A taste of swell and freedom

I begin writing to you from a superb anchorage next to a marked shipwreck inside of Friday Harbor. A dozen other boats share this anchorage but only a few are occupied with cruisers. For short trips to shore with the pup I have elected to inflate the paddleboard and simply paddle to a nearby beach. It’s much easier than inflating the dinghy and outfitting it with all of the necessary equipment to make it seaworthy. It takes considerably less time and effort to inflate a paddle board and it’s more enjoyable for the both of us. I’m still trying to decide how I will keep it on shore while I wander town but I guess I will figure that out later. It’s a peaceful anchorage but it bustles with ferry and floatplane traffic, not to mention many boats in and out during the day. Nonetheless it is more quiet than Port Townsend and Seattle.

Motoring north against the wind on a calm Saturday morning
Motoring north against the wind on a calm Saturday morning

 

I allowed myself two days to get to this little harbor. The first day I partially motored up Puget Sound until the winds picked up and I could tack a couple of times to get into Port Townsend. It was a nice trip with plenty of sun and only a handful of halibut fishermen to add something less than mundane on the passage. I especially liked the moments where a fisherman decided to pass a dozen yards at my bow instead of intelligently passing on my stern. Once I made my final tack into Port Townsend I came across a dinghy race, which was in between my anchorage and my point of sail. With respect to the race, I decided to trim my sails to reduce speed and then go around the mark keeping out of the way of the race boats. Finally I made a tack into the irons with only a small amount of jib, furled it up, which slowed Satori to a stop and finally dropped anchor. There is nothing more fun than to maneuver under sail with trust that the motor is not needed to get into mooring.

Schooner Adventuress at her mooring in Port Townsend
Schooner Adventuress at her mooring in Port Townsend

I arrived early enough to enjoy summer like conditions with little winds. It was my first time away from the marina with my new wetsuit and snorkel gear so I tried out a dive to clean the hull of a year and a half of growth. I also rigged the Aries windvane autopilot for the next day’s crossing of Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The water was cold but I managed to stay comfortable for about an hour to get much of the growth removed. My first dive was a success, other than perhaps needing a few extra pounds of ballast for neutral buoyancy. I didn’t spend any time in town since I had everything I needed on the boat and was more concerned about preparing for the next days adventure. It would be the first time operating the vane gear and I was also looking at crossing during an outgoing tide against a westerly wind. It’s common for the winds to blow freshly in Admiralty Inlet so I was expecting up to twenty-five knots.

Schooner Zodiac at her anchorage in Port Townsend
Schooner Zodiac at her anchorage in Port Townsend

The next morning I slowly worked my way around the boat to ready for lifting anchor and casting off under sail. The winds were around twelve knots and blowing me away from the shoreline. No matter how much I prepared for the casting off, I still managed to screw up my mainsail halyard routing which caused me to change tacks more than once. Once I was off and underway, I realized that the main would not raise without fixing the issue. A couple of tries heading right towards the ferry terminal and the main was up and the sails were set. Now to get the Aries vane gear working, but not without some fiddling and learning first. Once I was heading out towards Point Wilson I realized that there were some obstacles to maneuver around. First an oncoming towing tug with it’s barge on a cable in my way. To tack away from the barge meant heading abruptly into breakers and risking getting pounded near the point buoy. Still I did my tack to let the tug know I was avoiding it but was also heading towards the breakers. With enough time to make another tack to clear the tug I was back on course and sailing away from the tide rips. I rarely cross in front of a ship in the traffic lanes so I carefully kept close hauled but kept the bow pointing towards the tug until we were within shouting distance, then was able to bear away at it’s stern. Then another large cargo ship in the westbound lane. I have to avoid it as well and avoid heading too far downwind. Once it was far enough west I could point Satori on her course under steering vane and enjoy an exciting sail to weather for a bit. Seas broke on her bow at every wave. Some splashed water over her deck. The winds rose to twenty knots at one point and I decided to reef the mainsail to balance her helm. I am still learning the reefing technique and was not able to get the sail ties secured so left it bagged at the base but still reduced the pressure on the helm. Never have I had such an exciting sail than at that moment. It was likely what it feels like in the ocean with similar winds. Waves rolled in, some big enough to bring water from the bow into the cockpit. Satori found her rhythm and kept pushing through at five to six knots. Over ground we were almost seven knots and enjoying the excitement.

