Monday, November 20, 2017

Attention Documented Vessel Owners

If you have a documented vessel (that is, one whose title is issued by the US government instead of a state government), you are familiar with the springtime drill of refolding and sending the notice (with a check, of course) to Falling Waters, West Virginia (incidentally, this is where Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Falling Waters house is).

Well, I quite recently received an official-looking notice that looked kind of like an updated version of that Falling Waters one:

Is it real?

Well, it turns out this is a not-quite scam.  Despite the official appearance (even watermarked!) and a website with a .us domain, this is NOT from the Coast Guard.  Instead, it is from a company that will helpfully handle your registration re-up for a slight fee - three times what the Coast Guard charges.

Given that for most of us, signing the form and checking the box that confirms that nothing has changed is not a Herculean task.  It seems silly to involve a third party to do that for you.

How do you know that this is not the real deal:  Look carefully at that logo.  See where it says "U.S. Vessel Documentation Inc?"  The Coast Guard is not a corporation.


In their defense, it does not appear that this a full-on scam.  Rather, it is apparently it is a legitimate service, meant to catch the distracted unawares.  If you read the letter carefully, it does indeed disclose the service they are providing.

BoatUS provided a warning about this not-quite-scam in one of their recent magazine issues; I read it and thought I had filed it away for future reference.  But when this letter arrived, I put it in the bills-to-pay inbox.  It was only later, when I realized that the timing was off (it's not spring...) that I read it more closely.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall

If you are compliant with US Coast Guard regulations, you have a fire extinguisher aboard.  In fact, you probably have more than one...  And in your house there is probably one under the kitchen sink, in the garage, etc.  There is an excellent chance that all of these were manufactured by Kidde.

Not these...
Well, get ready for this:  Kidde has recalled more than 40,000,000 of its previously sold (since 1973) fire extinguishers.  It seems that some of the units had plastic handles or nozzles which were prone to fail at just the wrong time, meaning that depending on one of these units was worse than having none at all.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “The fire extinguishers can become clogged or require excessive force to discharge and can fail to activate during a fire emergency. In addition, the nozzle can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard.”

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean water is urging recreational boat owners to check their boats for the recalled extinguishers and get a free metal-handled replacement by going to the CPSC recall website.

The recall affects both plastic-handle and push-button Pindicator Kidde fire extinguishers, including 134, ABC- or BC-rated models manufactured between January 1, 1973, and August 15, 2017.

The extinguishers are red, white or silver and were sold in the US and Canada through a wide range of retailers from Montgomery Ward to Amazon. The CPSC recall website shows how to easily identify the affected extinguishers.

In the recall, Kidde also acknowledged the free replacement push-button extinguisher being sent to personal watercraft owners is similar in size to the recalled model but may not fit in the same location as the old fire extinguisher.

“This may require a slightly different mounting orientation or location,” said BoatUS Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner.”

CPSC says there have been approximately 391 reports of failed or limited activation or nozzle detachment, including one fatality; approximately 16 injuries, including smoke inhalation and minor burns; and approximately 91 reports of property damage.

Kidde may also be contacted toll-free at 855-271-0773 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday.

The company offers additional recall information online at by selecting “Product Safety Recall.”

