Sunday, June 19, 2011

2011: Repairs On the Marina (Part 2)

f.  Fridge.  The fridge stopped working after the Mate cleaned it last year – the freezer soldiered on as though nothing had happened.  The fridge had a new pressure valve installed ($300 thank you) and the whole system will have to be re-gassed by a technician.  An expensive fix but essential for crew morale (and the Captain’s appetite! Ed.).

g.  Engine Raw Water Impellers.  I replaced both the engine and generator water impellers, because it was suggested by some around here that this was a wise precaution to do each and every year.  I wasn’t convinced until I found that both of them each had a flap missing.  So, there you go, change them annually whether they need it or not, even if the owner's manual says otherwise or at least remove and inspect them for any damage, before replacing them.  Don’t forget the lubricant before you replace them. 

I also use a special impeller removing tool but there is insufficient room to be able to use the turning handle that it comes with – other engine bits and pieces get in the way.  Nevertheless, just being able to grasp the impeller with the two ‘arms’ is enough to get a decent grip on the impeller so that I can wiggle it out of the engine just using my hand.  I also have to lay on top of the engine when I do this and I can hardly see – all done by feel as the impeller faces aft and is on the side of the engine.  My generator has its water pump mounted on its front which, comparatively, makes it a joy to change impellers.
Installing antenna for HF radio

h.  Generator Raw Water Hose.  I had been watching this hose ever since I purchased the boat.  It seemed to be okay but, this year, I thought I would treat our venerable and hard working generator with a new hose.  Well, I replaced it with another new one of exactly the same size – 5/8’’ only to find that, on testing, it sucked its insides together, obviously seriously restricting water flow.  I then checked the fittings on the strainer and generator only to find they were ¾’’, not 5/8’’.  So, I replaced it with another new steel-reinforced ¾’’ hose and it works a treat – the generator loves me again.  I also replaced/tightened a couple of the other hose clips which had been allowing a few drips of water to escape.

i.  Primary Engine Fuel Filter Fittings.  R2D2 no longer looks like something from outer space; he is settled in looking more like a new filter with brand new elbow fuel line fittings. 

j.  Fridge Raw Water Strainer.  I replaced the wire strainer for the fridge – not a simple task as there are no brand names on these housings, so I had to purchase a complete fitting with some spare screens.  Screens also come with different sized openings so there you go.  Remember that you measure the size of the inside diameter of the hose that attaches to it ie ¾’’ in this case, not the 1’’ on the outside of the thread.  Needless to say, I got it wrong first off before realizing my mistake when the 1’’ strainer arrived and it was way too big.

2011: Repairs On the Marina (Part 1)

2011: Deltaville, VA

a.  Freshwater System.  A couple of those PVC fittings broke so a lot of freshwater ended up in the bilge as I filled water tanks and then turned on the pressure water system.  A breather line came away from the hull fitting sending more freshwater into the bilge and I had to add a short extension to the original hose.  Oh well, the bilges love a bit of fresh water circulated through them. 

b.  Manual Toilet.  The two anti-syphon valves on the inlet and outlet lines to the manual toilet decided to fail at the same time so I had to replace them.  No leaks now, which has made the whole thing much more ‘attractive’. 

More motoring up the Chesapeake with BW at the helm

c.  Forward Bathroom Hatch Rebedded.  The acrylic had come away from the hatch frame and so I rebedded it with 3M 5200.  It’s quite heavy since I added the Nicro solar vent to ventilate the compost toilet and, I think, there may have been too much weight for the sealant to adequately hold the acrylic in place.  So far it’s doing what it should.
d.  Regalvanize Anchor Chain and Second Anchor.  The chain and second anchor were quite rusted in places so I was able to get it all regalvanised at Ashland near Richmond.  They did a good job and it cost about a third of a new chain.  Since my chain was not that old nor showing any obvious signs of excessive wear, this seemed like a sensible solution.  All we have to do now is mark the various depths (with cable ties) and then put it all back on board.
(For anyone interested, BW scored the job of marking off the chain.  He chose to measure it in 10ft lengths and fold it in 30ft lengths.  Every 30ft length, over the entire length of chain, is marked with cable ties - yellow @ 10ft; orange @ 20ft; and red @ 30ft; starting yellow @ 40; orange @ 50 and so on until the entire length of chain is cabled with these three colours.  Then, each 30ft is marked as well.  We started with blue cable ties.  One @ 30ft; two @ 60ft; and three @ 90 ft, then repeated the same with green to mark the next three lengths.  It sounds complicated but as the chain is running out over the anchor winch - even in torchlight - you can be sure that you know exactly how much is out. We haven't had too many cable ties pop off either.)
e.  Spinnaker Pole End Fittings.  I purchased two new Ronstan spinnaker pole ends and Crew put them on the pole, after I broke one of them (a plastic fitting - not Ronstan) last year in a simple and not particularly stressful situation.  The fittings I purchased in Australia, brought them with me, then found that there was one or two millimetres difference in diameter of the pole and Ronstan fittings.  My Crew had to grind some of the raised sections down and then they fitted perfectly.  These aluminium fittings are much more robust than the ones they replaced.

