " If you ever come across this tool while you're out and about, buy it."
It's a pilot hole maker by Stanley. I've never seen another one and don't remember where I bought this one. It rode in our camper toolbox for years. If you've got the right size screw and the wood isn't too hard, you can make threaded pilot holes with this little gem a lot quicker, and with less mess, than you can pull out your cordless drill. And it can get you into some spots that the drill won't fit.

Steve & Lulu Yoder
S/V Siempre Sabado

He who dies with the most tools, wins.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Adequate Current For The Bilge Pump

Eolian has 3 bilge pumps, at various levels in the bilge. Each is controlled from this panel, mounted just to starboard of the companionway stairs.

The primary pump is a huge 3700 gal/hr pump, which needs 14 amps at load. The other pumps are smaller. (Number two has a bell wired in parallel with it, so that when it runs, the bell serves as an alert.)

Eolian's showers drain into the bilge and are pumped overboard by the #1 pump. Some have said to me that it is a shame to be running the bilge pump so often. But I have a warm feeling when I am showering and the bilge pump kicks on. It is a frequent check of the serviceability of this important system, which otherwise might never be tested until it was absolutely required to be running.

But apropos to the subject of this post, the wiring to all three bilge pumps was a single 12 gauge wire. Tho 12 gauge wire would have been adequate to serve the large pump, it was inadequate to serve all three pumps running simultaneously. Having all three pumps running at once is not a situation I would want to see, but should it happen, I would certainly want there to be enough power supplied that all three *could* run simultaneously. So step 1 was to pull the 12 gauge wire and replace it with 10 gauge. The breaker in the power panel was upgraded to 30 amps too.

I had originally thought that this was the end of the job. But later, when I was running the pump manually, trying to scavenge as much water from the bilge as possible, I noticed that the pump ran considerably faster when I held the "Off-Auto-Manual" switch in Manual. Hmmm. The only difference between Auto and Manual is that the current for the pump has to pass thru the float switch when Auto is used. I checked the connections (I had made them) they were soldered and still solid. Despite being rated for this pump, it was apparent that the bilge pump switch was limiting the performance of the pump.

So I installed a relay. Having had less than stellar luck with conventional mechanical relays on board, I found a solid-state relay that would do the job for a pittance on eBay. This one is rated for 40 amps, and only requires a few milliamps to trip. That is, with the relay in place, the float switch only has to switch a few milliamps - the current to the pump goes directly thru the relay.

The difference was like night and day. Not only did the pump run better - it ran better than when I had used the Manual position on the switch panel earlier.

If you have a high-capacity bilge pump onboard, I strongly recommend you install a relay too, in order to get all the performance you paid for from your pump.

This post appeared originally at Windborne In Puget Sound

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sparkman & Stephens type plans

Sparkman & Stephens build some absolutely gorgeous boats. In doing one of your projects, you've probably not said to yourself, "I wonder how S&S would do this."

But maybe you should have.

This gem is from Craft A Craft:
Sparkman & Stephens, a long time maritime design firm, has placed quite a few of what they call "Type Plans" available on their web page. These are small detail plans of various features on boats,say bunk board mounting or sail rigging designs, etc. Looks like there could be some great ideas to use here if you are building or modifying a boat.
S&S Type Plans
Over the years we have created a catalogue of typical details which might be found on any yacht which we refer to as "Type Plans". These were delivered to shipyards along with the plans and specification when building a new S&S boat to assist them and to attempt to standardize many of the details that can be found onboard an S&S boat. While many are somewhat outdated we include them here as they are extremely interesting. We hope you enjoy reviewing them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Too good to throw away

This project is excerpted from s/v Siempre Sabado. Steve says, "One of the sailor's arts was making these out of old rope that was too worn to use but too good to throw away."
One of our projects on our old boat, a J.R. Benford designed 23' ferrocement gaff-rigged double-ended yawl built by Dan Taylor of Bellingham (here's to ya', Dan!) was to build some fenders (too often called "bumpers") out of old manila rope. Fenders hang off the side of the boat when alongside a dock or another boat to protect her topsides from scratches, scrapes, etc. They are usually hollow air-filled plastic sausages but could just as easily be made of old tires. However, one of the sailor's arts was making these out of old rope that was too worn to use but too good to throw away. Fortunately for me, a 1992 copy of WoodenBoat magazine carried an article on how to make these devices. Having left the full complement of rope fenders with the old boat when we sold her, Lulu thought we should really make a set for Siempre Sabado. So, for Christmas a couple years ago she bought me a 250' roll of 3/4" manila line for the job. Since that time, I managed to find the time to build two of them. So, a week or so ago, I showed her how to make them and she built 2 more. We'll keep this up until we have 8 or so altogether.

Besides making the fenders themselves, I also got to make lanyards to hang them from. This allowed me to make eye splices in some 3-strand line as well as do some whipping of the end of the line. As Hervey says, an unwhipped line is an "abomination".

