Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lots of People Looking but...

Just looked at the stats for the first time in a while and noticed a lot of folks looking through the posts. Feel free to say hi or ask questions. You would be surprised how much useless information I have to give. :)

Merry Christmas 2012

Wow, that was a quick year. Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. I hope it brings everything you wish for.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Four Months Since My Last Post...Really??!!

Sorry folks, life has had a nasty way of taking over and keeping me up in NC longer than expected. Was also in Houston Texas for a week on business. Lots of running around but I was able to spend 5 days last week on Skylark. Had a fantastic weather window and enjoyed day after day of mid 70 degree days, a light breeze and perfectly clear skies.

Skylark was waiting patiently to see me and all was well with the new systems. Was too busy to get out but was able to run the engine in gear for about 45 minutes and was very happy with what the gauges were telling me. I had a problem with oil pressure and engine temp at first, but Ralph seems to have taken care of everything at this point (what else is new:). She started right up and ran very smoothly. I do think the engine is ready to go. Now if I can just find a few days to make that happen.

Nothing else really to report at this time. Just preparing for the holidays and working. I did get a new toy for when I am in NC, perfect for the mountains and the Blueridge Highway.  It's a Heist from CCW, a small company in Cleveland. If you are looking for something small to run around your home town, I highly recommend it. Check it out...  Cleveland Cycle Werks.

Next on my list for winter sailing. A propane heater for the cabin...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Solar Panel, Nav Station and LPG Install

I know I said I was getting away from the refit stuff going forward, but I have had quite a few people ask about the nav panel, solar and LPG tank install, so I figured I would end out the refit chapter with a bang. Everything we set out to do is complete and I am ecstatic. Thank you Ralph for all the incredible work you have done, which of course was pretty much everything!

Solar Panel 

After doing a lot of searching online, I decided to go with a 100 watt panel from sunwindproducts. I was very happy with the customer service, prices and options. If you are in the market for solar or wind products, check them out. It's early in the game, but the panel seems to be doing exactly what it says it would and is putting the amps into the batteries as expected.
We decided to mount the panel to the stern rail with hinges that will allow it to be swung down in bad weather. Used a deck fitting for the wires, but other than that, it was straight forward.
The charge controller is a basic 7 amp unit from Sunforce. Since I only have the one panel generating less than 7 amps, I didn't see a need to spend hundreds of dollars on a bigger unit. It fits nicely behind the nav station making it easier to hook into the system. Both the solar panel and wind generator can be set by the main battery switch to charge what ever battery bank I want. Of course the house bank gets most of the juice, but in an unforeseeable happenstance that both banks are drained, I can send all the power to the starting battery and get the engine running.

Nav Station

The final components to the Nav Station have been added. All the wiring has been replaced with proper gauge, tinned marine wire and connections. A new 4 stage Protech 1220i battery charger was installed behind the panel as well as the 7 amp solar panel charge controller. Included in the panel is the LPG solenoid switch, VHF, stereo/CD player, amp meter for the wind generator and wind generator control switch, Raymarine chartplotter, 120 AC breaker panel and the DC 12 breaker panel* with built in volt meter.
These were all placed in a custom built panel that was mounted on the starboard side shelves above the quarter birth. It's a great feeling to know that when I flip a switch, it's going to work. It was a big job sifting through the rats nest that was there, but Ralph knocked this one out of the park.
As you might have noticed, I am still waiting for the new breaker panel labels to arrive. I promise there are no trim tabs on Skylark.

LPG Solenoid, Switch and Tank Locker

Skylark did not come with a propane tank locker, so we had to build one. Actually, we were able to get a "tub" that would fit a 20 pound tank that was left long ago and sitting in the marina. From there, Ralph cut a hole in the aft "seat" behind the tiller and mounted the tank from underneath. There was plenty of room below that area in the locker, so it was the perfect place for it. A spill hole, tube and through-hull were installed to get the propane gas overboard in case of a leak, the purpose really for the locker in the first place. A square water proof hatch was then installed over the tank making it very easy to replace when necessary.
In addition, a solenoid control switch was installed in the galley which operates the solenoid valve attached to the tank. This is a safety feature that allows you to easily turn the propane off from the galley as well as monitors pressure from the tank.

