Saturday, December 12, 2015

MASTer and Communicator

CRAZY CRAZY warm weather.  It hit 72 degrees the other day and it's DECEMBER!  With moderate temperatures seducing me, I decided to tackle running the new wires and coax for the VHS-DSC radio from the mast boot through the deck and inside the compression post.  The OEM connector had only a 4 prong connector (Figure 167) and I needed a 5 prong connector to support the new LED anchor light and LED combo steamer spreader light. I took some time to determine whether I wanted to array more capabilities at the top of the mast, like an anemometer or wi-fi antennae.  I shot both of them down.  However, that same  thought process concluded in a brilliantly inexpensive idea for the 5 prong connector - a standard trailer harness with male and female connector.  They cost between $12-14 as a kit for both, have 18 guage wire and are built for rugged weather use.  The female end comes with a two foot trailer of multi-color wires that will easily support the amperage requirements of the LED lights and allow that length of wire to traverse through the deck (Figure 168) to the inner harness.
Figure 167 - 4 Prong OEM Plug
Figure 168 - Mast Wires Through Deck
Figure 169 - Ingenuity at its best

I bought a Blue Sea 30 ampere AC/DC 6 circuit terminal block to connect the five wires in Figure 168 to the wiring run from the DC panel.  I was able to buy the exact same color wire (but 16AWG) from Best Boat for a 25 foot roll at $3.50 a roll (Figure 170).  I will work some wood to provide easy access and have it look good at the same time.

Figure 170 - Matching colors of 16 AWG

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wired Right!

2015 November's weather was surreal for the Northern Chesapeake.  Mild and short sleeve weather.  Perfect weather to get ahead of projects and help get the boat back into the water to take advantage of those early April winds.  

Like many old boats in the Chesapeake Bay that are not slipped, the AC power is rarely used.  In my world, my friends and I gunk hole every chance and every where we can. We are not status people. You know who status people are.....they buy things they don't need, with money they don't have to impress people they don't like.  Don't misunderstand what I am saying.  Sailors who associate with our Club, are do it yourselfers by choice.  

Some of us are ok with 10 and 12 hp engines that may not get us out of the Sassafras River with a strong incoming tide, 10-15 mph headwinds and 2-3 foot swells.  We have to stay ahead of the weather conditions probably more than the average Captain probably has to.  Most of us live on the sailing edge and we love it.

Let's catch up on what I have been doing since the Constance Marie has been on the hard since late October. The Constance Marie was in such poor shape when we bought Her, that although I did a wiring overhaul (Phase I), I never did it to the level that would satisfy me.  You guys know what I mean.   She hadA DC panel that had only 7 positions yet was being asked to support every increasing
Figure 165 - 10 is better than 7
requirements as I added the capabilities of a fridge pump, a Garmin, a radio, a pedestal speaker, and a 12 volt socket for charging a handheld radio, power fans and support the inverter. With a little creativity, keeping things nice and clean, I decided on upgrading to a 10 position LED illuminated panel with voltmeter and ampmeter guages. I decided on a Blue Sea 10 position with three battery bank selector. With Automated Charging Relay (ACR) doing the yeoman's job between the starter and house batteries, I think I can position another bank of 6V batteries that would give me some redundancy at a lower cost. The 27 Hunter has a nice room navigation table and I did not want to reduce the space to elevate a large panel. The LED lights will clearly show me what the switch controls and whether it is on or off. The new panel was a bit smaller in width than the original OEM one so i built a teak frame around it and added a bottom brass hinge so the panel rotates forward for easy maintenance. Make sure all your wires are long enough to allow the panel to rotate forward all the way to the floor.

Figure 166 - Like my college dorm 
 Did I mention that when you re-wire a boat, things quickly get out of place.  You can see some water on the floor near the entrance to the head.  That is from me addressing the wiring in the mast boot above deck.  More on that next time.  See ya.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

End of the Season - Out of the Water, Midnight?

The rest of September and October were days of 1 and 2 hour sailing after work.  With all the chores around the house to get ready for winter (cutting tall grasses, splitting wood for next season, painting decks, landscaping mulch, pruning trees, blah, blah, blah), I could not find the time to gunk hole with anybody. I coordinated with one of our drivers, Greg and set a time to haul the Constance Marie out of the water.

I had to return first to the boatyard and de-mast again for the winter to re do the wiring throughout the boat. It just wasn't the way I wanted it.  The haul-out day came, but the tide on the river did not. Wind blowing the wrong way along with the Tetrad (blood moon) Lunar Eclipse reversing the high tide of from day into night made it impossible to haul out during the day. So.......