First flight - new spinnaker feels the breeze
on Chesapeake Bay

Year 4: Work (still more) in Deltaville 2011

2011: Deltaville

Series Drogue.  I purchased this last year but, since we only coastal cruised, never got around to attaching any of the 138 drogues to the line.  This is a job to be done before we leave the Chesapeake this year and so many hours, while cruising northwards up the Bay were spent sitting on the back of the boat seemingly endlessly attaching drogues to the line.   It's a simple task and only took a "few" days - I could almost do it in my sleep now.  I only dropped one splicing tool overboard but happened to have a suitable substitute so work continued.  Anyway, the next issue was to decide how to attach the gear to the stern and without pulling the stern off/apart when using the drogue seriously.

Apparently, in a full gale/storm, the forces exerted along the line, and by extension via the bridle onto the boat, can be quite enormous.  So, where to attach the two ends of the bridle?  Some publications advise fixing special reinforced points around the stern, however, in my view, this seemed like a lot of hard work and best avoided if another solution could be found.  My erstwhile son, Boy Wonder, is a RAT (rope access technician – does outside repairs on tall buildings/towers while hanging from ropes) and he suggested a number of lines could be taken from various already-reinforced points around the cockpit ie six winches and two mooring cleats.  By using various sheet and halyard lines/tails already positioned around the cockpit they could be easily attached to the ends of the bridle from the winches and cleats so that there would be something like four lines per bridle end.  Hence any loads are spread about and there is excellent control via the winches so that their lines at least can be equally tensioned.   I haven’t had to test it, thank goodness, but I’m still of a view that it’s a sensible and strong solution.

A good view of the solar panels on the bimini, the self steering post in place
& a RAT (BW) up the mast installing the antenna

Third Solar Panel.  After last year’s experience with our two solar panels we’ve been converted to using this energy source and, as there was room for one more panel between the other two, I purchased another.  The advice from e Marine Systems was that I might exceed the regulator’s capacity of 25 amps but that would only be when the system was producing max amps ie perhaps 28 amps and so I may not get that surplus three amps to the batteries.  My experience was that two produced, for my setup at best, 16 amps so a third would only increase it to, perhaps, 24 amps.  Anyway, we’ll see.  It was a simple task to put in the third, wire it in parallel with the others, and the wiring was adequate for my needs as advised by the yard technicians.  These panels really are great and the more the merrier.

HF Radio.  After much thinking, discussion, research, skipper and crew decided, for a variety of reasons, that we should have a HF radio for the upcoming Atlantic crossing.  So, I purchased and installed an Icom M802 radio plus weather fax system.  It has DSC too so that added the odd complication.  Anyway, it came as a kit from Sea Tech so I didn’t have any problems with wiring or fittings as they were all there (just about) and staff were ever willing to provide friendly advice as and when I needed it.  It’s all installed now so we’ll see how it performs (see comments later). 

I went down the route of installing a KISS SSB ground counterpoise and a GAM antenna which ‘clips’ onto the starboard shroud.  This system is counter to some of the conventional/traditional readings and writings on HF radio grounding etc but, on the other hand, I have read good reports about this kit.  So, for anyone contemplating installing a HF radio, read widely and then make your decisions, knowing that there are so-called experts out there that might disagree with your solution.  You would think by now that we boaties would have our act together on this but, clearly, we don’t. 

Bedding down the HF antenna

Spinnaker Winches.  I found a couple of second-hand Lewmar 44 sheet winches looking for a new owner on the shelves at Nauti Nell’s in Deltaville.  I’d been contemplating adding a couple of cockpit winches to make life easier handling the new spinnaker sheets, furling lines on occasion, etc but had been put off a bit at the price of purchasing new ones.  These two used ones were too good to resist so they are about to be installed on the cockpit coamings.  I’ll comment later on their utility.

