Was an electric Motor a Huge Mistake?

Sorry, it’s been a while since the last blog. Since our last loss of motor power event, we have since made some drastic changes to the boat to ensure that we have sufficient power for most circumstances.

It has been a little while now, but I recall it was quite the ride of time and money spent to restore our confidence in our electric motor’s available energy supply.

Here is the list of upgrades:
1) SS tubing and terminal ends to build a sturdy base above the Bimini while trying into the Bimini bars.
2) Replaced Bimini feet to Solid rigid style for strength and stability
3)  Purchased 2 Piomar (de Italia) –  200 Watt 24-volt panels wired in series (48 volts) above Bimini using 4 SS Ubolts per panel.


4) Purchased Midnight’s The Kid Charge Controller.
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5) Purchased two Battery switched and battery cables to switch between using and charging our FLA and AGM battery banks. Will probably run with 2 AGM banks in the future.
6) Last, but not least I built a platform for the second battery bank above the other and installed 4 Vmax tanks AGM MR137 (Amazon – Free shipping! Yeah baby!) wired in series for the second 48-volt bank.
7) Is that all? No!!!!!! We eventually purchased a shunt and Wiz Bang JR. From Midnight to measure amp-hours going into the bank when charging and amp hours and percentage of life being used. Really neet device to prevent overcharging which will destroy your batteries.

Sailing on a budget Haaaaaa!!!!! Is there really such a thing? With all of this though I am certain that we saved over $5,000 when compared to having a new diesel engine installed by pros. The total price of motor batteries, panels, etc. Still comes in at less than $10k DIY.

What I found the most frustrating was programming the controller correctly, but contacting the battery manufacturers and Midnight to dial in the numbers certainly eased my pain a bit. Just a bit.

Final tests are in. On a clean Hull, we should now be able to do somewhere between 3-5 knots (depending on wind resistance, tide, etc.) at a 20 Ah draw (seems to be a our sweet spot) for a little over 5 hours on strong, charged batteries before we end up at the 50 o/o level.
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Time to set sail again, finally!!!!!! So glad this chapter is over, for now!

See you on the water!

 

Adventures of a Maiden Voyage

Finally going Sailing!

There is always more that needs to be done, but this boat owes us some fun! I know I probably shouldn’t think that way, but, after putting in two years of hot, sweaty labor and spending loads of money, I can’t help feel that way.

After finally getting her off the hard and back to her mooring field we felt the time had finally come to bring her out to the ocean. Since we have never done any ocean sailing yet, we thought that it would be a good idea to bring someone more experienced with us the first time around. Fortunately, the seller of the dryer midget dinghy we recently purchased is also a Captain for the local schooner here in St. Augustine. Fl. Seems like a friendly, easygoing guy. For once, the plans actually worked out.

We set a date, Stacey pulled our sailboat alongside his on the mooring field like a champ (yes, fenders were out) and away we went.

We knew we had to use the motor sparingly if we didn’t want to run out of power. We were a little nervous about that after seeing how far out the inlet was. Fortunately our guide for the day, Steve decided it would be wise to tack our way out. We spend six hours on the water getting comfortable with the boat, tacking, rigging up lines for the first and second reef points on the main, along with other good points. Of course we found new things that need attention like a winch that wouldn’t turn with the handle, pin holes in the sails that need patching up, etc. Nothing new there. I did find Steve’s sail patch idea interesting – sail cloth and some 3m5200. Gotta love that idea! No sewing necessary!

It was great to see the jib furler work well as I recently replaced the drum line and had initially rolled it up backwards! I hear this is a common issue. I guess that makes me feel like a little less of a dumb ass.

First sail was successful and thankfully uneventful. YAY!!!!!!!

A week later we set out on our own along with two of our boys (18 and 20). Unfortunately, it was a light winded morning which had our sails flapping around a bit. There is definitely an art to light wind sailing which we have not fully acquired yet.

Coming out of the inlet the waves were pretty large at 6-8 feet. Wow! Our boy’s favorite part, but they both ended up getting seasick. Fortunately, Stacey and I did not.  Because of the large waves and the light winds we couldn’t successfully tack our way out this time, so we eventually motored through. After a while things were going great. We were flying and tacking comfortably with full sails practicing our skills. And then it was time to head back in.

