|August 27, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|I will have to get the mainsail hung today and start wrestling
with whatever problems there may be. One item of concern
is just how much shrouding the furled sail will create over
the solar panels. I'll try to make the package as small as
possible and will have to wait for a few days to estimate the
degree of loss. If it's too much, I'll simply stow the sail
below while in port and that will be the end of that.
I got the laundry done, the walk to Publix and the mainsail
up. Observe proof stage right. All I really did was get
hardware on all 4 corners, lube the sail track, clear the
lazyjacks and hoist it up into place. I still have no slides or
slugs on it, though I have started separating and sorting the
hardware. I hated to be blocking the sun on the solar panels
when we are having one of the best days in a month for
solar collection, but I needed to see if the sail was going to
fit or if it needed fixing. It will do for now, no doubt. It's big
and the gusty winds today, though not above 10 knots, make
handling the mainsail a bit of a 'hands full' type operation. I
will start getting the other hardware on the sail and see if I
|can get it rigged for good by tomorrow. Then I'll take measurements and get the sailcover made. The beat goes on. I was talking
to Matt yesterday about the conversion of a Freightliner FL70 non CDL moving van into a motorhome with a lift gate and garage.
It is appealing. I'm going to have to go outside and get the mainsail tied into a log that will not blow overboard. Come to think of
it, that will also give me a good idea how big the sailcover will have to be.
|All in all, the mainsail will not make too large a package, though it is almost a full 18 feet long in the foot. The sailcover will have
to be 19.5 feet, and I may make it a tighter fit than the foresail cover to help subdue the solar robbing size of it. It is also tied to
the boat in the shots above so it doesn't grow wings and do a Mary Poppins over Boot Key during the night.
|August 28, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
I'm going to have to remove the main boom to do a little work on the aft tip to better accommodate the new sail. I have been
working on exactly what to do to allow me to adjust the outhaul from the deck without getting ridiculous. I mean, in a worse case
scenario, I can always point up and make the adjustment without strain on the sail, so it doesn't have to be the 'end-all' of
ingenious inventions. All it has to do is be simple and strong. I'll pull the boom and get to work on it. My one area of concern is
that I don't hurt the solar panels in the process.
|I went in to the workshop to check mail and ended up doing a lot of work on the mainsail sailcover. Once I got sick of that, I
wrapped it up and returned to the boat to eat and get started on the main boom work. I figured out how to move the main boom
without much trouble at all and now have it suspended and lashed into place about a foot higher and six feet further forward
than it's normal position. A little at a time I'm getting the tail end worked into the configuration I want and it's almost done. I'll
be putting a shaped block of 1 inch starboard on the end of the boom that the second leg of that stainless 'U' bolt will pass
through with 6 screws securing it to the boom end and a lock nut on the bottom of the 'U' bolt. It'll work for me, though I might
have one more little detail I'll consider incorporating before I finalize it.
The boom work is finished - for the most part, I have sail slug details to complete - and reinstalled on the mast. I actually got a
lot done today, considering I had no solutions to any of it when I started. The sailcover is now mostly designed and a lot of the
work has been done, and the boom outhaul and topping lift fitting has been completely redesigned and installed. So there you go,
first thing you know, Bob's your uncle. Three days left in the month and the locker will be empty.
|August 29, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
It is now 10:30 AM and the mast slot gates are made and installed, the mast slides are installed in the mast, and the little access
hole to install the boom slugs for the aft foot of the mainsail is carved out - Dremel tooled, actually.
|On the first fit of the mainsail, it seemed to hit all the limits of gaff
height, boom length and gaff length. At the time I was using huge
shackles and had no slides installed anywhere. It was held entirely
by the four corners. I've switched to much smaller shackles and
now will have all the slides and slugs installed. I'm sure it will be a
much better fit, but may still want eventually to remove up to 6
inches from the foot. Or head, either way. The head would be
easier, not that I think about it.
Once again, the mainsail tried to kill me as I was working to tie
|down the clew to the outhaul. I wish I could say I wore it down, but it still didn't seem the slightest bit tired by the time it was
tied off. I, on the other hand, needed a nap. I'm all better now, though.
The question as to whether or not I'll need to get a new mainsail has also been answered. As I was tugging at the leech to make
the flake lay flat, the sail tore, much too easily for my liking. I'll have to drag the sail into the shop one more time to fix the rip,
but I am now considerably less than enthusiastic about the sails ability to last very long.
|August 30, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|After getting a good look at how much shade the mainsail casts over the
solar panels yesterday, I have been working out a way to seriously
compact the mainsail on the boom. If you see the picture in yesterdays
post, there only seems to be a small shadow on the same solar panel.
But look to the stern and see the boom is well off to starboard, shading
fully half of the other panel. The boom is supposed to be right over the
top of the flagstaff ball. That's center.
I'm going to come up with a method of wrapping a line around the
covered sail to compress both the sail and the sailcover to minimize the
shading. I've always known this would be a problem - it was always just
a matter of 'how big' a problem. I have to tell you, flaking, rolling and
stowing this mainsail on deck will be a huge pain in the ass and I am in
no hurry to attempt it. Sure, it can be done, maybe, on a good day
without breezes or wakes and with some luck.
|September 5, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|Well, I'm right - the batteries are teetering on the brink. They - and I mean, 'ALL SIX', collapsed from 11.8 volts to 10 and sinking
fast, when I turned on the switch to the computer this morning, before I actually hit the button to boot up. I suppose it's to be
expected. I knew they couldn't last too much longer. Now the question is, what to do next?
I can't fit golf cart batteries into either of the two battery areas on the boat, so that option is out. Right now, I am running the
engine with one battery at a time - to avoid overheating the alternator - in hopes of bringing just a little life back into them, but
I'm not holding out much hope. I'm going to have to do some serious battery shopping today.
