Reorganising

In honour of visitors (always a good incentive to sort things out) we have done a whole lot of tidying up and sorting out.

So we no longer have piles of old bolts and screws in the cockpit and we can see what is on the chart table (we can even see the chart table!)

Only real forward progress was to add a shelf under the galley counter. More progress there can wait until winter.

Battery bank installation progress

Today has included a huge amount of lifting and moving. A large part of that was lifting all 8 batteries on board. You can see the preparation for this in Low down progress

First battery bank has a nearly finished box (needs final epoxy coating and painting plus a lid).

The second battery bank will sit on top.

We need to make some changes to the floor supports. We will fit a new central floor board that will be the watertight lid of the top battery bank.

The top bank will also be 4 batteries and is both longer and wider than the lower bank. The hull shape means the batteries take up a lot less space this way round. Fortunately we have bluetooth access to the BMS of the lower batteries (and the top one that will be under the steps).

We are going to make sure that even if the bilge filled with water our batteries would not get wet (and there will be no exposed battery connections under the water at that point).

Anyway the bilge that water flows into is nearly a metre deeper that where the batteries are, that bilge will have an automatic electric bilge pump, a high water alarm and a manual bilge pump.

Sofa improvements

Following Building a “sofa” today I did some finishing off. The back doesn’t go so high (more storage space to come) and one end of it is now retained (the other end will have some form of retainer, maybe elastic, when we figure it out). There is now a support in the middle for the backrest, it slots in and out so can be removed for sleeping. When using it for sleeping in harbour the spare backrest parts will probably hang below the storage at the outboard side.

It takes just seconds to switch between sofa, harbour bed and sea berth.

Adding padding to the backrests/lee boards is a really low priority at the moment.

Once we do the chainplates above this area we can sort out insulation, lining, storage and painting. However, we have to do a similar job dismantling the port side first.

Dry day helps main mast progress

Our first fully dry day for what seems like forever and what a difference it has made!! Our last work on the mast was in Slow progress preparing the Main mast for refurbishment, plus tangs continue

Today the first task was to try to get the mast foot off. We we used two heat guns at the same time; we applied lots of WD40; we used vinegar to help with the corrosion; we used a slide hammer through a hole I drilled in the mast foot (I bent the “hook” so it wasn’t a great success); we used chisels with the hammer; we used a dremmel to cut all the way around the joint. Eventually it started to move. In the end we got it off and then had a big surprise as lots of disgusting crumbled polystyrene fell out.

There were several hours when I didn’t dare believe it was going to work. However, the end result is really encouraging, with some cleaning and then epoxy coating we are going to be able to fully reuse the mast foot on the original end of the mast.

We then started cleaning out the polystyrene debris (looks like the mast was lined with polystyrene but it has broken up). We took out two black sacks full.

The really good news at this point is that we discovered that there is a wiring conduit already fitted. It will be a tight squeeze for our cables and I might add some rivets to make sure the conduit doesn’t come free.

With that done I carried on stripping stuff off and then Jane did a first clean to get rid of the green growth. A bit more to be done before we can paint.

Still not sure which of the remaining fittings I’m going to remove before we paint. We also have decisions about what we fit to the mast. However, that can wait for the spring. Our first objective is to get both masts painted with epoxy primer, then epoxy filler, before epoxy undercoat, and top coat. It will be much less wasteful to do both masts the same time. Fortunately the forecast is looking good at the moment.

When we do get ready to put the main mast up it is going to be fitted out very differently. Still got lots of decisions to make about that, so more later.

Wet day planning

Today (Saturday) was forecast to be heavy rain all day. So we started with a duvet morning which was very welcome. After lunch we did a shopping trip to Aldi.

