Anchor light and stuff..

...and on the seventh day there was light, and the light was jolly bloody damn good, and Steve did a little dance round the boat...
...that'll do then...

Today was the day for removing the old mast head fitting.. my reader may remember that when Rod the Mod jumped on board last year with all the feline grace of a young Nureyev (not..) for the annual event that is the mast raising, he managed to dislodge the mast from the crutch, so that it fell and bounced on the transom board, which was enough to vibrate the fitting below and snap the lower left corner off - unfortunately the lower left corner was holding my brand new Windex, so the whole lot went to the bottom of the harbour (and no despite a lot of magnet fishing I never did get it back)

I first put that fitting together in 2015 (see here [clicky]) and while the initial idea that it would be corrosion proof, and an easier construction than metal is sound, what I hadn't accounted for is that HDPE simply wasn't strong enough...  so with new Windex bought, a stronger solution was required..

I originally bought a square of  aluminium plate for the job in 3mm, but the HDPE plate it was sitting on was very small, and I was thinking it could be smaller, to provide less of a resting spot for the local bird population, so in the end I found some aluminium bar in the spares box and used that..

Having disconnected and dismantled the old one I clamped old base to the bar in a vice, drilled the holes in the same places, added another for the windex on an extremity, and then basically just re-assembled...

It is on straight - trust me..  
...and then I thought, 'well I've done this much how about finishing off the wiring?'...  ha...  that took considerably longer...   first job was to get some power to the bottom of the mast where the deck plug for the light was, a long wire from the batter to the plug wasn't cutting the mustard - no light..

I need a proper socket I thought - I know I'll use the the one from the deck fitting - but nothing sold as "marine" is every truly marine proof, so first job was to disassemble completely the deck plug as the socket - this bit =>

...was very definitely not wanting to come out..  in the end a soft wood plug and two whacks from underneath with a big hammer got that out.  Wires connected and run back to the battery, plugged in to the plug on the mast, nothing...

Test voltage at the socket - good - disassemble the plug and test the voltage the other side of the plug - nothing...  gah...  clean up the verdigris off the prongs, plug in, test again, we have power... walk to the top of the mast, and tad dah...


Feed wires through the deck from the cabin - double secure the wires in the socket fitting (I don't want to have to do this again for a while) - refit the socket within the metal housing (with a smear of grease to help removal in the event I need to do it again, refit the deck fitting, and then move to the cabin....  a long time ago I came up with what I hoped was a cunning plan to save wiring, which was to use the negative from the forward cabin light as a common negative...

The two holes are to the deck power fitting - the negative I used is on the cabin strip light....
...used one of these again for the negative.. (when it comes time to fit the deck level nav lights, I'll do the same again, but with three or four separate negatives I'll probably fit a small bus bar somewhere unobtrusive)

Female Spade Terminal with Piggy Back Male...  apparently... all I needed to do was run the positive through the cabin, connect into the switch box, flick the light and then go on deck to have a look-see...

...that'll do nicely.... 

At which point I had to break for the day in order to get to the supermarket before it closed...  just to finish this off, we need a little cable clean up, amalgamating tape for the joints, and I'm thinking I'll give the glass (plastic) on the light a clean as it's a little green, but otherwise job done...

Launch is in 5 weeks...  and I THINK I'm in control....  

....good and not so good... tiller pilot and DSC setup

...."not so good"? Read on..

Pretty damn good of those crafty days off work that usually deliver so much on the sailing front in the summer, also delivered some goodness on the construction and maintenance front..

There were three jobs (four actually) on the list today...

With a little more than 40 days to launch prioritisation is now the key, jobs that need power and electrics move closer to the top of the list, as paint jobs and the like can be done on the water if needed (they don't tend to get done, by the way, they just get moved to next winters list )

First (and easiest), it being March it was time to drop the outboard off for its service - job done and after time for a catch up with Simon at Emsworth Outboards, it was on to the chandlers for one of those (top left -  more anon) and some nuts and bolts..

Next was the job I have been (over) thinking about for far to long, and as is usually the case worked out much easier than I thought - it was time to construct the tiller pilot attachment..  over many long cycle rides to work I have come up with hundreds of ideas ( I was even welding a bracket at one point!) but in the end I rejected them all for the simplest solution a block of 4 x 2 and a hinge..  truly the most difficult thing about it was doing the measuring..  happy to say I followed the 'measure twice cut/drill once' this time rather than my usual other way round..