Beating into Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Beating into Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Aries vane gear steering the boat in the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Aries vane gear steering the boat in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Past Admiralty Inlet and into the strait the winds eased to twelve knots so the main’s reef was shaken out and back up to full sail. The winds were also on the port quarter so I had to devise a boom preventer to keep it from rattling itself away. It was obvious that a whisker pole could have helped in the same way for the jib but it was still doing well on most rolls as long as the winds stayed above twelve knots. I was able to stay on the same course with some minor course corrections to the vane gear all the way to the San Juan Channel. Then of course the winds died, or shifted, or the current would sweep the boat and mess up the course. I was able to sail through the channel but out the other end I continued to Friday Harbor under auxiliary power. There is a small harbor just east of the marina that provides some protection from wind and current, but is exposed to boat traffic just the same as Port Townsend. There is little sanctuary from commercial traffic here, but the town was a perfect place to enjoy a new place while beginning my work week. After two nights, I pull anchor and sailed off to the next mooring.

Anchored in Friday Harbor next to the shipwreck
Anchored in Friday Harbor next to the shipwreck
Whale skeleton in the Friday Harbor Whale Museum
Whale skeleton in the Friday Harbor Whale Museum

Pulling anchor and raising sails was the plan but as soon as I left the harbor the winds died and I was resolved to drifting until I dropped sails and ran under auxiliary once again. I expected winds to constantly shift direction and speed in the protected bays and harbors, so going with the engine was out of necessity. I checked out a south bay on Shaw Island but it was unappealing due to the southern exposure and bordered on private land. Big houses shadowed the beach so I decided that there were better options. Another half hour of motoring north brought me to Blind Bay on Shaw Island. It is inset enough to be fully protected from ferry traffic and close enough to be able to paddle around the point to visit the general store next to the ferry terminal. There are private moorings but for the most part this bay has just a few temporary residents. A strong cellular wifi signal was present so this would be our home for two nights.

Hooded mergansers and a wooden fishing trawler, Shaw Island
Hooded mergansers and a wooden fishing trawler, Shaw Island
Prying oysters from the reef at Shaw Island
Prying oysters from the reef at Shaw Island

Upon exploring the reef and Blind Island I stumbled upon a nice stash of Pacific Oysters. The first night while taking Sasha out for a swim we enjoyed two as part of dinner. I decided that it was worth a second night stay just to harvest a belly full of oysters exposed at low tide on the reefs and island. To take the harvest seriously I wore my wetsuit, gloves and booties so I could wade into the tide pools. I brought a big screwdriver to assist in the prying of these strongly adhered shells so I could shuck them back at the boat. Technically it is not legal to take the shells but the next morning I brought them back and scattered them around the reef again so the ecosystem living in the shell could thrive again. I did stop off at the general store on Wednesday but they were closed, but I went back on Thursday hopeful of fresh baked goods. To my dismay they only had generic grocery goods with some tourist items available, due to being early season and all. I settled for their selection and brought back breakfast and snack foods instead. It was pretty cloudy during these two days, which meant the need for the diesel stove. It also meant that the solar panels were not doing well keeping up with my demand. Apparently a 15″ Macbook Pro eats up a lot of amps. The second day was partly cloudy so the batteries were able to make it back up to eighty percent.

Looking north from Blind Bay  on Shaw Island
Looking north from Blind Bay on Shaw Island
Fried Pacific oysters from Blind Bay
Fried Pacific oysters from Blind Bay

After work I prepared the boat for a trip around Lopez Island eastward. I really needed to get further south so getting home was not going to take too long. Plus there is a bay that seemed like a perfect place to spend the last night in the San Juans on the southeastern side, right around the point from crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into Admiralty Inlet. Crossing the north end of Lopez I was getting a nice southerly breeze that guided Satori towards Rosario Strait but after entering Lopez Sound the winds were not only lighter but coming straight to where I wanted to go. I figured this was a good time to use auxiliary and also get the batteries charged while I head towards the new anchorage. I was delighted to go through Lopez Pass to exit the sound into Rosario Strait with such steep walls on the islets and not a single boat in sight. Another thirty minutes and I was dropping the RPMs to line up the anchorage in Watmough Bay. It is perhaps the most stunning of all bays in the San Juans. I was concerned about the availability of internet and at first did not seem to get a signal, but after rebooting the network and cellular hotspot I was back in business. This is all possible thanks to Verizon’s cellular data plan. The anchorage is nicely protected from winds but it also had some rolling from container ships that travel down Rosario Strait. Most of the time Satori would be stern on when a set came rolling in but on occasion she would be in mid-swing and taking the waves on her quarter or beam. Still not as bad as Friday Harbor or Port Townsend’s ferry and powerboat traffic however.

