Thursday, 31 March 2016

"My my my Delilah"...

"My my my Delilah
Why why why Delilah
I could see, that girl was no good for me
But I was lost like a slave that no man could free"...
Lyrics by Tom Jones

...passed by the sailing club this morning on the way to work (just to make sure the mast was where David and I left it ) and as it was a low tide thought I'd check out "Delilah" the Langstone Harbour Board moorings service/maintenance vessel...



Sometime overnight on the 27th she broke her mooring and then made the following trip....


 Little over 5 nautical miles if I read the scale right...  even more amazing, just before she ended up where she did, she either went through, or across, this...


She ended up just about where that white yacht in the background is - in the first picture you can see the blocks in the background - I'm guessing she went over one of those concrete pilings (they're the old bridge supports for the Hayling Billy railway line) as the navigable route is through the middle of the larger metal towers, and it's narrow even if she were under control...

Not without damage though - starboard side superstructure damage (in top picture), but she's also been grievously bashed, and holed, underneath..


Bottom plates are well and truly buckled....


Going to need some welding before she moves...  the "good" news is that it doesn't appear to be a huge hole, I couldn't see any other damage, and she'll float in 10 feet (from the depth marks) and there's easily that where she is...

More here: http://www.ybw.com/news-from-yachting-boating-world/storm-katie-gales-barge-sailing-hits-bridge-18203

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Katie lashes out...

Just a month and a half after "Imogen" [clicky] and now we've just been pounded by "Katie" over the last (Easter) weekend..

Wind speed scale (left) in knots, wind direction (right) in degrees - data source Cambermet.co.uk
The graph shows three days worth - I was working on Sparrow during the day on the 27th (peak of 45 knots, force 9) and at times the rain was horizontal, and even down in the "valley" between two much bigger boats, and with her mast down, she was rocking.... As it turns out that was nothing to overnight on Sunday into Monday, when we had a gust of 65 knots which is full blown F12 (hurricane) but consistent gusts of F11 , and that was inside the harbour..  I suspect that was when this occurred...


Thankfully - no damage was done - even the mast head light seems to be OK (but I need to test it), but it was a bit of a shock, and huge thanks to fellow club member David who tipped me off to the problem and had already replaced and lashed down the mast by the time I got down there.... I'm guessing that the rope lashings at the foot acted both as a shock absorber and a hinge, so she just gently fell sideways - no damage to mast or boat, the spreaders are fine....  I was lucky...!

More than I can say for others though....  one of the club members who launched early suffered a mooring failure and his catamaran is currently down harbour high on a mud bank - jib looks to have shredded, I do hope they manage to get her off..

Picture courtesy of Max at http://bursledonblog.blogspot.sk/2016/03/after-storm-katy.html
 ...the clubs mooring barge turned turtle, and Langstone Harbour Board's own mooring service tug broke free and ended up wrapped around Hayling Bridge (clicky - pic courtesy Mark's blog) - she's been warped off but looks like some significant damage.

Scenes of devastation when I came through Emsworth this morning...  this one looks bad - she was pulled up on the beach last week guessed the owner was cleaning the bottom as she had a couple of chunky anchors out...  not enough though, it looks like she's lost a bilge keel, one of the spreaders has gone, but the whole of the pontoon side is caved in and fractured - a right off... 


...and two up against the harbour wall - the blue one is "Geraldine" a  Leisure 17 - I think that's the second time she's ended up there....   There's also a bigger boat called "Sheherezade" at the bottom of the main street just to the left in the picture below...


That puts the mast slipping off the boat in context...  

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Coming along nicely...

Just over two weeks to launch, and with another Atlantic low tracking in (it must be a Bank Holiday weekend ), I decided to take a day off on what looked to be the last good weather day for a while in order to get some work done on Sparrow..

