Sailing the Wild West! SEA to BC for the Holidays

Part of wrapping up 2015 and before I kick in the mega-GYST2016 full throttle, just had to do one last thing. Sail. There was no way I could fully know what I was in for, but I didn’t care. I was ready to hit the seas with trusted Skipper Pajo Gazibara. Our vessel: an Ericson 35-2 named Cinderella, equipped with a cozy sleeping cabin, gas oven that rocks with the boat, and a diesel powered furnace to keep us nice and toasty!!! I was somewhat convinced and just had a few important conditions that I relayed to Pajo:

First, I requested he teach me to sail. I wanted to be able to hold my own if anything were to happen and how to support the captain if needed. I was to be, by default, the first mate. And oddly enough, no one else was down to join this magical journey in December, over the holidays in the Northwest. I had no experience in the art and technique of sailing. I felt it was a big deal and I had to be on my game.

Second, there needed to be a Christmas tree on board. I anticipated that being away from my family and friends for the holidays was going to be a little emotional for me so keeping the boat festive was important!

Third, if we made it up to the Desolation Sound, we would stop at Whaletown, translates to: “I WANNA SEE SOME FREAKIN WHALES!”
Honorable mention, a functional head.

Pajo agreed these were attainable conditions and set out to make the trip a reality.

Below I recount the details of our trip, from Lake Union to Hat Island to Victoria, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver and everything in between.

Dec. 20-21 // Seattle preparations

Preparations including grocery shopping, meal planning, provision procurement, cozying the cabin, building out the framework/flooring for the head, and engine repairs. After all the running around, scooping up a few engine parts, we were feeling ready for the SAIL!

Dec. 22 // Seattle to Hat Island & Everett

After a few stubborn attempts, the motor starts and sounds strong! Spirits are high as we set sail out of Lake Union. We have a super streamlined passage through Ballard and my first time at the Locks.

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Had solid winds and everything was going well as we round into Everett, but then… I took the helm as Pajo went to take the sails down, I noticed some gnarly smoke billowing out from the motor. I alerted Pajo and we immediately cut the ignition.

Shit.

We diverted over to Hat Island to anchor since navigating a narrow channel to port would have been a risky and tack-y process in the dark… next to a Naval station. Pajo thinks it’s best to anchor there to avoid that and assess the motor in the morning. We hunkered down around 7pm and got our shit totally rocked all night, rowdy waters and crazy winds felt like a storm. The chaos outside the boat was magnified inside the v-birth and made me super anxious and without sleep.

Pajo, sensing my uneasiness hugged me tightly and whispered “don’t worry, babe.” This helped, along with some extra curricular wave-like activities… As I lay there, tyring to tune out the forceful waves and wind, I kept visualizing the boat bobbing out of control and capsizing… or even uprooting the anchor and us drifting out to the channel. I said a little prayer to my grandma to look out for us. Super unlike me to ever pray but I felt like whatever was out there was way bigger than us.

We heard the jib flopping around on top of the boat and I convinced Pajo that we should go up and tie it down. It was dark and windy as all heck. My adrenaline levels running high as we wrastled the sail down and tidied the deck, bikes, kayak, ropes and sails. I felt better knowing that it wasn’t as gnarly as it seemed and was able to fall asleep in Pajo’s arms.

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Dec. 23rd // Everett

We wake up to calmer conditions and a hopeful glimpse at Everett across the way. An awesome egg scramble for breakfast and dropped the crab pots in hopes of a crabby breakfast. I get to chat with my sister in Brooklyn while Pajo calls for a tow from Boat US.

 

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The friendly Hat Island Ferry Captain Kurt came to our rescue in the vessel assist boat and we were towed safely back to Everett. Pajo paddled over to Ryan and Kathy’s boat to tow over a second kayak but, alas, our reason for coming to Everett was a bust. Turns out, it’s a great place to have your motor die.

Now to investigate the motor troubles. Pajo noticed the day before that water was leaking out of the elbow, pressure was building where it shouldn’t have. Pajo took the elbow off, we loaded the bike bag and went to have a little chat with the Harbor Marine guys.

