Tuesday, August 28, 2012

License to steal...and advice on a great app!

Have you ever noticed that the prices for boat parts are outrageously expensive at some large chain stores that specialize in all things marine. We needed sixteen stainless cotter pins for the turnbuckles on the rigging. Off we went to the marine store and of course they only had six in the right size. They were $4.59 for a package of three.($1.53 each) For those of you who don't know, a cotter pin slips through a hole in the adjustable part of the rigging and is bent to wrap around the turnbuckle to keep it from rotating while under the normal pressures of sailing. Shirl has an app on her I Phone...(gadget girl)...called ShopSavvy, (free app by ShopSavvy Inc.). The app allows you to scan a products' bar code and it then lists where you can buy that product locally or on line and gives you the current prices of that item at each place. Shirl scanned the bar code on the cotter pins and the app let us know they were available at Home Depot for 87 cents each. We decided to check a locally owned marine store that was in the same plaza. The store not only had the stainless pins I needed but they were priced at 40 cents each. Big difference...I know there are different grades of stainless steel, but I am going to try the 40 cent pins to see if they work out. They appear to be from the same manufacturer, without the personalized packaging.

 Looks like 40 cents to me...surely not $1.53.

 This is what the app looks like. You can scan any bar code with your smart phone. Here is an example.

 We scanned the bar code on this rechargeable LED spotlight we would like to get for our trip.
The prices that the app displayed are below.

The app also keeps a history of your scans...very cool. There was quite a difference in price on the spotlight.   I thought I would pass this on. I am not affiliated in any way with this company...but since the app is free, it works well, and you can save a few $ for the cruising kitty, give it a try. Maybe I should ask them to be a blog sponsor...
I will be making a three mile trip to Walmart for the spotlight.

Beautiful sailing last Sunday on Lake Erie several miles off shore. I wanted to make sure Shirl was OK with not seeing land. So far she seems fine.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Always bear in mind, that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing". Abraham Lincoln

It has been a week since my last post. Unfortunately the marina where Serenity is docked in Lorain, Ohio does not have WiFi. I spent last week working on Serenity while Shirl visited with her family in Michigan. She and Rachel did complete their sixty mile walk and we thank all who donated to a great cause. Shirl was a little tired and sore after walking sixty miles in three days, but was very happy she participated. A great accomplishment...I do not know many people who have walked sixty miles in three days.  She drove to Lorain on Friday and we had dinner at the marina restaurant...Jackalopes, then spent a lot of Saturday and Sunday sailing. The weather was fantastic, and Serenity sailed beautifully. We have much more confidence sailing now, and can even relax and take in all the beauty that Lake Erie has to offer.
Our top speed Sunday was seven knots with thirteen knots of wind. Not exactly fast, but steady and comfortable on all points of sail. Serenity is a great boat for the trip we want to take.

I completed a few projects this week as well. I installed a Nicro Day/Night Plus solar vent in our main cabin hatch. In order to install the vent I needed to cut a 3 3/4 inch hole in the Lexan plastic. I was a little apprehensive because of the age of the plastic. Blue tape allowed me to cut the hole in the Lexan using a jig saw without scratching the plastic.

A picture after the hole is cut.

 I did not have a clue that the plastic was this thick.

 The finished project...not difficult but the inside trim piece was made for an installation through the deck. The instructions state that if you install the vent in a hatch you do not need to use the inside trim piece, and you can order a flexible piece to slide over the vent to cover the screws. I simply modified the trim by removing about 3/8 inch from its depth. The only other issue was that the manufacturer sent machine screws for the installation...again for a deck installation. I decided to use bolts, nuts and lock washers,  stainless of course, to keep from taking a chance on cracking the Lexan ...so it was off to Home Depot. 

Finished project...the vent runs on solar during the day and charges batteries so it can continue to run at night. It has an on/off switch as well, and is very quiet. It can be used in exhaust mode or intake mode. This should help keep fresh air circulating through the boat even when all the ports and hatches are closed.
The hatch is still functional, and the vent looks good as well.

I also took care of a squeaky winch. After dis-assembly it appears that water had gotten into the winch as you can tell by the appearance of the grease.

