Some future directions

As you may have seen, we are making a much bigger go at producing YouTube Videos for Sustainable Sailing. I’ve had to learn quite a lot more about making video during the pandemic and we watch a lot of sailing related video content. We hope to manage a couple of short videos a week for the moment with a mixture of action footage of the various tasks and also some with more background reflections.

So head over to the Sustainable Sailing YouTube channel, subscribe, hit the notification button and then play & like everything 🙂

We have also been setting up a Sustainable Sailing page on Ko-fi. At the moment it allows one off donations of any amount or memberships with monthly payments (again any amount, no tiers). We much prefer the business model of Ko-fi over Patreon (especially that they don’t take a huge cut of the donations).

Gradually, we want to add more to our Ko-fi page. There will be physical items to buy, some that we will be making from recycled plastic, others craft items that Jane is planning to make. We are also be looking at adding some “virtual” items such as e-books/guides. Eventually, we plan to develop the membership side with specific content and probably some direct support of great projects that we see around.

In the meantime your support can help us with the equipment we need for the videos. Better lighting is a key priority and then we would love a GoPro.

Adding more simplicity :-)

We have been busy with the rest of life this month (September is always a very busy time at work for us both).

However, our thinking has been progressing and we have been finding lots of inspiration from very small boats and from other people’s projects. So for example this video from Sailing Magic Carpet

It ties in with our Foredeck and Forecabin plans update or at least it confirms that we are making some different choices.

Our chain lockers were quite similar. We totally agree on the need for more space for chain and for the weight to be further aft. Initially our plans were quite similar (see Plans for anchoring). However, this is where we have been able to simplify things a lot.

A combination of things have meant that we are completely changing our forecabin, it will be a lot simpler in many ways. We started that thinking in Foredeck and Forecabin plans update but we can now go further.

The two key things that have led us to a simpler solution are Water and Beds.

Water

When we decided to remove the stainless steel water tank and use some of the space for our batteries we have been through a number of ideas for water tanks. Now we have realised we can build them into the hull and this gives us huge advantages:

  • far greater capacity as no wasted space
  • much safer. They strengthen the hull and create extra crash boxes

We also realise that we can use the same technique for the batteries (rather than a drop in box build it into the bull), for the chain locker and for storage/crash boxes.

Beds.

Already we have reduced the number of beds by removing the fold out pilot berth above the starboard settee (it has saved weight and created a much more usable space). We have also replaced the “V” berth in the aft cabin that worked best as a 2 singles with one double Pullman style berth.

When we realised that the “V” berth in the forecabin wasn’t actually long enough for an adult, let alone 2 it simplified things a lot. It also means that we have a chance to create a much better chain locker than Magic Carpet 2.

So.

The key limit on the “V” berth length was avoiding having the chain pipe come down through the middle of the bunk. By moving to one single bunk we can move the chainpipe slightly to starboard so that there is plenty of space for the single bunk to extend past the chainpipe on the port side. Not only does this make the bunk full length and a good width it also means that we can use the chainpipe to drop the chain vertically into the chain locker despite moving it aft. That is a huge advantage over our original plans and what Aladino can do on Magic Carper 2 where the chain slides into the chain locker almost at the bottom – the chain can stack better, be further aft and have a deep crash box forward of it.

I’m now planning 4 watertight areas under the original”V” berth height. Each of them will be considerably higher than the waterline and all of them will be able to have a removable, watertight lid.

At the very forward end there will be a proper crashbox that we will probably fill with foam (there will be another forward of this beyond the foot of the bed that will also be filled with foam). These crashboxes will mean the whole bow from below the waterline to the bow roller will not be able to flood the boat if damaged.

Aft of the crashbox will be the chain locker. When at sea we will disconnect the chain from the anchor and attach a line between a deck bung for the chainpipe and the chain which will drop down to the locker. That will allow a watertight lid to be fitted over the chain locker. The bottom of the anchor locker will drain into a much smaller locker aft of it. This will have a pump to remove any water that comes in to the chain locker with the chain. This small locker will also have a watertight lid so that the two act as another crashbox.

Aft of this will be a full width built in water tank. The top of this will be the “footwell” when sitting on the bunk. It too will act as a crash box so a hole in the hull here will contaminate this water but not flood the boat.

