Travel 2021-2022

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The Cribbage Board Repair

Well over sixty years, I wandered around while my dad, grand-dad, and uncle played Cribbage, drank beer, and smoked cigars. 

CA and I have taken to playing a game every day. It’s a quiet time together before we dive into reading (or writing or knitting or whatever

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CA’s dad, Bill, made us a Cribbage board back in maybe 1974 or 1975. Yes. We’ve known each other for close to 45 years now. 

Bill drilled out 186 neatly-spaced 11/64″ holes. This is the diameter of Lite-Brite™ pegs.

As you can see from the picture, we dropped the board and snapped off four of the pegs.

We didn’t try to buy four pegs. They’re usually sold in bags of a few hundred. We don’t know any kids who need (or would share) Lite-Brite™ pegs.

It turns out 11/64″ is just about 4mm. The holes are about 15mm deep. That means 4M fasteners will fit nicely into these holes.

We found a few things in the various parts and tool boxes.

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Here’s one variation using two cotter pins and two thumb screws with oversized heads.

(Yes, the board has three tracks even though Cribbage is usually a two-player game. It’s easier to include a third player with this board.)

A common suggestion for hand-made boards seems to be to use rivets. It felt excessive to buy a package of 25 rivets because I need only 6 for a game board.

We’ll try M4 machine screws to compare with cotter pins and thumb screws.

We don’t keep a detailed record of the overall wins and losses. We’re mostly interested in games where a player is left in the lurch. We’ve had a number of skunk games and — so far — one double-skunk, which involves an epic run of bad hands.

We have a spare board, also. It’s a boat. Spares and repairs are our lives.

The Hard Dodger

Here’s a temporary hack. I think it will work for a few years. We’ll see.

We have a custom-built “Wave Stopper" hard-topped dodger. See, for example, “Annapolis VI: ‘Done’” for some information on this. It was (7 years ago) a wonderful thing. Sturdy. Dry. Clear windows. Hand-holds. Really nice. For the most part, it still is really nice.

We screwed down solar panels without any fuss or serious concern about the dodger’s strength. See “Week 44: Back in the Saddle” for the (then) new solar panels on the top of the dodger.

The problem with the HDPE plastic is it’s brittle. So, the normal flexing of the steel supports in the presence of wind and boat motion leads to tiny cracks around the supports.

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You can see the hand-hold and underneath it a rectangle of HDPE with 8 screws in it.

And a crack underneath it.

This is trying to keep the crack from spreading for another few years.

At some point, we’re going to have to ditch this, and replace it with something a bit less prone to fatigue. We’re getting a new bimini — the old fabric has reached the end of it’s service life. If we can drag the hard dodger out for five more years, hat would be the perfect time to replace both.

The steel supports are in almost acceptable places. CA would like the dodger and bimini to be a few inches higher. We’ve had the mainsail recut to lift the boom. We have not (yet) hoisted the main to see how it fits, but if things worked out properly, we should one able to raise the bimini a few inches. 

Right now, a taller bimini would lead to chafe on the aft-end of the solar panels. A possible solution is to use a slightly longer z-bracket (or a shim) to tip the panel up a bit to avoid chafe. Or. To rebuild the dodger top to sit at a slight angle.

Rebuilding the hard top

Sail magazine ran a great article, “How to Build a Hard-top Dodger,” with a number of helpful construction details.

The idea is to start with a cardboard mockup, use this to cut plywood panels. Stitch the panels together and then plan out the mounting brackets and other structural members. Some holes will be pre-drilled, for example, and need to be drilled and glassed in properly.

The article has the phrase "put the dodger in a convenient place for fiberglassing.” This seems to mean “find a garage to work in.” The cover does need to be glassed inside and out, so it would be helpful to have a place to flip it over to work on the inside. Maybe this can be done afloat: glass in the outside of the dodger, flip it forward onto the foredeck to glass in the inside. 

The follow-up part of this is fairing the structure. Trying this on the boat seems to be potentially hazardous: it would spill resin dust into the waterway. 

Another possibility is working on it while on the hard. It’s dangerous trying to lower this bulky, awkward thing to the ground, but, we could certainly flip it over to glass and sand on the hard. We could even use the sander and the shop-vac to avoid spreading plastic dust everywhere. 

My idea (right now) is to use the existing steel, making it relatively easy to mount the the thing. The existing windows are held in place with elegant bolt ropes, allowing them to be slid into a track, avoiding any gaps. I’d like to preserve this idea. Indeed, if I was really good, I could get the new bolt-rope tracks to match the old and reuse the old windows. (The perfection required seems unachievable.)

