I have been working entirely too much the past few months and have had little time to make it to the boat, even on weekends. Lisa and I have finally managed to make it to Oriental for two weekends in a row. While we haven't even taken Starjewel out on the water it has been nice getting her prepped and ready for when we do. I guess it's true, if you love what you do you never work a day in your life. and we love sailing. We're currently planning on spending a long weekend out at anchor for Christmas.
Over the past two weeks we changed the oil, oil filters, fuel filters, transfer case oil, and almost completed oiling all the wood in Starjewel. We used the Pure Oceans Teak care kit from West Marine. It is a process getting all the wood complete. You have to wipe everything five times. Once with water, once with cleaner, then wipe off cleaner. Next, apply teak oil, then wipe off remaining teak oil. You don't realize how much wood is in a 32' boat until you have to wipe it all down 5 times. We managed to get it all done except for a small wall on the starboard side, companion way steps, and the rear cabin. I will say it makes it look 10 times better. The color is back and it seems smoother to the touch. For a 15 year old boat she looks great on the inside.
Since we were cleaning everything it was also a good time to clean out all the clutter that starts accumulating. There were random screws, nuts, and parts that ended up in the navigation station that were put away in the right place. I seem to have misplaced my allen wrench set also. It's probably in the garage at home. I can't wait to live aboard so I'll always know everything I own is within 100' of me at any time. We inventoried some of the dry goods we keep on the boat so we have an idea of what to bring for Christmas. We were taking measurements of all the stuff we want to make covers for. Awhile back we purchased an LSZ-1 sewing machine from Sailrite and Lisa has been busy making covers for the grill, outboard motor, companion way, and our rear pushpit seats. She's working her skills up so we can replace the bimini this winter.
I have been giving way too much time to work lately. I haven't been to see Starjewel or Lisa for the past 6 weeks. While travelling around New Mexico and Texas is nice, I'd rather be on the water having sundowners with Lisa any day of the week. I can't wait for retirement.
I have been working on an outboard motor mount for about 3 months when I have time at home. I ordered some 3'4" teak planks, made a couple panels and used that to hang our dingy outboard on. All in all it took about 20 hours of labor to finish. That time included gluing, sanding, cutting, routing, measuring, and oiling the wood. Now that I've got one out of the way I could probably cut that time in half. Of course since I'm still working it could take a couple months in real time to get one made. Work is always getting in the way. I actually still need to go back and pull all the hardware and spray some Boeshiled T-9 on the nuts and bolts to help keep them looking good. I, of course, forgot to bring the T-9 with me to the boat when I assembled it.
I'll keep this post short since I have get ready to travel home to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving. Lisa and I are looking forward to some time away from the office and seeing family for the holidays.
We had the boat out of the water for 28 days. I think the haulout turned out to be a pretty good couple of weeks. Being new boat owners, it was our first time going through the process which turned out to be fairly straight forward. We sailed into Sailcraft and they pulled us into the lift and had us power washed and blocked within the hour. Being put back in the water was even easier. We had scheduled for a Friday splash and they put us in Thursday afternoon without us there, to get us all cleaned up before we were ready to depart.
The metal fabricator started working on the dingy davits and outboard hoist while I started to knock out some of my projects. I sanded the bottom and applied a couple coats of anti-fouling paint. Then I replaced the exhaust elbow, exhaust hose and replaced the manual head with an electric one. I was going to replace the lifelines with some Suncor lifelines from Sailrite, but I talked to the rigger at Sailcraft and he was able to swage some lifelines for about the same price. He also gave the standing rigging a once over and said it all looked like it had another couple years left in it. We had to remain at the boatyard for a few days after I was done with my work so the davits could be completed. Good work takes time.
Once Starjewel was put back in the water Lisa and I were getting ready to motor back to Pecan Grove and were letting the engine run for a bit before we took off. We had been having some problems with the fuel system. It would sputter out, then I'd bleed it and it would work fine. However, this time the engine ran for about 15 minutes then died and could not be revived. I started diagnosing the fuel system and the engine guy came to see if we were ready to go. When he realized I was having some issues he jumped onboard and helped me troubleshoot it. Turns out the fuel pump had been going bad for some time. He replaced it for me with one from his shop, bled the lines and we were up and running. When the old fuel pump was pulled the diaphragm wouldn't budge. It was seized up for some reason and wouldn't pump any fuel. Good thing it happened tied to the dock of a boatyard rather than in the middle of a turn on the ICW.
