Let’s take the Mast Down!

Arguably the second most important part of a sailboat is it’s rig (coming in just after a sound hull). After all the steps to sailing look something like:

1) Keep air in the boat and water out
2) Scoop wind with sail to move boat
3) Smile and crack open a beer, you are sailing!

Then why do we neglect our rigs?!

Well, a healthy fear of heights is probably one reason. A lack of understanding and a belief in mysticism might be another. But I would venture to guess the seemingly overwhelming yard costs associated with stepping and unstepping a mast is probably the main reason.

Maybe I’m generalizing, but of all the sailors I know (several of whom talk about going offshore) few have intimate knowledge of their rigs. This should raise eyebrows.

What is it made of? What sort of fittings are used on the boat? When was it last inspected? Is it original? How many years are recommended between inspections? If something breaks, what do you do?

After going electric, we are pretty much counting on our rig to get us around the world. No if ands or buts about it, it has to stay up. Knowing that we can’t afford to put a new rig on Cinderella, we better make damn sure we do everything we can to keep it standing so we can manage steps 2 and 3 from above. Afterall, sailing is supposed to be fun, right??

Where do you start? Well the previous owner is probably a good place. If they weren’t to knowledgeable, maybe the owner previous to them. If that doesn’t work, try a rigger.

We did both, and oddly enough it was the rigger that was able to put us in touch with the PO who raced Cinderella all those years ago. What we found out was invaluable. We knew when the mast was installed, the specs, who did the install, when it was inspected, the age of the halyards (and that they needed replacing ASAP), the sail inventory, when to use those sails, and much much more. We are fortunate Cindy’s PO was very knowledgeable and willing to share everything he knew.

Where does that leave us? Well Cinderella still has a nasty leak around the mast, and we have a 20 year old rod rig with the life expectancy of (get this) 20 years! Now Navtec rod rigs can last up to 50 years or more if properly taken care of, but the only way to know anything is to take it apart piece by piece and have a look for ourselves.

So that’s what we did. I decided to take a week off work and we would have the mast unstepped and set up in the local boatyard where I could work away until she was ready to go back in.

We convinced some friends to come along, offering the breakfast, wine, and beer, in exchange for help and photo skills.

Before this, I have never pulled a rig before, this is where research and the PO come in handy. It turns out, Cinderella has a stock Express 34 rig built by Ballenger Spar Systems in CA and the PO knew where the balance point of the rig was, and outlined the steps of removal for us.

They looked something like this:

Prior to arriving at boatyard

1) Remove boom, vang, sails, and any appendages connected to the mast itself (leaving the halyards, you don’t want to have to fish those through later)
2) Disconnect any wiring to mast VHF cable, wind instrument cables, light cables and so on
3) Lubricate all turnbuckles and make sure they turn freely (you do not want to be stuck unseizing turnbuckles when yard fees are $100/hr)

Upon arrival at boatyard

4) Let the crane operators begin supporting the mast from its balance point (on our rig, that is just below the bottom spreaders)
5) Go around and loosen all turnbuckles completely (Cinderella’s mast is keel stepped and will stand upright without any rigging attached
6) Disconnect all standing rigging and tie of to the mast
7) Double check all running rigging is disconnected from the boat (we forgot this one)
7) Have crane operator do their thing and watch in wonder as the mast slowly lifts out of your boat.
8) Cover hole left by mast removal with something (we used a plastic bag and duck tape.

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That’s it! It really isn’t a complicated procedure, and the crane operators have done this hundreds if not thousands of times. The weirdest part is motoring your boat back to your slip without the mast in place, no more requesting bridge opening!

Follow along on the next step where we replace the halyards, take the turnbuckles apart, inspect the rod ends, and add spreader lights!

 

Building STORAGE! Part 1

If you remember from one of my first blogs, I spent some time insulating the hull and covering it with cheap flooring in order to stop my condensation problem. Guess what, its coming down. After talking to more boaters, and advancing my boat-building knowledge, I realize my attempt was simply a band-aid.

Over Thanksgiving, Ava and I sailed to Port Townsend to speak with Port Townsend Rigging about pulling our mast and doing a complete inspection of the rig prior to departure in September. After a day setback with the install of the Dickinson heater, we departed a day late and without reliable heat. I still had my portable propane heater, so we were able to warm up down below when were weren’t on watch, but it’s not quite the same as the warm, dry heat of the diesel burner.

What was supposed to be a pleasant 18 kt breeze behind us turned out to be more like 25 dead ahead. As luck would have it, rain showers graced us all day. We were soaked and cold. If we look at the situation optimistically, we did have lots of wind!  In just 7 hrs we had made it to Port Townsend, and tied up to the fuel dock for the night. In the morning after getting our slip, we wandered around the boatyard, chatting up nearly everyone we could find. One of those folks was Andy, one of the employees of Port Townsend Rigging.

