2014-08-10

Fluid movements

Good thing this stuff doesn't go off.
Lots of crouching and humming and a touch of swearing as tiny objects reminded me yet again how deep my bilges are aft of the engine. Today was the Filling of the Motor: ATF into the hydraulic shifter, which did not in fact wish to have its control cable reversed as I had speculated...well, not without a lot of unbolting...and so it will remain as is for the moment. The single lever at the helm does what it's supposed to.
ATF filter casing. Good thing I bought touch-up paint.
Following the actual directions for a change of pace, I ran down some of the engine commissioning details. such as checking the state of the transmission's fluid filter. Out came the metric Allen keys.
Looked fine, by which I mean wet.
 I moistened the O-rings with ATF and put it back together to the right torque.

Things are starting to seem real. Such is the magic of the word "Rotella".
Next came the lubricating oil. I ordered the shallow sump on my Beta 60 (I didn't need to, as it turned out, but there were a lot of variables as to the height of the engine mounts/stringers and the final placement of the Aquadrive coupler) and this took about seven litres of pouring.

Hard to see here, but this is "just right".
I've discovered that my block is not laid out precisely as my documentation might suggest. The Beta "marine conversions" of what is essentially a small Kubota diesel block found in street sweepers, forklifts and the more compact sort of backhoe or shovel thingie are known for having all the items that require changing or service at the front of the engine. I'm talking about water pumps, oil filters, dipsticks and the like. This is because most engines on boats live under a set of companionway stairs; one lifts or removes the stairs and hopes arms can reach the needful item. On my Beta, the water pump is about midway back on the starboard side, and I have yet to find what is called the "coolant drain cock". It's supposed to be slightly aft of the oil filter mount on the Beta 1720 canal boat model of the Beta 60 engine I thought I more or less (shallow sump, double power takeoff, ZF 25 hydraulic trannie) had, but certain items differ and I can't quite lay my hands on it.  The manual warns "make sure this is closed" and, if it exists, I can only assume it is in fact closed, as my bilges do not seem to have eight litres of coolant down them. The fuel pump lacks a priming knob, as well. I think I need to get out the dental mirrors and to scrutinize the schematics yet again.

It's clean down there. May it remain so.
The engine's confusingly named "fresh water circuit", which is actually a closed circuit of glycol/alcohol, is filled via what we call a heat exchanger, and what the British call a "calorifier". Having had Latin in high school, I can live with either one, as long as it isn't exploding near me.
One of the few pieces I kept from the old engine. Why not?
I filled the engine with coolant and then topped up the header or expansion tank to "middle". We shall see once fired up if I have too much or not. Next: cabling up the engine to the battery.

2014-08-03

Frenchmen not in evidence

Now with 30% less running aground
UPDATED 14.08.05 with pictorial splendour:  I am sitting in front of Frenchman's Bay Yacht Club, some 20 NM east of my 33 footer's customary tie-up. I am en famille, and expect Mrs. Alchemy and the Cabin Boy to manifest shortly after a rather prolonged walk to something called "a splash pad". Being relatively close to home, I had not visited here before, nor had we to Ashbridge's Bay YC, a very busy spot which, hosting a LYRA event, supplied us with their very last available visitors' slip.
Dusk at the stuffed ABYC: Dragonfly or slow shutter speed? You decide.
Perhaps ironically, I saw more National Yacht Club members there in their racing finery than I usually see at the club, arriving and leaving at odd, non-racing times, as one does when refitting.
Mrs. Alchemy in repose contemplating how the proximity to a sewage treatment plant (and the evening Parade of the Brown Trouts) may have kept the ABYC's rent low enough for them to have such a nice facility.

The Cabin Boy delves into obscure '80s science fiction and ice tea in an attempt to ignore LYRA-based revelries.