Watmough Bay cliffs
Watmough Bay cliffs
A beautiful anchorage in Watmough Bay
A beautiful anchorage in Watmough Bay
Satori at her mooring in Watmough Bay, Lopez Island
Satori at her mooring in Watmough Bay, Lopez Island

I wanted to get home on Friday evening but was also entertaining the idea of sailing into Port Townsend and spending the night there, to complete the final part of the trip into Puget Sound on Saturday morning. I did not want to come into port in the dark, nor did I want to deal with southerly winds at anchor. After leaving anchor under sail at 5pm on Friday, I was able to sail due south until the wind turned to my bow and became calm. At that point I dropped sails and began to motor. As I passed Smith Island heading south, the currents and waves began to build and the wind shifted to southwest. At that point the winds began to build once again but I was at a point of sail that would have caused me to fight off land or tack back west, so I opted to maintain auxiliary power until I could reach or head downwind. In retrospect I believe I made a navigational error when deciding to cross Admiralty Inlet from Admiralty Head southward towards Point Wilson. My main reason for this decision was to be able to time the commercial traffic correctly to get through the east and west lanes without coming too close to an oncoming vessel. My mistake cost me a considerable amount of time and a period of time in a very heavy sea state. The closer I came to Admiralty Head, the seas built to a point where I have not experienced before. I cannot accurately judge the wave size but there were some big enough to cause Satori lose her steerage while the wave passed under her and would cause her to lose control from the heavy surge of water flowing under her. In order to maintain control and keep stern-on to the oncoming seas, I continued my course around the point at Fort Casey and then back northeast along the shoreline of Whidbey Island. Keeping stern to the waves was my best strategy, but the tide rips were also pushing me toward shore. At some point I had to begin to turn southward and expose my beam to these steep and swift seas. Eventually after slow progress and difficult timing I began to work southward. Several times I was hit by a confused sea state that caused the boat to lay close to her rail, but never a moment that put water over her deck. By the time I had crossed the inlet, navigating past oncoming commercial traffic, it was getting dark. Winds shifted from the west and I decided to keep going into Puget Sound. I was still in heavy seas east of Port Townsend and a steady twenty knot broad reaching wind. To take advantage of the winds I unfurled a small portion of my jib, which pushed me along at five knots and occasionally hitting six knots with a gust. Although Satori rocked from the following seas, I knew I had passed the most difficult part and rode the wind until I felt the winds calm and the seas became manageable. Once heading southward around Marrowstone Island the winds were less than six knots and I could set the tiller pilot to take the helm in an almost glassy sea state.

It was still another six hours of motoring to get Satori back into her permanent mooring at Shilshole. Most of the remaining trip was keeping a lookout for commercial traffic and identifying the aides to navigation throughout the Sound. At one point while I was making hot chocolate in the cabin, I noticed a large empty container ship overtaking me within an eighth of a mile at my stern. By that point I did not have much time to do anything but take the helm and put it hard over to give a wide berth. At first I could not understand why this ship came unnoticed but then realized it’s ship’s name from coming northbound not thirty minutes earlier. It must have gone north and u-turned south again, giving me no more than ten minutes before the u-turn and overtaking me. I did not receive a radio call and by the time I was heading away from it, I was getting some flashing lights coming from the crew out of deck. I was baffled that this large ship was using flashlights instead of VHF to communicate. Once it was clearly at my bow I next had to feel the onset of the ships wake and put the helm hard over again to take the waves at the bow. Although not as great as the tide rips, they still caused water to break over Satori’s deck and woke me from a tired slump. Another couple of hours and I was heading into port. A perfect turn and reversed throttle placed Satori at her slip and we slept a quiet morning’s sleep until noon.

