Sunday, December 29, 2013

Back to the list of winter projects

We started off this weekend by mounting the newly refinished teak strips on the anchor pulpit. Before doing that, we scraped off the last of the crud and stains that had accumulated on the pulpit and then waxed it.

When we took these teak pieces off, there were bungs over the screws. Since the bungs disintegrated when we pried them out, we remounted the teak using stainless finishing washers. Looks OK to us considering that you have to be standing on the deck right over the anchor line to even see them. Makes us feel good, anyway. Note to cheap New Englanders like us: We used the original 33 year old mounting screws and they went back in perfectly.

Time to get to some more serious stuff. We need to replace our 6 gallon electric water heater. It seems that sometime over the years before we owned this boat, someone put some diesel fuel or gasoline in the water tank.  Frances spent a lot of time over the last few summers flushing the system and while the cold water is now fine, the hot water side still has that slight diesel smell. Since we've flushed out everything else, the only part left is the water heater.

We crawled down beside the port engine to get some measurements. The old Raritan water heater is circular, 15 inches across and 15-3/4 inches high. It's screwed down to a plywood base that appears to be in pretty good condition. As you can see from the pics, the plumbing is a mess, as you might expect from a 33 year old boat.

Our plan is to remove all of the old 1/2-inch water hose and replace it with PVC. We'll have to make some connections, such as the accumulator tank, fresh water pump and faucets in the galley and head with 1/2-inch water hose. If there are no transition fittings from 1/2-inch PVC to 1/2-inch marine water hose, we'll use all hose. Since most of this plumbing is under the salon floor, we think we can pull new hose (or PVC) in using the old hoses as pilot lines.  That worked when we installed a new waste pump-out line.

Removing the hot water tank
Sunday was dark and rainy but that old hot water tank definitely wasn't going to jump out of the boat by itself, so down we went to remove it. 

The hose clamps on the cold water supply and the hot water hoses disintegrated when we tried to loosen them. That's fine; all of this stuff is going to be replaced. We cut the hoses with a utility knife and drained the tank into the bilge.

To get the last of the antifreeze solution out, we had to tip the tank almost on its side and to get clearance to do that, we had to remove the coolant recovery bottle on  the back of the port engine and the bilge blower. As the last of the liquid drained, we saw that Frances "oil in the water heater" theory was correct. Thick gobs of smelly black goo slithered into the bilge. The whole engine space smelled like diesel fuel.

Once the tank was empty, we turned it around, took off the access plate and cut the AC power wires. Then we wrestled it out behind the port engine. Apparently, we dislodged more diesel scum as we moved the tank.

We keep some clean shop rags on the boat and we used those to sop up the mess. Once it has dried a little, we'll attack that area with our Shop Vac. We'll also replace all those dirty old passive vent hoses. And maybe a new bilge blower, too. Hell, it's only money.

It looked a little better after we cleaned up most of the water and oil.

The AC wiring for the water heater was quite a mess. Whoever maintained this boat for the previous owner loved butt splices. There are probably half a dozen in that rat's nest of wiring hanging down. We'll cut all of those out and rewire the whole thing properly.

It would be nice to be able to get back in there so we could do some real cleaning and wiring. However, that means crawling over or lying on the top of the port V-drive, which you can see at the bottom of the photo. We're thinking of building a platform out of scrap plywood that would rest the stringers or down into the bilge to protect us from the V-drive and give us a semi-comfortable place to lie as we worked in that corner.

Like all boat projects, each one gets bigger as you delve into it. But, as we've said in previous posts, we just can't do anything half-way.

As we left on Sunday afternoon, the Bad Boy was on the deck, waiting for better weather before we drag it over to the Dumpster.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Polar Navy

Sometimes on a cold winter afternoon, it's fun to plan a cruise or, as we have done here, set up a route that we can use on our Netbook computer when we're underway.

The navigation software that we've been using for the past couple of years is made by Polar Navy and it comes in two pieces: PolarView (the chart application shown here) and PolarCom, which is a simulated set of navigation instruments that can be set up to show Heading, Speed Over Ground, Distance Covered, etc. In fact, you can set PolarCom up to display virtually any information you have available in NMEA 0183 (or NMEA 2000, I believe) format.

Here's the PolarCom application running over PolarView. Here at home, we don't have any GPS input so it's showing the default, Current Position, Speed over Ground and Course, all of which are zero. The default instrument size is somewhat big, but you can make it smaller and move it around, out of the way, on the chart by just dragging it.

PolarView costs just $39.95 and PolarCom comes with it for free. That purchase gives you a license to download any of the ENC or Raster charts whenever you want to. You also get three seats, so that you can load it onto a home PC and perhaps a laptop, as we have done.

If you create a route for an upcoming cruise at home, PolarView makes it easy to export that data (via an Excel .csv file) to a flash drive and then later, import the data onto your boat computer.

PolarView is also integrated with Active Captain data so you can click on an Active Captain point-of-interest and read what other Active Captain members have said about it.

