Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cockpit Cup Holders

Please welcome new contributor Olly, who sails aboard his family's Beneteau Oceanis 361, s/ v Rhùm; he also sails his own Laser 4.7. (Olly is 15 years old.)

For his first contribution, Olly describes how he solved a perennial boater's problem: Where to safely put the beverage?

One problem I have with boats is that there aren’t many places to put cups in the cockpit when at sea. However with some scrap wood or plastic, thin rope and a spare snap shackle or hook you can easily make a swinging cup holder.

Most cups on boats are stackable however every type of cup will work. First I measured the diameter of two points in the cup. I luckily had access to a laser cutter at school and made a CAD of my cup holder. My design has a hole in the middle for the cup to partially fit through and 4 holes for the rope to go through round the outside of the holder.

However, a laser cutter is not essential, the holder can just as easily be made by cutting a large hole through a piece marine grade wood or plastic and drilling 4 holes around the side.

You need to make two of these rings with different sized holes through the middle so that they sit at different places on the cussp.

Next is the difficult part, you must pass some thin rope through the cup holder and tie stopper knots just below where each of the rings go. Make sure that both the rings are tight around the cup so it does not rattle.

Lastly tie the end of the ropes to a small snap shackle, carabiner or even a hook so that the cup holder can easily be attached to the guardrail.

If your cups are not stackable or you want to use mugs instead place the top ring lower down the cup and don’t cut a hole in the middle of the bottom piece and rest the cup on top of the bottom piece.

These cup holders can be easily placed anywhere where there is a horizontal wire or rope and are perfect for small cockpits because it stops them being cluttered.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Starting A Boat With A Paperclip

This isn't a project per se... well actually it is, but the most important part of this post is the successful trouble shooting of a problem. And yes, it does invoke MacGyver-ism. Read along with Dana on s/v Rubigale, as she deals with a motor that suddenly refuses to start...
About a month after buying Rubigale, and with a boat full of crew, we were ready to leave the fuel dock after a day of sailing. After pumping out I went to start the engine, turned the key, and nothing. Not even a click. I knew nothing about engines-zero, zip. I could find the alternator and the dipstick. My knowledge of cars surpassed that of boats only because I knew where to put in windsheild wiper fluid.   I didn’t know how I was going to get back to my slip and had a half dozen people that needed to go home. My boat mentor J had his own boat full of crew and couldn’t help at the moment. Fortunately, T lives aboard a few docks away, and after I fished out a mystery set of wires with clips that I had found in the bowels of weird boat storage (had this happened before?), he jumpstarted the boat by connecting the battery to the start switch.


I thought the crew would disappear as soon as we were back to the slip, but J and T started troubleshooting the starter and half of the people stayed, rapt with the process. I didn’t understand much of what I was hearing, but I was mesmerized by the problem solving. I photographed where to connect the wife to the starter just in case. Final diagnosis, probably a bad starter switch because there were loose connections and a little corrosion. J showed up with a new starter the next day and showed me how to put it in. It was much easier than I had expected and I photographed that as well. As a bonus, he connected a new engine hour meter to the  switch so I could keep track of hours since the previous meter had died at just under 4000 hours at some unknown point in the past. Everything seemed to work great and I put it away in my mind as a solved issue.
Shiny New Starter

Engine Hour Meter
Engine Hour Meter

A few months later I took Chilly and her friend on a day sail to Kingston to have lunch at one of our favorite pubs. When we returned to the boat, I turned the key, and again, nothing. Fortunately for them the marina was next to a ferry dock so I sent them on their way home. Fortunately for me, J hopped the same ferry in the opposite direction to find out what was wrong with the starter switch he just installed.  I tried not to think about the fact that I was going to be doing my very first solo sail the following morning out of necessity.

We checked the wire (happily labeled starter) from the battery to the starter switch – 12V. There was also current coming out of the starter switch wire which we traced to a bundle that took a dive under the sole and was lost to view. Next we went to the starter solenoid and again found the white wire which here had zero voltage. The wire which powered the solenoid had 12v. What I learned was that meant something was between the starter and the solenoid that was bad, but there was a lot of mystery territory in between.