Now that I’m safely tied to the dock and able to reel over the entire week, I’ve managed to consider some new techniques on keeping safe while single handing in the Salish. I met the Salish’s most peaceful and bountiful anchorages, it’s most remote and scenic bays, it’s perfect winds, and not so perfect winds. Most of all I have learned her unforgiving tides and currents accompanied by the swell of the Pacific Ocean. For a man and his dog, with a forty-foot heavy displacement sailing vessel it is much less forgiving. Without considering the tide changes, I met Salish seas that most people will never encounter. To be so close to the water unable to see anything but the waves that surround me, while waiting for Satori to come out of a trough and over the crest of a rip tide wave. Satori kept me safe and she handled the seas like a champion yacht. In every situation I maintained enough control to safely navigate, and that is all that matters. Chalk this up as a learning experience and remember to time the tides next time.

Satori back at her mooring in Seattle
Satori back at her mooring in Seattle

New Electrical System Phase Three – Retrospective

It’s been more than a month since I’ve started the new electrical system project. In retrospect I have learned more than I expected. I have also solved several problems that could have come up later, perhaps much later, and caused unforeseen issues. When I think back at how I felt about programming each component and rewiring most of the entire boat, I thought it would be much more complicated than it is. The wiring harnesses are much bigger than before, but the capacity and longevity of the batteries will prove invaluable while in remote areas, where solar and wind may keep beer cold indefinitely. Each component had it’s quirks so I will give some thoughts on how I was able to install them.

Sailing wing on wing with the cruising spinnaker
Sailing wing on wing with the cruising spinnaker

The ProNautic-P AC battery charger allows for custom float and absorption voltages. It was not straightforward from their manual how to set these but I was able to talk to their technical support guy and sort it out. The very last option that you toggle through when selecting battery type will allow custom voltage setting. The remote display was quite expensive for being more limited in functionality than the interface on the charging unit. Even when I set the custom voltages, I was still not getting the exact units that I programmed and so I had to calculate the difference and set it from it’s ‘compensated’ voltage. I checked the voltage variance based on temperature and was not getting the same result so I used my best judgement and set it from what I think is correct. Basically following Mastervolt’s temperature compensated charging formula of –17mV/oF. The float voltage should still be 13.8, or at a maximum of 13.9, but I was getting consistent readings of 14.1 in standby so I dropped it to where I think it should be. It’s a very confusing formula and I doubt anyone can get it exact, except maybe the battery manufacturer. Regardless of the issues, the charger has been great and is very quick at charging the batteries because it is connected to both banks and can push 40 amps of AC current, distributed to both banks simultaneously.

New 400 amp hour bank and battery sensors
New 400 amp hour bank and battery sensors

I bought the Victron BMV-702  battery monitor for monitoring both battery banks. It seems to be the only product available that provides an API for logging data from the battery monitor to whatever computer interface that can accept the serial data stream. When I first bought it I was also misled a little bit about what it was capable of doing. I thought it would monitor both batteries, midpoint voltages and the battery temperature of both banks. I was completely wrong. Their product brochure states, “Additional input to measure voltage (of a second battery), temperature or midpoint voltage, and corresponding alarm and relay settings”. What this really means is you can only monitor one battery’s voltage and then with their additional input you can choose between another battery’s voltage or midpoint or battery temperature on the same bank. So in order to gain the benefits of midpoint, temperature and voltage you actually need two separate monitors. To have both midpoint, voltage and temperature isn’t possible with one battery monitor. Fortunately my battery charger can show the battery temperature for the house bank so I at least have one temperature reading. Unfortunately measuring midpoint voltage or battery temperature on the starting battery isn’t going to happen without spending another $200+ for another monitor. Victron offers a way to write your own software using their VE.Direct serial to USB interface cable. That’s great but the damn thing costs between $70 and $110. For a cable? Really? Well, I could have written some open source software that other people could use but I’m having a hell of a time justifying that kind of coin just to log battery field data. I’ve already dropped a lot of coin on this new upgrade so this will have to wait until the pains of this project has settled. This cable should be part of the package, not as an extra for an overpriced premium.

