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2016-11-30

Travelling plans

Somewhat similar to this, the "old-style non-CB Harken track (supplied until 2002)"
As mentioned previously, we have a new mainsail, updated nav lights and both a beefy vang and mainsheet. The missing upgrade was the traveller through-bolted to the deck. We had been using the one that came with the boat. an elderly Harken model that had no blocks for traveller control lines, but rather had just a set of spring-loaded pins that could center the car on some part of the track, but not quickly and not easily under load. In fact, although it was cambered nicely to the curve of the deck, I considered it a bit dangerous in anything but light air in terms of finger-crushing potential and the likelihood of forceful boom movement.
This is the "MT-2" traveller from Garhauer. Beautifully made, and no nonsense.
Evidently, I knew that I would one day have to tackle this deficient bit of kit, as I ordered from the redoubtable Garhauer firm a beefy traveller way back in 2007. Better late than never, I suppose, and the upside is that the Canadian dollar with which I paid for it was worth about 20 cents more in that year than currently. So I have that, which is nice.
Some random tools of the "most resorted to" kind. Yes, that's blood on the spanner. I'm not fooling around.
I got a warm feeling from the Garhauer company almost immediately. Their very plain, "cheap seats" booth at the Toronto Boat Show is usually manned by the company president, who wears suspenders and seems well past retirement age. Their gear is, however, opposite of what a racer would favour: all heavy, mostly metal and easy to service, their blocks and other line-handling gear are all over Alchemy at this stage. Speaking of "service', however, I was most favourably impressed, lo, those many years ago, when the firm's fabricator in small-town California, Guido, phoned me in Toronto from a distant suburb of Los Angeles, where the Garhauer factory sits buried among carpet remnant outlets, donut shops and other single-storey sheds. I guess that's how they save money. Seems to work for them. Anyway, Guido, and I have to stress this, the man who was actually fabricating my traveller that very day, asked me if I wanted 1/4" or 5/16" holes on four-inch centers. Well, I didn't really know, but I figured even then "bigger traveller, beefier fasteners", so I said five-sixteenths would do the trick. Apparently, Guido phones a lot of people when the crumpled carbon paper he's handed by the guy who takes the money at the boat show finally reaches him. Still, all credit to the Americans, who are very good with customer service in a way often lacking in my passive-aggressive homeland.
Some surface corrosion, but pretty good under the insulation
First job was removal of the old traveller. We lack a whisker/spinnaker pole track on the front of the mast and this might find a use there. Second job was removal of the insulation and clean-up below. I slapped on a few coats of rust conversion product and it did some good. A few more and I'll lay on galvanizing basecoat and epoxy topcoat before I restore the insulation. Frankly, I need to confirm my sealing job.
The tape is to keep the deck-side paint from dripping.
After cleaning up the deck, we laid down zinc-heavy galvanizing paint and then more or less matching top coat. The barrier effect is more important than the colour and we will be redoing the non-skid at some point.
Mrs. Alchemy, a daub hand with a brush.
The paint didn't entirely dry overnight as it was at the limit of its temperature range, but a watery southern exposure helped. A bit.
She advances, masking
A couple of coats later...not bad. Recall that a large traveller will be covering almost all of this.

Yeah, that crappy box on the binnacle's getting binned.
The next step was  to fabricate stand-off, or "bridges", to support the traveller at either end between the bolt heads and the underside of the deck. Because I am cheap, I had kept the HDPE I used to create framing standoffs for my pilothouse opening portlights (which have yet to leak a drop in five years). The trick would be to measure the distance from underside of the first three bolts inbound from either side and to make an angular cut with a bandsaw to match as closely as I could the camber, or curve, of the deck.
This stuff is amenable to power tools, but take your time. It can melt.
The trick was that the boat is not currently level. She's pitched forward about three degrees and to port about two degrees in her cradle as a result of a windy day in the slings and maybe the half-tonne of lead pigs as trimming weight in the forepeak...
"Making a list" has a different, secondary meaning aboard.
So I temporarily "pinned" the traveller at the center two bolt holes. Guido's work was very, very close. I had to widen just a single hole, beyond redrilling all the 1/4" existing holes to 5/16" to accommodate the new, larger bolts. 
Prior to final fitting, this is the "starboard bridge". The dots are where the bolt holes go.

