Out of Commission
07/30/2006, Cadle Creek, MD

Well, I have good news and bad news from this past weekend. The bad news is my boat is out of commission and I have more work to do with the holding tank plumbing. The good news is I got a couple more projects completed, tested them out during a quick sail, and they all work great.

I installed my cam cleats for the jib sheets. This photo shows what I decided to do:

Placing it here at this angle allows me to snap it in and out from the windward side. Granted, I do have to reach down and place it under the cleat, but once there, you can easily make adjustments. I find it so much more convenient and adjusting the headsail is now so quick and easy. With this setup I can still use the cross sheeting method in heavy weather by just taking it back around the cleat. Now my crew won't be as reluctant to make slight adjustments to the sail since they don't have to rewrap it around the horn cleat. Not that that was hard, but now it's just so quick and simple.

Another project I installed was my Davis Tiller Stay. It was very easy to install. I just had to stop by West Marine and buy some small clam cleats and stainless steel bolts. Originally I thought I would simply tie the small " line provided to the existing stern cleats. It turns out the line is a little short for that, plus it would be more in the way of sitting against the stern rail. The small clam cleats are closer inboard, freeing bench space, and also are safer in that you can simply lift the line and have the tiller completely free in case of an emergency maneuver. Here is a photo of it installed:

During our short sail I tested it out a few times. It sure is handy now that I can take my hand off the tiller and not always ask someone to take over. For example, as we were heading down the channel back to my marina, Dave lowered the main sail, I set the tiller to stay straight under motor and then I furled the head sail and raised the keel. Then I helped Dave with the main and got back to the tiller. Someday I may invest in an AutoTiller (electric autopilot), but for less than $25 compared to $400, this is a good starter. With this tiller stay and my cam cleats, I can now single hand my boat. I wouldn't want to in very strong winds, but with this calmer weather we've had lately, Dave and I could maybe both take our boats out at the same time single handling.

I was able to fully test out my new bimini and it fits perfectly! There is enough clearance under the boom, maybe an inch with the boom pulled in and when the boom is out, the main sheet clears the back of the bimini.
Here are a couple photos showing the clearance:
Here I am with the boom out:

Here is Dave at the helm, with the main sheeted tightly (you can also see my new flag flying):

I'll have to see how it fits with the main sail reefed another time. There is a chance the boom may be lower.

With the bimini mounted on the genoa tracks and the nylon straps clipped to the stanchions, moving forward isn't too difficult. As you can see everything is mounted outside the lifelines. The head room in the cockpit is just less than 6'. I can almost stand straight; I just have to tilt my head.
Looking forward:

Sitting in the back of the cockpit you can see right over the bimini and check sail trim. The bimini makes such a difference on these hot summer days. Being in the shade and having the breeze (although light on Sat.) makes these 90+F days much more bearable.

Now on to the bad news... I tried to get my holding tank pumped out for the first time. Who knows how many years it has been since it has been pumped out, but it wasn't completely full. I just wanted to clean it out and try to remove the odor. I went over to the dock and first found out that I need a key to open the cap. My boat didn't come with one, but luckily a neighboring C-27 let me borrow her key. We then connected that suction hose to the deck connector and tried to clean out the tank. Nothing was happening. I went back down below to see what was going on and found out that the previous owner cut the pump out hose and plumbed it for overboard dumping only! He cut the hose going to the deck and connected it to a manual pump which is connected to a thru hull. I have no idea what he was thinking. Now I have another project to add to my list and first I will have to empty the tank. I'm thinking about using some PVC piping to put through the tank top opening, connect it to the dockside pump, and suck it out through that. Then redo the plumbing correctly. I thought I was done with the waste plumbing when I installed the head. Not looking forward to this project.