Like all boaters, Andy could tell a story. Before long we were all back aboard Cinderella, beers in hand. Andy was telling us about the modifications he made to his boat, and made me aware that I should reconsider what I had done when I insulated the main cabin. He told me about how he added storage behind the settees in his boat. In doing so, he not only added insulation and storage, but also strength to the hull.

This sat in my mind for a while before I finally took the leap. I was going to take everything down and build out cabinets behind the port settee to give Cinderella even more rigidity and precious storage.

This became a larger project (shoscker) than I expected, but the end result is well worth it.

I began by taking all of the flooring down and pulling off all of the stringers I glued to the hull.

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The next steps took the majority of an evening. The port settee was designed to be slept on, not at at, it was much deeper than a normal seat. This allowed me to create plenty of storage behind the future seat-backs, but where would those seat-backs be? It is very challenging to draw a straight line in a boat, even more challenging to take that line and make a template to follow the curvature of a hull. I eventually decided that I needed 19″ for my seat, and the rest would be storage.

I then drew lines up the bulkheads at about 85 degrees to outline where the seat-back would eventually be. From here I was able to glue in my supports and begin cutting cardboard templates.

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Since the access to the storage below the settees did not allow for 19″ seats, I decided the bottom shelf would be 4″ off of the settee (the height of the cushions). I was fortunate I bought an electric carving knife for cutting foam because it works wonders on cardboard templates too. I proceeded to cut out templates for each piece I needed before cutting each piece out of 12mm plywood. At the local lumberyard they have 12mm finished birch plywood that seemed like the perfect choice.

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I kept going until I had each piece cut out an test fitted. Fortunately, you don’t need a perfect fit to the hull here. You actually want to leave about a 1/2″ gap to fill with foam so that the swelling of the wood won’t cause any pressure points on the hull and potentially create stress points.

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The next step was to cut the foam strips to fit the gap. I used polystyrene I had leftover for the initial insulation job, again the carving knife was invaluable. After the foam was glued in place, I made fillets out of thickened epoxy so that the fiberglass would have a gentile arc to adhere to rather than a sharp 90 degree bend. Finally, I was able to lay the fiberglass. I applied three layers with the first halfway between the hull and the plywood and the next two overlapping on either side.

 

PowerSurvivor 35 Watermaker Install Part 1

When reading and thinking about cruising in the Pacific, one topic seems to come up over and over again: water. It is after all, one of the most important components to life.

Up until now, we have cruised here in the Puget Sound between the USA and Canada, two places where potable (and delicious) water comes free from the faucet. It’s something all of us take for granted, and probably the most important resource we have. When we are in the middle of the big blue sea, or in a remote island paradise, we can’t quite count on the faucet method. So what are our options?

It turns out there are three main options. People have been sailing the seas for thousands of years, and the tried and true method for water management is quite simple, big tanks and rain-catchers. We’ve heard from a few veteran cruisers that adding a bit of bleach to water tanks and bladders will keep the green things at bay. That remains the simplest method of capturing drinking water. The next option would be buying water from a trustworthy source. I’m not sure I want to trust our life and health to the water treatment systems that exist across the globe, so that leads us to the third option: Water desalination via reverse osmosis.

While we will try to capture rainwater along the way, my mind says something as important as water should have a redundant system. Enter digging at the Fisheries Supply swap meet at 5am in the rain, and our $200 PUR WaterSurvivor 35!

[Pajo was in Australia for work while Ava perused the swap meet and chatted up some salty folks. A transaction via FaceTime allowed Ava to use her Jersey charm to negotiate another good score, the Aries Wind Vane… more on that later].

With a bit of research, we discovered that although the PUR WaterSurvivor 35 is one of the original marine desalination systems, it is still in production by Katadyn who bought out PUR. Not only that, the system PUR designed has been used all around the world by all sorts of boats, and some systems are still in service to this day. Based on those facts, we will be installing our bargain watermaker aboard Cinderella.

Before digging into our old-new watermaker, I did my usual and scoured the forums to see what we really had. It turns out, a fellow by the name of Gary Albers has dissected these things forwards and backwards and published his knowledge on the World Wide Web for all of us to share. His website can be found here (thanks Gary!).

Our watermaker will run on 12v DC power, although we will have a hand pump option if things go sour.

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As you can see in the photo above, she is in some rough shape. What happens to things in rough shape? I tear into them thinking I know better.

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The first thing I did was pull the motor off of the pump. I began with a screwdriver chipping away at the crusty paint and oxidation so I could actually see what I had.

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I immediately decided the motor had to come apart so that I could repaint everything. This thing will live in a marine environment, and I really don’t want everything to oxidize together.