It was hot most of the time since the boat wasn't in the water. Many trips to the hardware store or West Marine were in dire "need", but I'm glad it's all done now. It's a good feeling knowing the boat is ready to go for the summer.
List of projects completed:
Added arch and dingy davits
Moved lifeline gate
Resealed all deck hardware
Removed state registration numbers
Polish and waxed deck and topsides
Replaced manual head with electric head
Added inline strainer for head
Replaced all sanitation hoses
Replaced exhaust elbow
Replaced all exhaust hose
Replaced fuel pump
Oiled all wood inside
Cleaned all cushion covers
You can checkout the video of part 2 of our haulout here.
This chant was first started way back in the day. I was stationed in Germany and it took Lisa a few months to get everything tidied up stateside to make her way over to Europe. I had already started assembling a great group of friends to take her out and show her a good time when she arrived. We would frequent a very high class drinking establishment known as the Green Goose in Nuremburg, Germany. Well it may not have been exactly high class but there was a lot of drinking that went on down there.
Lisa flew into Germany and I allowed her just enough time to throw the bags into our apartment in Mittersthal then it was on to the Goose. We met up with about 8 of the guys from work and proceeded to have a great ole' time drinking the night and the morning away. Sometime during the night, after I had introduced Lisa to our regular bar waitress Phyllis at least once or twice, someone in the party wasn't keeping up with the drinking pace. To encourage them to keep up we bought everyone drinks and started chanting, Be one of us. Be one of us. It must have looked utterly ridiculous, but soon everyone was back up to speed. I think we left the bar at closing time of 5am then caught the train back home to sleep the rest of the day away. Oh the memories.
This brings me to the situation we found ourselves in now, hearing that familiar chant in our mind as we read more about sailing. Some people refer to it as a cult, and it can easily feel that way. But, when you are wanting to be self-sufficient nothing compares to being able to repair or create canvass on a sailboat. I've scoured the interwebz and can't find anyone that doesn't like the Sailrite sewing machines. So in order to be one of them, we capitulated and got one for ourselves. Lisa is teaching herself to sew by using the Sailrite YouTube videos. She is diving in and learning a lot more now that we're going to be retiring to a sailboat. The LSZ-1 we purchased has been fantastic so far. It runs very smooth and is built like a tank. Many sailors have them on board, and the one's that do swear by them. Hence, the feeling to "be one of us". Lisa has already created a fantastic cover for our portable generator. We'll need to leave it outside on the boat and we wanted to make something to protect it from the sun and the water when it's not running. She used some Sunbrella fabric and stitched together a cover that has a leach line along the bottom to cinch it snug. Maybe she can make something for your boat when we see you out the seas.
The Sailrite YouTube page is a fantastic resource for learning how to use their machines and how to make your own creations. They have DIY videos and kits for everything from hatch covers to full sails. If you're feeling froggy you can order a kit and make your own sails onboard with their LSZ-1 machine. That seems like the ultimate self sufficient sailor and pretty amazing to me. Lisa's to do list is growing by the day as she watches new videos and gets more ideas. By the time we sell Starjewel the entire thing may have its own Sunbrella cover.
Just to start the summer off right while owning a sailboat we decided to put Starjewel in a yard so we can work on her for a couple of weeks and dream about all the fun times we could be having instead of actually having fun times.
I complain, but I am enjoying getting the boat in ship shape to sail around all summer. One of the major factors in driving me to lean towards a new boat is deferred maintenance. Unless you find the small number of boat owners who dutifully maintain their boats there is always a lot of deferred maintenance and you seem to find it constantly. It's little things like; seemingly never replacing something easy like an air intake filter to more important things, like not replacing sheets or anchor rode until they fray in your hand.
I'm glad to have some time to get a bunch of projects completed. We're going to have an arch with davits installed so we can raise and lower our new dingy and outboard. We're going to sand and paint the hull, rename the boat, do some engine maintenance, and replace the manual head with an electric head. Since we'll be keeping the boat for a couple years longer we're working on getting it ready to liveaboard in May 2018.
We used Sailcraft Service Boatyard in Oriental, NC to do our work. They allow you to do all the work yourself and have plenty of good shipwrights to help you out with any jobs that are out of your wheelhouse. The stainless steel arch is one thing I'm not skilled at doing, so we're having Dan put one together for us. He came highly recommended around Oriental. He showed me some of his work around the yard and I'm impressed. I can't wait to see our final installation. I don't think we'll do solar panels this time. With the price of panels, charge controllers and everything else, I think that's a dollar too far this year. Maybe next haulout we'll get them installed to better prepare us for living aboard. For now our portable generator will do for our short stays on Starjewel. I'm going to be doing everything else myself...hopefully. I purchased a Dewalt DWE6401DS 5" sander to use with my Dewalt DCV580 cordless Wet-Dry Vacuum. They work well together and keep down most of the dust. I still use a respirator and Tyvek suite to keep a little clean. I used a 3M Stripe Off Wheel to remove the old name and registration number. The state registration numbers must be removed when the boat is documented with the USCG when the name and hailing port are installed.
