Archive for May, 2007

Yard day 2, new SSB

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Shanti is out of the water, powerwashed, and waiting for the new bottom. I asked Mike Haley, our yard project manager, to go with “1+2” on the micron extra (one layer and two extra layers on the leading edges), since it’s just as fast, less heavy, and cheaper. Next spring I can consider getting all the built-up paint off and either switching to new paint or starting fresh.

The mast-pull and re-rig estimates came in. The mast r/r was more than I expected, the actual rigging work was less, so it sort of balanced out.

I bought an SSB and tuner today. Rather than pony out for a new ICOM type-certified marine radio/tuner (for upwards of $3K), I bought a lightly used Kenwood TS-50, which is a ham rig that gets good reviews, and weighs 1/3 as much. I also got an SGC 230 tuner, which gets rave reviews (though their radios do not). I also put together an install list to do it “right”.

  • Group U1 31AH battery in battery box underneath chart table (also use for nav alternate power)
  • 2 way battery switch
  • 30 amp DC breaker
  • Battery cables (long ground, charger to switch, switch to battery)
  • Copper foil for antenna groundplane
  • Mini8 coax for radio-to-tuner connection with UHF type PL-259 connectors
  • GTO-15 high voltage wire-for-tuner to antenna connection

At the yard

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Garth and I dropped the boat over at KKMI and spent an hour reviewing the job list with the supervisor. Nice little sail over from SFYC. It reminded me of the day I bought the boat, when I realized just how sweet she drives in 12 kts or so. It’s good to be reminded that sailing is about being on the water, not at West Marine.

The boat has Micron Extra on the bottom, and they are recommending multiple coats, especially on the foil and hull leading edges where the diver’s scotchbrite pad wears through extra quickly. They will turn the re-rig estimate around in a couple days.

In addition, we got the old bent boom off in anticipation of the new Ballenger boom, got the final tether points and lee cloth tie-ins installed, and cut the cheesy ronstan mini-shackles off the spinn halyards. The splice was just big enough to luggage tag on the older, bigger shackles.

Weather and Nav Software

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Bob’s been chasing this subject, and I’ve been doing a little research on it as well. The standard seems to be the (expensive) MaxSea Navigator Pro, the alternative software (cheaper) appears to be Fugawi:

We do not currently have the capabilities of getting GRIB files via email (when they say GRIB via SSB, they mean GRIB via Pactor-based email over SSB, I think). However, there has been some talk around the campfire about getting a satellite phone, which would give us the capacity to get these files. If Fugawi would be as useful as MaxSea, then the difference in price may make the Iridium phone achievable.

For reference, here is a good article on weatherfax “alternatives”:

And here is a good background article on GRIB files:

New tunes

Monday, May 28th, 2007

Just in case I forget, a project actually took less time than I thought it would. Of course, it was a project that wasn’t even on any of my lists. Once you start pricing standing rigging and shipping a 10,000# boat from Hawaii, a new CD player looks like a bargain.

So I replaced the old Sony tape deck with a new Sony CD player. Pulled the old out, stuck the new in, plugged in the wiring harness, done. 15 minutes.

It will probably catch fire in the middle of the pacific.

Yard Tasks

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

The boat is going into KKMI on tuesday for about a week on the hard. I’m going to try to do as much as possible myself, because my checkbook is trembling in fear.

  • Sand and paint bottom
  • Replace propshaft cutlass bearing
  • Pull mast and inspect mast and hardware
  • Reinforce gooseneck (i.e. throughbolt or backing plate)
  • Quote new standing rigging and replace if appropriate
  • Install backstay insulators
  • Install Orca Green tricolor masthead light
  • Install external forward halyard block, rig messenger
  • Drain the old diesel, replace shutoff valve, replace w/new diesel
  • Fabricate new lifelines

Good work day

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Friday was one of those days: Swing by the boat and notice that the epoxy in the 3/8 padeye mounting holes hasn’t set up. Drive to Alameda to get a water pump impeller, get stuck in traffic. Drive to Quantum to pick up the sails, discover that they’ve knocked off for the long weekend. That night, for the first time ever, and right after I finished the 100 hour service, then engine wouldn’t even turn over.

