Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hull Thickness

The facts about hull strength for Westsail boats are blown out of all proportion in my view. One of the benefits of owning a Westsail is that the hull thickness is supposed to range between half and a full inch. I am closing out 2 thruhulls on my boat from an old marine air conditioning unit that are above and below the water line so I can see quite clearly what the thickness truly is. Each are about half an inch thick and this one in the photo is THREE feet below the water line.
So that means even if the hull thickness is one full inch 5 feet below the water line, most floating debris will likely hit the boat nearer the surface. So there tends to be a false sense of security for owners, a bit like the Titanic story and Robert Redford's new "All is Lost" movie shows what can happen if you hit a container out at sea. I used to work with a guy who was skippering a boat back from the Auckland to Suva yacht race back in 1970 and they awoke in the middle of the night with a big bang and the boat began to sink. He said they had all of 2 minutes to got on the radio to call Russell Radio for help before climbing into the life raft. Scary thing and they never knew whether it was a log, container or whale.
Most boats these days are built with plastic fittings for their thruhulls like these ones I am taking out.
Fortunately all mine are made of bronze and seem to be holding out OK but I will not find out for sure until I do a sea trial.
In preparation for replacing the water tanks, I emptied the one that was not leaking with a 12 volt hose down pump.
I emptied it into the bilge and the bilge pump automatically pumped it over board. About 60 seconds after starting the pump it ground to a halt and so I shut her down and opened up the filter, This is what came out. Eeeek! Just imagine drinking that suff.
So now I have definitely decided to replace both water tanks even though the second one is not leaking.
Finally, I wanted to show you some of the wire markers that I use to label all the new wires during all the rewiring I have been doing.
As well putting numbers on each terminal block, I wrap a strip of them around each wire and place a number on the main switch board for a key.
After installing the new propane switch, it is so much easier to use so I am trying to ditch the microwave. Each time I make a cup of tea or boil vegetables and so on, I use the stove. I haven't dumped the microwave yet, but it's days are numbered. One it is taking up precious real estate in an already cramped galley and two, I don't plan on towing an extension cord whenever I sail.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rainy days and Mondays

Always get you down? The cure for that is to come boating! Or should I say, come fixing your boat. It rained so much I was confined to the cabin. I couldn't stand the toilet, or should I say, the head, anymore so it got a good going over......
Besides cleaning, it needed bolting to the floor and the wooden stand also required securing. It was pouring outside so I went out and avast me hearties, swabbed the decks! Got soaking wet in the process. In wet weather my head (toilet) becomes a drying room to dry out wet clothes, shoes, tools or saturated wood. Anyway as soon as there was a break in the weather, I headed outside to get the dodger mounted. I was not sure how it was mounted previously so I took my best guess and screwed down 16 of these fasteners.
I had to cut some 1" stainless piping as well, so after 3 hours, I can finally stay out of the rain when I leave the companionway.
Because the dorade box was in the way, I needed to remove it and mount my other solar fan.
It took me an hour to remove the 10 screws holding it in place. This time I removed the teak circle inside the cabin.
Take a close look at the deck layers in the next photo.
Notice the 2 layers of fiberglass? This boat used to have a teak deck, and when they removed it they just stuck another layer of ply and fiberglass over the top. Talk about rock solid!
OK so here it is all finished up.
While I had the wood finish out I attacked some of the doors.
Not too shabby for a 40 year old door.
This is on the list for today's workout.
A 12 volt propane solenoid valve kit so all I have to do is throw a switch to stop the flow of gas instead of climbing the companionway and turning the tap off at the cylinder. Much safer!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The saga continues

Took me 5 hours but here is the end result
I had to take the boom cradle apart and feed the wire through using the vacuum cleaner sucking a line up first.
Then I started work on the bow navigation lights.
Of course one task always ends up by being more than one so while I was at it I discovered lots of things about my electrical system. I have a couple of fans that never worked but now at least one does.
I need to get some more wire to get the other one to work. Also I replaced the cigarette lighter that had rusted all up.
At the bottom of the photo are 11 brand spanking new turnbuckles that are waiting for Friday's arrival of the crane.
Onward and forward!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Navigation light wiring