So that's it, time to start enjoying the fruits of out labor.

Bayou Morning in NC

I woke up to the smell of something cooking this morning. That in itself is rather odd, but at 8:00am, it's unheard of. When I could finally pull myself up to investigate, I found Amy in the kitchen making beignets for breakfast. If you remember from a previous post, we went to the Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans for their famous beignets and coffee. Of course we were not disappointed. Somewhere along the way, Amy had found a box of mix and planned on surprising me one day...it was today. They really were excellent and came quite close to the real thing. If you ever wanted to try them and can't get to Nawlins', give these a shot.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chapter 3

If you have been following for the last few years, you have probably noticed a lot of project posts...a lot. There was a few weeks of sailing mixed in as we brought Skylark down from Washington, NC to Jacksonville, FL, but that chapter was a quick one and ended way too fast for my liking. Don't get me wrong, I have truly enjoyed all of the feedback and had a lot of fun talking to folks out there working on similar projects. I have learned a tremendous amount about the boat and myself along the way, as well as the ups and downs of a full classic sailboat refit. I have a lot of thoughts on the matter now that it's done (you are never really done, just in a spot to start enjoying the fruits of your labor) but I will save that for another time. I am happy though to be turning the page and moving to the next chapter.

Since we have finished Chapter 1, The Refit and Chapter 2, The Short Journey Home, it is now time for Chapter 3, Skylark is Finally Out There. So unless there is something specific that you would like to see or hear about in more detail from a project perspective, I will start gearing my posts to what this Blog was always meant to be, Sailing Adventures on a Cal 34. Let the games and nightmares begin!

I think Chapter 3 will start off with a nice shakedown cruise north to Cumberland Island, GA. It's a wonderful place to anchor out and enjoy for a week or so making sure all of the systems are working as expected. Zachary and I will make the trip at the beginning of July, weather permitting. There is a good chance one of my friends and his sons will be buddy boating with us from the marina. I am very much looking forward to getting away from the dock and getting back out to sea.

It's time.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

So Let's Review...

Over the last 4 months, we have gotten more done on Skylark than over the last 3 years. It's been hectic yet extremely rewarding to see the transformation happen. I couldn't be happier with how things came out. Ralph is certainly a master of his trade and did everything exactly as it should be done, period. Again, I couldn't be happier.

Tomorrow, I will be heading back to NC for a little while, then up to visit with the family in New York. Yesterday was Zachary's last day of school, so he too is looking forward to some time up north. In late June, we will be back in FL ready to take a trip up to Cumberland, GA on Skylark for a week or so. Needless to say, I will be looking forward to that.

I have posted quite a few of the projects as we went a long, but I thought a list of the completed jobs would be fun to see. If anyone has questions on anything I did, please let me know, I will be happy to send pics or pass along any tips.