The doorway into the forecabin will no longer be full height. The bottom will be level with the top of the water tank with a step in the heads compartment so that you can get up and into the cabin (no standing headroom but full sitting headroom on the bunk). The heads compartment will be your dressing area. There will be a door for this cabin, separating it from the heads.

Additionally, I want to learn something from the older Amels (like Delos). So we will carry a sheet of wood that can be bolted over the doorway on the forward side of the bulkhead. It will have a rubber seal so that the whole forecabin can be turned into a watertight crashbox. I can imagine that when sailing with only the two of us we might put that in place quite often when at sea (and just use the forehatch for access to the forecabin as a storage area.

Simpler

By embracing the limits on the size of the forecabin which mean a V berth for two adults isn’t practical we end up with a much simpler, stronger and safer boat that will suit our needs much better. We don’t need to be able to sleep 3 couples and 2 singles on board, but we do need to carry enough water and would like extra protection from potential damage caused by debris floating around our oceans.

Thinking about this has also helped us think about simpler supports for the Bow Roller, Anchor Windlass and Inner forestay. So we can hopefully progress them soon.

Once I can get the companionway steps removed, this approach of watertight compartments built into the hull is going to make the battery boxes much simpler and more compact. I think the outcome will be larger water tanks and being able to move the Inverter and Mains Galvanic Isolator into the motor room so that we can keep the wet locker behind the steps.

It takes a long time to simplify things, but the results are well worth it.

Mast top coats of paint finished (for now)

Today was beautiful weather and we were able to get the last coat of paint on both masts (at least for the moment) m

We are not in a rush now to get the masts up. There is nothing to be gained by putting them up in the boatyard for the winter.

We still have a lot to do anyway in terms of chainplates, fittings on the masts, dyneema standing rigging, wiring, lights, wind sensor, aerials, running rigging. None of this will be improved by 6 months of autumn, winter and spring outside in the boatyard.

So most of these jobs can wait until the couple of months before we launch. Until then we can do a lot of preparation (such as mast tangs and splicing) plus ordering everything we will need.

Cabin sole (floor) upgrade plans

We already know we need to make significant changes to the floors of all parts of Vida. Some of the drivers for this are:

  • The aft cabin has been remodelled so that the original floors don’t match the new shape of the aft heads or the storage under the new bed.
  • The corridor to the aft cabin is now wider. We have been able to move a little space from the engine compartment as the electric motor is so much smaller than the diesel engine.
  • The aft part of the main saloon floor needs to include a watertight lid to the new battery box with reconfigured support beams.
  • Forward of the battery box we are planning a new built in water tank (although we are updating this at the moment) which needs access and changed floor supports
  • The forward heads is becoming full width and needs a new, larger shower grating and changed shower drain.
  • The new forecabin layout won’t have a full height area and so the existing floor will disappear into a second built-in water tank.
  • We no longer need some of original loose access panels (for old water tanks, seacocks and speed sensor).
  • We want to have all our floors secured to avoid the danger of things flying around if the boat gets knocked down or rolled, yet we also want to have access to the whole bilge for storage and for inspection/repair.
  • I hate creaky floors! Some of our boards are terrible for this and it is very limiting if you can’t move around quietly when others are asleep. This requires a careful mix of rigidity and flexibility to cope with the movement of a boat in waves, however, I am sure we can improve on the current situation.
  • Wear and warmth. In high traffic areas such as the bottom of the companionway the teak veneer on the floor is very worn away. The teak is also cold due to the lack of insulation underneath it. So we are looking to refresh both the look and warmth of the floors. We quite like the rubber style tiles with round bubbles on the surface.

One of the challenges that we have been struggling with is how to secure the floorboards. Currently screws have been used but they have been taken out and put back in so many times that the grip is much diminished. When we look at commercial offerings for securing floorboards they are way outside our budget so we have been looking alternatives.

What we are looking at now is to fit Blind Self-Tapping Inserts into the floor supports and then fit the boards with countersunk M6 bolts (using Torx heads as it is easier to get a good connection to loosen or tighten even when the boat is being thrown about). Bolts will provide a repeatable and reliable fixing that can be left off when loading stores or doing jobs. So access can be free and easy when it is safe while being secure when at sea.