Five guys showed up around 2300 hours to help me haul-out the boat.  It was a Thursday.  Can you imagine.  The folks we have around the Club are beyond terrific.

Figure 159 - We need 4'6
Figure 160 - We got her at 4'8"
Figure 161 - Medium to front, Long to back
Figure 162- Watch out for that hole on the port side of the ramp

Figure 163 - Easy now, that's it
Figure 164 - The mast looks like the Constance Marie is sticking its tongue out at the Chessie telling her that I got the best of you again this year.


Saturday, September 19, 2015


In the blink of an eye, here it was near the end of another sailing season.  We opened it in April with the Burning of the Socks. Now we begin the close of the season with Fall Cruising, Pig Roasts, Commodore's Ball, Thanksgiving and the Christmas Gathering.

I had contacted my very good friend Dave (aka "ELWOOD") back in July about crewing with me during the September cruise.  Yes, "I am JAKE" and together in the business world we kicked butt!
Figure 134 - Elwood and Jake

For some of us, we have been blessed with a friend who will stick with you through thick and thin, whose loyalty is beyond doubt and who knows how to get things done whether you are there or not.  Dave is my friend. Dave came and visited the club this spring to help me paint the inside of the Constance Marie and fell in love with Brigadoon.  That is my nickname for the Club because it is a throwback to the 50's and 60's when we lived in an America that was thankful and proud of its heritage.  Well, Dave became a member of the Club although he lives over 2 1/2 hours away in Virginia. While putting the meal plan together, I got a call from Dave and he told me that he could not make it due to needs that arose out of nowhere (hey we all get older, we all develop stuff we don't plan on).  Dave and I will do the deed in 2016!

So there I was.  No auto-helm and staring at probably 200 miles if I single handled the Constance Marie. Not good.  I began asking around the Club and was sitting at the bar when I overhead that one of our boats was cancelling the cruise.  I immediately called John see if he would like to crew with me.  To my joy, John said he would be happy to! People you don't understand.  Of course you don't because I have not told you yet.  John is considered today to be the most experienced and knowledgeable Captain in our Club.  To think that I would spend a week with him on the Bay was surreal.  I will let the pictures tell the story.  The Constance Marie was continuously trimmed out during those seven days.  Thank you John for all the sailing wisdom and thank you GOD for reminding me to use my two ears and keep my mouth shut.

Figure 135 - Day 1 - Worten Creek - 12 boats and Ice Cream! (Yes, I shot this with my I5S phone)
Figure 136 - Day 2 - My first use of a whisker pole.  Head sail is a 135% brand new.  Main is original H27. Needs replacing.
Figure 137 - Chillin'
Figure 137 - John "reflecting"

Figure 138 - John alone in his thoughts

Figure 139 - Respite on the Chester River

Figure 140 - John leading us into Chestertown

Figure 141 - Sultana?
Figure 142 - We almost drifted into her
when the anchor rode loosened due to the currents

Figure 143 - Chestertown Egress
Figure 144 - Always checking the wind - here there was none

Figure 145 - Never satisfied with the trim
Figure 146- Lady of Baltimore?

Figure 147 - A man lost in his dreams

Figure 148 - A man lost in his nightmare 
Figure 149 - Entering Mordor or is it Baltimore Harbor
To get to Baltimore Inner Harbor, you have to cruise up the Patapsco River.  This is where the Constance Marie was first launched back in 1980.  I might have blogged that fact earlier, but it always strikes a warm moment with me.

Figure 151 - John acting as the Captain he is.
Figure 150 - It approaches
 A storm is moving as our seven boats slipped into Anchorage Marina like the battleships were lined up just before Pearl Harbor   
Figure 152 - Now this is a Captain living in Hell (minus the 20 foot waves and gale force winds,
which hit about two minutes after this picture was taken around 1900 in September.
Figure 153 - Back across Chessie to Fairlee Creek

Figure 154 - Navigated Jelly Roll Shoals and into that sweet lagoon
Figure 155 - The fleet joins us on the Constance Marie for appetizers
Commodore Ray is closest to the camera.
Figure 156 - That's my good buddy Denis who ran the portable bar like the good Irishman he is.
 We spent a great night.  After a dip in the lagoon after breakfast, the final leg home.
Figure 157 - Reefed sails

Figure 158 - C'mon, everyone does a selfie every now and then, right?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Constantly Missing Dink

Figure 130 - New fiberglass, epoxy and paint

If you remember back on September 2014, the Club undertook its annual "Down The Bay" cruise.  Not having a VHS radio on board, I was limited to the range of a hand held.  It was inevitable that the Constance Marie would separate from the fleet and so it did.  Upon rejoining the fleet, it was dubbed, the Constantly Missing. Well I thought I would create a testimonial to that term of endearment.