We just wanted to get away for the weekend on the boat, and threw together some food and T-shirts in a hurry. As for sailing, there has been very little wind, but the continuous motoring has provided plenty of juice to play with OpenCPN, a free and pretty decent nav program I am running on the rather basic netbook on which I'm typing this post. Even with the old version I'm running, the response is fast with a GPS "puck" and I got here without incident or worry, save for the vast field of waterlogged branches and tree trunks we had to dodge in the otherwise untroubled-by-wind waters.
Observed: One of many tree trunks and branches washed into the lake. This sort of thing went on for about three miles and was considered notable enough to report to the Coast Guard, who promptly issued a "Notice to Mariners".
On the other hand, the calm before the storms (see below) supplied plenty of interesting sights, among them a distant boat that appeared to be hovering well above the water. I would suggest such a feature would clearly affect their rating.
Blurry, but amusing. Talk about a tactical advantage.

 By the time we got to FBYC by steering for the massive tokenism of engineering, a 380-foot tall wind turbine behind the Pickering nuclear power plant, the wind must have been blowing a stern three knots. I was rather surprised to see that the entrance to Frenchman's Bay looked, well, like a French bay, well-constructed, obstacle-free and heavily issued with shiny aids to navigation.

More benign and welcoming moles than a first edition of Wind in the Willows

This rather charming YC used to be hard to get to in a shallow and silty bay with a dodgy entrance. Someone has paid to lift the submerged seawalls above the level of the waves, and has carefully buoyed and presumably dredged out everything between the spars to what would appear to be seven feet of depth. May they profit from their efforts, as it's a nice quiet spot that is tidy and, so it seemed to me. Last time I was here, around 1999 looking at a Grampian 34, the place seemed to be more or less a swamp with a water feature. But it is now a doddle to reach; a nice beach is a short walk away, and three new Weber barbeques and a reasonably priced bar ($4.75 pints!) offer comfort to the wandering crew. They seem afflicted by the general malaise among Lake Ontario yacht clubs of an aging and therefore inevitably declining membership, so if any of my readers (assuming there are some) in the east end of Toronto or the west end of Oshawa/Whitby are looking for a good place to tie up, consider this a rare endorsement.
Not seen: The other two squalls through which we had already driven.

Not unusual for a warm day in August, we were squalled upon a few times, but clearly, others had it worse.

The return to Toronto the following day featured a couple of hours of actual sailing, despite the automated drone of the weather frequency informing us "GRIMSBY BUOY, 2 KNOTS, GUSTING 2 KNOTS", which is at best discouraging.  The only problem was that the 10-knot breeze in question was coming directly from the end of the Leslie Street Spit extending into the lake, and which we had to round to get back into Toronto Harbour.
We heard a few MAYDAYS on the VHF and saw a few boats coming out of clubs under full sail, only to tack about and head back to the dock when it became clear it wasn't a great day for sailing.

So there were many longish tacks until the skies darkened and we decided that motoring was the better part of valour. We kept the jib doused and secured on deck and the main up in a token attempt to perhaps resume sailing, but if the threatening stormy bits around us truly roused themselves, I wanted to be motoring in the direction of the end of the Spit and directly into the wave train, which were essentially the same bearing.
 Toronto, Mordor's summer getaway.

As seems to be a recurring theme in my sailing career, the last squall to hit was the strongest, and naturally came not from the day's prevailing SW direction, but from the N-NE. The limitations of the direct-drive Atomic 4 engine with a smallish folding prop were soon made apparent.


Just before what I judge 30-35 knots hit. It was very similar to last fall's Brittany squall and lasted about the same 10 minutes.

After pushing our way around the corner into the Eastern Gap of Toronto's Inner Harbour, things quieted down very quickly as the extensive waterfront development can block a lot of gusting winds...or the squall line simply moved on to drench other regions. This gave us the chance to notice our surroundings, which included the oddest damn rainbow we had collectively ever seen:
The black smudges are cormorants. The pinkish thing is a blob, not a bow, of rainbow.

Best viewed with the Hallelujah Chorus playing in the next room.