First off Julian on "Billy" found me a tiller pin in his spares box last summer - it was slightly over size for the fitting on the end of the ram on mine, but that is only plastic so I drilled it out slightly and all was good.. drilled a slightly undersized hole into the tiller and it screwed in with a good tight fit with no need for epoxy..

Just prior to drilling the hole for the pivot pin..  the tiller pin is fitted - thanks Julian!
That done I could do the measurement from pin to cockpit edge, and as suspected it was several inches short of recommended - trimmed down a piece of 4 x 2 I'd bought with me and offered it up with the pilot resting on top and the other end on the pin on the tiller so I could see the pilot was horizontal and at right angles, marked up the position of the end of the block on the cockpit side, and got a rough idea of the length I would need..  once that was cut, I repeated the above, and when I was happy, did a precise measure from the pin on the tiller to get me the position of the hole for the pivot on the pilot. 10mm hole was drilled - perfect size - tested again, perfect..

After that a stainless steel hinge from the spares box (I think I was originally going to use them for the cockpit lids but thought they weren't heavy duty enough) was attached to the block at the cockpit end of the block, and to the cockpit side - that way the block can lie flat again the cockpit side when I'm not using the pilot, so I can still open the cockpit hatches

All done bar the shouting - it's not switched on hence tiller position - power socket down in the corner on the cockpit floor - the hook and eye will be the other side of the block - eye end on the block
The block is in the garage for a couple of coats of paint; I'll fit the hook and eye (which will secure the block when it's being used) next time, as at this point the rain drove me into the cabin for a cup of tea... 

Warm and dry in the cabin (fan heater going like a banshee), tea in hand, it was time for the third job - the VHF..

The easy job was to program in the MMSI that I recently got from Ofcom when I registered the radio, but then the job that turned out to be infinitely more a pain in the ar*e - connecting my GPS 72 (which is truly old, but continues to work and therefore I am reluctant to upgrade) so I can send GPS data for the DSC function on the radio..

The problem was that the GPS data cable has two wires for data, the radio has four wires..  I read that radio manual about a hundred times trying to understand what the cables were doing and what matched up - I don't consider myself to be a dull bloke, but I could not get the GPS to talk to the VHF for love nor money, so in the end I did what I should have done and did some research on the web.

On the Practical Boat Owner forum I came up trumps, someone had asked the exact same question a number of years ago, and one of the respondents had done the exact same job that morning and had provided the very info I needed!

Seven years ago, but as valid and useful to me as the day it was written - thanks "Bru" (I follow his blog, by the way - he owns/owned SV "Pagan" if you want to find him on Google)..  the file he references is long gone but I managed to find it on the 'way back machine' so if you want to read it, it is here [clicky]

So a temporary fix later and we had the following lash up..

...went into the GPS and set the interface to NMEA - the 4800 baud was default and the only option

..and eureka..  GPS data feeding to the VHF =>

Top result....  I would never ever even have considered that one of the two connections required used the negative power cable on the GPS without that handy post!...

So the not so good? Display on the new VHF is faulty - two lines of pixels missing as can be seen from the picture above..  damn....  so the day came to an end on a good note and a bad note... 

Fourth job was going to be that fore hatch but it can wait, I'll be down on the boat again on Sunday..

Dismantled the VHF, went home, found the receipt, put it back in ts packaging, and went off to the Chandlers I bought it from (mail order) to return it and hopefully get a replacement only to find it doesn't work that way and after 16 days you don't get a replacement - it goes back to the manufacturer for assessment/repair ..  double damn...  still, I am advised they are quick so I should hear within the next week to two weeks..  #firstworldproblem

On the plus side, while I was there I picked up the antifoul..  after two years of Hempel Classic I was all set to go with that again (it's as good/bad as anything), but as they were doing a special on this one I went with that instead..   £35 for 2.5 litres - I could pay three times as much and am not convinced it would be any better, never mind three times better... navy blue naturally, as all boats look the dogs nadgers in navy blue antifoul as we all know..  

...and more jobs done... mainsail, thwarts/strakes,pads and VHF thoughts...

...that paint brush about sums it up...

While the weather gods continue to smile (and their are warnings that it won't last much longer than the middle of the week), I continue to slap on the varied unguents, confident in the knowledge that they will at least have chance to dry before it cools overnight and produces the inevitable heavy dew...

