Curlew's Log

18 September 2018 | Bohemia River and Baltimore, Anchorage Marina
16 September 2018 | Bohemia River
14 September 2018 | Sandy Hook anchorage
13 September 2018
04 September 2018
02 September 2018
01 September 2018
31 August 2018
31 August 2018 | Bristol, RI
30 August 2018
28 August 2018
26 August 2018
25 August 2018
24 August 2018
23 August 2018 | Potts Harbor
22 August 2018 | Boothbay Harbor
15 August 2018
11 August 2018
10 August 2018
08 August 2018

B&G project, phase 3

04 July 2017 | Baltimore, MD

The new B&G Triton2 and Vulcan5 NavPod

The old B&G h1000

Monday 6/26: Back on board.

Tuesday 6/27: I started the final phase of the B&G installation. The old h1000 system used a linear autopilot rudder feedback unit that was bolted on to the hydraulic ram. After consultation with the B&G support team it was confirmed that this unit was not compatible with the new Triton2 system. The RF25N rudder feedback unit that came with the new package had to be fitted somewhere in the aft cockpit locker, in a protected place. After some study I determined that it could be mounted at a 90 degree angle and upside down. I then fitted a small aluminum support bar to hold the main unit, and drilled a hole in the quadrant (which is actually a circular disc) to mount the connecting rod. It all seemed to fit well, and be sturdy enough as well as out of the way of stuff in this locker that could shift when underway in rough seas.

The rudder feedback unit installation

Finally I connected the unit to the NMEA2000 backbone cable and finished the wiring to the AP computer. Ran the dockside autopilot test, and everything tested OK. So far so good, again.

Wednesday 6/28: Finished the installation of the NavPod on the pedestal. Connected the Garmin 741 and the Vesper AIS to the NMEA2000 backbone cable. Disconnected the NMEA0183 feed from the Vesper (out) to the Garmin (in), but left the NMEA0183 feed from the Garmin (out) to the VHF and the Raymarine radar in place.

Saturday7/1: I spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday doing general cleaning, had the hull waxed, did food shopping for the trip to Maine and updated all the electronic charts on my cellphone, tablets and laptop.
Sunday 7/2: Left the Anchorage Marina to do calibration runs for the compass and the autopilot. The boatspeed seemed low: after I anchored in Rock Creek I checked the bottom and it appeared that there were quite a few patches of hard growth on the bottom and several through hulls were almost completely clogged with barnacles. In mid-May I had a diver check the prop and the zincs and he was also supposed to clean the through hulls and remove any hard growth from the bottom. I don't think he did a very good job. We may have had a bad barnacle season too in June, but I find it hard to believe that there was so much growth in such a short time. Anyway, I returned to the marina, got a large putty knife from my dock box, taped it to a long wooden handle, and went back to Rock Creek the next day to finish the job. I cleaned as much of the bottom as I could get to,but was unable to check the keel or the propeller. I cleaned the through-hulls that are close to the water line, but could not get to those deeper down.

Tuesday 7/4: Installed the wireless remote for the autopilot. This works through a Bluetooth connection. Now I can control the autopilot from anywhere on the boat.
I took the drains for the double sink apart and cleaned 13 years of accumulated gunk and grease. No wonder the sink smelled!
We are ready to start the 8th trip to Maine on Curlew.

B&G project, phase 2

09 June 2017 | Baltimore, MD
Tuesday 6/6: I pulled all the old h1000 Fastnet wires that ran from the mast foot to the depth sounder, from there to the compass, then to the speed sender and finally to the autopilot computer in the locker at the chart table. I wired the new NMEA2000 backbone cable from the foot of the mast where the wind sensor cable exits, to the hanging locker, where it connects to the cable coming from the new combined speed/depth sounder and to the new digital compass and from there under and behind the starboard settee to the locker behind the chart table where the new autopilot computer will be installed and where it will be connected to the Garmin chartplotter, the Vesper AIS, the wireless remote AP controller and to the power feed from the 12V system. I then installed T-connectors where needed. I removed the old and installed the new autopilot computer and the Triton2 display at the chart table. I pulled the old depth sounder and replaced it with the new combined depth/speed unit. Unfortunately the new unit does not have the "flap" that limits the inflow of water when you need to pull it for cleaning. At the next haul out I have to replace the through hull with the one that was provided with the new unit and that does have the "flap".