More sensible is to hire a canvas maker build new windows to fit the new structure. The current acrylic windows will (by then) be 12 or so years old.

If I was going completely crazy, I’d also build an arch for a mainsheet traveler. This involves serious load-bearing construction, so it would involve structural work on the after cabin-top. It needs to be high enough that someone could scramble under it to use the aft cabin entrance, but low enough that you didn’t need to raise the boom any higher to fit the mainsheet block and tackle. 

For now, we’re patching and reinforcing. It’s cheaper and (so far) seems workable. 

Parting Gifts

The folks I used to work with (back when I had a day job) gave me a parting gift. Burgees.

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We had a stack of three we’d use for festive occasions:

The Whitby-Brewer pennant.

The SSCA pennant.

The West River Sailing Club pennant.

Now we have two more to go with those.


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The big black flag has the Cloud Custodian logo. 

Underneath that, in light blue, is the Python language logo

The Aging Marine Sanitation Device

We had two lovely Wilcox-Crittenden Imperial 51 MSD’s on Red Ranger. We took out one to install a composting head back in 2012 (see “Painful Head-ectomy.”)

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We’ve kept the other working pretty well considering it’s something like 37 years old at this point. It’s a heavy piece of machined bronze. Really elegant (in some ways.)

And by “we”, I mean CA. My role is limited to handing her tools while she fiddles with the darn thing.

The imperial model has a foot-operated valve for the flush water. The valve has a spring-loaded return that — of late — doesn’t return anymore. 

We can’t seem to get the set screw tight enough on the shaft that turns the cam that opens the flush value to allow water to flow down the inside of the bowl. I think it’s reached a point where we need to carefully file the shaft flat around the set screw to get it to hold. 

Instead of fiddling with this, CA votes for a new MSD. One that’s not 37 years old. One where parts and rebuild kits are readily available. (We have a rebuild kit from the previous owner, complete with gooey packing for the pump body, and some rubber valves of unknown age.)

The Raritan PH Superflush seems to be really, really similar to the old WC (Water Closet or Wilcox Crittenden, both are correct.)

We’re aware of the possibility of a shit-cano when we disassemble the old head, and I think I have a strategy for dealing with this. (Back in 2012, the shit-cano was a bad surprise.) My solution involves placing the head over a wide, shallow dishpan before disconnecting the hose up to the anti-siphon loop. 

5′ (60″) of 1½″ hose is 106 in³, about 0.45 gallons, 3.7 pints of water. At this point, it’s mostly fresh water, but, it helps to be prepared.

We’re waiting for delivery to our nearby West Marine, where we can schlep it to the boat.

Sacrifice

The ocean is a battery. Salt water conducts. The various metal parts of the boat conduct. 

And this means some parts are being galvanized. Other parts are giving up atoms to support the galvanization.

Since it’s inevitable, and unstoppable, the solution is sacrificial anodes that can give up metal and get replaced when the rot away.

We have three.

  • A 5# zinc fish tied to the grounding system.
  • A zinc ball on the drive shaft to protect the bronze propellor.
  • A zinc pencil in the cooling system of the engine to protect the barrier between engine water and raw water.

The pencil looks like this:

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The one on the right is a new pencil. 

The three on the left are old ones.

“Why do you have old ones?” you ask.

There’s no good reason.

Actually.

There’s a bad reason.

You can see that one of the old ones has a trace of threads. The other two have no visible threads.

That’s because they sacrificed a bunch of material from around the threads. And then broke off. And wound up jammed inside the heat exchanger.

I couldn’t get the new one in this year. Too much old zinc in the way.

I had to take the heat exchanger apart to pick out the zincy bits.

I think we’re good, now. Hopefully it’s all tight and won’t dribble raw water when I start the engine.

Some day, I’m going to build a proper, permanent grounding stud for the zinc fish, to make it more-or-less permanent. The idea would be to clip off the silly alligator clip, crimp on a ring connector, and bolt it to the stud.

A Gift

Let’s begin with the assumption that the port-side water tank leaked. There was ample evidence to support that hypothesis. A leak means we have to replace the tank. (It’s essentially impossible to make a repair through the tiny inspection ports.) Replacing the tank takes money and time. 

And saw blades. Lots of saw blades. See “Water Tanks — Part III — The Wreckoning” for some sense of what’s going to be involved.

But, the Red Ranger has her own ideas.

Today, I found this.