We'll post again after we get a little more work done. For now you can click the link to see a video of our haulout and how we removed the old decals.
If I were asked what I was doing this weekend I would have to reply as the great Tiger Blooded Charlie Sheen, “Duh Winning”. Many of the things I’ve been doing to the boat have taken me longer than I would like. Most of the time this is because the boat is 3 hours away, I start something, realize I need something else to complete the project and have to wait for the next time I can make the 3 hour trip to the boat. The past couple weekends weren’t any different.
We purchased the WEN 56200i generator, marinized it and took it to the boat. That’s when I found out more about AC power and how the Reverse Polarity indicator works on Starjewel. It reads the difference between the hot and neutral wires and throws a fault when it’s hooked up to a generator with a floating ground like the WEN 56200i. Many boaters use these small generators on boats, and without this indicator they don’t notice. Other’s that have the light on just ignore it. I decided to do a little more research.
==All below is only my solutions and I am not an electrician by any means. Research the systems yourself and decide how much risk you want to take.==
I decided to use some suggestions from the interwebz and create a jumper plug that would connect the neutral and ground systems for the generator. When this jumper plug is used the boat thinks it is connected to a shore power system. Apparently this indicator is just a notification and doesn’t affect the system itself. Many other cruisers use their portable generators all the time with no issues. I don’t like random fault lights lit up on my boat though so I wanted to take care of it the best I can. Now the generator can power the battery charger and air conditioner while we’re at anchor with no fault indicators. This makes those warm days around the outer banks that much more comfortable.
Another win was with the sails. The great couple at Hodges Street Sail did some minor repairs to make sure we have a couple more years of use out of them. When we got them back I installed the jib and main. The jib went up without much issue, but I had a problem with the main. The first time I pulled it up I didn’t get it completely to the top leaving a wrinkle of sail near the boom. Since my singlehanding skills were not up to par, I dropped the whole sail again and had Lisa wench it up while I fed the bolt rope into the track. I was still unsuccessful and it was time to head home, so we furled the sail and saved it for the next week. When we arrived the next weekend the sail had apparently had quite enough of being all twisted up in the mast. We unfurled the sail and started to rock the furler back and forth to try and line up the two tracks. What happened? Duh, Winning happened. Apparently the tracks were just a tiny bit out of line the first two times we tried to get the sails back together, but third time’s the charm.
Now we have AC power away from shore, and two spiffy newly repaired sails. After we get Starjewel hauled and get some fancy new bottom paint, she’ll be chewing up the miles.
Modern sailboat VHF radios are fairly advanced. They have Digital Selective Calling (DSC), integrated GPS, WAAS, AIS, and many other features. All these things make the modern VHF an important piece of equipment.
One of the nifty features is the DSC capability. If you couple this with a registered Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number you can effectively have a one button distress signal that will transmit your boat information and location, then automatically listen for a response. When a response is acknowledged your radio sets up to the appropriate channel so you can talk to your soon to be rescuer. This is obviously a great asset while out sailing. It alleviates the possibility of voice miscommunication. All the information about your vessel is already loaded so, no need to relay that info. Your location is also already sent with information from the integrated or connected GPS.
Another less catastrophic use of a DSC VHF is the capability to "dial" another boat directly. The VHF will allow you to call ship to ship or ship to shore if you know their MMSI. Instead of waking up the entire bay by hailing your buddy boat before the sun comes up you can just use the DSC and call them discreetly.
All this magic comes at a cost. The VHF itself can run $300 or more, but that's not all. You will have to register with the FCC and get a number and password to take advantage of some of the features. First, you should get your Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR). This permit allows you to operate marine radiotelephone stations aboard pleasure craft. You can check out the RR Permit page for when a RR is needed and the qualifications to be given one. The cost when I registered was $65 and is good for your lifetime.
Step #1 Go to the FCC site and register with the FCC's Universal Licensing System - get a FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password.
Step #2 Go to the license page select Online Filing from right side menu.
Step #3 Enter your FRN and PW
Step #4 Under My Licenses select apply for a new license.
