Friday, July 30, 2010

Mounting solar panels

Steve on s/v Siempre Sabado tells us how he mounted his new solar panels.  He had to address the problem that Eolian and many other cruisers have: the proliferation of things hanging off the stern pulpit.
I finally got one of my two solar panels hung up yesterday. Still have to hang the other one and then do all the wiring but at least I've gotten started. Actually I'm ahead of schedule on this. We didn't actually plan to be able to afford solar panels for another couple of months. But with the money that Lulu made sewing cushions we were able to buy the anchor chain, freeing the anchor chain money up for solar panels.

First, I had to figure out where to mount them. Stern pulpits, side rails, dodger and bimini tops, and stern arches are all common mounting spots.

Well, our stern pulpit is already full of stuff (outboard motor, BBQ, Lifesling), all of which would have to be moved and all of which have similar mounting requirements as the panels.

We don't have any rails beyond the bow and stern pulpits. It's all wire lifelines after that and you can't hang the panels from flexible lifelines.

Our dodger isn't big enough and we don't have a bimini. And we definitely don't have a stern arch like the one on the Westsail 28 in this photo (those rectangular things way up high are the solar panels):

Obviously I was going to have to make something. I decided the best idea was to parallel the first length of lifeline forward of the stern pulpit with a 1" stainless steel handrail. This would give us somewhere to mount the panels and also add a little more security in the cockpit. Without having some custom welding done, I couldn't just parallel the lifelines because, although it's easy enough to find fittings to use on the 1" stanchion at one end, attaching a 1" horizontal piece to the 2" boom gallows upright at the aft end was going to be problematic. So, after tossing and turning in bed a few nights, I finally decided to take the path of least resistance and not try to attach to the boom gallows. Instead I would install another vertical stanchion. I'm sure that's about as clear as swamp water so here's a couple of pictures instead:

Lifelines are still in place so this is just redundant safety. At the aft end, where it looks like I used rope to tie it to the boom gallows, it's actually tarred marline. I ran about 5 loops of marline to connect the handrail and the gallows and then tightened the whole thing up by wrapping more marline around the loop. The pieces are now bar-tight. They're just there to stiffen things up and are not really intended as safety features. On the bottom piece I finally remembered how to macrame so it came out with a nice running spiral. The top piece is sort of a floundering embarrassment and will have to be redone. Otherwise I'll just have to tell everyone that Lulu did it.

So, with that done, all that was left was to actually hang the panel. I installed 4 lengths of aluminum angle (3/4 x 3/4) to the back of the panel so that I'd be able to attach my hangers anywhere along the height of the panel that worked best. For now, I'm just using electrical conduit clamps (4 per panel) to attach to the rail. I'm not entirely convinced they'll be strong enough in the long run but that's about all that was available in Newport. They'll work for now until I find something better.

And, finally, the finished product. We be lookin' salty now, eh, mate?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Small details: thinking outside the box

Creative tool use always calls to me. Normally, when using a hole-saw, the hole is the desired end product. But in this project, Lotte of the Roberts 36 s/v Lunde, thinks outside the box, and sees the cutout as the work product, and the resulting hole as the waste.
One of our projects have included creating a "wet room" in the boat -ie. a place where we can hang wet foul weather gear without having itmaking anything else wet. For this to dry quickly hangers are betterthan hooks where the clothes get more folded. We’ve made somemodifications to the interior design, shielding the nav station fromthe “wet room” but when it was time to mount the desired hanger rod itproved to be difficult to find some suitable hardware for this purpose(which could pass quality control for both aesthetics, sturdiness andcorrect dimensions) - but what does a handy woman do then? She recyclesa piece of teak, who once served as a step in the old staircase (frombefore the installation of the new engine) - and by using two sizes ofcup drills, a drilling machine, a saw, some sandpaper, and six layersof varnish, the problem has been solved in true DIY style.

Two rings were made by drilling with the bigger cup first and thesmaller second. One ring was opened with two cuts so it becameU-shaped. Then sanding, making holes for screws and varnishing.

The rodis also recycled, bought at IKEA many years ago and now sawn in theright length to fit the space between the two walls. And yes, ofcourse, it’s stainless steel :-)
Thanks to Lotte for becoming our third international contributor (and for the English translation!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Avoiding seagull decoration

Walking down the dock the other evening, I noticed a falcon slope-soaring on the rising air over m/v TerenĂ£, and I thought to myself, "That's going to keep the seagulls from 'decorating' his flybridge canvas!"

And as I walked along, I admired the graceful movements of the bird, the tiny adjustments made at the wingtips and tail feathers to stay in the air stream, and wondered at its control and mastery of the air.

And then I noticed that there were two-dimensional aspects to the bird. It... It was... it was a KITE! I was flabbergasted, and amazed at the lifelike motions that the kite made.