It's very noisy in here with the engine running constantly. I suppose I could get used to it, but not happily. It really steps hard on
the 'peace and quiet' thing that's so nice about living aboard.
I've run the engine for only an hour, and put two batteries on it, one at a time. Those batteries are now shut off and the engine is
off and I am running on the solar panels while it tries vainly to pump a little power into the other 4 batteries. It's completely
overcast again today, with only short breaks of the sun shining through. This would be easier with sunshine, but what are you
going to do? Weather is weather and you'd think someone who grew up in New England would be used to crappy weather. Well,
okay, yes, and if I was in New England, I suppose I'd expect it to be cloudy and rainy almost every day, but that's why I moved to
Florida - because it's the freakin' ass sunshine state.
The batteries may well be another problem, but it was not unexpected and I will definitely work it out. I will get one AGM 8D
battery, install it and remove all 6 Gel batteries, then add two more AGM 8D's and call it a day. They will all 3 be installed
beneath the cabin floor in the middle of the boat, and 620 pounds of battery will no longer live beneath the cockpit sole, greatly
reducing the aft weight, and moving what I replace SOME of it with, far forward. As far as I can put it in the space. Right now, my
total battery weight is 910 pounds, and I'll reduce it to 495 pounds, but move it lower and forward. I'm thinking I may discover 3
8D's to be enough battery for the boat. If they are new.
After charging the batteries in different ways all day, I decided to do a 'one at a time' engine start test, and sure enough, one of
the 4D's is plumb bad and the other 4D is right behind it. I have them both off line now so they won't drag down the others. With
a little luck, the batteries will slowly fail 1 at a time and give me some latitude on replacing them. Time to save the money, that is.
Or not. They might all be toast right now.
|September 7, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|Another rain storm last evening, only this one put 15 gallons of water in the dinghy. I have started filtering the rainwater and am
using it in the water tanks. I can not tell it from the tap water, and it has the advantage of having no poisonous fluoride or
chlorine in it. I do keep the dinghy scrubbed clean inside, by the way, so as to be able to salvage the fresh rainwater.
The 4 8D batteries are acting a little better than before. Both 4D units are disconnected. I did some research on line and
confirmed what I'd already suspected concerning Gel batteries - when they begin to fail, there is no saving them. The traditional
methods of conditioning or equalizing standard wet cells and AGM's will not work and not a single manufacturer of Gels
recommends the practice. When gel's fail, they are done. I can't complain - they were free and I got several years out of them.
Considering their age and condition, I'm fairly impressed with the Outback's willingness to keep trying.
On my way to the Post Office, I came upon the first Interstate Battery dealer, Island Service, and stopped in to talk to the
owner/operator. He had the best price I've found for the batteries I've decided on, so we made a tentative deal for two, tomorrow,
and I continued on my mission to the Post Office.
By the time I finished at the Post Office, I had concocted a new plan about the batteries and stopped back in at Island Service. I
could tell by the look on the Mark's face that he thought I might be ready to cancel. Instead, I told him that I wanted 3 of the
batteries, and I could afford all three right now, so I wanted to give him a $300 deposit and arrange to give him the other $327 on
the first of October. That way, I would only have to go through the logistics nightmare of bringing the boat to the water wall and
getting a ride to come down there with the old batteries and swap them for the new batteries only once, instead of twice. He
thought that was great and that also added that not only would he deliver the batteries free of charge, but he would take away all
6 of the old ones.
I checked with the desk and Richard about being able to use the wall to swap the batteries and they said, "Yes, but only for 1/2
hour." Fair enough. I had also told Mark that I was a little freaked out about having to tear the boat apart and dig out 6 huge
batteries between now and tomorrow. He understood that as well.
I will have all 6 batteries on the side deck when I drive the boat in, and will quickly (as quickly as a skinny old man can) get them
to the concrete. When Mark gets here with the new ones, we'll just do a truck to concrete/concrete to truck thing, he'll take off
and I'll get the new ones aboard. I am going to have one of the long sets of battery cables led to the side deck so I can connect to a
battery right there, both to come in to the dock and to go back out to the mooring. Once back at the mooring I'll deal with
lowering the new batteries into the cabin and wrestling them into submission. They will serve me whether they want to or not.
They will hearken to my authority. I hope.
For right now, the 4 remaining gel cells seem to be holding up, but it can only be a matter of time and I feel that time is close.
This will also allow me to re-evaluate the need for a generator. As Espin says, I may not need one at all. I seriously hope that is
the case. I have a special secret you can't tell anyone - I can fit 4 of those batteries beneath the cabin sole if I have to. I just hope I
don't have to. Hydrogen gas freaks me out a little, you know, ever since that old Hindenburg thing.
I will also be moving and rethinking my whole 'battery buss system'. It may be more complex and cumbersome than necessary. I
had originally thought it would allow more accurate and controlled conditioning of the batteries, but the work it entails, plus the
additional losses due to so many connections, and the space considerations, all add up to more trouble than it's worth. I will
probably go back to an extremely simple solution that might even include a small size 27 or 29 engine starting battery, and the
house bank all simply bolted together as one big battery.
The old battery switch box in the cockpit will be made a simple storage bin, sealed off and waterproof into the engine room, but
with a drain to the cockpit. I'll store things there I don't want to keep for long and toss them when they smell bad.
|September 8, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|I will need the weather to brighten up today so I can get started pulling the batteries and modifying the battery system. By the
time the new batteries are aboard, everything will be ready for a strait-up installation and I will have already had time to
experiment with the system.
|September 9, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|Working in the dark means I am on limited time. The batteries are ever so slowly draining - at tad faster than I'd hoped - and I'll
have to leave something in them for the morning. This is something that I hope the new batteries will solve. I would love to be
able to get 8 to 10 hours of night time used out of them, and then have them able to recover under the solar charger during the
day. If not, I'll have to consider other options.
