Friday, November 14, 2014

On My Way South

I am on the move at last. I left the Deltaville boat yard around noon on Tuesday with my volunteer help, trying to head south before this strange arctic weather arrives. After a combination of motoring and sailing we anchored in Mobjack bay just as the sun set that evening. The next day we made it through Norfolk and on to the free dock at the Great bridge lock (Chesapeake VA) for the second night. Yesterday we continued motoring down the ICW past Coin jock and anchored in Broad Creek (NC I believe) just north of the Albemarle sound.

The Arctic blast has caught up with us and it is cold and windy...too windy to attempt crossing the Albemarle sound, so we are staying put today, trying to stay warm, and hoping for better weather tomorrow. Wind is around 25 knots and the temperature is maybe 40 if we are lucky. This really shows how poorly insulated boats are.

The two uses of the anchor indicate that she sets and holds very well in the softer bottoms of the Chesapeake area.

Cell phone and Internet access are spotty, so no pictures or long stories today. Hopefully this will post.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lessons Learned - A Day of Living in a Boatyard

I haven't done a lessons learned post in a while and, after seeing a post from my friends over at ZeroToCruising doing a play-by-play post from a recent passage, I figured I'd give you a typical day in my life at the boatyard so you can draw your own lessons from here goes.

Woke up at 6:00am to a cabin that is about 60 degrees.  It would have been 45 if I hadn't had the small electric space heater running in the cabin.  With the boat on the hard, there is no good way to run systems that require raw water...such as the reverse cycle AC (heater).  After about 30 minutes hiding in the warmth of the bed, I decide I need to make the trek to the bathhouse.  I get dressed, move the space heater from the cabin to the salon, and head off for the morning ritual.  At least they seem to have turned on the heat in the bathhouse now, the past weekend it was pretty cold in there.

Returning to the boat, I decide I need my morning coffee.  I turn off the heater so I can use the electric kettle to boil some water.  The boatyard only has 15 amp service (normal wall socket) so I can't run multiple high-load electric items at the same time (I bought an adapter so I could plug my 30 amp cord into a standard 15 amp extension cord).  After the water boils, turn off the kettle and turn the space heater back on.  A check of the weather and it says the high today may make 60 degrees F...much better than the rainy 50's the past couple days.

I turn on the propane and make a ham, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich on the stove.  Using the stove top helps impart a little heat in the boat, at least temporarily.  While eating breakfast, I check my email and do the drawing for the book giveaway.  I write a quick post for the blog announcing the winner using the boatyard WiFi.  I then open up my list of tasks so see what I have in store today.  I check off installing the new fresh water pump head that I completed yesterday (after verifying there are still no leaks this morning) and figure out what I can do today.  I'm almost half way through the list.

Since it is still cold outside, and a little damp from the rain during the night, I spend some time cleaning up and organizing the boat (a task that seems to always be desperately needed). It finally starts warming up some, so I go outside and check on the dinghy to see if the sealant helped (more on this in another post).  I decide to clean it as well as take care of some rust streaks on the boat hull.  I go get the long hose attached to the spigot across the yard, attach my sprayer, and drag it back over to the boat.  I also dig through the boat looking for my rubber gloves and the cleaners for the dinghy and hull.  About this time the clouds start moving back in and the temperature drops, so I go back inside.

I look at options for my destination heading south, trying to find a big enough city I can find parts and supplies, but small enough that the marina dockage fees aren't too expensive.  While I'd love to be on the hook more, when I'm doing lots of work on the boat it makes sense to be at a dock (as well as to have an address where  I can ship stuff). I also need to figure out options to get me and my help back to Deltaville (my victim volunteer deckhand has a boat here in Deltaville and while I'm doing work on the boat I keep dragging my car along).

After making a chicken salad sandwich for lunch, I notice the sun is once again out and go back and continue my work outside.  I clean the oxidation and bottom paint dust stains (the dust is insidious in how it can stain things) off of the dinghy.  I apply the On and Off gel to the rust stains on the boat, wait a few minutes, then wash off...making sure not to get any on my new bottom paint (it will apparently remove that as well).  It does an OK job, the streaks are no longer rust color, but just a dull black ghost of the previous stains.

