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Topics - waterdog

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Main Message Board / Chubasco
« on: January 17, 2010, 08:53:00 AM »
We were ashore for tamales the other night.    A little rain and wind storm blew through as we were at dinner.   Soon there was no power and 4 inches of water in the street.   We had another margeurita in candlelight and took some solace that it wasn't a named storm, so at least the insurance deductible wouldn't be outrageous.   There was absolutely nothing we could do for the boat at that moment. 

In twenty minutes it was all over.   We returned to the main pier as our friends launched their dingy to give us a ride to the boat.   The canvas shelters at the cruise ship dock were blown down into the water, with twisted metal frames.  There were plastic restaurant chairs floating half a mile off shore.   Zihuatanejo Bay was full of debris.  The good news was that we saw an anchor light where our boat should have been.   Many of the other boats were nowhere near the positions they were in when we went ashore.

We arrived to find the dingy upside down.   It still had the oars tied in.   The spinnaker unpacked itself from the bag and lay in its sock on the foredeck, the bag hanging over the side with the clips on the lifeline.   The inflatable kayaks which were on deck, not tied down, were still there wedged between shrouds and lifelines.  An empty styrofoam cooler that was on our foredeck somehow ended up in the cockpit with the lid still on. 

The open starboard ports will be a subject of family discussion for some years to come.   Inside the settee cushions were soaked.   Two laptops on the main salon table were dripping wet and non functional.   Foster was a both terrified and delighted that all his electronic text books were wiped out - no more school!   After a day of drying in the sun, it appears the only casualty was a single little boat cushion that got sucked out of the cockpit.   The solar panels didn't budge.   GPS showed we hadn't dragged.

Winds were reported at 50 kts plus.    A friend on a 48 footer broached twice, once to starboard and once to port at anchor.   The harbour was nothing but blowing white foam.

Elsewhere in the anchorage, there is a 75 pound CQR and its broken chain lying on the bottom with a couple of outboards from dingies that flipped over and dropped their loads off the transom.  There is enough awning repair work to keep a canvas maker busy for a long time.   A few boats got very wet.   

It was our first Chubasco.   Judging by the somewhat shell shocked reactions of the other cruisers, I think I'll be quite content to experience our next Chubasco safely in a restaurant.  Next time maybe one that isn't open to the wind with a leaky roof...

I love my Rocna.  I love my Rocna.

1500 mile interim report.

Total distance 1503 miles
Average speed 4.6 kts
Maximum speed 11.6 kts (that was fun!)

We've now travelled 1500 miles, mostly on open ocean.  It's probably worth reporting on how things are working out from the perspective of upgrades and improvements which are always of interest on the forum.   

Things that we love and are very happy that we did:

- tool storage in the companionway - perhaps the singular best improvement on the boat

- the bimini, solar panels, and batteries - great protection from the sun.  We could go forever without pluggin in.   Never depleted the battery bank below 75%.  I still haven't installed the new high output alternator or separate start battery.   Seems like we may have more capacity than we need, but that is exactly where we want to be as we head south and refrigeration loads increase and the watermaker runs a few hours a day.

- new interior upholstery - it's our home and its very comfortable

- new chartplotter with radar and AIS - large 8 inch screen on a bracket at the companionway.  This is the perfect position for the instrument.   Weekend sailing, you stand behind the wheel.   Doing serious miles, you relax more comfortably in the cockpit and you can't see instruments behind the wheel.  AIS is amazing.  I thought it was poor mans radar, but it is much better than radar if you are trying to figure out what a vessel is up to (speed, direction, position, closest approach, vessel name and MMSI number right there for you).   And best of all, the whole thing folds into the companionway so we don't worry about expensive electronics being left outside.   

- diesel heater - never would have believed how cold it is.  You expect it offshore in Washington and Oregon, but California has been very cold.

- collapsible salad spinner and collapsible strainer - Tracey likes having these items on board - new silicon versions knock flat and take up no space (what the hell, this isn't a boat improvement??  Actually, yes it is.  You just have to stop thinking that the boat is about the bits you bolt in and wire up and think of it as place for total family comfort and daily living and you will have a happier crew than if put the money into a new traveller.)

