It’s been a month since I’ve taken Satori on the water. From my previous post you should know that the engine has been out of commission and was in need of a new oil return pipe due to corrosion over the last ten years, maybe longer. The engine cooling system is leaking saltwater all over the starboard side of the engine which has caused some issues. Fortunately I was able to get the pipe removed with the help of a friend and his blade conversion on his angle grinder. After some back and fourth with L.A. Maritime Services down in California I received the part last week and had plans to install the new parts. The only issue was that the engine mount was blocking the banjo bolt from being able to thread onto the engine properly. I tried to recruit my friend and his angle grinder last week but he decided to commit, then flake out…twice. Yesterday I broke down and bought my own angle grinder and installed the parts and also tested the engine to see if there was any oil leaking. Problem solved, no more oil leak. I did notice however that the raw water intake was leaking with a steady drip while the water pump was running and found the culprit to what has caused all of the corrosion. For now I’ll let it leak and be very careful to mitigate any more corrosion. This winter Satori gets a brand new raw water cooling system, from the strainer all the way to the exhaust. I figure if this is replaced then I can expect another decade from the engine. From what I can tell, the transmission is in good shape so it’s only a matter of mitigating leaks, corrosion and keeping up on oil changes. Next week I’ll take her out for her first trial run since she sprang a leak back in Port Townsend.
Another milestone for Satori this month was getting a new Dodger with an additional solar panel. I am now running 300 watts of solar to keep the batteries charged. The dodger is as good as it gets. The construction is absolutely amazing and the details are stunning. They did an excellent job working with me on coming up with a way to mount the panel on the top of the dodger and it looks, and works great. They even decided that the amount of rub from the sliding hatch needed to be dealt with to eliminate chafe over time so they’ll be back to trim up the edge. I was able to wire the dodger panel from the other two panels and run wiring out of the way. It’s not completely finished but it will work until I have time to secure them. In the meantime I’m getting up to 20 volts of constant electricity and have even more protection and privacy from the dodger.
In case you plan on using Iverson’s, here are the options I went with:
1 1/4″ tubing
Welded top grab rail
Welded side grab rails
Makrolon polycarbonate windows
Burgundy sunbrella and reinforcements
The total cost? $4630. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
One really nice addition is they have a zipper attached to the aft edge and gave me the additional matching zipper so I can fabricate my own enclosure that attaches to the boom gallows bimini so I’m mostly enclosed while enduring really rainy weather. With the addition of this extension and weather cloths on both sides of the cockpit I should be able to cook outside and stay dry while in a really heavy downpour. My bimini top is pretty ghetto compared to the dodger but I have plans on doing some adjustments to make it more taught and more protective. For now it works great as a sun canvas and solar panel mount.
While I’ve been unable to sail, I have taken advantage of the great summer weather and spent last weekend backpacking on the western slopes of the Cascades. My friend Matt and I decided to do a trip up to the West Fork of the Foss River in search of views, water and a place to enjoy a remote night out. Sasha was able to join us on this trip and enjoyed running freely on a remote trail. It’s been a while since either of us had been on any kind of backpacking trip together. I’ve been so busy with Satori that life has shifted to sailing, while climbing, skiing and backpacking has been put on hold. After spending the weekend in the mountains, I’ve decided to spend more time on getting back to these endeavors.
It’s been almost a year since I started sailing Satori and since then a lot has changed about her, giving her a new personaility. I’ve managed to place enough trust in her to visit some far off places of the Salish Sea and have even felt the Pacific Ocean swell under her hull. Most of the projects now are better to hold off until winter, while it’s raining and I have more time on my hands. I’ll try to mitigate the leaking right now to mitigate corrosion and allow me to keep taking her out whenever I want without risking further damage.
The photo above was taken by my friend Colin while we were out sailing in March. The winds were peaking between twenty and twenty-five knots that day. Brent kept pushing me to put up more sail. Eventually I did but as they passed me, I thought about my capabilities to push Satori to her limits. I have a long ways to go…. It’s the weekend and I’m not out sailing. Satori is in need of a summer grooming. There is green algae growing on the teak exterior in places, the lockers were never cleaned very well and the forward berth is getting a new mattress in a couple of weeks but has some mildew stains. It’s a nice window to get some long needed cleaning finished. The list of projects is still a mile long. When summer finally arrives, I will need to have enough canvas, electric fans and ventilation to keep the cabin cool. My pup Sasha stays on the boat while I’m sometimes away at work during the day and it’s a good enough reason to keep working on getting Satori ready for hot weather. While I was at Neah Bay last week there were some thoughts about comfort and living on a boat while anchored or under way. I did my best to make Satori as comfortable as possible but I also realized that there will be more work to do to get her comfortable while in the cockpit. She needs weather cloth and better cushions. I love her teak decks at the moment. There are no signs of rotting or leaking though the cabin-top so the wood will stay until it is no longer maintenance free. However, sitting on the teak isn’t comfortable for longer then a few minutes at a time. I have some ideas on vinyl exterior cushions and padded weather cloths so I will start the construction project soon. I may hire someone to build the cushions but I will take care of the canvas parts. As part of the energy saving effort and to ensure less maintenance, I also did an upgrade on all of my cabin light bulbs to LED. I still have four fluorescent tube style bulbs that I will be upgrading but it’s nice to see only .2 amps instead of 1.5 amps per light fixture after upgrading. Aside from the refrigerator, the lights are the biggest consumer of power so I will make sure they are reduced to draw the minimum possible. Of course, adding another 100 watt solar panel when the dodger is completed will help out as well. Later installing a wind generator will complete the off-grid efforts that will make Satori capable of going indefinitely without the need for supplemental energy from either the Yamaha generator or the motor. I hate the idea of consuming gasoline and will avoid it at all cost.