And finally I noticed that the kite was flying from a fishing line coming from the fishing pole you see in the picture.

I've ordered one.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Non-skidding mats

I have woven several rope mats, and indeed the problem Lulu from s/v Siempre Sabado talks about here is real: If you pick them up and move them about much, the strands tend to get disorganized. In this post Lulu tells us how she solved this problem and got non-skidded mats in the bargain.
One of the problems with the mats I've been making is that, if you pick them up to move them, the ropes separate a bit and have to be tidied up when the mat is laid back down. Traditionally this is addressed by sewing the strands together on the bottom side of the mat. I did this on the round mat and it was a tedious process.

Another problem is that the mats tend to slip around a bit just like almost any rug does. This is a bad thing when the mat is used on a sea-tossed deck.

I think I've overcome both of these issues. This is a refinement of an idea I got from another sailor's wife who makes tons of these mats. She smears the back of the mats with marine sealants. The entire bottom of one of her mats is essentially a layer of rubber. As the sealant cures, it bonds the adjacent strands to each other and provides a non-slip surface. The downside to doing it this way is that the marine sealants are quite expensive, it takes a LOT of sealant to cover the back of a 2' x 3' mat, and the bottoms aren't that pretty.

I decided to use common household silicone caulking because it's cheap and easy to find. It still holds tenaciously to anything it touches and provides a nice rubbery surface once cured. I used some "cedar/tan" colored DAP caulking.

I'm hoping that the beads are tall enough to provide the non-skid surface that I want. Won't know until the goo cures which may take a couple of days. As far as whether or not this is an aesthetic improvement over smearing the entire back of the mat, you can decide for yourself.

This mat took 3-1/2 tubes of caulking at a cost of about $3.95 per tube. Compare this to one of the cheaper brands of the marine grade sealant at $18.50 per tube. I estimate that covering the entire bottom of the mat would have taken at least 10 tubes.
Now I know what to do with the rest of that tube of brown silicone I used for a project a long time ago.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Straight on thru

It may seem like as small thing, but it made a big difference.

Eolian has drains in each of the aft deck lazarette lockers. She also has, in each of the lockers, a drain in the trough in which the lazarette lid seats, to catch and redirect deck water, so that it doesn't end up in the lazarette. The two hoses from these two drains are joined at the thru-hull fitting. The original arrangement was this:

While adequate, and serving the need in theory, it proved to be a problem in practice. Most of the water that passes thru the fittings comes from the trough. And this water frequently entrains seeds (thank you birds), hair, paint flakes, dirt, etc. It seems that the fitting was always blocking at the tee. The consequence? Water either overflowed the trough into the lazarette, or it backed up from the lazarette drain. In either case, we ended up with multiple inches of rain water in the lazarettes.

A simple solution? Rearrange the fittings so that the trough drain is preferred, having a straight-thru path:

It works. Such a simple thing made a great difference

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where do you keep your swords?

Steve on s/v Siempre Sabado posted this project about making a really tough-looking utilitarian rope mat, called a sword mat. I wonder about the derivation of that name - sounds interesting.
This time, instead of a fancy turk's head-type mat, I opted to make a more utilitarian woven mat called a Sword Mat. The plan is to use it on the side deck to bridge the dip caused by the placement of the deck scuppers.

I'll build a regular wooden cover one of these days but, in the meantime, this will hopefully alleviate the trip hazard.
Although the sword mat is pretty simple, just basic weaving, it's still a bit of work when using 3/4" line for the warp. The woof is made of 1/4" sisal.

Once the weaving is done, the ends are seized together with a frapped round seizing. Then the headrope, the line that the warps were bent over, has a walled crown knot tied on each end to form a knob to keep the headrope from sliding out. Took me quite a while to figure out how to tie a version of the walled crown knot that I liked and wasn't too huge of a knob.

But, finally it was all done and here it is:
This looks like it ought to wear like iron.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A bit of shade for the bow

In this project, Jeff from s/v C'est la Vie shows that a sewing machine is a very handy boating power tool.  One of the differences between the Seattle climate and that in Florida, recently highlighted for me, is the need to seek shelter from the sun.  But this project also serves to allow keeping the forward hatch open in the rain as well - something Seattlites can identify with.
We have expended a great deal of time and resources to complete the bimini project and provide shade for the cockpit area, what about the other end of the boat?  With a little over a days worth of effort we created an awning for the foredeck.  The foredeck awning is less about shade and more intended to increase ventilation  by allowing the forward hatches and ports to remain open during rain showers.

We began the project by creating a pattern using plastic sheeting...

The pattern was then used to figure out the best layout to minimize material waste.  We used the excess along the sides in the image above to create the forward triangle on the pattern....

Creating patterns for projects and calculating the most efficient use of material is a facet in which I feel my sewing has improved in the past couple weeks.  The only waste material in this project as the two small triangles that extend out left and right at the top of the image above.