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But first, a Porter and coconut prawn snack at Scuttlebutt Brewing Co.! We also picked up a 6-pack of the KEXP Transister IPA.
The Harbor Marine dudes were pretty great and helpful to our troubleshooting. We were even escorted back to their engine specialist in the back offices. Pajo had a lengthy back and forth with the stark fella, and they deduced that the motor was likely shot. Pajo stayed positive, as he does, and thought there were a few different things we ought to try. He purchased a new elbow and additional parts for the Yanmar. I absorb all the mechanical jargon, read their faces, then I start to feel reality setting in: maybe we won’t be heading to Canada afterall.

We certainly had some things to discuss… Pajo provides plan B options.
Like, go back and get the other boat in Leschi. That motor is strong, but that’s far and the trip would need to be more local…
Or, find a Yanmar tractor dealer in the neighborhood to build a franken-motor (apparently they are the same thing?!).

Either way, I was relieved that he considered my comfort level and asked for my input on moving the trip forward.

In the midst of all this, I asked if we can just sail on anyway, and we laughed, “this is a sailboat afterall!” Pajo’s concern was that he’s only sailed Cindy three times and wasn’t practiced on maneuvering motor-less docking.

Captain Kurt thought we were handling all of this pretty well considering. He also thought we were nuts.

“There are bold captains and there are old captains. Not a whole lotta both.” – Captain Kurt, Hat Island ferry

He offered us a tow the next day if we needed it and advised on the tide schedules.

Pajo discussed more with the Marine boys, one elder strongly urged us, “do not leave tonight, please! Just get a good night’s rest and leave in the morning.”

I sleep soundly thankful for my talkative, curious, thoughtful and knowledgeable sailing mate. That night I dreamt of the voyage to come and pushing for a Canadian Christmas!

Dec. 24 // Everett to Victoria, BC

Wake-up call 4am. Pajo raises the American flag and whips up a dank breakfast burrito. I’m totally crushing on this man as he unveils his experimental cooking side in our humble kitchen.
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We set out with the tide and watched the sunrise, spirits are high and bellies full. We learn that food and Dad-rock helps morale. We have to back track a bit down to Edmonds since without a motor, Deception Pass would be effing treacherous. Wind starts to fizzle as we sail through the Juan de Fuca strait and we contemplate heading down to Port Townsend or Port Angeles. Pajo had the spinnaker up for the first time so we could scoop up any and all gusts.

As we approached our turn off, we felt the wind shift up to around 7-8 knots. Pajo was blown away at the speed the boat could go. The wind would like us to carry on to Victoria. I made a Thai concoction with chicken and coconut rice with the oven that rocks with the boat, what a fun way to cook, bobbing around the cabin!
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We were making good speed as we rounded into the Victoria harbor, both sails up. Some re-con and Google maps led us to our customs doc to check into Canada. It was 11pm and we were a little exhausted and I was a bit irritable after our first super long day.

After tidying the boat and calling customs, we relaxed and realized, hey! It’s Christmas… in Canada! We held each other and snuggled down for an amazing sleep.

Dec. 25 // Christmas Day in Victoria, BC

The Customs dock was pretty weird, but since we got the okay to “Move freely about Canada, eh?” we decided that’s what we’ll do! After breakfast, Pajo made a call to the hotel that seemed to share the neighboring dock to find out we can post up there and whilst enjoying their lovely spa-like amenities: jacuzzi, sauna, pool, showers, plumbing. HECK YEAH SPA DAY!

Pajo kayaked to our post for the evening (about 60 feet from our dock) and we towed Cindy over to her parking spot. After a little dip in the rejuvenation chamber (sauna), I was feeling great! We set out to bike the city in search of sites and libations. Victoria has awesome capitol buildings and the architecture makes you feel like you’re in a European city. Everyone is friendly and there is a healthy transient community there of Brits and Kiwis.

We found an industrial part of town across the bridge on Government street with a few micro-breweries sprinkled in. All closed. I saw someone inside the Hoyne Brewing building and thought I’d try and catch ‘em. I knocked on the window and Mr. Hoyne himself came out to greet us. As he explained, in Canada, you need a separate permit to also serve at your brewery, this one did not have a tasting room. Hoyne was a helluva dude and gave us 3 bottles of beer as a Christmas gift!

We continued on, delighted with Victoria so far and thirsty for a beer. We got a hot tip that Swan’s was open so we rolled in for egg-nog and great convo with our chummy bar-tender from Manchester, UK / New Zealand. He was wearing the most festive shirt and hated Christmas. The pub was bustling and realized why he was in high spirits. We made a candy-cane garnish recommendation and continued on to Beacon Hill Park.