By using rubber tiles such as these light grey ones we think we can have a warmer floor that is hard wearing and fresh (also fitting our plans for a light, modern interior or this example that we like). It also means we can use cheaper plywood, without a beautiful veneer as a base. In many cases we are going to need to update many of the floor supports due to the various changes and in the process open up storage and remove creaks. Part of that work will be to create a slightly wider fixed perimeter around the edges so that the opening sections are easier to lift.

End of holiday mast painting race

Tuesday was the last day of our holiday and so was always going to be busy packing up all the tools and materials that we have been using for just over two weeks.

However, our biggest decision and challenge was where do go next with the painting of our masts.

By Tuesday morning the 2nd coat of two part epoxy primer was nicely cured. It was ready for over-coating although that could wait for upto 6 months. The problem was that this left 1 coat of undercoat and 2 coats of topcoat still to do. These have stricter over-coating times of roughly between 20 hours and 3 days. We figured that finding 3 or 4 days in a row when we could be at the boat with dry weather in the next 6 months was next to impossible (and as temperatures drop the time to be able to over-coat increases).

So after checking the forecast constantly we decided to paint the undercoat on Tuesday hoping that we could come for Friday and Saturday with good enough weather to put on the topcoats.

An extra challenge has been to find the best way to support the masts while painting to give good access and be able to also paint the areas where the supports are.

So Tuesday started with sanding the primer (and filler that had been put on between the primer coats) with 120 grit paper. Then with the masts on their sides we painted the first side before lunch. Then back to packing up.

Eventually we decided the paint was dry enough to rotate the masts and paint the second side. That painting started at about 6.30pm.

We eventually left to go home well after 8pm, which was much later than we wanted (and then the journey was delayed by lots of road works). We decided to buy some sandwiches from a garage on the way rather than taking longer with fish and chips, however, the first two garages we stopped at had completely sold out. Got home just before 11pm.

Still the masts looked good 🙂

The forecast had been a 10% chance of rain so we took a chance in the way we loaded the trailer for home.

As usual a 10% of chance of rain in Beaumaris means it will be dry. However, we got home to a 10% chance of rain which in Manchester means it will rain and it did. Fortunately not too much and the wood protected the tools 🙂

All in all a productive and enjoyable summer holiday. We had time with family, time on the water and have made lots of actual progress on the bow roller, masts, dyneema rigging and starboard settee/sea berth plus lots of sorting out plans for the foredeck, forecabin, batteries, water tanks and more.

We made it to Puffin Island

We used the excuse of wanting the mast epoxy primer to full cure before using the filler to go out in the Dinghy again.

So a very, very early start (alarms off at 7:30am and straight out as soon as we could to catch the falling tide out to Puffin Island. We bumped into both the SeaCoast Safari and Starida teams getting ready for a busy day doing tours from Beaumaris to Puffin Island and they thought we were made 🙂

This time I found a new technique which helps a lot with the longer walk with the Dinghy at low tide. I tied the two ePropulsion batteries to the very end of the tubes. This brought their weight well behind the axles and made the front much lighter to lift.

Notice the coffee, essential for an early start.

Some pics of the ride out:

Yes we saw a seal 🙂 He swam around us a few times, having a good look.

We managed to land on a very rocky beach just past the lighthouse. We got the dinghy well up using the wheels, then we went to find the Pilot House Cafe where we had a fantastic and huuuge brunch, sitting outside in the sun with a view towards Conwy 🙂 Excellent, highly recommended.

On the trip out I ran the trial version of Navionics on my phone and also OpenCPN on my tablet (with the oeSENC
OpenCPN Encrypted System Electronical Nautical Charts for the UK from o-charts). Navionics is easier to use, but is limited to phones and tablets with communication to dedicated chart plotters. However, our plan is to run our main navigation on a Raspberry Pi and for that OpenCPN is the only option I’ve found so far. Been doing some playing and while the Android version of OpenCPN shows signs of not being fully adapted to mobile sizes and touch screens the actual display is good (especially as the tablet should be a mobile duplicate screen rather than the main navigation system).