Negative bus fully loaded
Negative bus fully loaded

The circuit panels were also a little bit confusing when first tried to install them. The AC dual-pole GFCI breaker was a mess of wires and only had one green and one white cable that was obvious what they did. I could’t figure out where to put the AC charger black wire or the main bus black wire. Blue Sea systems has incomplete manuals for their products so I had to kind of wing it. It would’t be very difficult to add some instructions on what a typical installation would look like. Something as simple as how they expect to route the cables in their ‘360’ panels would be handy. After I had the whole thing wired up I realized that the panels could have been routed much better, and that I would need a common positive bus. I don’t know why the breaker load screws are so short. Maybe they want to prevent more than one ring terminal per breaker? I don’t know. With the 10 amp DC switch panel there were several issues. First was when you need to actually connect your load cable to the toggle, the switch pushes through the panel, so it’s a pain in the butt to get it connected when the panel is already mounted. Also the same panel did not come with a backlight so there is no indicator to know that the circuits are live. I guess now I need to dig around and figure out where to get one and pay large amounts of money to get it installed. Why wouldn’t they just sell the backlight kit as part of the package? Also, they offer a custom label service. For $5 per label I can get it printed with whatever I want. These things are stickers for christ sake, and shipping these little guys costs $5. So for two labels it cost me $17. Most of their labels in their panel kits are generic enough to handle 90 percent of the existing circuits, except for the NMEA/Seatalk bus. This is the one case where all of the boat sensors and the displays are all on the same communication and power circuit and nothing in the label kit is specific enough to handle this, so I chose to have “Seatalk” printed. Also the cockpit instrument and overhead lights are all on the same circuit and really did need it’s own custom, “Cockpit Lights” label. For the hundreds of dollars it cost for each of these panels I would expect a free service for the custom labels, or at least a break even price. Not something they would profit on, considering they already make a killing on their panels.

Port of Tacoma and Mt Rainier
Port of Tacoma and Mt Rainier

Something I discovered when rewiring the circuits on the boat was a ground fault that I actually caused myself. A couple of months ago I ended up replacing the fluorescent bulbs with LED replacements in the bathroom.  The LED replacements had both positive and negative wires red so I went ahead and wired both to the same switch and when it worked I assumed all was good. When I rewired the electrical panel I noticed there was an issue with the port side cabin light circuit. It wasn’t obvious at first that there was a ground fault. I think the diode in the LED circuit board finally burned out for some reason and then the ground fault caused some of the other LED lights to burn out. Half of the engine room lights also burned out. The ground fault that I caused ended up costing me about $100 in replacement lights. The good news is that there is no longer a fault in the circuit, and all of the circuits have been accounted for. Lesson learned. I will check all new installations with a multimeter from now on before assuming that I have it right. Also, lights are now on independent  fuses.

Satori anchored in Gig Harbor
Satori anchored in Gig Harbor

Installing the solar charge controller took the better part of a day. In the morning I spent a little bit of time discussing the installation of the MPPT 60 Tristar with a local guy, which is a little different than mine. I don’t have ethernet for networking the charge controller, which is disappointing because that would be a very nice addition to the package. Mine is also a PWM controller, which I think is suitable for a three to five panel array. There will likely be circumstances where an MPPT controller would be better suited but the install space is increased as is the cost. The only struggle I had was getting the serial to usb cable hooked up. I had to take it apart and bend it so it would plug in. The serial circuit board was exposed and there was risk of breaking a solder but I needed to plug in to set the thing. Another requirement is a Windows operating system and I’m running a Macintosh. I decided to upgrade my VMWare software license so I had a running instance of Windows for this very reason. Once I was able to run windows on a virtual machine I could install the serial to usb driver and connect to the charge controller using the software download on their website support page. Setting the controller wasn’t too complicated, except I did’t know what some of the settings were.

Tristar settings
Custom setpoints summary after setting

 

Some of the settings require a good understanding of 12 volt batteries and even after extensive research I didn’t understand it all. Like, “Transition to float when duty cycle is __ % or less”. To know what that percentage means assumes you understand the charging algorithm of the multi-stage charge profile for any given battery. I will do my homework and make sure I understand each of these settings. Fortunately I was able to set most of the variables with confidence without much concern about the battery life. I feel confident that the battery bank will cycle through discharged and completely charged often. There is also room to expand the battery bank another two to four hundred amp hours within the first year without too much compromise.

Balmar voltage regulator
Balmar voltage regulator

I’ll admit that my routing of cables is likely nothing compared to someone who does it for their job, although there are many levels of a professional job well done. In the future I can tweak as far as I am willing to put time into it. The amount of zip ties I cut off and replace is astonishing. Any new wire will follow a main route if possible and the entire route is opened for the new wire, then closed again until another will be added or removed. Often there is a first draft to see how it all plays out and then an entire redo just because of a single design error. For instance, I didn’t think too much about the high water line in which the entire electrical system from negative to positive can be engineered to stay above a certain point to prevent the electrical system from shorting out from water. Currently the short circuit line is about 18″ above the cabin sole. I don’t know how many gallons that is but I do know that if the boat took on that much water I would have bigger problems than just electrical shortages, but perhaps the bilge pumps could keep running. Anyways these hypotheticals can get creative so I’ll leave it alone.

