New auto pilot computer

I just installed a new auto pilot computer (AC42 SIMRAD) to replace my old Robertson J300. The old one was great until the wind instrument had to be replace, then I could not manage to get the wind data to the J300. It would complain that the NMEA syntax was wrong… The new one is NMEA2000 based and works with all the older linear drive, rudder sensor etc. It can also be controlled from the MFDs, but I decided to replace the dedicated auto pilot controller in the cockpit with the new model (AP24 SIMRAD).
I have to configure the unit… but that will happen later today.
Finding a path for the wiring was really difficult; the conduit that runs to the nav station is totally full of wire. I thought about running the cable to the cockpit instrument, but that wasn't an option. After a bit of though and the removal of the CATV cables the PO had in the boat, plus the removal of a spare ethernet cable, i was able to get the NMEA 2000 cable run through to the nav station where it connect to the main CAN bus.
But as usual, when you start one project you always find the next project. I found that the engine water anti-siphon hose is dry rotted and starting to show some signs of rust, so I'll be replacing those hoses now that I have the cockpit lockers emptied.
Today, I emptied the storage locker I rented for the A2B race. Now I have to get all that stuff back onto the boat. I'll evaluate some of it (do I really need it?).

Mail Sail repairs completed

I had to have a small patch put on the main sail after the A2B race. I fitted the boat for a storm tri-sail and that included a stopper block on the secondary track on the mast. As a result, when down wind sailing on a starboard tack, the main was rubbing the stopper block and that put a small hole in the main. Quantum patched the hole and put a chafe patch where the stopper block will hit. They also replace the tail-tails on the main that PE put on the boat for the A2B race. I want to see how they connect them cause the ones PE put on were the stick on type.
I have to inspect the in mast foil before i raise the sail so it won't be bent on until next weekend at the earliest.

Propane sensor went bad

For the past several months when I turn on the propane system the sensors flash for a long time. I turn the power off and then back on and there is a 50/50 chance that they will continue to flash or switch to "ready." Last week they wouldn't switch to ready, so I figured one of them was bad. Which one? I took a chance and cut one off with the a pair of dikes. Presto, instant on LPG/propane. So now that this is solved, I have to replace the defective sensor (I want two sensors for fault tolerance). So I had to run down the wires. Oh what an amaissing run :) but now I've found the disconnect plugs, cut my finger, and found a new "hidey hole" where the wires run through. So now that I've got that mapped out, I have to install the new sensor and run the replacement wire. I will have to dump 1/2 of the kitchen (aka galley) cabinets and pull some shelves off to run the wire. Other than that, the process shouldn't be that challenging. Just wondering how many cuts and scrapes I'll get in the process.

Picture of the radar pole

Here is a photo of the installed pole with radar, wind gen and other gear.IMG_20160821_131351286

Steel bracket and plate installed

Today, with some help from Roger and his crew I mounted the new radar pole plates and frame, mounted the wind generator, the radar, and the antenna. I have to finish some of the wiring and then see if a neighbor can pick me up on AIS since the GPS antenna for the AIS had to be spliced. Overall, it looks good, I have to think about ways to secure it should the new design fail at sea and think about possible failure modes.
Sunday I will finish the wiring and then get to repack some of the locker (depending the weather, they are calling for rain).
I'll also have to take a picture of the new radar pole rig!

KATO has finished the repairs

KATO has finished the repairs to my radar pole mount. I picked it up today and it looks nice. I have friends stopping by on Saturday after the CRAB race to help get the wind generator back up on top. I'll take pictures of it.
They cut the old rocker support off and replace it with a 7ga plate of 316 and put two gussets on the underside to the top plate with a 1/2" U bolt.
This should hold!!! And if it fails at sea, I have additional options to secure it with the two gussets.