Monday, October 30, 2017

How Washington's Derelict Vessel Program Works: A Real World Example

We get tangled in a sunken vessel in Friday Harbor - incident detailed here
I report the sunken vessel to the DNR, who run Washington's Derelict Vessel Program, mostly based on funds collected from boaters when they pay their state registration fees.
Vessel is listed as priority 4 as a result of my contact, per Jerry Farmer of the DNR
(A year passes)
A new version of Vessels of Concern list is published (they are published twice a year - the link points to the 10/2017 version)...  our sunken vessel has gone missing from the list!
I notice that the vessel has disappeared from the list and I contact Jerry Farmer at DNR, asking why the vessel was removed from the list.
Jerry Farmer replies that "...San Juan County is an authorized public entity (APE) that has the authority to remove vessels in accordance with RCW 79.100"  and that he had closed the DNR case on this vessel accordingly.  He also said, "However; some of our APE’s remove these vessels without following the custody process. If this is the case then they will not receive reimbursement from DNR’s derelict vessel removal account".  He referred me to Mark Herrenkohl of San Juan County, and also cc'd Mark.
Mark Herrenkohl contacts me and asks if I have the WN number of the sunken vessel.
I reply to Mark, telling him that in the confusion of having to hire a diver to get loose from Friday Harbor I did not have the foresight to ask the diver for the WN number on the vessel (assuming there was one...)
I query Mark, asking if there has been any progress
Mark responds that they have asked NOAA to mark the wreck on their charts.  And that they think the harbor is a busy place and maybe they shouldn't mark the wreck with a buoy.  He also says they are "talking about next steps."

So the current status, after the passing of a year and 4 months of conversations with very friendly, courteous, and open government officials, is that the wreck (and it's two sisters) is still on the floor of Friday Harbor, waiting to snag someone else's anchor or rode.  And I still avoid Friday Harbor, taking my boat and my patronage instead to Roche Harbor.

Apparently I screwed up big time by not asking the diver for the WN number, which would have allowed San Juan County to pursue the custody process with the last registered owner and therefore secure reimbursement from the DNR for the raising and disposal of the vessel.
SO REMEMBER:  If you ever have to hire a diver to get loose from a sunken wreck, ALWAYS GET THE WN NUMBER off the wreck!

Monday, October 9, 2017


Looking up at things

For several years now, Eolian has sustained a small yet nagging intermittent leak at the mast partners - where the mast penetrates the deck.  After several failed attempts to locate the leak or to pre-emptively stop it, I removed the interior trim and examined things from below, while it was raining.  And leaking.

I was relieved to see that the water was...
  • not coming down the mast, which would indicate a leak at the top of the boot - one of the places I have very carefully examined several times, and
  • not coming out of the foam deck coring, which would mean a wet deck.  Whew!
Instead, the water was appearing at the joint between the deck ring and the deck.  Tho I have repeatedly attempted to seal between the deck ring and the deck externally, it has never been rebedded.

Removal of the mast wedges

So I pulled up the boot and started the removal of the deck ring. I had thought it was a complete ring, but soon found out it was two half-rings, each held in place with three screws.  Well, not quite.

Half the deck ring is off
On the port side, the ring was less than a half, by about 1/2".  Apparently the end of the ring broke off, either in fabrication or during installation.  The pieces were cut from a teak plank - they were not laminated.  At the ends, the grain runs across them, and it is easy to see how an end could have been broken off.  What is a little more difficult to understand is that the installer solved the problem of the missing 1/2" of deck ring by simply filling the gap with what, I surmise, was a giant blob of polysulphide.  Now, after 39 years, it was as hard as a rock.

And so was the sealant that was between the ring pieces and the deck.  I had not given much thought to this, but the mast wedges driven in do bear somewhat on the deck ring.  And as a consequence, the rock-hard "sealant" broke loose from the deck instead of flexing.

Thus leakage.

Add a strip of 1/8" thick white butyl tape
After everything was dried out, I wiped things down with paint thinner and allowed it to evaporate off.  Then I applied strips of 1/8" thick white butyl rubber tape to the underside of the ring pieces.  I then screwed things back in place.  A couple of revisitations to the screws were required as the butyl continued to squeeze out of the joint.
Gap filled
The problem of the missing 1/2" of teak I solved by trimming down one of the wedge pieces and driving it into the gap (lined with butyl tape), and cutting it off flush.

Handy stuff

The final step was to line the complete outside of the ring with some self-adhesive aluminum-backed insulating foam tape, meant for preventing condensation in air conditioners, etc.  On the sides, where the boot hose clamp has little clamping pressure (the mast cross section is rectangular with rounded ends), I applied multiple layers so that the hose clamp would have something to bear against.