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As you can see I chipped away all of the old paint to see what the aluminum looked like below. Fortunately, it is all salvageable. The next step was to look at the motor inerts. You can see the brushes extended out below, that took lots of work to get them unstuck. I am pretty certain that the last time this thing was switched on, noting happened. This is one of three things that can go wrong with an electric motor, but fortunately after a bit of sanding and working, the brushes spring back and forth, just as they are supposed to!

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The next step will be to sand and paint all of the components and reassemble the motor and gearbox assembly. After reading up on the gearbox there has not been a recorded failure, and the grease still looked to be in good shape. If I can help it, I will leave the gearbox alone and simply paint it.

I checked into the cost of a replacement membrane (I haven’t the slightest clue on its history) and it’s about $340. A new seal kit runs about $120, so all in all I should have a completely rebuilt 12v watermaker aboard for about $660. Not too bad considering a new one is in the $4000 range, YIKES!

I am going to be updating the galley layout in the coming months, so it’s the perfect time to look at possible mounting locations.

Newport Dickinson Heat Part 3

Hopefully the last part in the series. After our chilly evening sail, I realized that I had some improvements to make.

The plan:

  1. Add Barometric damper to “dampen” the wind gusts coming down the chimney pipe.
  2. Fiberglass a pad for the chimney top to sit on that is level with the deck.
  3. Cut chimney pipe to fit with the damper in place.

The first step was to run out and pick up a barometric damper.

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These are not cheap coming in at bout $60! Let’s face it though, sailing here in the PNW without heat on-board is pretty miserable and that $60 seems trivial when you are cold and wet. Also, when we depart in September it will be nice to have warm dry heat en route to San Francisco.

The next step was to glass a chimney pad. This was probably the most time consuming portion of the whole install. I have never tried to make odd shapes out of fiberglass before, so there was a bit of learning involved here, but I figured it couldn’t be that hard.

I started by measuring the deck fitting (7″ in diameter) and searching for a bucket with rounded bottom edges to use as a mould for my epoxy. It turns out that the pain mixing buckets were perfect, 7.5″ in diameter, and the edges were nice and rounded.

I waited for a nice dry morning and went out with a piece of paper that I had previously wrapped around the bucket to size and drew the deck curvature onto the paper. I then scribed that shape onto the bucket and cut it with scissors. The resulting shape was test fit to the deck curvature and I used a level to check to see how well it fit.

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The photo above shows me test fitting after I glassed over the bucket. It turned out that the deck fitting was too short to reach the disctance of the new pad, so I had to trim 1.5″ off using my dremel. I then mixed up some thickened epoxy filler and epoxied the mould into place. I then cut several small pieces of fiberglass and glassed the pad into place on deck.

The end result came out pretty well. Its structurally sound and after a bit of sanding and paint, you won’t be able to tell it wasn’t original!

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I then used the dremel to cut the chimney pipe and the guard to fit below the damper. Here is a look from the interior.

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Newport Dickinson Heat Part 2

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About a month had gone by, and Ava and I had returned to the PNW after some traveling to visit my family in the Midwest. Contrary to my belief, it had actually gotten colder in Seattle. My little space heater was now working full time and could hardly keep the boat temp above 60. It was time to revisit that Diesel heater.

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If you recall I had left the project installed but not in working order. Ava and I went sailing through a gale to Port Townsend and while we made excellent time (averaged 7 kts!) we were nearly frozen to the bone upset that we had to rely on my little propane Mr. Buddy Heater. I now had a bit of inspiration, I once again revisited the diesel heater.

The first step to troubleshooting was to download the calibration procedure from the Dickinson website (find it here) and check to see if my valve was set properly.

The calibration can be tested by removing the copper pipe from the bottom of the valve assembly and allowing the diesel to drip directly into a measuring cup. Dickinson calls for the valve to fill 1 tsp over 50 seconds on setting 1.

Simple enough right? Wait! I don’t have measuring spoons. Just before my drive was diminished, I had and idea. To google!

As we may or may not know, silverware was originally designed to measure, you guessed it, the teaspoon and the tablespoon. It turns out, a normal spoon is approximately 1 Tbsp and a dessert spoon is approximately 1 tsp. Oh the magic of google. Unfortunately, in my minimalism I do not have any dessert spoons, so I would have to use a regular spoon.

Since there are 3 tsp in 1 Tbsp, I have two options, either eyeball what 1/3 of the spoon looks like, or wait 150 seconds and the full spoon should be full of diesel. (note: be sure to clean the spoon afterwards thoroughly). I chose to eyeball at the 50 sec mark. The less opportunity for diesel to spill in my cabin the better.

After all of this, I was able to determine my valve assembly was calibrated nearly perfectly, the plug must be further down the line.

I proceeded to the next step in the process, the copper pipe that connects the burner pot to the valve assembly. What do you know, it was completely plugged.