Year 4: Work (Again) in Deltaville 2011

2011: Deltaville

Let me begin by saying that I arrived back to a sweet smelling boat – our winterizing last year had worked well and there was no mould.  Also the teak oil we used (Starbright) was more robust and has really made all the internal wood work look much improved.

I Don't Think I Need Any More Stuff.  Now, I think I’m approaching the point where I just can’t put anything else on or into the boat.  June 2011 has to be the turning point where I’ll finish adding stuff and only look after maintenance, or may be occasionally replace some thing with a new better thing.  Also we have plans to sail from the US to Portugal via the Azores, so I’m doing a check of all our safety and storm gear before we leave.  Of course, all you Old Salts out there will know that there is always more gear to be added to a boat and so I have to eat humble pie here.  Read on to find out about "new better things" I've since added.

Home Preparatory CoursesI started our preparation at home by having us all attend a Sea Survival course with Gerry Fitzgerald, Offshore Marine Training.  Further to this I also did a radar course to try to understand my electronic system better.  Both GS & Boy Wonder decided to get their Marine Radio Licences and then do a Marine First Aid Course to cover any eventuality. 
We ordered this at the Annapolis Boat Show

Sails.  We didn’t ever set our new 2010 spinnaker or attach the hanks to the storm trysail, but we will this year.  I have new sheets for the spinnaker and a deck line for the tack to be adjusted from the cockpit.  The trysail has its hanks attached and had a trial hoist before we leave the Chesapeake for Europe.  Meanwhile, I purchased a storm jib – the Storm Bag, which came from France.  This sail comes, with its own sheets, in a saddle bag arrangement which you place around the furled jib/genoa.  You then attach the (spare) halyard to the head, clip the tack to a bow deck fitting and make sure the sheets are clipped together at the clew, and hoist away from the safety of the cockpit, then trim to suit.  Seems a simple solution to setting a storm jib over furled sails, provides a reserve sail in case of damage to the genoa and/or staysail, and minimizes the amount of time on the foredeck in high winds.  I ordered one that was a size smaller in area (not in sailcloth weight) than recommended because I have the staysail which I will use for as long as I can before resorting to the storm jib.

Documenting Our Trip: ISP Hazards 2

Moving House
As one of our calamity prone PM’s said, “life wasn’t meant to be easy”!  There was a lot of research needed to find helpful solutions.  Transferring WJ3’s 2008-2010 posts, all 145 of them, could not be done.  Way too big!  So, with heavy heart, GS began in early 2012, a slow cut and paste process, reducing the number of posts on Typepad, until its size was more acceptable to export. 
The big day came and finally, after several failed attempts, the export to Blogger actually stuck.  Apparently there is some difference in “language” and not being a geek – which is pretty obvious given the above – made the process one of trial and error.  Not wanting to let go too easily, Typepad actually retains your photos on its site.  This means that if you suddenly delete Typepad, your blog photos – even the ones imported to Blogger – disappear into the ether too.  One other problem with the export was that Blogger doesn’t take to tables very well.  WJ3’s posts were doubling as our cruising log and some 75 contained tables…… 
Stop the boat, I've just found my new house!  (Oh, I wish!!)

Sharing a Room
All the issues with importing to Typepad, then Blogger, left a mountain of work.  To make life a little easier, we broke them into steps:
  • Step 1:  Number posts.  Easy to use the saved Word documents as a ready reference.
  • Step 2:  Remove duplicate posts (and note missing ones!) from Blogger’s post list.
  • Step 3:  Remove tables, replacing with information presented in another, more suitable (to Blogger) format.  (This took hours, and we made changes to the Word documents first before removing table detail on-line.  Tables throw out Bloggers formatting.)
  • Step 4:  Remove and replace photos, editing on-line.  I have the photos stored on an external HDD so that the computer is not overburdened. 
  • Step 5:  Check each and every post for typos, spelling errors, tag omissions, links gone haywire and any other formatting problems from the import.  Don’t forget to insert a new visitor counter (if you want one).
  • Step 6:  Remove Typepad, graciously acknowledging its part in keeping your posts alive until they found a new home.  (There is nothing wrong with either Wordpress or Typepad – they just didn’t suit our style of blogging.  Vox had been so easy to use!  It had set a high standard; we thought only Blogger came close.  We also like the way Google keep making improvements to its functionality too.)