Saturday, on the other hand, we got a lot done. Bob, Garth, Shana and Heather all came down to sail, so we turned it into a work day instead. First, the engine turned out to be a loose inline fuse holder between the solenoid and the relay. The epoxy had set up after an extra 2 days. (Note, even though I love TAP, their epoxy sucks. It’s just too hard to nail a 4-to-1 mix in the field. I’m going back to the System 3, or maybe to MAS.) Then I discovered the power of ten hands are faster than two. Lots of crossing out on the lists below.

Thanks everybody.

SSB blues

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Good news and frustrating news on the SSB front. After extensive research, I think I can get away without mounting an external (i.e. SLOW) sintered plate on the outside of the hull. No less an authority than Gordon West recommends “starting simple” with the groundplane. That’s a relief.

But I’m having trouble finding a used SSB/tuner that works for me. I looked at an SGC powertalk 2000 yesterday. Super-nice people selling it, so none of the usual electronics-on-ebay worries. But the web is overflowing with SGC horror stories. Anyways, the seller couldn’t find the tuner, which I need. I made an offer, assuming she finds the tuner, and we’ll see if I end up with an SGC.

The other option is a used “mobile” ham rig, like a Kenwood TS50. Which has some type-acceptance issues, and the usual should-I-buy-a-used-radio heartburn.

Time is running out on this one.

Engine work

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Finally got around to doing a “spring” maintenance on the engine. I ordered the official “A” level maintenence kit from Torrensons, which came in a clever Universal labeled pelican-style case. Of course, somewhere along the way, Shanti’s waterpump was changed to a non-standard Oberdorfer, so I need to replace the impeller/o-ring/gasket on the engine, and the spare in the box. Also, we have a Racor primary filter–I should get a spare and put it in the box. And a small-sized filter strap wrench.

All of the filters were marked ’05, but the engine hasn’t really been run except for maintenance purposes for that time. The m3-20 is self-bleeding, so that saved me some diesel in the bilge.

From an engine perspective, what we have left to do for the Transpac:

  • Replace waterpump impeller
  • Replace exchanger zincs
  • Strap down the 2 main batteries
  • If required, add “3rd” battery (for emergency use). i.e. motorcycle AGM battery from the KLR
  • Drain the old diesel, replace shutoff valve, replace w/new diesel

From a big-picture standpoint (i.e. not for the transpac), I’d like to put in a little Heart battery monitor down by the battery switch to keep track of usage.


Monday, May 21st, 2007

The ORR measurer came to the boat last evening and did the freeboard measurement and ballast inventory. With these measurements and the design specifications in their database, they can calculate the weight of the boat and assign a rating. He mentioned that I should try to claim the roller furling credit, even racing with the drum off.

One cool thing I’ve noticed is that, no matter how many outside sailors (armchair or otherwise) try to offer me words of conservative caution (read: discouragement), the people actually associated with the race–like Zac the shipment coordinator, Chuck the ISAF inspector, or Dick the ORR measurer–are really 100% encouraging.

Inspections are a big part of this race. Here’s a list of the things I need to ask Chuck via email before he comes over to inspect on the 12th.

  1. Are sign-ups for the USSailing SAS class on July 7 sufficient, in place of “records of training”. yes – class sign-ups are sufficient
  2. Is it sufficient to be able to wire the 2nd set of navigation lights to the starting battery to provide “alternate power”.
  3. Must the lifelines be bare wire? yes – ISAF 3.14.6
  4. Is there a “banding tool” requirement?
  5. Are 2 hand-powered bilge pumps required (boat LOA 29’11”) – yes
  6. Are 2 seperate permanent water tanks required
    – answer: The Chief Inspector Roby Bessent has referred us back to ISAF 3.21.1ii which states that the permanent water tank(s) must be divided into two separate compartments.  So, if the one tank cannot be divided, then an additional permananet tank/bladder with a connection and shut-off valve would satisfy the requirement.

Amateur Radio Dorkathon

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

So I took a morning off from working on the boat or sailing and went up to Novato to take two Amateur radio tests–the Technician and General class–and passed both, which had me pretty pumped up. This is tangentally related to sailing since the General class license is required to operate the Marine SSB in the “ham” frequencies. But it’s not really a transpac related certification. One cool thing is that I’ll be able to test my SSB install by calling Dave in Mill Valley on the ham bands, which will make testing a lot more effective.

Other than that, I spoke-shaved and cut up a piece of ripped teak to use as cockpit bench toerails for the driver. And I spent a couple hours trying to figure out the optimum balance of time/money/weight/usabilty for the emerency steering system.