Cruising Sailboat Generator and Energy Decisions

Photo Credit to our Roving Reporter, Dr. Emmy

Right now we’re on the dock; but as of next October we want to be heading toward life under a giant sunset somewhere.  Our equipment and energy choices will have an effect on that life, as we have no desire to sit on a dock somewhere for an extended amount of time.  Here’s the story of the curveball thrown at us in the last 3 weeks and how Fate seems to have intervened to help us with some of our equipment and power choices. Continue reading

Windlass for Dummies: Not Such a Simple Installation

I have the opposite writing problem from some other bloggers:  instead of needing inspiration and looking for things to write about, I have too much right now and have to slow down to organize and get it right.  Today I bought a new book on blogging that did inspire me, I keyed in on some of the advice: write what inspires YOU and write what you would want to see in a published article.   I like that, going to try to write more that way.  Getting back into my Windlass project (this is the second part of the series),,,,,it wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be, because of the existing hole and deck structure.  Continue reading

Project Windlass For Dummies (like me)

Ever since we bought Tulum 5 in February, we knew we were probably going to have to update the Windlass on our sailboat, but had no idea the project would be so massive.  On most any sizable boat a Windlass is the mechanical system that hauls the chain or rope or combination of the two (rode) up from the ocean floor and back onto the boat or ship.  On most cruising sailboats that Windlass is powered by a 12-volt system (meaning batteries) but you often find generator powered Windlass’s on larger boats (110-volt systems).  When we bought Tulum 5, both the bow and stern Windlass systems were powered by 110-volt systems, meaning we would have to be running the generator in order for our Windlass to work.  In my little mind, this isn’t an ideal system, especially with my generator not functioning right now or since we’ve bought Tulum 5.  After I moved onto the boat permanently in July of this year, I knew the Windlass was one of my priorities and tackled the project in mid-July.  We did not start out wanting a new Windlass.  We listened to the advice of our broker and surveyor who both said we could take the current (existing) Windlass motor off the boat (it was 110-volt) and have places in San Diego, National City or Chula Vista re-spin the innards of the motor to make it compatible with 12-volt power.  I spent the better part of an entire two days on the phone and lugging that old motor around to various shops in the local area trying to find someone who could actually do this… no avail.  First point of caution here…..if you’re looking to the do the same thing, take the advice with a grain of salt.  We were unable to find anyone who would or could re-spin that 1978 Windlass motor to make it a 12-volt system.

The original 1977 Windlass on Tulum 5, all 284 pounds of it under the cover.

So the next decision was what to do:  Reinstall the motor to the windlass or we could decide to buy a modern, lighter, more energy-efficient 12-volt Windlass.  We decided to buy and install a new Windlass.  After my research, knowing our chain size, boat weight and length and intended use of the Windlass as well as price variations; we settled on the Maxwell 2500 VWC variant.  Once purchased, we had to worry about getting the old Windlass out and the new one in.  I’m going to discuss the process via a series of 5 different posts “For Dummies” like myself, but sufficient to say it didn’t go like I thought it would.

First, we had to get the old Windlass out.  This wasn’t that hard, but the thing was a monster and I think it contributed to my messed up back and neck.

Old Windlass, without 40 pound motor, on the deck before two of us hauled it off the boat.  This was the portion in the chain locker, not on top of the deck. 

In the beginning of August, the new windlass came in. 

The new Maxwell was shiny new and I couldn’t wait to get it out of the box….but it had to sit on the deck till I was done with all the rest of this stuff. 

Despite the old Windlass being out and off the boat, I still had to deal with the teak pedestal and the iron plate that it had sat on top of….custom made of course.

In my naive mind (attributed to my youth of course) I dicked around a few days with the iron plate, thinking I could cut a hole or drill it out enough to make it work.  It didn’t

Come read the rest of my 5-part series on installing this new Windlass by myself (except for a critical assist by a friend) and custom woodwork at the end of the project. If you like my “For Dummies” series about working on an aging sailboat…..keep following us cause I’m the dummy and I’m working on an aging sailboat to get her ready for extended blue-water cruising with my family in late 2019.