Nice Wallpaper!

Of course, we are still tinkering at Step 3 given our “boating” circumstances and access (mostly not) to internet.  GS continues to suffer horribly every time the service falls over in our current marina. 

  • It will take longer than you think!
  • Choose your blog provider carefully but don’t be afraid to move if it doesn’t suit you. 
  • Decide how important it is to keep your old posts.  Perhaps they might find a better home in a coffee table book using a program like blurb. 
  • Always keep a backup of every post you make if you do want to save them.  Then learn how to file things away so they can be found later if needed.  Keep paper if you don’t want to use a computer. For anyone nautically inclined, we also keep a proper “log” on a spreadsheet.  It all helps when you need to fill in gaps.
  • Always back-up your computer. 
  • And finally, never waste a good crisis………
To keep a blog of our on water voyages in WJ3 was a fantastic idea
& well worth any "little" problems... 

Documenting Our Trip: ISP Hazards

Crashing Worlds

Panic set in when Vox announced it was closing down (Sep, 2010).  Completely shutting shop!  And all its blogs of wisdom would be lost – including ours.  We had a month to export or were doomed to perish.  A month isn’t so bad if you’ve got unlimited internet access, all your old photos on hand and several slaves to help you achieve the impossible.  We were on a boat and only in town for a few days.  And we had been posting since 2008.  Our only immediate internet access was Starbucks – a 20 minute bike ride away in downtown Staten Island. 

Vox offered the opportunity to export to Wordpress or Typepad.  GS chose both.  Then with BW’s words of wisdom, proceeded to copy and paste every post into a Word document.  Just to be sure!  Safely locked away, the decision then (to settle on the best blog platform) could be left for “afterwards”.  Starbucks were amazingly patient.  For the price of a few too many coffees, WJ3’s blog world was saved. 

Do you think they'll have internet here?

New Premises

Now, Vox was just so easy to use!  They had even made uploading photos from Picasa a dream too.  After much fiddle-faddling, Wordpress was the first for the executioner’s sword.  The import had gone well, but the software’s inner workings were not as agile nor as artistic for me.  Typepad was easier to use although the free version we were offered had some limitations – mainly size.  Also, the transfer had not gone well and most of the posts needed to be cleaned up.  Font styles and colours changed, photos disappeared or were smaller or larger than before.  This was a job for (much) later on….

In the meantime, we still wanted to record our boating adventures.  So at the Captain’s suggestion, GS took a look at Blogger.  Having read some e-reviews that rated it less desirable than others (only minimally), she was not too sure.  However, a few friends were happily blogging on it, so we trialled a blogspot. 

There was no looking back.  Blogger was easy to use, almost intuitive and an eminently  suitable replacement for Vox.  So began WJ3’s fresh, new start; a record of her sailing journeys, 2011 onwards (link here).  Meanwhile, Typepad sat at home with the posts from cruising seasons 2008 to 2010  - waiting, waiting for a new home…sigh!

We were able to enjoy the delights of Maine sailing after all the hard work

No Dock Candy Here

Sailing Magazine’s John Kretschmer reviewed Hunter 460’s in his article for “Used Boat Notebook” Nov/Dec 2010 issue (p34).  The 460 is described as a capable and affordable cruiser that is holding its resale value despite the market downturn (due to the GFC).  We noted his comment about the carbon fibre rudder stock and were in full agreement – we replaced ours with stainless in early BVI days.

On Anchor in Baltimore's Canton (JGP Photo)

I certainly agree that the Hunter Owner’s web site is an excellent and friendly resource.  I used it quite a lot in our early days (pre-owner) to find out if the 460 was the one for us.  We like to gunkhole in quiet anchorages rather than pull up to marinas, and were concerned the 460 was more a floating show pony.  Our experiences have proved otherwise as we’ve since cruised the Caribbean to Trinidad (2008),  up to Chesapeake via the Bahamas and the ICW in 2009 and Maine, New England coasts in 2010.  Hunter themselves have been very helpful too, as since purchase, I’ve negotiated my way around numerous repairs and upgrades.  I was sorry to have missed an opportunity to visit their factory on my way up the ICW though.