Steve & Lulu Yoder
S/V Siempre Sabado

Wow! Those look really nautical!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Under Pressure

Have you ever lived on a well? We have, in fact for most of our lives. When you live on a well, your water is supplied by a pump, like on a boat. The pump does not start each time you open a faucet, tho. Instead, there is a pressure tank - a tank with a rubber diaphragm in it, with air above the diaphragm and the water below it. Thus, when the pump runs, it inflates the water side of the diaphragm with water, against the air pressure on the other side. When the system pressure reaches the setpoint, the pump shuts off, and water is then supplied by the pressure tank until the low pressure setpoint is reached.

Surprisingly, many boats do not have this arrangement. Instead, when a faucet is opened, the pump runs, and when the faucet is closed, the pump shuts off.

Can you install a pressure tank on a boat water system? Of course. But the "marine" units run $150-$300. There is an alternative. Looking exactly like the Groco unit, but with a different color of paint, there are small expansion tanks sold for use on domestic hot water heaters where backflow preventers are required by code. These are perfect for use as a pressure tank on a boat. The smallest size you can find will work fine as a boat pressure tank, and they are available for less than $40.

To install a pressure tank, tee it into the cold water side of your system, locating the pressure tank as close to your water pump as you can. The pressure in the air side of the tank can, and should be adjusted to match your water system. When the tank is empty, the pressure should be a little less than the cut-on pressure of your water pump. That way, your pump won't come on until the tank is nearly exhausted, but there will still be water flow when it does come on.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What if your stowage is *too big*?

Does that ever happen? You have too large a space on a boat?

Yes, it does.

Here's how Mike and Rebecca on Katana addressed it:

As I mentioned and showed in the post about our Katadyn install, we had a very large open locker (under the salon seats) that we could use for the watermaker. But as I said, the location is large, and is prime storage space and we weren’t ready to give it all up. I was concerned about storing any heavy objects in this location though because I was almost certain that in rough seas they would slide around and damage the expensive desalinator. Enter the baffles.
We don’t yet have our books on board (they are still in boxes in our truck, waiting for the completion of our new book shelf) so I can’t check to see in which one I saw this idea but the general plan was to subdivide the large locker to prevent things from rolling around. I used plywood for the dividers, cut to shape and then “lightened” by drilling a bunch of holes in them (every ounce saved in plywood allows for more beer to be carried).

I note that Mike has his weight priorities exactly correct.

After working with the design a little more, Mike had this to say:
The baffle to the right in the pic is attached by 4 tiny L-brackets. The same ones shown here

The one with the hinge just has a stopper at the rear. Because there would be stuff on this side it won’t be able to open inward unless it is removed. I think I may change the hinge arrangement though, or perhaps make it slide into a slot. Looking at that now…


OK, it now is attached at the bottom by hinges (as opposed to the top) and will fold flat in the locker when opened. Much better arrangement. Apparently I shouldn’t make design ideas after sawing and drilling wood in the sun for 4 hours. ☺

I like the fold-down approach too. In order to get at the things constrained by the baffles, everything in the center area will have to be removed anyway, and now the baffles will fold flat, out of the way. And in a seaway, shifting items will be applying force to the baffles as closely as possible to the hinges, where the effective lever arm is minimized.

How have *you* optimized your storage?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Low buck projects on sailnet

Alert reader Wayne Foley sent in a suggested link to a thread in the sailnet forum where small boat projects were discussed.

Good catch Wayne - thanks!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Public safety item

I found this on the Voyages of Sea Trek blog.  As it is a safety item, and in fact one which could affect some of those on our dock, I feel it is important to get the word out as widely as possible.  I'm sure Chuck and Susan would agree.  Here is their posting:

Dehumidifier Recall

We try and post any safety issues we find that would have a affect a broad number of boaters and we feel this is an important one since many of us in all climates along the eastern seaboard especially, could be affected. We use a dehumidifier all of the time on board Beach House but not any of the ones affected by the recall. Nothing is more frightening and devastating for boat owner like a fire so we considered this one important. This humidifiers can be purchased on line or at many home improvement stores. Check the link and be sure yours is not included

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall of 98,000 dehumidifiers sold under the Goldstar and Comfort-Aire brands between January 2007 and June 2008. The model in question, manufactured by China's LG Electronics Tianjin Appliance Co., has a 30-pint resevoir with a front-loading bucket, and a red shut-off button. This unit has been determined to be the cause of a number of fires — and we all know how boat fires usually turn out. To see if your dehumidifier is on the recall list, check this site.
Please check to see if your dehumidifier is on the recall list. Boat fires never end well.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nobody likes lost beer

This project is from s/v Siempre Sabado. Organization in the refrigerator is something that we badly need on Eolian. Perhaps this will help (originally posted to the Westsail Owners' Association's discussion board):

Our problem was that loose beer cans in the reefer kept rolling around, getting under stuff and generally making themselves hard to find and difficult to retrieve or count. So one morning I woke up with what seemed like a brilliant solution. And, for once, it actually worked just as planned.