We slowly sailed downwind back into the ICW again along with a mild incoming tide. Again to save motor power. All was going well until we had to wait a short while for the bridge to open and noticed that our motor was puttering out once in a while. Not now! So close to our mooring field! We put all our fenders out in case, and eventually headed under the draw bridge very slowly and cautiously. We made it past the bridge, but decided it wasn’t worth the risk of bumping into other boats in the field. Out came Boat US to the rescue! They brought us to our mooring without a glitch. The main issue did thankfully end up just being low battery power.

Lessons learned:

*Always monitor battery power available. Duh!

*Make sure your stuffing box is not over tightened and has cooling water lubrication. Your stuffing should Not get hot to the touch while in use. Extra friction will obviously cause your motor to work harder.

Which now leads to another big project. Previously, we charged the batteries before a trip, but we could not charge while underway. We will be installing a 48 volt solar charging system (400 watts, fast charging!) specifically for the motor. This will allow us to harness energy while under sail. Can you see the Benjies flying?

Until the next time.

Staying Afloat

Replacing Seacocks and thru hulls

 I had no intentions on replacing these this time around, but our neighbor at the yard suggested we do. They are mostly original Wilson Crittenden which is pretty amazing! Most of them are seized in the open position though by now. The previous owner had replaced 2 and we went ahead and replaced two more (bronze ball type). We will replace the final 2 the next time we haul out.

 I ground the old thru hulls down carefully which made it easy to push the seacocks out. Careful you don’t melt the fiberglass or grind into the fiberglass (like I did)! Ah, more repair work.

 

 I understand G10 is the best material to use as a backing plate (none previously), but not even West Marine sells it locally! I couldn’t even find a fiberglass panel locally. What the heck! So I decided to epoxy over some marine plywood I already had. Not too difficult to make unless you have to later make alterations due to alignment mistakes or foundation obstacles.

 I drilled 3 holes and ended up using SS screws with a plastic washer to separate it from the bronze. Bronze screws are incredibly expensive. Q

 

 First install attempt was a disaster as I have a tendency to over-do things. I slopped on way too much 3M 4200 on the thru hull threads making it impossible to screw on as it dried pretty quickly. Not mention I cut the thru hull too long anyway. Crazy me had to remove everything, including the 4200 and start a new. The second attempt went well. We also bedded the wooden backing plates to the hull with 4200. A little more piece of mind has just been just been purchased.

 Btw, it’s really quite easy to use a metal bar of the proper size or even a piece of wood to tighten the thru hulls with if you don’t want to spend the extra for the special tool. We used a metal flat bar we already had and it worked like a charm.

 Until next time….

Splashdown Imminent

Final step till splashdown!

 Now that the boat looks beautiful from deck to topsides with a new paint job and all, we decided that she could use a new bottom job. Lots of flaking at the water line, a few bare spots and some chips here and there.

New paint

Normally I would opt to DIY most work to keep expenses down, but our yard does not allow us to do any sort of bottom paint work ourselves. So the least expensive option is to have the yard pole sand lightly and paint, but the waterline area will need to be hard sanded due to flaking. Total cost = $1,325 using Mar Pro Super B ablative paint. Next time We haul out I will use higher quality paint and go to a DIY yard where I can do the work myself and save some cash. Good thing she is only 30 feet!

 This will be the final step before she gets splashed again. What a celebratory day that will be!

A quick shout out to Kimberly and Jeff from S/V Pegu Club. They stopped by St. Augustine, Fl. during the holidays and we had a chance to hang out and talk boat stuff a while over lunch. They also own and now travel full-time travel on a B29.9.

 Until next time…..

What Have We Done???

Well, it has been several months on the hard now and I am starting to wonder why I didn’t buy trailer sailer.

After correcting our steering quadrant/rudder issues and replacing the prop and rudder bearings, I felt it would be a good idea to keep her on the hard for peak hurricane season. In the meantime, I can get some other projects done. You know like painting the whole freaking boat! Wow! Forget the roll and tip, it was more like roll and drip. That’s gonna be a whole different blog altogether.

I was not intending to do a bottom job, but I know she is in desperate need of one. I feel uncomfortable about putting her back in the water without one. Unfortunately, the boatyard won’t allow me to do any of the bottom work myself. They want to charge me $2,200 to do the work for our 30 footer. From what I hear, Not being allowed to do your own bottom work is becoming a more common practice.

As I begin to crunch the numbers, It’s amazing how quickly things add up. Is this is going to be a regular thing? I could have toured the world by plane by now! I really do begin to wonder if a quality trailer sailer would have been a better option (or a boat at all). I still own a stick home with extra room on the property so a trailer sailer would have been easy. I could have saved $1,635 plus the labor cost of the marina paint job, about $1,700. Is this going to be a regular thing? Those Com-pacs boats are sure looking real sweet by now.

