Autohelm Tiller Arm.

If my Hydrovane is a 1st mate, then the Autohelm is 2nd Mate – or at least a talented Cabin Boy!
I have no idea if my old version can be upgraded to work with the as-yet-uninstalled new Raymarine radar system. I’m assuming not.

Back in November 2015 the control head was deluged by a freak wave halfway across the Bay of Biscay (I know..what else happens on a sailboat? But there we have it!) and burned out, leaving me to handhold Frank to Camariñas in a (what else in November?) storm. Parking up in the aforesaid fishing port for Christmas, I returned to Texas and found a new unit on ebay.

But at the other end of the Autopilot, attached to the Type 1 hydraulic ram, is an arm. This connects the ram to the tiller shaft. It was still working, but badly corroded. Here is is after I managed to get it off:

And here is the new one!

The hole for the tiller shaft has been machined to 1.25″, but the key is not uniform to 3 decimal places (it has had a hard life..) so I took the arm without a keyway cut. I’ll have to find a shop to get it machined.

This tiller arm is bronze and weighs maybe 10-15 pounds. Slow progre$$, but progre$$.

The Key to success is a key that fits!

Global Solo Challenge – on Piracy.

https://globalsolochallenge.com/mauritania-piracy/

Getting close to Africa’s western coast, aside from not being a logical choice as in typical seasonal weather should mean finding headwinds and opposing currents, not to mention the not entirely unlikely chance of pirate attacks. However, if weather systems are displaced from their normal position the fastest route may take skippers further inshore.

Even though pirates are known to mainly target cargo ships, attacks on yachts are not unheard of.

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.