What did we do?
  1. Water tank - Built access hatches to the water tank under the V-birth. Removed tank and cleaned. Installed all new fresh water hoses to the faucets in the galley and head. Replaced both faucets.
  2. Cold Plates - Converted the icebox to refrigerator with Norcold cold plates. (There is a post on this)
  3. Sea Hood - Customized an existing sea hood found at Sailors Exchange to fit over the sliding hatch over the companion way. (There is a post on this)
  4. Deck Paint - Painted the decks white on white. (There is a post on this)
  5. New Navigation Station - Have not posted the full project yet, but will soon. We custom built a navigation station above the starboard shelf over the aft quarter-birth. Ran all new 12v and 110 wire through out the boat including all wires in the engine harness. Built new panel to cover where the old electric switches were.
  6. New House Battery Bank - Replaced existing 2 group 27 batteries with 4 6volt golf cart batteries totaling 430 amp hours. Moved the starting battery into the engine compartment and is charged as a separate bank.
  7. Bow Roller Install - Moved the deck mounted navigation lights and installed a heavy duty bow roller and cleat. Added a 22 pound Bruce anchor to the roller and kept the Danforth on the deck.
  8. Headliner - Insulated with quarter inch sheets and then stained and polyethylened wood.  (There is a post on this)
  9. Propane Locker - Glassed in a 20 pound tank "tub" under the aft seat, installed an access hatch and ran a spill hose out a through-hull below the aft transom. Installed a solanoid control switch in the galley and a solanoid on the propane tank.
  10. Wind Generator - Installed 400w AirX wind generator that is controlled through the main panel and can charge either or both banks at the turn of a switch. 
  11. Bilge Pump Configuration - Removed the original 500 gallon per hour pump and replaced with a 1500 gallon per hour pump and automatic float switch. Removed the old hose that emptied the bilge water into the cockpit and ran a hose to the aft where a through-hull was installed below the transom. Cleaned the bilge of all dirt, oil and debris.
  12. Bow Navigation Lights - Removed bow rail and welded a flat piece of stainless so lights could be mounted. Ran the wires through the bow rail tubes and then below decks.
  13. Engine - Finished install of new engine. Took carburetor off for a complete cleaning, replaced all electrical components. Ran all new wires to and from batteries, switches and gauges. Installed new muffler and built new water exhaust elbow. Ran all new tubing for blower.
A few things that will be done before I get back.

  1. Solar Panel - Install a 100w solar panel and charge controller.
  2. Tiller - Reinforce tiller in the new bracket. Install tiller pilot.
Well, I told you we were busy. :) It has been a lot of work, but Skylark is really looking good!
Have a good June, I hope to see you out on the water soon.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Very Cool Blog, Very Cool People

If you haven't had a chance yet to take a look at the adventures of Windtraveler, now is the time. I have been following for a while and look forward to the next chapter of their journey including a new boat and a new crew member.
Check them out

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tropical Storm in May, Really??!!!

Yup, here we go again. Tropical storm Beryl is heading directly for northern Florida, more specifically Jacksonville. Looking at 40 to 50 mph winds and a ton of rain all week. Oh well, so much for a weekend on the water.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Orleans Jazz Fest

NO Jazz Fest 2012
Had a wonderful time at the Nawlins' Jazz Fest this weekend. I left Jacksonville on Tuesday night after work and made it to about Pensacola FL before getting a room for the night, about a 5 hour drive. From there, I started the Pascagoula run (you Parrotheads should know what I am talking about) through Alabama, Mississippi and then into Louisiana. It was very neat seeing the sunrise over the Gulf, my first time.
Pascgoula Run
I got to New Orleans early Wednesday and picked up Amy from the airport around 10am and from there, we went over to the hotel to drop off our stuff. A short cab ride later, and we were in the French Quarter walking though the narrow street taking in all of the delicious smells from the restaurants and admiring the architecture. I have never been, and Amy was there once for Martigras, so being the only ones on the streets at times was new for both of us.

Beignets at Cafe du Monde
After lunch, we headed over to Cafe du Monde for the famous Beignets and strong black coffee. Wow, they were delicious to say the least. Of course Jimmy's song, The Wino and I Know kept playing over in my head, where he goes for strong coffee and donuts too hot to touch, but I would expect nothing else. :)

Thursday morning was hot, real hot and humid, so we know the day to follow was going to be interesting. The festival grounds had 2 main stages and about 5 smaller ones where local and big named bands came from all over to play. I was there to see Jimmy Buffett on Thursday and the Zac Brown band on Friday but really enjoyed all the local sounds that was going on.
Good seats
I lucked out with Buffett being there at all. He wasn't supposed to be there this year as he just got off his 2012 tour and was on vacation. Eddie Vedder was the Thursday headliner but was hurt and couldn't play. That's when JB stepped in and saved the day, at least as far as I am concerned. :)  Because it was a last minute thing, he didn't have the band with him, only Mac Mcanally and a couple of local artist and put on an acoustic show. They had a lot of fun with it and it felt like we were in their living room watching an impromptu jam session. It wasn't crowded at all and we were quite close to the stage, my favorite show of his to date.

