Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Chart Thoughts

Here it is the middle of February.  Snickerdoodle has been in her winter slip and tarps since November.  I am in my upstairs office and daydreaming about sailing.  I started thinking about using nautical charts to find my way around unfamiliar waters..... and the dangers of over-confidence when using those charts.
There is so much information that it is easy to overlook something that might be important.  So, what are a couple of the really important things to look for when first putting the new chart down on the chart table to plot a course or pre-plan a weekend sail?
One of the first things is to check to see what system of measurement is being used on your chart to display the depth of the water (soundings).  There are lots of numbers all over the water portion of the chart that show the depth of the water essentially at low tide.  At high tide the water's depth is deeper than the number indicates.  In the United States we use a different measurement for soundings than just about anywhere else in the world.  In pretty much the rest of the world, the measurements for water depth is done in meters (Metric).  Not so in the U.S.  In the U.S. for fresh water the soundings are done in feet.  So the water depths for the chart for Pend Oreille Lake are stated in feet.
For salt water regions of the U.S. the water depth is done using Fathoms (6-foot units).  So the chart for Puget Sound shows water depths in Fathoms.  The sounding information is noted at the bottom of the chart and often at the top of the chart as well.  BTW - a Meter is roughly 39.5 inches.  I generally figure a Meter to be a long three feet.  Snickerdoodle draws 4 feet empty and about 4.5 feet loaded.
Another important indicator on the chart is the Compass Rose.  This is a double circle of numbers indicating the degrees counted around the compass from 0 (North) to 359 (one degree west of north).  East is 090; South is 180;  and West is 270. The reason there are two circles of numbers is that the outer circle represents the compass as it shows True or geographic North (the North Pole on a globe).  The 0 has a line through it and a star that indicate the True North direction to the geographic north pole.  The inner circle of numbers represents the magnetic compass that shows the direction to the magnetic north pole.  For most places on the earth, True North and magnetic north are not exactly the same.  The inner (magnetic) circle shows the 0 with a line and an arrow pointing to the magnetic north pole.  In the example above, the magnetic north pole is 19.45 degrees east of True North.
It is important to realize this and remember that your compass will correspond to the inner circle - - NOT the outer one.  You can imagine that if you plotted your course to your next waypoint using the outer circle to find the course and then followed your compass with that course.  You would be steering your boat in the wrong direction.  Let's say that you figured your new course to be 040 using the outer ring of numbers and then steered 040 using your compass as reference.  Your actual True course would be 059.45.  That could get you in real trouble.  So, be certain to remember to use the inner circle if you are going to actually sail by compass numbers.

Is it important to have a chart and know how to use it?  Well, yes.  Here is a photo that I shot one day on Lake Pend Oreille when there was truly limited visibility of a quarter mile or less.  My chart and compass were invaluable finding my way home to Bayview without hitting anything or anybody.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Torqeedo Electronics

Several years ago, I decided to decrease my carbon footprint and replaced my gasoline-powered Mercury outboard with an electric outboard - - a Torqeedo.  The Torqeedo is powered by a battery bank that has 24 DC volts.  To accomplish this, I wired two group-27 12-volt batteries together in a series to generate the needed 24 DC volts. 
There was plenty of room in the fuel locker located under the portside cockpit seat.
The installation went as planned... including the hard-wiring in of a smart charger to keep the battery bank ready and fully charged.
The only drawback to the system is that while there is enough amps in the battery bank to motor from Bayview to Sandpoint (~30 nm) at about 3 knots, to go any faster will draw down the batteries quite quickly.  And, the faster I want to go, the faster the batteries are drawn down.  So, a couple years ago, I decided to put a second battery bank in the boat...  but, where to put two more batteries was a tough decision.  I finally decided to put the new battery bank (again two group-27 batteries and smart charger) under the cockpit sole.  There was enough room for a custom-made battery box and for the smart charger.
The second battery bank has been just what I needed.  And, no more worries about running out of "juice" on a long motor.
Last summer I added a "Off-1-Both-2" battery switch and a battery monitor that shows both the amount of charge (volts) and the amp draw for the battery bank being used.  Both of these are mounted on the inside of the transom. 
I could not be happier.
This is the schematic view of the whole system... not to scale...  The next decision is whether to try to figure out a solar charging system for days when I won't be able to plug into shore power to recharge... or if I should invest in a small Honda gen-set.
All-in-all, I am quite pleased with the Torqeedo and the whole outboard system that I now have.  It is quiet, and has no gas fumes.  Plus the outboard itself only weighs about 40 lbs. So, it easy to take off the bracket and put inside the boat for winter storage... and back on next spring.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

On the Water Early

Over the years, some of the most special moments I've had aboard Snickerdoodle have been early in the morning.  Just before to just after dawn.  Here are a few photos that I've taken along the way.  Enjoy!!!