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Here’s what’s in this picture.

There’s a big white thing — the base of the sensor for depth of water. To the right is a thin gray line which is the top of the baffle to keep water from sloshing dangerously. 

To the right of that is shadowy bottom of the tank. Mostly white, actually.

To the left are ripples. They’re ripples in clear water surrounded by gray tank and some residue from an old gasket and screw holes. 

The ripples are hard to see in a still picture.

Ripples.

"Ripple in still water/When there is no pebble tossed/Nor wind to blow."

In the tank which I was *sure* was empty.

When I saw this, I was shocked speechless. Almost speechless, really. I was able to “What the f-“? But beyond that, I was tangled up in a Lovecraftian scale of incomprehension, confronted with a new reality that flatly contradicted my previous reality. Can Red Ranger have her own agenda and new water tanks aren’t part of it?

How did we get to this place? It’s a long road.

Last year, we returned from Las Vegas, launched Red Ranger, and topped off the water tanks. We sailed a bit. Cleaned a lot. Weekended. Went to Cambridge

The port tank went dry first, and we refilled it: there was still some weekends left in the year.

Because we were taking Hollywood showers, and using the boat water for everything, the starboard tank, eventually, went dry, also. Winter was coming: we left it empty, planning to clean it this year.

We were pretty sure we still had plenty of port-side water. 

But then, something happened which I can only describe as “weird.” Are boats really a living thing? We personify them with “her." They’re designed to live in a world of wind and water which we’re only passing through. Are they conscious of being tied to the dock?

The bilge-pump counter started showing that our pump had been running. This means water is getting down to the bilge. It doesn’t tell us where the water comes from, only that it’s arriving in the bilge. There aren’t water stains on the furniture or cabin sole. That leaves the hawsepipe and mast as sources of ingress. We sealed up the space around the hawsepipe with excessive silicone goo.

That was weird, and it takes a while to be sure we’ve stopped the source. 

Before winterizing, we pump the water out of the tanks. We were pretty sure the starboard tank was empty, since we’d pumped it dry. We were pretty sure the port tank was almost full.

Sometime in late December, I put the dipstick into the port tank. 

It was dry. Empty. No water. That was weird.

I’m really sure it was dry. No water showing on the stick.

With me so far? Two weirdnesses:

  • Bilge pump counter is non-zero, has been non-zero each weekend for several weeks. Water is getting into the boat.
  • I sticked the port tank and it was empty. Empty. 

Analysis? The port tank has been leaking into the bilge. 

Synthesis? Since we need water, the tank needs to be replaced.

As long as we’re going to tear apart the port tank, we may as well tear apart the tank under the V-berth, too. It never held water. The shape is an unholy truncated pyramid (or maybe a distorted triangular prism, something only an Elder God of boat fabrication would understand.)

Starting earlier this year, that’s what we did. Step 1. We put in two Nauta bladders. (The job is almost done. I bought the wrong kind of hose. It leaks. We’re fixing the hose choice ASAP.)

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Step 2. CA washed the starboard tank. It looked good. It had almost no water, as expected. It was pretty clean, also as expected.

We do this every year. (1) Clean with a little bit of dish soap; much reaching around with the long-handled scrub brush to try and get as many surfaces as possible. (2) Rinse. (3) Vacuum up the rinse water with the ShopVac. (4) Fill. (5) Add 6 oz. of chlorine to 100 gallons.

Step 3. Port Tank. Next job on the list of things to do. Cut out the old lid, design four solid tanks to fit in the space.

Then. I opened the port-side tank.

And found.

Water.

Plenty of clean water. From last year. Still in the tank. Not pumped out of the bilge through a leak that — it appears — may never have existed.

This was a big “Wait, What?” moment. Followed by “No way” and “I was sure it was empty."

I was *sure*. Absolutely *sure* the port tank was empty. I was so sure,  I bought more reciprocating saw blades. 

Back in December, I must have dropped the stick into the tank in some awkward way that hit the interior baffle. I never noticed the stick hadn’t gone all the way in. I focused on the “stick is bone dry” aspect of what I was seeing, and never asked if I’d used the thing correctly. It’s a stick. It seems like it’s hard to use incorrectly.

But. Here I am. Living proof that you can put a stick in a tank incorrectly.

The planned months of work to remove the old tanks and replace them? Gone. 

The budget items? Gone.

The task on our Trello board? Gone.

The saw blades? Still here, other things might need to be cut to pieces.

Whoa. This discovery changes everything. Hello, solar panels.