It is now 8:40 AM and I have the two worst batteries to get out of the boat up on deck. Very little actual 'grab the handles and lift'
action required. I used the main boom topping lift with an 8 to 1 advantage and a cam lock and just cranked them right up the
companionway to the deck. The 8D's are going against the cabin side to port and the 4D's are going to the starboard rail. Just a
little effort to balance the boat.
It is now 11:30 AM and all the batteries are up on deck and the 4 8D's are connected and all systems on the boat are working
again. No rain and plenty of sun, so I'm getting some charging.
|Just in case anyone was wondering just how tightly the 4 big batteries were shoehorned in beneath the cockpit sole, there's a
look at them. Yes, there are indeed 3 8D's and a 4D wedged in tightly. To the right is the topping lift being used to easily lift them
out, and because it's connected to the masthead, I just swung them out and around to the side deck. The 4D's I just slid to the
|With 660 pounds of battery on one side and 250 pounds on the other, you'd think there would be even a little bit of a list. I can't
detect any. Of course, the 8D's are inboard and the 4D's outboard, but I think this boat is enormously stiff. That was the reason
for the extra ballast. We'll see how well it works when it's time to put some sails up.
I got off the boat to take a walk to Publix and get a fresh tuna and veggie sub and some butter and pancake syrup. The boat looks
better, 'level-wise', though the battery weight is still not nearly as far forward as it will be, and there is still 910 pounds of battery
aboard instead of 367 pounds. That is a huge difference. I may also end up getting a smaller size 29 or 27 battery as a reserve
engine starting battery that I can keep isolated from the house bank. I can get one from the same guy for under $100.
I called Raymarine and the ST40 unit was repaired and sent back to me yesterday!!! Nobody there said anything about money, so
I think it was a warranty fix!! Raymarine rocks. I will now prepare to make my appeal to Garmin. We'll see how that goes, you
know, broke dude in Florida appeals to multi-billion dollar corporation. I hear on the news these things always end well.
The batteries are fading as we speak, though they did not get much of a chance to charge today - I didn't get them hooked back up
until about 11:30 AM - and I did use them hard to get done what I could on the computer today. I'm hoping the minimum
connections thing I have going on now will also boost the Outbacks ability to get more power right to the batteries themselves,
rather than getting wasted in connections. I will overhaul the entire system and go with less stuff and see how I do, even before
the new batteries get here. Oh, Mark, from Island Service called to tell me he has the first two batteries in stock right now, and
will be getting the last one in two weeks, the next time the truck comes by.
I have a lot of stuff to straighten up in the cockpit and the engine room, and I have to reroute the ground cable so I can shut the
old battery box hatch. Tomorrow. I did enough for today already. Besides, it's after six and I still have half of my tuna sub left.
|September 10, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|I went to sleep last night at 8:30, tired and well fed, and
slept until just about 8:30 this morning. I NEVER sleep that
long. Well, not since I stopped drinking.
The sun is out bright and shiny and the batteries are
charging. I will work on the computer today, and take breaks
to seal down the cockpit hatch and begin reshaping the
battery distribution system and cables. I will be posting a
picture below of the once shiny copper bar that served as the
'Engine Buss'. The water getting in through the battery box
lid hinge ran right over both of these buss bars and this is
what they look like now. I will be coming up with something
else in the near future and these bars will get another good
polishing and probably live way in the back of the electrical
panel somewhere. Maybe just one.
Another thing I'll be doing today is cleaning up the deck and
cockpit outside so my boat doesn't deteriorate into a float
'Fred Sandford' yard. I'm thinking of filling my 'Sun Showers'
|and rigging some way to use the hot water below. I'm not Canadian, you know, and can't just shower naked on deck. Don't get me
wrong - I admire the way they strut down South Beach in Miami in a thong that can't be seen for the rolls of glowing white flesh -
but I'm just not that guy. I'll figure out a way.
I had to get out of the program and shut the computer down @ 9:15 because the inverter was squealing. The clouds - not very
thick ones - sometimes mask the sun and the voltage drops. It's still only 9:45 AM, so once the sun climbs higher I'll have
enough power to both run the computer and charge the batteries.
Again I had to bail out to stop the incessant nagging of the inverter. It is 12:46 PM now and the clouds are becoming a bit thicker
and more frequent, but I'm still able to get on line and post a bit. I also managed to scan a half dozen or so photos the last time.
I'm doing more right now (Dad and Jeannine 1946).
While I was away last time, I cleaned and reconnected a dozen or so of the big ground cable ends. One of them, a critical one
beneath one of the cockpit speakers (which I should remove because I will NEVER use them) was badly corroded and needed
serious cleaning. That's done.
My computer draws between 14 and 20 amps, depending on what I'm doing, and I have GOT to find a way to decrease that. It
may be just as Espin keeps saying, that I will have to get a low end laptop and deal with it as much as possible, just to diminish
the load on the system, and only use the big one when I have to. I think the monitors may be a big part of the problem, but the
inverter may also be a power hog. It might pay to find a pure DC to DC power supply for the computer and bypass the inverter
completely. The conversion process for the power supply might be absorbing as much as half the draw.
