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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Another Geeky Boat hack... this time for Winches!

Winches.... a staple piece of hardware that sailors rely on to haul sails up, and to keep them trimmed.   They can also be used to haul people up and down the mast or out of the water, and are used for many utilitarian purposes such as putting Dingys in and out of the water, and even hauling the engine out of the boat.   It is NOT a piece of equipment that you want to fail at those critical times when they are under load.  Yet this is possible if they don't have proper backing plates.

   When I went to remove all my winches so I could take them home and clean them this past winter, I found a surprise on my primary winches.

I have removed the nuts from these bolts.  Note how the washers have sunk into the plywood..

That's right... they had no backing plates. just some small washers.  Now why is this a big deal?  well, if you have ever been sailing close-hauled (the fastest point of sail) in 20 knot winds, you know that some incredible pressure can be applied to the winches when trimming the jib or genoa (the sails up front) to the tune of hundreds, if not, thousands of pounds per square inch.  If the winch is not properly backed up, this force, albeit in extreme cases, could possibly rip the winch right out of the rail.

  To properly back a winch, you should use a PLATE that distributes the loads across a wider area.  Usually these plates are made of stainless steel or Aluminum, and are custom made for your winch or what ever hardware you are backing.

Now, you may recall in my earlier post, that I am a Geek who likes to take things apart.  When taking apart some hard drives I had laying around, I removed the platters and wondered if I could use them for anything.  Now, hard drive platters are made out Aluminum and look like CDs.  Then the light bulb in my head went on!  Aluminum plates!

   The diameter of my Winches was a bit bigger than platters, but I found that If I cut them in half that I could make them fit.  So I taped a four of them together for the big winches (so I basically doubled up the backing plates on my Primary winches) and two for the small winches and cut them in half.  Then I marked the holes directly from the winch bases.  and while they were still taped together, drilled out the holes on my drill press, and Viola! custom made backing plates, and best of all, they were FREE!

I taped 4 together before cutting and drilling them

Holes for the Large winches all drilled, ready to be inshtalled

I used 2 platters for each of the Large Winches for added strength

I used one platter for the small winches that are mounted on the roof of the aft cabin. This one is on the Starboard side.  There is no rippling of the plate, that is an optical illusion
Here is a better angle and light on the Port side winch.

I feel a lot better when using the winches knowing they now have backing plates.  I plan to make more backing plates as I go about rebedding most of the hardware that mounted on the cabin roof, and the stanchions as well!

Till Next time!!


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A cheap and Geeky Boat hack for your Seat backs!

Okay, I'm a geek, I freely admit that.  One thing I have accumulated over the years as a computer network administrator and technician is an abundance of old Hard Drives.  I just never wanted to throw them out, even though they had failed or been replaced with bigger faster ones... now I know why!
    I have always liked taking things apart... even when I was very young.  My mom tells a story of how I took apart a crib, with no tools, while my younger sister was sleeping in it... but that's a story for another day.  I found I had the specialized driver bit for removing the star drive screws that hold the hard drives together.  I found two useful things in there - Magnets and Platters.  There are two powerful Magnets in each drive, and between 2 to four platters.  I have figured a way to use both of these in my boat...  This post focuses on using the magnets.

This post focuses on using the Magnets that control the movement of the drive head (like the needle on a Record Player for you non-geek types).

  I have always HATED the "Boat Snaps" that held the seat backs in my Salon upright.  The were a pain to unsnap and snap, and sometimes pulled out of the fiberglass.  As I thought about a better way, I came to the conclusion that whatever I used only needs enough strength to hold them up against the bulkhead while heeling over.  Hmmm... The Hard drive magnets are POWERFUL.  If you make the mistake of letting them come in contact with each other, it takes a LOT of work to get them apart.  Then I had an epiphany... I would replace the hated snaps by using the Magnets.... somehow.

Here is how I did it.

The way my seats were upolstered, there is a strip that holds the snaps connected on one long side.

On the back side of the strip, I made an incision through one layer of the vinyl material.

Then I could slip a magnet between the two layers....

Then, using a a barbeque skewer, I could push it all the way down to where the existing snap was.

Now I needed a way to keep the magnet in place, so enter my Palm Sewer. this handy device that everyone should have can sew through just about anything

The first step is to pull out a length of the waxed twine...

Then, figure out your starting position and push the needle through

Back off slightly and the twind will make a little loop like this...

Pull the twine through like this

then pull the needle back.  Pull up enough twine until it exceeds the area you are going to sew by about an inch.  Make sure that the twine in the bottom does the same.

Then make your first stitch... I made mine about an eighth of an inch long. after pushing all the way through, back out a bit so you get this loop again.