Back of switch panel during installation of wiring
Back of switch panel during installation of wiring

The new voltage regulator for the alternator was a fun install. The wiring is relatively straightforward since it does not vary much from the previous setup, aside from an additional battery temperature sensor. There are up to seventeen different terminals to plug a wire into and the only thing truly required is understanding which input is needed and where the other end attaches to, and in which manner. There is a main harness to attach various ends to prescribed attachments on the alternator and then another set of wires that I ran out to the batteries for temperature and voltage sensing, and finally an ignition switch attachment for turning it on and off. Once everything was connected, programmed and wires secured I decided to take Satori out for a sail. The charge voltages were good and the voltage regulator worked as expected. The alternator was originally connected to the starting battery but I decided to move all of the charging components to the house bank positive bus. This way the house bank gets priority over the starting bank but the ACR is delegated the task of connecting the two banks once the voltage is high enough to give the starting bank a top off. The engine aboard Satori starts in less than two seconds so the starting battery gets little use, considering it’s capacity.

A couple of other things I didn’t think about until the very end was also resolved. Apparently it’s not necessary to protect the starting bank with a fuse. Some even believe that the starting bank shouldn’t have a fuse because of the amount of amps the starter draws but after doing a little research I discovered that it is a good idea after all. I also had a chance to fix the lights on the mast so those circuits are all worked out and now I have all of the lights working under a switch, plus completely fused. Also when I am running my space heater and either the blender or the vacuum, the breaker switches off. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means that the AC circuit is protected on all ends from over-current and ground fault. I still need to replace a few of the outlets to be GFCI but at least the main circuit is protected. Even the Smartplug shore power connection has a fuse that will prevent the plug from catching fire. Both banks are fused, as are all of the other circuits. There is a ton of redundancy from the battery all the way to the smallest gadget on the boat.

Installing the house bank using the boom for assistance
Installing the house bank using the boom for assistance

The new house bank installed perfectly, exactly where I was hoping it could go. I employed a fiddle block and becket block to rig a boom crane so I didn’t have to lift the batteries from the dock to inside of the engine compartment. I suppose I could have wrestled with them but I’ve always wanted to try the boom crane technique and it worked better than I expected. My dock neighbor offered to help but after observing he decided that he was not needed. I have the batteries strapped down at the moment but I plan on adding several other supports to ensure that the batteries move less than half a centimeter in all directions. Currently there are a couple of inches on all sides for clearance just to make sure there will never be any chafe. Combined they weigh just shy of 225 lbs and my initial estimation for materials to secure them was wrong. I’m going to need anchors to keep them from sliding fore and aft. Fortunately I have an idea that should prevent them from moving by anchoring them to the back wall of the engine compartment. The first sea trial proved that they are okay but still not quite bomber.

The ACR took quite a bit of wiring to get installed. There are five wires from the switch, two of which come from the ACR unit. There is an ignition relay wire that separates the batteries when starting the engine. I had to tap into the voltage regulator circuit that turns the regulator on from the starting switch, and came up with a creative way to join the three wires but make sure it’s more secure than a butt connector splice. I took a screw that goes to an old terminal block and attached a thread-locking nut to it with the wires terminated with ring connectors. Then once I joined the ring terminals to the screw and nut, I shrink-wrapped the connection to prevent accidental contact. It’s just as strong as the wires and utilizes a nice modification to accommodate two units that depend on the same circuit. I placed the ACR right in between both batteries so the positive cable run is minimal. Currently the ACR does not seem to be operating as I expected. The magnetic switch turns on and off every thirty seconds, which is annoying. I’ll call Blue Sea and figure out why it is not simply switching on when both batteries are above 13 volts. The float voltage for both batteries is about 13.6 volts but the usual voltage at 100 percent seems to be closer to 13.4 volts. Either way, neither have gone under 13 volts since I’ve installed the ACR due to either having solar keeping the house bank topped off or because I am using the AC charger to manage the batteries.