Another interest of mine, coming purely from the engineering and technical interest of marine navigation is being able to take advantage of what is available to us from an innovation perspective. People commonly ask if I can receive internet while on the sailboat. The answer is mostly yes, we can have varying degrees of connection at any given time. Currently while moored at the marina, I have access to Comcast high-speed internet at the usual cost for homes in the area. It provides excellent download and upload speeds and I have not experienced any outages while connected. While under way there are other options as well. If I am anchored near a shoreline that might be broadcasting wifi, it is possible to boost the signal and use it. I have something called a bullet and high-gain antennae that would hypothetically provide access. I have just recently installed it and very recently powered the system with the 12 volt house system. I did test the configuration but I wasn’t able to pick up anything that provided internet. I did pick up the entire marina’s individual wifi networks though. I could see signals from both the north end and south end and they were strong enough to pick up. I believe they are all closed networks however. Since I have my own wifi network, I will go ahead and use it to pass though the antennae. A more long-term project is to make my boat network much more usable. Currently I have four separate wireless networks; the Garmin chartplotter, the Vesper XB NMEA 0183 streaming network, the Comcast internet and finally the Ubiquity antennae piped into a D-Link network hub. The issue with this configuration is having to disconnect and reconnect each individual network to switch between different types of networks. I would like everything to be proxiedthrough one network. The next project under way is something I’m going to call MNBB for now until something else strikes me. The acronym stands for Mariners NMEA Black Box. The idea is to take a simple and easily configurable computer and stream NMEA data to it. The computer will listen to a network port and if it is streaming NMEA data, it will store it for analyzing. In case you’re unfamiliar with NMEA I will break it down simply for you. It is a standard or protocol that your boat instruments use to communicate with one another. A chartplotter uses NMEA for it’s GPS coordinates and possibly to pick up AIS targets, not to mention weather, water heading and anything else that would be part of your marine instrument collection. Most of the marine products you would carry on your vessel are for displaying current information, like the current water temperature or your current heading. Navigation software can track your position and heading over a period of time and display your track and course through a virtual line on a virtual chart. It’s handy for looking at later to make better decisions about future trips in the same area but is quite limited for showing you what else that might have been part of your trip. For example, what was the wind direction and what direction were the currents going? How about the wind speed or barometric pressure? Generally you don’t have the privilege to see this because your software is probably limited. We are low level consumers of marine electronics and software and at the mercy of how they want you to use it. From a software engineering and project perspective, it would be fairly easy to make such an idea both cheap and dependable through the innovative and collaborative efforts of other engineers who might want to contribute to an open source project with a mission to circumvent the consumer electronics industry.
The idea came from a computer called a Rasberry Pi. It’s a simple and very compact computer that can handle something as simple as this. There are two components to the project: first is saving the data in a way that makes it easy to consume from a simple and customizable user interface. Since the data is easy to parse and store, there isn’t a lot of processing power needed. Since the Rasberry Pi computer can enact as a web server, we can easily use the same kind of user interface that you would be accustomed to in your every day life. No need to install any software, just connect to your boat network and request the url that hosts all of the different tools you can interact with. Anyone who has web skills and a little bit of database knowledge can write their own modules that would do whatever they wanted. For sailboat racers one could really have fun with the performance of their boat and compare the given information to make better decisions in the future based on the conditions for any previous race. Cruisers can take a look at information regarding weather that might teach them better decision making in the future. All of the data could even be shared between one another to create a crowd sources infrastructure of boating conditions. The greatest part of this project could be the cost to consumers who are not technically savvy to use it. Buy a Rasberry Pi, install a disk image and configure it to connect to the boat’s internet to get the NMEA data and then connect to the same network on any device that can connect to a wifi network and they simply type in a web address like, http://svSatori/ and there is your application. Obviously it would work as a website and the user does not need to understand anything about computers. Perhaps someone could charge a service to install these units for anyone who doesn’t know even the basics of modern computer technology. It’s an idea for now. The Rasberry Pi computer is $60 with a wifi dongle and case so there is very little investment to get the project started. Everything else is written in open source and readily available through the software community. I’ll post my progress on here once things get going. Finally, I wanted to mention the addition of some recreation gear. A play toy really. I live right next to the second most popular beach in Seattle and right now the weather is awesome. It doesn’t quite feel like Hawaii but I did paddle out along the beach on my new inflatable stand-up paddle board or iSup for short 🙂 It’s a fun way to get out of the marina and mess around in the water when there isn’t much wind but a lot of sun. I picked up the NRS Earl 4″ x 10’6″ model. This is versatile enough to take out on on actual surf but stable enough for flat water as well. A three-piece paddle is a nice addition for storability. The entire setup packs down into a small mesh backpack that can be stowed on Satori easily. There is a little concern about puncturing it, since I have already patched it once due to barnacles on the side of the dock but with more care I hope to avoid patching often. Either way, it’s a great addition to this live aboard lifestyle.