Feed the bottom length of twine through it, then pull tight on both ends. you want the place where they mee to be in the middle of the two layers, then repeat...

on the last stitch, pull a little more twine through, then cut making sure you have at least an inch or so of twine

then tie the ends together in a knot several times, and trim the ends

and Voila! the magnet is in it's own little pocket.  Repeat for all of the magnets you want to place.  I put one next to each snap.

That is half of the battle, now for the other side...

You need some thin ferrous metal (non-ferrous metal like aluminum or stainless will not stick to magnets)
I had this cover piece that was removed from a server when we installed some SAN disk arrays (did I mention I was a geek?), but any type of ferrous sheet metal will do.

I marked out some strips on the metal, then took it to my drill press and drilled a hole in the center of each strip .

Because I wanted the screw head to be as flat as possible against the metal strip, I countersunk each hole as well

Off to the workbench to do a bit of sawing with my trusty hacksaw, and I had a bunch of strips ready to install...

Back aboard Dulcinea, I removed all of the male snaps from the fiberglass.  Then I marked where the strips needed to be mounted, which was easy... just stick the metal centered on the magnet, put the seatback into place then mark both sides of the metal strip.  then remove the strip, put on the marks and mark the hole!

Once that is done put the seatback back into place, and CLICK! they are held into place.  They work exceedingly well.  Notice in the picture below that they are suspended with no cushions below them!

I have had this in place for about a year now, and it is still going strong, and i still love them!  it makes it VERY easy to get to the new storage area I created behind the seat backs, which will have its own post soon!

 Score one for Geeks everywhere!

'Til next time!


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dulcinea's Wild Ride

PROLOGUE:  This was the last part of my trip to the San Juan Islands in August 2015... yeah I know... almost a year later, but it is still good!

This was supposed to be the most laid back part of my Vacation... but it turns out that Mother Nature had different plans for me.  It started out just fine.  I was back at Echo Bay at Sucia, one of my favorite places.  I arrived on Wednesday and Kayaked to Ewing cove and back. it is pretty picturesque from the water.

Scenic Sandstone...

The same from shore... kinda looks like a wave
Me... hanging ten in the sandstone wave!

I went for a bit of a climb...

Ewing Cove.... wish I coulda gotten a mooring ball there....

Blue Heron perched on the cliff...

As I was coming back from the cove, I took a detour to gawk a little at this guy.....

this is the M/V Excellence.  I couldn't find out much about it other than it is privately owned out of Seattle.  It is about 130 feet long...

She had 2 massive anchors... here you see the starboard anchor deployed with a big snubber line on it...

I couldn't figure out if this was a dingy or just someone who came over to visit...

On Thursday I did some hiking to Ewing cove.  It is only about a 3 mile hike, but it had some pretty good views along the way as well!

Dulcinea in Echo Bay, Sucia Isand.

Ewing Cove
 On Friday, I decided to do, well, nothing but hang out on Dulcinea.  I put up my Hammock-Chair

and Hung out (pun intended) and read on my Kindle... by mid afternoon, it had suddenly grew eerily quiet, and I took a good look around.... there were only 2 other boats in anchorage that hours earlier was filled with 50 - 60 boats! 

My Hammock Chair...
Reading in the hammock chair... notice not a boat in sight in a normally busy anchorage... What don't I know?

I decided to do some investigating as to why that might be....  I was shocked with what I found out.... the weather storm that originally was supposed to stay south of the San Juans had now shifted its course and was coming straight for them...   all the weather reports I could find agreed that it would hit the San Juans by 0930 to 1000 the next morning.

   I immediately started stowing everything as I was going to have to make a run for it at o-dark-thirty in the morning so I could make it to Friday Harbor before it hit. 

   My alarm went off at 0500 and I was in my Foulies, off the mooring ball, moving towards Friday Harbor, and drinking a cup of Joe by 0530.  I can move fast when I want to... Fortunately, I didn't have to worry about hitting anyone in the anchorage as there were only 2 boats left.  I made a bee line for Friday harbor, which took me about 3 hours in some pretty rough water.  I was able to make a short video along the way....

I made it there well before the storm hit, but, for the first time, Friday Harbor disappointed me.  They were taking a "business as usual" approach, and said I couldn't ask for a Slip before 0930.  I mean with a storm of this magnitude bearing down on them, it seems to me they could have done a little more to get all of these boats that were tied up on the breakwater in before the storm hit, if even temporarily....  As it was, by the time I got a slip assignment, the storm was in full force and there was no way I could move.  here is another video I made when the storm was sending winds of 40 mph or so:

I believe the top winds we recorded there on the public dock were around 45 to 50 MPH.  It was just a surreal situation.  Finally the winds died down enough to move Dulcinea into the harbor, and I made it to my slip by about 1330, and was able to tidy up, shower and change, ad made it to Haley's Sports bar in time to watch the Seahawks pre-season game, have a meal and a beer or two,  so all was not lost.