Tracing that particular white wire was a bit more difficult because it disapppeared into a Chinese fingertrap holding a bundle of wires together. J thought perhaps there was a bad fuse or a loose connection. After an hour and a half of carefully slicing the webbing, and avoiding the wires, we hadn’t gotten very far.
Bundled Wires
Bundled Wires

Frustrated and tired, we took a break, and by a stroke of luck saw another white wire lower on the aft portion of the engine. Actually, there were two white wires terminating on separate screws. Based on the multimeter readings, one had current, one didn’t. Fortunately, J recognized this was a neutral switch, and suspected it was going bad. I had chartered at least two dozen charter boats but had never encountered a neutral switch. The current was getting to the neutral switch, but it wasn’t getting from the neutral switch to the solenoid, so the starter thought the boat wasn’t in neutral. J bridged the two screws with a screwdriver and Shazam! with a spark, she started!
Faulty Neutral Switch
Faulty Neutral Switch

There were plans to bypass this, but the problem didn’t recur so other projects took precedence. Didn’t recur that is, until a year later, just minutes before the start of the Leukemia Cup Regatta. We had done really well fundraising, had a blast decorating ourselves and the boat, and were sipping champagne from pink flamingo straws while preparing for a no-wind beer can race. I turned the key, and yet again, nothing, and my heart sank. Why did this always happen away from my dock? I jiggled the gear lever, nothing. I jiggled the wires at the neutral switch, nothing. I phoned J-these 5 ladies in grass skirts (one his wife) and flowers in their hair needed to get out there on the course ASAP and celebrate our hard won victory.

I went through what I tried already with J, and he told me to find something to bridge the two screws. I found a paperclip and put it on the two screws while Chilly turned the key. There was something about having my face next to a 50HP Perkins when it roars to life while holding a sparking paperclip in my hand that made me scream like a little girl. I yelled over the engine noise and cheers to L, “I LOVE your husband!” With a big smile she yelled back, “me too!” J was laughing over the speaker phone. We were off the dock in a hot second, and although DFL as usual, we had a great time being “spirited” and tossing candy packets that L had made with a tag saying “Kick Leukemia’s Ass! Team Rubigale”.

As usual, I procrastinated  again because the problem stopped happening. Then two months later, and also away from home it happened again. Remembering the big spark led me to be a little timid with the paperclip so I decided to tape it onto the end of the wooden dowel I found nearby, the other end of which held a pirate flag. My hastily created invention lent me more bravery and the engine started as soon as M turned the key.
Quick Fix Switch Bypass
Quick Fix Switch Bypass

My habit for procrastination had to stop here because I was leaving for an extended trip alone to Canada the following weekend.  Based on J’s instructions I moved both wire terminals to one screw and of course dropped the other into the bilge. Fortunately I had forseen this problem and placed a cloth underneath the area I was working on so the screw was easily retrieved. I was feeling quite proud of myself for this tiny little project, until I turned the key and heard a thunk and then silence.  I put the wire terminals back onto their original screws but the engine still would not start.
First Attempt to Bypass
First Attempt to Bypass

J came by the following day with Waterproof Heat Shrink Butt Connectors and made the two wires into one. No big surprise, but the engine started with the first turn of the key. A quick online search of neutral switches on boats leads to a large number of results of “why won’t my boat start?”.  Apparently this is a rather common problem and one I really hope I’m finished with. I learned a good deal about my engine as well as a little on troubleshooting wiring. I am very grateful to have patient friends helping me with the process along the way.
The Hopefully Permanent Fix
The Hopefully Permanent Fix

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Cardboardeaux Trash Compactor!

Every boat has a limiting capacity of something...  water, fuel, provisions stowage, black water, etc.  What is it that makes you tie up to a dock?  Aboard Eolian, the first thing we seem to run out of is stowage for trash.  With that in mind,  please welcome new contributors Jonathan and Sarah who live aboard their Baba 35, s/v Odyssey.  They have a wonderful solution for the trash/garbage stowage problem:
Take one empty wine box, open top, extract empty bag, fold flaps down, insert produce bag or similar size, and secure with rubber band.  I cut a piece of a foam meat tray to make a lid/pusher, and it's all set.  You will be amazed how much trash can be pressed down into this cube!  When its full, twist the bag closed, tape the cardboard shut and it can easily be stored till you get to a dock.  For super recycling, the box can be opened up and the trash block removed and the cardboard recycled too.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hatch Rennovation

Aboard Tayana 37 s/v Ramble On, Rich & Jeni continue their re-fit. Here, they refurbish their two Bomar hatches and their mounts...

