Enter the holidays

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
Earth Wind Map
Red indicates 70 knot winds
Red indicates 60-70 knot winds

I’ve been looking for an interactive map of the planet’s wind patterns since I took up sailing. It’s really difficult to imagine what it’s like to follow winds from one parallel of latitude to another. There are parts of the earth called “doldrums” and “horse latitudes” where winds die and sailors  must either wait for a low pressure system or motor out of their position into another point of latitude where prevailing winds can allow for safe travel. Finally I’ve found a place where I can visualize these wind patterns and follow them daily based on the best weather prediction models we have to date. Not only is this model a wonderful visualization tool but it uses JavaScript libraries such as D3.jswhen.jsbackbone.js and node.js. Since my background is software engineering and specifically front-end web I can appreciate the use of these libraries along with NOAA weather prediction model data. The author has given all the resources needed to make a replica of this visualization and anyone cruising I’m sure would love to have this running on their vessel. I wonder what it would cost to pipe this data through satellite internet?



A Valve indicator switch idea
A Valve indicator switch idea

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.



Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1
Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1

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.  

Original condition of Satori's mast canvas
Original condition of Satori’s mast canvas

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 logo
PEX Sharkbite logo

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.




One reply on “Enter the holidays”

“ALL” really good stuff here & much more modern than the old days. BTW, some years ago I did help install a home made hydronic heating system (4 ea. little radiators w/12vdc Fans) aboard a C&C 40. A family of 5 living aboard! It. We plumbed it all from the hot water tank using a 12vdc pump that moved about 1.5 gallons/minute. The hot water tank was heated both by shore power as well as by the Dickenson Stove. All of it being closed loop. Even at sub-zero temps outside the inside was comfortable and maintained 68F to 72F.
Gary 🙂

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