Figure 131 - A Walker Bay Raised From The Dead
I went out to the back of the yard behind the Maintenance building and began roaming around the "graveyard" of dinghys.  You will find Walker Bays, Water Quest tenders, Buoy Yatch, PS7s, and those I can't identify.

You can see that the Constantly Missing is a Walker Bay that I found snuggled under some brush.  Dirty, needed some patching and a whole bunch new paint.

Figure 132 - She will serve the Club for many years

Figure 133 - Looking good.
Even managed to put matching boat stripes on her to show everybody she is the daughter of the Constance Marie.

It took about three days to re-work her.  When I put the 2.5hp Yammie on her, the stern was barely three inches above the waterline.  I use the Constantly Missing to row out to the Constance Marie on calm days.  It's good exercise and the peace that passes understanding is usually my companion.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mid-summer Nights

July and August were unusual for me as all I did was enjoy all that the Constance Marie could give me.  It was a lot of short sailings of one and two hours after work during the week and lots of day sailings during the weekends.  It was a time of enjoying life.

Figure 129 - More chillin
Figure 128 - Chillin

"Much ado about nothing"

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Independence Day Weekend

I am happy to report that the Constance Marie sailed as one of 12 boats in the fleet.  We sailed down the peninsula past Turkey Point and into the inter-coastal waterway over to the mouth of the Sassafras River.  From their we "iron-sailed" and arrived  around 1800.  We got a mooring near the shore and Olivia and I settled down for the fireworks display.  It's about a 12 mile journey up the Sassafras.  Past Lloyds Creek, Turner Creek on the starboard side and the plantation with all the six feet high Lotus water plants.

It was great pulling a weekender on the Constance Marie.  The coffee on the boat that next morning was even better.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Travesty Forgiven

I motored back to the mooring site.  I connected the wires for the lights to the DC panel.  I would return to the boat that evening after dark to take in the new lights.  Around 2130, I dinked out to the Constance Marie. I turned on the cabin lights to better see the DC Accessory panel located below my knees just to the right of the stairway into the galley.  (This is a future project for me in relocating the panel).  I turned on the anchor light switch and went outside to inspect.

Phopah #3 - NO LIGHT!  I tried the steaming light.  Nothing.  The spreader light. Same results.  My stomach sank.  What?  28 days of waiting down the tube.  No light? Now I am mad.  The cruise is in four days. I am sitting on my boat and I forgot my character for a few seconds if you know what I mean.  I recovered and secured the boat and went home.  I had had enough. But I was determined that I would not miss the club cruise.

Well, with work and all, I did not have time to address the lights.  I did however find the time to furl the head sail and take the Constance Marie out that Thursday afternoon to shake her down and test the rigging.  

Olivia and I did make the cruise on the 4th of July up the Sassafras River to Georgetown, MD with 12 other boats of the HPYC fleet.

Lessons learned - YOU are the accountable one.  No one else.  The buck of victory or defeat stops with you, the Captain.  Those who actually do the work are responsible, but the quality of the results does not fall on their shoulders.  Anything less than desired results means that you the Captain failed to ensure that the dynamics for achieving targeted results were in place.  To ask forgiveness is one thing, and a noble thing, but to actually forgive is yet another and greater thing.  I am glad that my vendor of choice and I are still friends.

Figure 126 - Getting there......
Figure 127 - How to get there!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Agony - Part II

Preface:  Sometimes we take things too seriously but when you are spending thousands of dollars on replacing new sails and rigging, I think it prudent that the results should be what you want, not what you have to settle for.  I am writing this particular blog so that perhaps it can help other aspiring Captains from making the same mistakes I did.

Well, everything has been ordered.  Bought everything but the rigging through the internet.  Took the original rigging down to a well know vendor in Annapolis and contracted with them to have a new set of rigging built.  They have a contractor named Winston, who purportedly does excellent work.  I found this to be true.  Winston is meticulous in every detail.  The Hood furler I had was also in need of replacement so I bought a CDI 6 furler with 1/4 inch sheath.  (I would not recommend 1/4 because for the average guy, its too small in the hand.  In hindsight, I would have gone with a CDI 7 which accommodates 3/8").  It is what it is.  I asked the vendor to mount the furler on the fore-stay for me.  They would do it for no charge.  Nice.