The fabrication, done with table and chop saw, drill press and belt sander, took some time, but worked well.
From the top. Yes, I had to redrill the end one. Lucky I have so much 4200.
After further tinkering, and after overboring all the holes in the deck to 5/16",I went for a "dry fit". This confirmed (for the most part) that I was in the fastening zone.

The grooves hold beads of sealant. It all helps.

After careful, if unavoidably messy, application of sealant, I put it all together with Mrs. Alchemy wielding a screwdriver above and me, with nuts, washers and a big socket wrench, below. And two family band radios, and with each bolt numbered, so I could tell her when I was ready to dog down. We are hauled out next to an airport: it can get very noisy.
Partial success!
The technique was to "butter" the bridge bases with sealant and to put a wrap of it around the bolt threads about halfway up the bolt's length. This wrap is meant to fill the hole of both the traveller bolt hole and the passage through the HDPE bridge, leaving the protruding bolt end down below largely clean. We actually achieved this much of the time thanks to all the backing plates and deck gear I through-bolted on Valiente. The sharper-eyed among you will note that 10 bolt hole remain open...we tarped up the work for the next not-freezing day. Others of a more sail-handling bent will note that the traveller's cam cleats and car appear to be reversed; they are facing not aft to the rear of the boat and the primary and secondary winches, but forward, toward the companionway.

This was an entirely deliberate choice based on ergonomics. Most of the time at sea while on passage, we will be under sail but with either windvane or autopilot engaged with the steering duties. This area is already filled with various sheets and control lines and the traveller is used less often and usually in the context of mainsail tweaking. The exception to this is of course a surprise squall or sudden wind shift which can load up the main and cause uncomfortable or even damaging heeling. In that case, the ends of both the traveller car control lines and the mainsheet itself are "to hand" from the pilothouse; the main can be spilled very quickly, after which the autopilot or vane can be adjusted to the new conditions. The control lines, which are 20 feet a side of 3/8" Dyneema core, can be coiled on the otherwise empty bridgedeck. It's no big deal to operate them from behind the wheel if needed, but reducing deck clutter at that helm is important. I am considering adding a third pair of winches back there so I have a pair for warps, drogues and stern anchor use, another idea that's a blast from the past. More currently, I'm also installing a second throttle/shifter in that area. So it's going to be a busy place!
Moorings never sleep, and neither does their rust. On duty with "the Committee".
The warm day we sought came soon enough; it's been an unusual November, and after belting out to Johnson Plastics for some Delrin rod in the right (1.5 inch) diameter, I repeated my earlier technique of measuring angles and heights and made what are essentially heavy-duty spacers or sleeves for the mounting bolts. Fitting them required a bit more precision and I had to angle the drill a touch in one spot, but Guido's work was excellent when done nine years ago. I'll learn shortly if the rain keeps out.

Water can slosh underneath the "support posts" and if I get a leak, I'll know fairly quickly from which hole.
My wife did the same deal and after three hours of fabbing, trimming, fitting, more trimming, sealing and more blood (Delrin can be sharp), the actual bolting down took about ten minutes.
Starboard side. I think I prefer a straight traveller. It's something to grab.
Now, the tarp seen above will still cover this until I'm sure I will have no leaks. I also have no need to reeve the line until spring. I also need to coat the interior before replacing the two inches of insulation (and running leads and other cabling along the underside of the deck; see "SSB"). But I'm pretty pleased seeing this long-purchased gear in operation. I hope to spill the main with renewed confidence.
Some careful razor work required to get the excess squish away.























2016-11-28

Getting to the nuts and bolts

Get the whole book here. Interesting head literature.
Own any boat worthy of the refitting, and you'll use a lot of fasteners. You'll develop odd, occasional relationship with rough, tobacco-tinged men in distant, suburban warehouses. men with whom you will discuss grades of stainless steel bolts and their hardness, the best way to isolate dissimilar metals and whether a sleeve washer or just a plain spacer is a good idea.
I do love a good chart. And I never mistake a pan head for a truss head anymore.
I discovered some time ago that, apart from picking up a couple of fasteners in a pinch, that marine chandleries were not very economical, and that I should venture farther afield. I have seen first-hand at sea that a wide assortment of stainless and galvanized steel fasteners, including a wide assortment of nuts, acorn and cap nuts, flat, toothed, fender and split-locking washers (and a few nylon and even rubber ones), a nice bag of Nyloks...it adds up. Or even the cheap yet still useful zinc-coated stuff you can get at any land-based hardware store; for quick 'n' dirty, they will suffice, although they will also rust in place unless sequestered from the air. I haven't even mentioned the pricey but beautiful silicon bronze screws (Robertson) or nails (in spiral or ring shank); silicon bronze fasteners are great in a salt-air environment, and the interior soles are held together with drywall screws and need replacing.

