Thursday, August 3, 2017

A good boat is like a woman - never quite approprately adorned!

Hi - it is me Grace again. It has been a long time since I have posted something so I thought I would catch you guys up on what my 'Boat Slave' has been up to and boy has he been busy.

Since we last talked I have received a number of new items. Some of the most notable are:
  • New hard top to go over the wonderful Bimini frame 
  • Indirect edge lights around the edge of the hardtop
  • New Yanmar 80HP engine that can push me along at 8.5Knots! Only if needed because it DRINKS the fuel at that speed. 
  • Pulled my mast (did not hurt much) and had it spiffed up and painted 
  • New running rigging 
  • New standing rigging 
  • New Jeep LED light bars for down lights 
  • Blue LED sign module lights on the top of the spreaders for up lights 
  • Steerable spotlight on its own radar mount just below the radar 
  • Camera attached to the side of the spot light so it turns with the spotlight
Well for all of that hard work I took my 'Boat Slave' for a nice trip to the Bahamas. See hard work does pay.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Taming the engine room hatch

This post should only be of interest to CSY 44WO owners. Skip it if you are not interested in these boats.

I have been asked by a number of people to publish the modifications I made on the engine compartment hatches on my CSY 44WO.

As most of you know these hatches are big cumbersome and, in my opinion, dangerous offshore when accessing the engine compartment. I could not even think of being down in the engine compartment with any seas and that 50 pound monster free up on the deck. Also, the rubber tie downs were not a real solution to keeping these in place in case of a knock down. I had to remove the stairs, open the door, climb over the refrigeration unit (since removed), and lock the rubber keepers. Not something that I would like to do in any seas. So I did like everyone else probably does – left it unlocked when underway. I knew there must be a better solution so I came up with the following:

For the large main hatch (by far the biggest problem)

For the big hatch I cut off @ 1” from the end toward the companionway. This allows the hatch to open side to side (from the wheel pedestal toward the seat) and not hit the wood of the companionway (Others have said they cut the wood from the companionway instead of the hatch – I don’t know how well this works). I then attached hinges to the hatch and the lip of the opening. This allows the large hatch to open easily and stay with the boat.

I then attached a piece of door gasket material to the bottom of the part I had to cut off to miss the door. This acted as a drip rail for the blunt edge. I also painted the end of the board with epoxy because the plywood was showing. When it was all installed I added a spring shock to keep the hatch open and to hold it shut.

On the small hatch cover I cut off the side by the bench seat so it stands up like this:

I left a 1/4th inch drip rail so that water does not roll under the lid.

On both of the access hatches I used a weather strip from Lowes. It keeps the noise down and does not seem to allow any water into the engine space.

Small hatch open

Fuel Tank Table CSY 44WO

This should only be of interest to other CSY people - skip it if you don't have a CSY 44WO.

The following is the tank table for the fuel tanks for a 1980 44 WO. The previous owner did an extensive science project to determine this table. It appears to be correct.

I have a long fiberglass batton that is marked in inches from the bottom. I dip the tanks through the tank fill to determine how much fuel is remaining.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

CSY Refrigeration Project

Warning - Anyone who does not own a CSY sailboat may not care about this post. Feel free to skip it - honest you will not hurt my feelings.

Note to CSY owners - The Crosby refrigeration unit found on the CSY 44 was giving me trouble and was leaking freon so I had a choice. Either repair the unit (and repair the unit, and repair the unit, etc) or replace it. I know refrigeration is closely aligned with religion to a sailor and a number of you will say - Replace that great old refrigeration system, are you crazy? I looked around and finally decided to replace it. You may want to keep yours. That is why they make chocolate and vanilla.

This is what I did:

Icebox - the first thing I did was cut down the ice box / freezer. Did I really need 21 cubic feet of refrigeration? I have that much at home. First I took out the third refrigerated box (one closest to the stern). I actually cut out the box and removed it. It was a chore but now I have more engine room space (like I needed that). I found a lot of water in the first inch of insulation closest to the box itself. Removing the box actually let me drain this water out of the insulation and hopefully makes the remaining two boxes more efficient.

At the same time I also decided to get rid of the sloping bottom of the ice boxes. The sloping bottom was for block ice. You put the block in the bottom and then stacked your food on top. This would give you several days of refrigeration (boy have we come a long way). Just think every couple of days you had to unload your refrigerator and put in a new block of ice. Those were some tough sailors.