Then the only practical progress was to improve the double (pullman style) bed in the aft cabin. So the bed base now has fewer gaps and is fully secured (I do need to sort out simpler access to steering without taking up huge boards which would be difficult in any kind of rough sea). The edge board to the seat is now much higher which hopefully will stop it trying to escape over the top. Now that the layout is fixed (and working really well) we also adjusted the mesh that is under the mattress (stops condensation/mould) to fit properly.

Then more planning of what jobs to do next.

The sizing and availability of bolts is a constant challenge. When we are changing things we are rarely able (or want) to reuse 44 year old bolts for critical tasks.

The latest issue are the bolts to attach the bow roller. Three bolts have captive nuts in the bow and these will have to remain imperial (5/16ths). The two big bolts down into the anchor locker were 1/2″ diameter and 4.5″ long with a weird half countersink, half hexagon head). I can’t get either 1/2″ or 14mm long enough in A4 stainless steel. So I think I’ll have to get Keith to drill and countersink them for 16mm bolts. Then two more smaller bolts which go through the stem, still to size these.

We have ordered another nice upgrade. New acrylic washboards and hatch top to match our other windows (and wheelhouse rooflight). The hatchtop is hinged (no space for a forward sliding hatch) and at the moment has a middle hinge that leaks if we have rain blowing in from behind. Also the thumblock to hold the top up is a pain to use (literally if you don’t tighten it and the hatch falls on your head while climbing in or out). The wood is all in poor condition.

We have ordered from Hadlow Marine again. The new top is one piece and will have a gas strut. We will have 2 instead of 3 washboards. I’m sorting out a new locking bar which should be simple, safe and secure.

Besides the two major jobs when we have good weather (masts and foredeck) I also have a few jobs inside. Adjustments to the starboard settee back as it is too high. Shelf in the galley. Test install batteries and design/build boxes. Refit floorboards without any creaks.

We have decided to create little wooden boxes for the inside of the chainplate loops (where there is a large dyneema knot under the backing plate) to catch drips and allow inspection/replacement. But that can be done indoors which is why the mast and foredeck work take priority as we need dry weather suitable for curing epoxy.

That’s it for now, looking forward to big and visible progress over the next few days.

Starting to fit the new bow roller

No progress yesterday as we went to a distant family funeral. Then today has been one of those days where you plan one thing and end up doing something completely different.

Jane was going to work on mast tangs and I was going to work on the main mast. However, when we discovered from Keith at Anglesey Fabrication that our new bow roller was ready for fitting we switched to that.

After struggling to lift it up the ladder last time we decided to do it sensibly with our man overboard block and tackle.

Once in place we had to figure out the changes to make to be sure it fits properly and all the original holes line up.

After some grinding, cutting and drilling we have a good fit. We drilled out the old bolt holes which go through a solid timber core. In total 80mm thick. The edges of the timber had clearly got a bit wet at some point so we have then filled it with thickened epoxy and will drill new bolt holes through that.

We cut the old softer gap filler and have used thickened epoxy to fill everything. We now have some plastic and foam tiles in place to hold everything while the epoxy cures (helped by a fan heater). Just after we finished some rain came so we now have a fan heater in the old anchor locker and a tarpaulin over the lot.

Now we need to order new bolts and start preparing a replacement for the forward end of the old anchor locker (which becomes the backing plate for the new aft extension to the whole assembly).

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Hopefully we will have the actual roller fitted early next week and then we can test with the anchor and sort out the various rigging attachments and the “cage” to stop the anchor escaping and damaging the dyneema rigging.

Given that the bow roller assembly is critical to our safety while sailing (forestay attachment and holds the anchor in place) and when anchored (for obvious reasons) we are happy to have something that is oversized and that we are very confident is extremely well attached to the boat. Gary from GRP Fabrications thinks we plan to use it to attack marinas like a modern day Roman Galley 🙂

I’ve just checked and it has all gone hard to the touch so I have been able to pull off all the plastic, wood and foam. Ready for a quick sand and then we can continue with the support base and backing plate for the aft part 🙂 Not tomorrow though as lots of rain is forecast.