A slightly less worse shot showing the patchy, non-radiused aspects of the "rainblotch".
As it was about 1700h, I would have thought the sun too high in the western sky (and occluded by clouds at sea level) to make the angle necessary to produce a rainbow. Nature had, clearly, other ideas.
Two colourful blobs of rainbow-like phenomenon for your enjoyment.
The lower blob brightened before vanishing.
Pretty, weird and pretty weird. Like a sundog celebrating Pride Week.

So if anyone has any ideas (ice crystals?), I would love to be educated on the topic of "blobs of rainbows". And yes, I realize the camerawork is poor, but it was not the weather nor in line with the helmsman's duties to be busting out the prosumer-grade lenses. My shorts are even now not entirely dried off.

2014-07-31

Another linkage in the chain

Something my American friends are not always used to dealing with is the worldwide preference for metric measurement. The SAE standarized Imperial (or "American", but it's British in origin) gauged and standardized tools and fasteners in the early days of automotive production, and knowing that the 3/8" nut on that new 1910 Stanley Steamer would match the 3/8" bolt from Mr. Ford's outfit no doubt made the assembly line and mass production run more smoothly. While there have been many variant fasteners and tools of unusual sizings before and since the widespread adaption in North America of SAE Imperial sizings...the British Whitworth system, still used in U.K. plumbing, comes to mind...the rest of the world uses metric tooling.
And this is only the beginning...
Now, unless you own, in addition to a Canadian boat with a Japanese diesel, a 1950s British sportscar, you will only be required to carry two complete sets of wrenches, sockets, fasteners, washers and nuts if you are restoring a boat. Get that? Not three. This is not a huge leap for a Canadian boat refitter, as Canada is the homeland of the Robertson screw and bolt, a type very popular indeed in Canada, but somewhat obscure elsewhere, that requires, in addition to the more widespread flathead/slot and Phillips/"cross" screwdrivers and bits, a set of Robertson drivers for hand and electric tools. I also have a bunch of Torx bits and drivers, which remain untouched and pristine as I have yet to enter one in the wild outside of the inside of a computer case...and even then, seldom.
But wait, there's more!
Allen or hex keys also come in metric and SAE sizings, and while I like them in principle, they represent another pair of tool sets and socket drivers I have had to acquire and, inevitably, must bring along. I don't resent this, per se, but when I think that I could disassemble a German engine in a French boat with only the tools I could pack in the most compact of tool boxes, it is to weep. And to list slightly to port with the weight of all these bits and pieces.

There they are, neatly organized inside of under the vise grips. I must have four sets of these between two boats and my house's garage
All this came into play yesterday on the engine. As the Drive to Drive continues, I am becoming familiar with the largely metric Allen screws, drain plugs, nuts and bolts of my Kubota engine. This (the "largely metric" part) makes sense, as it's a Japanese diesel marinized by an English company, and England, despite the Whitworth and indeed "Imperial" provenance, went officially metric in the '70s, even if that means, as here in Canada, that they are more or less getting around to it now. Proximity to the rest of Europe helps in Britain's case, as proximity to the States, noted disdainers of anything the French devised, doesn't help Canada's attempts to leave Imperial/SAE measurements in the historical dustbin. Net result is that I have to carry two more or less full sets of hand tools that drill, screw, lever or tighten/loosen. If it's a specialty item, like a really big socket or a prop puller, that's more weight and expense, but if I really need to pull off the prop, I'll need both.
Useful...to a point.
Occasionally, I'll find a tool/gadget like the adjustable rachet wrench socket pictured above, or a clever rethink such as this:
...or to another point...
...which makes me glad that industrial design students exist. Sometimes I even buy them. But there's no obvious, in my experience, replacement for a deep socket that can fit a buried bolt head attached to a nice long handle. So the embarrassment of hand-tool riches is wanted on the voyage.

Throttle linkage linked. Vroom.
Which brings us, inevitably, to yesterday. I hooked up the throttle and gear shifter linkages, an act I consider symbolic of progress, although it's just the latest step. The nut on the throttle arm was a 10mm nut, but as it was painted, I assumed it was something SAE. Nope!
 