I check my email and get some good news.  The sheave kits for my genoa car rollers have made it off the slow boat from England and are in.  The anchor roller I had a local machine shop make is also ready. Yay.  I drive to the store and machine shop and gladly drop about $250 (U.S.) so I can get the last parts I've been waiting on.  I get back to the boat and look at the parts (basically plastic rollers).  The anchor roller should be perfect, but the sheave kits are different than the original so I go try and install one to see if it will fit.  The instructions are useless as they don't depict the exact model I have, but I figure out how to make them work using a subset of the parts they supplied (the kit apparently fits several different genoa car models now).  Of course, while I'm putting the sheave in, a gust of wind comes out of nowhere, grabs the plastic bag of parts and flings them off the boat.  At least I'm in the yard and not on the I can climb down and retrieve them.

Now that it is "standard time" it is starting to get dark at 4:30pm and the wind is increasing and getting colder so the other sheave and the roller will wait until tomorrow.  I take a walk around the yard and chat with the other guy crazy enough to be living on a boat in a boat yard.  He tells me it might go below freezing tonight.  Yuck.  I go back to the boat and turn the space heater back on to try and increase the heat before the space heater can't keep up with the temperatures.

With it getting colder, I decide I had better take my shower early and so grab my towel and shaving kit (soap, shampoo, etc.) and head to the bath house.  The bath house seems to have plenty of hot water, which is really nice when it is cold outside.  The water in the yard isn't the best as it seems a bit salty, but works fine for a shower.  Guess I should mention that I do NOT fill my boat tanks with the water from the yard as I don't want questionable quality water in my tanks.  It is now dark outside, the moon is not yet up, and the lighting in the boatyard is not very good.  The result is that I step in a deep puddle of water on my walk back to the boat.  On the boat I clean up my shoe, and debate what the gray substance is that has stained my now wet sock...probably mud combined with all the colors of bottom paint and other chemicals that have been used in the yard over the years.

I make a shopping list and head to the store (one of the advantages of still having the car, this isn't a whole-day ordeal).  I come back with several bags of groceries and carefully place them on the transom, climb the swim ladder to get on the boat, and then shuffle the bags inside.  After a brief fight with the top loading refrigerator (one of these days I'll learn the secret to organizing it) and hiding other items in various storage locations about the boat, everything is stowed.

I then get the spaghetti casserole (basically lasagna made with spaghetti noodles) that I made a few nights prior (when it was really cold and I figured using the oven would be a good source of heat as well as food) out of the fridge, temporarily turn off the space heater so I can microwave a slice along with some canned corn for dinner.

I have my usual evening call with my wife and she tells me of some weather phenomenon that may bring very cold temperatures and snow to the east coast in the next week.  I guess it is the result of an unusual typhoon that is now heading toward Canada or Alaska and will shift the jet stream south.  The scientist they were interviewing suggested that the unusual weather activity may be the result of global warming...resulting in local cooling.  In any case, it sounds miserable and just gives me more motivation to head south.  The Caribbean is looking pretty good right now.

I spend a little more time looking around on the internet, researching my next stop, and figuring out if there is anything special I need to pay attention to when we splash the boat, and then take a break and watch a movie.  I move the space heater down to my cabin and note the thermostat says it is a balmy 56 degrees in there.  I come back up and type up most of this from my notes while my cabin warms least a little.  While working on the post, the salon temperature drops (boat hulls are just not well insulated) so I decide I'll finish the post the next day.  I make one more trek to the bath house in the cold evening air and then climb into bed around 10:30pm.

Lest you think it is all pina colladas and sunsets, there is a price to pay for this lifestyle.  Actually, this is one of the better days as I was able to get the parts I needed and may be able to launch the boat soon.  The day before I spent a fair amount of time chasing a phantom problem with my fresh water system after replacing the head of one of the fresh water pumps.  And today, the boatyard water pump has failed and so there is no water, hot or cold, in the bathhouse.

So, there you have it.  A brief look at a random day in my life at the boatyard.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Shiny Props or Battleship Gray

Another task that is easier (no I didn't say easy) to do out of the water than it is in the water is cleaning the props.  But I'm waiting on parts and can't find an excuse to procrastinate any longer, so it is time to tackle that task.  The propellers didn't look as bad as the one on the other leopard I surveyed, but they could still stand a cleaning.

I figured I needed a flexible scraper, a wire brush, some sandpaper, and maybe a Scotch-brite pad or two.  I started with the scraper.  I chipped the remnants of the barnacles and other stuff off...slowly.  This stuff is like cement.  It took quite a while with the scraper before I got down to the bronze.  For the tight spots where I just couldn't work the scraper, I ended up using the wire brush and sandpaper.  After I got the prop clean, I went over it with the sandpaper to get the last bits off the prop.  I think it took about 3 hours per prop to get them reasonably shiny and clean. The truth is, I never used the Scotch-brite, I quickly realized that a Scotch-brite didn't have a chance.

