Wednesday, September 29, 2010

VHF: handheld vs remote?

If you were in trouble and needed to send a Mayday, which radio would you want to use?  The one in your hand with the 4" antenna 6' above the water (if you're standing) and 5 watts of output power, or the mounted one with a much longer antenna mounted 40-50' above the water and 25 watts of output?

This decision is the one that we examined on Eolian.  See, our VHF is mounted inside, right at the companionway.  This keeps it out of the weather, but accessible.  Well, unless the weather is inclement and we have the companionway closed.  And then there is the fact that Jane just doesn't like to hear the constant chatter on the radio.

So I was considering getting a handheld that I could keep next to me at the helm.  With the volume turned down, I could still hear it, while sparing Jane from the noise.

But then the question above raised itself.

It turns out that our West Marine VHF has the ability to connect (via bluetooth) with a remote speaker/mic that has essentially all the functions of the main unit repeated on its faceplate.

We bought one.  I can keep it back at the helm with me and turn the volume on the main unit all the way down.  And when I transmit, I am using 25 watts, delivered to a 3 foot antenna mounted  65 feet above the water.

Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Got fruit flies?

Here's an easy, cheap and environmentally friendly solution to the problem (it's not often you get all of those at once, is it?)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's in a name?

When we bought Eolian, "Eolian" wasn't her name.  Using John Vigor's Denaming/Renaming ceremony, we re-christened her to Eolian.

But before we could do this, there was a tiny detail:  the name on the transom was wrong.  So I scraped off the old name.  When they made these boats, Downeast created, what appear to be from a short distance, carved name boards for the transom.  But actually these are molded resin.  I gave ours a fresh coat or two of paint, in a color that more closely matched our trim color.

Then I paid a visit to Prism Graphics, folks who custom-cut vinyl graphics on Westlake Avenue here in Seattle.  They were great.  They asked me to bring in a tracing of the name boards so that they could custom-fit the lettering to the actual boards.  And they spent quite a bit of time getting it right.  Thinking about how great it would look on the green, I chose simulated gold leaf for the material.

Applying the letters was easy.  They come on a transfer sheet, which is stuck to the front side of the lettering.  The transfer sheet keeps things in place, and allows transfering the entire design at once.  Prism's directions said to use a spray bottle with soapy water to moisten the transom and the graphics before application.  This allows you to adjust things, presuming that you don't lay the design down spot on the first time - and you won't.  After a while, you peel off the transfer sheet.

Voila!  Unfortunately, the simulated gold leaf was not a good choice.  Because of the tilt of Eolian's transom, it is almost never in direct sunlight.  The net effect was, that for almost all viewing angles and conditions, the lettering essentially disappeared.  (When the sun did hit it tho, it was spectacular!).  Sadly, this would not do.

So I returned to Prism, and asked them to recut the letters, this time in white.  This was not difficult for them, since the design is just a small computer file they now had on one of their systems.  In white, the name is visible regardless of the sun angle.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Water, water, everywhere...

But watermakers are expensive.  Right?

Well, it turns out not so much, if you are willing to do a little adaptation and do the work yourself.

Tho this is way beyond the scope of "small" boat projects, I found it very interesting: DIY watermaker, so maybe you will too.   If you go thru the site you will also find links to other DIY watermakers, ranging all the way up to the wonderfully executed version on s/v Rutu (there is nothing by half-measures on Rutu).

(This link originally spotted on Boat Bits)

The reason that this is posted is that I am beginning to run out of projects... I may have mentioned before that there are just not enough "small" projects on Eolian to sustain this site indefinitely... I am hoping that you folks out there reading will continue to contribute, or to allow me to mine your own blogs for things to put up here.  Thanks.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chillin' and lookin' good

When refurbishing the galley on Eolian, the freezer lid presented special problems. For the main part of the counter tops, I simply pulled the fiddles, removed the old simulated woodgrain stuff, and applied new formica over the substrate in the traditional way with contact cement.

But the freezer lid had a decorative teak surround which made it really difficult to get the old formica out.

To get it out, I used a router set to cut only the thickness of the formica to relieve the central portion (all but the teak) of the freezer lid. This is a little tricky, since the area is larger than the router base, which means that you lose your support for the router base as you do the job. The trick? Work from one side to the other, and when the edge gets too thin on that far side to support the router base without wobbling, use a scrap of new formica laid into the newly routed area to support the base from both sides.

Then I cut and carefully trimmed (using a plywood blade on a table saw) formica to fit the relieved area and installed it, using contact cement.

To make it possible to lift the lid, I again used the router to relieve an area now in the new formica to accommodate a brass D-pull and installed it.

After varnishing the exposed teak on the edge, and installing some foam tape for a gasket on the bottom, it looks really sharp!

(Well at least *I* think so...)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cover up

In the bulkhead under the companionway stairs on Eolian, there was a large, unsightly hole where an old propeller shaft brake had been installed.

Rather than dutch in a repair, I took the lazy way out: cover it. Every US boat is required to have an "Illegal to Dump" placard anyway - what nicer way to cover the hole than with a nice bronze version?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Better burgers and brats: covered

Last nite Jane and I once again dipped into our supply of Sunbrella salvaged from our old dodger, and made a cover for the new BBQ grill.

It was really a very simple design - one piece wrapping over front->top->back, and two smaller pieces for the ends. We left 1" extra at the bottom, rolled it under and stitched it to make a draw-string tube.

I think it looks pretty good, and it matches the rest of our canvas perfectly.  And yes, it is raining in this picture - we got it made just in time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Better burgers and brats

Look what my lovely wife gave me for my birthday! A new Dickenson SeaBQ!