This seems to work in that the shifter lever is shifting, but I think I should reverse that little bored-out piece.
So I was well-warned when I repeated the hook-up for the shifter on the hydraulic gearbox. As can be seen, apart from the particle-covered engine, which will be wiped down before first fire-up, there's an unappealing offset to the path of the Morse/Teleflex-style shifter cable. This photo makes me think I could just put the silvery cap on the little universal joint on the inner, rather than the outer, side of the shifter arm and straighten the hell out of that run. I have no evidence it's an incorrect installation; the engine transmission shifter arm came that way...but my developing instinct makes me think I need to get out, again, the metric spanners.

Which, of course, I have to hand.
Yeah, we'll get back to this level of shiny.



2014-07-30

Looking back and paying it forward

The cover leaves the impression that if you see a shark whilst crouching in the water, you should don a coat, but really, it's a good book.
Something out of the ordinary today, as I once again attempt to acknowledge the fellowship of sailing and the generosity of my fellow sailors by offering (wait for it) a book prize. Not too many blogs bother to hand out goods to their readership, but this is a special case.
These are Ken and Lynn from the well-travelled Silverheels III spotted, unusually for them, in front of a fireplace.
 The Handbook of Survival at Sea, by British author Chris Beeson, came to me courtesy of veteran cruisers (and hashers and boat repair in exotic locationers) Ken and Lynn from the Niagara 35 Silverheels III. Mrs. Alchemy, the Cabin Boy and myself spent at enjoyable evening with them recently here in Toronto as they were back (and shivering) for a vacation from their permanent vacation. They kindly offered me a copy of this helpful volume (along with a part-used tube of caulking which is going on the porch flashing), which had been, in turn, given to them. But they already had a copy. So did I, via the 2010 "Safety at Sea" seminar I attended. But, being part of a thrifty fraternity, I pledged to find this useful book a good home.

So here's the deal: The first person who wants it, gets it, but must come and get it, either from my home or my boat club. Contact me via commenting on this post, and leave a working email. I will reply with my contact info and a time on which we can agree to hand off.

I would suggest this is only practical, the book in question being of a $20 value, to those of my readers in the greater Toronto area, although if you are visiting by boat, that would work, too. Should I get no reply within one week, I will donate The Handbook to my club's Junior Sailing Program, where perhaps it will be of some use in keeping the little Opti and 420 crews undrowned, although they do a pretty good job of that already. Thanks particularly to Ken and Lynn for giving me the idea, and fair winds to you now that you are back in the sufficiently warm tropics!


2014-07-24

Raw, uncensored water


Not wanted on the voyage.

How many readers were aware that below-the-waterline hoses, such as raw water supplies to engines, were supposed to be, according to the American Boat and Yacht Council, who pontificate on these sort of things, the same hose used for wet exhausts, i.e. the wire-reinforced stuff that's eight bucks a foot? And not the admittedly less durable stuff called "heater hose", "red radiator hose" and other terms of endearment related to its far lower price? Alchemy has a standpipe from which several water sources lead; I discussed the idea of standpipes last year here.

Oh, look, it's loads of hose no longer up to code.
Now, there's a limit to my willingness to hew to the ABYC party line and even my insurers don't balk when they see our old friend Mr. Cheap Heater Hose running from the seacock on my 33-footer Valiente to the 1/2-inch elbow and barb of its little inboard engine's raw water pump. But Alchemy is destined for wine-dark seas, not the bar at Dalhousie YC (although we might go there at some point again), and therefore Steps Were Taken as part of the Drive to Drive.

The Beta 60's raw water pump: I believe I'm going to get a Speed Seal for that. And a vacuum cleaner with a pointy end down there.
Steps taken were the usual: expensive and dilatory. Despite having a spouse who works four days a week in a well-stocked chandlery on the waterfront of a city of nearly six million people, many of whom boat, the below-pictured little bronze elbow, which cost all of $15, took a couple of weeks to show up. A T-fitting for the exhaust system (more on that later) took six weeks. I have to wonder about the current business model of the marine supply business some days.