First order of the day was anti-foul..  for good reason the club likes members to anti-foul at least a week before launch as it means the paint has a chance to harden off a little, and therefore not leave deposits all over the strops used on the 8 ton lift, which then get transferred to top sides of the next boat, and the next, and etc..  With this weekend looking to be a wipe out, and the low staying with us until well into next week, it was a bit of a "no brainer"..

So obligatory "before" shot..  all taped up and the first tray loaded...


..and that ground is as hard as it looks...


...and I love this bit... "after"...  my absolute favourite bit is taking off the masking tape - watching that straight line appear...  small pleasures! 


.....I'm convinced the chap behind me is using the same brand....
...a little over 2 hours with a break in the middle for a coffee - it's a hideous job, especially the bit between the keels..  even with gloves, all over covering and glasses, I was still liberally smeared and spotted... when I got home that evening I even had a couple of paint spots on my front teeth..!  

Went with a new plan this year and used the entire tin - just kept painting it on until I didn't have anything left - previous years I've given it two coats and an extra on the waterline and come away with a half litre of paint for "just in case" which I then never use, so two thick coats all over, and then extra thick coats on bilge keels, rudder and water line...  time will tell (as usual) but I liked this stuff as it was a little less viscous than the usual stuff so much easier to roll on..

After that it was time for a beer from the boats bar with a cigar and a time for contemplating, before cracking on with some fettling jobs.....
  • Mixed up some plastic padding and filled those holes on the cockpit hatch and weather board from the previous padlock hasp, and 
  • while I had some spare I also filled a couple of old/small dings on the sides..  (as is the way of these things I then spotted a couple of others I'll do next time)
  • Glued and test bolted a batten to the inside of the top washboard cover - clamped it while it dried and once it was firm removed the clamps and slapped a coat of paint on the batten...
  • Put the final coat on the bottom washboard
  • Put the final coat of wood treatment on the tiller, outboard bracket and companion way sides
Jobs for next time:
  1. Rub down the plastic padding and paint both the hatch edge and the top weather board
  2. When the top weather board paint is dry, bolt through the batten to complete the top washboard
  3. Fit the earthing block inside the switch box
  4. Rub down the repairs to the dings on the topsides
  5. Fit the master switch
  6. Fit the crimp terminals to the negative and positive battery feed cables (measure the positive first as it is a partial length ie. battery <=> master switch <=> switch box/panel)
  7. Connect power to switch box and test
  8. Put the last coats on the cockpit hatches (they're at home so I can do them any time)
...after that I then want to do the bits and pieces to run the topping lift and halyard back to the cockpit.. then fit the cable gland for the VHF, and finally, give her a wash down with some Oxalic that I've just ordered....   no sweat!

Happy Easter, folks...

Saturday, 19 March 2016

More ticks than a mangy dog - how did I do...

So how did I do??

1/. Fledgling 12v electrical system... job #5

I put up a separate post [clicky] but all initial goals were met..  the battery box and the switch box were installed..

2/. Job #4 Lead halyard/topping lift back to cockpit:

Not started..

3/. Job #18 Padlock hasp on wash boards - old one was rusting solid - completed...

From this...


To this...

Just need to fill those old holes and then re-paint....


4/.  Job #21 Rub down and coat of paint on the wash boards - almost done - two coats applied, I'll put another coat on before I'm finished - in addition the top/upper board has a batten reinforcement that proved to be hopelessly rotted - I whipped that off and will replace with fresh...



5/. Job #22 Rub down and coat of wood preservative on rubbing strakes / cockpit board - done - ended up putting two coats on, and also rubbed down and gave the tiller two coats, and also a coat on the outboard board, and the sides of the companion way (the last two will get an extra coat this weekend)...

I said if I got that lot done I'd deserve a pint I'd definitely be having.... and I did, "Otter Amber" [clicky], and absolutely delicious... oh, and in addition to the above I also serviced the life jackets...  we're getting there.... 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Fledgling 12v electrical system - job #5 - part 2...

Progress on job #5, installing some electrics, is progressing.. as a reminder first post was here [clicky], but I've set up a blogger label for this series of  posts so just select "12v" (over to the left) and you should get any/all of them as I progress...

