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.

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…

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!