New Sails

Here’s the new main.

Our hull number is 188. But the sail maker felt we needed something. So the “42 W” is for Whitby 42. 

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I’m tying in the 3rd batten. 

Since CA is taking the picture, they’re not helping.

Below this batten, I have to reeve the second reef, then tie in the the first batten, and the first reef.

It weighs a ton. 

And it’s so stiff that we have a hard time getting it smashed down small enough to get the sail cover on it.

We really want to get out and see how this performs in comparison with the previous sails.

But. 

We’ve got a bunch of jobs to to that are — perhaps — more important. The water tanks being our primary focus.

We may not really get a chance to use them until fall. Really.

The To-Do List

How do you keep your to-do list?

Paper? iOS Reminders app? A spreadsheet?

What’s on it? Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul? Anything else?

I’ve been using Toodledo for years. Well over 10 years now. It has an iOS app as well as a web app. It has a kajillion features with folders, contexts, priorities, due-dates, starred items, a “hot list”, status, and even hierarchies of related items.

I’ve started using Trello. Which means I have two (similar) to-do lists, old and new.

Trello has considerably less built-in structure. Boards. Lists. Cards. That’s kind of it. You can assign people and color code the cards. But. You can adapt this flexible structure to a lot of purposes. I’m a little vague on how best to handle repeating tasks. There’s a “Card Repater Power-up" that handles this, I think.

Currently, I’ve got Toodledo folders with names like “Commissioning/Survey”, “Repair”, “Maintenance”, “Operations” (What’s the distinction between ops and maintenance?) “Inspect”, “Upgrades”, “Offshore” (A kind of upgrade category, why is is separate?) and “Tools” (with nothing in it, why is it still there?)

I’ve got Toodledo contexts with names like “ADC/Engine” (ADC is American Diesel, my supplier for parts) “Boatyard/Haulout”, “Ongoing” (Nothing in here, what does it mean?), “Red Ranger”, and “Shopping” (Which is really planning.)

Clearly, I have too many folders and contexts because I don’t know what they mean or why they’re there.

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In tech world (from which I’m retired) it would be time for a retrospective. What works? What should we do more of? What should we do less of? What’s really important? 

  • Collaboration. We need one, central list. Either tool does this well. Trello seems a little easier to add collaborators and share.
  • Relatively simple organization of data. Too many folders and contexts can be bewildering. CA likes the visual layout of Trello. 
  • Recurring scheduled tasks. Everything in my “Maintenance” and “Operations” folders is really a recurring task. Oil change. Rig inspection. There appear to be Trello Powerups for this.
  • A variety of “in-process” options. Shopping for parts is a precondition to doing the work, for example. The picture above is a reminder than the 2″ zincs may be too long and I need to buy 1¾″ zincs (E-1D, not E-1.) This is a blocker for the real job, which is to change out the engine zinc. Which is a repeating inspect and replace task.

Here are some of the options:

  1. Reorg Toodledo. It has an offline app; it can work when we’re not close to shore. We can collaborate. It’s visually old-fashioned, and a bit cluttered. I only pay about $36 annually for this, but I think a collaborator needs a not-free subscription, so maybe it’s closer to $72 if we both use it.
  2. Move my notes from Toodledo to Trello. With more than one powerup, this becomes “Gold Level” and will cost something like $40 annually.
  3. Switch to Asana, Basecamp, or Wrike or one of the various Trello alternatives that provides repeating tasks. 

Of course, this isn’t the whole story. There are more files:

We have an inventory of boat systems. It lists *everything*. It lists many (but not all) consumable supplies, tools, and maintenance tasks. It also lists a lot of other things. It’s a complex outline, actually, because a flat list of “systems” seems unhelpful. Further, the ongoing notes and reminders and what-not need some freedom. The inventory document includes, for example, all the pump rebuild kit part numbers.

We have two Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) docs. These overlap a lot, and someday we’ll edit them into a single SOP that we can maintain. CA is really pragmatic and writes good, focused documentation. I don’t. 

We have cruising history and cruising plans, but that may be separate from the maintenance, repair, and overhaul/upgrade tasks. May be separate. Preparing to leave is a list of “must do” tasks, including provisioning, as well as finishing repair projects and maintenance tasks.

Interestingly, when I go to export my data from Toodledo, it can still support the PalmOS app. PalmOS! I had a palm pilot. In the 90’s. I think I recall buying Toodledo because it was a Palm app that had a web interface. Maybe it’s been 25 years!?!

Update: Total 246 total cards in the Trello to-do board.