Does it leak?
Never thought I'd say this... waiting for rain.  To see if it leaks...


Monday, September 25, 2017

On One Day In Anacortes...

On one day every year, Anacortes fills with the rolling thunder from thousands of motorcycles: it’s the annual Oyster Run. The entire section of Old Anacortes is blocked off to all but motorcycle traffic, and four rows of bikes are parked for the entire distance, cheek by jowl.

But that isn’t enough either - many businesses designate portions of their parking for bikes, like our local Safeway for instance.

One estimate put the he number of bikes at more than 35,000. Most of the bikes are Harleys with their distinctive sound.

But other brands are represented too, and there is the occasional V8 powered bike...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The End of the Season

After months and months of sunny, warm, benign weather, we sit at the dock being buffeted by constant 20+ kt winds.  It is cloudy and chilly, and rain is coming in later this afternoon.

[we just got hit by a 30+ kt gust]

We made a command decision not to go out this weekend because of the forecast - maybe the best call we've made all year.

[a 38 foot sailboat just blew down the waterway between D and E docks, out of control, sideways.  Just missed our stern...]

I had been planning to clean our BBQ grill, but with this wind, that is out of the question.  If I sprayed Easy-Off™ on it, it would probably land over on E dock somewhere.

Our son and his family are off camping over on Orcas Island where there is no connectivity.  Hope they're all ok and their tent hasn't blown away...

So now we are hunkered down, with all the ports closed and the heat pump running for the first time in I don't know how long...

Winter is coming...


Thursday, August 31, 2017


The Romans were not the first to erect milestones - not by far.  It is a human tendency to mark the passage of time, or distance, or whatever with reminders of how far we have come.

Well, here's one that is relevant to my thousands hundreds many 6 readers who have loyally hung with me all these years...  

That last post about cleaning vinyl windows was the 1000th post on this blog!  (Well maybe.  One of my blogging tools says 1001...but I am pretty sure that if I went back and actually counted, I wouldn't get the same number twice either.)

Who knew, back on January 28, 2009 that this would go on for 8 years?  I certainly didn't.  


Another Window Cleaning Answer

After.. and Before
While at anchor, small things that might otherwise just be irritants grow in importance.  Case in point:  the vinyl windows in our dodger.  Last time we were out I tried upping the ante a little and attacked the stubborn stuff on the inside with Windex because I was coming to the conclusion that what was on there was not a water-soluble deposit.  I think it helped.  A little.
Aside:  So what is this deposit?   I think there are two possibilities.
  • Grease from the galley cooking, conveyed up there by the mushroom vent, and
  • Plasticizer sweating out of the vinyl ("Plasticizer?? What's that?  Remember the old vinyl records? That's what vinyl is like without plasticizer.  Plasticizer is a low volatility oily substance, blended in with the vinyl - are they still using dioctal pthalate?  I don't know.  Low volatility doesn't mean no volatility tho.  If you live in the South, you will find plasticizer baked out of your car's vinyl interior components condensed on the inside of the windshield.)
In either case tho, the substance is apparently  organic-soluble.  So, what the hey, I tried paint thinner.

It worked!  Wonderfully in fact.  Look at the crud on that rag! But the proof is in the seeing...  That first picture shows the left panel cleaned and the right panel still in "as is" condition.  I'm betting that even in the photograph you can see the difference.  In person, it is stunning.

One more substance in the quiver of boat maintenance tools...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I really love getting under way early in the morning!  This morning it was dead calm, the water like glass.  Just a tiny burst of power got Eolian moving out of the slip, ghosting along at far less than a walking pace.  We were moving so slow in fact, that the rudder didn't bite and start to turn her stern until we were well out in the waterway.  A couple of quick bursts in Fwd and Rev (you single screw boaters know what I mean), got her bow pointed down the waterway, and then out of the marina.  A warm, calm, peaceful sunny morning, latté in hand, we left the marina and headed for the Islands.