Slow progress preparing the Main mast for refurbishment, plus tangs continue

Today has mostly alternated between rain and drizzle which has dampened progress. Most of the jobs inside are still easier when we can do the timber cutting and sanding outside. So when we could, Jane continued with the work on the mizzen tangs while I started on the main mast.

We have improved the working conditions for Tang manufacturing with a seat 😊 Also it is definitely worth stopping and recharging the Dremel before the battery goes completely flat.

Before I started on the main mast I had another good look at mizzen. We think this is a newer mast (but we don’t know when it dates from), it is a Kemp (still made by Seldon I think). The key finding is that the track in the aft edge of the mast (for the sail slides) is shaped on the inside as a T. This means that we should be able to slit a pvc pipe and slide it along the T. This way we get a wiring conduit that is fixed in the mast without any riveting. We will need to plan how to get the wires out halfway up the mast so that there is no danger of them being cut by the edge of the pipe.

Main Mast

We had some work done by North Spars when we first got Vida, that was to remove an aftermarket roller furling. However, two years on it is obvious that a more thorough refurbishment is needed.

I wouldn’t want to trust the spinnaker halyard that used this block for much!

The similar block for the spinnaker pole uphaul has really scuffed the mast 😒

A which handle pocket had been installed in a very dodgy way between these cleats, so that has come off. Here it looks like the mast was originally gold. What I’m not sure about is how it has ended up silver (with lots of green growth). Has the gold worn off or was it removed or was it over coated?

Both winches work, although they need servicing. Currently there are cleats for the halyards, they seem original but there are extra rivets around them. For safety I’m planning to fit clutches above the winches, if you are hauling someone up the mast with a non self-tailing winch I think that is essential. So maybe the cleats can come off later.

The lights and wiring are a complete mess. The tricolour at the mast top has disintegrated from UV damage. This fitting was for the steaming light, which was full of water.

This is the deck light. Like the mizzen I want to switch to lights on the spreaders so that the whole deck can be lit with fewer shadows. No photo but it looks like there is a wiring hole inside the spreader root.

This shows the gunky mess where the wires come out of the mast at the bottom. You can see where I have cleaned up some of the corrosion using our new ScotchBrite pad on the grinder, it was much more aggressive than I expected (and probably more than I need).

You can also see the mast foot. I have managed to get the screws out (about half unscrewed and the others I had to drill). I have not managed to get the mast foot off yet. I need to try the hot air gun next. As the mast head is welded on I would really like to get the foot off. Partly because I want to see how much corrosion there is and partly because it is the only way I am going to get a good look at how the wiring is routed and what options there are for a conduit.

I have got all the Shrouds and Stays off, including the roller furler.

The spacing for the forestay is a bit tight. So I think we might need a closed stainless steel thimble here rather than our tangs. The mast top is wider at the forward port side which is why the forestay attachment point (between the two holes) doesn’t look central. You can also see I’ve removed the little end plates that stop the sheeve axles from escaping.

So now I have another little pile of mast rubbish.

But we also have the full paint system, three types of paint, all of them two part. Just need some better weather!

At the moment I don’t think we will remove everything that is riveted to the mast, there are no signs of corrosion around them. But I might change my mind 😂

Fabric and Fluff 2

Following on from my post about the new shape of our Aft Cabin cushions (see Fabric and Fluff ) I thought I would share some pictures of my process for making the covers. Sticking the foam together to create the new shapes was a tedious job as It was only possible to glue one piece at a time. It proved to be vital to push the foam edges firmly together for the whole 5 minute initial drying time and then leave them for half an hour or so before moving on to the next piece.

