Saturday, March 21, 2015

More Solar!

Our pair of Kyocera 140 watt solar panels do a pretty good job.

But we've still needed to supplement with the generator...until now.

I added a pair of Renogy 100 watt semi-flexible panels.

I chose the semiflex panels because they are so much thinner than the glass panels. I attached them to 3/8" Celtex PVC sheets that I finished off with PVC edge trim.

These are "flip-out" panels that are mounted to PVC pipe riding on the lifelines.

When deployed, they are propped up with a stainless steel prop rod and Bimini hardware.

When we go to a dock, they can be flipped down and tucked inside the toe rail. I also made a cover of 1/4" Celtex with the PVC trim that velcro's over the panels to protect them from protruding items on dock pilings.

I also added a second Blue Sky charge controller for these two panels.

With these additional panels, we have not come close to needing the generator; even when running my power hog video editing computer system.

We're totally power self sufficient with 480 watts of solar. Seriously thinking of selling the wind generator!

Bits and Pieces

Cocktails with starfruit garnish

We have been here in Stuart for almost five months! This is a new record for us for staying in one place. We hadn't intended to stay this long but here we are. We got some boat projects done, celebrated birthdays, Christmas and the new year. We did some beach time and lots of interesting restaurants. So, below, a smattering of our life here in Stuart.

A little beach time

Restaurants galore

Christmas on Freedom

A beautiful, hand made, card from Lynne....love it!

Beautiful sunsets here

Our power panel...before

Power panel....after. nice new labels!

The new plan is to head out next week....destination Bahamas.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Boat Project, Bimini Windows

We usually don't post details of boat projects here since many of you aren't boat owners and likely aren't interested in the minutia of this sort of thing. I'm making an exception as this is a bit of an experiment and may be of special interest to boat owners.

The issue is fast fading windows in the top of the bimini used to see the trim of the main sail. This plastic window material totally hazed up in 2 years. Not good since our bimini configuration would require a whole day of dis-assembly, then repair and then another day to reassemble.

 You can see a patch where we tried to clean but you could still not see through.
Totally hazed over by UV

My plan was to replace the thin vinyl with acrylic sheet. The acrylic is much more UV resistant and can be polished. I found a local plastic fab shop that cut the sheets to my specs and polished the edges. I then measured for hole placement several times and drilled clearance holes for #10 machine screws with a dill bit specially made for drilling plastic. Lubricating the drilling with a water and baking soda mix also helped prevent cracking the plastic.We carry a piece of plywood to serve as a portable workspace. 

 My open air workshop
Carefully drilling at very low speed so I don't have to take another 5 mile bike ride back to the plastic shop for replacements.

After drilling all the holes in the windows, I marked their location on the blue Sunbrella canvas top and "drilled" holes in the Sunbrella with a soldering gun. The gun burned through the several layers of Sunbrella and sealed the edges of the holes to prevent unraveling. Then, with help from Chris, I marked a set of 1" acrylic strips I also had made by the plastic fab shop to use as a clamp on the underside of the Sunbrella. Back to the 'workshop' to drill the clearance holes in the strips of acrylic.

We dry fit it all together to make sure everything lined up, which it did quite well. The last step before final assembly was applying "Bed It" butyl tape all around the perimeter to seal out water. Bed It butyl tape is excellent for this. Here are the results:

 A bit industrial looking, but works very well
You can see the grey Bed It butyl tape smushed between the acrylic and the Sunbrella
And a significantly improved view up at the boom. Main sail trim will be much easier now.

I might have preferred 1" aluminum or polished stainless steel strips on the inside. We'll see how this performs and perhaps make an upgrade at some point.  We have Sunbrella covers that will be velcroed to the inside, awaiting more adhesive backed velcro for that finishing touch.
Now we need to get out sailing!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Heading South....Fast.

Staying in Annapolis for the Sailboat show seems to get us to north Florida in time for Thanksgiving. Brrrrr! Northern Florida is cold in late November. We have sat huddled around our propane oven as our turkey cooks for too many years! This year we high-tailed it to southern Florida as quickly as we could. We moved almost every day and did a mix of offshore and ICW depending on the area and the weather. For the most part the weather was warm although we had to sit and wait for some strong winds to pass. We traveled from Annapolis to Stuart, Florida in less than 3 weeks. Below are some of the highlights.

