#snowpocalypse San Diego Style

Haha… snow. We don’t have snow in San Diego. We don’t have fresh water either, but that’s beside the point.

We don’t have Frostbite Racing in San Diego… because we don’t have frostbite. Which is pretty awesome.

What we do have is sun, and lots of it! For those of you out there braving #snowpocalypse this President’s Day weekend, I’d like to show you some of what we did.

Our friend Beth (formally crew, formally ballast on the smaller boats) came out from Indiana because it was cold or something? I don’t know. Maybe she had extra money. Who knows. I didn’t really ask. But it was a great excuse to get out on the big bay and take advantage of what are even for us unseasonably warm temperatures. #globalwarming maybe.

It was a beautiful day. 70 degrees (the coolest in a week), a good west wind at an indeterminate speed (we lack instruments), and a six pack of good local beer.

Capt. Jim said we got up to 6.8 knots at slack tide around Ballast Point according to our OpenCPN program. We’ll download the track next time he’s down there to check it out. But that’s pretty good for HardFin.

Henry did great on the big boat. Just walking around the cockpit between all the adults with his life jacket on. He didn’t even fall asleep in the car on the way home.

The only down side was that it was a short day. Winter is still winter after all, and that sun only stays up so long. I think we headed out at about 11am and were back at the dock at 2pm. Not a long day, but one of those days that just makes you wish for summer to be here even sooner.

Gaff rigs abound

I’m energized to try and plan that trip out to Lake Havasu for the spring. It should be a lot of work, but a lot of fun too.

Here’s to cool friends, close family, and cold libations!



Things I learned During Our 2016 Shakedown

Things don’t always go according to plan. That’s why we start our sailing season with a nice shakedown. Here are some things I learned during our 2016 Shakedown.

1. The Battery is Largely Irrelevant for a Day Sail – Sure, a battery is nice to have. It powers the computer, and runs the lights. But if we’re only going out for a couple of hours, we have enough gear that operates independently of the house bank that we just don’t need the battery. It would be nice to have the trolling motor for short sails, but the gas motor will work in a pinch for close in maneuvering. I was able to dock the boat on the trailer by myself with the gas motor in a pretty good crosswind.

2. The Head Works, But Isn’t Perfect – The head does work. The bags keep everything contained, and you can sit on it. Its just not a perfect solution because the dang thing is too big to fit under the stairs. So that means there isn’t a good place to store the thing when not in operation. So… bummer. Also, its heavy to lift when, um, used. So how do you get it out of the boat effectively? I’m still working on it. It might be better to just get a regular old porta-potty and stick it in there. I could even plumb the thing to a deck pump out in the cockpit if I was feeling like taking it for an extended cruise.

3. The Boat Gets Filthy Uber Quick – I wonder if this problem is why you’re always seeing sailors holy stone the decks of sailing ships back in the day. It doesn’t matter how clean I start the day, within about 2 seconds of hitting the water the cockpit is filthy. Its not just that there is too much stuff to keep around, but that’s part of it. Where do you put all the snacks, the cooler, and what not? I haven’t found a good place yet. Then there’s the snacks themselves. Lindsay got olive juice on the fiberglass. Not awesome. Plus, its a boat, so there’s salt, sand, and other crap that gets places. Try getting onto the boat without making a wet sandy mess! I can’t do it. At least not without a dock, and that was closed. So I’ll have to work on that. Maybe some kind of water pump and better drain. And cup holders. We need cup holders. I lost a soda and a coffee to very slight heeling.

4. Checklists are Essential – So we forgot the trolling motor battery. That’s lame. But it would have been a lot worse if we’d have been trying to do a multi day trip. I don’t want to have to leave Lake Havasu because I forgot the electricity. So I need to come up with a check list that we then need to use every time. Any suggestions? Right now it has “snacks, battery, and Henry’s lifejacket on it.” What else?

Sailing For the Superbowl #SB50

Our plan was to go sailing for the Superbowl instead of watching it. Carolina and Payton Manning? Eh… whatever. Exodus needed a springtime shakedown cruise anyway. 80 degrees on Mission Bay? Sounds perfect! (We’ve not always had the best luck sailing on Superbowl Sunday)

The Admiral and First Mate doing what they do best

We got down there in good time, and the boat towed nicely. I got the mast up pretty quickly. I really need to remember to attach the main sheet in the right order. The jam cleat needs to go at the bow, and the boom attachment needs to go on the halyard, or I can’t hold the sheet myself as I raise the mast. One of these times I’m going to do it correctly.

