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Lemons Way
The continuing adventures of a cruising sailor/family lawyer, his wife (also a lawyer), and their young children.
Wiring Upgrade

Mike the mobile mechanic was not able to get the starter working on Boker Tov. He said it ran like a top when he hooked it up at his shop. Said he serviced the engine and it runs great. It would seem the problem is on the sailboat. We checked the wiring and connections and they look reasonably good. He suggested I hard wire the engine to one of the batteries with thick gauge cable and thinks the problem is with the relatively thin stuff currently on the boat. It doesn't make sense that the previous owners would all have suffered through under-powered starting, but I can't figure out what else it could be other than the wiring. It's more complicated than it seems in a lot of ways. The existing wiring charges the batteries from the engine reasonably well. I suspect the existing wire is probably fine for charging at relatively low amperage, but not for starting, which requires high amperage. Mike said he felt the existing wires getting hot after running the starter, which is usually a sign that they cannot handle the load going through them. He told me straight out he was not interested in the job due to the difficulty and discomfort involved this time of year. I left the sailboat that morning pretty upset, having paid Mike for his time and engine service only to find myself facing major wiring repair just to get the starter working.

Why all this trouble to get the electric starter working when it eventually starts from pull starting? Age. Yes, age. I am starting to understand why so many people who retire and go cruising say they should have started earlier. I am already getting to the point where I risk hurting myself if I have to pull-start the outboard every time, and its exhausting. When I pull the starter rope, I feel like I have just enough strength to pull it, but not a whole lot more. This becomes especially so the more pulls required to get it started. It stresses me out not having a proper electric engine starter when I want the engine on. There were many occasions that a quick-starting engine saved me from trouble on Tropical Dreamer. So the electric start feature on the 10 hp outboard is an essential safety tool for me. If it charges the batteries better with larger gauge wire, so much the better.

When I came back to the sailboat later in the week, I brought my wife's jumper cable box with its internal battery. Hooked it up raw to the engine wires and the starter worked like a top. So I knew it had to be the wiring in the sailboat. This weekend, I had the unenviable task of pulling that 10 gauge negative coming off of the batteries to the battery selector switch from its twists and turns around the undersides of the sailboat. Then I did the same with the wires running from the outboard. I'm going to replace the entire run with 6 gauge wire, which will hopefully solve the problem. It does seem questionable that the sailboat's electrics were entirely dependent on a 10 gauge negative wire. Along the way, I'm learning things about the electrical system and further organizing it. As bad as it looks in the picture, let me tell you the electrics were in a lot worse condition when I bought the sailboat. Among the things I'm doing as part of this re-wiring upgrade is properly isolating the engine starter to one battery and running everything else to the other battery (except the solar, which will always run to both batteries). Though I will probably have the battery selector on "both" most of the time, it gives me the ability to preserve a battery just for engine starting if I get into a situation where that is appropriate.

The final picture on the bottom right shows the sunrise coming up as I was getting started this morning. It is starting to get cooler in the mornings and evenings and the sun is presently coming-up about 6:10 a.m., perfect for boat work and riding bikes along the river trial.

Hatch Dog
Keith, Hot, Very Hot
08/26/2012, In Laws

I was back at the sailboat this morning, working by myself until past noon. I think I've mentioned previously that one of the critiques of the Catalina 25 as an ocean going vessel is the pop top. It is said that the pop top is a weak point because it can detach during a knockdown and allow the large cabin to fill with water, risking a sinking. In order to reduce that risk, I bought two extra hatch dogs and spent today installing them on the aft part of the pop-top where it is vulnerable to peeling away from the deck in extreme conditions. The installation for each hatch dog includes two through deck bolts requiring sealant and another four drills through the pop-top itself. Everything had to be measured several times to fit right. I also installed those black clips that hold the bolt and screw out of the way when the pop-top is being raised and lowered. You may recall in a prior post I lost a hatch dog when the pop top closed unexpected and broke the copper bronze bolt right in half, thus initiating this saga of hatch dog installations. I've just about got the new ones installed. Had some trouble getting the bolts to go in right. The hardware that came from Catalina Direct turned out to be too light and I had to make a few trips to Ace to get beefier stuff. Once its done, it is going to take far worse conditions than I hope to ever be in to pry that pop-top off its deck mount after all four hatch dogs are secured. One of the reasons I am going through this trouble is that I really love the pop-top. It makes cruising in the Catalina 25 much more enjoyable. Without it, the crouching below decks would get unbearable. On a different note, I got a call from Mike from Mike's Marine and he says the Evinrude 10 hp two stroke is serviced and is working fine, electric starter and all. We'll see if it starts when it gets re-connected to Boker Tov. Mike thinks it will as a result of some improvements to the wiring on the engine. Not having to buy a new engine will save thousands and I kind of like the old one so I'd like to get it working right.

Cook Set
Starting to get less intensely bright and hot in the afternoons
08/25/2012, New House

Finally got a relatively cheap stainless cook set for dining on board. It's just the right size to fit on the little Hillarange gimbled cook top with the retrofitted Triangia alcohol burners. The pieces nest together in a blue nylon bag which fits into one of the little wooden drawers in the Catalina 25 galley. Now I just need some wooden cooking utensils and a few other related items...