To do this I made my own vacuum panels. I don't know how well they will work over the long haul but at least they have multiple layers of refective material, insulation, and waterproofing. Hopefully they will give the bottom of my refrigerators a good bit more insulation.

To build my vacuum panels first I took the blue foam you can buy at your local hardware store and cut up a few panels that would fit the bottom of the box. I did it so there was about an inch of vertical space between the panels. I put PVC spacers (actually 1/2" pipe couplers) in between the blue foam and used foil air conditioner tape to hold everything together. I then wrapped the whole thing in the foil coated bubble wrap so I had a reflective barrier on both the top and the bottom of the foam and the air gap. Finally I encapsulated the whole mess in one of those space bags and drew a vacuum on it with my shop vac (yes I know it is not a true vacuum - it was not going to hurt anything and it has the side benefit of keeping everything dry).

I then put a reflective layer on the bottom of old refrigerator box. I did this by taking one of the cold bags you can buy at the supermarket and cutting out the plastic foil liner. I taped it into the bottom of the refrigeration box. I also drilled a hole between the boxes to allow any water to drain into the middle box (it already had a drain and I left it open). I then put in two layers of the vaccume boards.

Finally I added a plastic floor on the bottom. I glassed this in. There are no drains in the current box to let my nice cold air seep out into the bildge. You will also notice that I left the old cold plate in the back of the refrigerator. My theory was that this would allow the cold to creep between the freezer and the refrigerator. I left the holes where the Crosby lines ran through the bulkhead. (This actually worked out quite well).

For the refrigeration system I chose an EZ Kold box style holding plate. With these holding plates the opening is on the top of the holding plate and the rest is formed around the sides to make a box. I have a stainless steel lid on the top of the box. Marvin will make a box any size you want (within reason). I have a 10DX15WX16H Box. It keeps Ice frozen. You can mix up a Margareta and put it in the box - 20 minutes later you have frozen Margaritas. I have been impressed with this unit. I mounted the box in the (formerly middle) refrigerator and the compressor in the space left by removing the old freezer. It is water and / or air cooled so if you clog the through hull you don't lose your refrigeration. I spent 1.5 months in the Abacos and the system worked well. We had ice every night in our drinks.

Since I now had new refrigeration I needed to top it off in style. I took the old lids and cut off the top 1/2". It was rather easy. All I did was put my fence on my table saw, place the top on the fence, and cut the top off. To my surprise much of the top was empty of foam (this is a view of the lid with the top removed. I have already added a little of the foam in a can to the lower right hand side of the picture). You might want to check your lids. I imagine you can knock on them and hear the difference.

I then added a nice oak top to the lids. I made this by putting together oak flooring and then attaching it to a piece of plywood that was designed to fit inside the the fiberglass lid. I used the two part epoxy you see on bars to make the whole thing looks very nice.

I polished the brass handles and attached them at the front of the lids. I added hinges to the back of the lid so I could open them easily and not have to juggle the lid while I looked in the refrigerator / freezer. I then added a hydraulic shock inside the box to keep the lid from falling down while I am looking inside the box (@ $20 at Autozone).
As you can see I added lots of insulation around the door - three different strips. It seems to work but I need to figure something else out because it does not pass the dollar bill test all the way around. I also added Lexan shelves that slide front to back. There is a cotter pin on a string that keeps them from sliding when I am off shore.

Now my saying is "nothing is done until it is over done" - I put inside the top of the refrigerator LED rope lights and I wired them to a magnetic switch that causes them to come on when either door was opened. That way I have light down in my refrigerator / freezer. In case your thinking - "what happens if the light does not go off?" I put a telltail red LED light right above the refrigerator so when the telltale light is on then I know the refrigerator light is on. The rope light is in a plastic channel that you can buy at Lowes / Home Depot. I got the 12V rope light off of ebay (2.8W / meter - wow).

If I had to do it all over again I would have electopolished the holding plate before it went in. My theory is this would allow me to easily scrape off the ice on the holding plate when it accumulates. Right now I am using a regular windshield ice scraper. The next time I defrost the box I plan on waxing the holding plate. I will let you know how that works. Feel free to call me if you have any questions. Just click the call me button on the right hand side of the page. You don't get my number but I get the call.

