Aerial Pics

I finally plucked up the courage to fly my Solo Drone to take some pics of Frank.

The goal was to take a look at the top of the mast, so I could decide where to put the Bluetooth wind instrument from SailTimer. And to get some external pics of Frank. 


Here is the video On YouTube, and here on Dropbox:Birdseye View of Frank. It works best if you download rather than stream from the link – the file is about 70mb.

Top of mast showing light, antenna and missing wind vane


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Christmas Lights

Today, Corpus Christi Marina had its Boat Parade, in which Frank took part by not participating, thus keeping the average quality high. Boats motor past the assembled throng beautifully illuminated with Christmas lights aloft.

I did not watch because I have been fixing Frank’s mandatory and domestic lighting.

When the mast was stepped for the keel refit, the rigger cut the wires for lights, wind instrument and the vhf co-ax. I ran a new (thicker, better) co-ax down the mast, topped with a better antenna from Vesper Marine, a Kiwi company. The antenna is attuned to the Vosper Watchmate AIS transponder as well as supporting the VHF and AM/FM/SWB radio.

To get from the boatyard to Corpus Christi marine I rigged up a temporary connection for the VHF and navigation lights. So finally, I have fixed things properly.

The mast light that was fitted when I bought Frank was an LCD tri-light, and it soon failed. So I replaced it with a combo tri nav light and anchor light. The light is changed between modes (navigation and anchor) by reversing the polarity. Not having the right switches at the lighting panel, I jury rigged a toggle switch where the cable from the mast joined the cables to the power. In the heads. Not very elegant but it worked.

I have moved the toggle switch to the control panel, making things much tidier and easier. 

The running light and spreader light are rather odd, in that the yellow/green wire is live, as is the brown one. One for each light. I am not sure why the spreader light is so named, as it illuminated the foredeck from below the spreaders. Anyway, after some trial and error, which seemed to indicate a short somewhere either in the mast or between power switch and junction box, I wired them too. No short.

Next was the interior. One twist light (rotate the cover to turn off and on) has disintegrated inside – I might scavenge from an unused light in the locker. Another turned itself on and off at random, and I have fixed that. Both port and starboardlight circuits are now working, but I need to replace a couple of bulbs (lcd).

The Bow navigation light was another jerry rigged patch. The original had given up the ghost, and the wiring in the chain locker was rotten. So, back in Gosport in 2014 I installed a new light. The original wire is hard mounted into the fiberglass and is routed between the inner and outer hulls, so totally inaccessible, as well as rotten. So I ran a new wire to a switch that I installed in the front V berth. Not very practical but it did the job. 

Happily, I found some good, unused wires that run from the control panel to the heads – live, negative and earth. I used the earth for the mast light and the +ve and -ve ones to run power from the nav light switch at the control panel to the bow light.

I have lost power to the light of one compass, but that can be remedied later.

So I no longer need to head to the heads to set the navigation lights!

As a special treat, I polished the kettle “as new”, so it is a joy to use on the newly polished stove.

Next I have to decide what to do with the log, which is rigged above the chart desk, because I did not want to cut the co-ax cable in order to thread it through the boat up to the binacle.

Then I will tidy up the electrics at the chart desk. Lost more to do, but making progress…

Webasto Diesel Heater 

Frank has a Webasto Air Top 2000 diesel heater – it takes a minescule feed of diesel from the engine’s fuel tank and burns it, generating warm air which is ducted into the boat. 

The unit was cleaned and serviced before I left the UK, but it had a problem which caused the heater to shut down after 10 minutes, which was actually enough to warm up the boat during the winter. However, I was a tad concerned about using it, and eventually ignored it. Further south and west, I had no need of it.

This Thanksgiving weekend I fixed the wiring (corroded connections) and also fixed a small leak in the fuel supply feeder pipe.

Here is the new pipe, plus a couple of shots of the fuel tank which is in the port lazarette:


The heater seems to work, but I will need colder weather to give it an extended test.

Holding Tank Update

The new cover for the holding tank is on, and the gauge has been fitted..

Woodstain and varnish have failed to match the color to the bulkhead. 

The sensor has been fitted, and wired up to the gauge, and calibrated. Very straightforward, and users of the heads can now check before flushing.

I had a slight mishap, tearing one of the copper foil sensors, but the company sent me a replacement very promptly – allowing me to pay after it arrived.


The next task is to hide the vertical pipes and build a storage unit for charts, manuals and papers, in the driest part of the boat.