Zac doing his thing
Amy baking in the sun
On Friday, we waited for the Zac Brown and the boys to close the day and once again, it was an oven. But in the end, it was very worth it. It was my first ZBB concert and it was fantastic. They are such great performers, that even if you are not huge fans of the music, their talent just blows you away. They played their biggies and threw in a few new ones to a very happy crowd. This time though, I mean crowd...it was PACKED. Still got pretty close, but it was standing room only everywhere.

Bridge over the Mississippi

I had such a great time in New Orleans. I would highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't been. There was so much we didn't get to do, but I was able to stand up on the banks of the Mississippi River and watch some tugs push their barges down river. That was very cool indeed. I hope to get back there someday soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Off the Grid

Amps coming in
Battery bank filling up nicely
Well, not exactly off the grid yet, but things are looking really good so far. With the storm front coming through, I was able to test the wind generator for the first time. Love to hear all those juicy amps flowing to the new battery bank. It's amazing how well the AirX wind generator (from here on to be known as Jenny) works. We are getting about 15 mph sustained gusting to 25 mph and I am seeing the amp meter show between 5-10, spiking to 14 amps. I turned off the shore power and found "Jenny" keeping the banks up at about 13 volts. I'll take that. More tests and results to come.
"Jenny" doing her thing

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bow Roller Install

Completed the bow roller install today. Had to wait a couple of days for the 1/4 inch stainless wire to come in so we could bend it and have it welded on to serve as a baler. Found the perfect sized bow roller at a mini flea market down at a marina in Green Cove Springs. It's heavy gauge stainless that sticks over the bow perfectly to hold a 22 pound Bruce anchor. We used teak as a base on the deck and a 1/4 inch piece of stainless as a backing plate. That thing is on for good. Of course we used the "drill, fill and drill" technique as not to leave the deck core exposed. Once the epoxy cured, we were good to go and installed the roller in just a few minutes. We used 5200 as a sealer around the bolts and the newly drilled holes.
That's it, one, two, three...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Headliner Installation in Progress

 So the headliner project is underway and we were able to get quite a bit done over the last few nights. Skylark had no headliner, apparently pulled off over the years leaving only the fiberglass "roof." We started by running half by 1 inch strips, 20 inches apart forward to aft. Once the strips were installed, we dry fit half inch insulation sheets cut to size in between and prepared for the planks.
I will post a step by step recount of the project, but wanted to throw up some pics now that the majority is done in the main cabin. So far, so good.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Skylark Has a New Look

After a few days of good weather, I finished painting the deck. Really happy with the results. Went with the West Marine one part Sea Glass Pro and Sea Glass Pro Non-Skid. I can already tell the difference with the temperature in the boat, it's amazing how hot any color on the deck gets in the sun. If you live in the southern climates, I would recommend the white for sure.

So what do you think? Be honest, I can take it. :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The To-Do List is Shrinking

So the Air X wind gen is up and waiting final connection to the house bank. In the mean-time I have a few other projects underway that I will mention and post full updates as they are complete.

The reason the wind gen is not fully hooked up to the house bank is because we are in the process of changing the group 27 house bank batteries to 4 Trojan T105 golf cart batteries. This will give me about 400 amp hours and as I mentioned before, plenty of power to run what I have on board. As well, we are updating the entire breaker panel and will be building a custom, built in electronics area into the shelf above the starboard quarter birth. Stay tuned for the post on that install, it will be neat.