The next day I headed out around 0900 so I could time my exit through Cattle Pass into the Strait of Juan de Fuca at near slack tide. Both going through the pass, as well as my entire crossing of the Strait was eerily quiet and uneventful.  There was pretty much no wind, so I motored all the way to Ft. Flagler where I caught a mooring ball.  

  That night, was the most uncomfortable I had ever spent on Dulcinea, as the southerly winds came howling through the inlet there starting aroung 1230.  I was lying in the v-berth, bouncing up and down, and I remember praying that the Mooring Ball and my bow lines would hold.  It died down around 0400, and I was able to get some sleep again.  I got up around 0930, had some breakfast and made my way out of the anchorage.  As I exited and started to head to round the the northern head of Marrowstone Island, I was making about 7.2 knots.  I remember thinking that I would be in Kingston by noon at that speed, and I was all fat, dumb and Happy... right up until I rounded the Island and headed south.... into the full brunt of the southerly wind that continued to blow into the mid to high 20 MPH range, with really confused seas, and it slowed me to about half a knot to a knot SOG.... it was the start of a really long day.  I couldn't even leave the cockpit as the seas were just too rough for Audrey, the autopilot to handle. 

Notice there are no pictures here.... I literally couldn't take any... too rough.  The bottom line.... 9 hours and 30 minutes to travel about 19 miles.  By the time I hit Apple Tree Cove and the Kingston Marina, I was exhausted.    there was an open slip, so I snagged as quickly as I could.  it was about 6:30 pm... I took a "Hollywood" free shower (one thing I love about Kingston... free showers) checked the weather forecast for the next day, and it looked like a carbon copy.  Good thing I put an extra day into my schedule... So I just hung out at Kingston for the next day.  Hearing about my trip to Kingston, my Brother in law insisted on signing on as crew for the last leg of the trip to Foss Harbor Marina .  As Murphy's law would have it, now that I had some Crew, the weather was no problem, and the trip uneventful...  

If there was one thing that I did learn during this trip... Check the Weather, and check it at least a couple times a day!

Until next time!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Jones, Patos and back to Sucia

Dulcinea tucked into a slip on the H dock at Friday Harbor
  After seeing my sister off on the ferry in Friday Harbor bound for Anacortes, it was time to move on to the second half of my trip.   I was looking forward to it as I was headed for a couple of Islands I had not yet been to, namely Jones and Patos islands.

  After stopping by the pump-out dock to, well.... Pump out the holding tank, I bid adieu to Friday Harbor.  It is really one of my favorite places to visit when I am out, and little did I know that I would be back in a week under very stressful and ominous conditions.... But that is a story for another post!

  I finally got underway around noon. It was a beautiful day, and my first stop, Jones Island was not very far - only about five and a half nautical miles.  The wind was mostly non-existent as I headed out into the San Juan Channel and winded my way past the western coast of  Shaw Island, past Cliff Island, then in between  Yellow and McConnell Islands.  I motor-Sailed all of the way there and pulled into the South Side anchorage.  There aren't really many mooring balls on this side, maybe 3 or so.  I found out later that on the north side of the Island, there are about 10 mooring balls and a dock.  Oh well, maybe next year.

   I arrived about 2pm and found that all the mooring balls had been taken, so I dropped the hook.  It took me a couple of tries, as the first couple of times I ended up too close to some other boats by the time I had the proper scope out.  It was pretty crowded.  After tidying up a bit, and stowing all of the bits needed for making a passage, I decided to take a nap.  About 45 minutes later, I heard an engine start and looked out the companion way.  I saw the boat next to me, which was on a mooring ball, leaving!  I wasn't really comfortable with the set of my hook anyway, so I hauled it up.  As I have no windlass, it is a bit of a strenuous job hauling up the 25 pound anchor and 20 feet of chain, and of course the rest of the Rode (that is the 3 strand rope that is attached to the chain and anchor).  As I hauled it up this time, it felt... well... weird.  When I had finally pulled it all in, I noticed there was some yellow poly line fouled around the anchor.  Interesting.... I got the line free, but it felt like it was attached to something, so I started pulling.  I pulled hand over hand, when lo and behold, This was at the end of the line!

