The photo above of the oil pressure gauges on our two engines was taken last summer as we were working our way through British Columbia. On the face of things, the oil pressure on the port engine is a little low and that of the starboard engine alarming. Is this the result of low oil level, a true oil pressure issue from bearings or oil pump, or a bad sensor?
Archive for 2007
Years ago we fitted a strobe light to the masthead of Intermezzo, to serve as a warning light to make sure we were seen by shipping. Later we heard this was not such a good idea, because it was difficult to determine distance off when viewing strobe lights.
In the summer of 2006 a 25-foot sailing yacht, Ouzo, was thought to have been run down in the English Channel by the passenger ferry Pride of Bilbao, with three lives lost. The British Marine Accident Investigating Branch (MAIB) conducted an inquiry. While debriefing the ferry’s crew, it was determined that the yacht did not show up on the ferry’s radar, but was seen at the last minute by the watch stander.
In typical MAIB fashion the report goes into exhaustive detail about the yacht, the ferry, their respective crew, electronics, even types of eye glasses (with some interesting findings about photochromatic eye glasses). They discuss in detail maintenance issues about yacht running lights, including the information that the aging of plastic running light lenses reduces the transmission of light.
A second report resulting from the MAIB investigation focuses on the various types of radar reflectors fitted to yachts and how they show up on the ships’ radars. The conclusions of their testing on this subject are sobering and bear careful reading.
- To download a copy of the Radar Reflectors report (a 2.1 MB PDF file), radar_reflectors.
- To download the MAIB report on lessons learned from the collision (a 1.4 MB PDF file), click here.
This tool is ideal for working where a standard crescent is too bulky or thick, and a channel lock does not have the grip power you need.
You can order these in various sizes from most tool suppliers. Googling “Knipex” will get you a bunch of websites to check.
The air vents for the water tanks empty into the forepeak and engine room. We rarely fill these tanks, but when we do, we just wait until the bilge pump starts to cycle, indicating the tanks are overflowing, to turn off the hose.
You can imagine our surprise when we heard the high water alarm sounding. We turned off the hose, and then checked the engine room. There was four inches (100mm) of water in our usually dry bilge. The big PAR diaphragm pump was running, but it wasn’t pumping (and as a result was quieter than normal).
Wind Horse is ensconced in a spider web of dock lines at Marina del Dave-and-Diane in Ventura, California. As she is a hair too long for one dock, Dave and Diane’s neighbor, Henrietta, has been kind enough to allow us straddle her abode as well.
This is a quiet, private spot, totally protected from the elements, and our friends who dwell shoreside here can give Wind Horse a pat now and then and make sure all is well with her.
The process of leaving the boat is one with which we are familiar. We’re looking forward to a brief change in venue, but also excited about our next cycle of cruising – wherever that may end up (and there are lots of options).
We are just getting squared away to start surfing off Cape Mendocino when a pod of porpoise come by to share the fun. Three of them leap from the face of a wave in formation, surfing down the steep wave front with Wind Horse. A first for us in 35 years of cruising.
Most of the time when we clear into a US port after being outside US waters, the process is quick and easy. In all the years we’ve been doing this it has also been pleasant, with just one exception. Clearing into Roche Harbor in the San Juan islands from Canada was no different.
Occasionally propellers will “sing”. This high-pitched whine is the result of blade harmonics and the blade interaction with surrounding structure. If you have an even number of blades there is more chance of singing occurring. Typically this does not happen through the full RPM range, but it can be extremely annoying.
Prop manufacturers deal with this by putting on a wavy anti-singing edge. In our case, the current set of propellers have a wavy shape to their trailing edges. Our previous props did not have this and were very noisy. So, we removed them and had a slight cup added which got rid of the singing and effectively added a bit of pitch.
When we put on our latest set of props they were quiet except for the starboard prop at 1300 to 1500 RPM. Since we do not operate in that range we ignored the issue. But we found that at heavier displacement the singing would move up to the 1700 to 1800 RPM range and we do occasionally run at this speed.
Not wanting to remove the starboard wheel and take it to a prop shop we asked John Hall of Premier Propellers if there was anything we could do on the boat.