So just a recap - basic requirements at this stage is nothing more than:
  1. battery
  2. isolator switch
  3. bus bar
  4. switch panel
  1. Battery

My original idea was to strap the battery box to a sheet of epoxied marine ply bolted to (some) part of the boat, but in the end the solution I used was much simpler - using part of the original idea (to use the lip of the opening under the cockpit sole), I :
  1. trimmed part of the carrying handle on the battery box so that the handle then sat comfortably on the lip,and then 
  2. cut a wooden batten the width of the inside of the box to act a strengthening brace
  3. clamped the whole lot in place - batten inside box to lip
  4. drilled through the lip, box, and batten twice - once at each end to provide lateral bracing
  5. bolted through with M6 stainless bolts/nuts - I used some butterfly nuts to make it easier to remove in future should I need to...
...this shows the spot, and the opening... before...

..and after...  you can just see the hex heads of the M6 bolts behind the cockpit sole...



2. Isolator switch

The master switch to the whole system, if this is off, there's no power to any of the devices in the boat...  still to be fitted (that this weekend hopefully) but it's going here ==>

The jump leads are now attached to the quick release cable clamps - I have copper tube terminals (16mm2 with 10mm and 5mm openings) on order for attaching to the switch (positive) and busbar (negative)...

Next job is to run the cables from the battery up the inside of the bulkhead to the isolator switch, and then along the bottom of the shelf and into the switch box/panel...

3. Bus bar

The supplier for the stainless steel 8 Way Earth Terminal Block has let me down - after three weeks waiting for "re-supply" they have given me a refund but I now need to go and get a replacement - to be honest I'll go to Screwfix and get a nickel plated one - it's inside the boat inside a switch box so it shouldn't have a rust issue....

4. Switch panel

This:


...has become this:


Over the preceding week I gave it two or 3 coats of the same wood preservative I use on the outside of the boat. Once that was done I then made the cut out for the switch panel with a jig saw and mounted the panel - power cables connect at the top of the board which is why it isn't central - I wanted to leave room to route cables...  to the left I have plans for a battery monitor, a cigarette/12v charger socket and/or a USB charger. Inside the box I have a glued a wooden batten on the left to mount the earthing block.

The box now sits on the shelf, in a cut out to the lip (jig saw again), I have two M4 stainless bolts through the bottom of the box and shelf holding it in place (they're 70mm long!).

Next job is to drill a hole (or holes) up into the bottom of the box big enough for cable entries..

Costs so far...
  1. battery - free
  2. battery box - £15.99
  3. jump leads for battery cables - £4.90
  4. isolator switch - £4.99
  5. bus bar - stainless steel 8 Way Earth Terminal Block - £2.27
  6. switch panel - £18.95
  7. wooden "switch" box - £14 
  8. copper tube terminals (5 each of 5mm and 10mm) - £4.50
  9. Nuts/bolts/washers - from the spares box

Sunday, 13 March 2016

New main!

...well new to me anyway...  err.. second hand ... "previously owned"... 

Been pricing up new main sail for Sparrow as it was trickling up to the top of my "urgency" list as launch approaches.. I'm no boy racer but I can tell the sail is err.. past it's "sell by" date, and fast approaching its "use by" date...

I like to use local sail makers if I can, and if they hadn't gone bust () last year the guys who made my genoa (Arun) would have been first choice, either way, they have, so I've had to ask a few others... No response from Batt Sails (they're in the same local industrial park as Arun was), but a quote of £620 from Kemp Sails (Gosport but still fairly local), with a small/possible discount if I order it off season (probably the £20 )

While I was doing that I also put out  a gentle word round various forums to see if there any second hand mains knocking about and got lucky via a contact on the YBW forums...  much measuring and re-measuring at both ends of the conversation ensued ...

Clew/foot

Luff

Tack/foot

... and I sent off the dosh this morning for the following - never had a tan sail before! 