I should have spent the extra time when cleaning out the stove prior to installation to clean the pipe too, but it was cold when I was cleaning, and I lost motivation very quickly.  So simple, yet so frustrating.

After sacrificing half of a spiral bound notebook’s spiral, I was able to use the wire to clean out the pipe to reinstall. A few minutes later, I had it all back together.

I opened the valve to setting 1 and waited, sure enough there was enough fuel to prime the stove in 5 minutes. I lit the pool of diesel, and we were off. It took about 5 minutes to preheat  enough to vaporize the diesel, but the stove was working properly.

The stove now works, and I am no longer spending the occasional evening aboard in a puffy coat.

The Newport heater also happens to come with a built in 12v fan to force air into the burner pot. This allows the user to better control the burn. I like this feature, as the old sig 180 had limited burn range before inefficient combustion. I basically had to run it full blast or nothing (quite the waste of fuel).

I was eager to see what this fan could do! I wired it up and switched it on. Nothing.

I immediately assumed the switch had failed. A few minutes  with the handy dandy Fluke multi-meter, and I found the culprit.

The motor, after sitting in a marine environment for x years, had seized. The local Dickinson dealer proceeded to drop my jaw when they told me the replacement was $85!

Crafty as I am, and after my newfound knowledge of electric motors from the Manta Drive, I disassembled the tiny little fan motor and found out what was wrong. It turned out that one of the bushings had corroded after being in the environment for so long.

After a bit of fine sandpaper and a dab of winch lube, I had the motor was spinning free once again. The best part, I still had that $85 in my pocket!

It turns out the fan really helps get the burner lit, and aids in combustion of the flame. Something was still up though, the flame seemed to hesitate every now and then.

Oh well, it works, and I am now sweating in my t-shirt aboardin these cold nights.

We had some guests over, and decided to go out for an evening sail. Everything started out great. Light breeze coming from the sound, a nice slowsail towards downtown.

The wind was nearly directly behind us. It was pleasant. As we came about to circle around the lake, I see smoke! Saing to windward caused a back-draft that killed the flame in the burner pot! This would not do for distance sailing.

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Still not happy, I have some ideas on how to make my setup better.

Follow along for Dickinson Heat Part 3 – I add a barometric damper and fiberglass a pad for the chimney to sit on.

 

Newport Dickinson Heat Part 1


H Climate change, whether you believe, (or sadly) don’t believe is making itself known here in the PNW. I guess it could also just be winter, but who really cares, its cold! Cold weather + no heat + rain + gale force wind makes for some some less than ideal sailing. Being that we now have less than a year before departure, we are trying to take every advantage possible to get out there. Last year, Ava and I took advantage of some extended vacation in late December  to go on a two week sail through the Gulf Islands in Canada, it was unbelievable. A big reason why we managed to have a great time can be summed up in two words.

Warm. Dry.

When I began construction of the new cabin aboard Cinderella, I removed some items that wasted space. One of those items was the old diesel drip heater, a SigMarine 180. Being that we plan to circumnavigate the globe along the equator, we did not need a bulky SigMarine 180 taking up all that space aboard. It was great having all that space open this summer, but now that winter has kicked in we are less than enthused about taking extended sailing trips away from the dock and the wonder of electric heat.

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The Sig 180 provided dry heat that allowed us to live in comfort during our sail. it also managed to dry out all of our clothing as we sailed along from island to island. There has to be a way to keep the heat, but not waste all the space. After all, we are going to be shrinking our lives into a measly 35 feet for the next couple years, the more space we can keep the better. Enter the Newport Dickinson Heater.

Along the way in my boatly learning, I acquired an Ericson 27 which had a bulkhead mounted version of the very bulky, free standing behemoth I yanked from Cinderella. An afternoon and some very sooty hands later I had successfully salvaged the heater from Cinderella’s smaller sister ship.

Ava and I had planned another sailing trip over thanksgiving, so I had a deadline to get this new heater installed and working.

The first step was to clean what looked like 30 years of soot out of this old heater and prepare it for installation into Cinderella. I disassembled the heater as far as I was willing to go (pulling the valve assembly off and disassembling it) in the cold one afternoon and cleaned out all of the parts to prepare for re installation in the starboard bulkhead of Cinderella.

Time was ticking and I needed to prepare Cinderella for the addition of this new heater. I had two major modifications I needed to make.

  1. Cut hold in cabin top for chimney EEK!
  2. Cut stainless steel heat shield to fit on starboard bulkhead behind the heater.

Cutting a hole in the cabin top turned out to be quite a task for my Harbor Freight holesaw kit. I think I went through 4 battery charges on my drill before I was able to cut the 4″ hole required for the chimney. It did work though, and I am impressed with how much use I was able to get out of this cheap little “one time use” kit. Every time you put a hole in the cabin top of one of these fiberglass boats, you need to be aware of any possible leak points. Most fiberglass production boats have a sheet of either plywood of balsa sandwiched between the fiberglass layers to add rigidity to the boat. A hole in this fiberglass is a potential leak point which could rot the wood and destroy the rigidity of the cabin top. Not good. Fortunately I had mixed up some epoxy for another task below, so I was able to seal the balsa coring with the leftovers around the hole I drilled for the chimney.