- the propane refit - I think I would be going nuts by now if I had to drag little metal bottles around to have them refilled. 

- a good chefs knife

- the table shrink in the main salon - way better access

- overhead lee cloths on the shelves - fantastic.   Never had anything fall out and the shelves are stuffed to twice the old capacity with everything visible for easy access

- new mainsail, lazy jacks - awesome.  Big difference.   

- reefing in the cockpit - this is where reefing belongs - and separate lines for tack and clew are the way to go

- sewing machine - like it so much I brought it with us

- ventilating the refridgeration space with 4 inch holes intake and exhaust holes and a muffin fan.   Draws a little more power, but doesn't run as long using way less energy.

- weather cloths in the cockpit

Things we should have spent more time / money on:

- foam in the bed mattresses - I went cheap and didn't replace the foam.   We still sleep in comfort, but I've added a mattress topper and wooden slats in the aft and a 3" memory foam topper in the v-berth.   We are now extremly comfy, but access underneath positively sucks. 

- genoa sheets - the only bit of running rigging on the boat I didn't replace.   I was punished for it.

- the main sail cover - I recut the old one and put a zipper in the top.  It turns out even sunbrella eventually dies.   Concept is great, but I should have bought new fabric as the old is worn out.   I'm going to have to redo this as I have some tearing around the reef lines. 

- scupper hoses - I replaced these "above waterline" hoses with whatever cheap crap the guy at West Marine said would be good.   When you have a big following sea off the Oregon coast at 2 o'clock in the morning, your scupper hoses are not above the water and there is no comfort in cheap hoses that could get ripped if something shifted down there - I replaced these in Coos Bay with exhaust style hose.

- bilge pump set up - I have four bilge pumps:  2 high capacity electric with hoses to the transom, 1 tiny electric, 1 manual in the cockpit.   

The tiny one (300 or 500 gph) drains to a T in the sink drain and has the lowest switch.  This is the maintenance pump that keeps the bilge water level low. It also has power through the main switch on the panel because closing the sink drain through hull on an active bilge pump could cause quite a mess.   

The big ones (2000 gph each) have separate circuits with fuses to the battery.   The switches on these pumps are mounted higher and one of the switches also runs the bilge alarm since I want to know about it if these pumps ever operate.   

Disturbingly, I have heard the bilge alarms go off.   In bigger seas, particularly under power, water slops in to the factory bilge through hull.   For the second high capacity pump, I put the discharge through hull in the place of the old propane locker vent.    So now I have a check valve on the factory bilge pump.  Not ideal.   I may consider moving the discharge higher.

Things we've done, that haven't yet proved their worth:

- wireless remote for the autopilot - never bother to turn it on.   We just reach back to the control head on the pedestal and push the buttons by feel

- lifelines - Amsteel may be extremely strong, but it elongates.   We have to retension often.   More chafe than I would like.   I think bare stainless might be a better choice.

- series drogue - this is really storm force stuff.  Easy enough to transit the coast and avoid storm force conditions.   A little gale now and then and the boat can stand up to it.   But when it starts blowing, you never know how bad it will get...

- camp stove toaster - this is the jobby was supposed to be the corrosion free version that goes on the stove burner.  They lied.

- liferaft - but I wouldn't leave home without it.   Truthfully, I don't know how people actually deploy these things if it is a storm that is sinking the boat.   

- the spinnaker - positively beautiful, but very underutilized, only popped it twice on the cruise so far.  Hoping this changes in the future.

- watermaker - only just commissioned it.   It is a pain in the butt to clean filters etc.   I would never bother if cruising Canada / US.  We will probably grow to love it in Mexico   

- cabin fans - we have four.   On maybe 2 days we have felt that they are useful.  Again, once the butter melts... 

- print as you go charts.   I have two chartplotters, but cannot sail without hard copy.  My concept was to print out the NOAA chart books as we go.  Bad idea.  Hate the little charts.  Hate printing them, collating them and putting them into sleeves.  I've bought chart books.    I couldn't store or afford full size charts for the whole coast.  Chart books are a good comprimise. 