Fastener companies, no doubt in hopes of moving more stock, are frequently the source of decent (and free) technical guides and related resources. You just have to look.
Pretty and useful.
Another aspect of all this metallic variation that comes into play aboard any boat is the issue of galvanic corrosion and isolation, of which we must be ever-mindful ourselves as metal boat owners.  It's a big, meaty topic, on which I've written before, but the short form is that some sort of physical separation of different metals (the SS fastener from the aluminum pilothouse roof, for instance) is desirable, either in the form of non-conductive separation of the metals or by the application of Tef-gel, Duralac or some similar dielectric paste or coating to keep them apart, or insulated from each other. And it can get esoteric quickly, particularly where wood fastening on boats is involved.
The PDF for this chart is found here.
Of course, isolating dissimilar metals isn't necessarily sealing a hole in a boat. That's the next post's topic. In the meantime, I have some sorting to do. Who wants disordered nuts?



2016-10-26

The hardest part of fall

One last lazy October sail in the inner harbour for sightseeing and relaxation purposes.
Well, she's out once again, safely even if a review of the video I shot seems, in retrospect, a touch alarming. The run-up to haulout is slightly different when one is refitting a boat: it's less an interruption of the sailing season and more a frantic break in the refit. Frantic, because all the stuff one has secured on deck (anchors, the boom, the tender, etc.) must be stowed below so as not to represent a hazard when club members are beneath the boat as it transits from water to cradle.
No, we weren't going for a particularly high level of trim.

Amid all the prep, we squeezed in a final, "novelty" sail in Toronto's Inner Harbour. We actually rarely take the boat out for no particular reason, and it was a nice change to do so and was made possible by the fact that tools and other vital bits were stowed away and it was easy to work the boat unimpeded.
The stern anchor's "rode bucket" is not only insufficiently secured, but is clearly too small. It's on the list.
I'm thinking of coiling down rode and other long lengths of line with a Ballantine coil...does anyone do this? I "Flemish flake" halyards on deck, but this method was new to me.
Mooring Committee stalwart John King belays the crane boom.

There are many tasks not only on the individual boat level, but around the club that are necessary to complete before winter's advent. Dinghy ramps, modular docks, moorings and, above, the "poop deck" or pumpout dock, need to be hoisted clear of the water or otherwise secured. Above is the tonne and a half pumpout platform leaving the water. The same principles of "control lines" apply as with the boat, as seen below.
The purple tape is a "sling mark" indicating where the slings should go to keep the boat level in the air.
Alchemy does not have permanent sling marks as are often found on production boats, because she has a) a lot of lead ingots forward as "trim ballast" and b) the addition of many batteries and tankage means she's increasingly heavy (although she is still above her lines) and not necessarily in predictable ways. I estimated where she would "hang", therefore, marked those spots and shot video this year to see if I guessed correctly.
Close and incredibly loud: The crane operators are both careful and alarmingly swift.
"Pushers" keep the boat off the wall as the slings are adjusted.
Damn, this was too early for my taste.

Note the "cinch belts/straps". These keep the slings in place lest they creep along the hull and cause the boat to pitch.
Once up, I see the bow is a little down. This, however, is less about weight distribution and more about how the equal-length slings are "longer" because of the cutaway forefoot of the hull. The cinch belts are precautionary, especially as it was blowing a hoolie.
This is about the time people back away.
video
In the video portion of our blog post, you can hear the wind and see that Alchemy in flight is a bit of a handful. Still, the club members know their business, and all ended well. Now, back to work!

Update, 16.10.25: Head, A/C, sinks and raw water engine circuit are all winterized. Next not-cold day brings a general end-of-season clean-up before I fill the insides with sawdust again.























2016-10-12

Tour du jour, or how to do reciprocity right

How odd she looks having visibly moved to a different dock
Due to a combination of unexpected work, dubious weather, prolonged refitting and other banana peels left beneath life's rich pageant, we did not get off the dock this summer, nor did we get away for a camping weekend or other brief, cheap aways from home. Mrs. Alchemy, who typically works not only prolonged hours saving critters at a wildlife rehabbing facility, but who also works every second weekend with few consecutive days off, was understandably peeved at this failure to vacay, and so was a great help in cleaning out the boat, readying sleeping arrangements, stocking the now-functional reefer and making an October weekend on board possible.
Cabin Boy contemplating the metropolis from the north shore of the embracing Toronto Islands.