So it was that this Sunday saw me paintbrush in hand to finish off a number of the painting type jobs...

If the good Lord wills it, the following jobs are now complete
  • the rubbing strakes got a second coat of wood stain
  • the outboard pad got a second coat as well  - handrails look ok,.. (so job #14 done)
  • the tenders rubbing strakes got a coat of wood stain (and that will be it - one is enough)
  • the bottom washboard got another coat of white - the wood is shot really and the last coat didn't dry well so I gave it a rub down and another coat and if that doesn't work, then I'm going to epoxy it.. (job #13 done)
Once that was done the last job of the day was to wire in the new VHF (part of job #3) which was done with a quite astonishing lack of fuss.. I was even getting traffic which is pretty damn impressive given line of site from the aerial being what it is... As is the way of things on a boat however, that job completed, it generated two new ones...
  1. One I need an MMSI number, so today I hot footed off to the OffCom web site to register the fixed VHF with the boat - that generated me an MMSI. I'll enter code in the VHF this weekend as somewhat irritatingly it shrieks at me whenever I turn it on, along with a message that I need to enter it..   Either way, job done, and should I ever sell the boat I need to remember to cancel the two licences I now have (one for the handheld, and one for the fixed)
  2. the other job is a far more 'interesting' one - the new VHF is DSC enabled and comes with an external GPS cable in order to feed it with a GPS position for the DSC (should, Heaven forbid, I ever need it). You have a few choices these days on how to generate the GPS data but what I think I'll do is connect the VHF to the Garmin GPS 72 I use as my primary nav instrument - I'm using the Garmin for every trip anyway so it's just a matter of plugging in the radio at the same time...  the manual says my GPS is NMEA 0183 compatible so what I need to do is either cut in to the existing data cable (not keen) or find myself a second one I can use (which I've done - see below). The whole thing promises to be quite interesting.. typical me of course, originally I'd not planned to bother with the GPS position and just use it as a straight radio, but seeing as I have the capability it seems a waste not to.. and given it also has power cables I suppose I could also wire it in to the ships 12v system so I no longer need to feed the beast with AA batteries by the half handful... and... and... and...
010-10082-00 PWR DATA CABLE - black and red are power, white and brown are the Rx and Tx NMEA cables
 Separately I got a call that the mainsail had been finished off - they've done a cracking job on it - can't wait to see what it looks like when deployed...  so job #10 is done

Next jobs..
  • GPS feed to the VHF radio (plus power for the GPS if possible)
  • autopilot fitting - we have power - now I need to set up a way of connecting it to the tiller - Raymarine recommend the following:

    Copyright Raymarine
    Key measurements are 24" from the tiller centre point, and 18" in from the back of the tiller, which means that on Sparrow, the tiller pilot pivot pin is about 9" in from the coaming and 6" above the cockpit lid, so I need to either manufacture a connection point, or buy some (expensive) extension rods  - not surprisingly I am going with the former and what I plan to do is use a length of 2 x 4 timber (inches, not feet, darling...), connected with a hinge to the cockpit side at the right height and distance, so that I can fold it back against the coaming when I'm not using it, and also so the cockpit lid isn't blocked from opening - to keep it in place I'll use one of these the other side to the hinge. I'll drill a hole at the other end for the pilot pivot pin..

  • paint the floor of the tender
  • I have an idea to complete job #4 (the forehatch hinges) - a job that has been on the list for as long as I have owned the boat...  stay tuned...

Some time on the water.. Liberty's first cruise..

...well..  with me aboard anyway!

An opportunity for some time on the water should never be turned down, and so it was tha when Rod the Mod, a.k.a. Rodders, he of Jolly Boys fame offered the rest of the Jolly Boys a trip out on 'Liberty' his share owned trawler style motor boat, Smithy and I bit his arm off while the two Dave's decided to stay at home and work respectively.. their loss indeed as it was a good day out..  

Exiting Port Solent - Portchester Castle ahead..
Gray old day and completely against forecast..  short days, big big HT at 6 in the evening so just a short trip out to Cowes for lunch.. a first this time though, as we had a berth on the Island Sailing Club's own pontoon, don't believe we've ever stopped their before but it sure is handy..