So, forget about sleeping in.  Get up early and out on the water.  You might be surprised what you see.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Barnacle Bill's Roller Furling Jib Lead Blocks

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember my discussion in September 2012 in which I talked about boats with roller furling jibs and the need to move the jib sheet lead car forward or aft as the jib sail is rolled in or deployed out.
One of the primary reasons for having a roller furling jib is convenience.  The sail can easily and quickly be furled when coming into a mooring or dock.  Of course, another reason for opting for the expense of a roller furling jib is safety.  There is no need to "tap dance" around the foredeck anymore doing headsail changes.  However, in talking with friends who have roller furling jibs, many discussed the need to leave the cockpit to move the lead blocks when either rolling the jib up partially (roller reefing) and/or letting the jib back out for more power.  Side decks are often just as dangerous as the foredeck.  So, what to do???
I got to thinking about the "barber hauler" that Kathy and I had on our Prindle 18 catamaran that would easily adjust the jib sheet leads and drew an idea for a "barber hauler" that would adjust jib sheet leads fore and aft on our monohulls with roller furling jibs.

Remember, we want to keep this simple and easy to use.  The first step is to install a lead car with only a bail on the "T" track that you use for the jib sheet lead blocks.
If you use the holes in your toe rail, you can shackle a block there instead of using the "T" track.
Position the lead car just forward of the spot that you would use for the jib sheet lead block if you moved the lead block forward.
Next, lead the jib sheets (both individually) through the single blocks with becket.  (One on each side of the boat)
Now, secure (a bowline works here) a length of line from the becket through the bail on the lead car.  And then back to a cleat that you have positioned near the winch on the coaming.  Make sure that the sheets and the adjustment line are led fairly.  Do this for both port and starboard sheets.
When you want to furl the jib on it's roller, first pull the adjustment line to position the block near the lead car (loosening the sheets will make this easier).  Roll the jib up with it's furling line to the desired size; and sheet in appropriately.  The block near the lead car will pull the sheet down to the proper angle for good sheeting.  Easy, peezy...

Friday, October 25, 2019

Cabin Heater for Small Boats

I love fall sailing.  Nice weather, good breezes, most of the crowds have gone home for the year.  The only problem is that staying overnight on Snickerdoodle can be uncomfortably chilly.  Many years ago though I found out a secret for keeping the cabin warm on cool evenings...  even if you have a small boat and there's no room for a Dickenson cabin heater that is fueled either by propane or solid fuel.

A thick clay flower pot that you tip upside-down over a burner on your stove works quite well.  Keep the heat control at low to medium and as the pot heats up it will radiate warmth throughout the cabin.  My Origo stove is alcohol fueled and each burner puts out around 5,000 BTU's.  The flower pot spreads the warmth.  Make sure your pot is clay not plastic.
If you are concerned that the open flame might break your flower pot, move the pot holders on the stove closer together and put the flower pot on top of the holders.  They will raise the flower pot up an inch or two so that some of the direct heat escapes.  
Don't forget that the pot will get hot.  So, use pot holders to move it after you turn off the burner.  Of course, a flower pot over both burners will double the heat.
This is a nice toasty solution for those of us with small boats that do not have wall mounted cabin heaters.  Try it out.  I think you will like the warm cabin results.
Barnacle Bill Holcomb
509 993 3214

Monday, September 30, 2019

Time To Winterize Your Boat

It’s about the middle of October already and we all should be thinking about winterizing our boats.  Some of us “trailer sail” and the winterization will be a bit different from what those of us who keep the boat in the water go through.  The following are twenty tips for winterizing sailboats.  Some of these tips will apply to your boat… others may not.
1. Clean out the boat. Empty all lockers, especially food lockers, icebox, refrigerator. Prop open all doors and hatches to improve air flow.

2. Drain the fresh water system. Empty and clean out all tanks. Bypass the tanks and fill the hoses and pumps with 50:50 water and eco-friendly anti-freeze mixture. Check shower sump. Check owners manual for details of water heater winterization.

3. Winterize the head. Pump out holding tank while flushing the head with fresh sea water. Close the water intake seacock, remove the hose and pump the head full of anti-freeze mixture. Make sure some goes into the holding tank. Replace the hose and don’t open the seacock.

4. Remove the batteries. Charge them and recharge every month. Check electrical connections.

5. Add stabilizer/biocide to your diesel fuel tank and fill the tank. Replace all fuel filters and drain the water separator. Run the engine for 15 minutes to get stabilized fuel into lines and injectors. Inspect fuel lines and vents for leaks.

6. Whether your engine is an inboard (diesel or gasoline) or an outboard (4-stroke), drain the oil while the engine is still hot. Change oil filters and fill engine and filters with clean oil. Drain and refill transmission or lower unit oil.