Heads re-installed

The other side of the bulkhead that holds the cupboard-disguised holding tank is the heads/shower. In March, when Frank was out of the water at Hooking Bull boatyard in Rockport, TX, I cleaned the cocks for pumping sea water into the toilet, and for discharging black water from the holding tank. That meant disconnecting the toilet, and it has been disconnected ever since.

Having finished the holding tank, today I re-installed the throne.

No, the string is not a flush nor an emergency alarm pull!


The Throne Room on Frank

note the black “level” gauge on the wall


The plumbing is intrusive. I intended to have a custom holding tank installed behind the wooden cupboard/wall, but the cost is too high, so I shall get my money’s worth from the existing setup. One possibility is to re-route the “up” pipe from the toilet to the holding tank, behind the wall. 

I need to fit a grab rail at head height, because in a rolling sea the vent hose is conveniently located for the left hand to grab when taking a pee. I learned to take a seat, rather than headbutting the wall whilst doung the man-thing!

There is quite a bit of choreography involved in using the loo in a bumpy sea, involving dropping ’em aforehand and reversing into the heads compartment, timed with the ups and downs of the boat. Hopefully, the toilet rises to meet one’s backside, like a docking manouver at the Space Station. 

Another essential item – disposable gloves, to help with retrieving loo paper and helping the manual toilet pump cope with, ahem, larger solids.

Heads-up! Holding Tank false cupboard

To be USCG (US Coast Guard) compliant, I had to either fit a holding tank or sling the heads before entering US waters. Some Sadler 34 owners have fitted custom holding tanks behind the toilet, in the heads compartment. To get the job done simply, and more economically, I opted for this unattractive approach:

40 liter holding tank from http://www.tek-tanks.com

The holding tank is from Tek Tanks of Alton, Hants in England. They have a database of custom tanks for a load of boats, based on previous projects, but I will stick with the current setup for a year or so.

The plan is to hide it behind a wooden shell, made to look like a cabinet. This bulkhead is the driest part of the boat, so I will add a storage space to the right of the tank, (looking at it), for charts, manuals, documents etc. The loss of space would be a pain if there were four or five crew, but it is fine for one or two.

As an aside, my log was completely ruined after crossing Biscay in November 2014. It was “safely” stored in the desk, and water poured in through the leaky port above the desk, as well (I think) as through the open hatchway when a few massive waves snuck up behind me and took out the sprayhood. I then discovered plastic paper log books, which work great with pencil, and are resilient against sea, rain and flood.

I have ordered a Non-contact tank level sensor, from New Providence Marine. It means that I don’t have to fit a mechanical device inside the tank. It comes with a gauge which I will install in the heads compartment, warning people not to flush the loo if the tank is full.

The sensor has two foil strips running vertically, 3″ or 4″ apart, down the outside of the tank. I think it will have to be fitted to the rear of the tank, against the bulkhead.

[When I first bought her, I could not find the holding tank (it was a crappy hand-over). I called or texted from the Irish Sea and learned that there was none. This explained why it was backed up.]

The tank takes up valuable foot space when sleeping in that bunk, unfortunately, but it will be fine for someone 5’8″ or less. And, of course, a place at the dining table is sacrificed, but for the next year or so, it will do. Especially if it is disguised as a cabinet or cupboard!

More rails (update Oct 29, ’16)

(Plugs in, cut and sanded. Pics below).

Rail bolt holes countersunk, shims shaped.

I had intended to finish it today but the sealant that I bought is permanent, rather than semi-permanent, so I shall aim to finish next week.

I also cut some plugs to cover the bolt heads. The ends of the rails need rounding off, and the edges too

Coachbolt covered with teak plug

Stbd rail with plugs standing proud.

Plug cut down with saw. I used a steel rule to protect the top of the rail from the saw teeth, putting the ruler between saw and rail.

Port rail sanded.


Just need to round the ends off and then oil. Or Cetol, which gets lots of positive support. It has a slightly amber hue, but will be good for two years, if looked after. And I have a new tin. So I think it will be Sikkens Cetol. 

New Official Number!

ON 1272125, the new Official Number for Frank, has been assigned by the Coastguard. Once I receive the Certificate of Documentation, I can strike the Manx Red Ensign and hoist the Stars and Stripes!

I will need to have the new port, Corpus Christi, TX, put on the stern, to replace Douglas, IoM. And I need to permanently add the new O.N. to the boat.