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Lemons Way
The continuing adventures of a cruising sailor/family lawyer, his wife (also a lawyer), and their young children.
Shrink Wrapping with a Hair Dryer
Keith, it is technically Fall, but still pretty hot in Tucson
09/23/2012, In Laws

For those of you who have been down this road, the image of shrink-wrapping wiring with the hair dryer brings back memories, doesn't it. I guess it works better with smaller gauge wire and wrap. This job was a bit more than the the Conair could handle so we wound up using a lighter to finish the job. I have to say it was bitter sweet finishing up the wiring upgrades on Boker Tov and securing everything back in place. There were some tough times, but good times too as I slowly learned how this boat and its trailer are wired and, even more slowly, rebuilt and improved the parts of the electrical system that needed it. There are really just a few things on my list before the sailboat is ready for her next cruising adventure, set to take place in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

Trailer Lights
Cool enough in the mornings to enjoy boat work
09/22/2012, In laws

Weekend. Back at the sailboat refit for an hour or two before I'm back home to watch the baby while Sarah goes to pilates. I didn't want to do the trailer wire repairs. I made several calls to find a professional who would do it. Nobody returned my call, even Uhaul. I called two Uhauls and neither of them was interested in this job. So, again, with nobody willing to do the work for pay, I'm doing it mostly myself, with some help from my father-in-law. This picture shows the wires coming from the connector and the splices to the wires going through the trailer and to its lights. It was in a pretty sorry state when I returned from the trip to Coronado earlier in the summer. I completely re-wired the front end using new butt-connectors and a few layers of electrical tape, then taped the wires together into a single bundle. Next step is working down each side of the trailer, securing loose wire and re-doing the splices until the entire system is sound and reliable again.

The nuances of the wire upgrade
Keith, starting to cool down and dry out
09/15/2012, In laws

I was at the sailboat before sunlight. Had to use a flashlight to begin the re-wiring job. Laid out the new wire and tested the connectors to see if they fit. Aside from one, which was too big, but able to be fitted, they fit.

Removed one of the batteries from the fiberglass compartment under the settee. Drilled-out the existing negative wire exit hole in the fiberglass housing to fit the new, larger wire and its connector. Then I ran the new negative wire from the battery switch in the galley to the battery compartment.

Next, I ran both the new positive and negative engine wires from the battery switch aft through the hole in the stern where the engine wire connector enters at the back of the boat. Surprisingly, there were no hold-ups running the wires.

Wiring the battery switch threw me for a loop, but I eventually figured it out and connected all the positive leads the way I want them. The new, larger gauge negative wire from the batteries connects to the negative bar with the same deep screw that connects the negative wire to the engine starter. It is like an unbroken connection of 6 gauge wire from the batteries to the through-hull connector, which then reduces the size of the wires to the smaller size that go into the engine, (but only for a short distance).

Once the new wiring was hooked up, we tried the button on the starter and it spun like a top. I seriously can't understand how the previous owners functioned for all those years with such thin wire going to the engine.

I still need to zip-tie the new wiring to the existing bundles and finish the butt-splice and shrink-wrap at the engine connector leads, but this project appears to be a success. It was the usual pain getting all the panels screwed back in right, but all in all a satisfying morning.

This picture shows the storage sun cover that my in-laws put on the sailboat. The open hatch is my new "hole." I've become accustomed to getting my whole body in there. I sit completely inside it and work on the electric panel and wiring from that location. After something like 10 of 15 sessions wiring down there, I think I've finally got the wires all cleaned up and organized to my satisfaction.

The duffel bag contains the back-up anchor, chain, and rope. It goes in that storage locker, along with the docking bumpers, life jackets, and the 6 hp dinghy engine.

Replacement Wire Has Arrived, Along with Sailcoat
Keith, late summer monsoon overcast
09/11/2012, Boulder Canyon

Long time readers of this blog and/or others may be thinking that I am trying to recreate some past sailing adventure, including what appears to be similar elements of refit. I am not. Be assured, soldering and then heat shrinking connectors and then running wiring through Tropical Dreamer to connect the solar panels and wind generator was brutal. I remember it got so hot in the cabin during the North Carolina summer that I could hardly see from the sweat in my eyes. Having to re-wire the outboard and main negative battery line on Boker Tov (not to mention the other and sundry re-wiring) is not some sailing fantasy I'm trying to relive. It will say, however, that having learned this sort of work from Matt, I feel capable to do it on Boker Tov in a more limited capacity. This time, I had genuinedeals double crimp the connectors and wrap them with clear heat shrink for $1 per connection. That alone saved me hours and their connection is very solid. I'm not sure I got all the hole sizes right, or whether I measured the length properly, or whether I will be able to run the line through the limited space between bulkheads, or whether it will even solve the problem of the slow turning starter, but, as you can see, I'm going to find out. That sailkote is primarily to grease the sail grommets and sailtrack to ease singlehanded work with the mainsail, but I have some other sticky parts in mind. I'm going to have to start the wiring job early in the morning before the sun comes up as its still hot as heck once the Tucson sun hits. Lately, I've been feeling like this has become more about the refit than the cruising. In that respect, it is like the summer of 2008.

late summer, Keith
09/05/2012, The Playroom

This tank brings Boker Tov's on-board fuel fuel capacity to 33.5 gallons. That's more than I had on my Catalina 36. Some of the fuel will be used for the dinghy, so lets say 30 gallons x 5 miles per gallon (it may be more fuel efficient, I don't know yet), equals min. 150 miles engine range. Enough to get from San Carlos to Conception Bay and back. Having done a little sailing on Boker Tov, I know that I will be able to sail or motorsail a lot the way, extending the range to several hundred miles or more. However, all of my existing fuel capacity would be insufficient to make it even one way motoring from San Carlos directly to La Paz, or back. Within current passage range from San Carlos are Escondido, Mulege, Santa Rosalia, San Francisquito (see previous post), and Bahia De Los Angeles on the Baja side, as well as all of the amazing anchorages north and south of San Carlos on the mainland coast. From Escondido, it is only 115 miles to La Paz. This is considered prime cruising grounds and the voyage south could involve anchoring someplace new every night. Celia says the new gas tank is the perfect size to climb up on.

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.


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