Hatches & Cabin Top Projects – Week 2

In typical boat-project fashion, refurbishing the two overhead hatches has taken way longer than expected.  Rich managed to get both Bomar metal hatch frames off the boat without bending them too much.  He removed the old glazing, scraped out the weather-stripping, and attempted to remove the old paint with mechanical means, but it was just too tough.  Sand blasting all the old paint off was the better option and after 3 days we finally got the frames back from the sand blasting guy.  Rich used an entire can of zinc phosphate primer on one hatch, ran to West Marine for a second can and finished the last hatch last Friday.

Forward Bomar hatch

Last Saturday Rich spent spraying Interlux Primkote on the metal hatch frames and faring in the wooden hatch frames on the boat with epoxy.  Those things should never leak again (fingers crossed).  I picked up trash in the morning for the annual Coastal Cleanup day.  It’s always so disappointing to find so much trash right near the water.  It makes you wonder what is wrong with people.

Overhead hatch frame with zinc phosphate primer

Overhead hatch frame with zinc phosphate primer

Interlux Primekote

Last Sunday we lightly sanded the Primekote on the cabin top that Rich put on last summer.  We just had to sand it enough to give the next coat of Interlux Perfection something to hold on to.  Next, we removed all unnecessary tools and the traveler from the boat.  Then we washed the boat and scrubbed the cabin top really well.  What a dirty mess it was; not only from our work on it, but also from the neighboring farmers who are harvesting and planting again.  Finally, late in the day, Rich painted the Interlux Primekote on the two wooden hatch frames.

Forward hatch epoxied, sanded and ready for Primekote

Wiping down the frame with solvent before painting

Painting on Interlux Primekote

Interlux Perfection

Monday I went to work and Rich prepped the boat for painting the shiny Interlux Perfection on the parts of the cabin top that won’t get non-skid.  The mornings have been dewy so Rich had to first dry the boat off.  He taped off the teak trim, teak handrails, and other deck hardware then wiped down the cabin top with solvent.  Late in the day he started the first coat of Interlux Perfection and finished just as the sun went down.  When he started peeling off the masking tape, it was clear that the paint had creeped under the tape on the teak, even though he used the super special masking tape that’s not supposed to bleed.  He spent another hour or so with a putty knife and rag scraping paint off the teak.

Tuesday morning was a drier than it had been.  The paint looked pretty good, but Rich decided to give it a light sanding before painting on a second coat of Perfection.  Wednesday morning we woke up to rain on our faces at 4:20 in the morning.  The paint from the day before was fine, but Rich had to spend the day in the shed due to weather painting the first coat of Perfection on the metal hatch frames.

Metal hatch frames painted with Interlux Perfection

Measuring the old Lexan lens

Sikkaflex adhesive and a test fit of the new lens

Adhesive on the metal hatch frame

Hatch completed with new paint and lens

The whole week went by in a blur.  On Friday Rich installed the new Lexan lenses into the metal hatch frames.  Saturday morning we were determined to finish the non-skid on the cabin top.  I started off masking the white areas that Rich painted on Tuesday.  Rich came over to give me a lesson in masking and when he ripped off some of the tape I had put down, some of the Perfection came up on the tape (ALARM BELLS SOUND!)

We stopped everything to caucus and decide what to do next.  We had to fix the big ding in the paint from the masking tape and Rich also pointed out some other areas where the paint didn’t brush on as smoothly as he’d like.  Plus there were a few drips and sags; nothing major, but enough to sway me to decide that we had to do a touch-up coat of Perfection.  We did a 180 and started masking the teak for another coat of Perfection.

The shiny edges painted with Interlux Perfection

Interlux Perfection final coat

I also talked Rich into spraying the Perfection instead of brushing.  Spraying is Rich’s preferred painting method, but it was windy this week and it would have been too difficult to spray.  Plus there is a really nice, and expensive powerboat in the slip next to us.  The last thing we need is to get over-spray on their shiny gelcoat.