...but it appears to be in excellent condition - seller advises "The sail is lightly used, has no obvious wear or chafe, no repairs. The cloth is still shiny and has not gone limp.There are a few small dark marks that are not very noticeable (from oil spots?). I would have used it on my current boat but it is a bit small for my rig. There is no sail makers label".




...for the price (less than 15% of that Kemp main) I'm delighted...  looking forward to seeing how it fits, though I've factored in the possibility of some minor adjustments if required (I think the luff is spot on but the foot is close)..

Also looking forward to seeing how the boat feels compared to how it did with the old one, but either way, the sail will see me through this season and hopefully a few more.. 

Friday, 11 March 2016

More ticks than a mangy dog.. redux...

Remember saying that last winter as we got close to launch, but despite getting a lot of stuff prepared, I've not quite hit the heady heights of last Spring... It's been a cold wet windy winter, and I've been busy with work and family stuff so I've not done quite as much as I would have hoped to date, but having said that most of the stuff on the list is "non-urgent" - I've done the critical stuff in previous years...

So this is what I'm hoping to get done this weekend.... the forecast is for warmer sunny weather and I also have Monday off so I can crack the back of it...

1/. Fledgling 12v electrical system... job #5

All the stuff I ordered has arrived with the exception of the stainless steel earthing bar (parts availability crisis apparently - should be with me soon though)..

I also devoted some thought to a cupboard or box to keep it all in and rather than make one (which I could do, but it wouldn't be as nice) I ordered one of these from eBay - the quality is superb. I'll give it a coat of preservative, and then cut the holes for the switch panel/master switch/anything else in the lid (which is hinged, and has a catch for access to wiring)


My plan is to position it here - red or blue depending on whether I put it in upright or on its side - the dark wood you can see is the lip to a shelf, I'll take the lip off so that the box sites directly on the shelf, I'll then either put a bolt through the shelf, or through the edge of the cockpit hatch sides to hold it in place...  cables will be fed from the battery up the inside of the bulkhead and through two drilled holes in the shelf/box into the box itself....


2/. Job #4 Lead halyard/topping lift back to cockpit:

I was having second thoughts because the position of my mushroom domes on the cabin top obstructed the run of the lines from the bottom of the mast, and I had started thinking along the lines of a shackle and block on the tabernacle, with a bullseye fairlead on the cabin top to feed the line to the jammers/cleats/cam cleats over the mushroom domes.

I'm confirmed in my idea and have come up with a far simpler solution than I originally envisaged - I have bought some 3mm aluminium angle (2" by 2" and 10cm long) - this I'll drill so it fits over the  bolt that goes through the tabernacle to hold the mast. In effect this angle will act as a "washer" on the port side of the lower nut and bolt...  the upper surface of the angle I will drill twice to take a shackle which will then hold a block to feed the main halyard (possibly) and topping lift (definitely) back to the cockpit - I can then either use the cam cleats I bough previously or keep it simple with a couple of cleats..  the height of the block will keep the line clear of the mushroom domes and cockpit hatch, the bullseye's will ensure a clean run to the cleat....

I'm thinking of not worrying about leading the main halyard back, as I have to go to the mast to reef anyway..  topping lift definitely though.. while I'm about it I will also install an additional cleat for the roller furling line for the genoa on the outside of the grab rails on the cabin roof.

3/. Job #18 Padlock hasp on wash boards - current one  is now rusting solid - I have a replacement so just whip the old one off and replace with new stainless steel one - hopefully after I've done the next one...


4/.  Job #21 Rub down and coat of paint on the wash boards - first job of the day so they can dry while I get on with other stuff

5/. Job #22 Rub down and coat of wood preservative on rubbing strakes / cockpit board - this was my success story of last winter - very pleased with the results, no blistering, no wearing, no lifting - still looks as good as new so just one coat required...

