Sunday, September 29, 2013

In The Bag

On our previous boats we used either those cheap mesh bags from Mexico, or old sail bags to carry stuff around. I wanted to look a little classier this time so I ordered a few of those personalized canvas bags from Lands' End.
They arrived last week and I'm quite pleased with them. But they are so clean! (I'm sure we'll fix that in no time.)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

High Excitement

We have a new head here on Thistle...
It's sitting on the saloon floor, but we're close!

 We also have the Purasan unit here and we are waiting for the holding tank to be made so we can install everything.
We are losing some storage space in the head. It's not just because of the Purasan unit which is 16"x19"x14", but also the controller and the tablet dispenser. I'll show you how it all comes together later.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Plumbing Weekend

It all started with a new water pump and a new galley faucet.
We wanted a faucet with a pullout sprayer to help rinse the dishes. And the old water pump was leaking. Sounds simple, right?

But like most boat repairs, it started a cascade of problems that took way longer and cost way more than expected.

The faucet went in easily enough and we discovered why the little sprayer wasn't working. It was connected to the seawater washdown pump, so it only works when you turn on that pump. It's handy to have seawater at the galley sink; it can help save fresh water. Then the new water pump went in easily too, so Saturday was a successful day.

However, when we got up Sunday morning and turned on the water pump, the pressure tank failed. So we chased down a new one, tore out some more unused stuff, repositioned the bilge pump, brought a hose down through the forward hatch to wash down the bilges, rebuilt the bilge pump, cleaned the strainers, pumped out the bilges, tidied up more wires, rinsed the bilges some more, pumped them out again, installed the new pressure tank, put all the floorboards back, and finally at 5:00 pm we were done. 
The good thing about all this is that we can fix these things ourselves, and we're fixing them here where parts are readily available instead of some remote anchorage in Mexico.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

No Water...

Here is our water pressure tank. Looks pretty good from the top, doesn't it? 

Unfortunately, this is how it looks on the bottom. I guess the new water pump we put in yesterday was a little too much for it, because this morning when we turned on the water pump we heard the unmistakable sound of water escaping under pressure. And then the bilge pump. So basically we were rinsing our bilges with our fresh water. Bummer.

After breakfast (and washing dishes with teakettle water) we started tearing it out which led to a few other projects while we were in that part of the bilge. We removed a bilge pump and repositioned it. We removed the air conditioner strainer, water pump and hoses, since we will be removing the air conditioning. And we are cleaning under those areas. There's actually mud under there. From the anchor locker, I guess. 

Now off to the marine store to see if they have a water accumulator tank.

The marine store didn't have one, but we can order one for $176.00....
or we can just pick up THE EXACT SAME THING today at Home Depot for $40.00. 

What do you think we did?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

There's No Such Thing As A 9" Dinner Plate

Have you ever tried to find 9" dinner plates? After Googling "9 inch dinner plates" I know I'm not the only one searching for them because I discovered there's a theory that using 9" plates will help you to lose weight. The trick is to find them!

We don't want 9" plates to lose weight, we want them because that's all that will fit in our tiny boat sink.
Here is a regular 10" dinner plate sitting on our sink. I've been using them on the boat, but washing them is a real pain. I have to put them in at a 45 degree angle, and rinsing them without slopping water all over the counter is difficult. If the spray nozzle worked it would be better, but it doesn't work. Just another thing to add to the list of repairs.

I've learned that 9" plates are considered luncheon plates, so I could get some of those. Or I could get plates at a restaurant supply place; they have all kinds of sizes. Or I could find oval plates. 

I have a few old oval restaurant plates and this one fits perfectly, but they are all different styles. However, I do like their toughness.

I'm not sure what we will do about dishes, but I'm leaning towards oval plates. Which means I have to go shopping at department stores which I don't enjoy. Maybe I can find some online and have them shipped to my doorstep. That would be much better.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Time For A New Head

When we bought the boat the whole head area smelled bad and we figured the hoses had absorbed the sewer  smell and needed to be replaced. And the holding tank was a rubber bladder that was actually intended for fuel, so that had to go too. And the toilet valve was starting to leak a bit. So we decided to rip it ALL out and start "fresh".

Saturday I shut the thru hulls, pumped out the holding tank, and started cutting hoses. It's amazing how much gunk had accumulated in the hoses. I'm surprised we could use the head at all.

To contain the sewage I sprayed that expanding foam stuff into the pipes as I cut them. I was careful to cut above the level of fluid in the holding tank, but still some stinky water escaped into the bilge. Working on heads is absolutely disgusting!