Forgot my camera, so it's the one that came with the phone from here forward.
I needed the little bronze elbow, which was 1.25" I.D. at the Perko Seawater Strainer end and 1" at the hose barb bit, to replace the original 1.25" to 0.75" piece of  plumbing that sufficed for the former engine. The barb leading to the engine pump is 1 inch, and so this swap happened.

Sometimes you feel like pipe dope, sometimes like Teflon tape.
I have an exceedingly manly 18" crescent wrench aboard. It's even got words like "Husky" and the less salacious "chrome-vanadium" on the handle. I gave both the inlet and outlet sides of the Perko water strainer a good crank and I do not anticipate that the 3/4" inlet side will fail to stop the 1" outlet to pump side from drawing sufficient water to cool the engine, mainly because the seawater enters the boat quite low down.
It's dim down here, but you can make out the ice cube tray I used to capture water from the old 3/4" hose, and see the new "to spec" 3/4" wet exhaust hose in its place.
I then dogged down doubled and opposing AWAB hose clamps, because they are better than Tridons for "mission critical" tasks like this and because sinking due to a failed clamp can ruin one's sundowner. It's the old "for want of a decent hose clamp" argument, to which I would be underexposed had two boats not sunk at dock at my club over the last few years due to inattention in this area.


Just add water
Next up is the connection of the control cables. Things have, ever so slightly, picked up speed. The weather is not too hot, either, meaning I can work longer stretches without feeling like I might keel over with heat stroke. Or the less happy plain old stroke.

The little, just-visible arrow is to show "dead center bottom" for the flap that is supposed to keep waves from backing down the bilge hose.
Above is the "skin fitting", a plastic through-hull bit of plumbing that will reroute the bilge hose from its current outlet on the port side second chine to the first chine, and slightly aft. This will be accompanied by the addition of a vented loop in the bilge hose line that should keep the water that needs to be out, out, and the water that is out won't get in. The reason for drilling a fresh hole in the boat is to utilize the existing bilge pump exit, which has a massive ballcock on it and which I suspect was intended originally for the use to which I wish to put it: as one side of the transverse exhaust I wish to have. I have to fashion a Delrin or similar HDPE plastic ring to act as a spacer, as that Seadog product cannot be tightened down to snug against my boat's "thinner than fibreglass" hull plating.

2014-07-22

Legging it on the beach

The traditional British pastime of getting a leg under. Photo (c) The Yacht Leg and Cradle Company.

One thing last fall's trip to France exposed me to was loads of French beach or beach fascimile (or rocks and limpets and muck) revealed by the somewhat pronounced tidal range of south-east Brittany. It's dependable in that it's well-calculated for most spots (thanks, Bloc Marine)  and ranges from about 4.5-6 metres over the lunar month and the state of the winds and so on.
Legs could be in pairs or just one with some sort of trim ballast and dependent on the firmness of the sea bed. Photo (c) The Yacht Leg and Cradle Company.
Now, while in certain circumstances, a large tidal range represents a complication, it also represents an opportunity, as many British and French and Atlantic and Pacific Canadian sailors understand. Sure, the currents of metres of sea water coming and going in vast, sometimes wind-aided volumes can be hard to sail in, but can also, of course, speed your boat in or out of its particular destination. Travelling at about five knots under motor, but 11 knots with the tide, can be a bit of a rush.

Cardiff Bay Tidal Barrage: Aside from all this water stuff, it cuts two miles off the bike ride to Penarth!


The British and others have dealt with their large number of drying height tidal opportunities in a variety of ways: sometimes through tidal gates that "seal in the sea" so that a harbour is essentially locked and does not dry (and cannot be entered or left unless the height of tide allows it). Such a scheme is in effect in Cardiff Bay, and other sorts of tidal barrages are rigged with water turbines that capture the energy in a dropping tide in a controlled fashion.