Using the pole sanding method I was able to bring the cost down to $950. Yeah! Not so fast.  A foot or so at the water line needs to be hard sanded, so let’s add $350 to that and hope flaking doesn’t appear in any other areas or we are back to $2,200. Great! I still currently at this point am deciding on what to do. I just can’t help but think that there are so many better things I could be doing with all this money. If all marinas go with the no bottom work route, I will always be at their mercy financially and that is not a place I want to be. Wish me luck and that a wise decision is made.

Until next time,
Dennis
Señora del Mar

If Only I Had Known

If I would have known then what I know now / Buying a Sailboat

Owning and maintaining a sailboat (especially an older one) requires a lot more time, work and money than we could ever have imagined. There are definitely other much easier ways of travel. If you have lots of free time on your hands and don’t mind, or better yet, actually enjoy replacing this and fixing that constantly, it might just be your cup of tea. I may be wrong, but I don’t believe that is the case for most people unless you are retired. If you are very financially well off, well I suppose you would just pay people to do the work for you (that would be ideal!). Either way, it’s not an inexpensive experience by any stretch. Even DIYing everything

Currently, we are in the middle of painting the deck which is like 100 step process, or so it feels like. TONS of prep work!  Sanding, cleaning and de-waxing, wiping off 2x, taping, priming, sanding again, painting, sanding again, painting 2nd. coat, etc! It’s enough to drive one insane!!!! Absolutely ridiculous! After that we will be painting the topsides. Later sometime, we will need sand, re-barrier coat and paint the bottom. Really looking forward to that one! Not!

I must admit there have been many times that I ask myself why are we doing this. Why am I putting myself through all this torture, especially in the Summer Florida heat! I honestly didn’t think that it would take this long and I really wouldn’t have called her a fixer upper. She did require some attention and repairs though. I keep telling myself to keep my eye on the prize – sailing to Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico etc. It’s the only thing that keep me going.

What we see on youtube is mostly glamour, and the amount of work that is required to keep things going is not fully disclosed. Hard to do in short videos and who want’s to see that anyway!

We really do hope it’s all worth it in the end. That we will develop confidence as sailors and be able to travel to some beautiful destinations and make lots of friends along the way, before it’s time to repaint!

For those of you who are considering owning a sailboat, think hard and talk to many people. This rose has it’s thorns and you will bleed.

There are easier ways to enjoy the sailing experience other than owning a boat that needs to stay in the water. Trailer sailors may be another easier option, but they are not generally built for long range travel. Make sure you do your full research (alternatives to owning a sailboat) and make a quality decision for yourself, whatever that may be.

See you back on the water soon!IMG_3331

 

A No Cost Repair???

When we first purchased our beloved but in need of some TLC Sailboat she came with a new 3 winged prop and depth sounder puck that had yet to be installed. Finally installing something was not going to cost anything extra other than some silicone and time.

Let the demolition begin! I began by carefully slicing the old depth transducer outer edge I used a harbor freight dremel tool. Great little tool for these kinds of projects. After that I just wedged and pried out chunks until finally I was able to push it out. Replacing was pretty straight forward, just had to rout wires to the control unit which was interesting. Be sure to run your top cap through all the wiring first (so it sits on top of transducer) before you run your wires to unit otherwise you will need to completely re- do your wiring run like someone I know had to (not mentioning names here). Pretty easy job, except it’s freaking hot enclosed in the tiny little spots in a boat during the Florida Summer! I did fabricate a slanted base out of a fiberglass board so the puck could sit a little straighter and epoxied that in place before buttoning it all back together with 3M 4200. Hopefully all will work as it should now. In theory. We shall find out if all my hard work paid off when she is back in the water.

Replacing the prop was a bit more challenging, but I managed. By tapping the back end of the prop directly with a hammer, (should have used a large collar of some sort to prevent shaft dings) I was completely unsuccessful. I wasn’t fond of possibly damaging the motor coupling or motor using this method either. Time to bring out something that will do a bit more damage. 

I finally grabbed my jigsaw, removed the base from it and was able to saw the sucker off. I’m starting to enjoy this demolition stuff a bit by now. Anyway, on went the new 3 winged power prop that we were gifted. Your supposed to get more power from these with a slight increase of drag.  Maybe not the best in light wind situations, but let’s see how she does. Hell, it was free and it looks awesome!

After these projects, she should be ready for the water again right? Not quit yet. Catch you on the next blog!

Until Next Time,
Dennis