This replaces our old Magma grill... actually, our second Magma grill - we used up the one that came with the boat. The "new" Magma was shot (again) and was going to need a transfusion of expensive parts.

To make the SeaBQ even easier to use, I plumbed it directly into the low pressure side of our propane system. We already have those two 20 lb propane tanks - why would we want to fool around with the small disposable cylinders?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Let there be (green, red) light!

When we took possession of Eolian, these old navigation lites mounted on the hull sides did not work.  I spent some time working with them, but finally decided that even if I was able to resurrect them, they would never pass muster with today's ColRegs.

So I installed a modern light (well, modern for that era - now everything is LED powered) from Aqua Signal on the bow pulpit.

I drilled a small hole into the underside of the pulpit tubing and ran the wire (leaving a drip loop) thru the tubing down to the stanchion base, where another small hole allowed it to exit.  Then thru a waterproof gland to the chain locker, where I spliced it into the old wiring run.
(In the picture, I had yet to install the small clips that hold the wire to the inside of the bulwark, because we were in the midst of doing the brightwork.)

I suppose now I'll have to do a nav lite upgrade upgrade - to an LED unit.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Let there be light!

In the evening or at night, lighting for the generator area below the floorboards was not good.  It made doing anything down there a one-handed job, since the other hand was required for holding a flashlight.  A cheap 12V fluroescent really solved that problem well!  I mounted it on the left in the picture, just under the floor beam and right above the dipstick on the generator.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Just a nick

Not a project - but a precaution.

When we first took possession of Eolian, I was tracing down the reason for no forward running lights. I found this, on a section of wire suspended in a long run thru the bilge.

Presumably there had been a nick in the insulation, which in this case was serving as both electrical and environmental insulation.   Over the years, the moisture had accelerated the oxidation of the copper, and had burst the insulation.  The copper wire was simply gone.

It would be best if there were no connections in electrical wiring in the bilge.  If connections there must be, you should use the crimp connectors with the heat shrink insulation that has the soft sealing resin-glue inside. 

And no nicks in the insulation are allowed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

32 lashes

Steve on s/v Siempre Sabado discusses his ratlines, and why he switched them from clamped to lashed fastenings...

Today, I finished redoing the ratlines on the starboard side. Not sure if I wrote about it earlier but the ratlines have been bothering me. You may remember that the way I attached them to the shrouds was basically to clamp them in place using a nut and bolt on each side of the shroud. Worked great but it left these 2" pieces of wood sticking out on each side beyond the shroud. This meant there were 32 possible places for lines to hang up on or sails to chafe against. I kind of knew this but was in a bit of denial until Steve Webster at Riverbend Boatyard in Newport said it out loud. I knew I had to change the setup.

I pulled out my trusty "The Rigger's Locker" by Brion Toss and studied how he said to do it. I didn't follow his suggestion to use 2 rope ratlines for every 1 wooden one since I prefer all wood rungs and since they were basically all built already. I took down all the ratlines and took them with me when I headed back to Cody's house earlier this month.

What I had to do was to a.) glue both faces of each rung to its mate, b.) cut off the end of each rung bisecting the hole that went around the shroud so that I'd end up with a groove instead of a hole, and then c.) drill a hole parallel to the groove but 1-1/2" to 2" in from the end to take the lashings. Having use of my chop saw and Shopsmith made this project way easier than it would have been on the boat using hand tools.

Yesterday evening I mounted the first 2 rungs and today I completed the rest of the ones on the starboard side. The following photo shows how the rungs are lashed to the shrouds:

I hate those little knotted ends sticking out. Two of them will be eliminated along with the double constrictor knot they're attached to but there will always be one. Brion says to finish of the wraps with a couple of overhand knots, pulled very tight and then back that up with a figure eight to use as a stopper. He says to work the figure eight up tight against the overhand knot but, try as I might, I could never get it to snug up and stay put. The double constrictor knot was just something I added. I was having some trouble with the rungs wanting to slip a little when I really put force on them when tightening wraps on a higher rung while standing on a lower one. I was essentially pulling up with my arms while pushing down (on the rung) with my feet. It was almost inevitable that there'd be some slippage. So, I added a double constrictor knot around the shroud just below the wraps as a sort of collar to keep the rung from slipping down. It didn't work - the constrictor knot slipped as well. Tomorrow I'm going to get some good old fashioned friction tape and wrap the shroud where I'm going to make the lashing. Hopefully that will help. If this was galvanized rigging, I'd serve the entire length which would really help, and help the rigging last a long time, too. But stainless steel needs oxygen so service would be a bad idea.

I prefer this photo since it doesn't show the little knots:

The bolt is there just to reinforce the face-to-face glue joint and to keep the lashing from splitting the wood. In Brion's example he uses solid (not glued) wood but still uses a copper rivet to prevent splitting.

The ratlines are plenty tight and tough enough to support a person doing normal things aloft like navigating through coral heads or trying to spot a whale. But, as noted above, they are likely to slip when excess force is exerted on them. Consequently, it would be great if I could have installed them from the top down. But I didn't see any workable way to do that. As a result, I ended up redoing probably half of the lashings before I was all done. In this photo you can see that I still have one left to straighten up:

In case you can't tell, it's the aft end of the second one from the bottom. Needs to come up about 1/2".

But, just so you know that these "lash-ups" really can carry the load:

Until later, ta-ta from Charleston.

Check out the comments on the original post for more information.
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