So with the teak and other bits masked off, Rich sprayed paint while I held a large piece of cardboard to block the wind.  We didn’t spray the entire boat, just the areas that needed touching up; mostly under the grab rail and along the forward edge.

Late in the afternoon on Saturday, we started installing the hatches.  Rich had to drill out the holes in the wood frame that he had epoxied over.  He used 3M’s UV4000 sealant to secure the metal hatches to the wooden frame.  Lastly, he installed the metal pins for the dogs that hold the hatches closed.

Forward hatch refurbished and installed

So we didn’t get the cabin top completely painted before Rich starts his new job on Monday, but the weather should be good next weekend and we’ll try again.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Something Lazy, Something Free

As usual, Drew over at Sail Delmarva has been messing about with chemicals - here's a tip he has for everyone with a head...
Free is always good, except this is not quite free.

Or rather, it is free if you use any sort of holding tank treatment chemical.

I've done all sorts of holding tank stuff for Practical Sailor Mag. Chemicals, hoses, vent filters. Fun stuff. And in the process, in addition to learning all sorts subtleties, I solved all of my own odor problems, save one; odor from the bowl itself. If I flush with seawater and leave it a few days, there's some stink; sulfate in seawater is converted to hydrogen sulfide by millions of wee bacteria. If I flush with fresh water, it's better, but not zero; I guess something sneaks back down the waste hose, or perhaps up the feed hose. And either way, the bowl tends to get ratty, as marine flush volumes are limited and the water isn't chlorinated. I hate scrubbing.

Place a 20% solution of holding tank treatment in a spray bottle and mist the bowl down with each use, or at least each day, or and certainly whenever you'll be leaving the boat for a while. This cleans the bowl, treats the water in the bowl, and treats the water in the waste hose, preventing stink. And since it's the same treatment you would be using anyway, just subtract this from the usual dosage.

 I haven't scrubbed in months; the treatment eats the waste off. Very lazy.

However, not all treatments work.
  • No blue sterilizing treatments, containing with formaldehyde and the like. Toxic, smelly, stain-prone, and well... gross. Too much like a portable toilet. Very tough on joker valves. Formaldehyde is listed as a human carcinogen. I don't understand why they still make these. Ban them from your boat.
  • No bacterial treatments, like Bactank T3 or Happy Camper. They grow in the bottle and get gross. They are quite effective in the tank, just not for this.
  • Pick a scent you like, preferably very mild. I like Forespar Refresh and Raritan CP, but Camco TST Ultra-concentrate is our favoriteCamco TST 4 oz. Orange Power RV Toilet Treatment. These are compatible with any type of holding tank treatment, including bacterial treatments. I tested a bunch for Practical Sailor Mag (February 2012 and December 2012).
Less work. Less money.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cockpit Cushion Toppers

Aboard s/v Galapagos, Melissa finds a wonderful use for something that would have been simply discarded.  She also has significant puzzling skills:
Regular readers will recall that we recently had new mattresses made for our aft cabin. Part of that remodel was the purchase of some rather expensive latex foam toppers for the berths. These came at a cost of $570 for the space. That’s not an insignificant cost, even though it was completely worth every single penny. As every boat owner knows, boat beds do not come in regular sizes like your earthbound beds. Therefore, in order to get what you need, you frequently have to cut to fit. And you know what that means.  That’s right. That means extra material. Extra EXPENSIVE material!

That nice 3″ latex foam. We still love it.

When we picked up our new mattresses we were blessed to receive all of the extra pieces of latex foam, neatly stuffed down into large plastic bags. I was going to toss them, but being the cheap and easy boat trick queen, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t like to throw away perfectly good materials that I might put to use. So I kept them and waited for an idea to pop into my head. And it did.

Let’s build some rectangles!

Galapagos has a great cockpit. We love it. But one of the things that I’ve wanted to improve is the napability of the two longest sides. They are long enough to lie down on (one of the absolute requirements for us in a boat, being the famous sleepers that we are), but the hard Bottomsider-style cushions that came with the boat are dead uncomfortable. I decided to see if I had enough latex foam to make cushion toppers for them.