Cutting the stainless steel heat shield turned out to be quite a PITA! I started with a cutoff wheel on my dremel, but in short order I was out of blades and with quite a bit left to cut. After looking over my saw options, I landed on good old fashioned horsepower, that’s right, a hacksaw. After about an hour of grunting and grumbling I had finally finished making the cut and Ava and I were able to install the heat shield and the stove.

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Fortunately, I had 3 pieces of chimney pipe to choose from after removing 2 heaters, so I was able to find a piece that looked the nicest and fit the location perfectly.

The only remaining task was to go topside and install the chimney top from above.

The chimney top would connect to the chimney coming from the heater and complete the stack.

My initial belief was that I would be able to bend the shroud around the chimney to fit the curvature of the cabin top – a novice move. I quickly realized that I would need to build up the cabin top to a level plane to meet the chimney top on the deck.

Level on a boat is… relative?  It was getting dark and cold, and I had run out of time if we still wanted to go cruising.

The deck was sealed, so my main worry had subsided. I did the only thing I could to attach the chimney top to the deck and get us ready to leave, marine silicone adhesive.

It looks pretty awful, but it will cover the majority of the hole, and allow us to use the heater on the short term until I can make a fiberglass platform for the chimney top to attach to.

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The next day rolled around and it was time to test the old, new heater! We screwed the day tank to the wall, filled it up and primed the burner. The directions say to set the valve to setting 1 and wait 5 minutes for approx a Tbsp of diesel to form in the burner pot. 10 minutes had gone by and I could hardly see diesel in the bottom pipe of the burner, something was wrong. “Well, maybe I need to give it extra time to fill the valve assembly. I’ll give it another 10 minutes,” I thought. 10 minutes later and I had a pool of diesel! Time to light this thing up and test it out!

Nothing.

The pool lit, but after a few minutes it would go out and no more diesel would flow into the burner pot. Something was clogged, but it was going to have to wait for another time. Thanksgiving was going to be a cold, wet sail.

And it was.

Follow along for Part 2 of the Dickinson Newport Diesel Heater Install.

 

My Experience with EV – Part 8 Sea Trials

Sail,ing Cinderella, Spinnaker, PNW, Puget Sound

I can now say that we have extensively sea trialed the Manta Drive. We started with a little trip around Lake Union then stepped it up to a few overnight cruises.

First Trial – Cruise on Lake Union

Ava and I motored off the dock one faithful summer night here on Lake Union to test her out. I completed tightening the bolts holding the belt tension and said, “Alright! let’s take her out!” Ava looked down at me skeptically from the cockpit. The sun had set, so it was going to be a nice night time trial cruise, maybe 30 minutes or so.

The first thing I noticed was how responsive the boat was, I can now turn the propeller at 1 rpm if I so choose. This is a very nice perk for backing Cinderella out of the slip. I could use quick bursts to overcome wind drift and keep the bow under control, yet go back to a very cautious slow speed in an instant. This was not the case with the Yanmar, the Yanmar did not like shifting from neutral to reverse, and would die occasionally during the shift. This kept me on high alert in close quarters, and I tended to over throttle to compensate making close quarters tricky. (To enter and leave the slip I have to slide Cinderella between two boats with about a foot on either side, and the same goes for reversing out of the slip)

We then proceeded to motor around the lake and I let Ava take the helm so I could go below and look at the gauges, I could not believe that under full throttle, not only were we hitting 5 kts (the same max speed as the Yanmar), but we were only drawing 25 amps! I was expecting closer to 100, so this was huge. Backing her down to 10 amps Cindy would hover right around 3 kts. I was taken aback by how little energy this was taking (though I shouldn’t be too shocked, I managed to row the boat to 1kt when we were out of wind Sailing around Canada). Let me tell you, the motor sure beats rowing!

At full throttle, the belt was slipping and smoking. There was no trouble motoring around at 3kts, but if we pushed it, the belt would slip and smoke. I first wrote it off as bad tension, but on further inspection I was sold a A type drive pulley and a B type driven pulley from the bearing house. The B type belt was not getting enough purchase on the A type pulley and slipping under load. I called McGuire Bearing here in Seattle, and they remedied the situation by swapping my pulley at no charge. The belt no longer slips under a load, and all is well.