I decided to remove the old battery tray beneath the cockpit floor. It had no further use and was heavy and just in the way. It was
a huge job and just about wore me out. I had to take out a hundred fasteners (more or less - mostly less, but they were REALLY
HARD) and then tear the thing to pieces so I could bend the panels and pull them out. Photos below.
|It's hard to appreciate the shot without something to compare it to, so let's see. Okay, on yesterdays post you can see where the
batteries were. It's a big rack underneath there. Then, on Falcon's Log 9, 2/3 of the way down the page, next to the 'Bilge Pump
Wiring' schematic, you can see the batteries and the rack back there. All that's left is the cleat it sat on against the bulkhead.
|September 11, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|The batteries really seem to be on their last legs. Just having the inverter turned on now draws enough current to give them
palpitations. Well, in just under 3 weeks I'll have 3 new 8D's on board and we'll see what happens then. Meanwhile, I may have
to borrow some diesel Gerry jugs and make a run to the fuel station just outside the bridge.
I'll need more fuel to continue running the engine an hour or two every day, and I'm going to have to seriously limit my time on
the computer. At least I got all my sisters family photos scanned. So much for the writing - again. But only for another three
|September 13, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|They do have and pump diesel across the street. Great. It looks to be about $3.11/gallon, so $15.55/5 gallon jug, though I will
probably just get $15.00 at a time to make it easy.
|August 27, 2010 - October 6, 2010
|September 14, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|This morning I'll drag out the paint and get that cockpit finished for now and the hatch sealed back down. I will also work on
sealing up the bottom of the old switch locker and moving the engine hot buss inside and away from the rain. And I'll seal off
that leaking hinge.
|The area beneath the cockpit is painted and it's only 8:30. I also have a
partial coat of the 'Bilge Blue' I mixed up using old extra paints. No big
deal - it makes my eyes look brown. I'll let that dry some and get the
hatch sealed down, then start concentrating on sealing up the old battery
box floor. I will keep the fuel tank selector valve in there, but that's
about it. Even the windlass circuit breaker is moving inside.
I painted up under the rear shelf as far as I could reach, but with the
hatch off, the light wouldn't allow the flash to work so it can't be seen.
After it's sealed back down I'll try again.
The hatch is installed, secured and sealed once more, so I took another
picture of the under-deck area. It looks good and I'm satisfied with it.
The only real reason for paint is to make it easier to see up under there
with a flashlight from the engine room. It's 11:00 AM now and I'm
|I checked the 'sold' dates on the batteries on deck - June 2003 - they
don't owe anyone anything. I am getting more excited to see what the
new batteries are like. And I'm going to be hanging that mainsail soon. I
would have done it today if the wind hadn't been quite so nice. It's
beautiful and cool and a great day to be down here, but blowing way too
hard for me to be struggling with a 400 foot sail by myself. I'm going to
slap a coat of that . . . . . no, never mind. I was going to say," 'Bilge Blue'
on the cockpit sole", but chipped Awlgrip is still better than brand new
Filling in the bottom of the battery box will be easy and sealing it even
easier. Two simple drain holes into the cockpit and a sloped bottom with
a completely epoxied interior make the job a snap. End of rain dripping
on the back of the engine. By the way, I made the new gasket for the
dipstick yesterday and installed it. I know. I knew you'd be impressed.
|September 15, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|Moving the engine power buss and windlass power, then closing off the battery box are on the agenda for today. I should also test
the drier pump again and reinstall the engine bilge net and give it a cleaning.
It is also time for an oil and filter change on the engine and a fuel filter change. As soon as the battery box, which I should stop
calling the battery box and start calling the cockpit step bin, is finished, I should spray down the sensors and fittings on the back
of the engine that have been getting rained on for so long. I noticed that they are in need of attention while removing the old
|September 16, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|I saw the depth sounder at 9.8 feet yesterday, which is a number I've never seen before, so it is possible that it's fixed.
I finally decided to run the engine for a while to charge the batteries, but they were so low I couldn't get it started. So I dragged
one of the 4D's over and coupled it to the 4 8D's and was able to get the engine running. Whew. That was scary. The engine felt
so solid that I was worried I might have gotten water in a cylinder and if I wasn't able to get it started RIGHT NOW, it could have
been a disaster. But, it's running. I'm going to keep it running for an hour so I get some good charge on the pathetic old batteries.
45 minutes to go.
One of the nice things about having the engine running is that I can listen to music without fear that I'm croaking the batteries.
|September 17, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|It took some doing, but I was finally able to get the engine running. I had to bail out the dinghy again today, this time with more
water in it than yesterday, connect the 4D battery again, and let the solar get up enough to just barely squeak the engine to life.
The 2-wheeler and diesel jug are in the dinghy and after I let the engine run for a while, I'll be going to shore to do a little
running around. I will be getting fuel and taking a walk to Home Depot. Not to buy anything, but just to check in on a little stuff
for future reference. Exterior paint for my interior.
I went to shore and used the hot water showers, then went across the street with the 2-wheeler and jug and got $15 worth of
diesel ($3.15.9/gal - about $1 less than Burdines). Before I put the fuel in, I 'dipped' the tanks and was surprised to discover I
have about 8 inches left in each! The stupid fuel gauges are reading about 1/16 of a tank, or 3 gallons left in each. Eight inches on
my tanks equals 18 gallons left in each. I am not short on fuel. Still, I'm going to keep getting diesel until I have both tanks a
little over half full. Good thing I spent $100 on fuel probes and gauges so I could ignore them and use a piece of scrap teak
After I got the fuel, I put it in the dinghy and walked to Home Depot to talk about paint. I will be selecting various paints and
colors to finish the interior and I wanted to get just a bit more information. The first guy couldn't answer my first question, so he
went and got two other guys and they all started talking at once. I actually had to hold up my hands and say, "One at a time,
please." Then I got what I needed for information. I will be using Porch and Floor paint for the cabin sole in a satin, dark green, a
light beige that is a perfect match for the overhead to finish the bulkheads and exposed fiberglass, and a light tan for the
compression posts and other trim. I think it will look pretty good. I know what you're thinking - those colors are for the outside
of a house - leave me alone, it's my boat. And yes, they are exterior house paints - all in satin, and I don't see a problem. All
together, it makes for a bright interior where all the colors perfectly compliment the varnished teak trim and they are easy to
wipe clean and do not glare light back at you. It will be awesome and all boats should be done like this. I am glad not to feel
bound to try to imitate the 'standard' boat interior of 'off white' gelcoat and satin varnish teak. That is boring and redundant with
When I got back to the boat I filled the port water tank and put the 5 gallons of fuel in the starboard fuel tank. I ran the engine
for about half an hour and will do so again as soon as I finish this post. The sun is coming and going right now and I'm trying to
get a good charge or these batteries while I have the chance. They have to hold me for 13 more days.