The winch body was cleaned and checked for wear

Here is a picture of the parts cleaned and ready fo reassembly.

I repacked the bearings with grease as well. This was done the old fashioned way...put grease on the bearings and use the palm of your hand to work it into the bearings. The rest of the gears and all moving parts were given a light coat of grease. The IP 35 manual states that this should be done to each winch once a year. If you don't feel like doing it, price new winchs...that will motivate you!
The winch now works great!
We are still planning a September start date for our trip. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The bed project...

Sleeping on Serenity involves climbing into a v-berth. There are actually three places to sleep. The v-berth, the aft cabin sometimes called the quarter berth, as well as the settees in the main cabin. The port settee pulls out to make a double bunk when the table is up out of the way. We are using the quarter berth as a storage area at this point. This will eventually be our guest room, in the event that some family members or friends decide to join us at some point on our trip. The settee will be used by the person off watch while sailing at night. There is less motion in the middle of the boat, and the companion way is close to the settee making it possible to get to the deck quickly if necessary.The v-berth is the best place to sleep because it has two opening ports as well as a large hatch on the cabin roof. Of course climbing into the v-berth and then turning around to lie down involves some skill, and flexibility. For me the flexibility is not there, so getting into the v-berth is much more difficult than getting into a regular bed. As I have stated before, everything on a boat is a compromise. From the very first night I spent on Serenity back in June on the Black River, the cushions in the v-berth have been very uncomfortable…like sleeping on wood. The cushions are  new thanks to the previous owner, and he did tell me that he thinks he may have ordered foam that is too firm. I would agree with him. To make the v-berth more comfortable we purchased a 2.5 inch memory foam mattress topper at Costco. After measuring the v-berth we decided that the king size would fit the best. We laid the foam out flat on the dock and put the cushions on top of the foam and traced around them. The foam was then cut with a knife to size. We now need to adapt the zippered cloth cover to the new size of the cushions. We also added a 1 inch soft foam topper on top of the memory foam. The v-berth is now much more comfortable… as in more like a mattress, but still a little tricky to get into.

 Laying the cushions on top of the memory foam.

 Cushions traced with a Sharpie.

Memory foam then cut with a knife to size.

40 miles done...20 to go

Shirl has completed 40 miles and will finish on Sunday with a total of 60!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Where it all ends I can't fathom my friends, if I knew I might toss out my anchor...

One of the most important pieces of safety equipment on any cruising boat is the ground tackle. The anchors need to not only be large/heavy enough to hold your boat, but the right type to secure your boat in the type of bottom you are anchoring in. There are many different types of anchors available, some of which hold well in sand, while others do better on a mud or a soil based bottoms. The rode...what secures the anchor to the boat needs to be strong as well, and an all chain rode adds weight and holding power to your system. All of the reading that I have done seems to point to the fact that if you anchor a lot at some point you will drag. (anchor doesn't hold) Nobody wants to be faced with a moving boat at 2:00 a.m., or having to be on anchor watch, unless there are high winds which may make it necessary. I have anchored boats before...never a sail boat, never in sand, and not  with the added effect of tides. This should be a great learning experience. My understanding is that you can put your hand or foot on the rode and if you feel movement or vibration you are dragging.

 This is an example of a fisherman's anchor. It is huge and on display in Lorain Ohio in front of the marina.

 This is a picture of Serenity's anchors. The one on the left is a 35 pound CQR and the one on the right is a 44 pound Bruce. They were both just galvanized before I purchased the boat. The Bruce has 200 feet of 5/16 inch Acco chain, and the CQR has 100 feet of Acco chain with 120 feet of 5/8 inch nylon rode. Serenity also has a Lewmar bi-directional windlass to make anchoring easier on the crew.

Both anchors are currently on the bowsprit. I am not sure I will keep both there. It adds a lot of weight to the front. My plan is to use both and see which one holds the best. I would think that the Bruce would do well in sand or soil...the CQR should do well in sand. You can see the windlass in this picture as well.