Have you ever seen spaghetti? Take a look at this.......
So I have to get ready for powering up the new navigation lights on the mast and that means either running all new wiring and installing a new circuit board or reusing the existing wiring. At one stage or other, I would actually like to sail my boat, so I chose the latter. It took me all day to figure it all out and test it to make sure it was all working including adding an extra switch for the strobe. The next photo is not for the faint of heart.
I know, I know......ugly, ugly, ugly. At one stage or other, I would like to clean all this up but for right now it will have to do. This entire boat is an absolute shambles and a real challenge to say the least. It is no wonder many never leave the dock. Take my cushions for example. I am having them redone but in the meantime those stinky things are out of the rain inside the boat smelling up the cabin.
The anchor locker is soaking wet from condensation and mouldy as all get out, so I have my heater going full blast in there.
It was so disgusting I nearly slept in the car last night. OK what makes up for it all is this......
See those boats lined up on the wharf. They are heading off into the wild blue yonder....Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, South Pacific. Keep your eyes on the prize they say.......Ok so back to reality. This is what I am working on today.
I need a stern light so I have to work out how I am going to mount it on the boom gallows. See how one project morphs into 20,000 others? Oh and I woke up in the middle of last night, remembering that I had to mount a wind indicator at the top of the mast.
So much easier to do while the mast is on the ground! 
Rain has abated so I am off back out there! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hurry up and wait

Well the mast is finally all ready to go back up. Finally! Unfortunately because of the holidays, I have to wait for another week before the crane driver comes to put it back up. I spent a huge amount of time, futzing around with the light at the top of the mast.
The photo shows the new VHF antenna on the right and the base of my masthead light on the left. I started out with an old Guest mast light that I wanted to modernize. I liked it because it had a strobe light on it which are technically illegal as a navigation light unless being used as a distress signal. I ordered a couple of high tech Bebi lights from Fiji and a SuperBright LED so altogether it has 4 lights in it. Strobe, Tricolor, and 2 anchor lights. So hopefully I will have a very bright light to discourage ocean liners from mowing me down in the middle of the ocean. The trouble is, the copper clips on my masthead base kept breaking off because they were so old so I ended up creating new plugs for the connectors. Lots of fun!
As well as replacing all the standing rigging, I also replaced the running rigging so in the photo you can see the 3 halyards I ordered from Bud Taplin. 
It looks like spaghetti with all the wires and ropes but each has a critical part to play. The 2 pieces of teak are my pinrail used for storing my sheets which actually have my old lower stays on them. Ok so this is the plan. Because I wasn't sure how long to order the stainless steel stays, I ordered them without fittings on one end and here is a photo of one of the Norseman fittings that get fitted to the end of the stay once I know how long it needs to be.
The mast will go back up and be held in place by the 4 lower stays and once I have fitted the 5 other stays in place, I will then replace the 4 lower stays. The climb up the mast to the spreaders is not that high to replace the lower stays so even though it is a big no-no to climb the mast while the boat is on the hard I feel fairly safe doing it. Besides, there is no hurry to do this and I could probably wait until the boat is in the water. My long term plan is to come back down for 2 weeks in April to finish off any other projects, like the caprails and the motor mounts. Then in August, put her in the water and go sailing for a few days, hopefully putting her through her paces and finding out more stuff I have to do. I will pull her back out into the yard and after I retire in December, start work on her in earnest, like installing all the electronics. 
One other project I worked on was replacing the piping above the water tanks. Fairly straight forward once the home depot guy found all the parts for me.
Unfortunately I discovered  the top one in the photo, has a serious leak in it so I have to get a new one and will probably go ahead and replace both of them while I am at it. They are $175 each but the shipping will be an issue I fear. More dough ray me.
Finally I headed to Wally World to try and pick out a smoke detector. Now don't plan on being in any hurry if you ever go and pick out one. Back in the day, that is all you could get but now they are about 20 different types to try and bamboozle you. OK maybe not that many but still. I am one of those types who can't see the wood for the trees and decisions are not my strong suit. Do you buy a name brand or generic? Do I want a small profile one? What about voltage? Battery, connected or stand alone 120 volts? Smoke, fire, CO or gas. You get the point. I picked out a battery operated CO, smoke and fire. The gas one will have wait.
And one more thing, it doesn't stop once you have picked out the kind you want. Then you have to go home and study the voluminous instructions to decide where it needs to be located. I chose a spot near the galley. Phew!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

This year I decided to spend the holidays working on the boat..........gasp! Meaning no family on Christmas Day! Take a good look at this photo I took on Christmas morning.