We also just finished the installation of a Sea Hood. The basics behind the sea hood is to keep green water from getting under the cockpit hatch in rough seas. I was fortunate to find one from another boat at Sailor's Exchange in St. Augustine for basically nothing. It needed a bit of work to fit the deck correctly, but it now fits perfectly. Once it's painted you wouldn't know it wasn't a factory install. I am really happy with it and is my favorite addition so far. Another excellent job from Ralph. :)
After Paint

Yes, I am also in the process of giving Skylark a new deck paint job. With the heat in Florida and points south, I decided to go white on white...no more blue. You wouldn't believe how hot the blue gets in the 85 to 100 degree days, you burn your feet all the time. So white on white it is. That will also help with the temps in the boat...and when it gets as hot as is did last summer, I will take all the help I can get. Pics to follow.

In addition, the bow roller will be installed as well as a new cleat to tie off the anchor rode. I will have to move the running lights, but it will allow for a straight shot off the bow and hopefully promote a better ride into the wind, not too mention a stellar place to store the new 22 pound Bruce anchor I just picked up.

We are also working on a propane locker that will be built under the aft "seat" behind the tiller or binnacle. If you noticed (I am talking to you Cal 34 owners) there is absolutely nothing under that aft section and will allow a box to be built to hold 2 10 pound propane tanks. The box will be glassed in and a drain hose will run out the transom. We will install a hatch on the "seat" that will fit the dimensions of one tank. The first tank will then be slid to the back of the box allowing the second tank to fit as well. A solenoid will be added and placed over the stove for easy access. Looking forward to that one, it gets annoying always going on deck to connect and disconnect the LPG hose.

Last but not least, we have a very interesting idea for an insulated head liner. Gonna wait to that is done to go into specifics. I want to be sure the results speak for them self.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Air X Wind Generator Install

400w Air X wind generator
Had a really productive day on Skylark. Besides finishing the install on the new sea hood, blog post to follow, Ralph was able to install the Air X wind generator. To do correctly, this is no easy task. To start, we set the 9 foot main pole and 2 supporting poles in place with a couple of screws. After everything was in place, we pulled all the hardware off the deck and did the "Drill, Fill and Drill" technique since we were going through the wood core. It takes a little longer but is a must to protect the wood core from water damage down the line.
Drill, Fill and Drill
The basic principle is to "Drill" out the holes you will need larger than the bolt going through it. You then "Fill" in the hole with epoxy resign by putting tape or a piece of wood underneath so you can fill the hole to the top and let it cure. At that point, you can "Drill" the holes you need through the epoxy and not have to ever worry about water getting into the wood core. It is the right way to do the project, so always look to the Drill, Fill and Drill technique anytime you drill into the wood core.
Ralph in action
Ralph still needs to finish the wiring, but I decided to re-do the main breaker panel, so it will be a few days before all of the switches are in place to control the generator and it's hooked into the house battery bank.
Once everything is hooked up, I will update this post with pics of the finished electrical connections, break panels and the juicy Amp flowing through the meter into the batteries. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Neighbor in Town

You scraping the bottom today?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Air X Marine Wind Generator

In addition to the solar panel, I decided to add an Air X Marine wind generator to help keep the house battery bank charged when away from the dock. I am going to be switching out the 2 group 27 batteries I have now and go with 3 group 31 batteries for about 300 amp hours. This should be plenty to run the fridge, tiller pilot, VHF and chartplotter. Found a great deal on Craigslist, gotta love that site, and will pick it up next week. I have some specs below if you are interested. Pics to come...