The melancholy part is, that despite it being a perfect day to be on the water, warm and sunny, this could be the last trip out to the Islands for us this year.  So, in just the same way that you savor the last glorious days of summer when there is a hint of fall in the air telling you, that like everything else, it has to come to an end, the trip across Rosario Strait to Thatcher Pass was filled with not only the enjoyment of a perfect day on the water, but also with the memories we made this summer:

  • Set a new record boat speed:  8.7 kt under yankee alone, in 35+ kt of wind, on our way to Sucia
  • Speaking of Sucia, we ended up making four visits there this year.  It is a magical place...
  • We discovered that going by north of Guemes Island and on to Sucia, one can mostly ignore the tides...
  • We discovered a wind tunnel between Orcas Island and Clark/Barnes islands...  if there is wind anywhere, it will be here...
  • Truly a mountain of crab!
  • The stack-pack I made for the mizzen is wonderful!
  • New friends on s/v Odyssey and m/v Konocti Bay
  • And many, many nites at anchor, throughout the islands.

So...  here I sit, typing away in the last days of summer and the last days of the sailing season for us.  I am endeavoring to be present in each and every moment so that I will have enough days and nites stored away to get me thru the long, wet, dark winter that is inexorably coming...


Monday, August 7, 2017

Another Use For BAC

As a prelude to varnishing Eolian's caprail, I always remove the teak tread plates that I made so many years ago.  And this time I looked at them, really looked at them, for perhaps the first time in years.  The bacteria, algae, and worse, lichen had made themselves a very good home in and on the teak.

Now normally I would have just gotten out the sandpaper, but then it dawned on me to try benzalconium chloride.  I've extolled the virtues of this stuff before, and continue to be impressed with it.  So I sprayed some on the right hand tread in the picture above and let it dry in the sun for a day.  Then I gave it a very light (emphasize light) sanding with 220 to remove the corpses.  What a difference!  And because the BAC is now soaked into the wood, I expect it to fend off colonization attempts in the future.  This has now become an annual task.

Next:  I'm going to spray our unfinished teak rub rail with BAC.  It is equally groady looking.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

'Tis The Season

In years past, we always cleaned the crab before bringing them aboard, cooked them, and then refrigerated or froze it.  Because they are ubiquitous, we used Zip-lock bags for storage.

But after a disappointingly short time in the refrigerator or freezer, the crab looses it's sweet, just-caught flavor.  And the flesh turns kind of leathery.

So this year, Jane is trying something different.  First, she is picking all the meat.  Tedious work, but realistically, most of the crab we froze last year ended up getting picked anyway to make crab cakes.  So she is just doing this up front.

And here is the big change:  instead of Zip-lock bags, we are using a vacuum sealer.  As opposed to the polyethylene Zip-locks, the Food Saver bags are made of a film that is impervious to oxygen, and presumably also to that common "refrigerator/freezer taste".

Bonus:  out of the shell, the crab takes up a lot less space in the freezer!

And of course, none of this applies to the crab which we eat on board, fresh from the sea!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

An Early Morning Metaphysical Experience

The alarm goes off at 05:30.  The sun isn't up yet, but the sky is light., and the water is dead calm - it's a mirror.
I jump out of bed and throw on my groady sweats.   The crab pots are on the fantail - I prepped them yesterday afternoon.  I get down into the dinghy and Jane lowers them down to me.
And I start the outboard and head toward our Sacred Spot - the one that has yielded so many crabs in years past.  I veer to avoid the other boats - everyone else is sleeping, and our old Sears Gamefisher outboard is noisy.
As I motor along, skimming on a mirror, the sun clears the horizon and floods the world with golden light.  I promise you, there is nothing like being on the water at dawn!
I return to Eolian, the pots set, and I make Jane and I some lattes, and we watch the harbor slowly awake...


Monday, June 26, 2017

Reclaiming The View

If your boat has Beckson ports, or any ports which feature polycarbonate (Lexan) lenses, then if those ports are more than a couple years old, they are turning brown and hazy.  Lexan does not do well with UV exposure, but it is used for port light applications because it is easy to injection mold.