One little snag was that we forgot the trolling motor battery. My plan was to measure the current draw of everything on the boat at once, and help size the house bank I needed. Whoops. So I didn’t get that done, and I had to use the gas motor to dock the boat, and that thing doesn’t have the best low end control.

Once out on the water though it was really nice. Some folks were having a canoe race.

They were seriously into it

Other than a motorboat or two, we really didn’t see anyone else out there besides these racers. I attribute that to it being Super Bowl Sunday. But, of course, that was our plan all along. Sure, it was a nice day, but who’s going to trade nachos, beer, and wings for a day out on the water? I hoped no one. I was pretty right.

A trip around the Enchanted Isle

I figured a nice trip around the Enchanted Isle would be fun since we hadn’t done that in awhile, and it was a pretty steady west wind. Sailing down there under the main was slow going because we were fighting the tide the whole way. Passing the north end of the island was unworkable because of the wind and the tide. Too much leeway to skirt to the north of it. So I decided to head around the east side, and come back up the west.

The other snag was here. To get around the south side of the Island is pretty tight. Its about 50 feet wide, with big sand bars on either side. With the tide falling, I wasn’t even sure we’d have enough clearance to get through. Combine that with the wind direction, and I had to fire up the motor to get through. This stretch of water seemed so much bigger in the Puddle Duck.

Did I cheat? Yeah, a little bit. But we sailed the rest of the way. Probably some of the longest sailing I’ve done since Labor Day.

Anyway, I hope Henry had a good time. Mommy and Daddy sure did!

Guess what? We were home by kickoff!

Pocket Sailboat Power Series, Part 2

Okay, so last time I was going to be looking for batteries. That’s dumb. How do I know how to size the battery if I don’t know what the sailboat power draw is? So before batteries comes measuring.

We have three primary draws that I can think of on Exodus. First is the laptop. Second is the VHF radio. Third are the navigation lights. Then there are the miscellaneous draws like charging phones, running the interior LEDs occasionally, and things like that. Another major draw is the trolling motor, but that has its own battery, so I’m only talking about sizing the house bank.

In order to measure the amp draw, I needed an ammeter wired inline. What a pain in the butt. But, I could set one up inline on the trolling motor power station, and that would not only give me a chance to measure each load, but I could also run the house bank off the trolling motor battery to find out the whole load.

Minkota Sailboat Power Center

Minkota Power Center with added 50a Ammeter

Tada! Minkota Power Center with Ammeter installed. In that pic the needle is pegged left because its charging.

We lost power yesterday during the late January storm in San Diego for awhile. I was able to test out the computer charger on this set up and determine that the CPU when running takes 2.5 amps of 12 volt power, and when its just sitting and charging its at about 1.8 amps. So the solar panel should about cover that load in daylight. Good to know.

I’ll continue measuring loads, and hook this power center up in the boat this week to try and measure the whole load.

I didn’t really want to muck around with it in the rain and mud today!

Next Up: How to add the ammeter to the sailboat power box.

Pocket Sailboat Power Series, Part 1

Electricity and I have an odd relationship. We both need each other, but we hurt each other so badly sometimes. Oh electricity… how many times have I tried to control you and you just end up shocking me? Well, its time to deal with power on a pocket sailboat.

Anyway, power generation, storage, and use, has been one of the major issues on the Pocket Sailing boats. On the Lido we just ignored it. We didn’t ever want to stay out after dark on the Lido. But on the Potter 19, we have to consider it. Electricity is part and parcel of a modern cruise.

There are many power users on a small boat that exist on her larger siblings. There are navigation lights. You need those. Then there is the VHF radio. That’s kind of a must to have powered when traveling. There are all the toys that we all want to bring with us. Phones, tablets, watches, computers, games, music… all of these need power. Heck, some of us use electric power to motor!

