Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mechanical advantage is your friend

Chuck and Susan aboard s/v Sea Trek have taken some of the grunt (and pain!) out of getting the dinghy ready for use.  And they have reduced the risk of giving the outboard a saltwater bath in the bargain!

During our cruise along the south coast of Cuba several years ago, I did a really dumb thing. We were Med-moored to the dock at Santiago, next to our friend's Vagabond 47 and there was a bit of swell running in the harbor. We both decided to set out an anchor from our bow to keep us from banging together and used our dinghy to do just that. I sat in the dinghy with our CQR 45 and about 50 feet of 3/8 BBB chain in my lap ready to deploy the anchor, and that is when it happened.

It was right about then that I heard the loud pop, and the pain shooting up my back was excruciating. It almost ruined what turned out to be the best cruising we have ever done. From that moment on, it meant I had to be very careful when doing any kind of lifting. That has not stopped me from forgetting over the years and doing more stupid things to aggravate my back problem from time to time. A few weeks ago, we wanted to get out and use our new dinghy for a trip around the local waters. This means lifting the dinghy from a bracket on the stern of the boat, down onto the swim platform and then onto the stern of the dinghy. This is something I have only done a couple of times. then paid for it later with back pain. If we did not resolve the problem, it was obvious we would not use the dinghy very often and there would always be the potential for disaster. Our outboard was given to us by a friend. It looks rough, but runs like a champ. It is a vintage 1999 Johnson 6 horsepower and is pretty heavy to be lifting around on the swim platform.

After considerable research and feedback from other boat owners, we decided that an outboard lift was the answer to our problem and the savior of my back. We decided on the St. Croix 175 Little Crane mounted on the stern corner of the boat just above the outboard. It was not the least expensive, but we liked the sturdy build and the ease to disassemble and stow it when not needed. Another trawler owner highly recommended it and has been using the same model for years. We found the best price on-line at Marine Warehouse in Miami and it arrived about a week after we placed the order.

The installation is very simple and straightforward, as straightforward as anything on a boat can be. The first obstacle to overcome is the mounting bracket that holds the upper part of the lower mast pipe. This is designed to be used on a one inch horizontal rail and or course our rail is teak. But after a little study, I concluded that it would still work on our rail with the use of some slightly longer bolts. You can see how it luckily fit very well and was pretty sturdy.

The next step is to mount the base bulkhead bracket to the combing on the stern. This was thru-bolted to a substantial piece of teak as a backing plate and large fender washers. A healthy dose of caulking behind both the bracket and the backing plate on the inside will keep the water out.

 Once these two brackets are installed, the section of the mast pipe with the notch in the bottom to accept the bulkhead mount is slid into the rail mount and down to the bulkhead mount. The mast is a fine piece of polished stainless and looks very nice. It is also thick walled to handle the weight of the outboard.

The upper section of the mast pipe is fitted into the top of lower section. Both of these can easily be removed and stowed away until they are needed, which is one of the points we liked about this unit.

The lifting arm is, again, a separate piece and can be very cleverly attached and removed if not needed. There are two tabs welded to the top of the upper mast section, and the arm is inserted in the tabs. The arm will swing over and allow us to use the lift on the side of the boat as well as the stern. The crane arm has about a 30-inch reach, and both the arm and the upper section of the mast will swing and rotate as needed.

The final steps in the process is the lacing of the line provided through the three rollers at the end of the arm and the 3-purchase block, also provided. There is a clear diagram in the instructions that makes it easy. A snap hook is attached to the block or can be left attached to the outboard. That is all there is to it. Careful consideration needs to go into the exact location for mounting. I always check and recheck everything before drilling any holes. The outboard is heavy so everything is through bolted and not screwed. All that is left is to hook it to the outboard and lift away. Except that the one thing I forgot was the strap that is attached to the outboard to lift it off the bracket. Oh well, another trip to the supply store. Until next time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Latch.

Mike of s/v Chalice, one of our Extreme Woodworkers here on Small Boat Projects, demonstrates that you don't have to settle for chintzy, weak plastic cabinet door closures... he makes his own!

The Latch

When reinstalling all the doors and draws in the boat, I knew I would need to have a latch for the doors. They originally had little plastic clips. Most where broken and they would not hold a door shut in case of a knock down. So I bought several example to see what I liked and would not look out of place or to cheesy. No hooks, no turn knobs as I wanted the latch to really blend in.