This shows my attempt to hold several pieces together using tables, chairs and our electric outboard motor batteries.
Inaccurate glue spraying led to this “Werewolf effect” which lasted several days 😉

When the pieces were finally glued together I used them to create pattern pieces for the top and bottom of each cushion. We knew they were a good fit so that part made cutting out the fabric much easier. I followed the instructions from Canvas for Cruisers and cut the top exactly with no seam allowance, but I used a half inch allowance on all the side pieces. For the base pieces I added 4 cm as the zip is 2 cm each side. It is much easier to cut the fabric in half after you have sewn the zip seam. Then if the zip is the same width as the seam allowance it is relatively easy to attach the zip. I would say the result is serviceable rather than professional 😉

I was pleased to find the corners easier this time although I basted several to check they were at the correct angle. Where two sides are both sloping and they meet it can be tricky!

I was very happy with the results installed in our cabin, especially because the stripes lined up to make the bed look a more standard shape as I had intended.

Having slept in the cabin now for several days we can vouch for the increased comfort. Fewer cushions means no gaps and it is a lot easier to make the bed when it is not 7 feet wide! The seat/step works really well and I appreciate not having to jump up onto the bed after a day of boat work 🙂 See Aft cabin step and chainplate progress

Replacing genoa tracks with dyneema

As we look at more of our worn out systems we see more places where we can replace deck hardware with Dyneema and Low Friction rings.

The latest is our genoa tracks. Ours are the old style with a pin on the car. So they can only be adjusted when the sheet is unloaded, and to adjust them you have to leave the cockpit. Every part of it is looking very worn and below we have all these bolts that can be a source of leaks (many of them are hidden behind a permanently fixed soffit so can’t be inspected/tightened/resealed).

We could replace them with more modern tracks/cars with a block and tackle to pull the cars forward. However, this is very expensive, we would still have all the bolts to access and keep watertight. It would also not allow us to shift the sheeting angle inboard or outboard.

So, I’m looking to adapt a system I’ve seen on one of the world’s most expensive racing yachts. See 9 minutes 25 seconds into this video

We don’t need the same level of sophistication and our loads are tiny by comparison.

So we will “float” a large low friction ring on the genoa sheet. Two dyneema lines will be eye spliced onto this. In addition a length of elastic will lead from the low friction ring upto a convenient point on a shroud (this will stop the low friction ring falling to the deck and banging around).

One dyneema line goes out to a low friction ring on the bulwark and then back to a clutch by the cockpit . The second goes inboard to a low friction ring at the base of the cabin side, then back to another clutch by the cockpit. By pulling on both lines the sheet is pulled down as if the car was moved forward on the track. By pulling on one or other line the sheet can be moved inboard or outboard to suit the wind direction.

We will need to test and see what mechanical advantage we need. Maybe a cascading set of low friction rings, or maybe use the old genoa furling winch.

The extra good news is that we can use the same system to add sheet adjustment as we add our staysail (for which we have no tracks at the moment).

Building a “sofa”

The other day we made Lee Boards for our starboard saloon berth. Today we’ve started the process of making them adapt to their other role which is to be a backrest.

It isn’t finished yet. I need to find a way to retain the back rests so they can’t fall forward. Also add a brace to the middle of the length. We might also reduce the gaps between them as it is higher than needed.

Once we are happy then Jane will add padding to them.

It might not be obvious from the photos but I have lowered the bottom Lee Board so that your legs don’t touch it.

It was a bit of a damp day today but we made a bit of progress outside. We worked with Steve to move an unclaimed mast out of the way. It has been alongside us for ages but had recently been moved a bit and was blocking a often used route to the clubhouse. Now it is completely out of the way. The boatyard also cut down all the grass and weeds growing up around our main mast so we were able to a small amount of work on it.

The parts we need to refurbish the masts have started to arrive. More in the next few days. We are currently thinking about the wiring we need to install and how we can ensure they don’t rattle or chafe inside the mast. The mizzen mast doesn’t have any conduit or any means of protecting/controlling the wires. We don’t yet know what the main mast has.

A lot the work on the masts is going to be weather dependent so we will progress it when we can. Meanwhile there are plenty more things we can do inside 😊