Step #5 Select RR and complete the form.
Step #6 You will be taken to pay.gov where you can pay by direct withdraw from checking or credit card.
Now you have your RR but you need a Ship Recreational permit (SA). This permit was $215 and good for 10 years when I purchased one for Starjewel. This is where you will input your ship information and EPIRB information if you have it and you will be issued a MMSI. You can also get a MMSI free from BoatUS but that MMSI is only valid in the United States and not recognized by other countries. It is a great option if you want to use all the features of your radio, but don't plan on sailing abroad. You can check BoatUS for information on their process.
To obtain your Ship Recreational Permit repeat the above steps but select SA or SB ship instead of RR.
Now you have your Restricted Radio Operators License and your Ship Station License. Next input your MMSI into your VHF and you're ready to direct call someone on the water or ready to use your push button distress signal in case of emergency. Read your VHF manual for instructions on how to input your MMSI. Be very careful. Most radios will only allow you to overwrite the MMSI once. Any more than that and you have to send it off to the factory for reset. Supposedly this is to reduce theft. I guess if a thief knows how difficult it is to use the features he won't steal it.
You can read about the fun I had installing the VHF.
Get out and enjoy using all the features of your radio.
We recently purchased a WEN 56200i portable inverter generator and pigtail for Starjewel. This is a small gasoline powered portable generator. It will be used to power our boat and charge our batteries while we're anchored if we need it. We can run power tools for repairs on an uninhabited island with this too. But, more than likely we'll just use it to run our AC when we're anchored near the outer banks this summer. I know, I know, no AC on your sailboat at anchor on a beautiful beach. #firstworldproblems.
Since we will be taking the generator with us sailing we thought it would be a good idea to set the generator up for marine use. I originally got this idea from the crew at Sailing Totem. We disassembled the housing and painted all the screws with a Rust-Oleum spray paint. We used a high heat paint for the exhaust that is rated up to 1200F. For the electrical components we used Boeshield T-9.
The whole project took about an hour and a half and only required 3 tools, not counting paint. A 10mm, and 8mm wrench along with a Phillips head screwdriver are all that is required for the WEN generator.
I have a bit of travel for work coming up, but hopefully I'll be able to get out on the water soon and let you know how the generator does at powering up our boat. In the meantime you can check out our video on the generator preparation process.
We are going to be taking Starjewel out of the water at the end of May. Since we're a couple months away I wanted to go ahead and get some sort of plan together. The big task we'll be completing is a sanding and painting of the hull. I went ahead and purchased a portable generator for the boat and I'll be testing that out during the haulout with some power tools. I ordered a DEWALT DWE6401DS 5-Inch VS Disc Sander with Dust Shroud that I'll be using along with our cordless vacuum to sand the bottom. Right now my initial todo list is:
Apply name and hailing port
Compound and wax deck, cockpit and topsides
There is also a list of equipment and supplies I'll have to get before the haulout. I want to try and get as much prepped on the water as we can. Sitting on a boat, on land is not the most fun to be had so I'll try to minimize that as much as I can.
Before we get pulled out of the water, I'd like to get the lifelines, dodger, and pull/pushpits removed to make the deck work easier. I have Butyl tape ready to re-seal the hardware after we're done. I'll also need to get a list of supplies; Painter's tape, paper suit and mask, acetone, rollers and brushes, gloves, rubbing compound, towels, 3M cleaner and wax. This is of course just the initial list. It will no doubt double as soon as I get started on the work.
I started making some calls around the area to find a good rate for some time on the hard. Just as with most things, you want to call around to find the best rate. When you do, make sure you're comparing apples to apples. Some yards don't include a powerwash with a haulout, some do. Some will charge you for haulout and putting the boat back in the water separately, some will combine both movements into one fee. You want to make sure the yard will allow you to do everything you need before you find yourself blocked. If you are a liveaboard you should make sure they allow residents, and what amenities will be provided in the rate. Some yards are do it yourself and some are only contractor maintenance yards. If you are going to be working on your boat ensure they will allow you to do everything on your todo list. A little research on your yard will benefit you greatly in getting your boat back in the water in Bristol fashion. If possible, visit the yards on your short list before your haulout. Is it secure? How is the hardstand? Is it smooth concrete or 6 inches of mud? Is there easy access to stores or public transportation if you don't have a vehicle? Word of mouth or other crowd reviewed sites like ActiveCaptain can help a great deal in determining which yard warrants your money.
There are a lot of options when bringing your boat out of the water, make sure you know what you're getting into.
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