Wife to the rescue. Yes I give her full credit as I could not see it myself. As soon as she began to describe the latch Idea she had, I figured it out as how to build it. So here it is. You can retrofit your boat, or better yet, make new doors and latches for your boat, as you will see that I had to.

The simple latch

From Door latch

How it's made. Cut your blocks long enough to house the spring and some of the bolt. I'll give some measurements later. I used a 1.5 x .48 inch stainless steel spring from Grainger Supply.
Part#: 1NCR1 Pack of 5 for $5.98 ( )

Drill a .5 inch hole down the middle. Do not drill all the way through. Drill almost to the end though. Next you will need to route a 5/16 inch slot in the middle of one of the wide sides. Slot length is 1 inch. I used .5 inch dowels for bolt and 5/16 dowels for the handle. Drill a 5/16 inch hole in the bolt. Now for the tricky part. DO NOT ASSEMBLE BEFORE INSTALLING DOOR. Why?
Because you will need to mark the hole the bolt will go in. I took a extra bolt, drilled a very small hole in the center of it and inserted a pin ( cut off brad nail with point facing out ) in it to mark the holes with the door shut and mounted. Push the pin into the door frame to mark it, then drill with a 1/2 inch forstner bit a little over a half inch deep. If no frames, then you will need to mount a block you can drill a hole in. I'll post a pic of this later. Nearly perfect latch every time. You should mount the block to the door first before the marking. I screw and glued them. After you have the hole in the door frame drilled, then you can do final assembly of the bolt and handle. I glue the handle in with just a tiny bit of glue and use a clamp the press it home.

From Door latch

From Door latch

Also I back beveled them slightly so they would not hit the door frame.

From Door latch

This is all you see from the front of the door. The round finger pulls where there already and that is what I had to work around.

From Door latch

The back of the door.

From Door latch

A set of new doors I had to build to blend in with existing doors. Here I had an opportunity to build the latches the way I would for any new door. Easy one handed operation. Just squeeze.

From Door latch

Up close.

From Door latch


From Door latch

I hope you all can use this. It took me about 2 hours to figure out all the dimensions. Then it was just a matter of cutting and drilling. One point, you will need to sand your half inch bolt dowels so they do not fit tight. You want them to slid easily in the square blocks. I would not coat them with anything as it could make them sticky, at least I was not about to after all that work.

Last note. One could make these as square bolts too. Not to hard to do actually. You could change this idea to fit your own doors. It will work with flush doors too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Slip Precautions

Lotte on s/v Lunde finds that a little sand, grabbed from a beach, is the perfect answer to providing non-skid properties to her foredeck.  This is the same process which Downeast used on Eolian when she was manufactured, except that Eolian's sand is considerably finer: 150 grit (ascertained by comparing the non-skid with various grits of sandpaper).

(Apologies for my dubious corrections to Google's translation)

When we duly installed the new windlass, the initial steps involved in particular grinding the old deck paint off the part of the bow, where the game should be. Since then there have been painted by - almost - all rules of art.  Just a small detail was missing.  Slip resistance.  For when that part of the deck gets wet, it becomes as smooth as a smarmy pomadeindsmurt eel.  And it is simply too dangerous.  So it was time to get the slip-resistant deck.

You can buy fine (and expensive) anti-slip compound in most well stocked chandlers - but at the Aero, there is a stretch of beach where the sand is just the right size to be used for the same purpose.  In summer 2006 we sailed a trip to my native region - as well as updating, we took a trip to the beach in question with a colander. After having screened and sifted the sand, it was fresh and dried. And has consequently just been waiting to be used ever since.

The procedure is extremely simple:  Spread the paint, sprinkle sand over.  Let the paint dry.  Paint again.  And again.  And possibly once more.

And then you can put another X on the TODO list.
I can attest that this process produces a very effective non-skid surface - considerably better than the "molded-in" non-skid on many production boats. And it is easy to renew when necessary, unlike molded-in non-skid.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Replacing ice with foam

Eolian's freezer is about 12" square but it is deep:   38". Laying on the counter top, I can just barely touch the bottom of the freezer. Jane's arms are not as long; she cannot reach the bottom.  Also, the two (!) holding plates do not reach all the way to the bottom - this means that if a not-yet-frozen item is dropped to the bottom, wedges under the holding plates and then freezes like that, it cannot be removed until the entire freezer is defrosted.

