Charting Frank’s course from Camariñas to St Croix

I have started to work on the video of Frank’s crossing from Camariñas to Corpus Christi. There are three legs to this part of the 4-leg trip, after crossing Biscay in November 2014: Camariñas – Porto Santo (Feb 4 – Feb 12 2015); Porto Santo – St Croix, USVI Feb 12 – March 8 2015); St Croix – Port Aransas, Texas (Dec 24 – Jan 16 2016).

I used an Inreach Satellite Tracker/Messager (since bought by Garmin), and this has a complete record of my route and sms/email messages. I cannot speak highly enough of this little marvel.

So here are the routes and some messages and notes that I made, between Northern Spain and St Croix. I will add more detail in subsequent postings as I work on the video, and then I will work on the final leg through the Caribbean, into the Gulf of Mexico and to Port Aransas, Texas.

Exit Camariñas Feb 4 2015
Porto Santo to N Madeira
Camariñas – St Croix Feb 4-March 8, 2015
Porto Santo to St Croix Feb 4 – March 8, 2015
The Home Run to St Croix, March 4-8 2015

Up the mast (part 1).

(May 12th 2017)

This evening I dug out my Aloft Alone mast climbing kit and shimmied up the mast.

I need to work out where and to install the bluetooth SailTimer wind instrument, which replaces to previous wired one. I had the rigger install a new “manual” wind vane last year – it lasted a few weeks before a pteradactyl knocked it off. 

Also, the  line for hoisting courtesy flags has been broken for a few months, so whilst on the way up I was able to get that fixed.

I previously sent my drone up to take a look (I should post this to YouTube) but have to get up there to touch, see and feel.

Here is what I saw..

Yacht Club, boat yard, Corpus.

Sunset, Corpus Christi

Base of wind vane, demolished by belligerent bird: new home of SailTimer

Tri-color mast nav & anchor light, green mousing string and redundant wind instrument cable from old unit

Funfair, Corpus Promenade, obscured by Colin.

Frank’s New O.N. (Official Number from the U.S. Coastguard).

I have received the paperwork from USCG, recording Frank as a proud member of the US Pleasure Sailboat fraternity! Before I am fully compliant (and compliance is a big, big thing with Uncle Sam) I have to do some stuff.

The docs that I have received enabled me to register Frank with the State of Texas, which clearly needs my taxes, so I paid the $125. Cash only, please. No debit or credit cards. The ladies in the Kerrville Parks Office are delightful, and very helpful. I now have two stickers to adorn the bows.

I have to mount the new Official Number inside the boat, just like the “carving” that British yachts are supposed to have, in a manner that will make it obvious that it has been removed should that be done.

3 inch letters, preceded by NO. Not too subtle. I have been mulling this over, and decided to do the new “carving” (as you know, so-termed because it would have been carved into the main beam) in plastic.

Here are some pics:

To make the numbers I bought some 3″ aluminum (aka aluminium 😉 ) door number signs, which would act as moulds for 2-part liquid moulding plastic. I also bought some modeling clay, and small wooden letters N and O. 


Here is the plastic. Fast setting and easy to use. Just mix and pour into the mould.


I made the NO by pressing the letters into a lump of clay, butting the NO up to the numbers plate once it was made, and pouring on more plastic. For some reason the color is slightly different. I was hoping to leave the plastic background unpainted as it is similar to the color of Frank’s saloon. I will see how it looks next time I get to the boat.


Some black paint on the raised numbers and letters, plus a colon, gives me the Official Number plate. I will border it when it is mounted, with some teak. Where to mount it? Hmmm.


Probably, I will paint the background, to tidy up the appearance.

Having ordered new vinyl for Frank’s adopted hailing port of Corpus Christi, TX, I just need to remove Douglas IoM from the transom and apply the new one. Whilst she is in the water..

Remaining tasks include adding some compliance stickers in the boat, re-varnishing the flag pole and running up a new Stars & Stripes!

Forecabin/Heads door re-hung

Somewhere along the way from Gosport to Corpus Christi, the door of the heads, which swings to also act as the door for the v-berth in the bow, swung off its hinges.

It probably happened on the first leg Gosport to Camariñas, which was replete with weather. I was stuck at the helm as the door slammed its way to and fro, until it finally exhulted in its freedom. In the loo.

So when I finally had a spare moment I stowed it up front with the other stuff, where it has languished until today.

The hinge is one of those “riser” or “gravity” hinges, like on a saloon swing door, so it has three positions and a tendency to stay in the middle position. However, the bottom hinge is in a “wet” place, by the heads shower bilge. So it corrodes. Especially as Frank ships sea and rain water through the anchor locker, forehatch, ports and from other as-yet unknown sources.

The wet patch:

The door, newly-installed on its new bottom hinge

 

From the SSOA Forum, I had learned of a supplier of Centurion hinges, Door Handles Direct and today the heads door came top of the to-do list! I must admit that I bought the hinge set back in February 2016, and I only opened the parcel today. The hinge is not stainless steel, just brass-coated metal. So it will corrode again. I bought two pairs..

The old hinge bottom looks very similar to those that I bought, so sometime in Frank’s past, an owner has been through this. On removing the old hinge I could see that the door originally had a spigot inserted into the bottom edge, on which it would pivot. The spigot sat in a hole, which had been repaired a few times, and then the bottom setup was replaced with a new hinge – perhaps from the same supplier.