|September 18, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|The two expensive pumps I've been holding onto for many years now - one of which I have been struggling with for the bilge
'drier' system - are both bad with dried out rubber pump diaphragms. I COULD consider getting a kit and fixing the one, installed
pump, but at $72 the kit must be so precious to Jabsco that I can't bear to part them from it. I will instead junk both pumps and
consider an alternative that suits me better. I think those long plastic manual bilge pumps might be the ticket, since all I want to
do is get the last bit of water out of two bilges, one beneath the engine and the other in the sump below the chain locker.
After running the engine quite a bit yesterday, the batteries are hanging in pretty good this morning. I will probably run the
engine some again today to try to get them as high as they'll go.
I mounted the mainsail. The wind was up a tad, but not so much that it was a problem. It actually helped a little. With all the
slugs on and everything in place, the sail fit quite well. We'll see how it sails. It can't be worse than no sail.
When I dropped it - this time with the lazyjacks drawn up tight - it flaked fairly easily on the mast. I wrapped it with a spare line
to see just how big a package it makes and to see how much of the solar panels would be blocked.
|With all the current cloudiness and haze, it's impossible to determine how much efficiency I'm losing, but I can't be bothered
worrying about it until I have the new batteries installed and see if the remaining power is adequate to keep them up. I will go to
Home Depot and get one of those 100 foot hanks of Clown Line they sell in bins that masquerades as real line but is only
clothesline. It will be fine for me to make ties with for the mainsail, and will last long enough for my purposes. Now I can work
on the disposition of the halyards and lazyjacks and start fitting the sailcover.
|September 19, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|The ties I made up from the red Clown Line work perfectly. They compact the mainsail into a very small package that just barely
casts a small shadow on one of the panels, and when the sun is right overhead, there is no panel shading at all. I have some
bungy cord and I'm going to set up a line with two snaps on it that I can just snap in place between the gaff's throat halyard loop
and the topping lift loop and connect it to all the sail ties, permanently. That way, all I'll have to do is snap it on and tie them up
one at a time. The solar charger is working well now that we're having some sun.
I have the cleats to box off the bottom of the step box all cut and glued and screwed in place, and the planking that will serve as
the bottom is all cut and ready to go. I'll wait until tomorrow for the glue to dry so I don't just make a sticky situation a typical
Ben-mess. I also removed the windlass circuit breaker from inside the box and will be mounting it just inside the companionway
instead. The windlass remote will stay in the box with the fuel tank selector valve.
I'm going to go outside and run the engine for a few minutes. The batteries do better with a daily kick in the butt by the big
alternator and Balmar regulator. The engine is running now and hitting the batteries with 14.1 volts. It's apparently very good for
them. Twelve days left with them. I tried to relax, eat and watch a movie, but before it was over I had to get back to work on the
step bin. First I had to remove the temporary hot buss and put all the cables on a single bolt for a new, smaller hot buss that is
now hanging a little like the center of a spiderweb in the engine room. Everything works and there will be more on that later.
|I started fitting the planks into the floor of the step bin. I'll have
to notch a couple of corners and trim one plank for width, but
the floor will be done in the morning and I'll bore a couple of
drain holes and seal up the interior as soon as possible. I hate
the water coming in through the hinge.
Tomorrow I will also start trying out the sailcover. I deliberately
left it unfinished because I wasn't sure how wide it had to be.
Now, I realize I have about three times as much material as I
needed. Maybe I can make some nice slacks.
|September 20, 2010 - Moored In Marathon,
I will soon reach a special place in my work today that will call
for the use of the sewing machine. I will either have to come up
with a solution as to how and where to mount it, or sidestep that
|task for now and move on to other things that I already have the materials for. I have been putting off the screwing down and
sealing of the edges of the cabin sole for quite some time now. I can do that. I can also fiberglass and finish the interior of the ice
box and install the lid and begin finishing that. And I can tear apart the shower and hot water plumbing in the head and fix and
finish that. I have no shortage of tasks waiting to be completed. It is 8:15 AM and I am already getting solar charging. I'll be back
With plenty of sunlight and plenty of power, I decided to re-familiarize myself with some of the big programs it took me years to
acquire and I will be needing to use very soon. Now, in fact. While I was experimenting in Corel Photopaint, there was a loud
'snap!' that sounded to me exactly like what a big diode sounds like when it self-terminates. I shut down everything and checked
and smelled and searched and could find nothing wrong. I started and ran the engine to see that all out there was well. No
problem and I have no idea what blew. Maybe nothing. I don't know.
I fired up the system again and worked until I broke through a couple of barriers into the real power of the program, saved the
work and got out. Time to get the step box finished and some other stuff done. I'm also going to have to get back to Home Depot
to grab two more small bottles of propane.