“File the aft side of the trailing edge for four or five inches (100 to 125mm),” was John’s reply.
Although we have a dry suit aboard for cold water maintenance, we waited until we were in Desolation Sound, with its “warm water”, to do the job. Using a medium coarse flat file we took six light passes at each blade. The amount of metal removed was minuscule. You could see the bronze colored flakes in the water and there was not much material. However, we figured it was best to do this a little bit at a time to see what would happen.
We picked up the hook and went for a test run and were pleasantly surprised to find no more singing.
So, if you have a singing prop, try a little underwater filing, on the aft side of the trailing edge.
This is a radar image of one of the anchorages we’ve visited in British Columbia’s Desolation Sound. The radar is on quarter mile range, so each range ring is 300 feet (90 meters). We’re in the center of the image. There are 36 boats showing radar return!
Read the rest »
We’re anchored in Gowland Harbor on Quadra Island, across from Campbell River in British Columbia. The harbor is pleasant, and most important, our Verizon cell phone and broadband Internet connection are working. We’re here for a few days staying connected, catching up on a backlog of work.
We can’t, however, spend all day online. At some point we usually take a tour in the dinghy. This time took us to a small marina to see if there was anything of interest. We mainly saw powerboats, plus a pretty Vancouver 27 at anchor; and there was one sailboat with the nicest looking radar mast we’ve ever seen.
Here’s a cool tool that Linda first spied on a Canadian boat. It looks like a small tennis racket, with metal strings. There’s an electronic circuit in the handle which runs on a pair of AA batteries that puts a high voltage charge into the strings.
All you have to do is touch an offending bug, and ZAP, it is toasted. We picked one up in the super market in Prince Rupert for $3.95 and it really works. We’re guessing these are available all over.
As you may know, the galley tends to be a key element in our cruising. And in the galley, the oven is the most important piece of gear. This is particularly important on passages where an inventory of home-made cookies is an essential component of our routing.
You can imagine, therefore, our chagrin when our Seward stove’s oven started to act up in Alaska. Discussing the symptoms with the guys at Sure Marine in Seattle led us to the belief that our “mercury valve”, which controls the oven, was again acting up (we’ve already replaced this once). What to do?
We’re not much into watching TV, except for sports. But sports are important, especially college basketball, so we’ve been carrying a Direct TV system coupled with a “FollowMe TV” antenna tracker. The tracker works well in smooth water at anchor in the mid-latitudes, but it has a harder time maintaining its aim as we get to the fringes of reception. We’re using a 24″ dish and we’ve watched Wildcat basketball as far south in Mexico as Cedros Island. We’ve also watched parts of the NBA finals, in Cordova, Alaska. However, at 61 degrees north, with the dish depressed to the maximum, looking through a forest of steel fishing boats, reception was more off than on.
We’ve learned our anchoring lessons the hard way, by being caught at anchor, with ground tackle which was less than adequate, in situations where we wished we were at sea. That’s why we now carry such big anchors (and specify them on our clients’ boats). Our approach puts together an anchoring system that is designed for the worst possible scenarios.
What are the types of situations you need to allow for? In the tropics you will often be anchored in thin sand over coral. This does not allow burying anchors, like CQRs, to dig in. Holding is not the best for any type of anchor, but the Bruce, Spade, and Rocna types work best based on our experience. The water can be deep. It is not unusual to anchor in 60 to 100 feet (18 to 30m). And protection is often from the southeast to east (typical for trade winds) but exposed to the southwest (where convergence winds come from).
Here is a look into our galley freezer this spring prior to defrosting the evaporator plates. The last time we defrosted was in the fall, so the build up you see is the result of the last six months (this totaled about half a quart/liter of liquid when we finished).
We’re in Cordova, Alaska, and have just finished changing the engine oil. We’ve got 8 gallons of oil left aboard and decided to see what it would cost to add 5 additional gallons. We like to carry enough oil for a minimum of three changes – in case we should get water into an engine and need to flush it (it takes 2.5 gallons for a change).
There is a NAPA auto parts store next to the harbor where the fishermen buy parts, so we figured they were a good spot to check prices.