- autopilot - it's performed better than I thought it would.  I wouldn't cross an ocean with it alone.

Stuff still on my "to do" list:

- shade awning
- cockpit side shade curtains (block 75% light, still allow breeze - phiffertex)
- window covers (same fabric will run full length outside and snap on providing shade and bug protection)

Overall it has been a fantastic trip.   I find it really interesting on the whole debate of what makes an offshore sail boat.   It is unbelievable how much BS floats around and how many people have opinions but no experience based on the particular boat they happen to have an opinion on.  I now believe it matters far more how the boat is prepared than what boat it is.  Obviously you need a minimum standard in terms of hull integrity and rig strength and I think the Catalina 34 has that easilly.   The question is can the boat and crew be prepared for offshore?   I believe the answer question lies only with the skipper who does the preparation.  In our case, we have had a fairly good shakedown cruise and I rate the boat highly.   I've had "experienced" sailors who were aghast that I would take my family with no offshore experience in a Catalina 34 from Vancouver to San Francisco - a nasty bit of coast.   And it takes some serious thought to call bull#### and say you're up to the challenge having never sailed in an ocean swell.  I've also had experienced sailors who say go to the Marquesas and you'll find a lot of less capable boats than yours crewed by Europeans having the time of their lives.   And you'll also find North Americans with real fancy boats with a lot of broken bits waiting for parts. 

So that's the next question.   Are we offshore sailors?   Tracey doesn't fancy bashing up the coast.   She thinks it's much easier to turn right.   But 3000 miles is a big commitment.   We'll have an answer by February or so... 

Main Message Board / Installing a Water Maker
« on: October 01, 2009, 01:36:35 PM »
Installation is complete.  

I chose a 150 gallon per day "water maker" from Spectra.    (Foster keeps pointing out to me that it doesn't make water, it just takes the salt out of it. )

The math is interesting.  Oriinally, I thought I would go with a Katadyn unit that does 40 gallons per day.   It consumes 4A compared to the Spectra unit's 9A and would have more than met our 15 gallon per day consumption requirement.  

The dealer actually gave me a good education.   We only need to run the Spectra unit for a couple of hours a day instead of 9 or 10 hours a day on the lower output unit.   More importantly, The Spectra unit is about 1.5 Ah per gallon compared to 2.6 Ah/g for the Katadyn.  

The main components are in shown in Photo 1.   From the right side clockwise in order of flow we have: 1) dedicated through hull 2) raw water strainer 3) feed pump 4) accumulator 5) 20 micron prefilter 6) 5 micron prefilter.    These components are all located in the locker under the seat forward of the main salon table.   I still have room for a lot of storage in this locker.   Also visible in the photo are a transducer (under the strainer) and the AB refridgeration in the upper left corner.   Photo 2 shows the pump unit.   Flow from these component goes forward to the Clark pump in photo 3. 

The fridge unit used to run in this compartment with no ventillation.   I added insulation on the ice box and put two 4 inch vents, one with a muffin fan wired in parallel with the fridge.   This fan and vents provide excellent air exchange and reduced the cycle time on the fridge by half.  I would still vent this cabinet for the watermaker pump motor alone if I did not have refridgeration here.   

The clark pump and membrane unit is located under the drawer in the v-berth.   5/8 inch hose brings filtered water from for input.  Another 5/8 hose goes to an above water thru hull located at the top of the hanging locker for brine discharge.   1/4 inch tubing takes the product water output to valves and guages under the sink.  

The water tastes great.   It's easy to operate.   I just open a couple of valves and turn a switch on the panel.   Water begins to flow out the sample tube.   I sample it with a salinity meter and then divert it to the tank.  

We decided that a convenient supply of fresh safe water was an important consideration for our Mexican trip.   I do not think I would want to be bothered with a water maker for ordinary cruising.   We go a week without having to fill and would generally find ourselves at a marina or fuel dock during that time frame with ready access to water.    