The features we all really like the swim-step and its shower, and the hatches that open wide to let in balmy tropical breezes.  The accommodations are really easy to live in and are somewhat voluminous at sea but we rarely move forward of the saloon when underwayy.  The galley is very secure for the slave at sea, the nav station easy to slide into and the amidships head well positioned for any action.  WJ3 has been rigged for shorthanded sailing too (as Soul Mate) with all lines coming back into the cockpit. Of course there are a few limitations to the Hunter 460 but I think I’ve covered them in previous posts.  

So, it was good to read positive things about the 460 and for us to compare the analysis with our own experiences.  Well done Sailing Magazine because we agree.  We’ve found our Hunter 460 to be an easy live-aboard, safe and comfortable cruiser – bluewater or slumming up the ICW.  WJ3’s the gal for us!

(For another & older review (2000) we found this one on line from Sea Magazine.)

2010: Winterising Decisions

We tossed and turned about our 2010 winterising location and did quite some research into leaving WJ3 in Nova Scotia.  This would have meant a more relaxed, thorough trip north from Chesapeake Bay to Maine and Nova Scotia.  We had even hoped to make Prince Edward Island too.  However, we ended up returning to Deltaville largely due to the commitment of winterising that far north.  This saved us the hassle of finding a wooden cradle, taking out the mast, covering WJ3 in plastic shrink wrap (friend Paula reckons they look like oversized Steggles chickens!) and/or leaving her in heated accommodation.  We would then have further problems of sailing through ice on our way out to the Azores. These cold weather solutions did not appeal to us at all and our concerns were well-substantiated when a friend (who loves cold water sailing) did leave his boat with associated costs to the tune of some $17000. Mind, that did include some work done to the mast whist it was out.

Chilly on the Chesapeake
Back in Deltaville, we allowed a good ten days to get those chores done before leaving WJ3 to Virginian snows and icy blasts – and as we were later to discover some rather too close tornadoes. 

After last year’s mould problem, we still washed the hard areas down with a vinegar/water solution and left baking powder in the fridges to keep them smelling sweet.  GS put a generous quantity of closet camels throughout the boat and sprinkled lockers liberally with moth balls.  I consulted Herd’s Hardware (a great local repository of gadgets, knowledge and advice) as to a better solution to our teak oil problems.  Finally I set up one dorade vent just behind the mast (in a purpose built fitting) and left the small solar fan that vents the compost loo (disconnected) to extract stale air from the boat. Let’s see if that works!

2010: Lessons Learnt from Earl

Hiding from Hurricane Earl  

Having spent the previous two years cruising a bit quicker than we would have liked because we were always later than planned in getting out of the hurricane zones.  First year southwards to Trinidad, then 2009 north to Deltaville.  So we were a bit surprised when, on arriving at South West Harbour, Mt Desert Island, (way up north in MAINE, next to Canada would you believe) we found out that a hurricane was on its way.  And due to arrive in the next couple of days.  Bloody hell! 

We tried to get into North East Harbour but it was already full of local sailors who were obviously much quicker than us to respond to hurricane warnings.  To be fair though we had been advised that South West Harbour was probably going to be okay but, when a local lobster fisherman and owner of a lobster coop advised that South West Harbour was not the place to be, we followed his advice and hot-footed it to Somes Harbour, at the northern end of Somes Sound.  Fortunately, we were one of the first to arrive and found a good spot to anchor and, over the next day or so, watched as quite a few sailboats joined us or had a look but then departed after probably deciding it was a bit crowded. 

For the next day or so we prepared by getting frequent weather reports, putting out two anchors in tandem (on 200 feet of chain) and digging them in seriously, we took down our sails, and generally stowed things in expectation of a boisterous hurricane.  As it turned out and as the hurricane came closer, while at the same time losing power, we did not need to take down our canvas or fill up the dinghy with water (as originally planned).  On the night of the big blow the wooded hills surrounding Somes Harbour certainly felt Earl’s wrath but, down on the water, our anemometer registered its highest reading of only 34 knots.  A bit of an anti-climax as things turned out but I’m sure it was better than a real hurricane blow.

Fog creeps in ahead of Earl:  Hiding on anchor in Somes Harbor

2010: Repairs & Upgrades along the way (Part 2)

Anchor Riding Sail.  We made it to the annual Annapolis boat show – the biggest in the world we’re told.  We visited for one whole day and still missed some parts of it. One of our purchases was an anchor riding sail that impressed us as a logical solution to WJ3’s tendency to dance around a bit while on anchor in a fresh breeze.  You hoist this three dimensional triangular sail with a topping lift and attach it to the end of your boom and with  guys out to the sides – it steadies the boat holding it into the breeze and so, much less sailing around on anchor or a mooring. 

