News of The Screws

In St Croix I greased the MaxProp propeller, which involves buying some expensive grease and injecting it through a screw-in nipple. I also polished the bronze, added a new zinc and   also serviced the rope cutter (new zinc and bearing). I had bought some antifoul for the prop and shaft but decided to save it for another time.

Nine or 10 weeks later she was out of the water again, and I was amazed at the barnacles which were on the screw and shaft! 

This is the screw after 11 months in the water, from September 2014 Gosport to July St Croix.

Contrast with how the prop looked just after Frank was “re-branded” and put back in the water in Spring of 2014. 

Below are some pics of the MaxProp in various stages of undress at Hooking Bull boatyard, Rockport TX, May 2016. Somewhere I have pics of the screw with its new coat of antifoul. I hope it will last the season.

For a 3boat driven byna 8hp engine Frank was always reluctant to get a move on. I suspected that the settings were wrong (the MaxProp is a self-feathering blade which can be fine tuned to match the gearbox), and the guy at the distributor kindly gave me the correct settings to match my 2.14 reduction ratio gearbox. The difference is readily apparent. I can now turn the power on and off quickly, which is much better for navigating marinas or driving and turning through tough seas.

Note the alpha settings on the outer ring.

The prop is offset, making a clockwise turn easy but an anti clockwise turn, especially in reverse, is a nightmare. Go slow, be prepared to do lots of to-ing and fro-ing to manoeuver at close quarters, and be ready to use a power dump to halt momentum and start again!

I left the 1″ zinc on, and added one.

That square plate is a ground plate, magnesium alloy. Designed to correctly ground a SSB radio. It has two mounting points and is removeable for cleaning. The gap between the plate and hull is designed to maximise grounding. Most grounding plates have multiple mounting points – with this, fewer mounting bolts through the hull mean fewer holes through the hull.

Frank Update

Out if the water for the hurricane season

Out of the water for the hurricane season


Westward Ho

After parking up in St Croix in March 2015, I had a couple of days to get things half tidied up and then headed to Austin Texas  for work. So this week (11-14 Oct ’15) was the first opportunity that I had to get back to Frank in seven months.

I still have to update the blog to cover the journey and stuff that has happened since then.

Quick points:

  1. Getting from Gosport to Falmouth took a long time, mainly because there was a persistent dead short which was caused by poor work by the company which removed and rebuilt the engine. The tail end of a hurricane and some other “stuff” also made it interesting to get to the jumping-off point.
  2. November 3rd, 2014 Frank finally headed out across Biscay, WestSouthWest and then south. It was bumpy in places, I lost the halyard off the main and the repaired sprayhood was shredded in a storm.
  3. Instead of heading south to the canaries, I opted for Camarinas, a small fishing port on the NW tip of Spain. I used my Aloft Alone kit to shimmy up the mast and retrieve the halyard.
  4. Further electrical problems (main earth wire glowing red, wrapped around the fuel line – good job I was not mid Atlantic) and some business issues meant that I decided to park Frank there over Christmas and head back to Texas.
  5. January 2015 I returned to find that Frank’s short had returned in my absence and the starter motor had burned itself out, the engine had been running itself until the diesel in the tank (fortunately low) ran out.
  6. I commissioned a stainless steel frame to go over the hatchway from a local firm in Camarinas; about $100 and done in 24 hours. Great! I had brought with me from the UK, “for emergencies”, several sheets of 1 inch marine ply. So I knocked up a “chicken coop”, attached it to the steel frame and put some acrylic windows in. Not pretty but very effective and the local fishermen loved it.

    Weather-worn chicken coop - did the job.

    Weather-worn chicken coop – did the job.

  7. Set off February 4th, headed to the Canaries. Lost the main halyard again trying to put in a reef in a hard blow. Replaced it with the topping lift, which then managed to get tangled up at the top of the mast.

    Main Halyard making like a python in the rigging.

    Main Halyard making like a python in the rigging.

  8. I used my Aloft Alone kit on a calm day out in the Atlantic to climb the mast. The topping lift was freed and served as my halyard until I arrived at Porto Santos. I refueled, re-provisioned and used my Aloft Alone kit again to retrieve the main halyard, which I wired to ensure that it stayed put.
    Porto Santos - a 12 hour stop-over to refuel, re-provision & recover the main halyard.