Okay, this guy might have it harder than I do

On a big cruising sailboat, you can load up with batteries, solar panels, generators, and everything else you need to power all the goodies. Hardfin carries hundreds of amp hours in her battery banks, a diesel motor, solar panels, and a Honda 2000i generator!

Where would I put this thing?

On the small boats, its a little different. Size and weight are defining factors for not only the toys we can have onboard, but also how we’re going to power them.

Over the next few weeks as we gear up for our San Diego Spring Thaw (A term I made up considering it never really freezes here) I want to detail how I’m going about solving my power issue for the year.

Next up: Generation!

Inexpensive Quadcopter-Camera Solution

We’ve gotten ourselves a “Shanty Drone.” Well, us and just about everyone else in America if you ask the FAA. Of course, it wouldn’t have been us if everything had worked out right away.

We picked up one of these:

A Genuine Striker 2.4Ghz Six Axis Stabilized 4 channel Quad-Copter with camera. Here it is in all its glory!

Got it on Groupon for a song. Well, it turns out not really. We got it for like $70 shipped. Amazon apparently has a re-branded one for $50. But okay, it looked like it should meet our needs.

But of course, its not a Shanty Yacht Club story if it worked out.

When we got it home, sure, it flew. I was actually pretty amazed by how well it flew. I could maneuver it around the yard pretty well. It must be all those years of flight simulators!

But the camera was a bummer. If you look at the groupon site, it clearly says this camera needs an sd card. I have no idea why it says that. Maybe there is another version that takes a micro sd card, but the instructions for this one only talk about recording video from your phone over wifi. Over wifi! That’s a pretty limited range. When I tried it out it was about as disappointing as you’d expect. The video was choppy, and the range was terrible. Sure, if you were within about 5 feet of the phone it might have worked, but what’s the point of that.

Okay, so I had a quad copter that would fly, but wouldn’t take any good kind of video. Another great purchase right? So I went in search of a small HD camera. China to the rescue once again.

The combination of nanny abuse news stories and Chinese drop shipping set us right up. We got a camera that clearly took a micro sd card, would record in 720 video, and that had a battery lasting longer than the flight time of the drone. Moreover, it was light. Oh so very light. Its about the size of my thumb. I actually think it weighs less than the camera that came with the drone.

A little duct tape, a part removal or two, and we were on our way.

So we did some tests.

For the FAA: The combination of camera, drone, and battery weighs 3.7oz. So there.

It will take HD video, but everything has a purple hue to it. Oh well. What do you expect for a camera the size of my thumb that can be delivered from China in a week for $25? I’m pretty happy.

And she flies.

Will it work when we take it into the wind on the boat? I doubt it. But if we get one good shot of one of the fleet sailing around I’ll be happy.

My advice? Get something cheap like this to start. The one thing I can guarantee when you buy one of these things is that you will crash it. Add that possibility and the salt water of San Diego Bay and I’ll tell you I’m glad we spent less than $100 to try this out.

I’ll have to keep practicing!

Remember when Steve broke his face?

Thanks to Google Photos for the fine memories of the day Steve broke his face. Forget about that? Oh yeah, well, we went out on the SV Short Sail for a lovely afternoon sailing with Steve’s mother-in-law Ronette.

Upon returning to the Coast Guard dock to drop everyone off in a smooth fashion, Steve leapt from the Short Sail and missed the dock completely except for his chin.

Aside from the embarrassment and a few stitches, our gallant hero was none the worse for wear. Let that be a lesson to all those future shanty sailors out there, that the coast guard dock is nothing to mess around with. Talk down about the Coast Guard Auxiliary enough and the dock will fight back. Simple matter of pride.

Jesus, though, was that really two years ago? How time does fly.

If you want to keep up on our shanty antics, don’t forget to follow Capt. Steve on twitter @shantyyc. no Twitter with current id

Until next time, may you have fair weather and following seas.

Steve Breaking his Face

Steve Breaking his Face

Fixing My Damaged Boom

– Fixing My Damaged Boom –

Over Labor Day, I managed to break the boom. The eye piece where the clew attached to the boom pulled free as I was driving up wind and letting the sail flog. You know, it went “boom.” I really shouldn’t have done that.