Hi Vis with the new Anchor Riding Sail (JGP Photo)

Fuel Again.  Having said we had no further fuel problems really meant that I knew how to deal with it when it raised its ugly head again off Oxford.  We were full of the joys of the world having had a good season up north, made it safely back to the Chesapeake, and experienced the delights of the Annapolis Boat Show, so the last thing we expected was to have fuel problems again.  In the little village of Oxford, we dragged on anchor during the night (in fairly stiff winds and poor holding) and decided to leave in the dark.  In the worst possible place at the worst possible time the engine stopped.  It could only have been fuel.  I hadn’t refuelled for some time and dregs were an issue now.  We turned back (under sail) and anchored in the river until daylight and a fuel dock opened.  Exciting stuff!

Whisker Pole.  That same day, once we beat our way out of the choppy Choptank, we set a fair pace down to the Solomons with the wind behind us so I poled out sail.  Much to my annoyance the cheap, nasty (metal look-alike) fittings on the whisker pole almost disintegrated.  I eventually replaced them with much more substantial Ronstan fittings purchased in Australia.
Anchored in Back Creek, Solomons Island

Welding in the Solomons.  On top of the steering pedestal in the cockpit there is a semi-circular stainless steel grab rail; it’s always been there (most sailboats with wheel steering have them) and you tend to take it for granted – until it breaks and you can’t use it, which is what happened to us.  The weld at the base of one of the legs had failed so it was not safe to use.  Of course, we arrived back in the Solomons on a weekend so I wasn’t expecting to have a lot of success in getting it fixed.

However, I visited the local West Marine and made some enquiries.  There was a guy standing at the counter who just happened to know of a welder nearby, had used him on his own boat a lot, and, best of all, my new-found best friend offered to drive me there, as the welder lived a few miles away.  To cut a long story short, the next day I had a vastly stronger grab rail reattached to the steering pedestal – it cost $200 but the fittings that had been welded into both bases will outlast all my other stainless.  The welder happened to work from home in a big barn-like shed that was so well equipped that my eyes watered with envy.  He also happened to be a great bloke, believed that quality was much more important than cheap quantity, and very obliging by doing it quickly. 

My new best friend turned out to be the same guy, with his wife, that the First Mate and I had shared a friendly conversation with at the local Holiday Inn bar where we stopped for refreshments while on our way north a few months earlier.  Our conversation had to start when we noticed that his wife had ordered a bucket of cocktails of various flavours and alcohol – it was huge.  Anyway, she enjoyed it, we enjoyed the ensuing discussion about it and, lo and behold, the husband just happened to be at the West Marine counter when I showed up with my busted grab rail.  Another tale of a small world and meeting some of the nicest people while cruising.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2010: Repairs & Upgrades along the way (Part 1)

Our trip to Maine, although delayed by my work schedule, went ahead as planned – more or less.  Well, less actually because we didn’t make Nova Scotia.  As Hurricane Earl (Sep 10) followed us up the coast and sideswiped Nova Scotia, we were pleased to have missed the worst of it in our hideout in Somes Harbor, Mt Desert Island.

Having spent some 10 weeks doing repairs and upgrades doesn’t necessarily mean that we escaped the joys of repairs underway.  Gunk in the fuel tank was our most dramatic problem, given that we were without a functioning engine and had to anchor under “sail power” twice during the season; and always when conditions were at their worst….

R2D2 our new oil filter that seems to have worked miracles...

Diesel Fuel System.  I always put fuel additive into the fuel tank whenever I refill but it doesn’t seem to have fixed a perennial problem of gunk in the fuel, as found in the primary filter from time to time.  As each season goes by, and the fuel is turned over as we motor a lot (on Chesapeake Bay, ICW, etc), it generally cleans up without anything more than routine checks of the primary filter to clear any build up of gunk, and occasional filter changes.  This year it let us down offshore near Atlantic City, and after we’d motored quite a few miles (up the Chesapeake Bay, thru the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, then down Delaware Bay), we had to sail along the coast and then into Sandy Hook to anchor – a sobering and thrilling event, especially for the First Mate who had to helm while I worked the sails. 