For years, I have been removing the affected port lenses (That's what Beckson calls the transparent part) and laboriously rubbing them out with Meguires compounds (#17 and #10).  It helped, but it was a losing battle - the brown coloration was going deeper and deeper into the outside surface of the lenses.

Well, it turns out that that auto manufacturers like that easy injection molding too, and so on all modern cars, those clear headlight covers are also Lexan.  And they too turn brown and hazy.  Now, a product to address boat ports is a lot less likely than one aimed at auto owners trying to refurbish their headlights, and, no surprise,  several companies have met that need.  I trust 3M:

So I bought one of their kits.  It has a velcro disk that is to be chucked in your electric drill and a number of abrasive disks.  It also has a rippled sponge (it's the orange thing in the package picture) and some fine rubbing compound in a pouch.  There is also a wax, but I didn't use it - see below.

So here's what I started with.  You can see how the UV has attacked the plastic, except where the gasket had protected it around the edges.  It's brown, and it's hazy.  The kit first has you go after the surface with a 500 grit disk.  They suggest doing it dry, but the disk materials are all waterproof, so I did it wet - this has the advantage of keeping the dust generated by removing the surface layer suspended in water and keeps it from clogging the sanding disk.  Just sprinkle on s few drops of water.  And boy, did it make a terrible-looking brown slurry out of that decayed Lexan.

After 500 grit
I wiped off the slurry and changed to the next finer disk:  800 grit; I also did this one wet.  And the slurry this time was white - I got all the brown off with the 500 grit!  Now, the purpose of each successively finer grit used is to remove the scratches made by the previous grit, so after the 800 grit treatment, all the 500 grit scratches should be gone.  After wiping off the slurry, I found that I had been a little too impatient and needed to go over the surface again.

After 800 grit
Next on the agenda is 3200 grit.  This time the kit wanted it to be used wet, so, not breaking stride, I used water again.  Same drill - remove the 800 grit scratches.  It's starting to look clear!

After 3200 grit
Finally, after wiping down the lens again, I put on the sponge disk and applied a little rubbing compound to the lens.  Then, scrubbing it around a little so that it wouldn't spray all over the place when I keyed the drill, I turned on the drill and went over the surface a fourth time.

After compounding
Wow!  It's good, but...  So I got out the Meguires and used the #17 and the #10 on it.  This was way easier than in years past because all the hard work had already been done by the drill.

Much better!
Well, it's not quite like new, but this port is much, MUCH clearer than it has been for years.  I suspect that the remaining haziness may be in depth in the plastic.

The whole process took a couple of hours to do four ports, including the time to unmount and remount the lenses...  that's less time than I would have spent doing one port by hand, with more mediocre results.  And a tired arm.

The directions want you to have a medium speed drill, and I would second that.  You definitely want to use a variable speed drill, running at a moderate speed.  One of those single speed drills will turn so fast that heat generation will be a problem (especially if you follow the directions and do it dry...  don't do that).  It is also important to tightly control the drill so that less than half of the disk is in contact with the surface.  If you try to hold it flat, it will inevitably spiral out of control, and then you will likely gouge the surface with the edge of the abrasive disk.

Would I recommend the 3M kit?  Absolutely.  Even for your car.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Phone App Recommendation

All the newer phone apps that show or predict wind speed and direction have those little moving arrows to give an animated display of the wind flow.  But how many of them actually predict or show what is happening?  Not so many.  A pretty animated display is not necessarily accurate.

Windy (for both iPhone and Android) is not one of these.  This is the best wind app that I have seen.  Tho it covers the entire Earth, my experience with it is local, which is nevertheless perhaps an excellent test.  Windy successfully deals with the complexity of the three major wind channels (Strait of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, Strait of Georgia) in the Salish Sea, and the mess of islands sitting right at their junction.