Now the worst news is that my engine is out of commission, which means so is the boat. Everything was fine during our short sail when we test out my new projects. The outboard performed fine when we left and on the way back to the marina. Just as I arrived to my slip, I noticed my outboard seemed slightly sluggish and then I saw a small amount of smoke. We secured the dock lines and I shut off the engine. I noticed how hot even just the engine cover was. On Sunday after sailing on Dave's boat, we stopped by and checked out my engine again now that it was cold. We started it up and the water was barely dribbling out of the cooling system outlet. After a lot of research, I'm thinking it's one or a combination of three things:
1. Salt build up in the water cooling passage ways. This is likely the problem since I have never flushed the engine. Dumb mistake, but now I learned.
2. Impeller may need to be replaced.
3. Thermostat may not be working correctly.

Well, hopefully when the engine over heated no severe damage was done. I'm going to have to order the water flushing attachment and it won't get here in time for this coming weekend. The first thing I will try is to flush the engine cooling system. If water flows freely, then there is a good chance it is the impeller or thermostat. If it still slowly flows through, then I may look into ways to dissolve the salt build up. After that, hopefully things will be fine. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

I sure am anxious to get my outboard fixed, especially now that I got all these projects done that make sailing her even more enjoyable.

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New Bimini Installed!
07/15/2006, Cadle Creek, MD

On Saturday I installed my new bimini top with many thanks to Dave for all his help. I got out to the boat around 10am and it was raining on and off. Luckily it cleared up around 11am for most of the rest of the day. It was a very hot, humid, and calm day. Dave came out around 11am and helped me with the projects. He had a nice portable work bench which made things easier and some handy tools for grinding the stainless steel hardware.

I bought the aluminum Sunbrella bimini from Overton's and the size is 46"H 79"-84"W and 6' long. I went with the modified genoa track car mounting method that others have done on the Catalina 25 National Association and I bought the same size used by others.
I bought two of these track slides:
Dave brought his grinder and we grinded off the loops. Smoothed it out and we have a nice flat mounting surface.
We then drilled and tapped holes to mount the stainless steel bracket. There was just enough space under the car to place a nut. After tightening the bolts, we grinded off the protruding part of the bolt. There is just enough clearance on the track and it slides freely. I had a hard time getting the nylon fitting to fit in the stainless steel bracket, so it took a little sanding down. When I was trying to get it to fit, I used my hammer to tap it, then placed the hammer aside and used my hands. It must have been when I pulled it out of the bracket and well, I hit the hammer and it flopped right overboard. First tool I've lost so far.

Here is a photo of the final results:
Here is the bimini installed on my Sapphire Breeze.
I still need to figure out how I'm going to attach the hold down straps. The rear straps I plan to attach to the loops on the stern pulpit where the lifeline clip to (the bungies are temporary). Currently the straps are too long to reach directly to the loops. I'm thinking I may be able to wrap it back around the first stanchion of the pulpit and take the clip forward to the loop. That will hopefully take out the excess slack in the strap. After reading recommendations on the forum, I will probably install eyelets on the cabin top handrails for the forward straps. Having the bimini mounted on the track car allows me to slide it forward and backward, using different settings for sailing or while at anchor/tied up. I also did not have to drill any holes into my boat, which is a plus. I still need to test out the boom and main sheet clearance and figure out the best genoa track spot. Next weekend I plan to get it all completed and tested out.

Here is a photo of my spinnaker pole storage set up that I forgot to take a picture of last weekend:
I bought a Forespar pole chock for the aft stanchion and then a stanchion eye that I mounted on the bow pulpit. I then used a snap hook to clip the forward end to the pulpit. It is securely held, out of the way, and I'm so glad to now have it off the cabin floor.

In my last post I mentioned the outboard starter wasn't working. Dave helped me locate the problem and we found that when we swapped out batteries last weekend, I failed to reconnect the ground cable to the second battery. The circuit wasn't complete and it makes sense now. So, it's good to go again! Now I just need to buy and install a solar panel system! More $$$

We finished up the project right when a storm was approaching. We got things packed up, but went to retrieve my hammer right when it started to absolute downpour. Dave brought his net on a pole and a heavy duty magnet, but we were unable to retrieve it. I felt something with the net, but wasn't able to scoop it up. I ended up stopping at Ace Hardware on the way home and picked up a similar hammer for a few bucks.