Bladder Emptying and Hand-Washing

A Bladder Cleanser sounds like a special cranberry juice drink. But really, the job isn’t over until the hand-washing afterwords.

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Yes this is a picture of soapy water in the galley sink.

We put a little dish soap in the tank. Ran in some water. And now we’re pumping the soapy water out.

We’ll keep adding water until it runs out clear.

Then we’ll sanitize with a half ounce of chlorine bleach in about 10 gallons of water. Let that stand for a few hours while we bend on the mains’l. 

Then. 

We’ll have a working water system. Barely 50 gallons of water, but that’s better than what we have now, which is a three-gallon bucket with a nice lid and a spigot.

We can move on to the next two water-related jobs

  • Clean the starboard tank. This is fairly quick. We expect it’s a rinse and then vacuum out the detritus.
  • Rebuild the leaking port tank. This will take days and days and days. I hope I can get the aluminum top off. Scott and Jeanie on Joie de Vivre did it, so I know it can be done.

We were overjoyed to open the deck fill and put water in and have it come out the galley sink. Just like it’s supposed to. We’re happy to have recovered the volume under the V-berth for water, also.

Now that my bladder is empty, I can wash my hands in the sink. A huge milestone.

Bladder Test

It sounds so medical. It’s not. It’s technical.

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Here’s some parts.

This immensely complex T-fitting with appropriate hose barbs all around.

It’s wonderfully Byzantine.

The deck filler has a bushing to narrow it from the default 1½″ to 1″. This is actually good because the tiny opening from anchor locker to the top of the tank is only big enough for 1″ hose.

The bladders only accept 1½″ fill fittings. So. The T in this picture splits the 1″ from the deck to two 1½″ for the two bladders. 

Weird, I know.

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Here’s the lower bladder in place. The band of white is part of the shelf that will hold the upper bladder.

I capped one side of the T fitting. Built the “drawing” lines to take water from the bladders to the fresh-water system.

And.

It worked.

Deck water in. It sat in the bladder. And it came out into the galley sink. A few things dripped, but a quick twist with the tool and the hose clamp was a little tighter and drier.

Not surprising. Really.

CA and I are both software people. We find it necessary to test everything in isolation before moving on and testing the entire system.

Also. CA lives by the “change one thing” rule. When something doesn’t work, change one thing. If you fixed it, you also know the root cause. If you change too many things at once, you can’t correctly diagnose which change fixed the problem.

The upper bladder (when full) can hold 135 liters; about 135 Kg. It cannot be moved when full. Even half-full, 67½ Kg is not something you can lean over and mess around with.

So we tested the lower bladder to be sure we don’t need to look around in there again. Looking at the lower bladder isn’t easy and requires planning. If you’re going to dump the upper bladder’s water, you’re going to want to refill it after. A borescope camera with a long gooseneck would be required to see under the top bladder without wasting fresh water.

Putting fittings into the Nauta bladders is a challenge. The hole seems just a hair too small; but that’s how you prevent leaks. The Nauta Flexible Tank Fitting Install video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh-u5FVMTXU) is essential. We had bicycle tools, which are better than using the plier handles shown in the video.

Tomorrow is upper bladder install. Then the wash-and-sanitize cycle described on the page of instructions that comes with each bladder. See https://www.defender.com/pdf/NAUTA_FLEXIBLE_TANKS.PDF for the Maintenance Instructions.

I’m not happy with the 1½” hose I ordered. It’s too thick: I can’t get the hose clamps tight enough. I think it’s designed another kind of higher-pressure fitting. I need to get what McMaster-Carr calls "Soft Plastic Tubing for Air and Water”. Eventually. What’s in there now mostly works. The drip is slow, but it doesn’t seem like I can eliminate it without buying more hose.

We’re excited to be cleaning and filling the tanks. This lets us move on to cleaning the starboard tank under the saloon (which doesn’t leak.) 

And then. 

Putting four rigid plastic tanks in the space formerly occupied by the port tank. The port tank started leaking last year, and the bilge pump cycles were the impetus to start upgrading our water system. I think I can put 4 tanks, each 34″ × 17.5″ × 11″ into the space formerly occupied by the port tank. This may be optimistic. We have a pile of cardboard just waiting to make models.

Step one, however, is to get the old lid off the tank. This will be some awkward reciprocating saw work to cut all the rivets and then get the aluminum up from under the floor. It has to come out in sections, so there will be a *lot* of cutting. It will be loud and painful.


© Steven Lott 2020