Wednesday 6/7: I fitted the two Triton2 displays, a Vulcan5 display and a Triton2 autopilot controller in the new NavPod , extended the NMEA2000 backbone cable from the chart table to the autopilot ram in the aft lazarette and from there up the steering pedestal where it will be terminated inside the NavPod. Finally I temporarily mounted the NavPod with all its new instruments on the pedestal.

Thursday 6/8: I finished the wiring to the pedestal, including a dedicated power wire for the Vulcan5. I did not have a 12V power wire at the old pod, but instead of pulling new wires I used an existing 4-wire Fastnet cable from the old system. I combined the 4 wires in 2 pairs, which should give me enough diameter for the light load that the Vulcan5 needs . As this wire will be connected to a 15A circuit breaker at the main electrical panel, I installed a 3A in-line fuse at the point where the positive side of the Fastnet wire is connected to the main terminal block. I added a 12V outlet at the NavPod to power the Samsung Android tablet that I use as my main chartplotter. Double checked everything before I turned the power on. Lo and behold: what I had installed so far worked. Next phase is the installation of the autopilot. That has to wait until I return from a trip to the wineries in Napa, CA.

B&G project, phase 1

05 June 2017 | Baltimore, MD
Monday 5/29: I left the Anchorage Marina and motored to Annapolis. Anchored in Weems Creek.

Tuesday 5/30: Moved to a mooring in Back Creek, near Bert Jabin's and Port Annapolis marinas.

Wednesday 5/31: Closed on the sale of Puffin II, my Nordic Tug 32. Met the new owners and explained the systems. Also spent some time with them on Thursday.

Friday 6/2: Moved to a slip at Bert Jabin's at 0800. Two guys from Electronic Marine came on board and one of them went up the mast to install the new wind instrument. I had him replace the VHF antenna too while he was up there. The old whip antenna was bent and it broke off before he could take it down. When he showed the remainder of the antenna unit to me it was badly corroded. He also had to pull the old VHF cable up the mast, as the wire from the old wind instrument was wrapped around the VHF cable and would not come up or down without it. They were finished at 1130 and I returned to my mooring.

Monday 6/5: I sailed around the Bay for a few days and returned to the Anchorage Marina on 6/5.

Baltimore projects

27 May 2017 | Baltimore, MD

Sunday 5/7: Disaster avoided: Curlew is plugged in to shore power. The battery charger has been on since yesterday. While sitting on the settee it seems that my seat is getting warm. I have no heated seats on Curlew. The house battery bank is under the settee. When I feel each of the four batteries, one is getting noticeably warmer than the other three. And its sides seem to be bulging. Not a good sign! I remove the bad battery from the bank. Obviously the time that the batteries were completely discharged while at the Coquina Yacht Club had destroyed at least one of them. As the bank is 4 years old I now have to replace all 4 of them.

Monday 5/8: Mailed the malfunctioning chartplotter back to Garmin. Changed the oil on the Tohatsu outboard again.

Tuesday 5/9: Ordered four new AGM Group 31 batteries and 275 feet of 5/16" HT anchor chain from my local West Marine store.

Monday 5/22: Returned on board after a 2-week trip back home to Philly. Picked up my four new batteries from West Marine, installed them under the settee and returned the old ones. Also, Garmin had sent me a "new" 741 chartplotter which I installed and kept turned on for a while. It did not shut down, and seems to work fine.

Wednesday 5/24: Two guys from the Anchorage Marina helped me move the 275 ft of chain from the West Marine store to my slip at the marina. I could have never done that by myself. I ran the rusty old chain out of the chain locker and took it to the marina workshop for their use. Then I measured the new chain and marked it in 30 ft (5 fathom) sections, before I pulled it into Curlew's chain locker.

Thursday 5/25: My new B&G electronics were delivered at the marina.

