Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ceilings painted - again.....

We have had a sort of monsoon in South Florida for the last month.  I had a painter lined up for the deck but it was a no go.  I let him loose below decks and he did a great job, except for the dust.

I must admit I now prefer Interlux paint for this work instead of Pettit I had used in the aft cabin on the previous occasion.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Airhead is in.....and I am well pleased

Final install of the Airhead Composting toilet. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Project Planning Software.......

I doubt if there is a boat geek alive who doesn't fantasize about the ultimate project planning software.  One that would pull all the various threads seamlessly together.  If I had spent the time that I have wasted on this quest, working on the boat, I would probably be finished by now.

And suddenly I stumbled across;  TRELLO

It works on a web browser, iPad, iPhone and Android.  Check it out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

DeLorme inReach - Just the ticket.

Full disclosure, I sell these things in West Marine.  I got a loan of one from the company for my recent Transatlantic along with a paid subscription (Extreme Plan).

But, that said, I love this device.

In case anyone has been living in a cave for the last 20 years, communications when going offshore on a SMALL boat falls into two categories;

  1. SSB Radio.
  2. Some sort of Satellite communications.

SSB Radio, for those willing to invest the time, money and effort is still the gold standard, IMHO.

For satellite communications you have three main options;

  • Satellite phone
  • Transmit only txt and position messages - e.g. Spot.
  • Transmit and Receive txt and position messages- e.g. inReach

Satellite phone;
I have been on a number of long sailing trips with satellite phones and my experience with them has been universally horrible.  They are expensive to buy, talk time is expensive, data download is a joke, they have no tracking ability etc.   Their use in a chaotic abandon ship situation is very questionable.

Spot is fine and I really have no issue with it, except that it is a transmit only device.  You have no idea if your messages are getting through.

This device performed flawlessly on my recent trip.  There is a bit of a learning curve setting up the system but their help desk is outstanding.  It tracked our journey across the Atlantic and I was able to send txt messages from my iPhone to the device via bluetooth.  The only issue was to convince my wife and friends that they could simply reply with a txt message.  I was able to receive news txt messages about the US presidential campaign while in Mid-Atlantic (which is the only downside I encountered with the device).  In conjunction with an Epirb it would be an outstanding safety device.

Costs;  The device costs $300 (SE Version).  For someone just doing the snowbird Bahamas and the East coast US the “Freedom plan” would suffice.  This carries an annual fee of $24.95, but you only pay for months you need.  With all their plans “Preset messages” are unlimited.  You no longer have to seek out a wifi signal to let people know that you are safe and well.  On the cheaper plans, with limited txt messaging, if the poop hits the fan 50cents a txt message would be the least of your worries. 

As I say in my sales pitch, you absolutely DO NOT need any of these devices.  If, however, you are looking at a sat phone, you need to investigate the inReach.    

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bucket List - Transatlantic

Hopefully, by tomorrow, I will have started a transatlantic trip on a 50ft Catamaran, via Bermuda and the Azores ending in Gibraltar. This is a major bucket list item for me and I'm staying off ladders and trying to avoid driving in Miami until we set sail. As with all major sailing trips, after three days out, I'm sure I'll be asking what the hell I was thinking when I signed on.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hand rails and Granny Bars.....

Rough fit of new SS handrails and Mast pulpits on TIH. If it looks like something from an assisted living facility, that is exactly what it is. I don't know about you spry young sailors but for me moving around the boat in a seaway gets more exciting every year.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cap Rail decisions........


Starting to think about the Cap Rail (Toe Rail, gunwale).  It will not be teak.  Two reasons,

a: expense,
b: maintenance.

I know it can be epoxied and painted but at some stage that will have to be redone. That also sort of defects the idea of using teak in the first place.

I've looked at Plasteak lumber and it is promising but then came across this;

Ameriteak Marine Toe Rails - Gunnels

So far it look very good.  I have installed a section and will play with it for  a while

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Aft deck lockers......Finish (almost).....

I have been faffing about with the aft deck lockers for some time.

The original lid was molded into the deck and as there was no means of fully compressing the gasket it was prone to leaking.

The largest items that I would wish to stow in these lockers were Fiberglass LPG tanks and a Honda 2000 generator.  This meant that I could not restrict the original opening in any way.