So as you can see, the rivets broke loose. I guess they gave twenty plus years of service, so I’ll have to let it go. I was actually kind of amazed they had used rivets in the first place. It seems like screws would have been the way to go.

That’s how I go anyway. I went down to Paytons, the local hardware store, and got me some 1” stainless screws, a new rope eye, a couple of lock washers, and two wing nuts to fix this bad boy up.

Unfortunately, the holes didn’t line up. No biggie. Nothing my drill and dying drill batteries couldn’t fix.

Here’s the finished job. All ready to go.

Solar Panel Placement Potter 19

That’s not a very compelling title… Anyway, I installed the solar panel and new charge controller on AP before I headed out for Labor Day. Since its a small boat, its a little hard to find the best place to put everything.

I wanted a panel that was relatively good size, but one that was small enough to fit on the boat. What good would a 200w panel be if I had nowhere to put it? I settled on a 50w panel. In peak sun, I get about 2.5 amps. Not as good as I was hoping, but decent enough.

Mounting would be the really tricky issue. I wanted somewhere out of the way where the panel wouldn’t be shaded often. My initial thoughts were either on the cabin top just aft of the mast, on the front hatch, or on the rails around the cockpit.

I settled on mounting the panel to the rail around the cockpit because the panel could be adjusted to meet the sunlight and keep the exposure high. I also liked the idea of being able to flip it mostly out of the cockpit when sailing by myself. The adjustments could be made without leaving the tiller. So those were all plusses.

The last issue I needed to work out was how to actually mount the panel. The rail is 3/4 inch. I ended up getting these Attwood Sure Grip Rod Holders. I replaced the screws that came with them with longer screws, and got some wingnuts. That way, I could take the panel on and off when I wanted to. Off for trailering, off for having a full cockpit. The panel is screwed to two wooden rails, and then the rod holders are screwed to the middle of the rail. Then the rod holders clamp onto the boat’s rail. I used a trailer light plug spliced into the wire that went to the charge controller. So its modular.

14 gauge wire runs from the panel to the 20 amp charge controller (hey, I might expand). I went with the bigger controller because it has a more detailed information display. It tells me the voltage of the battery, the voltage of the panel, the amperage the controller is delivering to the battery, and if the charge is in bulk or float mode. Better than just the “hey I’m charging” light on small charge controllers. Plus, again, I may expand to another panel on the other side some day.

The charge controller is mounted high on the port side bulkhead.

From there, I wired the output with a bipole plug. Usually its just plugged into the wire that runs to the house bank. But if that’s full, I wanted the option to unplug the house and use the controller to charge the trolling motor battery. So I have a 4′ length of wire with a plug on one end and gator clips on the other. Redundancy man, redundancy!

So that’s our new solar system on AP. Next thing is a new house battery.

Extending an Outboard Mount

This one is simple. I wanted to be able to use both my 2-stroke outboard and my trolling motor at the same time. They phsyically fit on the mount, but, unfortunately, the props overlapped. Now, I’m not an expert, but I think that’s bad. So I needed a way to extend the mount so that I could get both of them on there and clear of one another.

Initially I was a bit worried that the weight might be an issue. But this mount is clearly geared for the heavier 4-stroke motors that are around nowadays, and is pretty well bedded in the hull. Knowing that I felt confident that I could put both motors on there, and put the lighter of the two out on some kind of extension.

So that’s what I did. Easy peasy.

I went down to the local hardware store and bought 3 stainless steel 3/8 inch bolts. That’s a big step for me… buying the more expensive stainless. Maybe I’m growing up. Hopefully they won’t fail and prove me wrong. I got 3/8 inch because it was the beefiest bit I could get in the drill without going up to a spade bit, which I didn’t want to do (for some reason that I can’t remember. Maybe I forgot I had spade bits? Your guess is as good as mine…).

The bolts were used to attach a piece of 2×4 I had laying around to the existing outboard plate off to the port side. I painted the board gold, because that’s the color spray paint I had. But again, I painted the wood to hopefully protect it a bit from the elements.

Here it is:

I even used washers.

Normally, I would have just thrown some piece of wood on there, and used whatever bolts I had laying around…. not good.

It worked really well on my short Labor Day cruise. So I’m anxious to try it out again.

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