Holding tank sensor

18 February 2010 | Baltimore, MD
Last summer the WEMA holding tank gauge and sensor stopped working. It is not a comfortable feeling not to know how much space is left in the holding tank, especially when you have guests on board. But there are few boat jobs that are worse than opening a holding tank in the summer heat. So this project was postponed until the winter.

Now that the temperature is in the low 30s (20s at night) I thought it would be a good time to tackle this project. When I was on board in January I tried to disassemble the old sensor unit. I removed the flush-hose and the six machine screws that attach the sensor to the top of the tank. Then I pulled up the sensor unit. The entire assembly is made of plastic, and although the float assembly was easy to extract, the tube in which the float moves up and down stayed stuck inside the tank. It also appeared that the tube had a thread and that the sensor float was screwed down into the tube. I assume the intention was that the float unit could be removed for cleaning without having to remove the tube. You would still have to remove the six machine screws before you could remove it, though. Anyhow, the thread and the top of the tube appeared to be cracked.

With the assembly outside the tank I checked the movement of the float and although dirty (what else do you expect!) it appeared to move freely up and down. But no reading on the gauge, until the float was in its uppermost position. So the fault was in the float, and not in the gauge. I measured the length of the float; it was about 12". A quick check on the internet showed that WEMA no longer manufactures this particular type of sensor. The current model ("SHS") is made of stainless steel, but has the same dimensions, and should be an easy drop-in replacement. I ordered a unit from (the only outlet that seems to carry these units). I put the old sender back to plug the hole in the tank and went home.

When I came back on board a few days ago I tackled the project of replacing the sensor. I am not an optimist by nature, and having some experience with boat projects, I did not believe that this was going to be easy. But, to my surprise, it was not too bad. (The smell was not too bad either. The tank was "empty", but there is always some liquid left over. When in use I use Odorless holding tank additive, perhaps that stuff really works!)

After removing the old float assembly again, I tried to pull the plastic tube out of the tank. Of course it was stuck, but after some wiggling it started to move. When I got about 4 inches of it out, something broke, and the bottom of the tube fell in the tank. It appeared that the plastic tube was made of segments and threaded together. As the wall thickness was very thin, and the outside of the tube probably full of crud, the wiggling must have pulled the tube segments apart. I decided that I could live with this piece of plastic settling on the bottom of the tank, as the alternative would have been to open at least some of the inspection plates (there are four) and digging around the bottom of the tank to get it out.

The new mounting ring and the position of the machine screws were identical to the old unit. Next I connected the wires to the gauge and checked that everything worked. Finally I wrapped teflon tape around the thread and screwed the float assembly in place. Done!

The old sensor had a flush port that was connected to the fresh water system (separated from it by a ball valve and a check valve), the intention being that you could flush the crud off the float to prevent it from sticking, without having to remove it from the tank. How effective this was remains an open question. I flushed it a few times a year, and the float was fairly clean when I pulled it. The new assembly does not have this option. Instead you can easily unscrew and remove the float assembly and tube without removing the mounting ring. Anyhow, this new model is made of better materials and is easier to remove. How stainless steel will hold up in this hostile environment remains to be seen.

This is a picture of the old sensor. You can see the flush port with the clear hose going to the check valve.

The old sensor removed, with the section of the tube that I was able to get out of the tank.

Here you can see the thread and the crack in the top of the tube.

The hole in the tank with the sensor removed.

The new mounting ring in place.

The new float assembly.

We have a reading!

The entire assembly ready to go.

Installation complete.

Vessel Name: Curlew
Vessel Make/Model: Cabo Rico 42 cutter
Hailing Port: Baltimore, MD
Crew: Thierry Danz
About: Hometown: Philadelphia, PA - Members SSCA, Cruising Association (London, UK)
CURLEW is a Cabo Rico 42, built in 2003. LOA 46' 10" 14.25 m LOD 42' 6" 12.95 m Beam 12' 8" 3.85 m Draft 5' 10" 1.80 m Displ 32,000 lbs. 14,500 k Mast height 58' 17.7 m Sail area (100%) 931 ft2 86.5 m2 Sail area (total) [...]
Curlew's Photos - Main
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