By comparison, the NOAA "Northern Inland Waters" forecast seems to pick the worst spot in the area and report on that.  I suppose that makes sense from a safety perspective, but it has a tendency to limit boating unnecessarily, because wind speeds can vary dramatically between the southern end of the San Juans and the northern end, or from east to west.

I've been comparing reality with the little flowing arrows in Windy's screen for 6 months now, and from what I can see, it does an excellent job of describing the actual current flow pattern.  In addition, for forecasting it gives you the choice of using three different models.  I use the European high resolution model, ECMWF, but occasionally check the other two models to see how they differ.  The forecasts are also excellent.

The app has many more features which I I'll leave to you to discover.  Just for the wind forecasts this app is worth every penny of it's $0.00 cost!


Monday, June 12, 2017


As with many projects, the design and planning stages take longer than the actual execution.  Making a new sail cover for Eolian's mizzen was one of those projects.  I started thinking about this last summer, while hanging on the mizzen boom by one arm, way out past the stern rail, making up the fasteners on the far end of the sail cover.  I have been doing this acrobatic act for 20 years, but lately my shoulders have started to bother me, telling me that this process was going to have to change.  

Well finally last week everything came together and I was able to spend the time to put the plans and design to the test: actual sewing.

You really want to use a hot knife for this...

I unrolled the Sunbrella on the dock, laid out the pieces using a chalk line, and cut them out using my brand new, handy-dandy hot knife (you really want to use a hot knife for this work because it seals the edges of the cut, preventing unraveling).  The only tricky part of the layout was the placement of the cut outs on the side pieces for the lazy jacks.  To get these right, I tied the lazy jack lines to the boom at their design locations, and then stretched a tape measure along the diagonal that the top of the sail cover will make, taking the measurements where the diagonal intersected the jack lines.

Then the depth of the cut outs needed to be established.  I wanted them to be just deep enough so that the top of the cut out, which will be the bottom once the stitching to make the batten pocket is completed, would be just above that seam in the finished product.  Here's the detail on that:  I had determined that a 4.5" circumference would make a batten pocket large enough to accommodate the 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe that I was going to use as battens.  Adding a 1/2" seam allowance, I struck a "fold-to" line 5" away from the top edge of the side piece.  Then I laid out the cut outs so that their ends were 1/2" (seam allowance) + 3/8" (allowing for the edging to be applied to the cut outs) = 7/8" from the fold-to line.

The rest was just sewing.  The cover is just shy of 12 feet long, and there is no place inside Eolian to stretch it all the way out.  But sewing it over the saloon table worked out OK.

I mentioned that I used 3/4" sched 40 PVC pipe for the battens (the gray kind, rated for outdoor use).  PVC pipe comes in 10 foot lengths; the sail cover is just shy of 12 feet long...  a splice was necessary.  I didn't want to use a coupling, since that would make a lump that would make feeding the battens into the pockets difficult.  It turns out that 1/2" sched 40 pipe has an OD just slightly larger than the ID of 3/4" pipe.  So I bought a short length of 1/2" pipe, cut two 12" lengths, a slit one side of each piece lengthwise on my little table saw.  That 1/8" kerf provided just the right amount of clearance to allow the 1/2" pipe to telescope into the 3/4".  Assembling with pipe dope gave me a smooth splice.

Almost done...
I added ties that go under the sail using black Sunbrella webbing and Common Sense fasteners (not visible in this picture - they're on the other side). 

The top zipper would be impossible to operate if its aft end were not stabilized - a short strap there is seized to the topping lift line.  The finishing touch is a tiny block seized to the topping lift line just above the zipper seizing - and a 1/8" line loop routed thru the block and tied to the zipper pull allows the zipper to be operated while standing on the deck, not hanging over the rail.  Doing this work was interesting...  I had to swing the boom out over the dock and stand on top of a ladder to reach the aft end of the boom.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with closing off the aft end - I think I'll do nothing - the opening is not large enough to bother with. 

I still need to make a front panel that wraps around the mast - the zippers that will attach it to the sail cover are already installed on the sail cover.