That's about it for this weekend. I can't wait until next weekend. Hopefully I'll get some sailing in too.

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Um... Where are we?
07/09/2006, Chesapeake Bay

This Sunday was mostly a very good day; although I do learn something new almost every time I go out! Ok, so my brother Chris joined me and we had a beam reach all the way up to Thomas Point. We then tacked back south and were close hauled and had to tack several times as we headed back to port. Since the previous weekend when I went to Thomas Point and found myself a bit too far west of the channel to the West River, I decided we would tack east of Thomas Point, and then sail south. There was a storm warning and they said storms may start around 2pm, which it was now around 2:30. The waves were getting bigger, it was quite windy with white caps, and I ended up reefing both sails while we were out there. The sky was still blue with some puffy white clouds. We were getting tired of being on the water, plus we had plans to go to a concert. I decided to just fire up the outboard, roll up the headsail and head home around 3pm, my battery could use the charge anyways. Well, we motor/sailed too far south directly into the wind! I was watching the shore line for landmarks that I recognized and the only thing I can figure out is I must have thought the West River channel was the South River. Since we were tacking several times close hauled prior to starting the engine, I must have slightly lost orientation with our heading and thought we hadn't made it that far when in fact we sailed down a ways past the green marker. What caught my attention were a lot of pilings near the shore in the distance. I never saw those before but do remember seeing those on the chart south of the West River entrance. I sure am glad I remembered to bring my runner's GPS. I was able to get my coordinates from the GPS and cross reference them on the charts to pin point my location. Sure enough, I found us pretty much just east of the shallow shoal that extends out on the eastern side of our channel. I actually forgot how to read the degrees and minutes on the chart, but after a couple minutes I figured out how simple it is. The whole time we were heading back, I was watching for the markers, especially the green entrance marker. Since I was making sure I stayed far from shore to avoid being west of the channel, I was too far east this time! It added about an hour detour, but we made it back and never saw any storms. Another thing that really had me puzzled was that we were sailing in what seemed like far from shore and it was all 7' of water. I was looking at my charts where I thought we were east of the South River and it should have been 20-30 feet. That is what first got my attention. Now I realize I think we were sailing through that shallow point and high tide was around that time. Yes, I need to get a chart plotter! Hopefully by next sailing season I will buy one, until then I will just try to keep my day sails in familiar waters and not have this happen.

Yesterday was also Chris's only second time sailing, but first time at the helm. Here he is:

He stayed at the helm for the majority of the day, did very well and really learned how the boat feels. We were healing a lot, a few times with the rail being maybe 6" from the water. At first we had both sails fully open for a while. Then the wind picked up a bit, so I reefed the genoa; then it was really getting windy so I reefed the main as well. Overall, a good day sailing and I learned some lessons. I didn't get any projects done except mounting my spinnaker pole on the stanchions and it seems like it works well so far. I forgot to snap a picture of how I mounted it, but I'll do that next time. I bought a pole mount that clamps onto one stanchion, then on the bow pulpit I mounted an eyelet and used carbineer clip to hold the other end of the pole. I also found a new problem, or an old problem that is back actually... the starter on the outboard stopped working again! Arrgghh. I didn't have much time to trouble shoot it, but my battery voltage was around 12.6 V if I recall. Another strange thing is after motoring for well over an hour; the voltage did not go up. I'm pretty sure the voltage was 12.6V before the sail also. I'll need to do more trouble shooting next time.

So we made it back to my place just after 6, had some dinner and my two other younger brothers joined us to see the concert (Toad the Wet Sprocket and Big Head Todd, mid 90s rock bands).

I also got a new camera on Saturday. In my previous post I mentioned the CCD chip on my last camera (Nikon Coolpix 5400) was going out. My friends at Costco told me to simply return it and get a new camera. So, I did a lot of research and decided to spend a few extra bucks and buy a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 with a 12x optical Leica lens. This camera is awesome! It takes excellent photos and even very good videos (even has widescreen in 848x480 resolution). Here is a link to the video I took:

Google down grades the quality, but it's still alright.

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Who: Justin
Port: Mayo, MD
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