1/3 of a clean prop

Originally, I wasn't intending to coat the propellers with anything, but after all the work, I was re-evaluating that decision.  I couldn't use bottom paint since the ablative paint wouldn't stay on the props for long.  Fortunately, there are a few prop coatings available. In doing my research on propeller coatings, I found out that Rust-oleum Cold Galvanizing Compound is virtually the same stuff as one of the propeller coating products...and at $7, it was an economical alternative to the $22 can of official propeller coating.  So, I got a can of it to give a try.

Shiny prop with sad looking zinc

Painting the propeller was pretty easy.  Simply mask off the area from overspray and apply a couple light coats of paint and let it dry.  The props aren't shiny anymore, but hopefully they'll resist some growth or, at least, may be a bit easier to clean.  Guess I'll know next time we haul the boat how effective it is.

One last task and the props will be ready to go.  That broken piece of metal at the end of the props in the above pictures were the remains of the sacrificial zincs and they obviously needed to be replaced.  Simply remove the alan head bolt holding it on and replace with a new zinc.  Yeah, right.  One zinc came off just fine, the other bolt would not budge.  I broke a hex wrench trying to get it off.  Fortunately, the prior owner had a supply of zincs AND prop nuts, so I ended up having to remove and replace the prop nut as well as the zinc.  I replaced the prop nut, bent up the tab on the keyed washer to lock the nut in place, then installed the zinc with a little Lock-tite on the hex bolt.

Painted prop with unpainted nut and new zinc

So, other than the touch up bottom paint where the stands are covering the bottom, the underwater surfaces should now be ready to go back in the water.

And The Winner Is...

First, I want to thank everyone who entered the first book giveaway.  My wife and I both enjoyed your stories and I'm sure they are inspirational for others contemplating this crazy idea of throwing off the dock lines and sailing away.

I wrote the names from each entry on slips of paper and literally threw them in a hat. After shaking them up, I drew the winner.

Drum roll please....

And the winner of the first giveaway is....

Andy A.

Andy, if you could send me an email (feel free to use the form on the right side of the blog) we can get those books on their way to you.

Don't forget, this is just the first of the giveaways.  There will be one or two more (depending on how fast I can read the remaining books), so watch for future posts when they become available. The next giveaway will include titles like "The Capable Cruiser" from Lin and Larry Pardey.

Thanks again for all that entered and good luck to all who are pursuing their dreams on the water!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Note: If you are interested, don't forget to enter the book giveaway.

The boat is getting closer to launch, I'm just waiting for a few parts and hopefully I'll be heading south soon.  In the meantime, I've been trying to get other work done on the boat while I wait.  One of those tasks was our trampoline.  The stitching on the fabric that covers the edges had disintegrated in the sun, leaving only the stitch holes behind and the fabric was starting to curl.  Now that we have the Sailrite sewing machine, I figured why not give stitching it a go.

Removal was the easy part...although you can't really call it easy.  You can't just untie and unlace the trampoline.  It is attached such that if a line breaks it won't all unravel and dump you into the water.  Add to that the sun baked nature of the existing laces, and I had to pretty much cut each loop off to remove the trampoline.  And once everything is cut off, the tedious task of removing all the knots on the slides and pegs consumed a fair amount of time.

Once the trampoline was free of the boat, it was time to get sewing.  I setup the sewing machine in the cockpit since we have a nice large table there and I figured all the seat backs would help support the trampoline.  Well, it was a good theory.  The plastic coated lines or whatever that material is that makes up the core of the trampoline is a real bear to work with.  Trying to roll it up to make it more manageable was only semi-successful.  I was able to sew most of the edge, only missing a small inside corner that was too stiff to be able to work through the machine.  Of course, between the thickness of the material and uneven nature of the stuff, I ended up breaking 3 needles.  Oh well, at least one of the things is now mostly stitched.

Re-installing the trampoline was an interesting mental exercise.  Fortunately I left one of the trampolines attached so I could use it as a blueprint for reassembly.  Having to lace the metal loops meant feeding the line through each loop, then tying a knot at each loop.  Sounds easy, right.  Well, when you are dealing with a few hundred feet of line, it can be difficult.  Once I got to the pegs, it took a little thinking to figure out an easier approach than feeding the line through each eye and then around the pegs.  If you push a loop of line through the eye and loop it around the peg you don't need to "thread" it through each eye and it goes much faster.  To make installation a bit easier, I also used four segments of line instead of one long line.