Unfortunately, the only production hatch that I could locate, that fitted the opening, would not accommodate these two items;

Innovative Product Solutions M-1330-AW / 520-503 13 x 30 Arctic White Boat Deck Hatch
(Side Note:  The TRIDENT MARINE LPG Tank-Fiberglass, 11lb.  Model # 9977026 has a diameter of 12.1ins (+/-) not 12.5ins as stated on the WM web site.  It WILL fit in the original opening.  According to another Whitby owner (GC) the 17lb tank will fit in the locker is the handles are trimmed a little).

My solution which has now been fitted and bolted in temporarily, pending deck painting, is as follows;

1.  A 3/4in Non Skid starboard panel held down by PYI Floor anchors.  This has a compresses gasket between it and the deck. This can be quickly removed to install/remove the tanks or Honda generator.

2.  The deck hatches for normal access.

 The final deck paint color will be a closer match to the deck panels and hatches.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Power Wash.....

Nothing like a power wash to brighten the deck up.

Marina dock work required a move to a new slip.  This is the first clean view of the Bow Sprit, Hard Top and Arch.   She is a little down by the head as the aft storage is empty.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Refrigeration, moving onwards......

The refrigeration project had been stalled for a number of reasons, not least of which was the search for suitable insulation.  Despite all the talk about vacuum panels, exotic materials etc., extruded polystyrene foam plastic insulation seems to fit the DIY boaters bill.  Its cheap, easy to work with and long lasting.  Please note the difference between extruded (XPS foam), and expanded (EPS foam). 

I finally found a local (L&W Supply, Miami) source for the slightly stronger version of XPS than is normally available in Home Depot.  Its the FOAMULAR® 250 Rigid Foam Insulation, 25psi.

As stated previously I had planned to decrease the size of the fridge and freezer considerably. Dura-Weld in Florida had made me liners of High Density Polyethylene that fitted through the existing openings into the fridge/freezer compartments.


I lined each compartment with XPS.

Filled in some gaps with low expansion spray foam, taking care to support the sides.

The next fun was bending the evaporator plate.  There is a lot of info on how to do this on the web, so I won't repeat it here.

Except to remind you to heat the paint to prevent cracking.

And get clever friends to help.

This will be a spill over system and one of the critical elements of this system is to have a minimum of R10 between the two compartments, I believe that I have R16 to 18.

My fridge is 2.66 cu ft and the freezer 2.5 cu ft.

The installation of the evap plate and compressor will wait until I haul TIH and install the keel cooler.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Composting marine head, revisited.....

NOTE:  If you find the following post too descriptive I'm not sure you will enjoy long term sailboat life.

Its hard to believe that it was over 6 years since I first mentioned the idea of installing a composting marine head on TIH.  The idea was rapidly knocked on the "head" by the boss.

Times have moved on, we now know a number of cruisers who have installed and love their composting heads.  Lynne has stated that she "might" be open to the idea.  Ok!  It helps that we have two heads on board, the forward one is a Lavac connected to a holding tank.

There are three main marine composting head manufacturers / suppliers (correct me if you know of more);

The Airhead

Nature's Head


The one that I am most interested in is the Airhead.  I like the overall design and was impressed when I met and spoke to the aptly named Geoffrey Trott.  Do your own research and pick the one that works for you.

 Firstly, let me clarify a few points for anyone unfamiliar with marine toilets and composting toilets.  

1.  Body Waste (Urine and feces) does not magically disappear after we use the toilet, despite what modern society would have us believe.  This fact becomes painfully obvious when on a boat.  If you poo on a boat someone will have to deal with it later.  If your boating experience consists of touching a lever with your foot, hearing a reassuring whoosh and seeing everything disappear then you are on a power boat.  This is the ubiquitous VacuFlush system, which just means that you have hoovered the shit down a series of pipes into an inaccessible place deep in the boat. It will sit there, feeling annoyed and plotting.  

2. It is illegal to dump untreated waste inside the three mile limit.  You can dump "treated waste", unless you are in a NO DISCHARGE ZONE. "Treated Waste" requires a Electro Scan or similar device.  No discharge zones are becoming more common and will continue to do so.