On the way, we passed through residential neighborhoods lined with cute houses, odd corner stores, families and dogs out walking in their oversized wool sweaters. There was a super cute little boat racing pond called Harrison Yacht Pond for R/C and model boats. Adorbs. We found a path to the water, peds only, walked our bikes to the edge and watched as the sun went down, we saw where we sailed in and reflected on our journey. We biked on in search of rumored pulled-pork poutine but everything else was closed. ALong the way we found a Polar bear and a First Nation Spirit Fountain in Centennial Square, part of Old Towne.
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We found another bar called The Sticky Wicket and adjacent bizzaro-world Big Bad John’s which was full of elders who were all drinking in silence. We had another egg-nog, this one extra boozy and tried to liven the place up a bit with the lovely bartender. Alas, that place was pretty dismal and so we tracked our next moves though and went home to have dinner and bake a Christmas cake to the tune of awesome Christmas songs. There certainly was lots of Christmas love in the air, we got very close that night as discussions went deep. Pajo made a Velveeta mac-n-cheese and brats creation as the Ghiradelli-covered rice flour cake baked. As we hunkered down to sleep, I whispered “ I will always remember this Christmas” and we drifted to sleep.
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Dec. 26 // Victoria to Fulford Harbor, Salt Spring Island, BC

Waves and winds at full force, we watched a yacht race rounding Discovery Island. These were easily the biggest waves we had ever seen aboard nearly ten feet! When we were in the trough we could no longer see the yachts racing. Unused to the waves, Pajo forgot to lash down the spinnaker and whisker pole. Poseidon’s treasures now. Good thing Cinderella came with 4 spinnakers…

We also saw the fastest speed we ever saw aboard Cinderella, we hit 12 kts briefly surfing down the waves with a poled out headsail.

Dec. 27 // Fulford Harbor to Ganges Harbor, Salt Spring Island, BC
Technology day! We took some time at a little cafe to connect with our world. I made sure my mom knew I was still alive out there and Pajo instgrams all of the photos.

Cafe snacks inclue an amazing almond chocolate bar, a sausage roll, cinnamon bun and all the coffee.

We quickly explore Fulford. What a cute little crunchy salty town. We do a little shopping for trinkets and FOOD. The best provisions yet: locally caught/smoked lox, creamy cream cheese, bread and Habenero mango jam that Pajo will talk about for years to come. Pajo chatted it up with the woman at the market (nothing new) and we set off for Ganges around 3pm.

It was a long trek around the island to it’s other port, the more industrious Ganges. A pathetic waft you might call a breeze turned a two mile sail into four wet, cold hours. We arrived in port around 7, super exhausted. Nap time. Although we had high aspirations for food and beers with locals, snuggling up under warm blankets took priority, let’s just nap for a couple hours… We overslept! Unfortunately, we missed any food service, but hey, we sure felt great in the morning.

Dec. 28 // Ganges Harbor

Well rested, we had a chance to explore the shops and sites in Ganges. The hardware store for bunjees and batteries, the bookstore for a sweet chart of the gulf islands and San Juans, and the grocery for yet more delicious snacks.
We even found a cute treehouse cafe with bomb bison chili and spicy boom boom shrimp. We love Canada.
Nothing puts a smile on Ava’s face quite like a Thrift store find, and boy did we score. Ava found a super cute dress for NYE in Vancouver and browsing the shops led us to meet some pretty rad older artist ladies (of course). Pajo snags some amazing shoes and two books “Just Cruising” and “Still Cruising…” about a family that circum-navs the world in a sailboat. Impeccable timing (and aptly named)  the start of Pajo’s year long campaign trail, but that’s another story…

Dec. 29 // …en route to Vancouver (a poem.)

crazy day.
no wind.
Seal island.
Isle o’ poo.
Land!
Kayak around the island and flirt with seals, bald eagles swoop and swirl.
Pajo naps.
Ava naps.