I’ve decided to keep the old AC wiring to the outlets for now. I bit off a pretty nice chunk of work this winter and still have more work to do soon on more rigging and . I will probably replace the outlets one at a time over a year or two. They work just fine and I’m not in a hurry to spend the money for new triplex 10 gauge wire and new outlets. I have some left over from wiring the hot water heater and battery charger so I can at least begin with the one used most often by high powered equipment and then replace each one over time. I also plan on wiring my pure sine wave inverter to allow me to switch from shore power to the inverter so I can plug AC appliances into the existing outlets. Currently the only AC requirements I have is charging the laptop. Otherwise, I have managed to setup the boat to charge everything else using 12 volt power.

I am calling the electrical system completed, even though there is still some tidying up of wiring and a little more work to tweak the charging system. I can move onto other projects like getting the staysail deck hardware installed and replacing the lifelines with Amsteel. I have more work to be done if I want to sail South this summer but at least I’m back to sailing Satori around the Sound until then.

The Waiting Game

I have another blog post about my electrical overhaul in draft but I decided not to post it until I am finished with installing the house bank, which has not been delivered yet. Likely they will not arrive for another week or two. At least, that is what I was told. What have I been up to since the last blog post? Well things have not slowed down much. Every few days I tick away at an endless list of things to do on the boat. I’ve managed to sell the old set of tanbark sails on eBay. Some wires are still in limbo, tied up temporarily and patiently waiting for the new house bank. In the interim there has been some progress in other areas and I am starting to see the light at the end of this dreary winter. Flowers are blooming already, birds are chirping and the days are getting longer.

Beating to weather with the new jib
Beating to weather with the new jib

I managed to replace all of the lighting on the mast with new bulbs. I did not go with LED this time around because sometime this summer I plan to replace all of the lighting fixtures with LED and rewire it, adding conduit to eliminate the internal noise that happens now from wires just dangling inside. The only light that does not work is a green navigation light on the mast. I tried to replace the bulbs but the lenses are welded to the mast from indifferent metal galvanic corrosion. These navigation lights are a backup to the side lights on the pulpit so they are not entirely necessary. They will be repaired when I take the mast down this summer.

The spreader light lenses, complete with a nice coat of lichen.
The spreader light lenses, complete with a nice coat of lichen.

At some point a couple of weeks ago I stripped the hot water mixer on the galley faucet. This was something that could not wait  since the issue is that the mixer would not keep water from flowing out under pressure. I took it apart, found the problem and realized that I could fix it if I could find the right part. But these parts are not common unless you know the model of faucet.  I couldn’t find a label from the manufacturer and I could not wait until I found the part because I couldn’t use the water until the faucet was repaired. Fortunately I was able to find a replacement and get it installed in just a few hours. The new faucet has been awesome, and no longer leaks or drips. Why didn’t I replace this sooner? The replacement required a slightly larger hole, and I was able to dig around the spare parts bins and find a plug for the second hole. It also seems to keep the overspray down and it’s much easier to conserve water.

New galley faucet with an improved hot/cold mixer
New galley faucet with an improved hot/cold mixer

 

I’m adding new tracks, winches, line clutches, cheek blocks, lead cars and new sheets for the staysail as my next project. This step will put the staysail back into commission and allow for sheeting on both tacks without needing the self-tending boom. The old club setup never really worked well and I’ve heard more than one person say it wasn’t really designed to tend the staysail properly.  It cluttered the foredeck, it kites and pumps dangerously in high winds, and interfered with the windlass when was time to raise or lower the anchor. The new staysail is ready but the hardware needs to be mounted. On top of this, I cannot simply drill holes into the cabin top and through-bolt the tracks and winches. I need to drill the holes oversized, then fill the holes with epoxy, tap threads into the holes and then I can use close-threaded bolts to mount the hardware. It will take some time and in order to do this I also need to get the deck hardware so I know what holes to drill. I have fiberglass experts coming next week to give me an estimate, tracks are in possession, and I’m nailing down the rest of the hardware with Bud Taplin. Bud is the living encyclopedia of Westsails and is still helping the owners with their repairs and replacements. I’ve seen several other Westsails with the same arrangement so I am confident that this will add quite a bit of versatility to the different sailing conditions.