Meanwhile, back at the boat slip, the mast was on a dolly right near the slip and my other contractor was prepping the mast to receive the new wiring and lights.

Phopah #1 - While waiting for the parts, the vendor noticed that the fiberglass surrounding the mast step was significantly de-laminated.  He decided to build up the fiberglass and so removed the mast step.  He then went below decks and removed the teak fascades around the compression post to access the area from below.  In repairing this area, the mast step area was raised 1.5 to 2 inches. That information never made it back to me so I could pass it along to the rigging vendor, who was told to duplicate the exact dimensions of the old rigging! (Remember Captains how many time rigging gets completely replaced on an old boat).

Lesson learned - maintain communications with your contractors through all phases of the work.  Ask questions to confirm status and communicate, communicate, communicate.

Everything else proceeded as scheduled while we waited for the rigging.  On the prescribed day around the third week in June, I made my second two hour trip to Annapolis.  I picked up the assembled rigging from my general contractor and was excited to also see the furler mounted onto the fore-stay.  The way the perpetual motion CDI furler works is that it has its own halyard inside the fore-stay that pulls the Leech end of the sail up to the top of the mast.  Of course, as with most furlers, this action only needs to be done at the beginning or end of the sailing season.

I dropped the new rigging off with my vendor and proceeded to work.  Soon later, I got a voice mail stating that we were two inches short on the length of the shrouds.  I could not believe it.  It could not be true! The mortal sin of all sins was committed and it happened with my own boat.  During my career, I have been a leader of men in most of what I did for a living.  I knew that the buck stopped with me.  To blame anyone else would have been a lapse in character.

I rushed to the boat yard after work and compared the old shrouds to the new ones.  They were exactly the same length.  We had five days to go before the club cruise on the 4th.  I called Winston and he said that he could locate some "extenders". I told him I would be at Annapolis at the general contractor by 5pm.  Could he meet me there with the extenders?  He agreed. So, I made my third two hour trip to Annapolis.

Phopah #2 - I met Winston at the store and gave me the extenders.  Only problem was that three were 4 inches in length three were six inches in length.  After paying an additional $223.00 for the extenders, I returned to my home that same day.  The next day, I met my vendor at 0800 at the boat yard and delivered the extenders.  We went through all six shrouds (the fore-stay and back-stay with splitter fit just fine) and customized the lengths for each to minimize their appearance on the boat.  I left for work.

Well, there we were, done.  It was mid-day on 30 June.  New rigging (with shiny new extenders), new radio mast, new LED anchor light, new LED combo spreader/steaming light, new shiny brass radio connectors, new halyards and sheaths all around.  Man, the Constance Marie looked good.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Agony - Part 1

These next two blog entries will not be easy for me to write.  It will span the continuum from hope, excitement, concern, worry, despair, misplaced feelings of betrayal but feelings nonetheless moving on to thankfulness and relief. Not sure joy was ever felt. Some of you have stories like this, but this is mine and I learned a lot about myself during this particular journey.  

Figure 119 Old VHF radio antennae
It begins on 6/3/2015. I met with a vendor at the boat yard who had a great reputation for supporting boat maintenance projects. We laid out a plan for upgrading the mast lights to LED. Found some great buys on the internet for the Anchor light and Steaming/Spreader combination light. Given the condition of the unraveling fore-stay, I made a decision to procure new rigging all around. I wanted to upgrade my fore-stay and back-stays to 1/4" from 3/16".  All new turnbuckles included. Around 6/10/15 I located a rigging vendor down in Annapolis. I wanted to use a local rigging company that has a sterling reputation but their schedule could not accommodate getting to my boat until July.  I was determined to make the July 4th club cruise up the Sassafras River to Georgetown, MD for the fireworks.

Figure 120 - Old VHF radio connector

Figure 121 - Original mast wiring connector

Normally I am a very hands on guy.  Obviously you can see that from all the past blog postings.  Things were pretty busy at work so I thought I would outsource the complete project minus the few purchases that I would need to make.
  1.      LED anchor light
  2.      LED spreader/steaming light combo
  3.      Brass VHF connectors (male and female)
  4.      Wind-vane
  5.      Full set of wire rigging with new turnbuckles
  6.      New halyard sheaths
  7.      New wire to run through mast
Figure 122 - Old steaming light

Figure 123 - Old anchor light

Figure 124 - Wind vane broke off
Figure 125 - Original top of mast

Well,  the story develops with the next blog.......