So I decided to upgrade the primary fuel filter for a bigger and better one, thinking that it would solve our woes – a Racor M500.  It didn’t come with the right fuel line fittings for WJ3 (3/8’’ elbows) so the guys that ably and charitably assisted me (see the story on our blog) came up with a combination of fittings to get by with – hence R2D2 was born.  I put it all together and fired up the Yanmar, only to have it cough and die a few minutes later.  Oh dear, only one course left to me, as advised to me as a sort of last thought as I left the dock with R2D2 in hand, and that was, if I had further problems with fuel, undo the fuel fitting on top of the tank and check for any blockage.  With a desperate  and heavy pit in my stomach I followed the instructions – a pretty easy task as it turned out, just undo a few screws, take off the hose, and, voila, a very blocked ball valve.  Aaaahhhhh, so that’s what’s been causing all the problems.  I shoved some wire thru it, blew into it and got out all the gunk.  No problems again for the rest of the season.  What a !@#$% relief!!!

Time to think of nice things_ Great Kills Harbor

Year 3: Work in Deltaville 2010 (Part 3)

Waeco Fridge/Freezer.  We can’t use our fridge and freezer out of the water as they use 110 volt and need sea water circulating around the system.  So, since we do spend a bit of time on the hard we wanted some refrigeration rather than relying on bags of ice to keep our essentials fresh and beer cold.  Our friends on Paradise had a small Waeco and recommended it so I purchased and installed one in the spare/storage room.  It operates on 240, 110, 12 or 24 volts, whatever is available to it.  You can set it as a freezer or fridge, or anything in between.  It’s been a godsend and we love it.

Adding & adjusting the new solar panels

Solar Panels.  To assist our batteries we installed 2x135watt solar panels on the stern just behind the arch. I purchased a kit to come with the panels and had a technician install the wiring, regulator, etc.  I mounted the panels on a frame system that was built by a stainless fabricator.  He had a better design than the one provided in the kit so I ended up with some stainless fittings surplus to requirement.  The frame is mounted to the arch and the bimini so it’s pretty substantial.  The stern area of WJ3 now looks a bit like a meccano set.  On a good day now I can get 16amps belting into the batteries from the two panels.

Engine Service.  A 3000 hours major service was given for the Yanmar engine.  The mechanic, while carrying out the service, showed me all sorts of stuff including the removal and testing of the injectors.  The service was mainly done in the water, which they prefer, and it also included a sea trial and an alignment check for the propeller shaft.  Most hoses and hose clamps were replaced and the turbo charger cleaned with some secret liquid potion.  The mechanic was very good at what he does and, as always, I enjoyed our general chat about life in America.

Snug in Deltaville Marina

Charts. We both had our personal laptops loaded with CMaps charts and found, with a GPS installed, this to be an effective navigation system.  We did back up with chartbooks however.  I don’t think we could have survived the ICW without a little bit of specific knowledge.

We picked up some cruising charts and guides along the way as there is usually a trading table/assortment of freebies or cheap second hand offers in the mariners lounge at each marina. Otherwise we did supplement our stash with a few good reference books and travel guides to get the most out of each location we visited.  I’ll do up a list in a later blog of the charts and guides we found most useful during our sailing seasons to date.

SkyMate.  In August 2010 we installed a SkyMate system after it was recommended by fellow Aussies Bev & Greg on Liberty VI (another Hunter 460 in the Deltaville Boatyard).  It’s basically a satellite system whereby you can receive weather information whenever you ask for it irrespective of wherever you are, at least that’s the theory.  It will also report your position and is available for other people to know where you are.  You can also send and receive basic email messages.  It might do other things but that is what we purchased it for.  I installed it myself, ie a VHF antenna mounted on the pulpit, a ‘black box’ in the chart table panel, and this is connected to your computer.  It worked quite well most of the time but, a major drawback, is that you have to inform them when you are crossing their boundaries so that they can make sure you are covered. 

Year 3: Work in Deltaville 2010 (Part 2)

Outboard Hoist near Davits
Sail Wardrobe.  Plans were being hatched in 2009 for a storm trysail and cruising spinnaker when finances allow and these were added in 2010.  I ordered, via the internet and while in Australia, a cruising spinnaker and a storm trysail from the Rolly Tasker agent in the US, which were waiting for us on our arrival at the boatyard in Deltaville.  Couldn’t have been much easier!  I also did the same for a series drogue from Sailrite.