UPDATE - I have found spraying the holding plate with silicon helps to remove any ice build up. I am not sure how food safe this is so be careful.


SailO is a fun game we play on the boat while cruising the East coast of Florida or in the Bahamas. SailO is adapted from Bingo for the cruising and boating community.
The rules for SailO are simple.

To play the game you place a market over a space on your Bingo style card when you hear a word or phrase said over the VHF radio. You can also get credit for an inference, such as, if you had Radio Check on one of your squares and someone said "can anyone hear me" you would get credit.

What is needed:
Blank cards - we make them up on the computer and they look like this (this one is filled in)

Beans, pennies, or other means of covering the squares. Make sure they are heavy enough so your card and markers will not fly away in a breeze.

A VHF radio

A busy anchorage

How the game is played:
You write in common phrases said on the VHF into each one of your squares on your card.

Don't worry if someone copies your phrases just don't put them in the same positions on the card. You can use boat names, people's names, or virtually anything that can be heard on the VHF. The order is real important (If you have older kids make them all write down the phrases on slips of paper and then draw them from a hat and fill out the card in the order they are drawn. Otherwise it is likely to be a short game). Once you have the cards filled in you can play as many times as you like with the cards. Just make sure you hand them out at random. You will probably need a new card in a new harbor since the boat names and places will change.

Listen to the VHF and place your pennies over the squares when you hear the word, phrase, or inference. If there is any doubt the Captains Word is law (or we like to think so)!

Usually a prize will help keep kids motivated; e.g., whoever wins SailO - picks the movie tonight, does not have to do dishes, gets the hammock, etc.

You can even play this across multiple boats. The first one to get an entire row, column, or diagonal corner to corner covered goes on the VHF and states their boat name and then calls out SailO. It works particularly well during a radio net (use dual watch on your VHF so you can call SailO on another channel and not interrupt the radio net).

Remember - having fun is what we are out there to do. Don't let running the boat get in the way of the fun.

Ps. You have to give me credit if you use this game. Just like boatball, I made it up.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The quest for the perfect bimini

It all started one day when sitting under a bimini that covered only half the cockpit. The sun was shining and I was sitting in the 8" of remaining shade under the bimini. You must understand that my boat has a cockpit that is typically the envy of everyone at the anchorage. The existing bimini frame and cover was just not big enough to provide enough shade much less protection against the ever present rain showers in the islands. I knew I had a problem.

Like most things in my life, when I become aware of a problem my mind goes into hyperdrive to find an answer. This answer came to me when I was in the Abacos. While crossing the sea of Abaco I broke my dingy davits (story for another post). I had taken them off of the boat and walked with the davits to the boat yard / nearest welding shop (@3 mile walk). As I was getting close to the welding shop and was thinking how heavy the davits really were, I noticed a large pile of aluminum tubing in the corner of the boat yard. In the pile there was a 10' X 14' binimi frame off of a sports fisherman that was wrecked during a hurricane. Of course I did not know how big my cockpit really was so I trekked back to the boat, measured the cockpit, trekked back to the yard, measured the frame, noticed that I had not realized the frame was not quite square, trekked back to the boat, trekked back to the yard... Yes I was in shape and I was fairly certain that the frame would fit my boat. Now to the minor detail of who owned this frame. I asked around the yard and everyone thought the welding shop owned the frame. When I talked with the shop they did not know which ones belonged to the welding shop and which were "being stored" for customers. Only the owner could answer this question and he would be back in a few days.

Not to be deterred I called and called getting the same message. The owner would be back in a few days. I finally decided to show up at the welding shop and stage a sit in. When I arrived they told me that the owner's brother was there and could help me. (his name is Kyle and he does a great job welding aluminum if you are ever in need around the Abacos Bahamas). He was not quite sure but thought the top I wanted belonged to the shop. Finally the owner came back and confirmed he did own the top and it was for sale. He told me to make an offer. Now remember this is a 10' X 14' aluminum frame that is stout enough to hold two hammocks easily. Being a cruiser I offered him $1,500 installed on the boat. He went for the $1,500 but I had to pay the installation ($900 when it was all done).