Next Trial – Afternoon of crabbing, and a day sail to Poulsbo

The first decent cruise with the Manta Drive was to Poulsbo, WA with 5 friends aboard. 3 of us had the afternoon free, so we headed out the lock early to do some crabbing until the rest of the group could get free. At this point I was completely unsure of the range of my battery bank. To get through the locks out of the lake and into the Puget Sound its about an hour trip, and I bought the cheapest batteries you can find, they aren’t even full deep cycle batteries, but the plan is to test inexpensively and upgrade prior to departure.

We sailed most of the way to the locks, only motoring under the two bridges and through the locks themselves. It was a beautiful summer day, and we were tacking like crazy to get up the canals and across the bays. The wind was perfect 15 kts or so, so we played around setting the crab traps and retrieving them while under sail. (This was actually good practice for a MOB drill, knowing how to heave to where you want to, and how the boat reacts). After a delicious crab lunch, we headed to Shilshole Marina to pick up the rest of the crew for the trip. I still had only motored the boat for a grand total of maybe 30- 40 minutes and had 67% of my battery bank remaining.

After picking up the crew, we sailed on towards Poulsbo (approx a 17nm trip), but the wind decided to stop just as the sun was setting with about 4 miles remaining to the destination. We were out of the strongest current area of Agate Pass, but we were going to fight a slight current most of the way there. Based on my rough calculations, we did not have enough battery remaining to make it…. We motored slowly for about an hour until the battery was toast. Unfortunately, I did not really pay attention to the amps or the time, so I am not entirely sure of the capacity of the bank. We drifted close enough to shore to drop anchor and everyone crashed out for the night.

I spent the night in the cockpit fearful of the anchor. I was not able to set it adrift, so as soon as the wind picked up I was going to weigh anchor and set sail. Sure enough, I awoke around 6am to a very slow dragging of the anchor, and I hoisted the sails and headed out before the crew woke up. The wind was gentile, and I sailed under main alone back out Agate pass. My plan was to sail slowly and arrive at the pass just as the current started build into an ebb. After we got out the pass I again dropped anchor, this time along with crab pots and went back to sleep for a few more hours.

When we all woke up, I told everyone of the new plan to sail to Kingston due to my fear of losing wind in Poulsbo again and not getting back to Seattle on time. We continued on and the wind was perfect, 15kts and Cinderella was charging along at 6kts to windward, the perfect time to test out the regeneration from the propeller. I gave the motor a quick burst in reverse to open up my folding prop, and put the motor back in “neutral”. The prop was now spinning and recharging my battery bank. We sailed on for about an hour alongside a half dozen orcas playing all the way to Kingston.

Upon arrival, I was unsure how much battery I had to dock. I decided to come in under sail, and use the motor only minimally to stop us neatly at the dock. (It’s also fun to engage a bunch of non-sailors in the group challenge of dropping sails on command while coming into a marina). The motor performed admirably stopping our forward motion at the dock. I again didn’t have the for-thought to check the charge level of the bank when we arrived, this was the first time using regen on the motor, and my regen amp gauge wasn’t hooked up yet, so I couldn’t get a good feel for how much power was going back into the batteries.

I paid for a few hours at the marina in Kingston and plugged into shore power to recharge the bank. We wandered around, had lunch and set sail again to Seattle. After dropping everyone off, I motored back through the locks, all the way back to my slip, about an hour and a half of motoring, and there was still plenty left, at this point, I was pretty happy with the motor. I could get out of the locks from my slip, and the regen seemed to work enough to handle docking in a marina. I called it a win even though I drained the batteries to dead on the trip.

Remaining Trials – A couple cruises and a few races

Over the course of the late summer, fall, and so far this winter I have taken a handful of trips to further my understanding of this new electric motor drive. We entered a Duck Dodge race last minute, I participated in the Race Your House, and attempted to first of the Snowbird Series. The latter two showed me that I have right about 3 hrs worth of usable motoring on my battery bank at about 3-4kts, just enough to get out of the locks and back into my slip. We also cruised a bit further to Port Ludlow (again anchoring when the wind died to sleep for a few hours) and later to Port Townsend over Thanksgiving (through a gale on the way there, and navigating micro wind bursts on the way back)

Manta Drive Overall

I am happy with the manta drive, it serves the purpose I wanted when I came up with the idea. I have a simple, clean drive system with no maintenance, and very minimal points of failure. I can motor into the Sound and back from my slip, and I have opened up my cabin allowing for me to build a better layout for our living space.

1 – I can drive the boat the the same max speed as I could with the yanmar (I believe this can be bettered by modifying the propeller)

2 – I have a bout 3 hours of motoring available or approx a 9 mile range as a slow cruise with the cheapest batteries on the market (after upgrading to Oasis Firefly’s we should have about 4x the range) 12 hrs is going to be plenty for what we plan to do with Cinderella

3 – Regen seems to work well, I was able to charge my battery from 57 to 75% over the course of a couple of hrs worth of sailing. I still have an issue where the controller stops the motor if we sail too fast which is kind of annoying, but I am sure there is an easy solution.