After measuring the sides, I lay the foam pieces out on some plastic up in our workshop/storage space at the marina. Supplied with Elmer’s spray glue and a healthy love of puzzles, I began piecing the foam together to make the long, thin rectangles required. I glued the seams as firmly as possible and then let them sit for a day to cure. Although I had the garage door open for all the gluing, I cannot swear that I didn’t lose a few brain cells to that spray. Do make sure you have good ventilation with that stuff. I trimmed the uneven ends with large scissors, making several cuts from the top down. Sure, I have an electric knife, the tool of choice for this job. It’s at  home. Not at the marina. Scissors worked just fine. We’re not building the Parthenon here.


As I did with the new cushions in the v-berth and aft cabin, I decided I wanted to protect these with that PUL fabric I used to keep water from soaking into the foam. This also makes coverings easy to take off and put back on.  Once again, I used the handy 40% off coupon Hobby Lobby has each week.

My only concern here is that there really are a lot of glued seams on these. It is possible that the glue will not hold up in the heat of Mexico and beyond. If that happens, though, I will still have all the other materials all set up to pop the latex out and replace it with foam all in one piece. The PUL fabric has a lot of stretch to it so it can be pulled tightly around the latex. It supports the seams in the foam as well as making the whole thing waterproof. The extra support makes it less likely that we’ll experience a total fail just from moving the cushions around.

Neatly covered in waterproof fabric.
Neatly covered in waterproof fabric, ready for canvas.

To ‘upholster’ these, I wanted outdoor canvas that was water and UV resistant. Since it’s fall, this is a good time to look for summer fabric in the clearance section of Joanne Fabrics. I made a beeline for the clearance bin and found some perfect yellow canvas for $3.50/yard. Done! I actually bought extra of this because I liked it and it was such an excellent price. Retail on this canvas is $29.99/yard. As if I would ever pay that much.

The sewing was straight forward; not exactly my favorite kind of sewing but at least with this project my machine doesn’t protest. I cut two rectangles, some sides, then sewed them together.

Cheerful and comfortable!
Cheerful and comfortable!

These are just the ticket in the cockpit for sitting or laying around at anchor. While underway they can be stored along the sides in the v-berth, or even in the aft cabin, just tucked under the shelf, which will hold them in place. They are a cheap and cheerful addition to the comforts of home on board Galapagos.

Cost Breakdown:
  • Latex foam – 0 because it was leftover from another project, destined to be thrown out
  • PUL fabric – 4 yards, 40% off – $31.20
  • Yellow Canvas – 4 yards at $3.50/yd – $14.00
  • Yellow thread – $3.00
Total cost: $48.20 plus tax. Win!

Stored in the v berth with Patrick.
Stored in the v berth with Patrick.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Storm Windows? On A Boat??

This post originally appeared on Windborne in Puget Sound

We use Eolian all winter long (at the dock anyway), therefore we heat her all winter long.  On houses, storm windows are used to provide an extra layer of insulation against the winter cold and weather.  If you have ports like these:

Do you have ports like this? can easily make and fit storm windows for them too!  I  don't take credit for this idea - it came from Drew, 6 years ago.  

But in any case, it couldn't be simpler.  First you need to remove the screens from your ports (we don't have ours installed - no bugs to speak of in the PNW... :^) ).   It is easy to do this.  The rubber gasket that traps the screens in place is not glued in - it is just wedged into a slot on the port frame:

Just pull it out
You just need to pull it out.  If you haven't ever had yours off, they may be glued in there with algae and other growth tho.  With the gasket off, simply lift the screen out of its recess.

Of course, you'll need the actual storm windows.  For these you'll want some kind of thin plastic - less than 1/8" (the thickness of the screens).  I made mine out of the glazing from a couple of old poster frames that were destined for the recycle bin.  I just traced the outline of the screen on the plastic sheet and then cut them out on my bandsaw.  I suppose you could use a sabre saw, or even a hack saw (tho the corners would be tedious).  And you might even want to smooth out the edges with a bench grinder and/or a file - I did this with mine.

