1800 Miles from Tortola

I have several hours of video from my solo Atlantic crossing, and have been too busy to create a video of this 2nd leg of my sail from Gosport to Corpus Christi, Texas.

Four years and three months ago I was heading to Tortola, BVI. I came across a short video clip, and turned it into this short message relating the solo sailor to starting up a business: there are many talented sailors, but only a few are “the willing”. Likewise in business.

It is not really a “Frank-Just Frank” video, but without Frank I would not have been there. BTW, I never did get to Tortola, heading instead to St Croix, where I immigrated to the USA and parked Frank for a few months at St Croix Marine

 

Webasto heater exhaust repair

I have not posted for a long time, but I have been busy on Frank.
A recent project has been replacing the exhaust pipe on the Webasto Airtop 2000 ST heater.
The pipe was corroded and split in many places.
The heater takes a small feed from the boat diesel tank. So I need the diesel exhaust to be safely outside the boat.
The heater has been installed backwards – the warm air is supposed to be sent for’ard, but it is sent sternwards and then ducted to the saloon.
Not sure why it is setup this way: there is a hole in the rear bulkhead that is evidence that the heater was once installed to Spec.
Anyway – the heater still does not work (it did work for a while, albeit briefly, and only for a minute or so, until it overheated and cut out). The fault indicator suggests that I need a new glowplug.
Anyway – the exhaust is fixed. I just need to turn the unit around. So I will remove it, service/clean it, and re-route the ducting.

Weather Watch

I have not been sailing for a couple of years, but this time of year I check the weather every couple of hours.

In August of 2017 Frank had a near miss when  Harvey hit Port Aransas/Rockport, just across the bay from Corpus Christi. I had considered using a marina in pretty Rockport, with wooden slips, but decided on the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina because it has floating, concrete slips which might offer better protection against hurricanes.

We were driving back from Atlanta when Steve, who has the lovely Halberg-Rassy 35 (Jupiter) parked next to Frank, texted me and asked if I needed him to prep Frank for “the storm”. What storm?? We were just across Texas border, headed to Austin, so I hung a left and headed to Corpus via Houston.

We took off Frank’s sails and dodgers, doubled the lines, and headed home. Frank survived. A week before, she had been out of the water across the bay at North Shore Boatworks where she would have taken a hit.

I have left the sails and dodgers off, as I am not planning to go anywhere soon: the bay is too shallow for a relaxed cruise and I am doing a leisurely refit.

Corpus Marina has a robodial warning system, and this week I had a call with a recorded message to check lines for “the storm”. I called: “Do you mean Isaac, which is a week away, or that “no-name” mess 95L which is just off the Yucatan peninsular?” The nice lady thought it was Isaac, which was headed in a straight line, instead of curving up towards the North West. But there were seven to choose from!

Weathermap

Storm season

As Florence sits atop the Carolinas, no-name is pouring rain onto Corpus. We have had lots of rain, so the rivers will be full, but the wind looks manageable:

Frank getting wet

Meanwhile, I am hoping that Isaac, which is now called “the remnants of Isaac”, stays down and dissipates somewhere near Jamaica. Hopefully, the weather gods will have their eyes on other places for the rest of the season.

 

Repairing Leaky Ports

The windows leak when it rains, as well as when the sea is bumpy. At first I thought it was just the frames, but eventually I realized that, as well as leaky frames, the putty holding the glass in the aluminum frames is rotten.

This results in a wet boat inside, and as the two biggest villains are over the chart table (starboard side) and the galley (port), I get wet charts, wet electronics, wet logs (as in “Captain’s Log”). A good reason to buy waterproof notebooks, btw.

Having just upgraded the coolbox, I decided to reglaze and refit the port over the galley. My first effort was done in the dusk and dark, and it was not very good. So in the morning, I started again. Because the glass slides into the 2-part frame, it is quite a challenge to get the 3M marine silicone to stay in place whilst sliding in the glass. Hopefully, I will discover that it is waterproof.

I also repaired the hole, where the frame sits. The outer skin had partially separated, so I mixed up some West System epoxy and used it to glue the skin back, clamping it into position.

Some pics:

Aircon Water-Cooling Pump System

After a bit of tooing and froing with Groco over hose fittings and positioning of the strainer (it can be above the waterline, if the raw water inlet cock is fitted with a shut-off valve), I started on the water supply system for the to-be-bought (either this one or this one) aircon system.

I managed to buy some 1″ (hose is always inside dia, whereas fittings are outrside dia) water hose from West Marine in Corpus Christi and worked out that I could fit the pump and strainer under the sink, both below the waterline.