This is a large anchor obviously lost...we do not want this to happen. The anchor needs to be secured with strong shackles and we need to avoid anchoring in rocks! Anchors can also be used to maintain position in wind or current if there is an emergency. There certainly is a lot to learn to be able to cruise safely. There is no substitute for experience and cruising will provide that.

Update: Shirley and Rachael continue their "Susan G Komen Three Day  for the Cure" walk today after accomplishing 21.8 miles yesterday! 

                                                 Thanks to all who sponsored her walk.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Walk for the Cure"

This weekend Shirley will participate in the Susan G Komen "Three Day for the Cure" sixty mile walk. She will be walking with her daughter Rachel. She is very excited about this walk as well as sharing this journey with her daughter. Shirley has been raising money toward her goal for several months, so that she could participate in this walk. Cancer has impacted most families, as it has ours, and Shirley feels strongly about this cause. She will walk twenty miles a day for three days, and she and Rachel will camp in a tent at night.
Shirley and Rachel...have a great walk.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A pirate looks at one

Cash turned one with a great party...pirate jammies compliments of Pop Pop and Shirl. He seemed to love his party and enjoyed the day. Cash is a beautiful boy...

The birthday boy!

Cash and Momma.

Cash and Pop Pop.

 The party had a bow tie theme. The cake was great. Everyone was given a bow tie to wear.

Cash loved the birthday cookies.
Happy Birthday Cash! We love you!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Shirl and I finally had time to sail Serenity for three days straight. We averaged about six hours of sailing per day.The weather here on Lake Erie was beautiful all three days, with enough wind to sail all day. The wind typically shifts in the late afternoon. We were able to practice all points of sail except a downwind run.  We practiced putting up sails, tacking, reefing, and maintaining course. We did get Serenity up to 7.2 knots….sweet. Because Serenity has a full keel I am told she will not be as fast as the lighter boats with the fin keels. My question is at seven knots are you really in a hurry? I decided before I began to search for a sailboat that it was more important for me to get somewhere than to get somewhere fast.  With the amount of sail that Serenity carries she seems to do pretty well, but to be honest I have very little to compare her too. My only sailing experience before this was on a Catalina 30,(sailing lessons), and Hobie Cats. Shirl and I seem to be very comfortable with the size of Serenity, and the available space. We are beginning to get comfortable working as a team to sail her. This morning it is raining so I am in the cabin writing this blog post which I can not publish because we don't have  Internet service at this marina…2012 and no WiFi? WTH?

 This building/lighthouse is at the entrance to the harbor, and is the red channel marker as well.

 Cruising along on Serenity... a beautiful day on Lake Erie.

 Another shot.

 For some reason Shirl is fascinated with the sails. We have a lot of these pictures.

 Sticks in the sunset.

 This is an interesting boat we walked by at our marina. Anyone know what make it is?

 We walked past these two birds sitting together on a lifeline. They were so involved with each other they let me put the camera in their face and take a picture at night with a flash. Cute...

Shirl at sunset. Lake Erie seems to have a lot of great sunsets.You can see a sailboat in the background just under the sun.  Great picture!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Six weeks until we cruise...

I have come to the realization that we are going to have to compromise on some things if we are going to leave in six weeks. If we try to wait until every thing is perfect we will be delayed. I know that you can never prepare for everything, and we really do not want to be north when winter arrives. We will prepare as best as we can in the next six weeks, and try to get south before the bad weather begins.
I have decided on the following upgrades to the boat, and when they are completed we are going to cruise. All of these either have been done or will be done this month. We have been very fortunate so far that the upgrades to Serenity have been few, and other than the new radar, we were aware of and incorporated them into the boat budget.  I have read articles and posts by people who bought boats and then had to spend an unbelievable amount of money on repairs that should have been obvious before or even during the marine survey. I think that a lot of research, and some knowledge about boat systems will help prevent these issues. I can not overstate the importance of a complete and comprehensive survey. There is nothing inexpensive about having work done on your boat, and I am fortunate to be able to do much of it myself, and grateful that Serenity's previous owners took great care of her. So far  we have had no major issues. Never the less a used boat is worth only what someone is willing to pay. If you are in the market for a boat, set that limit before you fall in love with the boat. It makes it easier to walk away if your offer is not accepted. Do not spend your entire budget on the purchase. Make sure that there is some room left to make improvements...there will be some.