The step bin is finished, sealed, and the drain holes have been bored. On another front, the depth sounder is still doing what it
has always done - once it sinks below 9.5 feet, it quickly decays to 1.7 or 1.6 feet and either stays there, or wanders around, rising
to only 2.4 feet or so. I just went out and watched it some more and tried pulling the shield wire off and even swapped the signal
leads. I pulled all the chain out of the locker and removed the heavy wooden box that covers the transducer and made sure
everything there was dry and unhurt. It all made no difference - the unit is still bad, just as it was when I installed it, just as it
was when I sent it to them. They said it could only be the head. I'm waiting on the 'Technical Help' line right now for the next
|Four times the system cut me off and finally, on the 5th call, the
operator sent me to a guy with an Asian name. He was not available, so
I left a message. That was an hour ago, and he just called back. He was
real nice and we went over the system and the problem until it began
to occur to me that I thought could get away with a slight forward
angle on the transducer, but it turns out I can't. I got him to go onto
this website - mine - and go to the right page on the Log files and
down to May 4th, the day I drilled the hole and installed the
transducer. He agreed the angle was too severe. The transducer sends
out a 'cone' shaped signal and the shallower the water, the smaller the
diameter of the cone. If you are sending the signal anything but
straight up and down in shallow water, the reflection misses the
transducer and the system looks like it has failed. My only cure is to
pull the boat and remove the transducer and fix the installation. He
said, "Not so fast. I'll send out a new transducer today and you hook it
up and hang it over the side. If it works ten out of ten times, making
sure it is straight up and down, you have your answer."
Once I get the transducer and test it, I'll call him back and ask how
much I should send for it, you know, if it's the cure. The thing is, I
installed the first transducer and I don't expect it to survive the
removal. I don't like leaks.
So, it looks like I have an answer on one of the major problems. It's not
a good answer, because reducing it down to it's root reveals that I am a
moron and should have known better than to try the 'facing forward
angle' mounting so I would be better able to see obstructions when
heading into shallow inlets.
|The newer transducers have much narrower cones than the old ones so they can more accurately measure the depth in much
deeper water than earlier systems. I might have actually gotten away with it using an older system with a super wide angle cone,
but certainly not with a new, quality depth sounder. These ones read in tenth's of a foot because they are that good.
|Saturday, September 25, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|One of the projects I've been working on is the 1 x 4 panels that I designed to both mount the AC outlets and hide the wire chases
I mounted all along the inside sheer of both sides of the boat. I will probably end up with more outlets than I'd ever use, but the
idea is to have an outlet wherever you might want one, not to fill every outlet you have with a snarl of wires. Besides, with all the
small chargers we now have for phones, clippers, electric razors, Bluetooth devices and whatever else, it's good to just have
plenty of outlets. I can't believe how lame it is on so many boats where I have found only 1 AC outlet. On a modern liveaboard,
that just isn't enough.
I have started on the most difficult (I hope, because it was a bit of a pain in the ass) and have a few pictures I'll post on the next
page. I only put 1 box in it because the electrical panel is right next to it and I can put another outlet in it if I need it there. The
panels are drilled all the way through from the bottom up through the top, and countersunk an inch or so on the bottom so the 3
1/2 inch screws get an inch of bite into the main deck beams above. These will come down to get primed and painted while the
headliner material is stapled into place with monel staples. The panels will then be installed over the headliner, giving a nice,
|finished look without the need for moldings. I will make thin lower panels that screw up into the bottom of the 1 x 4's to close in
the bottom and give easy access to the wire chases if needed. The main cabinroof headliner will need at least some moldings, but
since I'll be using thin teak strips up there, I will probably be bound to using something similar to finish it off.
|There is the first one installed. I think they'll look fine and work well
when everything is finished. I can do any number of things with the
colors. Since I am using a dark green for the floor, a light beige that
matches the headliner for the bulkheads and exposed fiberglass, and a
light brown for trim and accent, I can mix it up a bit with these panels.
I'm using the varnished teak on the overhead strips, so I could paint the
AC outlet strips in the light beige and use varnished teak wall plates over
the outlets, or paint the panels light brown and use light beige wall
plates. Either way, I think they'll be fine.
I have plenty of Awlgrip non-skid to use on the dark green sole and will
find a couple of nice, matching Oriental rugs to dress it up.
Man, once I get these batteries changed, I can't wait to get the sun
shades back up to eliminate the glare down below. It is very difficult
|to see the screen down here - except when clouds cover the sun, like right now. It has been mostly sunny today, a beautiful day
with a nice little breeze and people out working their sailing dinghies.
It might eventually be necessary to get a small laptop and try to write on it, if I'm to be expected to do any writing at all on this
boat. I do have to reserve judgement until I have the new batteries aboard and start trying them out. Don't be too surprised if
there are a lot of misspellings in this post as I can hardly see the screen. I'll get back and clear them up later.
|This is the 7 foot strip over the bookshelves that line my bunk.
There are two boxes in it and the entire top had to be scribed and cut
to a very gradual curve that matches the sheer on the outside of the
boat. I have one more like this over the into position and it is very
stiff. There are still 4 more of these boards to make, but it is getting
the six planks meant for them finally off the deck or floor and into
position. I will also have some boxes and outlets left over. They were
cheap and I bought about 18 of each but will only use about 12 or 13,
no wait, 14 of them. There are two special ones - one for the shore
power battery charger and one for the hot water heater.
I will probably think of a reasonable way to secure the sailcovers
tight around the sails so they don't block the solar panels or flap
themselves to death in the wind, but for right now, I'm considering
just tying them down with clothesline. My priority is to complete the
interior and head north, get a new mainsail and head back around
Florida and up the East Coast. How far I'll go or where I'll end up, I
|don't know, but it will all be recorded here so I'll be able to read it and find out.
|Sunday, September 26, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|The step box is tight and there is no longer any water sprinkling down on the engine. It's amazing how much was coming in.
