Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Atomic lace

While I was busy chasing the fish thru our head intake plumbing, I noticed that a fitting on the next seacock over was seeping.  So, since I had the proper sized nut driver in my hand, I put a half turn on the appropriate hose clamp.  *SNAP*   This fitting broke clean off!   I hurriedly closed the seacock.

Thank you, PO

This is (or was...) a brass fitting.  It has de-zincified.

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc (not to be confused with bronze, an alloy of copper and tin).  Now, we put zincs on our props and/or shafts to protect the bronze props, right?  Well, with brass, there is zinc right there, internally!  And just like with your prop, in salt water the zinc dissolves to protect the copper.  But when it is a solid piece of metal what does this mean?

It means just exactly what you'd imagine...  This piece of used-to-be-brass is now copper, but with 30% void space - it is atomic lace.  Of course it has no strength.

Brass has no place in boat plumbing (except perhaps in the fresh water lines at the galley sink).  But sadly, most marine chandeliers not only stock brass fittings, but they also locate their brass and bronze fittings right next to each other, or worse, intermixed with each other.  And since brass and bronze are similar in appearance, this arrangement infers that they are interchangeable.  NOT SO!  In fact, I will make the case that marine chandeliers should not stock brass plumbing fittings at all.  Just like with non-stranded electrical wire, if a boater needs a brass fitting, he should be forced to go to a conventional hardware store so that it becomes explicitly obvious that he is getting something not suitable for marine service.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Suddenly last nite

Suddenly last nite (a lot of horror stories start that way)...

Suddenly last nite our aft head would not draw flush water.  Because it was late, we flushed using fresh water from the sink. 

The first thought I had this morning was that it was just that the little handle was not pushed all the way over, because that will do it. But no, still no go.

After coffee, I considered that since the head is old enough now, I thought that it might be time for a new valve assembly.  So I shut off the seacock that supplies the flush water and disassembled the head pump assembly.  Thankfully, all looked well in there. 

So now what?

Now to the seacock, which is located in a difficult place (aren't they all?).  I removed the hose and opened it and a very small trickle of water ran out.


Next I got a piece of stiff wire (coat hanger - the universal mechanic's tool) and probed the seacock itself.  Indeed, there was something in there...
The culprit

It took a while, and the little guy is some worse for the wear - being drug out of the seacock with a piece of wire does not do much for your good looks.  But here he is - looks like maybe a baby sculpin.  Guess he thought the head inlet would make a good hiding place.

Not so much.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another experiment, and a report

Experiment #1:  Six months on

You may recall that I bought a package of NeverWet nano-tech hydrophobic coating for experimentation.  And that I tried an experiment where I coated our canvas "seahood" with it to see how it would fare in this difficult environment.

A review:  the canvas covers our sliding hatch when it is open; when it is closed, the canvas collapses into a perfect water reservoir about an inch deep.  And since it is winter, the hatch is closed most of the time, which means that the canvas spent most of the winter under an inch of water.  So what happened?

The water repellency remained unbelievably powerful all winter.  Whenever there was water present on the canvas, there was always a layer of air visible underneath it.  Even bird crap didn't affect it for long - just until the next rain washed it off.  Amazing, right?

Well almost.  NeverWet met its match with a natural nano-tech material:  pine pollen.  When the pine pollen arrived, the NeverWet became, well, wet.   But in its defense, the wetness pattern at least partly follows the spray pattern that was evident in my application of the material last fall, so perhaps it was not that the pollen caused the failure, but instead it revealed it.

Experiment #2

I mentioned in the original post that I was going to try the NeverWet on my dinghy prop - trust me, it's on there in the picture.

What will happen?  Will the prop just cavitate?  Will the thin layer of air trapped by the nano-tech layer just be ejected by the violent motion of the prop?   Will the nano-tech layer itself just erode away?  I can't wait to see.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Frame shift

 It happens every three years.

For two years and eleven months, we live here in the marina within sight of the boatyard.  But it's invisible to us - its existence doesn't rise into our consciousness.

Then in that 35th month we do a haulout.  Suddenly, we become painfully and bluntly aware of the yard - because it has become our home.  The water is out there, beyond the fence and the concrete, but we are in there, with the noise, the commotion, the weird smells, rigid and unmoving.