4 – I was able to repurpose the seacock for the engine water inlet for my sink drain along with regain lots of room in the boat.

5 – NO MAINTENANCE!! Being a permanent magnet DC brushed motor, the only maintenance I may have to worry about are changing a belt if it wears out, changing brushes if they ever wear out, or changing the motor bearings if the wear out. 3 simple parts that I can carry in about 1 L of space. I won’t need spare alternators, starters, exhaust fittings, fuel filters, gaskets, pump impellers, and so on. The best part is that the components I may need can be easily be found anywhere in the world as they are standard parts used in many different applications.

My Experience with EV – Part 7 Wiring

After the motor was installed I was under a time crunch to complete my EV drive before the weekly beer can race on Lake Union, Duck Dodge.

I only had a few hours, so I didn’t take very many photos, but I did install and wire my contactor, controller, gages, and key. I followed the diagram shown below. After all was installed, I hurried to the local ORiely’s to pick up three more cheap marine deep cycle battery to match one that I had purchased in hopes of resolving Yanmar starting issues I experienced prior to the winter sailing trip Ava and I wen on.

Hurdle 1 – ORiely’s only had one more battery. Oh well, my controller will work on 24v. I bought the one thinking we should have enough juice to get out of the marina and go for it.

Hurdle 2 – My PC would not recognize the the controller to program it for my motor. This issue was a simple one, restart my PC, gotta love windows USB to Serial Drivers.

Hurdle 3 – The controller sends error signals when the throttle is activated. This was a wiring issue of the potentiometer. To solve the issue I had to contact Curtis Controls who directed me to one of their dealers who explained how the potentiometer should be wired. This step was not completed until the following day, we missed Duck Dodge but proceeded to drink some beers and grill some brats at the dock and enjoy the evening.

Hurdle 4 – After the batteries were connected and I heard the contactor make a solid “click click” as I turned the key on, but still received a low voltage error code from the controller. I was told that the contactor was not meant to work with 24V, so I needed to buy two more batteries. Back to ORiely’s I picked up the final 2 batteries for my 48V system and hooked everything up.

Hurdle 5 – Still receiving the low voltage error code. More back and forth with Kelly Controls (Fany was very helpful) only to determine the wiring of the coil on my contactor was incorrect (although it followed the schematic on the website). Once I grounded the coil properly, everything worked! Instead of hearing the “click click” I simply heard a “click”. This step took a while as I was sent to Australia for work for a month.

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Wohoo! The Manta Drive is Alive!!

Up Next, Sea Trials on My Experience with EV – Part 8.

My Experience with EV – Part 6B Finishing the Motor Mounts

My plan to mount the motor beneath the floor boards took a turn for the worst. The motor wouldn’t fit once connected to the CV joint.

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It was time to rethink my approach and consider Plan B. Plan B was to mount the motor above the propeller shaft and drive it off pulleys. This would place the motor directly below the last rung of the companionway ladder. While the motor would not longer be hidden below the floorboard and a direct drive, I sat back to think about the benefits.

  • The motor is out of the bilge and not not under the risk of being submerged
  • Although I will be losing efficiency due to a belt, I gain the ability to gear the motor to better match the propeller
  • The poles of the motor will no longer be close to the floor and will not cause an electric shock hazard

Not accepting defeat, I changed gears and came up with an idea of how I was going to mount the motor. I was going to fiberglass in vertical stringers between the hull and the floorboard, to the stringers I would mount angle brackets and atop the angle brackets I would bolt the mounting bracket. Simple, right??

At the end of the day, it should look something like this.

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After glassing in the stringers, I painted and epoxied some angle iron I picked up from the local recycle yard for $0.88. Notice in the photo the drive pulley is already on the prop shaft, what a PITA to install.

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After I secured the angle with stainless lag bolts, I drilled the angle to accept the aluminum cross-member which I also picked up at the local recycle yard for $4.00. After a bit of discussion on the forums, I decided to place some rubber pads between the angle iron and the aluminium plate to further prevent galvanic corrosion and allow for some flexing. Thankfully I had an old mouse pad laying around that I was able to cut into strips and place between the dissimilar metals.

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I then drilled holes for the 4 bolts that would be used to align the motor to the propeller shaft. In order to tension the belt I decided to use longer bolts and “float” the motor on nuts much like the leveling of a coinventional refrigerator.

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Here is what the motor looks like fully connected. All that was left was to cut the floorboard to make room for the motor and take her for a test spin!IMG_3733

So simple, sleek, and elegant!

Follow along on My Experience with EV – Part 7 for the wiring details.

 

My Experience with EV – Part 6A Motor Mount Mods

As of my last post, my plan was to mount my electric motor below the floorboards to open up the cabin layout. This would allow me to better utilize the space within the boat for living aboard. This dream was FOILED!

