Lazy morning reflections

We have been working pretty hard the last few days so have had a do nothing morning. But it has given some space for reflections and sharing.

Aft Cabin

Having a true aft cabin, one that is behind the cockpit rather than under it as on lots of more modern boats (possible because they are much wider at the stern and have much higher sides above the water), is fantastic for couples living aboard. I was able to get up, go to the loo, make a coffee, watch youtube without disturbing Jane at all. When I had a mid morning nap to recover from all that exertion she was also able to sit in the cockpit without disturbing me.

When we were looking we didn’t find any other boats anywhere near our price range with this layout.

One thing we are planning to change at some point is the door to the ensuite heads compartment. With the double bed infill it is a very tight squeeze to get in. So we are looking at extending the opening “round the corner” and adding a hinged section to the door. That will allow us to have a door handle and lock again (we had to take it off because we kept scraping ourselves on in as we squeezed was it).

Talking of doors

From the main saloon going forward towards the main heads compartment and forecabin there is a sliding door. It does not slide very well despite some attempts to adjust it. Of course if it did slide well then it might start opening and closing as the boat heels when sailing.

We are going to look at changing it to a hinged door opening into the saloon which should help make the heads seem more spacious too (just need a way to stop shower water running down the door into the saloon).

We have already removed the multi-purpose door to the forecabin from the heads compartment. We have lost the ability to have a corridor forward with the toilet hidden but gained headroom (because there was a timber doorstop for the top of the door). A simple door for the forecabin will be enough.

What is behind the headlining?

We have mentioned the ability of a foam backed headlining to hide leaks by absorbing the water and also by letting it appear some distance from the leak itself. Also for cupboards to hide problems (as with the loose steering gearbox hidden behind the galley cupboards). As we have been painting the aft heads compartment and the galley we have found another, nastier ability. Behind the headlining and some cupboards was a black sticky film, coming from leaks to the engine space. The barriers had acted as a filter masking the fact that nasty stuff was leaking from the engine into cabin spaces, but they would have only stopped the sooty stuff not the gases. Worth checking if air can escape your engine space without you realising.

Afternoon update

The epoxy inside the galley had dried enough. So Jane got to paint everything that will be visible under and over the worktop. Will need more coats and eventually above the worktop will have a splashback and some storage (we don’t want it to be boxed in as much as it was before, this feels far more spacious).

Meanwhile I was getting stuck in the aft locker (lazarette). The goal was to remove some of the timber that had been used for the gas bottles, plus fit some insulation to keep our feet a bit warmer in bed (we have had some condensation onto the mattress/sheet/duvet). So managed to fit 20mm of closed cell foam insulation. Will see if it helps.

That locker is was clearly not designed for adults to get to the far corners 😭 It could do with some paint and one day we will need to fit windvane steering supports to it. It think that will be Jane’s job!

Main mast foot

Well we haven’t been working on what we had planned so far today. The epoxy we did yesterday is still curing and a long way from being touch dry (at least the loose bits we have been drying in the clubhouse). All the drying times are given at 25°C and unsurprisingly the unheated clubhouse is nothing like that temperature. We have had a fan heater drying the coated pieces in the boat and they are now nearly ok to paint.

So instead we have been refitting the main mast foot. It had been leaking and the bolts were very rusty. So we had removed it a while ago.

When I ordered new metric bolts they didn’t quite fit through the holes. Finding a 14mm drill bit then took more time, by this point the job had become quite daunting.

Anyway, today we got on with it. The slightly larger holes were no problem. It also proved that the wood deck core was dry (a very big deal if we had needed to replace/repair that).

The new bolts are on (and during this saga I have learned that 316 grade stainless steel (normally the grade used on boats) is not the same as A2 stainless steel bolts but instead A4, so these might not last as long as we would hope.

The mast foot cleaned up nicely, clearly there has been some electrolytic corrosion in the past. Also (and maybe connected) the rubber pad for the mast was worn out, so removed for replacement.

The bolt heads, under the washers and under holes in the mast foot have all been sealed with butyl tape. The mast foot is resting on marine silicone sealant and the washers & bolts have dialectic grease to prevent electrical contact.

Everything tightened nicely, bolts exactly the right length, plus much larger washers to spread the load. Very happy with the result.

Galley worktop end of day update

After the lunchtime update with it’s long list of jobs it is very satisfying to see how many we were able to tick off the list this afternoon:

  • DONE: Remove and coat all the bare wood with bio-epoxy to protect it.
  • DONE: Remove the last vestiges of the wood from the old fridge that is fibreglassed to the hull. Also the last bits of the old cupboards and a few bits of old pipes.
  • DONE: Sand all the bulkheads and hull. Epoxy coat the wood
  • PARTIALLY DONE: (done the bits that we want grey, which is where the fridge will go and where the waste water will go): Paint the wood and the hull.
  • Use the worktop coloured, foodsafe epoxy on the sink cutout edges.
  • Fit the sinks, refit all the coated timber, fit the worktops.