And I haven't yet cut the lazy jack lines to length - I think I am going to fiddle with them a little more - I want to see how things settle in with some use.

Previous post in this series


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

For The Birds

How about this visitor that showed up on our masthead recently?

Actually, birds sitting up there are not my favorite thing - not even our National Bird...  perhaps especially not our National Bird.  See, that guy weighs 10-15 lb.  And that thing he has his left foot on was not made to carry his weight, or even half of it.   Thankfully he is too big to get both feet on it.

That "thing" is the sensor for our wind instrumentation - a pretty essential thing for a wind-powered vehicle.  See the spinner (wind speed) and fin (wind direction) out on the end?  I've already had to repair the direction sensor once due to an obese bird sitting on it and breaking it.

So, despite the delite of our neighbors (m/v Konocti Bay, who captured the photo), I shooed him off by banging on the shrouds.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Haulout 2017

We haul out Eolian every three years for a new coat of bottom paint.  Our last was in the spring of 2014, just before we moved her to Anacortes, so she was due this spring.

For the almost 20 years we have been responsible for her maintenance, Eolian has been hauled using a Travelift - a huge contraption that lifts the boat out of the water bodily using two enormous straps:

Scary sight!

This has not been an easy task for us.  First, the Travelift at Shilshole was not large enough to haul Eolian unless we backed her into the Travelift slip.  And we had to disconnect the topping lift for the mizzen boom and drop it down.  And even then, the mizzen mast was always very uncomfortably close to the cross beam of the Travelift.  Oh, and the boat yard required that we had no roller furled sails aboard when we were blocked up (apparently one came open in a windstorm years ago and boats got knocked over like dominoes).  So we always had to remove our yankee - not a simple task because it is so large.

Ah, but not this year.  First, in Anacortes, apparently it is the SeaLift which is all the rage, not the Travelift.  The SeaLift is just an enormous, self-propelled boat trailer.  The boat rests on inflatable bunks (8-10 psi) that contact nearly the entire length of the hull - a much gentler loading than the two straps on the Travelift.  As you would expect, the operator backs the SeaLift into the water and you just drive your boat onto it, just as if it was a 16' ski boat.  Unlike a ski boat trailer tho, the SeaLift has the ability to keep your boat level as it comes out of the water, up the ramp, and onto shore.

We didn't even have to take the dinghy off!
This yard did not require removal of our headsail, and we didn't even have to take off the dinghy!

Adding to the weirdness, the actual yard is about a half a block down the street and on the other side.  So Eolian actually took a trip on land, stopping traffic and everything.

Trundlin' down the road...
Sadly however, not all was roses and wine...  Eolian has a couple of depth sounder transducers mounted on fairing blocks on her hull, and I was afraid that the weight of the boat on them could cause damage if they lined up with the inflatable trailer bunks.  This has never been a problem with a Travelift, because the contour of the hull has the straps a long ways out from them.

Uh oh...

Yup, Murphy played his part.  The bunk lined up precisely on the transducer on the port side, as you can see - the uncleaned part of the hull is uncleaned because it was against the bunk when the hull was pressure washed.

It moved.
After things were dried off, it was obvious that the fairing block had moved towards the centerline of the hull.  The missing paint revealed the disturbance.

Long deliberation on my part concluded that the risk of damaging or breaking the transducer while removing it for a rebedding far outweighed the risk of a minor leak if we simply just thoroughly caulked the seam between the fairing block and the hull, and between the fairing block and the transducer (yes, it was cocked slightly in the block).  So digging out all the loose paint and caulking with 5200 was the order of the day.

Blocked up and waiting for the paint crew
While waiting for Eolian's turn with the paint crew, I used a small portable generator, a ladder, and a buffer and buffed out the hull.  It really makes a huge difference!

Wow - that makes it sound like I spent the afternoon buffing.  Not so.  Buffing out Eolian is a more like buffing out your house.  It took me Tuesday thru Saturday, working 6-7 hours a day to get it done.  But she looks like a new boat afterwards!