After a rest on the beach to check that the tide would be with us all the way back we set off. Getting off the beach was the trickiest task of the trip. We got some water over the bow because we left the wheels on a bit too close to the waters edge (so dipping the bow down). Despite having 30 minutes of battery left we switched to the second one and opened the throttle to 600watts for most of the trip back (and still had loads left when we got back), which was in glorious sunshine.

After all that work we needed a nap 🙂 Therefore we didn’t get any boat jobs done (other than ordering some mast parts off ebay for a huge saving over new items). We have also made a tentative, weather permitting plan for the filler, undercoat and 2 top coats (the challenge being much shorter maximum overcoating times).

So a lovely day 🙂

Mast preparation continued

With a beautiful day we had a nice slow morning with family and then got back to preparing our main and mizzen masts for painting (well we also washed the dinghy and equipment).

We now have all the wiring out of the main mast.

We have put messenger lines in for them all.

We have removed both winches (a single speed Lewmar 8 and a double speed Lewmar 16, neither self tailing) and all other fittings showing any corrosion.

I was a bit annoyed by the winch mounts. The winches has been fitted with bolts that were too long and so instead of beinfg simply bolted to the winch mount some of them has gone into the mast itself. That has caused more corrosion and extra holes.

So everything is off and the masts have had a wash including a wash of the inside with a hose.

We have decided we don’t have to do a perfect job immediately, so we have not removed anything that we still need and that isn’t showing any corrosion eg spreader roots, spinnaker pole track. Similarly we have decided not to remove winches and cleats from the mizzen (upgrades can come later).

Tomorrow, is clean with acetone, sand, clean and get a coat of primer on. Then we can fill holes we don’t need to reuse with thickened epoxy, then we can sand and clean before a 2nd coat of primer. That then buys us some time for the rest of the work as the aluminium won’t be able to oxidise.

Another task has been looking at all the hardware we need to fit to the masts.

We are now looking at re-purposing the existing Lewmar 16ST for our mainsail reefing. Then 2 Harken 20ST for the halyards. If we can find something suitable secondhand then we will go for that instead.

We are only going to fit 3 actual halyards and supporting hardware at the moment (Yankee or Genoa, Staysail, Main) but with messenger lines for 2nd headsail, trysail and spinnaker.

We are also going to upgrade from cleats to Rope Constrictors for these halyards, skipping all the generations of clutches. Rope Constrictors are about twice the price of a standard clutch but they don’t damage the Halyard at all. But a replacement Halyard is about three times the extra cost. We have found 2 sources Ronstan and Cousin Trestec.

We are going to replace the tired halyard exit sheeves with the newer, simpler plates (and go from 2 to 5 of them so we have support for all the halyards we will ever need.

We have decided to simplify the lighting. We don’t have a simple way to fit lights to the spreaders and get the cables into the conduit at the front of the mast. That means keeping the deck light and the steaming light on the mast Deck light is lower than the spreaders, steaming light is above. However, it looks even simpler to get a combination LED steaming and deck light. One less cable to run up the mast.

Anyway, painting and filling is the first priority. All the fittings can wait for a while.

Foredeck and Forecabin plans update

We have done a lot of thinking about our foredeck (mostly related to anchoring, sail plan and dinghy storage).

During one of the lockdowns we did some thinking about how to use the forecabin beyond the anchoring plans in terms of layout. We checked a lot of those measurements when we were able to visit, however, we didn’t really check the forecabin as it was full of stuff.

Now that we have cleared space we were able to see how the plans above and below the deck can work together.

Length is our key challenge, above and below decks.

On deck we want to store our 2.9m rib upside down on deck in front of the mast. Actually we can store it so that the two tubes slightly surround the mast, but to get it on and off the deck it is going to be a million times easier if the gap between the dinghy and the inner forestay is at least 2.9m.

Starting from the bow we need to cut the existing locker hatch so that the forward part becomes part of the fixed base for the bow roller extension.

Aft of the bow roller will be the electric windlass. We will need to cut the aft section of the locker lid so that becomes part of the base for the windlass. The windlass needs to be far enough aft that we can have a small opening to the locker below (just to store ropes). The opening to this locker space is critical as we need to be able to get our arm and head in to be able reach 5 nuts (3 from the deck, 2 from the bow) that need to go on the bolts holding the bow roller in place. On the other hand if the windlass is too far aft it will interfere with the inner forestay and the dinghy being on deck.