The under-seat icebox on the W28 can be converted to a reefer and thus gain a huge amount of storage since there's no longer a need for ice. Once the teak grate is taken off the bottom of the ice side (and used as a vertical divider instead), the side that once held ice is deep enough to store three 6-packs on top of each other. But, once the plastic leash is removed from the 6-packs, or you buy your beer in the much more affordable 30-can box, there's nothing to keep those cans stacked. At the slightest provocation, the stack will fall over and you're back with a mess in the fridge.

So, take yourself some galvanized hardware cloth (I used 1/2" mesh) and a bunch of wire ties and make a custom-sized box. Leave the ends of the ties long so they don't present a bunch of sharp edges. Just weave them into the hardware cloth and voila:

Steve & Lulu Yoder
S/V Siempre Sabado

Beats buying something ill-fitting from some box store all to heck (please note that hardware cloth is typically galvanized - it won't rust).

Lost beer is a tragedy. Do your part to prevent it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Repurposing in the galley

The galley is a rich source of small projects, probably because so much of great import happens there. And as stowage is always bubbling near the surface of a cruiser's mind, it is not surprising to find an intersection here. Here is an idea from Mike & Rebecca of s/v Katana. The full article from which this was excerpted can be seen here.
A few posts ago I mentioned Rebecca was playing around a bit with macramé. Here is her first project, built on a wire-frame basket that she purchased for $1.00!

Fancy ropework on boats is not only traditional, it is noble!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Labels are important!

I don't know what the fuel plumbing situation is on your boat, but I can tell you this: if the valves are not well-labeled, sooner or later, someone is going to operate the wrong valve. That could be you, in the dark, in a hurry, in a crisis. Of course, Murphy's law says that when the error is made, it will be at a time to have maximum consequences.

Here's a cheap and easy way to clearly label valves:
  1. Obtain some white (or light colored) shrink tubing of appropriate size
  2. Write the label text on a suitable length of the tubing with a sharpie (the permanent kind)
  3. Shrink it onto the valve handle. The text will shrink along with the tubing, and become darker. It won't rub off.
If you can find colors of the right size, you could even color-code the labels (green for starboard fuel, red for port fuel, etc).

Of course, this won't prevent incorrect valve operation, but it will make it less likely.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pot luck

I am flattered with the attention this blog is gathering - apparently this is something you folks out there in the blogosphere want to read about.

But I can't keep it going forever, on my own. There just aren't that many things on Eolian that are bloggable. For this to work out for all of us, everybody needs to contribute - think of this as a pot luck dock party.

Come on now. All of you have a small project of one kind or another that others would be interested in seeing. Contribute to the feast:
  • Write it up and send it to SmallBoatProjects at gmail dot com
- or -
  • If you have already written it up on a blog somewhere and are willing to share, tell me where in the wide world of the Internet to find it , and I'll come and get it.
- or -
  • Give me permission to "mine" your blog for projects. Anybody who is writing a blog about boating has numerous small projects buried in there. I'll ferret them out, if you let me. No, I won't put your content on here without your permission.
- or -
  • Send me what you have, and I'll do the write-up, with full credit going to you as your project, of course.

Every posting will feature a link to your article (if there is one) and a link to your blog (if you have one). In addition, all contributors will permanently have a link in the "Contributors" box on the right side of the blog. This ought to drive some of the traffic that this site is seeing back to your site. I will not take any recent posts - that way this site will not be in competition with yours. Instead, it will hopefully serve to "reactivate" some of your older posts.

But the most important benefit you'll get is the warm feeling of having helped someone thru a problem - one that you have solved. And we will all be the richer for it.

Pitch in!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waste not, want not

On sailing ships of old, rope hardly ever made it off the ship. As it became too worn for it's original purpose, it was used again for other purposes. But eventually, it was too far gone to be usable for supporting a load. Then it was raw material for rope work - it became mats, fenders, baggy wrinkle, or ultimately oakum.

Here at the marina, someone discarded this piece of manila rope. I snapped it up and, feeling brotherhood with those sailors of times past, wove a welcome mat out of it:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Helping hands

Have you ever used a WorkMate®? You know, those handy clamp-anything-and-hold-it-while-you-work-on-it devices? They are a good answer for boat projects, but because their design inherits from the saw horse, they are really only suitable for use on the dock. For work on board, at anchor, a different solution is needed. Look at the adaptation Mike & Rebecca of s/v Katana have come up with:
In some ships, which are much larger than ours, an entire area might be dedicated to a shop. On our boat most work of the construction variety will be done on deck or in the cockpit. This cut-down (folding legs were replaced with shaped 2×4s, padded with carpet) cheapy copy of a Workmate has earned its weight in gold. Best of all, it was free. Thanks Lyndsay!

What a great solution! Cruisers are such creative people.
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