Outboard Hoist.  In Deltaville there is a shop - Nauti Nell’s - that, among other nautical nick-knacks, sells boat items on consignment.  We love visiting this place and, shortly after returning in 2010, I found an outboard hoist at a bargain price ie half new but the item was indeed new.  So, we now have a heavy duty stainless lifting hoist on the back of the boat, which has made lifting the heavy 15hp outboard a relative breeze.

Washdown Pump and Hose
Washdown Pump.  My Crew (anchor woman) called for a washdown pump (salt water) to be provided mainly for those occasions when the anchor is pulled up and covered in thick oozy clinging mud, which has been most of the trip since we entered the ICW at West Palm Beach in 2009.  When I installed the compost toilet up forward it freed up the toilet intake raw water pipe and so I installed a washdown pump in line, put in a deck fitting in the deck, and plumbed everything.  Electric wiring was provided by the, no-longer-needed, wiring for the forward holding tank pump.  So, a relatively simple task (once I had worked it all out) has made up-anchoring almost a pleasure for the First Mate.  Cost - about $200 by doing it myself.  I bought the long hose kit (50’) so that I could easily get to anywhere on the boat if needs be, and especially the stern when, one day, we catch a big fish and need to wash away the mess after cleaning it.  One has to have a dream!

Radar.  I purchased and installed a Furuno radar, attaching the antenna just above the lower spreaders. This was another internet purchase.  I must say that the Boat Yard were very good at taking deliveries for those of us who DIY.  I set the radar screen/panel just above the chart table and, yes, some would say that it should be at the helm in the cockpit but I prefer my navigation electronics at the chart table.

The new radar (WJ3 in the Deltaville Marina)
Freshwater Plumbing.  The pressure freshwater system uses a fairly common PVC system (available in most hardware stores in the US) whereby hoses are routed and joined using a range of press-on-and-screw fittings.  It works quite well but the fittings do tend to crack – perhaps it’s just old age or they might be too tight perhaps.  So, I have had to replace a number of them as they leak when they crack.  So, I monitor the freshwater system fairly regularly and listen for any intermittent noises from the pump, which might indicate that there is a leak somewhere. I also carry a range of spares and check said fittings to ensure they do not work loose with vibration of the pipes over time.

Year 3: Work in Deltaville 2010 (Part 1)

Back in the USA.  Deltaville is beginning to feel like home!
Winterising in 2009 worked effectively but we spent a good few days cleaning mould off the timber work. We had used a light furniture oil to treat it before we left.  The hard surfaces we treated with a vinegar solution and that seemed to work very well except for the shower (because we left the door closed).  We needed to consider a ventilation system before leaving WJ3 in the boatyard at the end of the 2010 cruising season.

Full moon in the boatyard
‘Essential’ Upgrades and Repairs.  I decided to spend time in the Deltaville boatyard before splashing to get all those “essential” upgrades and repairs attended to.  In all we became a regular part of the Deltaville community in our 6 weeks up on the hard and 4 weeks in the Marina.  We concluded that life was a lot easier in the water (and nearer to the pool, laundry and bathhouse!).  However, this delayed our departure for Maine & New England coasts until well into the season and we had to strike Nova Scotia off our list all together.  We both agreed though that the time spent doing maintenance and upgrades was well worth it and the First Mate even found a local quilting group to visit. This is what we did:

Toilets and Being Green.  The macerator pumps needed to be replaced as the original ones were corroded and not working, so we just swapped one for one, easy.  I had an impromptu test of one of them when my Crew mistakenly filled a holding tank with fresh water, rather than the nearby fresh water tank.  Oh well! 
Oh look.  An outside dunny!
We actually took this one step further and took out a complete head system (in the forward cabin) and replaced it with an eco composting toilet aka “turdis”.  Simple, easy to use (we hope) and so far the only problem we’ve heard is that peat moss – the necessary composting agent – is hard to find in some places.  However, peat moss comes in huge bags so that we now have a couple of tubs full in the storeroom – probably 10 years worth at our rate.  

This loo, a Natures Head, complies with strict US regulations regarding discharge but best of all (so the cranky crew says) it can be used whilst we are up on the hard.  The rear head, easiest to use whilst at sea, remains a pump out or holding tank choice depending on where we are. 

The compost toilet has turned out to be a most welcome item – next to no smells as there is a small (computer type) fan that constantly circulates the air inside the dunny outside the cabin, via a tube system from the toilet to a deck fitting.  The fan can be wired into the boat’s electric system or you can use, as we do, a solar powered vent, which runs all day in sunlight and, at night, runs off a recharged rechargeable battery.