In the end we have decided on a compromise 🙂 The windlass will be directly on to of the existing chain pipe. We will cut the locker lid to position the windlass here and we will add a glassed in network of wood beams under it that the windlass will be bolted to. The aft section of the existing lid will end up sandwiched between the windlass and the network of beams. The middle section of the lid will be refitted with hinges and a latch. If we find we can’t get good enough access to all the bow roller nuts then we can unbolt the windlass and remove the aft section of the old lid to give us more space.

All of that leaves little space to attach the inner forestay. However, as we do not want a low tack point or a low foot for the staysail or storm jib (because they have to be above the dinghy when it is on deck) we have a little more freedom. So we are going to use a bridle, one leg connected to the deck each side of the tail of the windlass. The tensioning of the inner forestay will happen between the top of the bridle and the bottom of the shroud (which is where the tack of the sail will be attached). Conveniently this means the bridal legs are attached (using the same system as all our chainplates) right next to the bulkhead that is the aft end of the existing anchor locker. We will strengthen this to handle the extra loads with the network of glassed beams for the windlass.

So, we are confident that we can fit everything on deck. There will still be room to move when needing to raise/lower/reef the staysail and for anchoring.

Below decks we have reached a new set of compromises. First, the acceptance that the existing forecabin was never really suitable for two adults. The longest measurable bed length is 6 feet, that assumes you have your head right in the aft outer corner and your feet taking the opposite corner at the forward end.

So rather than try for a substandard double bed that puts limitations on what we can achieve for anchoring we are going to put in a much better single berth that will allow us to improve the chain storage and fit some crash bulkheads.

To achieve this we will move the ply foot board from the V-Berth. Approximately, 100mm forward of this (which is just forward of the where the chain drops down from the windlass) we will put in a watertight crash bulkhead (with little inspection hatch). This means the berth will be 100mm longer, so more full adult size.

With just one full length berth on the port side we can bring the chain down inside a low friction tube that curves to the starboard side (so the berth can be a more comfortable width) and brings the chain much further aft to a carefully shaped “bin” that is the correct proportions for the chain to self stack behind the current anchor locker.

This frees up what was the chain locker and the route to it for an additional watertight crash bulkhead. This is the area most likely to be damaged by hitting a floating object and will give us some protection. It also moves the weight of the chain about 1000mm further aft than it actually was (about 500mm aft of where it should have been).

We will change the current floor level of the forecabin which provides a tiny space with headroom with a too small awkward step so you can get on the bed (which is then too tall compared to the floor to use as a seat). Instead there will be a new floor at the right height to sit on the single port bunk. You will climb up onto this from the heads compartment (which becomes your entrance/dressing area) as you enter the cabin. The reason for this change is that under that new floor, running full width, right down to the hull and forward to the new chain locker will be a built in GRP water tank (to make up for the loss of the water tank in the bilge which is now for our batteries).

The starboard size of the forecabin will now be a dedicated storage area (which means it should be a lot easier to free up the port side bed from a storage area to be available for single guests).

We will therefore ensure that the dinette in the saloon is easily turned into a comfy double bed with thick curtains separating it from the galley/companionway/chart table. That means we still have capacity for 2 double and 2 single beds which is plenty. When sailing we can have 2 excellent sea berths in the saloon plus the aft cabin. If we find the aft cabin is too close to the stern for comfort, and we need a 3rd sea berth often enough, then we can create “pop-up” quarterberth in the corridor leading to the aft cabin. All of which means we are happy with the choice to reduce the number of beds from the theoretical (but completely impractical) original 8 too 6 by switching the forecabin to a single and not having a pilot berth above the starboard “sofa” in the saloon.

What we like about this plan is that we have significantly reduced the amount of work to get the foredeck and forecabin ready for our launch compared to what we feared. We also gain a far better chain storage, a large water tank so that we are heading back to enough capacity for ocean crossings, and watertight crash bulkheads that are better than we expected (with less work too). Plus on deck we have a workable solution that gets us much better anchoring, a proper cutter rig and space for the dinghy on deck.

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.