And just slip them in where the screens were

And then you just drop them into the recess that the screen was in, and reinstall the rubber gasket.  (If you look closely, you'll notice that there is a joint on the gasket - this should go to the top.)  Be sure to get the gasket flange firmly pushed into the slot all the way around, otherwise the window won't close - you could break it if you try.

Easy peasy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Windlass Locker Refit: Epoxy is Your Friend

Rot is insidious. It sneaks in quietly, eating away at the structure of your boat. Mike and Melissa on s/v Galapagos discovered the rot monster eating away at their anchor locker - this is how they defeated it:
When we bought Galapagos we were kind of enthralled with our Lofrans electric windlass. It’s a love affair that continues to this day and because we love her, we want her to live in a nice place. Long ago we noticed that her locker on the foredeck had seen better days. It looked to me like there was wood rot underneath her foot switches and a couple of times when we pulled up anchor, Mike saw the floor of the locker move a little bit. This gave us pause.

So it came to pass that we decided we better get to it and refurbish that part of the boat. This has been one of those projects that takes much longer than you’d like, simply because there are a lot more parts to it than you think, and because Mike still works for a living. That leaves the weekends. And me.

Mike pulled the windlass off and carried her home to take her apart and make sure all of her parts were shiny and new looking and give her a general going over. He can write about that part soon. The windlass has always worked great and we want to keep it that way considering that pulling up anchor by hand on this boat, even given the hand ‘crank’ we can use, would cost a lot in terms of energy, time, and effort. Whatever needs to be done to keep this windlass in good shape is time and money well spent.

When we examined the wood under the switches it was clear that there was not only rot, but that there was a lot of it. If it were not for the fact that this entire locker is hell for stout, we would have had a bigger job on our hands. The wood in this area is about 10” thick meaning you can have a lot of rot before things start getting serious. That also means that after I removed all the rotted wood, we still had plenty to work with. We decided we did not need to remove the entire floor (thank you, gods of windlass lockers!) and that we could fix the area with a series of epoxies, from the liquid kind that soaks into wood to give it new structure, to the kind you smear on like wood putty.

After drilling holes all over the place to make sure we found all the rot, and a good thing we did, too because water came out of some of the holes, we waited as everything dried out in the hot summer sun. Then, over a week or so we mixed batch after batch of System Three End Rot liquid epoxy and their wood putty version called Sculp Wood. When we ran out of the End Rot stuff, we used the straight System Three liquid resin epoxy. We poured the liquid stuff down into the holes and let it seep into the surrounding wood on the topside. When that was cured, we poured in more. We added fiberglass fibers to thicken the paste and troweled it onto the inside of the locker from below, filling in gaps left by the wood we removed. It was a long process that involved a lot of boat yoga, waiting, and sanding in close quarters.

You may be wondering how rot got involved with this windlass locker in the first place. Two reasons became apparent. Let the first reason be a cautionary tale about being sure you are bedding your screws with butyl tape or the equivalent if they are going to be exposed to water. On our two foot switches, the screws holding one switch onto the wood were bedded with something that protected them from water. The screws on the other side were not. So one side had rusty screws, proving that water was ingressing in that area. The wood around that switch was where the rot started and it spread from there. Of course, it’s probably been 20 years or more since those switches were installed. Let’s keep things in perspective here.

Second, the drainage in this locker was poorly designed in our opinion. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that drains that are above the level where water stands make sense. Think about it. In your sink, the drain is installed slightly lower than the bottom of the sink. That’s because water runs…..down. Not up. So a drain that stands proud of the surface will never, due to the laws of the physical universe, drain all the water out. Standing water is a bad thing, especially if it is close to electric switches installed with unbedded screws. Voila, rot.

So Mike decided to redesign the drains making them much simpler, and making them drain correctly. You know how when people are married for a long time they start thinking alike? We both came up with the exact same idea independent of each other. When that happens, it’s a go. So instead of reinstalling the drains as they were, he filled in the hole where they would be set, cut off the top of the drain that was too high, then drilled out an area and epoxied the drain directly into the hole. Then he attached the hose. It’s not going anywhere and it drains really well now. Plus with all that epoxy the wood will stay protected long after we’re dead. We are considering this simple solution for some other areas of the boat.