You can name the routes and the individual waypoints and waypoints can be shared between routes. Once a route leg is established, PolarView shows you its distance and relative bearing to the next waypoint, which is really useful.

We use our little Acer Netbook and a small puck-type GPS receiver while underway. Our boat's position is shown on the chart at any scale we choose, making it easy to follow a particular planned route without leaving a snake-wake in the ocean behind us.

Sure, all of this can be done with multi-function navigation displays but they cost a lot more than we're willing to invest. We use a Standard Horizon chartplotter that gets its GPS info from an external antenna and sends waypoint data to our old reliable Furuno radar, but the PolarView chart display on our computer is so much easier to read and from what we can see, the GPS position is also more accurate.

It is also really tedious to plan a route on the Standard Horizon plotter with its little joystick. Now we plan the route using PolarView and then just key in the coordinates of the waypoints in on the chartplotter.

The first screen-grab photo above shows Plum Gut, one of of favorite 0.88 miles of water. We've probably been through there 200 times and we don't really need those waypoints but, there were those times when the fog was so heavy that...

But we all have our fog stories so we won't bore you with ours.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Anchor roller project over

It seems we've been fooling with the new anchor and anchor roller forever, but on Saturday, with the temperature at 57 degrees, we finally got the roller roller mounted. We used the roller itself as a template and drilled the three 3/8-inch holes in the pulpit. We also plugged the old holes to protect the core in the pulpit. We used three 3/8-inch x 2-inch stainless bolts, nuts and fender washers. You could dance on the damn thing now.

We ended up mounting the roller much further forward than we originally thought. In a previous chapter of this blog, we showed how we experimented with the mounting position. Farther back, the new hinged plow anchor looked like it just might whack the hull on the way up so we went out as far as we could.

Today we drove off to the boatyard with everything we needed except the new anchor. We'll attach the anchor tomorrow and then run it up and down a few times to see how it works.

While we had a nice warm day, we crawled under the boat to check the props, rudders and zincs. No digs in the props and there are a couple of zincs that we won't have to change. Looks like we'll have to run a wire wheel over the rudders and props to get rid of the tiny little shellfish that we always seem to collect. The power washing takes most of them off but we do have lots of little white circles left. You can see them in the video we made today.

We also walked down to the river and saw it in a way that we rarely do. It was completely still, with lots of ice fragments. No tidal movement at all. We suspect that there was just enough snow melt to hold the tide steady. Just north of the marina, the river was still all ice but with a nice channel cut through it. We have to assume that the path through the ice was made by the Coast Guard Harbor Tug Bollard earlier in the week. The Bollard patrols the Connecticut River every winter to break ice and is always a welcome sight when the weather is really cold and the river is frozen over.

Here's some video. It's only two minutes but making videos helps us renew our video editing skills, some of which we haven't used in quite a while.

On Sunday, we mounted the new anchor on the anchor line and pulled it up. We noticed that if we ran the anchor up until it wouldn't go any farther (actually, when the eye on the end of the anchor line hits the mouth of the windlass), the anchor would jam at the roller just behind the anchor hinge. To get it to release, we had to give it a shove and we obviously can't do that when we are trying to anchor. We needed to shorten the chain slightly.

To do that we lowered the anchor back down and removed two extra shackles that for some reason had been added to either ends of the chain over the years. That made the chain about two inches shorter. The anchor then dropped fairly predictably but to make it exact, we'll have to remove one link of chain. We didn't have tools with us to cut the chain today, but we'll put that on the list and fine tune the chain length over the next few weeks.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snow interrups boating projects

What was billed as a massive storm didn't quite turn out that way here in Hartford. Friday afternoon, the city used its emergency warning system to call every home and business to say that doom would become us if any cars were left parked on the street from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon. The Mayor himself had recorded the message, which was delivered as one line in English and then that line repeated in Spanish. We hung up after the third sentence. We get it. We live in Southern New England where it snows in the winter. Of course lots of cars were left on the street and nothing happened except that the plows went around them. So much for effective government.

Anyhow, we started up the old snowblower on Saturday morning and took care of the six or eight inches of snow that had accumulated. Here's a picture. Don't get too excited looking at it.

By Sunday afternoon, we got around to some really important stuff: Drilling three 3/8-inch mounting holes in the anchor pulpit and sanding the finish off of the teak strips that serve as step pads on the boat.

Luckily, we had purchased a new 3/8-inch drill bit for this and we're glad we did. The pulpit is advertised as stainless and is 3/16-inch thick and it took a while to get through it.

Last week, we measured the pulpit so now we'll use the holes in the anchor roller to mark where to drill the pulpit itself using the same 3/8-inch drill bit, which about all it's good for now.

We're going to treat the new (and old) holes in the pulpit with epoxy, just in case it is balsa-cored, which it probably is. That will keep the water intrusion at bay. Then we'll mount the new anchor roller bedded in 3M 4200. It will never come off again in our lifetimes.