The Bay of Fundy is a logical place to make tidal power. This is the plant at Annapolis Royal.
Which, from the viewpoint of those keen on renewable energy and not seeing stinky harbour bottoms, is all well and good. But what if there were compelling reasons to deliberately "beach" one's boat?
Ar, scrub the barnacles, ye scurvy pre-industrialist workforce!
The proper, or least saltier, word for letting the tide gradually lay a boat down on its side is careening. or "heaving down". It was about the only way, short of entering one of the rather rare dry dock facilities available prior to the 20th century, to scrap marine growth from the bottom, to replace rotten planking, or to do the sort of caulking needed to keep the sea away from the cargo through leaks.

This is easier for full-keelers because they don't tend to heel over enough to have a porthole or hatch below the waterline when the refloat. Photo (c) S/V Moulin-Rouge.
In some places, when the weather is calm and the shoreline pointy-rock-free and of the right angle, careening is a good way to clean the bottom, service the prop and ream out the through-hulls. But it's not always easy to find the right combination of protected and properly pitched shoreline, convenient tidal range, and water that won't freeze your nuts off; this is why decent careening spots are often marked, to this day, on the better sort of charts. It was part of the "commons of the sea" as everyone with a boat had to get at their hulls sometime, and diving, where even invented, was dubious for the first few centuries.

The combination of a shallow beach, a big tidal range and a boat that will lay on its own hull this way without falling completely over is a rare combination. Photo (c) S/V Sea Comber

Also, in most careening situations, it can be hard to impossible to paint or to effectively scrap the last foot or two of the keel as it will never be fully dry. And you have to do the whole process twice...because only one side of the hull will dry out per tide.

I'm guessing "Malaysia"...the travelift, not the boat.
While the usual cruising boat tactic involves the sort of strap and hoist affair of the Travelift system pictured above, followed by jackstands and cradling on land, the admittedly efficient process isn't cheap and Travelifts themselves aren't necessarily common once away from Western ports and the richer sort of marina or yacht club.

Ladder optional.

Another primarily British method of getting at the bottom of the boat when the tide is out is the twin or bilge keel design. Consisting of two keels offset from the centreline of the hull, and a strong, slightly shorter rudder, bilge keelers will happily sit on the exposed sea floor, allowing all sorts of necessary maintenance.
A slightly faster looking twin keeler.
Utilitarian as this is, they aren't great sailers due to the drag of two keels, and while I'm not entirely sure about this, they don't seem to show up on boats over 30 feet in length, probably because the heavier sort of boat would require far too large and strong keels to support the mass of the rest of the hull, which would create even more drag.
Now, that looks cleaner, lighter and more compact than even jackstands. Easier to stow, too.
Here's where the "beaching leg" comes in. It's a extendable adjustable aluminum sleeved pipe, in essence, with a load-spreading "foot" and tensioned lines to keep it vertical. The main weight of the boat rests on its keel and the legs only have to provide balance, in the same fashion as the training wheels on a child's bike.
It's engineering, sure, but it's not rocket science. It's basically a strut. (c) S/V Panope

There's no particular reason why one couldn't make them oneself, and in fact, that is where I got the idea: from a Cruisers' Forum thread on making one's own beaching legs, although I had seen them mentioned on occassion in the more obscure cruiser narratives. The poster named "Panope", who has an interesting refit thread of his own here, has a boat perhaps even more densely built than Alchemy,

There's a family resemblance, I will admit. Photo (c) S/V Panope.
It's a Colvin 34 and is clearly a labour of love. But as is so often the case when I see gifted craftspeople with intriguing boat ideas, it's the little self-starter projects that catch my eye. Beaching legs could be stowed on deck and rigged at the pipe gunwhales of Alchemy in a rather straightforward manner. I like the idea of not having to haul out for minor fixes, painting or prop servicing. While I'm sure they do fine work, if the prices listed here are a guide, I would be willing to try my hand at making my own from plate aluminum and pipe. I already know we have a good keel bottom for this sort of setup. So perhaps Alchemy will one day stand proud with the tide out, and we'll have the boat with the nicest legs in the harbour.

The less-confidence-inspiring single-leg option. Hope it stays calm.