Now we are in the clubhouse with the epoxy coated wood which is drying (far too cold outside). Dinner is on and we have had our showers 🙂

Oh and Jane also did the grey bilge paint in the aft heads this morning (and has epoxy coated the new bit of floor for there along with the rest).

So a really good day! In the morning we will do the white paint (which is inside the galley cupboards and as a temporary splashback) and also do the colour epoxy of the sink insert edges. Hopefully both those will dry enough for us to assemble it before the end of the day. We can then start using it as a temporary cooking area.

Aft heads compartment, the grey bilge paint done.
Jane epoxy coating all the timber (should permanently seal it)
All the epoxy coated timber drying (I should say curing for the pedants)
After removing the old pipes and sanding the hull and bulkheads. Ready for painting
Grey paint done, now epoxy coating the worktop supports.
Jane’s turn to prepare dinner.

We are cooking with our multi-cooker again. We are absolutely delighted with it. Even if it turns out to use too much electricity for what we can generate on the boat it has been worth every penny.

We are not doing anything fancy with it. Our quick to prepare recipes for a workday like today are essentially:

  • dried Soup mix, orLentils or Chickpeas (all soaked for just a short time)
  • some veg typically some combination of carrots, sweet potato, onion, mushroom, pepper, cabbage depending on what we have around
  • some kind of a sauce eg tinned tomatoes, any sauce in a jar
  • Water
  • Whatever else we have around. Last night some bacon, tonight some haloumi

Put it in the pot. Turn on. A few minutes to come up to heat (when it starts hissing and the timer starts counting down). We usually use the 30minute stew option (as we haven’t soaked the pulses for long), tonight we extended it to 45 minutes as we only soaked the chickpeas while we were having our showers.

The results are really tasty! Last night we had made a bit too much but enjoyed it enough to finish it off and cancel desert 🙂

While using the multi-cooker on the boat we are putting it outside (under the wheelhouse cover) to avoid adding all the steam into the cabin which we have been drying out.

Galley worktop update

All the framing to support the worktop is complete and dry fitted.

The next jobs are:

  • Remove and coat all the bare wood with bio-epoxy to protect it.
  • Remove the last vestiges of the wood from the old fridge that is fibreglassed to the hull. Also the last bits of the old cupboards and a few bits of old pipes.
  • Sand all the bulkheads and hull. Epoxy coat the wood and then paint it and the hull.
  • Use the worktop coloured, foodsafe epoxy on the sink cutout edges.
  • Fit the sinks, refit all the coated timber, fit the worktops.

Then before the full worktop epoxy can be done I need to fit fiddles (to stop things sliding onto the floor) and rear upstand. But I don’t have the timber for that yet.

Wintery progress

Blowing a howling gale today. Fortunately we are a bit protected by larger boats in front of us. Very glad we don’t have our masts up as there is plenty of noise from other peoples without ours as well.

Anyway, today was painting the aft heads compartment for Jane.

Meanwhile I was working on the worktop for the galley.

We haven’t fully planned the next steps (I’m not sure if I have enough of the framing timber yet). But we will probably sand and paint the whole gallery area before continuing with the framing.

We can use epoxy coating to protect the underside and edges of the worktop. Then once it is in position and the fiddles (edges to stop things sliding off in rough weather) we will be able to use the food grade epoxy worktop to get it done looking good.

Now taking it easy with another variation of the multi-cooker stew (chilli sauce, bacon, lentils, cabbage, peppers, sweet potato, onion) nearly ready.

Plumbing the waste. Tank sizes etc

We spent a couple of hours yesterday trying to make detailed plans for the grey water waste system.

It is very difficult to find much information on this, obviously our goals are not very common yet. I was quite shocked to find lots of people in discussions still advocating discharging raw sewage into the sea (and even in some cases into rivers and harbours). A really good reminder of why we won’t be using salt water to do washing up.

Anyway, our needs are unusual because we won’t have any black sewage to store or dispose of. Again, I want to push for how awesome composting toilets are, we both agree that if we had our own home rather than one provided by my job we would be switching to composting toilets there too.

So we don’t have any black sewage to worry about. Fantastic, makes life really easy. Except we also don’t want to put grey water out into the sea either. Our grey water is going to be as safe as we can make it in terms of the lack of chemicals and plastics in our soaps, shampoos, washing up liquids etc. However, it is still not what we or anyone wants to go into the water in our harbours, rivers and coastline where we swim and where there should be lots of marine life.