Here is what happened.

After I mounted the sprocket on the motor and bolted it to the CV joint I quickly learned that the motor would not fit below the floorboard! Earlier when I had tried it, I did not have to motor attached to the CV joint, and once I did, the motor would no longer fit. I tried rotating it, I tried moving it around, no dice. There was one angle that would allow it to fit, but it proposed several more issues that I was not willing to deal with.

  1. The motor would not be aligned well, this would translate to excess wear on both the motor and the CV joint and excessive noise.
  2. The poles of the motor would be VERY close to the floorboard, being that the floorboard was intended to be aluminum plate, that could translate to a 48V electric floor.
  3. The mount would be a challenge to fabricate, and the motor would be very challenging to install and remove. Having worked on several older cars thinking “why did they put that there, don’t they know it may need servicing one day?”  made me realize that It was not a good idea.

Back to the drawing board, this was frustrating, I had a self imposed timeline that I would not meet, and one last Duck Dodge that I would not make prior to leaving for a work trip to Australia for a month. But the ever optamist that I am, I quickly changed gears and came up with a new solution. The motor would now mount below the entry steps, and spin the propeller shaft by way of pulleys.

There were a few advantages to this setup, so all in all, it was not a loss.

  1. The battery poles were no longer close to the floorboards, and did not create a case for an electric floor.
  2. The mount would be easier to create, and would allow for some flexibility in assembly/removal.
  3. Now that I was no longer running a direct drive, I could play with pulley sizes to get a more ideal RPM at the propeller (though there will be loss in the system due to the belt).
  4. The motor would no longer be in the bilge – no more risk of submerged electric system.
  5. It would force me to learn another piece of the boat that I was scared of – propeller shaft packing.

The new plan:

I was going to fiberglass in some wood pieces between the floor and the hull vertically. To these mounts I would bolt two short pieces of angle, and across the top, I would bolt a piece of aluminum plate. In the plate, I would use bolts to make adjustable motor mounts so that I could easily tighten/loosen the belt and properly align the motor.

In order to make it work, I would first have to remove the transmission coupling from the propeller shaft so that I could put the new pulley directly on the propeller shaft. According to the forums, this can be a daunting task that may include cutting my propeller shaft!

I decided to start with what I knew, I cut 4 pieces for wood to fit between the floor and the hull and sealed the wood with epoxy. After the epoxy cured, I glued the wood to the hull and the floor, and screwed them to the floor.

Once the glue cured, I came back across with fiberglass matte to make the mounts rock solid. Pro tip – cut the fiberglass matte to manageable sizes, and wet it out on wax paper before applying to the area. A good reference for this is a video from the folks as Sailing Uma found here. It is very important to completely wet out the fiberglass matte. Fiberglass has this uncanny ability to wick moisture into the entire matte from a single strand of dry exposed fiberglass. Since this mount is below the floorboards, there is a slight chance of moisture, and I don’t want my motor breaking the mounts free.

Now, onto that propeller shaft. Before I started disassembly, I had to first educate myself on how they work, how they are assembled, and what I needed to watch out for.

YouTube turned out to be the best source of information, and this video turned out to be very useful in giving me an understanding on how/why they work, and how they are assembled. The forums were filled with horror stories about how difficult the are to disassemble and how most people just end up cutting the shaft and starting fresh – an option I was not too keen on.

After some search, I came up with a plan to remove the coupling. First step was to remove the set screws on the caliper and loosen the hose clamp backup. Then I would pry the shaft apart from the CV joint and insert and socket between the coupling and the CV joint. I would then tighten the coupling and CV join back together and the socket would press the shaft out. This process worked like a charm, but was a serious PITA and took a couple hours, a video of my efforts can be found here. After getting the coupling off, I sanded off the rust and slid the new pulley on the shaft and reassembled. The reassembly was straightforward, but light sanding was required on both the shaft and the coupling.

Back to the motor mounts, I went on a hunt for some aluminum angle and plate. I ended up in South Seattle at a scrap yard where I was able to buy the angle cut to size along with the plate for a less than $10! Unfortunately, the angle was steel and the plate was aluminum, left to their own devices the two dissimilar metals would undergo galvanic corrosion, essentially eating each-other away. To combat this, a coat of paint and epoxy was used.

I took extra precaution against the corrosion, and cut up an old mouse pad to place between the two metals as a “rubber spacer.”

I screwed the steel angle to the fiberglass mounts I made with 8 hearty stainless steel screws and the mount was rock solid. After the plate was bolted down, I set the motor on top to mock up the mount and size the belt I would need.

I needed a 28″ B series belt, which I sourced from O’Riely for $11. The end result looked something like this:

 

Woohooo! The motor is mounted, time to make those electric connections!

Follow along for My Experience with EV – Part 6B for the end result of the motor mounts.