There is still a couple of very minor leaks around the companionway threshold, but I will have to pull the threshold up to seal
them, so that's not for a rainy day. I could also tear apart the water manifold in the head and try to put a final fix on it. I think I
have everything I need for that. I guess I have plenty to do today.
I have been trying - unsuccessfully - to avoid a nasty job screwing and fiberglassing down the edges of the sole planks, but it
simply has to be done. They bulge if I try to fill the water tanks and I can't finish the sole unless I do it. Once it's done, I can seal
and paint beneath the bunk and stow a bunch of stuff that is just hanging around the boat in the way. I also have to get the
shelves in and painted so a lot more stuff can be put in it's place. Oh, yeah, after the batteries are in, it's high time I finish the
shower sump pump. I need 10 feet of special hose for that.
|Monday, September 27, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|The boat is an incredible mess with a dozen jobs working at once, so, in keeping with that theme, I will just keep making the AC
panels and installing them. Why not? More sawdust and pointy little pieces of wood underfoot inspire me to vacuum and clean.
I took the little sticker off the face of the transducer and it still works great. I lowered it all the way to the bottom and back up
again and it operated perfectly every inch of the way.
|Tuesday, September 28, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|I'm thinking about pulling out the two aft water tanks and deck fill and closing off that hole. I would rather have diesel fuel than
50 gallons of extra water and the stern can't take the squat of both. It also occurs to me that the rearwards slope of the rudder
tube is what accounts for water coming in through the cockpit drains, so rubber stoppers will be the only solution.
I might also lose the giant, clunky compass from the cockpit center post. A smaller, bulkhead unit mounted in the aft cabin
bulkhead would serve as well and not clutter the center of the cockpit so much. I will be mounting the Garmin GPSmap 545
Drifting Wanderer back in the cockpit until I get a chart chip for the 182, and I don't know when that will be. Even with constant
resets, a good chart in a bad chart recorder is better than no chart at all.
|Friday, October 1, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|I went to sleep at 11 PM last night and woke up at 2:30 AM, wide awake and unable to get back to sleep for the rest of the night. I
stayed in bed anyway and occupied myself by worrying about the upcoming battery dance this morning. I don't know why. Things
always seem ominous in the dark. I suppose it might have something to do with all the damn lifting and shifting I'll have to do,
but the biggest thing has been the docking. For more than a day we've had a Westerly breeze that would be blowing me away
from the dock, and when I go into back gear to stop the boat, the ass kicks pretty hard to the right due to prop walk. Put those
two things together and all I can visualize is my having a bit of a problem docking.
This morning the wind is clocking around to it's normal direction, Easterly. Now, it looks like a cake walk. Except for the first half
hour when I have to pull all the batteries off the boat by myself. I'll use the block and tackle and easily swing them to the
concrete walkway, then drag them into the gravel one at a time. No sweat. I started the engine at 7 AM this morning and it has
been running for a half hour. I'm sure my neighbors are thrilled with me. It couldn't be helped, I didn't run a thing all night and
the batteries decayed from 13.05 volts after charging last night, to 12.31 volts with no load. I had to get the engine started and
warmed before they got too low to do the job. They are up to 13.8 volts right now. Of course, after lying awake for 4 1/2 hours, I
also wanted to be able to do this on the computer. I didn't dare try anything all night, for fear I wouldn't be able to get the engine
started this morning. Okay, the engine is off for now, all warmed up and ready, and the batteries are holding at 13 volts. I may
end up starting it again if I have to.
It's 8:30 - time to make everything ready and head in to the dock.
It is now 10 AM and I am back on the mooring, all tied up and secure. Going into the dock was a snap. For some reason, I always
get a little nervous about docking before I do it. Probably because I have had some problems in the past, and I've seen some other
folks also do some nasty damage to their own boats, and other peoples boats as well. But, it went just as easy and sweet as could
be, and Jeff and Shawn, staff on duty at the time, were there to meet me and catch lines.
I thanked them and they offered to help off-load the batteries after I had them disconnected, but once I started moving the 4D's
and saw how easy it was with the topping lift, I didn't bother them. I dragged each battery over onto the gravel and while I was in
the middle of it, Mark called and asked if I was ready. I said I was and just about five minutes after I finished getting them all on
the gravel, he showed up.
I have the solar charger reconfigured for the higher voltage batteries and now I have to go ashore and get up to Island Service and
pay for the batteries. I gave him my credit card, so it isn't like he let me have the batteries without paying, but I had to get off the
dock first. I'm going to connect all three batteries to the solar charger before I go. I might just treat myself to something in the
ice cream variety on the way back.
I picked up 1 gallon of distilled water and now realize I must go back for 2 more. I filled the first battery but only had enough left
to make sure the plates in the other 2 batteries were well covered and could wait until later today or tomorrow to be filled. Water
filled batteries live a tough life in the heat down here and you have to keep right on them or risk frying them. I think the spot
below the cabin floor on top of the keel lead may help keep them cool. These are not deep cycle batteries so I will not have to
drain and cycle them to keep them alive. As long as I am careful not to run them too far down, they'll be fine.
I have already adjusted both the Outback charger and the Balmar engine alternator regulator to accommodate the new batteries,
and just ran the engine for half an hour to kick some charge into them and heat them up a little to help the solar panels along.
The Outback is pushing about 20 amps into them and the voltage is already holding 13 volts with the computer on.
|Saturday, October 2, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|Even though the batteries are not anywhere near full charge yet, they seem to be working well. The three 8D starting batteries do
not sag anything like the four 8D deep cell gels were. I have also turned down the brightness and contrast on my flat screens to
see if that helps.