When all the epoxy was cured, he sanded everything smooth on top and on bottom. I followed behind him with two coats of bilgecoat, since this area is protected from UV rays unless the locker is open. Although I didn’t bother with a photo yet, the inside of the locker has a nice smooth ‘ceiling’ now. Our windlass will be much happier in her newly refurbished digs. And we have a locker that will see another 25 years in good shape. Stay tuned for part two, where Mike fills you in on the insides of the windlass. Or something like that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sailor, and now Author

Drew, a frequent contributor to Practical Sailor and to this blog, has branched out - he is now a published author!  Aside from making a few bucks to cover his time and effort in producing these books, Drew is paying it forward; he is giving new and less-experienced sailors the benefit of his extensive experience.

Drew, as an engineer (disclaimer:  as am I), has a precise, unambiguous writing style.  But he will also wax poetic, in the fashion of a man who has carefully examined his own motivations.

What is rare in the sailing genre is that Drew, again being an engineer, does not shy away from experimentation.  He does not accept "everyone knows" without actually testing it himself, rigorously.  What Drew reports is derived from first person experience and experimentation.  If he says it, he's tested it, and you can believe it.

So far, there are four books in the bookstore:
  • Keeping a Cruising Boat on Peanuts
    PDF, Pending 2017 Kindle, about 400 pages
  • Rigging Modern Anchors
    Pending 2017, TBD, about 250 pages.
  • Singlehanded Sailing for the Coastal Sailor
    Kindle, 143 pages, PDF, 154 pages
  • Faster Cruising for the Coast Sailor
    PDF, 183 pages, Pending 2017, Kindle, about 200 pages

To provide a little view into what's included, here is the Table of Contents from Singlehanded Sailing for the Coastal Sailor:
  • Acknowledgments 4
  • Preface 7
  • Part 1: The Singlehander
    • Chapter 1: The Reasons We Go Alone 11
    • Chapter 2: The Costal Philosophy 14
  • Part II: Preparations
    • Chapter 3: Docks 21
    • Chapter 4: Sailing 24
    • Chapter 5: Safety 41
  • Part III: Practices
    • Chapter 6: Sailing 63
    • Chapter 7: Safety 74
    • Chapter 8: Living 80
    • Chapter 9: Kids 85
    • Chapter 10: Summer 87
    • Chapter 11: Winter 88
  • Summary 100
  • Glossary 102
  • Appendix I: Annual Inspection 103
  • Appendix II: Tethers and Jacklines 108
  • Appendix III: Rainwater and Water Filtration 122
  • Appendix IV:  Climbing the Mast, Ladders, and Falling 136
  • Appendix V: Extension Ladders and Webbing Ladders 141
  • Appendix VI: Stropes 148
Come on, you know these books are going to make for wonderful reading at anchor!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Valkyr’s Hard Dodger

Scott aboard s/v Valkyr needed more solar power to run his A/C (he is in Florida).  And shade is also a very nice thing...  So he took on the project of making a hard dodger to support all those new solar panels.  This is not strictly a small boat project, but shows some excellent construction techniques.  Enjoy!
So I thought I had posted pictures of Valkyr’s hard dodger long ago but it seems that I didn’t. These are not the best formatted pictures but should help to give an idea of what I did.

aft starboard view boat and dodger
Starboard view of whole dodger frame

dodger aft view handrail and boom protector mounts
We had 1/4 inch aluminum plates welded into frame to bolt the top rails onto. In finished dodger this is what actually holds it to dodger. There are 6 of them.

dodger aft view 1
Aft partial view of dodger frame

Drilling coring filling mount holes 7
We drilled the holes to mount frame to boat and then filled with epoxy and drilled again to make sure we would never have an issue with water penetration into the core.

deck mount and backing plates for under the deck
This is picture of the above deck mount and two of the backing plates for under the deck. As you can see the deck mount has a pivoting base. The reason we went with this is that once mounted we could unbolt the entire dodger with four bolts, and have no risk of water ingress while it is off the boat. also 4 bolts vs 16 bolts is a lot quicker and easier.

portside aft handrail and boom protector mounting plate underside
Underside of one of backing plates for top rails.

