This time of year we rest, set annual goals, catch up with family and friends and plan for the new year. I recently gave notice to my job and am using up some of my vacation time to get stuff done, staycation if you will, so I can catch up on life. Since I can’t really report much progress since last week I can at least share some really fun stuff I’m spinning on.
EARTH WIND MAP
VALVE INDICATOR + SWITCH
Another project I’m starting to develop has to do with thru-hull valve indicators. Let me explain a scenario some of you boaters might be familiar with: You enter your boat and flip the circuit switch on your toilet or drain pump but the valve is closed. The switches are live so if you turn them on you could potentially damage the motors with unnecessary pressure as they do not have an automatic pressure switch. We all have our own system of switching the power on and then turning the valves on but most likely not very idiot-proof. There is a potential failure if someone else is responsible for opening the valves and turning on the power to the pumps. Here is my idea: Add this little push-button switch next to the pump rocker switch and when you open the valve push the button to indicate that the valve is open and the rocker switch is active. When you close the valve, push the button to turn off the indicator (green led) which deactivates the rocker switch. This should provide a much lower chance of accidental switching when the valve is closed and prevent accidental strain on your hoses and motors. I’ll need a relay so the switch can handle the 6amp current as the push button switch can only handle 3 amps. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this idea or what you have setup as a valve indicator.
I’ve thought about times when I can’t really do anything on Satori because I’m blocked on a part delivery or financial delays (i.e. – ran out of money). There is always cleaning the lockers, scrubbing the decks, reading about sailing in storms or researching one of the items in my mile long list of things to do before setting off. One thing that hit me recently was how much hand-made custom canvas costs. When I bought Satori I also bought her canvas which was mostly green under tan sunbrella fabric.
I’ve never been much of a sewer but I have had some experience with industrial machines back when I worked for Feathered Friends in their factory near downtown Seattle. I learned how to sew a straight line, rig the machine and tension the thread. I even had my share of pattern making and have a solid understanding of synthetic fabrics and stitching technique. I knew it wouldn’t take much to recondition and repair the existing canvas so I could delay the inevitable. At first it was simply cleaning the canvas but then zippers also needed replacing, velcro was removed and common sense fasteners were installed. Today Satori is still wearing the old canvas but the dodger is falling apart and the sail plan is getting upgraded this summer so I’ll need new canvas sooner than later.
I’ve decided to invest in a ship’s sewing machine and do my own canvas. I can’t make a new dodger than can handle the rigor of offshore sailing and I will leave that to a professional but I’ve decided to take on the rest. I can repurpose the old canvas to make a pattern for the new replacements and keep them through several iterations of replacements as well. I will also have a chance to add to the collection for each winch, the steering vane, port light covers, cushion covers and whatever repairs will be needed during my ownership. I’ll save lots of money and be able to make what I want when I want without depending on others while paying the local prices for something I can do for the cost of materials. I may not sew as straight as a professional but I am certain I can get the job done and have a satisfactory result. I’ll start looking around now in hopes to land a used one on ebay before too long.
PEX SHARKBITE PLUMBING
The next project down the pike is replacing the plumbing and engineering a smarter way to conserve water, always have clean and reliable water and integrate hydronic heating while sailing furthest away from the equator. I’ve already stripped the old plumbing and had the steel tanks pressure tested. Since the only issue with the tanks is leaking from the clean out ports I’ve decided to clean the tanks, replace the ports and reuse them with all new plumbing. Cross-linked polyethylene or better known as PEX, is the obvious choice for the plumbing since the cost is reasonable and Sharkbite fittings are the obvious way to connect it all up. Not only are the fittings easy to assemble but they are also very easy to disconnect and they are totally reusable. Gone are the days of hose clamps and clear vinyl tubing. The primary reason for Sharkbite is that they connect to PEX and copper tubing equally. This means I can choose copper when working with water above 120 degrees and insulated copper from 120 degrees to boiling point. There are also Sharkbite pressure release valves, ball valves, distribution manifolds, pipe thread to PEX and whatever else you need. Once I clean the tanks and install the deck-fill hose I’m ready to begin plumbing it all together again. Keep an eye out for other posts that will tackle each of the stories for this epic (agile speak). I’ll start with the pump, accumulator and water filtration. Then I’ll plumb to both faucets, add a cockpit shower and install the hydronic system for both radiant floor heating and a nifty Dickinson Radex forced air heater. Finally I’ll install a new hot water loop into the Dickinson Pacific diesel stove and pipe that into the tank so I can heat water without being connected to shore power.
Okay, these are my recent thoughts. Now off to shave the dog and fix the dryer. If you’re reading this post, feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts on these ideas. Since I don’t have too many wise sailing friends to bounce these ideas off of, I lean towards my digital community. Happy Holidays and New Year folks.
When I first installed the sink drain I kept thinking to myself how a vented loop would be a nice addition to the drain. In my head I was imagining a way to also be able to drain the shower out the sink drain thru-hull. After a month of letting my mind wander through all kinds of ideas, I considered two options; a shower sump pump system or a switch operated drain pump. The shower sump would have been nice as it simply switches on automatically when there is enough water in the sump box. Unfortunately I don’t have enough room anywhere below the shower to install this big box so I opted for plan B. Mind you plan B is much more complicated but I gain a switch-activated drain for both the shower and the sink, complete with a vented loop.
One of the problems I faced is controlling debris that could easily clog and damage the electric impeller pump so I remedied this by adding a few inline strainers. One strainer is right at the drain but easily accessible so I can clean them out whenever I need but also a secondary strainer right at the pump with a finer screen just for backup to protect the impeller. Once I came up with enough of a plan I went to Second Wave to find the strainers and a new-used shower pump. I then went to Fisheries Supply to pick up the hose, clamps, terminal block, wire, some hose fittings and a ‘Y’ valve. I thought it might take several days but the whole project only took a couple of evenings.
I first installed the shower drain to the ‘Y’ valve and then plumbed the sink drain to the ‘Y’ valve. Then the hose went up to the final strainer attached to the pump, through the pump, the vented loop and finally out to sea.
Contrary to the head pump, when I first tested the pump to see if it worked I could only hear the pump impeller spinning but there was no suction. This was alarming as I had already installed virtually everything and carefully measured and cut hoses to fit perfectly. I remembered from somewhere on the internet that some pumps need to be primed in order to work correctly so I easily removed the four mounting screws so I had better access to the pump. Then I disconnected the strainer quick disconnect and poured some water into the strainer until it began seeping out. After reconnecting and starting the pump I was in business. A couple of tests to ensure both shower and drain were draining as expected and I just needed to install the rocker switch to turn the unit on and off as needed. Now all of the head thru-hulls have vented loops and the sink and shower drains are finished.
I also dropped off the stainless freshwater holding tanks with Ballard Sheet Metal. They are likely who initially fabricated the tanks back in the mid-seventies and I’d really like to get another 30 years of use from them. New vinyl tanks of the same size and dimensions will cost me $500 with shipping so I’m hoping I get a quote back that is equal or less than new vinyl tanks. The original ones fit inside the bilge perfectly and have a water capacity of 80 gallons total. I can also add another twenty-gallon soft-tank in the forward birth and carry a hundred gallons total, which is plenty of water for weeks worth of adventure.
With the drain system out of the way and the stainless steel tanks getting evaluated I can relax and have my holiday. Besides, I felt the winter blast on the way home and I can smell snow in the mountains and I am due to some more skiing.