    Porto Santos – a 12 hour stop-over to refuel, re-provision & recover the main halyard.

    Frank with blue sprayhood at Portland Marina, en route to Falmouth, September 2014.

  9. My Hydrovane did not work. It kept wanting me to head to port. But my satcom did work, so eventually I emailed the company and sent them some photos. It transpired that a boat had hit my stern (probably in Gosport Marina) and bashed the Hydrovane rudder drive out of line. So with some great tech support from Hydrovane, mid Atlantic, I hung off the stern and with some nifty spanner work set things right.
  10. Before fixing the Hydrovane I had been using my Autohelm. The original one burned out in Bascay when it was deluged with water and shorted out, but I found a replacement on eBay, and fitted it in January ’15. The problem being that it required a lot of battery power, which meant running the engines, and also lengthy spells of hand steering. It is easy to lose concentration when hand steering, especially close to the wind, when a tied tiller is not so effective.
  11. I can heartily recommend a (working!) Hydrovane. As soon as I had it set correctly, it worked flawlessly all the way to The Caribbean.
  12. Instead of my first planned stop of Tortola, BVI, I headed to St Croix, USVI, and arrived just before dawn on March 8th 2015. I had a gear selector problem – no forward gear! I arranged for a tow into Green Cay Marina: after superb weather all the way across, a squall hit just as we were attaching the tow line, and all the way into the marina.
  13. At the end of June I asked St Croix Marine to move Frank for me, and to get her out of the water for the impending Hurricane season.
  14. Repairs and damage:  half way across I lost the first reefing line, and the second was very frail. The outhaul went. The chicken coop was great! No more electrical problems but there is a short between the head of the mast and the port side wiring. The gooseneck was discovered to be fractured – I had not noticed this, and it was not apparent until the boom was removed to fix the outhaul and reefing lines.Broken Gooseneck                                      The gear selector cable was replaced (the gear selector problem had fixed itself but I wanted to ensure it did not return). Poling out – the pole that came with Frank is from another boat, and would not fit into Frank’s mast fitting. So I rigged up (lashed up) a rope fitting which served me well all the way across. The power winches came and went – the port one failed. I think it is a bad power supply. This made changing tack laborious but was not a crisis.
  15. My ample supplies of Red Bull corroded through the tins and this in turn helped to rot through some of my tinned food supplies. Never mix dry and wet! I had plenty of food and water.
  16. Kit. The AIS generally worked well, but would sometimes flake out. The Garmin 750 plotter was great but would sometimes freeze. The Iridium SatCom was superb (but the email bill was horrendous!). It was impossible to get my weather report and GRIB service over satcom.The best single piece of kit was my InReach Explorer – I could send and receive text and email messages and people could track me.
  17. More kit.The log failed but I had several other systems and I also had a spare but did not want to replace it at sea unless all other systems failed.The wind measure became inaccurate. I think I will replace wind and speed measurement with wireless, because the mast is crowded inside with wires, leading to potential for shorts and water ingress.
  18. Most useless kit: the refrigerator. I donated this to a charity in Dartmouth. Every time I had a problem with the electrics or engine I had to haul it out of its home.
  19. There is an inverted U tube through which wires run from the foot of the mast and into the boat. This has sustained damage – whether on the journey or when the boom was being repaired I don’t know, but I need to get rid of some wires and fit a new gland to replace this item.
  20. Cosmetically, Frank looks unloved. I need to clean up the woodwork but that will wait. I have a perspex-and-steel design in mind for the hatchway cover, with in-built solar panels. The chicken coop was much safer than the spray hood when going forwards, by the way. The sprayhood required me to go wide, which was nerve-wracking in a big sea at night with the wind blowing a gale.I have to solve the propellor problem – why is she underpowered into the sea with 38hp of motor? Yesterday I received a maintenance kit for the rope cutter – new anode, dampers and bearing.
  21. I will have her cleaned, new antifoul applied and put back in the sea late November. I asked Judd at the yard to take a look at the standing rigging and will decide on that soon.
  22. More anon!
  23. The Old Man and The Sea