Annapolis to Bermuda Race (A2B Race)

I haven't had time to sit back and write about the A2B race. Today I finished applying a coat of varnish and it is now 95 degrees outside and I'm not going to continue to work out there. So today I'm inside the cool boat, not wanting to get my hands cruddy servicing the engine. What to do? Well, it's time to write about the A2B race and return.
The race was a forcing function for me - a way to get the boat ready for open ocean sailing a few months ahead of the fall cruising season. It worked and most things on the boat worked. I have a few changes to make and a few repairs underway. After that, she is ready to go. But will I be ready? I think so.
The A2B race started last fall when I registered and began to hunt down crew. Not everyone that was initially contacted could make it. All the same, and with thanks to "PE" I ended up with and excellent race crew and return crew. My initial crew for checkout sails included "PE", "CF", "JP", & "TK", the return crew was "MR", "DS" & "SK". Most of these folks have sailing experience as racers in the bay on 7/8th rigged sloops. Music is a mast head rigged cutter weighting 38K lbs. My biggest concern other than all the stuff that had to be done to prepare the boat, was about the crew's ability to handle a mast head cutter.
The first checkout sail started with a safety briefing and a review of key components of the boat. The first sail was under light winds and I mostly sat back to watch the crew. Every now and then i had to speak up to prevent someone from doing something dangerous. But my goal was to learn what they can do. The second sail was very similar, sit back and watch under a fresh breeze. Overall, the crew knows sailing, "CF" is the best helmsman I've ever been with, and "PE" has the right amount of conservative/caution that I would only expect to see in a cruiser and never expect in a small boat Bay racer. That evening, after watching the mess that was made by the crew all day, I sent out a polite but "scathing" email to all of them. Email below:
   The Safety briefing will be at 9:15AM, we sail out after that.   On Saturday I have to be back in the slip by 2:00pm for a 3:00 meeting and reception for skippers at EYC.
I have no restrictions on Sunday.   
   The goal this weekend is to get everyone comfortable dealing with a cutter rig.  Honestly, we had a few good tacks, but we had a bunch of not so good tacks and those mistakes could have been dangerous if the winds were near 30 Kts.   This past weekend we had 4 or 5 people in the cockpit at a time.   This weekend only two people will be active in the cockpit for each maneuver.  The rest will be sitting/standing on the back rail or companion way and watching.   I want to see that everyone comfortable with the tack timing.  This past weekend I stayed back mostly interested in how each of you behaved rather than giving you detailed instruction.   This weekend, I’ll be more active in giving instructions and teaching you the timing for a cutter rig.  I want everyone to be comfortable knowing that they could manage the boat at winds up to 20 Kts by themselves if needed.  This boat is sweet for single handing - everything you need is led back to the cockpit.  A little prep in advance of a maneuver will goes a long way to success.  So we will be doing a lot of tacks this weekend to practice.   I also want to use a bigger head sail and will practice downwind sailing using the pole.  Hopefully I’ll have the preventers rigged for this weekend as well.
   All the same, I think everyone learned something this past weekend.   She is a sweet boat once you get her in the groove! (and very forgiving of mistakes).
The next sail was much better. Everyone was learning the timing for blowing the head sail through the slot. Then we used the code-0 the following day and practiced bringing the code-0 up and back down (not so easy with a new code-0 and a top-down furler). We also practiced MOB and alternate ways to steer the boat.
The weekend after that, the winds were 18 Kts at the start and then up to 34 Kts during the sail. This gave the crew more confidence in how the boat performs in high winds and we did some practice balancing the helm. A couple of weeks later we had a couple of additions to the crew - "DL" joined us for the race and "CB" joined us for the return. "DL" was on the night sail and we were all happy to have him as he can read a boat's lights like no-one else! I also layed down the rule that the instrument must always be configured for "North up." :)
After that, it was prep for the race (provisioning and emptying lots of stuff off the boat that would not be needed for the race).
The start of the race was awesome. I figured I would have butterflies but no such thing. I was completely comfortable heading out to sea with this crew. I had two conditions for the crew. First, "TK" could only be at the helm if "DL", "CB" or I were with him until he gets some experience steering a big boat. "TK" turned out to be an excellent helmsman! Second, "DS" could only be at the helm with either "MR", "CB", or me for the same reason. Turns out that "DS" is great at trimming the sails for speed and with just a little practice became great at handling the lines and helm.
Getting out of the bay was great at first, but on Saturday the wind died and we came close to tossing out the anchor to keep from drifting backwards… Once the wind kicked back in we made it over the tunnel at 2:00AM Sunday. The Atlantic was a mess of quartering-confused seas! Only 6ft waves, but when they are coming from 3 different directions at the same time while you are on a down wind sail, it can be uncomfortable. "TK" got sea sick and was out of commission for about 36 hours. Sunday evening we crossed the Gulf Stream and were still downwind sailing when the thunderstorms started. We were expecting to be hit from a storm on our starboard side, but it was passing us when suddenly we were hit from the port side. The winds quickly built to 30 Kts. There was a bit of fear in a couple of crew members in the cock pit. "DL" and I decided to pull down the head sail, gybe the main over and reduce the sail area. Then we heaved to and all was calm. The winds reached above 40 Kts for a brief period and then hung between 30 and 40 for about 30 minutes. We were heaved to making 3 Kts on the line. Once the winds calmed we pulled up the sails and continued on our way.
After 6 days and 1 hour we made the finish line - close hauled with 16 Kts of wind! It was great. No trophy's but all the same, quite a wonderful experience (and a cold beer).
The return trip was probably faster than the race. For the return we plotted a course that went to NC to avoid a gale that was predicted to form at the mouth of the Chesapeake. As a result, we missed the gale, but spent 4 days on a port tack with winds from 18 to 28 Kts the entire way. Ugh!!! I was so sick of being on the same tack! On the third day of this I had to go up the cockpit and demand that they de-power the sails because it was impossible to function down below deck! We also had 7 Kts of current in the Gulf stream down there. WOW everything I heard was the 5 Kts was about the max… But we had 7 Kts steady for several hours. The track we took back to Annapolis added 100 mile or so to the trip, but we finished in 6 days and 4 hours. Cheers to "CB" and "DS", they really know how to get the most out of the sail and wind! We damaged the head sail furler about 5 miles from the Bay and ended up motoring from that point back to Annapolis (the titanium swivel ring split at the top of the mast). We had dark and stormy cocktails once we hit the Bay and motored our way home.
P.S.. Surfing down a wave is always fun, but doing it in a 38,000 lbs boat is really strange and awesome at the same time. Also, I never realized that a 38,000 lbs boat could pop off the top of a wave and slam her belly into the trough. That is cool when you are on the deck, but upsetting when you are below deck trying to sleep :)