I brought the boat to the yard and they proceeded to align the frame and make legs. It was 2-3 days of work for $900 and in the end it came out nice. I was even told that the original cost to make the frame was over $20K. In essence I got a deal.

With the frame mounted I stretched a tarp across it and proceeded back to the US. I knew I had gotten a deal when I had to spend a couple of days at Great Sail before making the crossing. It was @ 2 foot chop in the harbor with 20-30 other boats. I rigged the hammocks and we read books while waiting for a weather window. After a day we started to hear a little radio chatter about how comfortable we looked while everyone else was getting pounded around by the waves. I had rigged the hammocks at a slight angle to the bow that allowed the waves to rock the hammocks as the bow rose and fell. It was quite nice.

When I arrived back in the states I had a cover made for the frame. The bimini has two legs up front and uses the boom crutch as the support in the rear. I have been told the boom crutch is oversized and seems very substantial so I am not too concerned.
I also had them install a wire chase so I could have overhead instruments and rope lights in the bimini. (you can just see them on the right). I also had the windshield built so it was a little recessed. This allows me to still see out when it is raining.
Here are some other pictures of the underside of the Bimini.
Looking Aft
(the wheel is attached with Velcro when I am in port - I have been considering making a 'port wheel for when I am at anchor)
Looking Toward Bow

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Boat Ball

Boatball (Copyright Grace 2008) is a game that is best played on one of the hot days when there is no wind. You know the type, all of the kids sit around telling you how hot it is every 15 minutes. All ages can play boatball and, best of all, you play in the water. First you will need a life preserver for each person playing. We use these to float in the field. Typically we ride these like a saddle by turning them upside down and floating on them.

You will also need a wiffel bat (a hollow plastic bat), wiffel ball (light plastic ball), and one boat. It is important that you pick a wiffel ball and bat that floats. Don't pick a wiffel ball that has a lot of holes in it or you will have a very short game of boatball. Usually Dollar Store (the shop of first resort for all consumables on our boat) has the best selection. If you have aspirations for a scholarship to Annapolis for boat ball you might be better off purchasing high end equipment at some place like WalMart or Toys R US.

The rules are simple. First anchor the boat in water deeper than 6' and turn off the engine. One person is the batter. Everyone else is in the field. The person that is at bat floats on their life preserver in front a towel hung from the lifeline (home plate). Preferably home plate is @ 3/4 down the boat from the bow (Just to clarify - closer to the stern than the bow).

From home plate you have first base (if the batter touches the stern of the boat and they get a single), second base (if the batter touches the bow of the boat and they get a double), third base (if the batter touches the anchor line they get a triple), and a home run (if the batter swims all the way around the boat and gets back to home plate they get a home run. The batter has to make up his mind which way they want to swim and get there before someone in the field gets to the ball, retrieves it. and hits the boat with the ball (they actually have to hit the boat with the ball - I can't tell you how many times someone has thrown the ball over the boat).

In the field there is a pitcher and everyone else is a fielder. The pitcher pitches the ball to the batter. Don't go crazy with pitching. Most of the time we don't keep track of strikes. When the batter hits the ball they have a decision to make. They can go toward the stern for an easy single or they can head for the bow for more bases. Remember if they go for a home run they will be behind the boat for approximately half the time and will not know the status of the ball (also it is a really long way!!!). It is perfectly acceptable if you start for a base and have not touched it to change your mind and go for another. This typically happens when someone misses the boat when throwing the ball.

When the batter gets to a base he establishes a ghost man (they must yell "Ghost man on [name of the base]. For instance they yell "GHOST MAN ON SECOND". They can then go back to bat again. In order for a ghost man to score someone has to push them over home plate. This can either be the batter, like what happens if the next hit is a home run, or it can be another ghost man, for example a ghost man on second only moves to thrid when the batter hits a subsequent double.

The batting order is established by time honored methods. It can either be youngest to oldest or the fistual double elimination selection method (eni, mini, might, moe). We typically allow two outs per batter (the inning gets long with three outs). We also establish a max runs per inning (usually 5). You can play until everyone has had X number of times at bat or to a max total score. You can take breaks when playing boatball after all they have a seventh inning streatch in baseball.