It was a wild last day of sailing from Salt Spring Island up through Porlier Pass. En route to the pass we sailed along several beautiful uninhabited islands. The wind became finicky and the current began to build against us. We were forced to row to an anchorage in a small, pristine bay. Seals were playing and barking around us, and Ava took the opportunity to kayak around the island, stopping ashore to use the… facilitrees.  Under sail the narrow gap between Valdez and Galliano Islands was a nail-biter. The wind remained fickle, it was very important that we entered the pass just as the current flipped. Too soon and we would be flushed out, too late and the current could put us on the rocks. Careful planning had us safely transitioning into the Salish Sea. Victory! Although we saw tons of wildlife at Seal Island in the December sun, the orcas were all hiding, but we could feel they were sneaking around.

The wind steadily grew as we crossed the Straight of Georgia, before long Cinderella was cruising along at 5-6 kts. As we barrelled through, we took shifts steering, cooking or heating up any warm liquids we could. We had keen eyes on rogue logs, a true sign we were sailing in the northwest!
Pajo took the opportunity to cook up a delicious pasta dinner, complete with appetizers. Ava was very pleased.

As the night drew on, we were crossing the Harrow Straight, and freighters kept us on edge. Rule of tonnage applies here, and we were over cautious. Pajo taught Ava how to heave-to, a skill she picked up all too well.

Dec. 30 // 3am arrival in Vancouver

Nearing our destination the winds continued to build. Although Cinderella does not have a functional anemometer, our guesstimate on wind-speed was 35+.  The sail was beginning to be a test of wills. First a reef, then a second, then we dropped the headsail, still Cinderella would not slow. The wind sounded like a freight train, the railing was well below the waterline, and all of the shrouds were whistling as we were bashing to windward under a double reefed main at a steady 7 kts. It was dark, and we were half-terrified half-exhilarated.

As quickly as the winds built, they ceased. It was as if someone flicked a light switch. As soon as we entered Vancouver Bay, no wind.

It was 1 in the morning, and all we wanted after that 12 hour roller coaster was sleep. No such luck. We still had to cross the bay that was scattered with giant oil tankers that blocked the little wind that there was. Two miles is a long way at 0 kts. Out again came the trusty kayak paddle. Ava wondered if she was absolutely insane for sailing with this guy after dating him for three months, in December. With no engine. She took out her stress on rowing the boat into port. Alas, a couple hours later we were exhausted, and safely at anchor.

Dec. 31 // NYE in Vancouver

After breakfast we realized that the sail the previous day had drained both of our batteries. We used what little battery we had left to call a Boat US for a tow into Vancouver. Again the wind was light, so rather than spend all day crossing a two mile bay, we decided to call for a tow. Are we glad we did! Rhys Davis of the Blue Flasher was a riot. Rhys was probably in his upper 60s and going strong. That man could tell a story. He had his boat, the Blue Flasher, built custom to his specs nearly 30 years prior. Even after being delivered safely to our dock, Rhys stuck around for another hour or so and we were rolling. The humor and stories of the boating community is something spectacular.

We were now safely in Vancouver, the madness was over… At least for Ava, I still had to sail back to Seattle! Fortunately I would take on fresh crew to handle the windless drift home.


“This trip has been amazing!!! Pajo and I worked really well as a team, I was confident in his abilities and gut feelings about making calls and keeping us safe. I learned a lot and definitely felt the immense power of the water and wind, what a FORCE. What we lacked in an engine and a proper toilet we made up for in a helluva fun trip and memories to last a lifetime.” – Ava

 

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.

 

Combating the Moisture

As I have said before, the moisture here in the PNW is rough on liveaboards. As much as I love all of the snow we get in the mountains and the incredible skiing that is a direct result, the condensation that forms on bare fiberglass is a bit much to handle. Insulation was at the top of my list.

First we must ask, why does condensation form? To answer this, lets think of a glass of ice water on a warm day. It has everything to due with relative humidity and a thermal gradient (temperature difference). When water in the glass is cold, and the air around it it hot and full of water, the glass will actually draw the heat out of the air surround it, after all thermodynamics tells us everything want to hit equilibrium. The glass pulls the heat from the warm air surrounding it, and with it comes the moisture. When the air is humid enough (contains enough water) the water in the air undergoes a state change, it becomes a liquid! Water vapor in the air condenses and it condenses at the point where it contacts the thermal gradient (the glass). That same principle is working against you in a boat. There are three means to combat moisture, and only one is passive i.e only one will work without and work being added to the system. That one is to add insulation, think adding a coozie to the glass. The thermal gradient is reduced due to the insulation properties in the foam coozie, thus preventing insulation. That is what I will do to my boat. For the record the other means to combat condensation are airflow and dry heat.