Big THANKS to my race crew and return crew!!!
Remember, "there be no dragons out there" - just wind, waves and current.

Picture of the A2B race crew

Here is my crew for A2B. I will not provide names or tag them in Facebook, but here is the photo as we left the dock at the start of the race.
Great crew!!!

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Dropped the Main sail off

The new Main sail worked great for the past year and she was really nice on the A2B race. But as a result of the race, the second sail track on the main was setup for a storm trysail. To do this properly there is a stopper block on the track about 2/3rd's the way up the mast. On down wind sailing, wing on wing, on a starboard tack, the main is pressed against that side of the mast and the stopper block wore a small hole in the sail. Quantum has the sail now to patch the hole and put a chafe patch on the port side of the main to help cope with the chafe caused by the stopper block. I'm not going to remove the stopper block, but I may tape over it to reduce the damage it causes.
The sail repairs should be done in one week.

Bass Pro Shop

I went to the Bass Pro Shop without Jupie's permission. I picked up an axe, machette, beach grill and sunglasses. All of these thing are on Jupie's budget so I was okay when I got home. I did by two columbia SPF shirts… They weren't on the budget, but don't tell Jupie.

New design for the radar pole

Yesterday I met with Keith at KATO to review their design for bracing the attachments on my radar pole. The design looks good. Jupiter approved the expenditure and I expect the work to be done in two or three weeks. I've started grinding down the bolt that sheered off in the ocean. Down to about 1/16 of an inch, I'll do a little more grinding on Thursday and then I have to polish the damaged areas of the pole so they will not rust. It will be nice to have to pole platform installed and all of the gear put back up. Last week was so hot that I didn't continue varnishing. I'll pick that up again if the temps stay moderate. I've been unloading storage and getting things back on the boat after the A2B race. Going okay for now.
Still have to pull the main sail down for some work.