List of things to do:
1. Updated radar: the existing  radar was a unit that was installed in 1996. It is functional. Since then advances in this technology have  improved radar systems somewhat, although not as much as you would think.The problem with the existing radar is that you have to leave the helm and go below to see the screen. This may work for an experienced sailor...but since we are newbies, I am not thrilled about leaving the helm to look at a radar screen. Honestly, if we are sailing at night you may not be able to pry my hands off the wheel. The screen also takes up a lot of room at the nav station. It is gigantic. The newer radar systems display information on your chart plotter at the helm. I am having the Garmin 18HD installed on the existing radar mast. The radar information will then show up on the Garmin chart plotter I have purchased for the helm, as well as at the nav station chart plotter, which was already on the boat. It has a great display, now I just need to figure out what I am looking at. Will be done by August 31.

2. I have also ordered a Garmin AIS 600 Automatic Identification System Transceiver. This will be connected to the chart plotter on a NMEA 2000 network and give us information on vessels that are near us. (size of vessel, course, speed) I consider this a real safety feature especially for night sailing, or sailing when there is poor visability, or if we are just sailing in shipping lanes. For peace of mind it will provide it is worth the money. I will post more information on these systems when we are actually using them. All commercial vessels are required to have AIS transmitters on board, so we should be aware of larger ships that could possibly be on a collision course with us. Will be done by August 31
3. Chart plotter at the helm...part of the NMEA 2000 network. The mount and wires were already there, so it is just a matter of hooking it up. I did find out through Mark at Parker Marine that there was an upgrade to the existing chart plotter at the nav station. I downloaded the update from the Garmin web site to an HD SanDisk and will install the update this Sunday. The chart plotter will help keep us on course, and let us know when we get off course. Done
4. Safety Equipment..life jackets with harnesses...jack lines...and tethers, as well as foul weather jackets. Done
5. A solar panel has been added to match the existing panel on the frame above dinghy davits. We want to be as energy independent as possible. Done
6. Chart books and cruising guides for the areas we intend to go. (Have some and will need to purchase more) I feel that paper charts are necessary in case the electronics fail. It is always good to have a plan B when the ocean is involved. Shirl is going to download a navigation app to her iPad as well. So we will have a plan B and C. Also Shirl will get navigation experience using the app... she is a gadget girl. Partially complete will be done by August 31
7. Serenity has some spares...filters...belts...gaskets and such. I will need to inventory these and purchase what we feel we will need.
8. New filter for the Seagull IV drinking water purification system... I am ordering that next week after getting the serial number off of the old filter. We are fortunate this came with the boat since we will be filling our water tank in some remote areas, and it is expensive to purchase. We do not have a water maker and have no plans at this time to buy one. Will be done by August 31
9. This is a biggie. We will need to purchase a hypalon dinghy with a fiberglass hull as well as a 9 HP outboard motor. When you are cruising this is your car, and tends to be used a lot. I hope to find a used one in good condition. Serenity already has dinghy davits, (our garage) to secure the dinghy while we are underway. Working on this, but if we do not find one we will leave without it add price them on the east coast.
10. I am still debating on a Honda 2000 generator to charge the batteries when there is not a lot of sun...may stay undecided until we are cruising. Probably will not get done before we leave.
11. Purchase an EPIRB...another safety item...more on this later. Done
12. Purchase a two inch memory foam mattress topper.  It will be trimmed to fit over the cushions in the V berth. I am not sure why, but the cushions on our boat are very hard...as in very uncomfortable. They are brand new... hopefully they will soften some. Done

This Saturday we are going to Michigan and attend Rachel (Shirl's daughter) and David's wedding. Sunday we will be on Serenity and sailing Monday through Thursday if the weather permits. Next Saturday is Cash's(my youngest grandson) first birthday party. Then more sailing. We are getting excited about our trip.

Any one want to buy a functional older radar system very inexpensively? Email me at blamebuffett@yahoo.com