Fresh paint always looks wonderful
And then on Monday the paint crew finished their touch-ups, and once again we were headed down the street to the launching ramp...

What's wrong with this picture?
Would I use a Sealift again?  With our underbody configuration, I think I'll avoid it.  But the transducer works fine and is not leaking... yet...


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Getting Rid Of The Stink At The Stern

The Admiral has put her foot down.  Henceforth, there shall be no more bad smells wafting from our stern when the head is flushed.

And so let it be done.

Commercial versions of holding tank vent filters can be had - for something like $100.  And these are throw-aways...  after a year or so, you discard them and buy another.

But these are not complex devices.  Could I make one?

Sure.  The idea came from Drew; my additions are the methods for retaining the charcoal.

Well, first the charcoal.  "Activated charcoal" is a kind of charcoal which is manufactured to have incredible surface areas - as much as 500 m2 per gram... and these surfaces are loaded with active catalytic sites.  It is the perfect thing to use to adsorb and catalytically deactivate head odors (primarily H2S).  And it is cheap and easily available.  I got this 1 lb bag of granules (don't use the powder - too hard to contain it, and too much pressure drop for gases flowing thru the bed) for just over $11, delivered to my doorstep:

1 lb. activated charcoal:  $11
Next, we need a container for the charcoal, one which can be inserted into the holding tank vent line.  I had some scrap 2" PVC pipe, so all I needed was some fittings:

Pipe fittings:  $5
... a glue-on cap (on the left), and a screw-on cap with its glue-on female half.  To provide a way to attach fittings, I drilled each cap and threaded them with a 1/2" NPT pipe tap.

12" of 2" PVC:  $0  (scrap)
So here's what the finished filter will look like.

Of course, if I just pour in the charcoal granules, they will just run out the holes in the ends.  How to retain it?

Scotchbrite pad: $0 (stolen from the galley)
I robbed a Scotchbrite pad from the galley and cut a couple of disks out of it, sized to snugly fit inside the PVC pipe.  The Scotchbrite is perfect for this because it has pores small enough to retain the charcoal, and yet it has so much open area that it provides virtually no pressure drop.

But:  if I just put these disks into the ends of the pipe, they will wedge down against the pipe fittings, making for quite small flow areas.  So I needed to support the pads with something else that would have the same extremely low pressure drop characteristics, and yet bulk up perhaps 1/2" below the pads.  Voilà!  Enter the shower scrunchy:

Shower scrunchy: $0.89
A small piece of this cut off from the wad is stiff enough to provide good support and yet is almost all open space...  no pressure drop at all.

Scrunchy - umm, well, scrunched

Now to assemble the pieces.  First, I glued the end cap and the threaded female fittings onto the pipe.  Next, I stuffed some of the scrunchy down the pipe.  And then put the Scotchbrite disk in... and immediately discovered a problem.  Getting the disk to remain perpendicular to the pipe was impossible once it contacted the scrunched scrunchy.

And then I hit on it:  another piece of scrap pipe, this one 1-1/2", which nicely telescoped in the 2" pipe.  Pushing the scotchbrite disk down with the pipe ensured that it remained perpendicular.

1-1/2" pipe telescoping installer
It also provided a secondary benefit.  Pushing it down and compressing the scrunchy, I was able to fill most of the charcoal....

Filling charcoal thru the telescoping pipe
...and then by jiggling the 1-1/2" pipe up and down slightly while withdrawing it, the charcoal remained in place, compressing the scrunchy by itself now.

Add the second scotchbrite disk
Then to finish, I added the second scotchbrite disk and stuffed the rest of the scrunchy into the end of the cylinder.  The last bit of the scrunchy went in thru the pipe fitting hole in the cap.

Et voilà!

Blowing thru the completed filter shows that there is almost no pressure drop, and yet the charcoal is held firmly in place.  Success!

Now I only need to find the time to cut the vent line and install it.

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