Did you see him? It was Santa! It really was. Just 4 boats down from mine. His beard was a little grey, he wasn't wearing red and he had just finished up delivering presents. He told me not to tell anyone that he really lives on an old wooden boat at the marina and not the North Pole but as long as I just post a photo, I figure it will be OK.
I did actually spend Christmas Eve with my 2 fabulous sons in freezing cold-Atlanta and here is us on the new Atlanta Ferris Wheel.
Why am I showing you one of my 3 newly operating oil lamps in the middle of the day?
Because it is also quite cold down in here in Florida and I am keeping the boat warm with them on.
Originally I was going to get rid of them because the smell from them gave me a headache, but after refurbishing them and buying some new lamp oil from Walmart, they are functioning perfectly. 
Other than Santa's appearance, at the Marina, here in Green Cove Springs, things were just like normal.
Seagulls were making a lot of noise. And the marina staff were loading a boat. 
I did have my first visitor to the boat, a fellow westsail owner, so it gave me some motivation to clean up inside and also the topsides. The scuff marks on the outside came off quite easily, but painting them is definitely on my to do list.
My port lights were always collecting water and leaking onto the boat, so I glued some oil lamp wicks onto them to keep them dry.
I also ordered a RAM mount for my Nexus tablet, so that I could mount it out of the weather in the companionway to use as a chart plotter.
Also I mounted a 12 volt monitor on the bulkhead, so that I can watch movies from the port side table.
The monitor can also be easily unclipped and mounted in the companionway so that I can also watch it from the cockpit..

Replacing all the standing rigging is proceeding as planned. It is not all that complicated, but there have been some hiccups along the way. I ordered it all from Westsailparts.com, but I forgot about the spreader stays, the topping lift and the running backstays.
And I had to run over to Westmarine to get a steaming/deck light.
There were 2 incandescent bulbs inside and it doesn't matter about the steaming light because the motor is always running when it is on, providing plenty of electricity from the alternator, but the deck light is a different matter. It came with a halogen bulb so I ordered red, green and white LED replacements.
They are not supposed to be exposed to the elements, so I will have to experiment with them.
So I want to wish you a Happy Christmas and hope Santa gave you the present you deserve.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Twas The Night Before Sailor's Christmas

T’was the night before Christmas, I swung on the hook
With snowflakes a’landing, asleep with my book
When up on the deck I heard footsteps and stuff
“I’ve been boarded!” I thought, and I tried to be tough
Then down the companionway hatch came a dude
He was dressed like a nut and I thought, “I’m so screwed”
But he laughed and he hummed as he surveyed my junk
So I figured he must be the resident drunk
His eyes were lit up like a junkie on speed
But he gave me a whole bunch of stuff that I need
Like rum and cigars and new charts and a dinghy
And some kind of fancy electrical thingy
I knew it was stolen but I wasn’t telling
I just hoped he was giving and wasn’t just selling
And I poured him a grog which he downed with a wink
Then I poured one for me (Lord I needed a drink!)
Then he staggered above to the dark snowy night
As I peeked I beheld an incredible sight
Eight tiny dolphins and a beautiful sleigh
And the dude hopped aboard and prepared to make way
The dolphins were ready to power the sled
But the guy raised a genny and mains’l instead
With a burp and a chuckle he gathered the breeze
And called to the dolphins, now swimming with ease
“Hey Stalker and FEMA and Cancer and Nixon!
Or Stinky and Pepper Spray, Mason, and Dixon!
Or whatever your names are, you cute little fishes,
Here’s to every last sailor, my best Christmas wishes!”
As he sailed away leaving a wobbly wake
I hoped he had not many stops left to make
He got close to shore and he soon was aground
But the dolphins proceeded to pull him around
And I heard him exclaim as he sailed out of sight
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”
By Gerald Ewing

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Taking the mast down

I am in the process of replacing all the standing rigging so the mast had to come down. Daniel Grace from Grace Crane did an excellent job helping. I had to climb nearly to the top of the mast for the attachment. That was exciting!
Ron from the marina is a class act! Here he is helping to load the mast onto the trailer.
Then the mast had to be taken into the work yard where the place is overflowing from boats being worked on. Weather is perfect at this time of the year for working outside and not being in hurricane season, all things are go!
The rigging was a lot worse than I thought.
While I was at it I wanted to replace all the wiring for the VHF, masthead and steaming lights. Bit of a trial to replace it. I used some very strong lashing to tie to the old wiring and then used that some lashing to pull the new wire through the mast.
I wasn't going to paint the mast but it had a few too many bald spots and once I started I kept going.
I could think of a lot worse places to be.
I ordered all my standing rigging from Bud Taplin at westsailparts but I forgot about the spreader stays, the topping lift and the running backstays, so I will send them up to rigging only for replacements.