    The Old Man and The Sea

    Heading into Sunset

    Heading into Sunset

    Culet leads the way

    Culet leads the way

    Manx Red Ensign

    Manx Red Ensign

    Bearded Salt

    Bearded Salt

Belated Update

I completely lost track of doing the blog!
Quick update – missed the ARC due to persistent engine issues, caused by shorts in the wiring. Four dead shorts resulted in lots of melted wiring.
I had to park Frank in Camarinas, NW Spain, November through January, so that I could go take care of business, once I decided that ARC was not achievable.
I returned late January to more burned out wiring – the engine had been running with the starter motor on, due to another short. Fortunately, only the (brand new) starter motor was burned out, not the boat. Even better, I had brought with me a new wiring loom.
Anyway, I departed Camarinas Feb 5 2015, stopped briefly in Porto Santos off Madeira on 12th to retrieve the halyard, and landed St Croix, USVI, sunrise on March 8th 2015.

Updates to come.


Not in vane..

The wind vane of the Hydrovane steering system looked like being a pain to assemble, so it has languished in its box until today, when ai decided to give it a go.

It is a nylon envelope which is stretched taut over an aluminium (English spelling) frame, and the open end is then laced up “like a corset”, as the instructions say.

I followed the instructions (an unusual event) – liberal sprayings of silicone spray playing their part – and have almost finished.


The stubby vane is now below decks, left overnight to stretch to fit. I will remove the zip ties in the morning and tidy up the corset strings.

Getting closer to the off.

Imminent. Impending. Fast approaching.

I have a busy few weeks coming up. Finish the holding tank installation, finish the satcom & radar pole struts, to keep them attached to the stern and stable.

Service the winches. Buy an IPIRB, get the hull scrubbed and anti fouled, new anodes, fix the shaft play and sort the rudder out.

Provisions. Work out how to securely store the water and diesel. Clean the diesel tank and fix the webasto (fuse).

First Aid kit. As Captain I can buy drugs! Get the AloftAlone kit working, and get up the mast a few times – check the mast instruments, trilight and install the camera aloft. Rig the video recorder.

Solar panels for backup power gen. Update the echarts on the Garmin chart plotter and my Garmin iPad app. Make sure I have satcom for email etc all configured, plus phones (Iridium and backup IsatPhone).

Plot courses with emergency ports of call, look at weather patterns. Finish rigging up the HydroVane. Work out some sun protection. Weather seal that port which leaks onto the chart table via the light!

Satcom pole

Gary Stainless has completed the crossbar, which Geoff helped him install.
The Iridium dome will sit atop the pole, some 10 feet aloft. I need to get some extra bracing to hold both the satcom pole and radar pole firmly in place, but major progress!

Once I have the satcom BDE (Below Deck Equipment) wired up to the ADE (yes, Above Deck Equipment), I can work on the solar panel placement.

Currently I am testing GRIB programs for weather forecasting.

Also, I am working with Aloft Alone to get some kit on the boat and learn how to use it. More anon…20140810-132139-48099865.jpg




Official Registration

Frank was finally registered as Frank with the Isle of Man Register of Shipping, Official Number 701429. The number stays with the vessel for life (life on the British Registry, that is).

So Geoff crafted an official number, which is now affixed just under the hatch!

The number is referred to as the carving, as it would originally have been carved into the main beam. Not being wooden, or course, I have compromised and used epoxy.


The white thing with the two red circles is the holding tank, pre-installation. With help from Geoff, it is now installed and partially piped. Some trimming and adjusting required. The sanitary pipe is a bitch to work with, unless you but some better pipe at £27.50 a meter, say $15 a foot. Six feet later..

I ran out of time getting the extraction and vent pipes installed, and the anti-siphon pipes look rather untidy at this stage. But it is progress!

No pics yet.

Rode Eh Oh!

(No Pulitzer Prize for me!)

I whipped out the anchor chain and painted it to mark every 5 meters/15 Feet. Here it is prior to being marked.

I also fixed the bow light and solved the mystery of no windlass or winches: one battery, showing “green”, was dead as a doornail. So I replaced it and now have a windlass and one electric Haarken winch – the other has power but needs servicing.