Then we went at those little teak strips. All of the old finish had to come off because we are going tt treat each strip with CPES before we begin to apply the Sikken Cetol. As we mentioned previously, there isn't much left of these little strips, having been stepped on for 33 years. We tried hand sanding them with 80 grit but that wasn't going to do it. We used our belt sander clamped upside down in a vice and very carefully sanded each strip. That actually worked pretty well.

There's still some old crud in the grain of a couple of strips but we can't really afford to take off any more material at this point. They are getting very thin.

We mixed up a couple of ounces of CPES and brushed it on. We love the smell of CPES and varnish. Guess it reminds us of past boat projects.

The strips soaked up the CPES immediately.

You can see in the upper right hand corner where we marked each strip. The Silverton "craftsmen" just slapped them down when the boat was made so each strip now has its own unique mounting holes.

We also got some work done on our boarding steps. We refinished this one several years ago but it was beginning to show some wear.

We took it apart and then spent some time polishing the aluminum with YachtBrite Buff Magic. One of the rubber tips had split, so we replaced them both with new ones from Home Depot. Five bucks for four. Guaranteed to last two summers.

As you can see from the picture, the aluminum polishes nicely.

As good as it looks, this won't last. Aluminum just isn't compatible with a salt water environment.  Maybe we can spray it with some coating, but I think we'll be taking these off again in a few years and polishing them again.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Even more anchor roller

We're itching to mount the new anchor roller and anchor but still can't figure out how far forward to mount the roller on the pulpit.  This week we did some reading on the subject and even asked about it on the Silverton Owner's Club forum. We only got one direct answer and that was to "mount it so the front edge of the roller extends 3-4 inches past the front of the pulpit. Fine, but that will put the anchor farther back than it was with the old anchor roller that held the little Danforth anchor.

Another SOC member (one that really seems to know what he's talking about) noted that he had trouble releasing the plow type anchor on his previous boat. He said that someone would have to go forward and give the anchor a kick before it would drop. We checked another site that we like (The Hull Truth) and found some similar comments.

What to do? Frances came up with the idea of temporarily clamping the anchor roller to the pulpit, mounting the anchor on it and then see what happens when we hit the "down" on the windlass. We're going to do that tomorrow after we stop and invest in a half dozen more c-clamps.

It seemed colder than the 40 degrees shown on the thermometer on the boat when we arrived today. Our little electric heater added 10 degrees in about a half hour but today, we needed to work outside.

We covered the front deck section with a blue tarp. No sense in exposing the boat (and the inflatable that is being stored there) to all the dirt that will blow through the shed during the winter.

We also removed the teak trim strips that serve as step pads when getting on the boat.

There's enough wood left to refinish them once or twice more before we have to give up and resort to the usual step pads that most boats use.  We refinished these strips three years ago and they don't look all that bad considering they have been stepped on about a thousand times since then.

Before we left on Saturday, we removed the hideous framed "thing" that Silverton put on all of these boats for a number of years.

It always looked like a cheap piece o' shit to us.  Frances has some ideas about what she'd like to put up there in its place. Of course, that means that the wall where that thing hung will have to be repainted as will the wall to the right in this photo, were we pried off some junk that the previous owner had mounted there. We're going to use the same color paint that we used when we refurbished all the doors and cabinet fronts a few years ago. That still looks like new even today.

We guess that the corner molding in the picture could use a little help too, so we'll add that to the list.

That list keeps getting longer but we love doing this stuff during the winter.

Sunday was gray and cold or at least seemed pretty cold to us.  We stopped at Harbor Freight and bought four five-inch c-clamps for $5 each and then headed to the boatyard with the anchor roller and the new anchor in the trunk. We also brought numerous plywood shims, just in case we had difficulty clamping the roller to the pulpit.

The railing around the pulpit looks crooked in this picture but it isn't. We just weren't standing directly in front of it when we took the picture.

We plugged the boat in, fired up the heater in the cabin and put on our gloves. Everything metal felt  like ice. We put up our extension ladder and then clamped the roller to the pulpit. We were able to fit just two clamps but it seemed sturdy enough.

Frances was stationed on the fly bridge where she would work the windlass. I explained that to operate the windlass, you pulled the switch out (to unlock it) and then pushed it up to raise the anchor or down to lower the anchor.

Then Bill went down to watch just how the anchor behaved when it was pulled up through the new roller from where we had it staged on the ground in front of the boat.

If you listen to the sound carefully in this short video clip, you will hear us sounding something like George and Gracie. If you are a lot younger than we are, you probably won't know who George and Gracie were and that's your loss. They were funny and we laughed when we edited this sequence thinking about how we sounded like them..

The results of our test showed us that the anchor will right itself once it gets to the roller. The new roller will accommodate the plow anchor but we'll have to mount the roller much farther forward to get the anchor shaft to seat properly and to keep the hinged plow on the anchor from hitting the underside of the pulpit while underway.

We made some marks on the roller to show where to drill mounting holes, put everything away and went home. Mission accomplished at least for this weekend.