If I get that lot done I'll deserve the pint(s) I'll definitely also be having....! 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Fitting an external antenna to a Standard Horizon HX280E handheld VHF

One of the mini-projects this winter was a temporary solution to my requirement for a permanent VHF. As good as the winter was in terms of crossing stuff off the job list, I never managed to get to the electrics, and a fixed VHF requires pukka 12v power. In order to resolve the issue temporarily, and to increase the range of my hand held, I came up with a plan to use it with an external antenna suitable to be used with the fixed VHF when I get it...

Now I'll be the first to say that the subject of VHF sockets/connections was Greek to me, but with the assistance of some of the guys on the Practical Boat Owner web forum, I now have a significantly slightly better idea of what's going on - but I'm no expert - so if anyone chooses to believe the following, I would advise double checking....  having said that, with the exception of the external antenna most of these adaptors and connectors come in at less than a fiver...

There are a number of things to bear in mind when looking at antenna's (and this site [clicky] gives an excellent overview of them) but my understanding is that "Gain" is the most important as that is a reflection of the 'power' of the antenna...  simply put, the bigger the aerial the bigger the gain/power.. but over 3' length and the power is at expense of the shape of the radio wave..  way too complicated, but there is a reason that most antenna's on yachts are the 3' type - they are the accepted compromise, and that was good enough for me...

The external antenna I bought then was this one - a bog standard 1mtr, glass fibre pole - in this case made by Banten (who seem to have a fairly good reputation) - you'll note the gain is quoted in decibels (3 db). By comparison my hand held has the 'usual' 6" rubber aerial attached to the handheld via a stub screw - gain on these antennas are usually quoted as 0 db..



I bought the antenna from these guys [clicky] based on price (about £37), but also because it came with the following - an adjustable mounting block, 5 mtrs of RG58 type cable that was pre-attached to the aerial (NB. over a certain length ie. 6 mtrs'ish, RG58 is not good enough - the link above gives the alternatives), and they also supplied a plug (more of which anon)...


So my main reason for doing this was to get a little extra range - I'm not planning to shift the aerial to the top of the mast (though I may do one day) as I sail predominantly in Chichester Harbour and the Solent so range is not super critical. Either way there is some maths you can do (just do a search on 'VHF range calculation' on Google and you'll even find sites that do the calculations for you) but assuming a 30 foot mast at the coastguard, I reckon I'd get about 15 miles range if my antenna was at the top of the mast, as opposed to 11 miles with it on the pushpit board... the Solent is only 4 miles wide at it's widest so I think it'll be good even taking account of line of sight...

So - antenna taken care of, how did I connect it to the handheld?

Seemingly you have two choices - and it basically comes down to choice of connector...

My aerial came with a PL-259 type like so:


I believe most fixed VHF's come with this socket, and certainly this was how the fixed VHF on my old boat connected...

The alternative is a co-ax type connection called a BNC - people who have worked in an office may find this familiar as it used to be used for LAN cabling - if you go this route you need a 50 ohm type (they also come in 75 ohms which are more commonly used for TV/Camera type applications).


Either connector (BNC or PL-259) is valid for this project, also you can get crimp on type in both, but I think the general opinion is that a soldered connection is better. Longer term I will be fitting a fixed VHF (next winter probably), so I decided to go PL-259 from the outset. In either case - whichever plug you decide on for the antenna - you will then need the relevant adaptor for the hand held, and based on advice I would suggest these..

BNC:

You need an SMA<=>BNC adapter, the Standard horizon version is their CN-3 adapter. This is a single piece unit that screws on to the handhled and has a BNC plug at the other end..



I ordered one of these [picture above - clicky] (before I made up my mind about going PL-259 )

PL-259

Same applies you need an SMA<=>PL-259 adapter (NB. Sometimes they refer to SO239 as that is the name of the socket for the PL-259 plug)

Examples include the following - you have a choice basically between a single piece unit as per the BNC example above, or one with a short length of cable between the two adaptors..

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SMA-male-t.../191521373255?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/PL259-PLUG...item1e74c006a5

I went for the single piece adaptor in the second link.