We didn't go far; the diesel is, after all, still aged if evidently properly filtered, and the motor is still well within the break-in period, but the nav lights leads were cobbled together and the boat, while basic, allowed the usual range of civilized functions. We even had heat. We needed it, as it turned out.
Moon over the foredeck at a marina.
In case an actual purposeful run should reveal issues, we stopped for Night One at the nearby Toronto Island Marina. We had a free berth coupon, and they gave us a good one right by the restaurant. Beverages were had. Cold beverages.After years of pioneer boating, having kettles, fridges and even a working microwave is a treat. The oven may work, but I have to check the propane lines before I try it, and, more to the point, I need to purchase a propane detector before I fire up the Force Ten. It worked fine in 2008, but hasn't run since. Also, the tank could be better secured...somewhere other than beside the companionway.
I am growing to like the Yankee.
The next day was windy from the WSW and we were headed ENE. I decided to keep the main sheathed as we do not have reefing rigged, and it was a single-reef kind of day. I was glad of it when the leisurely 4.8 knots under jib-as-spinnaker turned to 7.1 knots in the gusts. Adding 350 kilos of lead in the batteries plus another 100 kilos in charger, lengths of heavy-gauge wire and assorted electrical gear hasn't slowed the boat much. She charged properly.
Warm day, too, but it got very fall-like in the hours that followed.
The waves were blocked by the large and lengthy spit or headland on the east side of Toronto Harbour. Mostly artificial in nature, it has changed the dynamic of erosion and island-building in our closest cruising grounds and requires a fairly significant detour to get into the Eastern Gap, one where we've been plastered by squalls more than once. This day brought 14 knots blowing 28 on a rather irregular basis, but a few hours decent sailing was had, which we enjoyed.
Not very imposing cliffs are to the right, but the wind drops off 'em readily enough
 Of course, the benefit to essentially visiting one's nautical backyard is that you need not sail all day: two or three hours gets you to someplace different yet not requiring long-distance service. We went to Fairport YC, a very well appointed, if overly secured, appendage to a condo development in Pickering's Frenchman's Bay. And yes, it was a reciprocal visit, so we ended up spending very litte this weekend, which was nice if you don't count the grand or so I spent wiring up the batteries.
Nantuck-ink?
It's the sort of faux-New England planned development we normally would avoid, but the adjacent marina had our new friends Jay German and Rob Lamb on their steel Roberts ketch Goshawk. Once we had docked in pretty brisk wind involving some aggressive throttle work to bounce the stern in snugly, they were very hospitable in the fine old tradition and much boat chat was had to our mutual amusement. Both Jay and Rob are video gamers, so even the Cabin Boy felt rare feelings of respect and admiration.

The next day, we didn't force the issue of leaving, but a strong front had passed in the cool night and the same wind that had plastered up obligingly on an end-finger slip had clocked to just about due North and was pushing merrily on our stern. Having been warned to turn tightly to avoid a sand bank, we left under more power than usual. Alas, the wind was pushing the water out of the relatively confined bay, and it had been many month since the last dredging. We ran aground.

It was yet another paint removing learning experience. I was concerned about it as we had turned into the wind, because I suspected that a season's worth of channel churn combined with the water leaving the bay would make things tricky. I made the first set of buoys but had to do a chock-to-chock turn at speed (necessary due to the friggin' wind on my nose) to make the turn and we went wide. The boat hit sand at about three knots (good) and plowed about, I estimate, a foot or 30 cm. down. We draw five foot ten inches or around 175 cm. The boat heeled about 15 degrees to port, right in front of Pickering's rescue boat.

Having contacted them to assure them that we appeared to be well and undamaged (not an item fell in the galley, such was the leisure with which we took the ground), we attempted to power off. We succeeded in rotating the boat 120 degrees to face our putative rescuers....and also the channel. Further attempts to aid the motor, which performed very gratifyingly well given the circumstance, involved tows, a Zodiac on the hip, and the use of the staysail to provide thrust. Eventually, running a spare halyard to a man sitting in the Zodiac as it backed up did the trick: we heeled over another five degrees, I gave her full throttle and we slid into the channel with a slight bump.