If you remember from the original post, Cinderella was taken down to bare fiberglass hull she was raced to Hawaii in the Pacific Cup.

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I had my work cut out for me. What kind of insulation should I use? Where do I find it? How much do I need?

I quickly resorted to what I know best, google, to the forums I went! It turns out that boats intended to be used in cold weather usually have a layer of foam sandwiched between the fiberglass of the hull, but how do I emulate that?

I found another blog outlining one mans attempt, it seemed to work well for him, so I thought I would give it a whirl. The plan, glue 1×1 stringers to the hull, cut foam in insert between the stringers, cover with “ceiling.” For some reason boat walls are covered in ceiling and the “roof” of the boat is usually covered with a headliner.

For this project I went to my local Loews and picked up Reflectix and Polystyrene home insulation. Reflectix is basically bubble wrap with foil which is very easy to work with and makes almost no mess, however the main insulation property of Reflectix is radiant heat, I wanted to also combat conductive heat. To combat the conduction heat, I decided to use polystyrene, polystyrene is “closed cell” so it is impervious to moisture and therefore mold. I chose to sandwich 1/2″ polystyrene foam between 2 layers of Reflectix. Polystyrene is messy to work with, pieces of foam go everywhere and stick to everything when you cut it.

The end result made such a difference! No more damp boat!

I started by gluing in the 1×1 stringers which the ceiling would be affixed.

boat insulation, sailboat, insulation

I tried several types of glue during this process, regular silicone, liquid nails, and gorilla glue construction adhesive among others. Considering I once glued a propeller back together in a pinch using gorilla glue and it held up, its no wonder it turned out to be the best candidate here. For the stringers I used pressure treated 1×1, these are commonly used for porch railings, so I would skip the “marine grade” and save some $$.

Pro tip – the shorter you cut the stringers the better, especially if your hull has a very sharp curvature.

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The foam was then glued to the hull in between the stringers. Again I can’t speak highly enough about construction adhesive! To glue the foam layers together I used 3M spray on adhesive, it was a quicker way to cover lots of area, and worked very well.

Once the stringers are glued in and the foam is inserted, its time to add the ceiling. Classically, sailboats used wooden slats that interlocked with each other and are stained to prevent moisture intrusion and add to the aesthetic. I, however don’t have the time to wait for stain, and I don’t want to bother with cutting so many boards, I want to stop the moisture now!

That was when it hit me, flooring! Flooring is meant to take abuse, and is usually highly water resistant, and you can buy it ready to lock together, stained and ready to go, perfect! Thanks Bob Villa.

Boat ceiling, insulation, Cinderella, sailboat insulation

Again I put my trusty Ryobi kit to work and before long, Cinderella had a whole new look!

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Of course I had to place the wine box into the photo to highlight my progress.

 

 

My Experience with EV – Part 4 Buying MORE Goodies

While I sit here anxiously waiting for my parts to arrive, I decided to sit down and draw out a wiring diagram for what my system will look like. Kelly Controls has a recommended wiring diagram on their website for their controller, so I started there and added a few things specific to my system.

 

First off, I wanted a key to turn everything on and off, to keep people from jumping on-board and taking Cinderella for a joy ride without my permission. I also wanted a buzzer and a fan that will kick on if the motor got too hot for any reason. And because amazon is at your fingertips, I bought a couple of meters to display the battery percentage, the amps being drawn, the battery voltage, and the total energy used. This should make the system look a little sleeker and give me feedback on how it’s running. The wiring diagram also called for a resistor, a diode, and two switches (one to enable regen, and one to go between forward and reverse.)Electric Sailboat, Manta 2, Manta Drive, PNW Sailing, Cinderella

After a few hours comparing options, I hit the bank account for another 30.62 bringing my total to 638.97.

The last components required are a throttle lever and 3 batteries. This should be another ~$400.

This should bring my total cost of the system to 1038.97, or 1588.97 excluding the engine sale. Not too bad considering I was expecting $1700 overall. Before I get too excited, let’s wait and see how it goes.

Follow along on My Experience with EV – Part 5 for adventures in motor mounts.