Here are some pics:

Unhinged by corrosion. The bottom hinge pivot.


Hole in one’s boat: where the bottom hinge sat. Originally the door pivoted on a spigot that sat in the hole

Bottom of door. The hole is where the spigot would have been inserted. Remains of replacement spigot assembly, including nylon riser, are in place. Just..

The top hinge: this works. The top spigot seems to be stainless steel.


I painted the hinges in Rustoleum, in the forlorn hope of holding the corrosion at bay.

Gear selector repaired, Impeller changed.

I am still mystified as to how it happened, but the Morse gear/throttle selector became reversed during the journey from St Croix to Port Aransas. So pushing forwards selected reverse. Possibly it was like that when I departed St Croix Christmas Eve 2015: I know it was reversed when I rewired & restarted the engine off Port Aransas.

[From just past Grand Cayman, until just off Port A, I had no engine. There was a hidden break in the positive terminal lead from battery to starter motor, which I eventually, and accidentally, bypassed. The electrician in Camarinãs had mis-wired the setup, and I quite by chance bypassed the problem, only to top up with contaminated fuel].

Last week, I removed the Morse Controler and reversed the gear selector wire. There is insufficient room to reverse the gear selector cable at the gearbox. There is no room between the fuel tank and cockpit wall, and the tank is full, so rather than faff around I pulled the controller through the cockpit wall, mounting it flush with the wall. Before, it was mounted to the rear of the wall.

Accordingly, the controller is now about half an inch proud of  the cockpit wall, but will be easier to access when I need to service the cables in future. I put a wooden shim between the Morse plastic cover plate and the cockpit wall. I will replace it with something prettier in due course. Meanwhile, I now go forwards when I select forwards.

Morse Controller shim in place, waiting for sealant to set


Next I changed the impeller. Yanmar have fiendishly designed the 3JH2E such that this is a hard job, as the starter motor and raw water pump are in close proximity. Three hours later, the new impeller is in place. The old one was in good condition until I used long-nosed pliers to extract it. Here is an old raw water pump, with impeller in situ, and the extracted impeller:

Yanmar 3JH2E raw water pump and old impeller, damaged during extraction.


The US Coastguard has finally issued my docs. I now need to change the marked port of registry on the stern from Douglas IoM to Corpus Christi, TX, and make an Official Number plate to be mounted somewhere in the boat.

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


​​

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.

Coachroof Rails progress report.

The short report – progress is slow.

—-

The long report: what do you expect? It takes three hours 15 minutes each way for the drive and it is still too hot to sleep on the boat.

I decided against sandwiching the new rail between the old halves – as you knew, it was a daft idea anyway.

So I cut “shims” out of the bottom halves of the rails, from where the rails had mounted to the coachroof.

First patient please..

There are 7 mounting points on each side, and as one end of the port rail was sacrificed to create a cutting knife for the new rails, I had 13:


I used the coachbolts to line up the holes, then glued and clamped the shims in place:


I made a shim to replace the sacrificed one, out of the left-over new wood. 

The shims are too long and look shabby, after 31 years. I will sand, trim and shape them next week.

I will shorten each end of the rails, and shape the wood so that it matches the approx 45° slope of the end mounting point, so that sheets, lines and “moving stuff” does not snag on the ends of the rails.

As you can see, I still have to countersink the bolts. I am struggling to find the right shaped router blade or countersink bit. Once I have done that, I need to cut some caps from the left-over teak and, after using sealant (3M, no Silkaflex in the US) to keep the bolts secure, add some more sealant to act as semi-permanent fixing for the caps.


That is the plan, anyway.

I read that teak oil can soften the marine sealant…

Today, I also started to fabricate a wooden case to disguise the holding tank which is on the saloon side of the bulkhead between saloon and heads. I just thought – maybe I could put knobs on it, so it looks like a cupboard! More on that another day.

Photo Journal – Crossing the Atlantic

Crossing from Camarinãs to St Croix took about five weeks. I stayed on GMT the whole trip.

I took a few photos and made a regular video diary, which I plan to edit and turn into a movie of sorts, one day.

This is my iCloud album. Feel free to browse. The most interesting aspect for me was the change in my face – early exhaustion, leading to a leaner, happier visage as I made progress.
There are a load of missing pics, but how many shots of waves, or experimental night shots, can a peson stand??

The stop-over is Porto Santos, where I arrived at around 5am and left at 22:00, having dried my bedding and clothes and retrieved the halyard, using my invaluable Aloft Alone kit .

The big island in the background is Madeira. It is a massive lump of rock in the middle of the Atlantic – it stays in the rear view mirror (no, I don’t have one!) for days! 

The photo or video that I did not get was of the dolphin to my starboard, perhaps 10 feet from me. I was watching and filming the dolphins to port, when I turned and saw a dolphin walking on its tail, looking at me, keeping pace. Then it disappeared.

The other scene that I missed filming was nature in action: the flying fish suddenly appeared, having been hidden from the birds under the boat, they were flushed out by dolphins: then came the chasing dolphins in a feeding frenzy, and suddenly the gulls joined in the fray.

Tired, heading south “to where the butter melts”

Exhausted, smiling

Porto Santos

Madeira. Forever Madeira

Manx Red Ensign at dawn

Happier Colin

Beard coming along nicely

Dragons be there.. Going off the edge of the World, or at least the Garmin map of Western Europe as delimited by that green box under the 274°, top right.
West..

What goes round, comes round..