Sunrise as we had Charleston, NC in sight after our offshore run from Beaufort, NC. (Pronounced "bowfort")

One of the many beautiful anchorages. This is off Bull Spit just north of Beaufort, SC. (Pronounced "byoofort")

We headed out Port Royal Sound near Hilton Head to overnight to Fernandina Beach, Florida. The Stingrays where leaping left and right. One leapt right next to us. This photo is courtesy of Google Images.

Love that we are seeing pelicans and dolphins on a regular basis again.

These White Pelicans are heading south too.

Heading out of Fernandina Beach in the twisting, narrow and sometimes shallow ICW. This Tow and Barge passed us and just plowed through the shallows.

When you get to an intersection on the ICW and there are no traffic lights, who has the right of way? This big, honking freighter does!

Titusville, Florida is known for a number of good things. You are more likely to see manatees here than anywhere, it is very close to the Kennedy Space Center and we are likely to catch up with our friends Ben and Jane as they prepare Old Rosie to head south.

Manatee getting a drink

Beautiful sunrise leaving Titusville with the space center in the distance.

We made it safe and sound. We are in Stuart, Florida on a mooring. Our neighbor took this picture of Freedom the night of the full moon. Thanks Tom!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Not So Dismal

Heading south from Norfolk, VA to the Albemarle Sound of NC can be accomplished two ways on the ICW (intracoastal waterway). In the past we have taken the Virginia cut. This is a straight forward route with just one small lock that raises you less than a foot. It is longer in distance but shorter in time. The Dismal Swamp Canal is the other option. It was constructed in the 1790s. George Washington was a staunch supporter and investor of this hand dug canal. We decided to take the swamp this time to enjoy the scenery and history.

Here we are approaching a lock. The lock tenders also have to operate the lift bridge for you.

The canal, we were told, has a minimum of 7 foot depth down the middle. This was true except for some of those logs laying on the bottom. We managed to thump into a few of them.

You can see some logs along the lush shoreline.

We even saw a little bit of fall color.

The trees would overhang the canal in areas. We had to take care not to clip them with our mast.

The canal is very narrow, sufficient for the 1800s but a little tight for modern day boats.

In most areas there is no room to pass other boats so you follow the same ones into the locks and your speed is set by the slowest boat in front of you.

The slow speed was no problem for us but the power boat behind us was not very happy.

The ICW is known for its tannin stained water that stains the hull of your vessel. The Dismal Swamp has the darkest water we've seen.....coffee?

We really enjoyed this picturesque route. Will we do it again next year? Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Beautiful Morn, Dismal Eve

Such a beautiful morning today, we headed out of Fishing Bay near Deltaville, VA before the sun rose.

We had a spirited sail down the Chesapeake with 15 - 20 knot winds on a close reach with a reefed main and headsail. We sailed at a speed of 8.5 knots for quite some time. Our average speed for the day was closer to 7 knots. That's flying for us!

We ended our day tied to a free dock at the entrance to the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Not Much

Have not blogged recently. Frankly, not much new has been happening. Same old, working on the boat and attending and working at the US Sailboat show in Annapolis, Maryland.

We did get a new anchor...it was shipped to the marina office 4 blocks away. Ed made a "trailor" out of our hand cart and brought it back to the boat,

Looks good, doesn't it?

I had a number of sewing projects....this one I am pretty proud of. I replaced the cover for our Lifesling. I used heavy duty vinyl and cut out the old covers' instructions for use and sewed it to the new.

We had a very successful boat show. Ed and I worked 4 of the 5 days of the show. We are now beating feet south. Hopefully we'll have lots of pics of warm, tropical locations soon.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Takes all kinds

We see a lot of different types of boats in our travels. At first, we could not figure out what this was.

As it came past us we could tell it was another cool toy the Navy boys get to play with...

After it passed...holy crap, a 15' wake! You cant tell from the pic but the wake was HUGE. This puppy can do 35 knots. Hard to imagine the fuel flow used in displacing that much water. I have never seen a wake anywhere near this big.

I hope they carry surf boards .