aft port side view of whole dodger
aft portside view of entire dodger frame

aft starboard view down dodger
starboard view down top of frame. You can see the next attachment point at the center of the handrail and then forward attachment point. Dodger has 3 rails, hand rails on either side that are full length of dodger and attached with 12 1/4 inch stainless bolts. I’m almost 200 lbs and can yank on a rail as hard as I can and it barely shivers the dodger. More rocks the boat the the dodger. The third rail is what you can see in the left foreground of the picture and is simply to keep the boom from hitting the dodger if it falls and for tieing it down if you need to.

visibility sitting at helm looking under dodger
We spent a lot of time making drawings and sitting on the boat taking measurements to get the height of the dodger correct. This is the view sitting at the helm. You have clear unobstructed view under and if you stand up you can see over it. We also did a lot of different version of the side supports to finally end up with the graceful design we got. The curves added strength and elegance yet still left us with a lot of unobstructed view forward under the dodger. The top of the dodger has the same camber as the deck under it.

dodger pad mounting 7
dodger bolted down with sealant.

dodger pad mounting 1
sealant to keep water from running down the bolt.

dodger pad mounting 6
again sealant to keep water from running down bolt. All epoxy filled holes through deck were counter sunk to allow the built up sealant around bolt here to fill and compress in the holes.

dodger pad mounting 8
It took several go around over a few days to fully tighten down. The sealant we used was pretty thick and it would gradually ooze out as it sat after being tightened. After a couple go arounds it was all good and hasn’t leaked in the 4 years since it was installed.

Temp attachment of forward port side handrail on dodger.

temp attachment on starboard

port side view of dodger frame

Middle starboard side attachment for handrail.

Waterproof junction box
This is a bit out of order but has to do with dodger. This is the central junction for all the solar panels on the dodger near the starboard aft leg of the dodger that the main wires from it run below to the charge controller. We used a water proof document case that we modified into a junction box. notice all wires into have a drip loop. All exposed wire and buss bars are coated in di-electric grease. 4 years later it still looks like new. No corrosion.

Wires from solar panels penetrating dodger top
You can see the deck penetrations where the wires from the solar panels penetrate the dodger. It was a lot of work drilling and then filling all the holes with epoxy and then drilling again. We actually glued the wires to the underside of the dodger in neat runs to lead to the junction box. It has also worked well.

solar panels1
Solar panels on dodger roof. We used a adhesive sealant to attach them to roof. It has held really good. Forget what it is called, something kevlar 400? from PPG.

solar panels2
another view of solar panels. Each one of the panels is 25 watts. They are a thin flexible panel that it is safe to walk on. There are

junction box closed
junction box closed

wire runs to junction box
roof penetration for solar panel wiring and runs glued to roof as they go to junction box. I used quick set gel super glue to do the gluing. Run a line of glue and press wire into it for a few inches and hold for 15 or 20 seconds and then repeat. It took a while to do it all but in the end it was very neat and held good. when I painted it is hardly noticeable under there. Sadly I should have sanded before glueing the wiring in. Not that it was an issue with the wiring but some of the paint flaked off on the under side.

underneath of dodger
another view under dodger. If you notice the chips in the white paint on the aft upper edge of the dodger, That edge takes a beating sometimes an has to be touched up on a regular ( annual basis )

butyl mastic used to seal under the hand rail pads.
Hand rails being attached to the top of dodger once roof is installed.

Hand rails installed
Picture with 12 panels attached. For some reason I think I added a 12th panel behind the aft most two panels for a total of 275 watts on the dodger. There is another 190 watts in one big panel on the dingy davits also for a total of 465 watts on the boat. We had power hooked up at the dock when we lived on the boat to run the AC. Since then though the boat has been powered by the installed solar. We turned off the dock power to save money and never noticed the difference.

Kaylin helping paint!!

Zsanic in the galley and kaylin hanging out under dodger.

forgot to mention. If you look in the lower left corner of the dodger you will notice a drain. We custom made drains in all 4 corners of the dodger with 1/2 inch hose leading down on deck from it. No matter what angle of heel rain will drain off and if we wanted we could lead it to the tanks.

Good view of the aft rail that protects solar panels and dodger top from boom if it falls.
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