3.  Your boat will require a holding tank to hold the waste until it can be pumped out at a pump-out station,  pump-out boat or outside the three mile limit.  From my research most live-aboards have to pump the holding tank every 3 to 5 days.  This is  PITA.  I you secretly dump your holding tank into the bay / harbor at night eventually karma or the Marine police will catch up with you.

4.  Holding tanks require hoses and pumps.  These have to be changed out at various intervals.  I you choose to install the standard macerating 12v pump you can count on this being an annual event.  If your macerating pump has worked flawlessly for 6 years and you tell me, it will hear you and die. 

My point is that if you live on a boat you will have to get up close and personal with poo at some time, or pay someone else to do it.

Enter the composting marine toilet;

1.  The lower container is partially filled with moistened coconut fiber or peat moss.  This is sealed off with a trap door.  You can either poo directly through the open trap door or onto a paper coffee filter with the trap door closed.  Opening the door then allows the coffee filter and its contents to drop through.

2.  Because of the limited time the poo stays in the toilet in does NOT actually compost.  It is simply mixed with the peat or coconut fiber.  Because urine is separated you are not dealing with the Porta Potty effect (i.e. a slurry of waste in a bucket).  I am reliably informed that the smell is minimal.

3.  Urine is diverted into a smaller forward tank which has to be dumped every three days.  On the Airhead (and possibly on others) there is a connection to pump this urine into a holding tank.

4.  A tiny computer type fan is constantly running and vents the head, via a hose, above deck. 

5.  Every 60 or so uses (said to be a month for a cruising couple)  you will have to;

     a.   Remove the top section of the contraption.

     b.   Empty the contents of the lower section into a plastic bag.

     c.   Dump the bag and its contents in a suitable site.

If you or someone else on board can't handle this then a composting marine head is not for you.

A few other minor issues; 

1.  I have heard that bug infestation can be an issue.  The vent hose has a screen.  Sometimes users have resorted to bug killing chemicals to control this.

2.  Dumping of the poo/fiber mix in a sealed plastic bag in a dumpster appears to be legal or at the very least a grey area.  It will be interesting to see how this evolves.  I'm sure the Diaper industry will have a major say in any attempt to regulate dumping and at the very least buy the appropriate politicians.

Long story short, the installation of a composing toilet on TIH is a POSSIBILITY.  To this affect I borrowed one (not use) from a friend and did a test install.  Much thanks to Karen from my neighboring Whitby 42 who acted as a model.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The death of the CQR....

If anyone is in doubt of the success of the new anchor designs you only have to look at the anchor section of your local consignment store.  CQR anchors are represented on about a 5:1 ratio to other anchors.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Its hard to top a Hard Top....

They don't always work, but I'm pretty happy with mine.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How many sailboats are capable of sounding correct "restricted visibility" signals?

Huh!  What signals?  Please don't tell me that, if sailing in fog, you will use your pissy little WM canned air foghorn, sounding one prolonged blast followed by two short blasts at intervals of not more that every 2 minutes, within an arms length of your ear.  That would get old fast.

Just to refresh your memory;

When I was narrowing down my search for a VHF radio my list of necessary features included the ability to sound AUTOMATIC fog signals.  This excluded a surprising number of low end and not so low end models.

Does your VHF have such a feature?   Is it connected to a hailer horn?   A hailer facility on the VHF is also useful for passing verbal information to other boaters and people on the dock.

I eventually decided on the Icom IC-M504, a recently discontinued model, that WM was selling off at a very good price.  Likewise I purchased 2  x COMMAND MIC ΙΙΙ™ that were heavily discounted.

I have decided against a "receive only" AIS for the reasons stated in a previous post.  If, however, Standard Horizon had gotten off their butt and produced a NMEA 2000 one I might have been tempted.

An interesting device I came across on my foghorn search is the FogMate Automated Horn Controller.  Check it out here;

Hamilton Marine  or Go2Marine

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Finish one bloody job.............

So much for my New Years resolution.  Due to the interconnected nature of boats its easy to flit from job to job and never actually "box" one element up.  I am definitely, absolutely going to finish the forward heads.  In between OPBs' (other peoples boats), and the occasional marine retail stint I have actually made some headway (no pun intended).  I did, however, manage a brief "flit" to complete the face panel of the Nav Desk and Install the Icom VHF;

The eagle eyed viewer will note that this panel is also not finished.