I was planning to fit the pump vertically, but decided that it could go horizontally. I also toyed with putting the pump in the old fridge compartment, but that would mean drilling bigger holes to route the water inlet hose, which is around 1.5″ o.d. The water hose to the a.c unit is 5/8″ , so around 1″ o.d. – a lot smaller and easier to route.

I need to build a cabinet that will fit into the hold where the fridge used to be. This cabinet will shield the a.c. from the engine bay and from any bilge fumes, so that I don’t end up recycling bad air. The unit will sit in the cabinet, which is to the left of the cooker (the pump is to the right, hence my concerns about routing the water hose). Waste seawater and condensate will be pumped to the transom and overboard.

The pump installation is not quite finished yet, and I may move the strainer to the left and down a tad. But we have progress!

Pics below:

Ice-Box Conversion to Fridge

Last year, I posted a blog about my plans to install an Isotherm Self Pumping refrigerator conversion – and this year I have finally completed the job. It works!

The ice-box, now refrigerated, is to the left of the cooker, and the compressor gubbins is to the right, in what was the trash container (that I used as a dry food store). I fitted the compressor to the bottom half of the compartment, and put a clear Lexan cover over it, to protect the unit from spilled water from the taps. I will fit a drain, to take spilled water down under the sink.

The evaporator is fitter to the ice box, which had no insulation on the engine-side, where the fridge used to be. So I fitted some closed-cell insulating foam board – the purple stuff, an offcut of which I have used to act as extra insulation for the lid. I will seal this piece to make it more durable.

Now, I need to seal the windows, to stop rain and seawater from leaking in and draining into the icebox. The great news is that a couple of cooler blocks and some bags of ice in the bottom of the icebox stay frozen, and there is no compressor noise, nor is there any pump to consume battery power whilst under sail.

Elbow Grease

After the engineer from Rockport Yanmar Dealer Gatewood’s did the engine service last year, he told me that the elbow had a leak, and that it was a simple job for me to replace it myself. So I bought an elbow and gasket and put it on the to-do list.

The job came to the top of the list.

It was difficult to remove. The bolt heads were corroded, and the bolts were seized. And I could not see where the leak could come from. I cleaned it up, and convinced myself that it was sound. Running the engine, I saw the leak, so I had to tackle it.

To remove it meant cutting it off bit by bit, so that I could get a mole-grip locked onto the bolt heads. I used a Dremel with a metal cutting blade:

The new Elbow, with new exhaust host:

After doing this, I found an article online, telling me that the elbow is a consumable item, to be chnaged between 200 and 500 hours, or every 2-5 years. So I then read the Yanmar manual, which reinforced this, on the low side. So I will remove the elbow and inspect it every 6 months. I used a small amount of anti sieze grease in the bolts (new 316 bolts and spring washers), applied to the part of the bolts and washers that are not screwed into the water mixer.

New Forehatch

Last year I tried to repair the forehatch, getting a new Lexan (Perspex) clear panel made. It was less leaky but still not good enough. So I bought a new Bainbridge Storm 60 hatch with a flat base (easier to fit..) , and have been struggling to fit it these last few weeks.

The Bainbridge hatch is very flat. The hatch entrance is curved, the back more so than the front.

And the Bainbridge hatch base is surprisingly bendable! The hatch base screwed down and conformed to the curves nicely, whereas the lid did not. Ho hum. So I took it off, straightened it and built up the sides with teak shims and epoxy filler.

The hatchway. The back, by the babystay, has more curve than the front.

Grotty old hatch. Made in England – you don’t see that any more.

Bendy new Bainbridge hatch.

Fitted hatch.

From the inside.

I have some tidying up to do, and then we shall see if it leaks!

Hurricane Harvey

Harvey landed as a Category 4 Hurricane on Saturday night, August 25th, with Rockport and Fulton, two towns a few miles north of Corpus Christi playing host.


Last weekend I had sailed Frank from North Shore Boatworks, Ingleside, across the bay to Corpus Christi marina. I think that was a good move, Ingleside being closer to the initial impact area.

Corpus Marina is relatively well sheltered, and Frank’s berth is modern, with floating concrete pontoons. I heard this morning from Sylvia, who lives in Corpus, that she checked on her boat, which is fine, and that Frank is also fine. So that has saved me a lot of worry.

Harvey blew up from a little storm into a Cat 4 in less than 60 hours. I was driving to Austin from Atlanta when I received a text message from Steve Appleton, owner of Altair, next to Frank, warning me of the storm. The Marina also has a great warning system, with texts and calls.

I managed to divert to Corpus, double up the lines and remove the sails. And my new Bainbridge forehatch arrived, so hopefully I will have a boat to fit it to, once the storm has moved on. 

Steve sent me a text saying that Frank’s lines look good and she is not low in the water.