All that time (and it took nearly one hour) we were just 3/4 of a boat length from the channel. The journey back was blissedly uneventful, save for the spray over the deck as that wind persisted until we got into the lee of the spit. Please convey to Rob our thanks, and to our nameless helpers in the Zodiac. The halyard trick was the one that worked. Our keel is "bevelled" somewhat either side of the chunky weld line, and once that went parallel to the bottom, we slid easily off. I'm glad for the skeg. And the four blades. I think I dug Fairport YC a new mooring.


Yeah, it was breezy coming back, too.
 


We had a great weekend getaway, and save the practicum on freeing the boat from surprise dirt, everything worked well and we were comfortable. It bodes well. Next Monday, out comes the mast and next Friday, Alchemy follows and a new phase of carpentry and plumbing commences.

2016-09-27

Better light than never


Now capable of sailing, motoring, bilge pumping and beer cooling.
This is a recent, if dim (because I shot it just after sunset) picture of S/V Alchemy. Plenty has been going on, but not much of it is visible in this shot. I just thought the absence of the Mumm 36 one slip over was a good chance to get a profile shot without deploying the Portabote. The most recent round of DC-side improvements, which will conclude with a new start battery and the installation of an ACR, have progressed with a notable lack of magic smoke, for which Mrs. Alchemy and Cabin Boy are presumably grateful.
 
Of course, I still work for a living and have other duties. This is Craig Lahmer, a member of the mooring committee and a diver whose job it is to inspect the chains and related subsurface gear in our mooring field. I tend to drive the workboat from which he deploys, and the weeds he bears amused me one recent morning. But back to business. This is the house bank state of charge after a day off shore power. Not bad.
That tiny "AC input" merits further study. The AC side charger breaker is off here, so why 0.8 A?
Yes, there was a load: Our NovaKool fridge was on for 24 hours. Yep, we have beer and pop and cold water. The head's working again, too, but hey...priorities.
Cheapo temperature sensors are surprisingly useful aboard. The fridge part of the top-loading reefer reads 32F, so I turned it down.

The freezer portion read 14F, really, that's overkill. It's now cycling less frequently.
Cursory readings of just the charger panel (as I have yet to install the amp-hour usage meter) suggest three to four-amp draws when the boat's pretty toasty, such as 33C. That's fine. Real-life usage will differ and will dictate if more insulation is required.
Another long-anticipated change is the shifting of tools from the aft cabin to the workshop, you know, in case one day we'd care to actually sleep in there. The bungees are provisional and "good enough for Lake Ontario" in terms of keeping that box still, but I plan on installing fiddles and tensioned strapping to guarantee lack of undesirable movement.
Yeah, the worklight was fun and all, but I've wanted "general engine bay illumination" for ages.

Another improvement: a 12 VDC LED floodlight in the engine bay. The leads run back to a dedicated breaker (I still have several spares) and make a difference, particularly at night. Not pictured is a new "unswitched" DC subpanel to which the bilge pump leads have been run; the fridge and the bilge pump are now permanently on, unless switched off at the device itself. The bilge pump control panel is now above the LED flood light on the aft bulkhead of the engine bay and is accessible, if needed, from a removable panel under the lowest companionway stair in the pilothouse.

Speaking of lighting, I took a couple of hours to chase down the various dusty conduits for Alchemy's nav lights. Evidently, I found them:

Proper wiring determined through "no, no, YES! RED!" from the dock.
The lights are a new Lunasea trilight/anchor combo, with which I am well pleased, and Aqua Signal 41s, 25 watt fixtures. Technically, our LOD is 39 feet, 11 inches, or a few millimetres short of the 12 metres that demand that size of nav light, but it's no sin to be visible.

 The stern light was never disconnected, and proved to be intact.
 The two pilothouse-side lights both had dead bulbs: I had a 10 W spare of the right base...
...and a 25 W spare for the starboard side. I am so going to 25 watt-equivalent LEDs for these...they draw just three watts.
The steaming light is intact, too. The deck lights are blown or loose...which troubles me not. We have a couple of sailing things planned before haulout and the days are now fewer than 12 hours long: we needed working nav lights.
As if the Lancaster flying over wasn't enough...
 And sail again, we have. JOY!
Felt good.
It's not much of a change, but it's considerably deeper.

After we haul, I want to confirm the "bus bar performance" theory posted (heh) here. I've never heard of it, but it makes a sort of sense.