Projects and PMP

Ever tried to cram for something you really wanted (PMP, a college class or a certification) while working on a boat and doing everything required as a house-husband?   Well that’s what’s been going on here but luckily I’m retired but busier than when I was when working full-time.  I love it, but it’s keeping me busy and my writing keeps me grounded.  I’m here, but staying busy-

Here’s what I’m working on-  Completed projects, ongoing windless project, teaching Quincy to SUP and custom shelves for our interior.  Stay with us, more to come-

Sailboat PMCS and more projects-

Sitting here in the cockpit after last night’s full moon on this quiet morning, I started to reflect on posts I’ve written on this blog about improving one boat or the other and how much work me and hotwife have actually put into doing just that- constant improvements on the boat.  These are our boats after all, but this is now our home.  Continue reading

Daysail with friends =’s lessons learned

Our fun day sail with friends ended with the bow thruster and engines dying at the same time, while trying to get back in the slip.  We did get the engine turned back on and managed to get her into the slip with no damage,,but lessons learned would come from the weekend.  First, I thought the throttle was to blame for the engine dying as the throttles are older models and might need to be updated.  After buying a new throttle mechanism, I was introduced to the fact that newer throttles won’t fit into the housing,,,and the older model I have is probably working just find.  My mechanic and I started going through the housing,,,,he finding oil on top of the engine and starting to trace it ABOVE us (WTF?).  Turned out there’s a tank of power steering fluid sitting in the cockpit directly above the engine,,and when the engine is running and it’s put under high pressure,,,,things were not tightened down very well and the thing was spraying power steering fluid all over the  inside of the housing,,,,also causing the mystery oil leak over the engine.  The high pressure spraying of power steering fluid may explain why both the engine, the electronics and the bow thruster all shut down at once when there was use of the wheel and movement of the throttle mechanisms, and the engine was running.  I am worried about having power steering fluid residue on electrical connections in the wheelhouse,,,,so a qualified electrician is going to take a look at the whole wiring setup for me,,,,,or I’m gonna be in there cleaning it myself this weekend.  On the same day, crawling around the engine spaces, the mechanic noticed more random water collecting on the gray water tank and the spaces under it,,,,and we traced that water source back to where it came from.  Surprise, surprise, surprise Gomer,,,,no one had bothered to put a line on the out drain coming off the underside of the fridge box, so the condensation and water from the fridge is draining straight down into the bilge spaces.  There was a line on the freezer, but it’s not working right now,,,,so no need to worry about it.  I’ve made another obligatory Home Depot run and gotten the hose I need, I’ll install it early Weds so our fridge can properly drain.  Lastly, I also picked up the hatch above our girls berth, to find that all the screws actually holding it in place were gone,,,,the whole hatch was just sitting there on top nice and pretty.  Over this weekend, I remedied this situation with new larger screws and a bit of work.  One less project,,,,moving onto the other 50.

Weekend Sailing (How to find out what’s going to break next)

Taking your cruising sailboat out for day sails before you’ve actually started cruising is a salve to the boat owners pride,,,,you know,,,,getting the boat off the dock makes them feel like a real boat owner,,,with other benefits.  In my case,,,,it allows us to either see what’s about to break next or it allows us to actually break things by using them so we can then go back and fix them,,,,or figure out how to fix them.  Here’s some pics of our last weekend sail,,,,we proved that the big girl (Tulum) could actually sail (she was sold as a motor sailor).

San Diego Bay is busy on a clear sunny day,,,,you have to watch out for things like this and the paddle boarders who decided to come straight across the bay,,,,getting escorted by a friendly police boat.


Going Under the Coronado Bridge

On the way back into the slip, the bow thruster died along with all bridge electronics and the engine died several times, as we were in the Marina and starting our turns to get into our slip.  We made it, but created another opportunity to improve the boat by finding out what’s wrong with it.

The sail track lube challenge

I wanted to coat each of the sail tracks on my sail boat with track lube (old and new school) to find out what worked best.  It was a real challenge,,,,,cause I didn’t realize my main didn’t have in-mast sail track and my mizzen’s in-mast sail track was waaaay too small to get the beeswax bar inside to effectively coat the sail track.  Turned out to be an educational couple of hours.  I went up the main mast part-way to do the sail track challenge, spraying the main’s sail track with Team Mclube Sailkote (a synthetic blend dry lubricant sprayed from a bottle).  I sprayed this by hand on the outer sail track of my main from approx 1/4 of the way up the mast down,,,,so I could easily observe as the sail went up the track this coming weekend.  On the mizzen sail track, I discovered it’s waaay too small to get the bar of beeswax into,,,,so I coated the inside and outside of the inner track the best I could.  Both sails will be raised this weekend and we’ll see how the challenge goes.

I’ll write a separate post about actually going up the mast,,,,but as you can see below, I put my stuff together carefully before I start up the mast (strong habit learned with my days on Joshua Tree Search and Rescue High Angle Team).

Team Mclube and BeesWax Bar in this pic-

Beeswax into the sail track on the mizzen

When’s the last time you lubed your sail track?