Therefore we want to collect the grey water to give us the option of pumping it out where there are facilities, or pumping it into a portable tank to empty into a proper drain or as a last resort pump out well out to sea. But what tank capacity do we need and and how do we connect it up? There are lots of articles on the capacity of black sewage tanks, I’m struggling to find stuff on grey water tanks (many people mix the two anyway).

Starting with the immediate tanks

If we begin with where the waste water comes from. On Vida there are essentially 4 sources of grey water (basin in aft heads, sinks in the galley, basin in the forward heads and shower in the forward heads).

Beyond this there are a couple of other sources. The hand powered washing machine also has a hose so that can be directed into a sink or basin depending on where you use it. We will also have a hose on the spin dryer which will go into the nearest sink (galley if used in the cockpit, basin if used in the forward toilet compartment).

So each basin/sink will drain straight into a waste tank directly below it. That gives us storage at each place the waste comes from, except the shower, that runs into a the sealed bilge area under it as a temporary waste water catchment but it can’t stay there.

We have now found tanks to use in the galley (31 Litre tank from C.A.K.) and for both wash basins (32 litre tank from Tek-Tanks) based on what will fit best.

Where does it go next?

Until they are full the grey water can stay in the 3 intermediate tanks. But we do not want them all to have a deck pump fitting. So all three plus the shower drain will be connected to a pump to bring them to a central larger tank.

So the next step is to calculate how much extra storage is needed. In an ideal world you would have huge tanks to give the greatest freedom from needing to empty them. We don’t have that much space.

So far we have found the largest tank we can fit under the saloon U-seating (the least accessible storage that can fit a tank), this is a 51 litre tank again from Tek-Tanks. We will have a single pump that can bring grey water from any of the 3 other tanks, plus the shower bilge into this central tank. Then this tank will have a hose to a standard pump out deck fitting.

I’m planning to use 22mm pushfit plastic pipe and fittings for the connections between the tanks. The standard for marine fittings seems to be 19mm so I’ll need to figure out a way of connecting them. The inlet to the pump will have T connectors and a tap for each tank (and the shower). I figure that when you start the pump you just open the taps in sequence (the pump can run dry for 30 minutes so there is no desperate rush).

So when you have a shower you will turn the pump on for the whole time. The other tanks will only be pumped out when they are close to full or when the whole system is being pumped out.

We will have to see how long these tanks last before they fill up. I suspect that if we have a lot of showers the big tank will fill up first. If that happens we will have to look at interconnecting some more tanks with that main one to add capacity. We can probably add one more 30 litre under the saloon bench, beyond that we would be looking at pumping it somewhere else in the boat eg somewhere in the forecabin depending on how we configure that.

Pumping out

The main central tank will have a deck pump out point which meets the international standard. That will be the only way to get grey water out of the boat, so when we empty it ourselves we will use a portable pump. That is simpler than having extra plumbing, valves and a seacock to drain it out to sea. It also discourages us from taking short cuts (just opening the seacock and pretending nothing is happening). If we are in a really restricted area without pump out facilities we can always pump it out into a jerrycan and carry it ashore.

Cleaning, maintenance and monitoring

All the tanks will have inspection hatches and we will make sure they are accessible. So if the main pump or tank has a problem the portable pump could be used to empty any tank (we just need to make sure we have a long enough hose). They can also be used to clean the tank (hopefully several smaller tanks won’t mean lots more cleaning needed.

I’m also going to fit as many as possible of the tank connections into the top of the tanks (using an internal pipe to draw water up from the bottom where needed). That should mean I don’t need to empty tanks to replace hoses, reseal fittings etc.

Adding the intermediate tanks does appear to make things more complicated. However, it adds capacity and makes plumbing easier as I don’t need to worry about relative heights (and how these change when the boat heels). It also means the pump can be controlled manually as needed.

I’m guessing that we will need to add gauges to measure tank levels, hopefully we can manage for a while and that can be a job for another year.

Still to plan

We have not started looking at taps and basins for the heads yet. Nor anything for the shower.


Hopefully this is useful for anyone else wanting to be serious about not releasing grey water into the sea (and without a solution you could be looking at big fines in Turkey, we expect others to follow their example.

Progress til dark

Good progress today.

Aft heads compartment is now ready to be painted. Last bits of old cupboards that were fibreglassed to the hull have been cut off. Whole compartment has been sanded.

Got to a rough dry fit of the galley worktop with position of sinks and hob checked. Slight complication was that we cut the worktop to size but then it wouldn’t fit through the hatch, too big. That is why it is in two bits. Once covered with epoxy you won’t see the join anyway 😊

So tomorrow is aft heads compartment painting and worktop fitting.

Meanwhile Jane has just prepared the compost for the 2nd toilet so we can have one each tonight 🚽🤔