My Experience with EV – Part 3 Buying the Goodies

After loads and loads of searching through online EV forums and watching videos on YouTube, I decided to take a chance on the Manta 2 DC permanent magnet electric motor. I was able to find the motor and an adapter plate on EBay for a cool $463.35 with tax and shipping ($60 above my estimate, but I also purchased a mount). Wohoo!! It’s happening!

Right around this time, I managed to sell the Yanmar for $550 to a friend who is building up his own sailboat, an Islander 30. This is big, as it will offset ~ 1/3 of the cost to repower Cinderella. I could have parted out the engine and probably broken even, but the time and care involved was not something I wanted to take on.

So, I have a motor, but what about the rest? I needed a controller, what’s a controller, how do they work? Back to Google. Let’s simplify controllers, they are a means to “control” power flow into an electric motor to vary the speed of your motor. Otherwise, you have either full speed or no speed. Which, as you can imagine is not ideal when trying to maneuver in tight quarters.

Classically, DC motors were controlled by resistors. Resistors simply take the energy going into a motor and burn it off as heat, therefore reducing the energy going to the motor. Nice, simple, right? Wrong! “Burning off” as heat translates to poor efficiency and also adds heat to electronics which substantially shortens their life.

Enter the controller, the controller plays upon the concept of Pulse Width Modulation or PWM, a fancy acronym for a simple concept. Basically a microprocessor (think computer) controls a series of switches (kind of like really small light switches) which open and close very, very quickly. When this happens the stream of energy going to the motor is stopped, then started, then stopped, then started and so forth from those switches. The end result is a means to speed up and slow down an electric motor without excessive losses.

That’s great, but I still don’t know very much about controllers, which one do I need, what do I need to watch out for? I am after all pretty new to all of this.

More research, more google, and I landed on a company called Kelly Controls LLC. Kelly Controls makes controllers for all sorts of applications, for both AC and DC motors. Kelly Controls have a couple of benefits that set them apart from the others: cost, programmability, reverse, and regen ability.

The controller decision was possibly the most challenging so far. There are a handful of major brands: Alltrax, Curtis, Kelly, Sevcon and a few others. I only know this due to the EV forums, which spoke highly of Alltrax, Sevcon and Curtis, but had mixed reviews of Kelly.

From what I could tell, most of the major EV sailboat kits out there utilize Sevcon controllers. Why did I land on Kelly? Well after speaking with a few of the companies, I was told that their controllers “Don’t do regen” with PM motors. They also don’t reverse internally, I would need to buy another $200 component to make that work. Bummer! The decision was simplified, Kelly Controls it would be.

Controllers are rated by two basic numbers, Amps and Volts, sounds an awful lot like high school physics. Both of these components are defined by the motor and battery bank choice. Amps, or the measure of current through your system is the limiting factor for all things battery.

Batteries are rated in Amp/hrs or the amount of current that they can provide for a set amount of time. Remember I said my electric system in the boat pulled about 20-30 amps at 12V? That probably means little to anyone that hasn’t had a refresher in high school physics, but it simply means I can run my electronics for about 10 hours before I need to charge the batteries. The same concept applies to my electric motor, the only difference is that the motor will use a higher voltage, and the amp draw will vary with how fast I want to go.

After comparing Cinderella’s system with that of other conversions, I will hope to run Cinderella between 20 and 60 amps. That translates to speeds of about 2-4 kts or roughly 2-5 mph for those non-boaters.

Knowing this, I should be able to motor for 1 – 4 hrs on my cheap batteries and 2-8 hrs on the ideal Oasis Firefly’s. But the Fireflies will last a lot longer and can take more abuse between charges, they are the ideal battery. Motoring slowly, I should expect about a 30-40 mile range which is sufficient to allow Cinderella to get through the locks and into the Puget Sound (1.5 mile trip), remember I plan to regen under sail, and will eventually install solar panels. This should allow for plenty of summer sailing fun while I get my funds in order to upgrade before I make the trip around the marble.

Alright back to my controller choice. I will be running Cinderella’s motor at 48V, so I have one of the numbers figured out, what about the Amps? I told you I plan to run the motor at 20-60 amps right? Well the motor is capable of 100 amps, and from what I read, you want at least 50% head room to keep the controller running efficiently (why they don’t rate them practically is beyond me). This narrowed my search down to a 48V 200-300 Amp controller capable of regenerative braking. I also wanted the controller to have the ability to reverse the charge to the motor which will allow me to reverse without buying more components.