7. Drain the fresh water cooling and heat exchanger system and replace the coolant with 50-50 pink antifreeze and water.

8. Flush the raw water cooling system and replace with 50-50 pink antifreeze and water.

9. Spray fogging oil into the intake manifold and turn the engine over by hand. Cover the engine with a waterproof cover and seal all engine openings.

10. Start a gasoline inboard or outboard engine, shut off fuel and run engine until it stops. Spray fogging oil into the air intake while engine is running. Drain the gasoline tank and all lines. Ethanol in modern fuel absorbs moisture.  Put the “old” gasoline in your car.

11. Clean the boat thoroughly, inside and out. Wash down all surfaces and scrub the ice box/refrigerator with mild bleach. Clean and add antifreeze to the bilge.

12. Clean hardware, mast and rigging to remove salt and grime. Touch up any damaged paintwork. Lightly wax all fiberglass surfaces.

13. Inspect the hull and deck for cracks, blisters or any stress cracks. Repair as necessary. Inspect lifelines for signs of corrosion. Replace if necessary.

14. Close propane bottle and light stove. Allow stove to go out. Close off the supply at the stove. Remove propane bottles from the boat. Seal the end of the propane line. Inspect propane lines for damage.

15. Inspect and service all sea cocks, winches, mainsheet system, turning blocks and rope clutches.

16. Pull the mast out and inspect mast, boom and rigging for wear and damage. Inspect electrical wiring inside mast. Remove tape from spreader tips and turnbuckles and inspect.

17. Inspect sails and note repairs needed. Gently wash sails and running rigging in mild soap and dry carefully. Store sails and protect from rodents.  I bring my sails home and have an overhead closet for their storage.

18. Cover the boat. Either shrink-wrap, use plastic tarpaulins or buy a custom made boat cover (or even blue or silver plastic tarps). Make sure there is ample anti-chafe material. Vents and access panels are required for shrink-wrap

19. Ventilation is vital if mold is to be stopped. Best solution is a fan that pressurizes the hull, or a bilge blower fan, ducted outside and rigged up to a time switch.  I have two “Dry-Z-Air dehumidifiers as well as an electric dehumidifier and a 60 watt heat strip that I set up to keep air moving inside Snickerdoodle.

1.     20. Run extra lines right around the boat, outside the covers, for extra security. Install chafe protection where these ropes go over the gunnel and everywhere the cover could chafe on the hull and lifelines.
During the winter, check on your boat periodically.  Sweep off snow buildup.  She will be ready to go next spring.
Barnacle Bill Holcomb
509 993 3214

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Rambling Post

It's 90+F this afternoon and my little office upstairs is quite warm, even with the window fan blowing at max.  My mind is wandering.  And, of course, that means random thoughts about sailing and Snickerdoodle.
Who is that old guy????
I spent a couple days last weekend and Monday aboard and have gotten the interior set up just about the way I like for now.  Teak is varnished and everything put in its place.
I have gotten installed a "Off-1-both-2" selector switch for the two battery banks that supply power to the Torqeedo outboard motor.  Luckily, the hole pattern on the new switch matches with the hole pattern from the old "Off-On" switch that was just for battery bank "A".  Plus, I put in a nice little battery monitor gauge that shows volts and amps on the battery bank that is being used.  I put the monitor inside a water tight plastic box and mounted the box right next to the new switch.  It all works just like I planned.  What I didn't plan was that the install took about twice as long as I'd figured it would take.

My brother Bob has a handy location for his boat hook.  I've seen many of my friends who are not using anything handy at all...  in lockers, in the quarter berth, in the V-berth locker, etc.  Bob puts the hook in one of the hand holds of his teak cabin top hand rail.  It is easy to reach when you need it and out of the way when you don't.  I did the same on Snickerdoodle.
Last weekend, the breezes were light and I really appreciated my 150% Drifter Jib.  It is cut like a genoa jib; but, made of 1.5 oz. spinnaker cloth.  The light cloth fills even in only a knot and a half of breeze.  And, this sail works great to about 7 or 8 knots of breeze.  Snickerdoodle really moves even in the super light stuff we had last weekend.
Were you so anxious to get sailing last spring that you forgot to inspect your thru-hull valves and the hose clamps that secure the hoses to the valves???  Many of your sailing friends forgot - - not you of course.  If this critical bit of spring maintenance did slip through... INSPECT NOW!!!!!  A one-inch hole (like when the hose slips off the valve) will admit more than 20 gallons of water PER MINUTE...  If you are aboard when this happens, things get exciting fast.  If you are not aboard, your boat sinks at its mooring.  So, inspect the thru-hull fittings/valves and the hose clamps soonest.
Finally, I love my new Raymarine ST 2000 tiller pilot.  It is much stronger than my previous (30+ year old) model.  It not only steers a great course.  It does so even when sailing in moderate breezes.  Hip hip hooray!!!
OK, too hot, gotta take a break.  See you on the water...