Product Applications: Sailboats and seaside locations
 Supplies power for refrigeration, auto-pilot, water maker,
 navigational equipment, communication equipment.
 Designed to withstand hurricane force winds
 Can be installed on transom or deck in just a few hours 
Product Features:
 Carbon fiber composite blades
 Aircraft quality aluminum alloy castings.
 Exclusive Brush-less neodymium based sealed alternator.
 Sophisticated internal battery charge regulator.
 Maintenance-free - only two moving parts.
 Exclusive Auto-brake feature slows the AIR-X to a silent
 spin when the batteries are charged, extending bearing
 life & eliminating noise
 Marine powder coating and stainless steel fittings for
corrosion protection in a marine environment.
 High Wind Safe Mode - Automatically slows turbine in
potentially damaging winds. Reduces noise and distractions
for peace of-mind when on or off your boat.
Corrosion Resistance: Acid etched castings double coated with marine grade
powder coat for superior protection from the environment.
 Anodized hub.
 Tuff-Gel coated fasteners to prevent seizing of components.
 Tin plated wires.
 Sealed alternator.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Quote of the Day

Makes sense to me...came across this quote on a sailing forum but certainly think it applies to every one.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church....a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.” 

― Charles R. Swindoll

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sweet Smell of Victory, er, Chili

Skylark Chili
Fleming Island Marina likes to hold fun events for the gang here from time to time. So today, it was a throw down, a throw down of the chili kind. That's right it, was a chili cook-off and there was a prize on the line, a $50 gift certificate to where else, Chili's. Of course I couldn't just sit back and not make a batch, so I made my way to Walmart for chili makin' supplies. I didn't have a recipe in mind, I just went with some stuff that made sense and tried to recall the days of going to chili cook-offs with my friend Dave and his father back in high school. $49 dollars later, I was good to go.

It was a hot day to cook
The judging started at 3:00 and it was 11:30, so I had my work cut out for me. I  had the galley going at full strength while trying hard not to pass out from the heat. Yesterday here in Jacksonville, it was 86 degrees. It has been an incredible winter here if you want to call it that. Anyway, with the temps the way they were and 3 burners on the stove going, it got hot...about 95 degrees if you can believe it. But there was a prize on the line along with the coveted title of FIM Chili Master. (actually I just made that up)  By 1:00, all the chopping, mixing, sauteing and can opening was done and a full pot of Skylark chili was simmering. It was time for a beverage, one of the ingredients of the chili actually, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Good stuff. Please note the pic of the galley is a bit blurry due to the fact I was half conscience from heat stroke at that point. :)

Entries ready for the judges
Entries ready for the judges
At 2:30, 7 entries were brought up to the pavilion and made ready for presentation to the 3 judges. Besides the normal crew here at the marina, there was also the North Florida Cursing Club on hand as they had a race earlier that morning and use the marina for a meeting point. With a full keg of Yeungling on hand provided by John, the owner of the marina, we were ready to go. The judging was to be blind, so I received my number, 4, and prepared to hand in my three bowls to the folks who would bring them to the judges. (We are so professional). When all of the entries were presented to the judges, the flood gates were opened and about 50 folks hit the pots of chili hard. There was also corn bread, veggie platters, chips & dip and a huge desert platter. We were doing well.

Folks having fun at the pavilion

About 30 minutes later, we were called to attention by John as it was time for the results. Let me say before I go any further that every single entry was incredible. They really were, and everyone enjoyed them. I certainly had my favorites and knew there was some serious competition.

The head judge started with 3rd place, which was my favorite. This entry was submitted by the folks on s/v Baby Bluz and had some real nice ingredients that I had not had in chili before.
2nd place was won by Luareen and her family. She works here at the marina in the office. Her chili too was excellent.

Well, by now I am sure you figured out where this is going. When the winning number was called, I had no inkling that it would be number 4. It was funny actually, when the judge called number 4, there was silence for a few seconds before it sunk in that I had won. At that point, I raised my hand and yelled Yeahhhhhh.... freaking everyone out. It was kinda funny and had everyone laughing. My buddies here still can't believe it and one who had entered insists I cheated somehow. :) All in all it was a great day and a lot of fun. But the best part of it all, the gift certificate to Chili's! The only down side, there wasn't a spoonful of chili left and unfortunately, Skylark was one of a kind.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!