Brand new staysail
Brand new staysail

 

The yankee jib was also completed this week. I was unsure of the size and a bit worried that it might be too small but after unfolding it at the loft and then later raising it on the new roller furler, it turned out to be a perfect size. It’s a full-hoist jib, meaning the head of the sail goes almost entirely to the top of the mast. There is some room for halyard and shackles but it is really a perfect fit. The protective canvas along the luff is also the same burgundy that is used on the rest of the boat so it looks great. The furling line is a little challenging to pull in because of the diameter of the line and the existing friction in the fairleads, but I will probably change the fairleads to something that will cause less friction to fix the problem. I also need a dedicated cleat to free up the jib sheet cleat but these issues will be much easier to work out than the staysail. Fortunately I can take Satori out sailing, hoist just the mainsail, and unfurl the jib now, and no longer need to wait to go sailing. My time will be limited to day trips since my only battery is currently the starting battery but there isn’t anything else stopping me from sailing.

New 100% yankee taking up the entire loft floor
New 100% yankee taking up the entire loft floor
The Schattauer brothers folding up the yankee after going over the massive list of features and improvements
The Schattauer brothers folding up the yankee after going over the massive list of features and improvements

Prior to 2015 and one of two reasons why I have not been sailing much is because my headstay was converted to a roller reefing, or furling jib. There were plusses and minuses with the old hanked-on jib. The size was quite small, at likely 70 percent from full. Adding a furler enables me to manage a larger sail but the added benefit of shortening it to a better balance of the helm. I did my homework and with the help of Northwest Rigging, installed it in a matter of a couple of hours. I hoisted the Mast-Mate to the top of the mast but Dean insisted on climbing the spreaders. I am grateful for having Andy and Dean from Northwest Rigging in Anacortes come out, put it together and help me with the install. I still have the spinnaker halyard to deal with, since it’s only rigged temporarily, but it can wait until I take the mast down. I love working at height but I think most of the remaining mast projects are better suited for while its laying horizontal on a half a dozen saw horses.

Andy and Dean from Northwest Rigging installing the new jib furler
Andy and Dean from Northwest Rigging installing the new jib furler

I have also managed to finish the weather cloths. They are a simple design and add both privacy and weather protection when the winds are on the beam. The design is actually very simple. Just fold some canvas in half, sew the piping around the edge and attach snaps and grommets to secure to the lifelines. I use zip ties to secure the bottom so they can rip out if I ever get a boarding sea. I still have a few more canvas projects to complete but I’m in no hurry. The mainsail and staysail can use the old canvas for a few more months. There is one more project I would like to complete but it isn’t just a matter of sewing. The sliding hatch could use additional protection from water coming over the cabin top and into the cabin, through the front. A flap was added to help keep the wind and water out but unfortunately it isn’t exactly water tight. I will need to add a steel tube frame similar to the dodger and then make sure the canvas extends up to the dodger, maybe even attaching to it. I could fix the hatch as a turtle and then add another sliding board underneath as some have done, but I think my idea might be a better solution. Plus I can take it off in nice weather and allow the wind to enter through the opening.

Satori in her red canvas. Still have the mainsail and staysail canvas to replace.
Satori in her red canvas. Still have the mainsail and staysail canvas to replace.

In another few weeks I expect to have all of the sails ready for sea trials, a brand new battery bank, and the final cleanup of the boat wiring. Once these two milestones are completed, I can simply kick back and wait for the warm weather to come with the perfect 15 knot winds that the Salish Sea is legendary for. There are plenty of other projects to do however. I was fortunate to pick up the stern pulpit from Westsail Harbinger in Olympia. I budgeted for a custom pulpit to support a wind turbine and higher stern light but my estimate was for a brand new pulpit. The Abrains gave me a killer deal on their old one, which I can pay to have modified.  I have running backstays and lifelines to rig using Amsteel and creative splicing. I am also going to learn how to properly sail with the Aries wind vane. It may require days where the winds are no less than 15 knots but I am willing to dedicate some time to make sure I have it figured out well enough to embrace it when I know it can be used instead of the tiller pilot. The engine is still in need of some additional work to help reduce the amount of corrosion that is on the engine block and even rusting the parts I installed last summer. This will be the biggest priority and I’m hoping that I can finish it before the weather warms up and everyone is anxious to go outside. Much progress was made this winter so now it’s time to learn how to sail effectively with the new rigging and sails.

Satori back on the water after taking a six week hiatus
Satori back on the water after taking a six week hiatus