New and Improved Tiller
08/25/2012, In Laws

This is the new tiller for Boker Tov. I bought it in San Diego from the same place I used to replace the lifelines. It sports the new heavy duty straps with staggered holes so as not to put all the strain on one layer of lamination. I used the old tiller to measure the locations for the holes and made sure that each hole was squarely within a single laminate layer for added strength. Moving up the tiller, you can see the auto-pilot post. I was able to salvage the metal post from the old tiller, drill a hole in the same place on the new tiller, and hammer it into place. Next you can see the Davis Tiller Tamer. The previous owners evidently didn't use it much. There were small holes drilled into the old tiller that match those on the tamer, but the tamer itself was left uninstalled. It is a very useful tool for cruising, particularly for single handed sailing. The tiller tamer acts as an extra hand on the tiller when the auto-pilot is disengaged. We had to make a trip to Ace to get sufficiently beefy stainless screws to affix it to the tiller permanently and with the expectation that it will handle ocean conditions. Finally, you can see the hand of Scott. I am slowly indoctrinating him into the world of coastal cruising. He asked me how I became so handy...

Old Tiller Getting a Relamination
Keith, hot and humid
08/25/2012, In-Laws

I dissembled the old tiller that was cracked at one of the laminate layers, broke it into two horizontal pieces roughly along the de-laminated section, applied copious amounts of liquid nails to both sides, and put the two halves back together using several vices. A lot of extra glue came out the sides, but we wiped it off before the vices were put on. Then we used q-tips to clean the glue out of the existing bolt holes. Hopefully, this repair will hold better than the jury rig I did in San Carlos. Once it is dried, I will bolt the metal straps back on and the old tiller will, hopefully, serve the remainder of its life as a back-up emergency tiller.

Life At Sabino Canyon

Here is a little sample of the life I've seen while hiking in the mornings. Desert deer are also common at Sabino Canyon and don't have much fear of people. It's like there's this common understanding not to mess with them, so they come right alongside the road. Rabbits of all sizes are everywhere, as are lizards of all sizes. I've encountered desert turtles and even bobcats. They say there are mountain lions sightings at Sabino Canyon, but I've never seen one. Who can tell me what life is depicted in the rock at the upper right picture.

Getting Started Fitting Out for the Next Sailing Trip
08/11/2012, Side of the in-laws house

Took a few weeks break from sailing after San Diego, but I went back over this morning to begin getting the boat ready for the next sailing adventure. That trip is scheduled for the latter part of October. We've got about two months. I did a complete review of the boat, in and out, and I am pleased with the condition it is in. I washed the decks before I took it out of the water in San Diego but the monsoon rains have made the deck sparkling. I've got a list of things to do to get the sailboat ready, but it's a relatively minor list. We started on getting the trailer lighting fixed but, like all sailboat fix projects, it blossomed and it may be best to hand it over to a professional. I met a guy two weeks ago, Mike from Mike's Mobile Marine, who took off the 10 hp two stroke outboard vintage 1986 and is supposed to be fixing the starter, putting in a new water pump wheel, and otherwise getting it in good shape. Among the projects in store for the next two months: Replace mast and deck light connector at base of the mast, prepare the new tiller, prepare the new outboard by installing engine oil, new tires for the trailer, drill out larger holes on gin pole, install the two additional pop-top dog ears and the four dog ear clips I purchased from Catalina Direct, lube the sail track, attach the spare tire to the trailer, and several other minor things. You are welcome to skip the next set of posts and just go to October.

Hello To Cameron and Jasmine
Keith, rainy in Tucson
07/28/2012, San Diego/Los Angeles

Welcome to my sailblog.

- Keith

Link to a Short Video of San Diego Bay Sailing in July

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Keith and Sarah launching Boker Tov into San Diego Bay

I'm back in the office posting at the end of the workday before I head to the grandparents to pick-up the baby. Sarah and I only got to sail together once while the boat was in San Diego, but on that outing we got the speed up to 7.4 knots, one knot above the supposed top speed of the Catalina 25. Wasn't able to beat that even when sailing by myself. The longest sail of the two-week period was about 26 miles from the marina, out to sea past Point Loma, and back. Truly, every sailing day was better than the last. In terms of maintenance, the most expensive hit was the lifelines. I was forward at the bow taking pictures one afternoon and holding on to the lifeline when it parted at the pelican hook located at the stern. Realizing how compromised the lifelines were after 25 years of exposure to the elements, I knew I had to replace the whole assembly, hardware and all. Fortunately, San Diego has just the place that rigged a new set of lifelines in less than a day. I installed them and they fit just fine. Very comforting to know that if Sarah or Celia or I have to rely on the lifelines, they will hold. The other casualty was the tiller. It looks in good condition, but split along one of the laminated layers. I tried to glue it, but realized that was not going to be a sufficiently reliable repair, so I found a new one at the same shop where I had the lifelines rigged. It needs to be drilled and then I will make it the main tiller and use the old one for a back-up after re-gluing it. There are a number of other things that need to be done to get the sailboat where I want it, but overall I'm very pleased with how the boat performed and the condition it is in. Getting the Catalina 25 to a destination, mast-up, into the water, and rigged for sailing, is still somewhat of an ordeal. Same with lowering the mast and getting it back to the trailer and then home. But it gets faster and less arduous as we get more experience. I'm also not sure about the old Evinrude engine. I always managed to get it started, but the electric starter isn't working and the pull starter sometimes takes several pulls. The next window for a sailing trip is my birthday during the first part of October. That coincides with one of the two best months for cruising in my opinion, October and May. Tonight I'm going to park the trailer in its place at the in-laws home, where Boker Tov will sit until her next adventure.


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Port: Tucson, Arizona
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