So.  The Previous Owner put two of those "blue ice" packs on the bottom, to keep things from going too deep.  And over time, a layer of ice also forms down there, entombing everything.   My idea was to fill this unused and unusable volume with extruded polystyrene foam instead of ice, thus improving the insulation of the bottom of the freezer dramatically.

Step 1: Defrost the freezer.

I removed as much of the freezer contents as I could get out (see "wedged under holding plate" above) and positioned a small fan over the opening to the freezer in the evening.  By morning, I was able to remove the remaining unidentifiable food items and expose the blue ice packs.  But they were still encased in about 2" of solid ice.

In a rush  to get this done before I had to go to work, I boiled some water in the tea kettle and poured it in there.   After letting it sit long enough to prevent getting burned, I swirled it about with my hand, spreading out the heat to melt the ice.  Two of these treatments melted all the ice and allowed removal of the blue ice packs.

Then I bailed out the freezer and mopped it dry with a sponge.

At that point, with an empty and clean freezer, I put the lid back on it and turned on the refrigeration system again to chill down the refrigerator, and went to work.

Step 2: Measure and cut foam.

There may not may be any ice in there, but it is frosty, and it is *very* cold in there.  Stick a tape measure down and get a reading both ways and then cut the foam with a knife.  Well, not cut it, but rather score it and then snap it on the score line.  Because of the presence of the two holding plates, it was clearly not possible to put a full-sized piece of foam into place.  So I cut each piece in half lengthwise (top to bottom in the photo) and put the two pieces in place, outside edges first, leaving the inside edges sticking up.  I got the sizes close enough that the halves snapped into place when the center edges were pressed down.

Step 3: Install the foam

Drop the pieces in there and snap them into place... no real procedure here.  The final of the three layers (making 3" of additional insulation on the bottom of the freezer) had to be trimmed some to fit around the bottoms of the holding plates and their retainers.

This solves a problem and provides more insulation - a double win!

Monday, September 5, 2011

A slippery subject

Over at Sail Delmarva, Drew has some thoughts on how to overcome slipperiness.  What he says is also a classic case of recognizing when the boat is telling you something, and dealing with it before a minor issue results in a major problem.

I've enjoyed too many small slides on the side deck, and during our last trip I very nearly broke a collar bone on a stanchion. It's not a place you would consciously place a foot; every slip has been when I was distracted, carrying something or working on something... but a slip is a slip Builders love to mold cool curves but sailors hate them. My last boat (Stiletto 27) had similar slope and every owner wiped out a few times; many built a cover or step to hide it. I plastered mine with 3M tape and like the result.

Yes, I could move more slowly. No, actually, I can't.

I'm big on 3M non-skid tape. We've added wide strips on the steps and lower seats edged in the cockpit where it has eliminated a lot of wet bare foot dances. It's aggressive as hell but still reasonably skin friendly. Its hot in the sun and not particularly cheap, but I keep running into roll-ends from projects at work, so my cost is agreeable. And in this case it was easy enough to hide in the black gel coat area.

Now there is enough friction to stand on the slope. Cool.

(Three 4 x ~18-inch strips each side)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Three ways to run a messenger line

Christy on s/v Hello World has done the research, and gives us the results of it:
These past two weeks of (planned) vacation, we've ended up doing too much (unplanned) boat project work. Ugh. But we've gathered a bunch of ideas from some experts on running messenger lines that we thought useful to pass are the big three:

1) Gravity: tie something flexible and heavy to your line at the top of the run and use gravity to do the trick. A bike chain or a line of nuts seems to work pretty well in some applications.

2) Magnet: using (non-stainless) bolts or some other metal tied to your line, get yourself a decently powerful magnet and lead the line where you want it to go from the outside.

3) Vacuum: tape off all other inlets/outlets, use your shop vac to pull a string tied with Kleenex through the run (this worked particularly well on our bow pulpit).

And when you finally get to running your electrical wire, decide on a suitable knot (we use 1-2 rolling hitches) and grab that KY Jelly from the bedroom and put it in your toolbox.
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