Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Light and Air- 2 very useful things to have

Palm trees, cause sometimes refit photos are just too boring
It took us a few weeks to finally decide on the interior lighting. Actually, it took Mark a few weeks. His engineer's left brain kicked in on him and he began to over think the various options available. He spent hours checking out the lighting on friend's boats and pouring over technical specifications weighing power consumption against luminosity and output and considering the aesthetics of the fixtures.

LED lights are a popular choice but Mark just thinks the technology is not quite there yet. (Here's a link to an article by Nigel Calder if you really want to know some of the issues, how far the technology has come and how far it has to go.) We don't know a single person who has had them on their boat without some issues, usually a failure and since these lights aren't exactly cheap and aren't in ready stock in many places we were hesitant to use LED for the interior lighting. I just want to turn on a light when needed and have it work and not be a blindingly blue white color. We are putting LED nav lights on Ceol Mor but that is because there really isn't any other power efficient option at this time.

So we began to look into other options. Halogen and incandescent lighting, along with not being terribly power efficient produces a lot of heat. When you are living your life in a wee box, a small amount of heat can quickly make things unbearable. Traditional fluorescent lighting has drawbacks as well and we did not want to be revisiting this topic again in 2 years. We want to to be done with this.

After seeing the CCF lights on our friend Tim's boat and looking at the technical data, Mark became convinced that what we need is cold cathode fluorescent lighting for the general lighting and reading lamps. Easy peasy, right? WRONG.

Our order-except one fan which was out for testing and 9
linear CCF lights which have yet to arrive.
After 4 emails and one or two phone calls to Taylor Made to ensure that all of the lights we needed were available, we put in our order ( 7 chrome Futura reading lamps, 4 bicolor linear lights and 9 linear lights) and waited.  Instead of our order, what we got was an email letting us know that the bicolor CCF lights were no longer available. Even though we had assurances from Taylor that the were, turns out the were kidding. They aren't available. Apparently Taylor Made is phasing out its CCF lighting. We would have to instead go with 4 bicolor LED lights which were not only NOT CCF but were round. Round lamps interspersed with linear lights. This would be fine with me, but Mark has issues with things not matching and being exact. Its an engineer thing, you wouldn't understand.

After agonizing over whether to change all the lights to matching LEDs or just let it go, Mark decided to let it go. So we have dome lights in the head, galley and chart table which do not match the other general lighting and that is ok. (but if you want to wind him up, come aboard and point it out ;) )
I am so proud of him.*sniff* He has come so far from the man I first met with the white house-white walls, white floors, white furniture etc. Done sometimes is as good as perfect.

Now its on to fans. We live in the subtropics and have endured 100+ Fahrenheit days in the summer. A boat can get stupid hot. Since we are planning to spend time in the even hotter tropics, fans are something a bit more important than just a nicety. Steve on Siempre Sabado is in Baja, Mexico which is really stupid hot so when he sang the praises of the small Caframo fans, I paid attention. I even went so far as to dutifully stand in front of the fan display at West Marine seeing which model produced a stiff breeze and was impressed by the windage of the small and unobtrusive looking Caframos. These things are great. So when Mark asked me what my preference for fans was I told him.

When our shipment arrived I was surprised at how enormous the box was. When we opened it, I was greeted not by boxes full of the small but mighty Caframos but by seemingly huge Caframo Sirocco fans. 9 of em. The lack of a cage on the smaller Caframos apparently bugged Mark's sense of aesthetics and he thought that these much larger fans were an even better choice. I know from my trials at West Marine that these were in fact good fans but man oh man are they big. HUGE. I suppose the good news is that if we ever encounter no wind we can just open the hatches, use the gimbal feature to point the fans at the sail and begin to sail with the gale force winds generated in our saloon. I also no longer need to worry about the decor in the boat, our decor theme is now fans.

We have quite a bit of installing to do in the next week or so and we are still awaiting the arrival of our linear lights. I'll post photos of the installed lights and fans as soon as we've completed the installation.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Word of the Day: Jack Assery

Today you get a picture of sea bird because while I do try to have themed photos for each post, I've yet to take any photos of roosters on rocks.
The June 2012 issue of Sail arrived in my mail box. Generally, I like Sail. Sure, its filled with eye candy- new boats that most sailors will never order but I am an information junky and I like that their technical articles are dumbed down for simple minded folks to understand. Hey! They write how to articles for me!

I usually don't read the Feedback letters but for some reason, today I did. I think everyone should rush out and read the phenomenal letter on page 16 from Dennis Wright Michaud. No, really you HAVE to see this. The level of snobbery, elitism and just plan jack assery displayed in this letter is simply not to be missed. Ok, you don't have to read it I'll just give you a brief synopsis.