I may have to do some reading and see what I can do to enhance the Outback Charge Controllers performance. It seems to go
right to 13 volts and stay there. I think that number is either one of the step voltages or a float voltage, and I believe it's
adjustable, but I won't mess with it until I'm sure. It may take a little while to get the batteries up to full charge.
|Sunday, October 3, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|The countdown begins - 29 days until I leave. Of course, it's nothing like the desperate situation of leaving the Seafood Shack
Marina, where I had so much to do before leaving. I still have a lot to do aboard the boat, but it's not nearly as difficult or
The batteries are much more solid than they were yesterday, and they weren't bad yesterday.
No headache today, and clear sinuses. I may have finally found something that works well to treat this condition, for under $5 on
a Publix shelf. I will be so glad to eliminate the aspirin for good.
It occurred to me yesterday that the little fix I put on the engine dipstick worked - I haven't had a drop of oil in the bilge since I
did it and I've run the engine quite a bit.
I might also take my time heading North, stopping again at the Little Shark River and Everglades City, taking the back route
around Marco Island to the anchorage we stayed at before, then up to the Ft. Myers anchorage where I dragged, and finally to the
Cayo Costa anchorage behind Cabbage Cay. It's only 13 miles North from there to Gasparilla Marina where I can get a holding
tank pumpout and some fuel. And an ice cream. I should be able to have TV and Internet everywhere from Marco Island North.
I am about to embark on an impossible mission. I have to clear the entire cabin sole of everything. The only way is to make the
deck outside look like Fred Sanford's back yard. Good grief, this is going to hurt, but I have to get those batteries down out of the
sun and wired in permanently. I have to get the edges of the sole secured and fiberglassed and I have to finish and paint the sole,
front to back. I'll eat first and be back later.
|There's nothing much to see in these 2 shots except that the cockpit is
filling with crap and there are sections of the cabin sole that have not
seen daylight for several months, but they are visible now.
There is more sun now than there was this morning. It is 3 PM, by the
way, and the solar charger was up to 13.9 volts, so the batteries are still
improving without running the engine.
|Monday, October 4, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|I found just enough space behind the original depth sounder transducer to install the second one vertically. Later on I'll get the
second head and have both systems, the original will still work well for groping my way into shallow inlets - or at least, that's the
excuse I'll use.
|Tuesday, October 5, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|It's 12:23 PM and the batteries are all installed below the cabin sole. It was pretty straight forward, though I rerouted some
cables and still have some of that yet to do. I ate pretty good and rested a bit afterwards - about mid-morning - and have been
working ever since and feel fine. I have no idea what happened yesterday. It came on me like food poisoning and left just as fast.
I would be suspicious of the chicken franks I bought yesterday, but that's what I ate this morning as well and have had no ill
effects from them whatever. I ate two yesterday and five this morning. If the have South Spanish Wonky Chicken Fever, or
something that sounds like that, I should die this afternoon. Or grow a third hand out my ear.
I think the boat should be level now and no longer heavy aft. I haven't gone around it in the dinghy to check, but I will later.
|I finally straightened out the headliner in the main saloon, finished tightening and stapling it, and I trimmed off all the edges
with an Exacto knife.
Next item was to install the varnished teak strips I made more than a year ago. The photography isn't great, but the effect inside
the cabin is awesome.
I can also finish tacking up that material until I run out of it. I don't know how far it will go, but it will be interesting to find out.
The underside of the deck over the berth and the computer desk need to be done. The area overhead in the aft cabin, and the
overhead near the electric panel.
I have decided to move the cooktop because it is just too hard to deal with where it is, but I'm just swinging it 90 degrees and
mounting it against bulkhead the TV is mounted on the opposite side of. I will build a cabinet under it and have more storage.
|Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - Moored In Marathon, Florida Keys
|Wonder of wonders, a small problem concerning the finishing of the inside of the boat had a solution that eluded me for all these
years - until is good. You'll see it when I do it.
I may have to put the big jib back out on deck so I can get more work done down below. I will have to come up with a way to flake
that sail in disagreeable wind conditions, so I can fit it in a much smaller sailbag and have an easier time dealing with it. The bag
it's in right now was once used to smuggle cows out Mexico.
This will be the 3rd day of partially clouded skies when I have not had to run the engine, if I make it through it, which speaks
well for the new batteries and the solar array. Add to that the fact that I had the entire battery bank disconnected yesterday while
I moved them below, rerouted the cables and reconnected them, and the system is working fairly good. Having a succession of
really sunny days would be nice though, no doubt. I would love to see if the solar array can do the 'topping off' phase where it
holds them at 14.4 volts for half an hour before going into a 'float' mode. Speaking of which (the Outback Manual) there is a
printing shop near the Post Office and I should stop in soon and see what it would cost to have them bind the loose pages into a
book. Just a plastic edge binding or something - no rusting wire spring binding. If that's all the have, I'll take it, but pull the
spring and lace it with some sort of line when I get back to the boat. That manual has to be handy. It has a great deal of
advantages I'm not yet taking advantage of.
|I ran the engine for 20 minutes kick start the solar system into high gear and when I got back, it was cruising at 14.45 volts. The
system is working well and I'm getting a lot done. The second picture above is the TV wall. When I got back to the boat I went
right to work masking and throwing the first coat of paint on that wall. By the time I finished, the start area was dry. I cleaned
the tools in a bucket of salt water and then spackled about the whole wall. Tomorrow I will cover everything again, sand the wall
with the palm sander, and apply the finish coat and one wall will be done. Once I get a system, badda bing badda bang, The inside
of the boat will be painted and I will be just adding the finishing touches.
While waiting for the paint to be mixed, I went to the moldings area in Home Depot and found exactly what I need for a number
of finishing touches in the boat. It is all plain, white plastic and will take the Behr paints just fine, and it will do just what I need
for low dollars.