The end result wasn't perfect, but good enough. Wrestling the trampoline through the machine didn't leave the straightest of stitching.  And the tensioning of the trampoline left a small wrinkle, but overall I'm pleased...and I didn't have to pay someone a few hundred dollars to do it.  Hopefully the next projects for the Sailrite will go a bit better.  The machine is a real workhorse...the only problems I had with it I think can be safely identified as operator error.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Better Hook

The anchor that came with our boat when we bought her was a 45 lb. CQR which I believe was the standard anchor they outfitted the boat with when they were new.  While the anchor was still in OK shape, I wanted to beef up our main ground tackle since we intend to spend a fair amount of time at anchor.  I definitely don't want to be up at night when the wind blows worrying if our anchor would drag.  That would know...a drag!  (sorry, couldn't resist)

In my research on anchor recommendations, many of the older style anchors such as the CQR or Delta (plow), Bruce (claw), Spade, or Danforth are good for one or two particular bottom types (sand, mud, rocks, grass, etc.), but not others. I'd like my primary to work in a wide variety of conditions as I don't want to carry an abundance of anchors or have to switch them out depending on what I'm floating over at the time. This led me to some newer design anchors that seem to be getting favorable reviews in tests and in real life with varying bottom conditions.  These newer style anchors are more of a scooping spade design with a roll bar to aid in orientation so it digs in. I decided this style of anchor is what we should be looking for.

So, after a bunch of online research, one of our missions at the boat show was to check out these newer style anchors from Rocna, Mantus, and Manson and see if we could find one that we liked and would fit our boat (the anchor locker sits behind the trampolines and I had some concern about the anchor fitting in the available space). Most cruisers also say to figure out the recommended anchor for your boat and then go one size larger, which added complication to the already difficult fit issue. We found displays at the show that included each of the anchors and compared the various designs, sizes, and (of course) price.

We had narrowed the decision down to either a Rocna or Mantus.  In the end, we chose a 65 lb. galvanized Mantus for our primary hook.  The reason for choosing the Mantus over the others boiled down to a few key considerations.  First, I knew of several other boats that have recently taken the plunge with Mantus and have been happy with their decision.  Watching the test videos from Mantus as well as independent comparisons of anchors from other sources indicated the anchor set, and reset, well in a variety of conditions.  The people at Mantus were very helpful and friendly when we were asking questions and did their best to help determine fit and assured us they would work with us if there were any fit issues.  And finally, the price of the Mantus anchor is just a bit more friendly on the cruiser's pocketbook.

Mantus at the Annapolis Boat Show

As my wife and I were leaving the boat show, I realized I had once again forgotten to take some pictures for the blog and so I ran back in to take pictures. I stopped back by the Mantus booth to get a picture and we started talking again.  The result is that I now have my first official "sponsor".* If you have noticed, thus far I have avoided advertisements or sponsors on the blog. I didn't want to get into a situation where I felt obligated to write anything other than how I felt about a product.  But I also realized that I often use the recommendations and sponsor lists from other blogs when making decisions, so it did make sense that I should provide that same help to others.  And if it is a product I want anyway, getting a little compensation for all the time spent blog writing and providing thoughts on various products is something I needed to consider.  But don't worry dear reader, I fully intend to continue to tell you how I really feel about the various products we use,

Anchor Packaging...only 73 lbs.

Now back to the anchor.  Our anchor was shipped to the boatyard where I am currently busy working on the boat.  When it arrived, it didn't take me long to decide to assemble and install our new hook (can you say kid at Christmas).  The anchor arrived disassembled and attached via webbing to an open wooden box inside a cardboard box.  I assume it must have been a bit of a struggle for the delivery man to wrestle a 73 lb. anchor plus wooden box, based on the condition the box arrived in, but the anchor itself was in fine shape (I'll assume any anchor should be able to handle whatever a delivery man can throw at it).