Main Message Board / Propane Refit
« on: September 25, 2009, 09:50:23 AM »
I see some talk of propane on another thread and realized I never did post pictures of my refit.   It's completely untested at this point - there are only 1250 sea miles on it and it hasn't been in any seas much over 15 feet.    Given this very limited shakedown, I have to say I'm delighted with the conversion.   

The new style bottles give me huge capacity.   They are light weight for the cantilevered platform.  Easy to check the levels.  Most importantly they aren't in the aft locker.   

Construction is 3/4 plywood, epoxy laminated to 1.5 inches, with wooden locator blocks.   Shelf is cantilevered off the stern with support line of amsteel to the rail.  I reused the through fitting from the old box to bring the line through the deck.   Old scraps of sunbrella were stitched together for a cover with an opening flap on top to access the valves.   

I've refilled once in two months of cruising. 

The only upgrade I want to make is a T fitting to run the grill and stove off the same bottle.  Right now I have a dedicated bottle for each application.  Running them off one bottle will allow me to completely drain one so I'm not dragging half full bottles off for filling and messing with bottle swaps and green cannisters.   

Main Message Board / Loose Stairs / Engine Cover
« on: September 10, 2009, 04:23:29 PM »
I had a problem with the lower stairs and the horizontal engine cover being a bit loose and not having a tight fit.   I was going to laminate shims to the side but decided to go after the root of the problem.   The bulkeads to the head and/or aft cabin seem to have spread apart over the years.   To pull them back together I thought of some vertical boards alongside the door openings, but instead opted for a threaded stainless steel rod that goes right across the top forward part of engine compartment.   Worked like a charm.   Anybody else have the same issue?   What did you do or think of doing?

Main Message Board / Early Stage Homelessness
« on: July 30, 2009, 07:52:29 PM »
We are now homeless.   Early stage homelessness.   That is to say we still have cars and we haven't yet exhausted the goodwill of friends and family who have been housing us.  Tomorrow we lose the cars and start bumming rides.

But it's all for a good cause. 

The boat is not ready.   The boat will never be ready.   But it's looking pretty good.   Today I had an emergency tiller fabricated - the last "must have" item.    The rest of the bits we'll finish as we go.   

Saturday we drop the homeless status and move aboard and sail away.   It should be fun.  Ready or not, here we come.   

Main Message Board / Comms Panel
« on: July 19, 2009, 09:34:54 PM »
If you are ever wondering where do you put a VHF, SSB, Stereo deck, Pactor Modem and a new subpanel to switch your toys on...

Main Message Board / What to Do With the Old Table
« on: July 19, 2009, 09:29:04 PM »
The top of my hanging locker was dominated by an oversized microwave.    I downsized the microwave somewhat and cut up the remains of the salon table, my old cockpit table, and a coffee table that Scupper ate to rework the area.

Now the microwave faces the galley.  It's bumped up higher to allow storage of a couple of laptops, modems etc underneath.   I have a dedicated drawer for my pencil and dividers.   There's room above for our finest acrylic stemware and spots for storing cylinders.   One of them a champagne bottle that I found in my halyard bag from Ocean Spirit - a MKII that's a few slips down. 

I still have to plug, sand, and varnish the fiddles, but I think packing the house is starting to be a higher priority.  Oh, yeah and putting new formica on the kitchen counter top.   And one day with Bob's help, I promise I'll put all this in the wiki.

Main Message Board / Ikea Dioder Lights
« on: July 19, 2009, 09:03:02 PM »
Someone here suggested Ikea Dioder lights.   I don't have the equipment or skills to photograph lighting, but they are awesome.  I put 4 of the little round pucks underneath shelves on each side and 4 of the multicolored strips in the drip gutters above.   The multicolors allow red lighting for maintaining night vision.   Foster likes them because he can cycle through all the colors and have the coolest party boat in the anchorage.   

All up they provide great light in the cabin.   1.4 Amps total draw with 16 fixtures lighted up.   

Main Message Board / Entertainment Unit
« on: July 19, 2009, 08:52:08 PM »
I never thought I would have a TV on a boat, let alone a video game system.   But I had to make a few concessions to drag the family away for a year.   