It’s been a great season for Seattle’s football team. Right now at halftime they are ahead by 15-0. The twelfth man is everywhere in Seattle. On Friday every other person was wearing their support jerseys and colors, flags and banners flew in every other business and on top of the downtown buildings. We have come so far Seahawks!
Another achievement has been unlocked this weekend as well. I installed the muffler and started the engine for the first time in three months. So far everything looks and works great. Not a drop of water leaked inside of the engine compartment and there is no exhaust except on the outside of the boat, which means she’s ready to wander again. I might do an oil and coolant change before I start taking Satori around the Sound again. I am not going to take Satori out until I have an autopilot I did just finish with some major projects. This morning when I turned the forced air and the stove fans on the temp rose to 76 degrees inside the cabin while it was 32 degrees outside. Fog rolled in as well so I opted to hang out and watch the game. Plus I did some electrical changes to eliminate having to turn the sensors on to flush the toilet. Now all of the pumps are on the same circuit, which is much better. I also relabeled the electrical panel to make more sense of the switches. There are some that I am still puzzled as to what they do, if anything at all. I bought a labeler to label the wire and terminal blocks so I can begin drawing out the schematic of Satori’s electrical system. One of the biggest assets of a major overhaul is a well planned execution. Understanding where every wire goes is the only way to do it right. It’s going to take some time so I’ll hold off until I know what to do. Until then, inventory away.
Another project I was able to finish on Saturday was the new backup bilge pump. I had plenty of time to figure out a good plan on a solid solution. I removed the old manual pump which was mounted in the engine compartment and I was pretty confident that it needed to be rebuilt so swapping for another automatic made sense. I replaced the old bilge hose with new hose and then attached it to the new pump so I didn’t have to make any new holes in the boat. The new pump is mounted just above the little guy and switches on right before it spills over into the center bilge. The idea being that if the little 800 GPH pump cannot keep up and the second one switches on they are both working together to pump water from the boat. The upper bilge also has a bilge alarm which is installed in the engine panel in the cockpit. I was lucky that there was a universal mount I could use without having to drill any holes so I just needed to route the wires down into the bilge compartment. Once I had everything installed I did a quick test by filling the bilge with water. With the lower pump turned off I could test and see that the upper pump was turned on right when it is supposed to. Then checking both to make sure nothing blows and the test should be good enough for the real thing.
I have already ordered both a rebuild kit for the Jabsco diaphragm pump I replaced with the VSD pump and I hope to use the diaphragm pump for draining the center bilge and kitchen sink once I have it rebuilt. I still need to figure out where it will be mounted. Space in the engine compartment is getting scarce and I will need room for a water maker and wash down pump as well in the future. I have a rebuild kit coming for the Whale 25 manual bilge pump so I can rig a portable and storable bilge pump that I can use for whatever I need and keep it stowed out of the way with some long hose attached that will allow me to lead the inlet down into the cabin from the cockpit and then enough hose to pump the water overboard. I can have a final backup manual pump ready for if Satori is taking on water and the electricity is out of commission.
I also finally made some sense of the NMEA 0183 protocol and will be sharing that once I have the multiplexer installed this week. It was very confusing at first but once I learned what talk and listening ports were capable of doing it all made sense. Apparently NMEA 0183 electronics can talk to up to three other devices but can only listen one other device. My dilemma is that I need to take my GPS data from the AIS transponder and send it to the VHF radio but also take the VHF radio’s DSC data and send that to the chartplotter but I also have Seatalk sensors that I would like to send to a chartplotter. Fortunately a multiplexer will solve this problem and I just purchased a Shipmodul Miniplex so I will be able to collect all of the data from the various devices and send it out over wifi and through a NMEA 2000 network to the chartplotter and radar.
Anyways, back to the game. Since the time of writing the Seahawks have scored again and now are leading 22-0. Go Hawks!!!
Update: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS are the SuperBowl Champions of 2014! I don’t watch football but I watch the SuperBowl when the Seahawks are winning 🙂