Below is the completed tarp.  To keep systems uniform on the boat, I again used flat webbing and cam buckles for the attachment points

Ample webbing will allow for flexibility in setting up to account for various conditions.  The pattern was created for the primary set up seen in the image below.
More images of the project can be viewed via a link on C'est la Vie's blog.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vinegar: it's not just for cucumbers any more

This is a tip from Doug, on s/v Angelique, late of G Dock (now in Tacoma):

Is your canvas a happy home for mildew and bacterial colonies? Here in the moist Pacific Northwest, this is common. Doug suggested to us that vinegar cures the infestation. Vinegar! Who would have thought it?

The low pH from the acetic acid content kills all the bacterial life. And if you use "white distilled vinegar" which is composed of nothing but water and acetic acid - both of which will evaporate, no follow-on rinse is needed.

It works! Beautifully.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hatchboard Holder

I had asked for weather board stowage ideas earlier - here is one from Scott aboard s/v Valkier, tho this is from an earlier boat of his. The original post can be seen here.

I finally built the hatchboard holder and installed it.. This one actually fit the boat :) unlike the last one which fit the hatch boards but not the space beside the stairs. Here are a few pictures of it.

Nice work, Scott.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rainy day canvas project

Two canvas projects in a row. This one is from s/v C'est la Vie, and is indeed a good use of a rainy day.

The rain delay did afford me the time to complete another sewing project. We continue to rely on hank on foresails and two years ago we ordered a sail bag that would allow us to store the current foresail hanked on.

The bag we ordered, pictured above, is too small. We can stuff the sail in, but when we hoist the aft end off the deck with the halyard (necessary to operate our manual windlass) the zipper will blow out along the forward edge. I replaced the zipper the dot twist fasteners and they too blew out.

So I copied the design and added some volume to the bag.
I used the old bag as a pattern with 8" added to the depth of the bag. Hopefully this will provide the additional volume necessary to avoid future blowouts.
The image above displays the finished product. Adding the 8" made a significant difference in size. Possibly too much? Time will tell. I installed a #10 a zipper along the top edge and dot twist fasteners along the forward edge. I believe the forward edge is under more stress and the twist fasteners are better able to handle the forces.

As for our departure... The day started off with hazy clouds, but the sun has now broken through and I'm off to work with Anne on closing up the basecamp so that we can cast off tomorrow.

Now I wonder what use Jeff will make of the smaller sail bag?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Propane tank coverup

The propane tanks on Eolian are aluminum, and can stand the sun and rain. But then there is the salt spray, and the effects of sun and rain on the hoses, fittings and the propane solenoid valve. A cover was called for.

I laid it out, and Jane sewed it. It was made out of some Sunbrella scraps we had, so there were some unusual effects - like the nicely-made seam at the bottom. The only tricky part was the tapered top. I laid this out as if it were a mast boot, cut in half, with a straight section inserted between the halves. There is a drawstring in the bottom to keep it in place in a blow, and it is slit up the back to accommodate the propane hose.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rebedding the hawse pipe

Please welcome Scott of s/v Valkier to the list of contributors! Scott runs a website dedicated to the Downeaster sailboats (you might recall that Eolian is a Downeaster 45) - if you have a Downeaster and haven't been to his site, you are remiss. Here he talks about rebedding a hawse pipe:

Another project that needed immediate attention was the port hawse pipe on Valkyr. I was walking up to her on the dock and just happened to notice that the hawse pipe was about to fall off. So I pulled it all the way off. I thought some of the rest of you would be interested in how the sides of the boat here are designed. It is hollow up in there.
This is a project that needs to be revisited. I found that the holes the bronze wood screws are going into need to be re-glassed and drilled again. (you heard it correctly all that as holding it in is some wood screws. Actually what it needs is not wood screws but machine screws that go all the way through to the plate on the inside and I need to tap threads into the plate and and have the bolts hold them together. Right now I have new bronze screws in place and lots of 3M 4200 as bedding compound. It is working but not as strong as I would like it to be.
While I had the hawse pipe out I polished it up also. here are some before and after shots. I just used a little generic polishing compound and some 3M 1500 grit sand paper. I tried using a scotchbrite pad but it just didn’t get the job done. The 1500 grit got the job done and left a very smooth surface. Smoother than it was to start with.
hawse pipe 1
hawse pipe 2
hawse pipe polished up
And here it is installed. I actually had to take it back out after this and turn the hawse pipe over as it it didn’t fit flush to the plate on the inside. You can see this in the picture.
hawse pipe installed

I like the idea of thru-bolting the hawse pipes, especially considering the strain they take tied to the dock in a blow. I should thru-bolt Eolian's (boy, my list of "shoulds" is getting long!)
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