New anchor assembled and sitting next to our old CQR

Assembly consists of bolting the shank and the roll bar to the fluke.  Mantus provides and instructs that you use a liberal amount of grease on the bolts and holes so assembly is a bit sticky.  While we plan to keep ours installed, the anchor does come apart so it could be a good spare for those with limited storage space...but you may need to bring some extra grease along for reassembly (I assume it is recommended for each assembly).  I then shackled the anchor to our chain rode (after buying a new anchor shakle) and manually cranked the anchor up into its new home on my bow.  The anchor fit like a glove with the roll bar just clearing the strut between the two trampolines.

Our new Mantus in its new home.

So, we now have a larger, newer style anchor on Rover...and I think my wife and I will be able to sleep better on the hook knowing it is there.  Can't wait to give it a try and let you know how it holds. Now the question is....what to do with the old CQR.  Do we replace our backup Bruce anchor?  Do we keep both?  Do we sell it?  Hmmm.

*Sponsor Disclosure: In the interest of full disclosure, the company mentioned in this article has graciously provided free or discounted products or services to help support our effort to sail away from the rat race. The opinions expressed in this blog are still our own and not indicative of the opinions or positions of the company. We do encourage you to check out the products or services provided by this, or any, company that supports the cruising community.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bottom Paint

After patching the hole left when the through-hull was removed and finding and fixing a few other defects in the bottom of the boat, I needed to get some bottom paint back on those spots so the sea life that likes to make itself home on boat hulls would be deterred.  With all the patches, and since the boat is already out of the water, we decided that I should put a coat of paint on the entire boat.

While we were at the boat show, we checked out a few vendors of boat bottom paints trying to decide what we really need.  There are a variety of paints out there.  There are hard bottom paints as well as ablative varieties.  If you already have paint on the boat, you also need to determine compatability of the new paint with the existing paint.  For instance, you can't put a hard paint over an ablative paint.

Since we already had an ablative paint on the boat and we didn't want to strip off all the existing paint, we needed to choose an ablative paint.  Most ablative paints have copper oxides as one ingredient to deter marine life.  Some also have other chemicals that deter algae and grass growth.  Yet others have additional biocide chemicals.  Recently, new water based paints have appeared on the market that tout easier cleanup with lower VOC content.  It can get rather confusing.

I liked the idea of the water based options due to their easier handling, thinning, and cleanup.  We also liked the more "eco friendly" (if you can call a bottom paint that) concepts of some of the non-copper based paints.  Unfortunately, at $200 a gallon or more, some of these paints I felt were just too expensive for my first foray into bottom painting.  In the end, we decided on Pettit Hydrocoat.  It is water based, claims it can be applied to just about any other bottom paint (and we didn't know what had been previously used), and was the cheaper of the water based paints on sale at the local hardware store for about $150 a gallon.

The lightly sanded and taped off bottom

The preparation instructions on the can said to lightly sand the bottom before application.  The yard claims they just power wash, scrape off any growth and loose paint, and then paint the boat.  I decided I would go with the manufacturers recommendation and lightly sand.  I bought a pole sander, some 80 grit sandpaper, sanding sponges, goggles and a respirator.  Let me just say, in hindsight, I should have picked up a Tyvek suit as well.  The result of sanding is very fine particulates of the old bottom paint and the stuff sticks to everything.  After sanding, I rinsed off the boat to get rid of as much of the dust as possible.

Painting isn't that difficult.  One of the keys is to have the paint well shaken before application and then keep it stirred during application.  Apparently the copper tends to settle so you need to make sure it stays mixed.  First, I took some painters tape to mask off the waterline so the bottom paint only goes where it is supposed to. After using a brush to paint the corners and hard to reach places, the rest of the paint is rolled on with a short nap paint roller.  The Pettit Hydrocoat didn't have any obnoxious fumes and really reminded me of exterior home paint during application...other than the need to keep stirring it.

I applied a couple coats over the patched areas and then put a coat over the entire boat.  The result wasn't perfect (it would probably look better if I did a second coat) but it accomplished the goal.  The patched areas are well coated and everything looks fairly uniform now.  Hopefully this paint will work out OK.

The (almost) finished paint job

I'll need to paint the spots covered by the stands just before we launch the boat, but it is otherwise done.  The new paint is slightly darker than the old paint, so I'm glad we painted the whole bottom.  It does look a bit better now.  It took about a gallon and a half of paint to cover what I've done so far.  Looks like it would take about 3 gallons to do the whole boat with the proper two coats.  Hopefully that, and the sanded paint below it, will keep the barnacles away for a while.

And I definitely learned one thing...if I ever want to strip all the old paint off the boat, I think I'll hire someone to do it.