The entertainment unit below houses a Wii console and 1.5TB of data storage.   The data storage has hundreds of movies loaded and ready to go.   The RCA connectors on top will be connected to the ship's stereo.  A laptop contols the movies so the fold down leather padded shelf gives us a place to put the laptop instead of piling it up on books at the nav station like we did last year to reach the foot long connector for the ipod.   

Main Message Board / Lee Cloths
« on: July 19, 2009, 08:38:32 PM »
Needed to make a couple of good sea berths.   I added in lee cloths.

For attachments I replaced the acorn nuts at the chainplates with eye nuts.   

I liked the lee cloths and got to thinking about extending the concept to the upper shelves.   They have huge benefits up there.   No more stuff leaping off the shelf.   Plus you can overstuff them with blankets, bread, veggies or tool bags and they are like little hammocks.  Still easy to put stuff up there but nothing comes out unless you grab the edge of the cloth and pull it down.   My first inclination was woodwork and cabinetry, but  this is lighter, less visually imposing, and lets you see what you have stored away. 

Main Message Board / Sink Splash
« on: July 19, 2009, 08:22:01 PM »
The new upholstery was getting splashed from the sink.   I had a piece of acrylic left over from forward hatch replacement so I added in a splash guard to match the paper towel holder and storage do-dad.   

Don't mean to clog the message board with this stuff, but thought I'd better capture it before I pack away the home computer.   It might be a while before we have wifi again.   

Main Message Board / Yet Another Salon Table Variation
« on: July 19, 2009, 08:11:50 PM »
I have a new salon table.    Actually it's a cockpit table that I made for my old boat re-purposed.   Requirements were as follows:

- much smaller than the old table to allow easy movement around
- still useable as a bed
- no complicated folding mechanisms to whack knees

Bonus features include the following:

- drawers underneath for cutlery and school supplies
- extension to the port side for cocktail placement from the port settee

I took the the old table and added about 3 inches on each side and trimmed it around with black walnut.   So it's made of mahogany, maple, birch, walnut, and teak.   I recycled the fiddles from the old salon table.   The side fiddles (fore and aft actually) are on removable pins.   The pins will allow me to make a couple of simple inserts that have a matching alignment of pins so they will drop in easily.   Photo 3 shows the fiddles removed as I am measuring up for the inserts.   

This table already makes a huge improvement in our enjoyment of the salon. 

Main Message Board / New Mainsail Management
« on: July 11, 2009, 09:08:54 PM »
With the new sail came new sail handling.    We were without lazyjacks so we decided to add some.   Makes handling the main much easier.   

I cut open the top of our sail cover and added in a zipper and created a batten pocket with 2" webbing that runs full length.   I went with really expensive battens - 1/2 inch pvc tubing from Home Depot - $4 a side!   Some grommets on the top to attach the lazy jacks and I stitched the bottom of the cover to the sail.   Seems to work well, though I think I made it a bit tight.   Now we just drop it and zip it.  No more fights with flogging sail on the cabin top.     

Main Message Board / Aftlocker Refit
« on: July 05, 2009, 09:03:42 PM »
I'm not sure Catalina had their best guy on the job when they designed the aft locker on the MKI.     There was an oversized shelf hammered together with common nails and a propane locker designed to block access to all space.   I decided it was time to refit the space.

I used an old sail to create a number of bags to organize the space.   Catalina left through bolts at the hull deck joint.   I simply joined the bags along the transom and sides with wing nuts through gromets on the bags.   Snaps join the front edge of the bag to a reduced sized shelf over the quadrant. 

Underneath the bags there is still plenty of room for storage.   Those old halyards are there.   Along with a couple of prawn traps and several hundred feet of anchor rode and chain along with a 33lb claw anchor.   The bitter end goes around the rudder shaft.   In the bags there is plenty of room to store fenders along with a 100 cone series drogue and danforth anchor.   Plenty of stopping power.   I have a full sized ditch bag with EPIRB, water etc.   

There is still a ton of room to store the life raft along with a half dozen bags of garbage.   Now everything can go in and smoothly without any snags.


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