Chevron Delo 15-40, which is what we have been using, is $170 for 10 gallons. However, they have a NAPA brand oil that is just $120 for the same quantity. It carries the same government ratings as the more expensive Chevron brand. Is there a difference? We do not want to be taking chances with our little diesels!
So we decided to e-mail our favorite diesel mechanic, Craig Hatton (Hatton Marine in Seattle). We figured if anyone knew about oil quality it would be Craig. His main thrust is servicing fishing boats, and commercial fishing folk are notoriously tight with their maintenance budgets.
Craig’s reply was, “When it comes to oil, I can only suggest using products from major oil companies – i e. Chevron, Shell, Exxon. It is good to remember that the SAE rating only reflects passing minimum government requirements and does not give a real basis to compare the quality ranges between products. Though these brands are more expensive, they are quality products and in the case of engine longevity and preservation I cannot suggest buying bargain brands.”
Looks like we’ll be staying with our higher priced lube oil.
“How can there be any more cool tools?,” you must be thinking. Hang around with the professionals, keep your eyes open, and the tool bag gets more goodies!
John Brooks from Ocean Alexander in Seattle was on board doing some maintenance on our Glendinning shift/throttle system. When John began to clean up the wire loom with lots of nylon ties we noticed this wire tie puller and cutter.
Simply grasp the tie end, pull, and then twist. These tools leave the wire tie cut off flush, so there are no sharp edges waiting to cut your hands and arms.
These are sold by electrical supply houses, and come in a variety of forms and price ranges. John’s unit costs about $30. You can order one from McMaster Carr (type in wire ties in their search engine to find the page with these tools).
We’ve got one aboard Wind Horse already.
Walking around a Seattle electronics store, on our way to the ink supplies, we happened to see a new wireless printer. “Wow, how cool!” we said. If we had a wireless printer it could live in one of the aft cabins, or be brought to the saloon when we were doing a big project.
We asked how hard this was to install and were told “Easy. Just follow the on-screen prompts.” By now you can see where this is headed.
The following is copied with permission from the May 2007 issue of Sea Horse, the monthly magazine of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (our favorite sailing magazine). We recommend reading the comments several times. The lessons learned might just save your life…
One of the big decisions during the design of Wind Horse was our heating system – which keeps us toasty, and warms our washing and bathing water. At Jim Schimke’s suggestion (Jim is our heating guru) we went with a Dutch-built Kabola diesel heater. We chose a 65,000 BTU model with a built-in domestic water heater. The boat is kept warm with hot water pumped to a series of Jim’s MSR heater coils with 24-volt fans.
We had one problem early on, a faulty water pump, but otherwise the system has operated flawlessly. It is quiet on and off the boat, very efficient (the exhaust is quite cool), and is capable of a 100% duty cycle.
Lars Nilsson ( www.nortecmarine.com ) is the US distributor for Kabola. Since he is located in the Puget Sound area, we asked Lars to make a service call and check our heater. We were heading for Prince William Sound and Kodiac Island in a few days – and it can be cold up there – we wanted to stay ahead of the maintenance curve. We figured that after the equivalent of almost a full year of use, our Kabola might be showing signs of age to his expert gaze.
We said we’d report on how the revised exhaust system was working out after some time living with the change. We’ve put 1200 miles on Wind Horse since making the modifications, but before telling you what we think, we need to review what has been done.
We had a very quiet propulsion system before we started this fine tuning. Wind Horse under power is quieter than Beowulf was under sail. But still, after 2000 hours of engine time, you forget how quiet things are in an absolute sense (57 dB as measured by PassageMaker magazine) and start to concentrate on what you are used to in the present. Machinery noise has always been muted, but exhaust noise, coming from the outside into the saloon through our 3/4″ (19mm) thick windows, was annoying.
The real thing is shown in the next series of photos. Bruces are forged from a single piece of steel. No welding. Keep in mind that stiffness varies with the cube of the thickness of the item in question, so a little thickness has a huge impact in stiffness. Notice how thick the vertical portion of the shank is in the photo above, and also the thickness of the aft sides of the flukes. Read the rest »