Anyway, I got everything out; holding tank, toilet, macerator pump, two Y valves, and several feet of clogged hose. And Sunday I scrubbed and rinsed every surface behind and under the sink and toilet area with hot water from the shower wand. And suddenly the head is smelling a lot better.

We have ordered a new toilet and Purasan unit which will treat the sewage so we can dump it overboard with a clear conscience. Except not here in California. See, here in California, you must NEVER dump sewage in the water and your Y valve must be locked in the holding tank position and you just use the pump out facilities at the fuel dock. However, the minute we leave California waters we will probably never see another pump out station, so then what do we do?

We figured this solution will work for us. Here in California we will use the holding tank and pump out stations. The holding tank will hold only treated sewage so it won't smell bad. Then after we leave California, we can pump the treated sewage overboard and not feel like we are polluting the ocean.

I know you are on the edge of your seats waiting to see the outcome of all this, so I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Engine Runs!

Here's a pretty picture I took the other night.

In other news, we ran the engine today! It's been out of commission for two months. Not because we took that long to service it, but because we kept finding other little things that needed fixing too. And wiring that needed re-routing. And we removed the 220v inverter thing. And built an entirely new bracket for the refrigeration compressor. So today we bolted it onto the top of the engine, put the final belt on, and fired her up. WooHoo! Now we can actually go boating again.

Friday, September 6, 2013


Here is a photo of our first sailboat. It was a Fantasia 35, hull #47, built in about 1974. We bought it and moved aboard with no blue water sailing experience, but planned to sail it to Mexico. We lived aboard, learned to sail it, outfitted it, and took off after about 18 months. We had a great time in Baja California for a few months, but discovered that the people who bought our house were not making the payments to us, so we came back and recovered what we could and sold the boat. We've never regretted all the valuable lessons we learned from that experience. And after we returned we did some skippering on other boats and learned even more about traveling on the ocean.

The lesson that seemed most important was that you need a boat that sails well for cruising. The Fantasia was comfortable and had plenty of tankage and storage space, but it had way too much freeboard, really full sections fore and aft, and was rather under powered. We added the little self tending staysail and that helped some, but none of our passages were anything to brag about. Some Fantasia owners have added bowsprits to balance the sailplan and been quite happy with the results.

So although we didn't end up keeping Skua, I still have a little soft spot in my heart for her and am thankful for all the lessons she taught us.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Polishing the Ports

One of the issues with an older boat is the damage done to plastic by the sun. Here is how our portlights looked; they were all hazy and blurry.

The captain had the brilliant idea of using this headlight restoration kit to clean them up. He got it at the automotive store last weekend for about $30.00 and it worked really well.

The first step is to sand the plastic with this little block to remove oxidation.

Then you buff the plastic using one of the compounds and the little buffing wheel supplied.

Then you apply a UV protection and suddenly you can see out of your windows again! He also did all the portholes too. Four portlights and eight portholes only took about an hour and it was time well spent, don't you think?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Spice Racks

Last weekend I figured out the size that the spice racks needed to be and, miracle of miracles, I found these little organizers at OSH.
They hold five jars perfectly and attach to the inside of the cabinet door with that "command" adhesive stuff so we didn't have to drill any holes.

We also decided where the paper towels should go and installed a holder for them.  It's just to the left of the sink and way up high so you won't hit your head on it.

We also made a spot for the coffee pot. It was just a little too big to fit in this fiddle rail behind the sink....
So the captain brought a little drum sander and widened the spot a bit.
And now it fits in here and is held securely.

It might sound like I'm going on too much about these little details, but really it's ALL about the details!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chamber of Horrors

Everyone knows our boat is 23 years old, so why do they raise their eyebrows when we tell them we are replacing all the hoses? I think it's really important to keep the seawater on the OUTSIDE of the hull, and new hoses are pretty cheap insurance to guarantee that.

I crawled into the Chamber of Horrors, also known as the aft lazarette, yesterday morning to replace the last four hoses in there. It only took two hours, three feet of hose, and sixteen hose clamps.

The old hoses looked pretty good on the top.....
but here is how they looked on the bottom!
Let me show you a close up.
Here's the worst one. And THIS is why we are replacing all the hoses. 

Kind of makes you want to get a mirror and check the bottom of your hoses too, doesn't it?

Here's how the aft lazarette looks now:

Trawler Lamp Bracket

The usual place for a trawler lamp is over the table. Unfortunately our table has an electric light in that position. But we came up with a solution: a bracket that hangs below the electric light.
We designed it this morning and the captain routed it out of 1/4" brass this afternoon. He also added a little embellishment.
We've spent the last two days out on the boat working on little projects and this was a really nice one to cross off the list.