So how about 'Liberty'? Trawler style motor boat, with a fly bridge (which will be good fun in the warm and the sun, but was damn cold in February) - she's not a youngster, but is coming together nicely. I think Rod and the guy he shares her with got a bargain, but she's needed some work to get her to the condition today, and to complete the job. Twin Volvo's, and running on one engine not too thirsty..  we had problems with one of them on the way back, spraying oil, Rod thinks an elderly oil cooler is the issue, happily with two we came back on the other, though it was hard work through Portsmouth Harbour entrance against the ebb..

I think any time on the water is good, better still when it's with the jolly boys, the food was good, the beer was good (Goddard's "Starboard"), the banter was good.................. but all of us like sailing boats more.. 


Distance: 27.23 miles (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): n/a
Sail Plan: n/a (twin Volvo's! )
Speed (Max/average in knots):  8.6 / 6.0 (am) and 6.6 / 4.3 (pm)

More jobs done...

...another half day on the boat - started really well with bright sunshine and I was down to a tshirt at one point, so the paint brush was wielded with a will and the second coat was put on the hatch covers and wash boards - those are now done...  tick...

...unfortunately at this point the clouds closed in and as it looked like rain was coming, rather than put another coat on the rubbing strakes, I decided to hold off and do it on a more settled day..

Having found the '12v electrics box' though, there was plenty to get on with - first and best job of the day was finally wiring the dri-plug for the auto pilot in to the 12v system. I fitted the plug last year but had just not got round to doing it - no point really as I hadn't put in the mount for the auto pilot, but that was to change today. Rather than wire it in to the switch box, as it has an in-line fuse fitted, I've wired it in direct to the battery - negative direct to the battery, the positive is wired in to the main isolator switch ..  basically then - when the power is on to the switch panel, the plug is live, when I switch off the power at the isolator the power to the plug also goes off.

 So it was with some trepidation that (and after having checked polarity twice with a multimeter! ) I finally plugged in the auto pilot, and then switched on the power at the isolator - single beep and the magic wand powered up..  brilliant, very chuffed with that!

Separately the old VHF has been dismantled and removed from the boat ready for the new one to go in..  I'll put the necessary power fittings on this week, and then it should be a quick swap over..

Last of all the stringers look good under their first coating of grey primer (but it smells of old socks!), but I noticed a few remaining flakes of rust, so have removed those and Fertan'd them prior to a second coat of the primer - they look good, but I may have to paint the bilges now!

Jobs completed/ing .. paint, paint, paint...

Unseasonably fine weather in the UK at the moment - I heard it was up to 14' (C) yesterday, but either way wall to wall sun, and too good a day to waste in the office when the next 'beast from the east' could be striking at any time, and there is a boat to get ready for the new season.. 

Set myself a mini list for the day but even then I didn't do too well, the rubbing strakes in particular took longer than I had thought, but ended up looking pretty good....
  1. Cockpit hatches/washboard - clean and paint - cleaned, masked, and one coat applied..  I'll put a second coat on tomorrow and the jobs done..

  2. Rubbing strakes/outboard pad - rub down and re-coat x 2 - bit more problematical this one...  what I think has happened is that the heat last summer caused the coating to expand/shrink or whatever, but either way water has got behind it..   stripped off all the loose, sanded down to a firm layer, let it dry out a bit, and then gave it a coat of spirit based wood coating... it needs another coat at whuich time my guess is the line between old and new will disappear, but at the moment the wood is clean, dry, smooth and protected, and I'm not going to loose any sleep over not having spent a day stripping them completely..  if it nags me this summer, I'll do it next winter!

  3. dri plug - wire it in to the switch panel - no time
  4. replace/rewire new VHF - couldn't find my box of 12v spades/connectors etc. I'll do it tomorrow now I've found them where I put them "safely"..  
  5. paint the stringers - coat of epoxy primer is on..   another tomorrow...
  6. cockpit hatch latch - done.. 
  7. glue wiring holders to hull were in the box of 12v spades/connectors etc. so I'll do this tomorrow as well..  

Jobs completed.. life jacket service...

Another job done.. slowly but surely we are getting closer..

First one - canister weighed - within 1 gm, which is close enough when the jackets are stored in a cold loft..  

Inflated and left for 24 hours..

Ditto the second one...

Went back up yesterday 24 hours later and they're still firm - canisters screwed back in firmly, arming pins checked, bladder deflated, folded, and ready for a new season..

Anchor light and stuff..

...and on the seventh day there was light, and the light was jolly bloody damn good, and Steve did a little dance round the boat... ...t...