After a while we sort of get used to it all, climbing a 12-foot ladder a hundred times a day.  Living without refrigeration and not running water into any of the sinks becomes the norm.  It takes a few days.

You get to know your neighbors on the hard, their boats and the reasons they are sharing the experience with you.  You cheer their successes and commiserate their failures. 

And the blue dust is everywhere.

Then a miracle occurs and the boat is splashed.  It returns to its natural element and to its slip.  And everything returns to normal.

But not quite.  Now, sitting here in our slip, we are aware of the faint sounds of the Travelift's engine and backup beeper.  When we drive by the yard, we not only notice that it is there, but we note who is now in "our" spot.  We discuss the progress of the work on the boats that so recently were our neighbors.  The boatyard is firmly in our consciousness.

It lasts for a month or so, and then it fades once again, receding into the background of unnoticed things.  For 35 more months.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Tuesday, 15:00
And Eolian is back in her natural element: saltwater!

What a relief.  And completely miraculously, we managed to dodge several weather bullets - despite ominous forecasts of rain and high wind, none ever materialized except for a light sprinkle on Monday nite.

Back in our slip, we quaffed a celebratory IPA and then both took desperately needed showers.

And then the rains and wind came...


Monday, April 14, 2014

High and dry

So, here we sit...  high and dry.

We were hauled out Friday morning, and basically frittered away the rest of that day, which wasn't actually that much by the time Eolian was blocked up.

Saturday, the work started in earnest.  While I wielded the buffer, compounding and waxing the hull, Jane tackled the cabin sides by hand - a smaller but much more tedious job.  Above you can easily see the point where I stopped work and took the picture.  By the end of Saturday, I couldn't raise my arms and the hull was only half done.

Sunday was basically a repeat of Saturday, yet another sunny day, but cool enough so that heat didn't interfere with the work.  And by late Sunday afternoon, the hull was done.  And my arms were as limp as two pieces of way overcooked pasta.

And now today - just the little stuff - a new zinc on the prop, painting the transducers with their special paint, and waiting around for the yard guys to start the painting process.  They say they will splash us tomorrow...  We'll see.

Oh, and a word to those of you out there who plan to haul at Seaview West...  sometime since our last haulout (2011), a customer who can only be described as an idiot perched a ladder on top of a sawhorse.  When the predictable occurred and he fell and was injured, he sued the boat yard for $275,000....  and won.  Because the yard didn't have a sign at the gate that said, "Don't put ladders on top of sawhorses - you could fall and injure yourself."  So now the yard does not allow customers the use of their staging.  You'll have to rent your own scaffolding and bring it in if you plan to do work that requires it.  *Sigh*


Thursday, April 10, 2014

First light

That's what they call it when a new telescope first sees the sky...  I think it applies just as well to a solar panel.  This is the one you saw me building earlier

In the early morning light (impatient, yes I know), it was producing 5.5 amps at 24 volts.  That's 132 watts, actual.  Not calculated, not predicted - actual.

And there was a big fat spark when I connected up the ammeter - do you have any idea how satisfying that is?


Monday, April 7, 2014

Near miss

New jib halyard
This morning, as soon as I had downed the obligatory two lattes, I set to work splicing a new snap shackle onto the end of our jib halyard.  You see, ever since we bought Eolian, that shackle has been a problem.  The retainer is off of the retaining pin, and therefore the only thing actually holding the pin in place (and the shackle closed) is some wraps of electrical tape.  No bueno.

So.  Since we had to take the jib off for our haulout this coming Friday (the yard does not allow roller furling jibs - apparently one came unfurled in the past and set off a game of dominos), I thought this morning would be a great time to replace the shackle.  After all, it was a beautiful, warm morning - the nicest of the year so far.

But when Jane came back to the boat after doing some errands, I had spent more than two hours trying to splice a new shackle into that old line.  Note to self:  never, NEVER try to splice old line.  And she was ready to take the boat out for the first day of the year.  And instead of being ready, I was frustrated.

So I made a trip to West Marine and bought 104' of 1/2" line and replaced the halyard.  And as it turns out, it's a good thing I did - the old line was badly chafed - in one spot the cover was gone and the core was badly worn.  So now, with the things that remain to be done to cast off the lines, we won't make it off the dock.

Does this count as chips into the Black Box?  I hadn't originally intended to replace the halyard...  

So our first trip of the year will still be the short one - over to Seaview West for the haulout.


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