That's right, a crab trap!  this one had been down there awhile, as it had Barnacles all over it.  There were no crabs in it though.  The rot line had done its job and... well...  rotted, and the escape ring dropped like it was supposed to, so the crabs could get out.  I had no time to admire my catch, as I was drifting in a crowded anchorage, so I quickly got back to the cockpit to maneuver and catch the Mooring ball, which was the reason I started this whole activity in the first place!  I felt better being on the mooring, as I felt the holding there was questionable.

  The next day, I took the trap to shore to see if I could clean it up any.  I spent awhile getting the Barnacles and other growth off the cage, but I basically concluded that the trap was too far gone, as there was a lot of rust and corrosion on it, and as I was told, Crab don't like the smell of corrosion.  So I decided would dispose of it properly at some point.  At least I got it out of the anchorage!  I spent the rest of the day just being lazy and hanging around the boat.

Jones Island as I was leaving and heading to Patos.
 The next morning, after coffee in the cockpit (have I mentioned that is one of my favorite things to do?  Ahh.... a cup of Joe and watching the sun rise...) and a good breakfast, I slipped the mooring ball and set off for Patos Island.  This trip would be fairly short jaunt - about 11.6 NM. As usual, the winds were really light, so I had to motor again. It was another beautiful, sunny day, so I just enjoyed the trip as I traveled up the Spring Passage, then back up the President Channel I had come down with my sister a few days earlier, then finally heading into the tail end of Boundary Pass.  I headed to the NW corner of the island and rounded the tip of Little Patos into Active Cove.
Coming into Active Cove. Patos on the right and Little Patos on the left
 This is a fairly narrow anchorage protected on the southern side by Little Patos, and on the north side by Patos Island itself.  There are only 2 Mooring balls here, and of course both were taken, so I dropped the hook, hoping that one of them would leave.  After about half an hour, I saw a somewhat  Familiar sailboat come into the cove.  A beautiful boat, S/V Seikkailu (Finnish for "Adventure")  and friendly couple (the Gilmores) who waved Hi as they passed by.  Why was it familiar? It turns out they had been anchored out at Jones Island at the same time I was there!  They wondered how I had beaten them to Patos.  Dulcinea is just that good I told them!   I watched them go further into the cove, and saw that the boat currently on the mooring furthest in was just about to leave!  Dang!  That new boat took "my" mooring, because they were in exactly the right place at the right time! Oh well!  About another half hour later, and I saw the other boat making preparations to leave. Sweet!  I head to the bow to bring the anchor up, when I see a Motor boat coming in.... Double Dang! It was going to happen again!  Quickly, I call over to the moored boat to make sure they were leaving, and asking if I could have the Mooring.  They said Sure!  Now, I might have mentioned, getting my 25 pound anchor, plus 20 feet of chain, and 200 feet of rode is all done with muscle power.... no windlass.  So it takes a little time to get it aboard.  sure enough, the motorboat went straight for the boat that was leaving, but they said that I had already claimed it. They also delayed their departure long enough for me to get over there so I could snag it right after they left... what nice people!  I love the boating community!

Looking into Active cove in the gap between Little Patos (left) and Patos island

  Patos is a GREAT little island.  After I got situated, I put the Kayak in the water and decided to take a paddle around Little Patos.  you continue into the cove, and when you get to the end, there is a small opening between the islands that you shoot through.  then you are in Boundary pass.  Take a right and continue down the coast of Little Patos, around the end and back into Active Cove.  It's a great little kayak trek.  I stopped and looked around at a couple of interesting places along the way.

Dulcinea, nestled in the middle of Active Cove.  In the background you can see some kids on a rope swing

  Getting back to Dulcinea it was time for some food and a Sun-downer or two.  Then the Sunset came along and it was absolutely gorgeous!  And I didn't even need to leave the cockpit to see it!

The next morning, after my favorite pastime (have I mentioned how much I love to have coffee in the cockpit int the Morning? LOL..) I decided to go to shore and do some hiking. There is this great trail that goes all the way around the island.  Along the way you will come to the Patos Lighthouse which is a great place to explore, and admire the views


Another evening at Patos, and another Beautiful sunset.  The picture below is of Me aboard Dulcinea, courtesy of Tracy Gilmore of S/V Seikkailu.

I had another great night on the mooring and planned to head out the next morning to go back to Sucia, As it is one of my favorite Islands.  My Friends Left slightly before I did and were headed to Orcas Island, so I waved good bye until next time!

Shortly thereafter I hauled in the mooring line and made my way out of Active Cove for the shortest passage on this summer's vacation... A whole 5.7 NM...

   Little did I know what was in store for me... one of the most harrowing experiences I have had thus far.... But that is the story for the NEXT installment of this adventure!

Until next time!