With those stipulations, I settled upon the Kelly Controls PM48301, a 300A 48V controller with Regen for $349. Along with the controller I purchased some fuses to protect the wiring, a contactor to allow for an on/off key switch, and a heat sink to help keep the controller cool in the tropics. The total purchase price was $695 with shipping.

This brings my total to $1158.35 if we subtract $550 for the engine I sold, that figure becomes 608.35. Not too bad, I’m still on track with my budget. I still need batteries and a lever that can convert my boats throttle lever into an electrical signal that the controller can recognize.

Follow along on My Experience with EV – Part 4 where I buy more electronics to get Cinderella electric.

My Experience with EV – Part 2 Planning Time

Electric, Sailboat, Propulsion

Out with the Yanmar! On to craigslist it went. A few months prior I started watching some sailing channels on YouTube, one of which was Sailing Uma. I would highly recommend this channel and their website here, they have loads of do it yourself information, and are just inspiring to watch.

The inspiration for the electric drive came because of a few episodes Sailing Uma did about going electric.  It looked clean, simple, and absolutely great! My interest was piqued. Conventional wisdom would tell me “battery technology isn’t there yet” “you won’t have much range” “electric motors are fine on flat water, but what about wind and waves”

That last one that really hit me hard. If there is wind I will… SAIL! After all, Cinderella is a sailboat, and we do intend to SAIL around the world. So I started researching, lots of researching.

Unlike internal combustion engines, I had no experience with electric motors. I didn’t even know how they worked. Are there different kinds? Which is best?

This took me down a path that lead me all the way back to Nicola Tesla, inventor of more electric gizmos that I realized. After lots of articles, a book, My Electric Sailboats, and some searching of the various electric vehicle forums, I was convinced. Electric is the way of the future, and oddly enough, it was the way of the past.

Electric, Sailboat, Propulsion

I began by calling around the local scrap yards and electric motor shops here is Seattle to try and source a cheap, used electric motor. No luck. To Ebay!

I was eventually persuaded to small permanent magnet electric motors in the 5000 – 7000 watt size. Due to the limited capacity in batteries and the cost of components, 48 volts was the goal, which would require 4 batteries. There are a slew of battery options out there, which to choose?

During one of my many stops at Fisheries Supply, I was handed a business card for Alex and Jack Wilkens at Seattle Boat Works. It’s amazing how tight knit the boating community here in the PNW really is, and everyone seems to be trying to help each other out.

I gave Alex a call the following week. I told him of my plan and asked for some advice. Alex was really helpful and after I sent him Cinderella’s specs, he happily did some calculations and gave me a rundown of what I should expect of my proposed system. Alex was really up to date with battery tech and gave me recommendations . It boiled down to really two options, use a conventional AGM system or a bank of Oasis Firefly batteries.

 

Ultimately, I hope to go the route of the Oasis Firefly, but cost unfortunately is keeping me away from them at the moment. I have way too many projects on my hands with Cinderella already. In the meantime I will make do with the tried and true cheap ol’ lead acid marine deep cycle batteries, 4 of which should cost about $400 and I already have one compared to the $2000 of a Firefly system.

The picture started coming together, let’s take a look at the expected cost:

Motor – $400

Controller – $400

Batteries – $300

Charger – $200

Misc – $300

Total – ~$1600

All in all, not too bad considering the cost of a new diesel engine is ~$7000 and this has the prospect of “maintenance free” operation which should simplify things considerably. I could also fit the motor beneath the floor boards in Cinderella which would completely open up the cabin! No more obtrusive coffee table.

I was also excited at the idea of regenerative breaking, or the ability to charge my battery bank with my propeller while under sail. According to the web forums, this is theoretical, and I shouldn’t expect much, but Alex at Seattle Boat Works said he saw as much as 7 amps  at 48V DC going back into the batteries while under sail, and only at 4 kts! I was intrigued.

I have an idea of current draw from installing a fancy Blue Sea Systems electric panel in Cinderella. Cinderella draws about 20 -30 amps of 12V DC while underway with instruments, lights, ipad charging, fridge, stereo and stove on at any given point in time. Granted this is a rough estimate, but by switching to LED for running and interior lights I have room to dramatically reduce my current draw, and while under sail I can offset a large portion of this without any solar or wind!

Follow along on My Experience with EV – Part 3 where I buy expensive electronic things.