You will learn a couple of things playing boatball - the water line really needs to be scrubbed, it is a long way to the bow of the boat when you are swimming as fast as you can, it is amazing how tired you get floating around all day with intermittent amounts of effort, and it is amazing how good the food is after playing several hours of boat ball.

The most important rule is - have fun.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Having fun

When cruising and sailing to distant locations it is always a high priority to have fun. Often times we find different ways to have fun like running photography contests, making conch horns, spear fishing, scavenger hunts, bocci ball tournaments, etc. However, one of the best things to do in a harbor is... Oh wait, I have not sworn you in yet.

In order to read the remainder of this post you must place your fingers on the following keys:

B I [B] L E (if it makes you feel any better you can place two fingers on the B key)

Now read the following:

I (state your name) do solemnly swear that the information I read in this blog will not be used to ruin someone's fun. Because I know how this trick works does not give me the right or title to be a real tool and announce over the radio, drinks the next day, or divulge in any other way the trick. I will merely sit back and smile knowingly. If I violate this sacred oath may I suddenly become allergic to rum drinks, my packing gland will weep uncontrollably, and I will get a sun tan that will make everyone laugh.

Ok - now that you are officially sworn in. What you will need is a night with no moon (this means either a full cloud cover or new moon), a fair breeze, a parachute kite (These are the extremely stable type of kites that will fly in a little amount of wind. Also, they tend to be able to lift a small payload.), a couple of bracelet or necklace glow in the dark sticks (Dollar store usually sells these during the summer months. If possible pick the glow sticks that are not the standard colors -green being the most recognizable).

Ok - if you have already caught on to what we are going to do stop laughing. You would have fallen for this if you had not read this.

You take the glow sticks break them to start them glowing and bend them into unusual shapes. I like to tie them in a knot or bend them in a "L" shape. Now securely fasten two or three of these onto the kite.

Now remember DON'T CALL ATTENTION TO YOURSELF. Launch the kite over the harbor. Let the string out a little to get the kite away from your boat and up over the harbor. Then casually announce over the radio (a cruiser net works the best) "hey does anyone else see that UFO over xxxxx harbor". Sit back and listen to the everyone give their own interpretation of what they see.

Since the dark night takes away much of the frame of reference most people think the kite is much farther away than it actually is. You might hear one boat say it is over the shore while another will swear it is over the distant island group. Remember each one of these boats are seeing it from a different angle so their perspective puts it at a different place. If the fervor gets high enough you might want to helpfully add "I see a bunch of them all around".Now keep in mind, the first rule of cruising sailboats is - sailors like a good story. Usually the passage of time makes a story even better. My father has a few stories about me that are old enough that I actually die in end. He will straight faced tell them with me sitting in the room. Which brings me to the second rule of cruising sailboats - don't let facts or physics get in the way of a good story. Think of this as a present to the other boats - you are giving some of these cruiser one of the best stories in their lives. The best thing is everyone else on their boat will swear they saw the UFO also - because they really did. Nothing adds to an unbelievable story more than a good witness or two.

The next day you might hear other cruisers debating the UFO phenomenon. Remember you have sworn on the bible keys not to ruin the illusion. The story might even grow to include sightings of aliens or perhaps in a couple of days you might want to break out your Elvis mask and show up at the dingy dock right at dusk.

Remember this is all in good fun. Resist the temptation to make fun of other cruisers and NEVER do the trick more than one night. Let their imaginations run wild. Hopefully you will give them a story they can publish in 'Latitudes and Attitudes'.

December and January of 2008-2009 I was in the Abacos Bahamas. My brother was visiting and we were in a VERY dark harbor (I will not say which to protect myself and others). We were sitting out looking at the stars and enjoying the wind when he said "let's fly the UFO kite". We got the glow sticks attached and let the kite go. in this harbor our boat was toward the end of the anchorage and there was only one boat behind us (downwind). The kite was right over his mast (@100'). We called on the radio - "Anyone else see that UFO" then sat back to enjoy the night. About 5 minutes later all of the lights came on on the boat behind us. He pulled up anchor and went up in the middle of the other boats in the anchorage and dropped anchor again. I guess he thought the aliens would only get the last boat in line. I really felt bad for causing him to move. I am sure he is telling how the aliens almost got me story and amazing his audience. Remember you oath. It is just between you and I. Don't tell anyone else.