Commenting on a previous story where the wife of a sailing couple contracted ciguatera poisoning, Mr Michaud takes excception to the fact that the able bodied sailor did not immediately seek medical attention for his ill wife. I think people who are sailing their boats around the world are probably old enough and wise enough to determine whether they wish to/need to seek medical treatment but I can see his point somewhat. What galls me is the opinion of this guy  that the sailors in question probably did not seek medical attention for financial reasons. There are so many other reasons they might have skipped it- religious beliefs, accessibility of medical care, a preference for natural health (I could go on and on) but no, Mr. DR. Michaud suspects that their reasons were financial and shame on Sail for for running many articles about "grossly under-financed people vagabonding around the world on a shoestring". Talk about gross assumptions.

But wait! It gets EVEN better. Every single time I try to put into words the feelings that are conjured up by this epistle my left eye starts twitching funny. So let me instead just quote directly Dr. Michaud's last paragraph: "I could have cruised for the past 20 years. Instead I finished my Ph.D, taught at Brown and Yale, started two companies, and now am gearing up to hire over 500 professionals in the Middle East. This is why I can now speak to the folks at S&S about a new custom yacht (which will be U.S.-built) and pay ridiculous yard bills. Frankly, I resent the glorification of sailing vagabonds who are at times viewed as celebrities by the sailing media."

Folks, snobbism in sailing is alive and well and residing in the bitter and jealous heart of Michaud. Fortunately, I haven't run into that many of Denny's ilk otherwise I would conclude that sailing is a sport for jackasses and not being one, it isn't for me. Thank goodness that the majority of sailors we've come across have nothing in common with him.

The folks we've met sailing have come from every walk of life- younger families who've done exceptionally well in business and can leave it all,  retired blue collar workers, dead broke college age kids who have given up security in favor of adventure, retired white collar professionals, hippies, conservatives, Dr.s, middle aged artists, writers, scientists, engineers, painters, musicians, stock brokers- the list goes on and on. Here's the thing, the people that we've met through sailing come from every walk of life imaginable and while we have more affinity for some more than others, economic position has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not we like them.

The people we admire are the folks who try to live life a little differently, who use their ingenuity and creativity to solve problems. We admire people who have an innate ability to read the wind and trim the sails as much as we admire those who can barely get the sails trimmed enough to move the boat but they sail around the world anyway. We like the folks willing to lend a hand, share their experiences and just be all around nice people. We like nice. These are people worthy of glorification in my opinion and I hope to hell SAIL keeps on glorifying these "vagabonds" because if people like Dr. Michaud begin to be glorified (not sure what he's done besides exactly what he was told), well my right eye would start twitching as well. Besides, isn't Forbes kind of already covering the Michauds of the world?

It is probably a really good thing Michaud hasn't been cruising. can you imagine his utter disappointment to sail to a foreignland only to come ashore and find it rife with under financed people? Quel Desastre!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Playing Sit and Spin

While we are still toying with the deck layout (more on that later) Operation Make Ceol Mor A Home continues. We installed yet more task lighting into the cabinets. We are using good old fashioned, unflattering fluorescent lighting because what we require is a rugged fixture and abundant light when we are digging through a cabinet or locker. I'm sure Mark knows exactly what the amp draw is but since these lights will only ever be used momentarily and not for a constant light source it shouldn't matter that much. They are fluorescent- low amp draw in exchange for making your face look green. Everything is a trade off. The galley cabinet work lights are now installed and its just a matter of tidying up the wiring and replacing the teak cabinet facing.

We took the boat out for a little chug on Saturday. I like to joke that if something happened to Mark, I could absolutely sail the boat well enough on my own to get to my desired location. I just can't dock the thing and so would be forced to sail in circles in the harbor until docking help arrived. I'm working on it. We headed out to the bay- where there is a lot of room for screw ups to work on my docking technique.

We had a nice breeze going, enough so that everyone seemed to be out on the bay with all their canvas up enjoying the day. Not us. Under my command Ceol Mor was playing sit and spin. I'm getting used to pivoting on the keel so basically it looked like I was doing doughnuts in a parking lot. I am sure all the sailors zipping by thought "what is that idiot doing?". Never mind. It will not be the last time I look like an idiot to be sure. In the end, I got a good feel for pivoting and understanding prop walk and prop wash . I'm still not the greatest at backing the boat and can only do so for about 50 feet before I screw that up. Its ok, we've got time. Someday I hope to be able to back the boat into our slip as elegantly and smoothly as Mark. Scratch that. Someday I hope to be able to dock without my stomach in my throat from fear of hitting someone else's boat. Boat owners everywhere should sigh with relief at my unwillingness to dock until I am absolutely sure I'm not going to bash into someone else's boat.

I should probably mention that while I am an outstanding car driver- as in a really great, safe, tireless long distance driver, I am crap at parallel parking. I think perhaps I am just 'parking challenged' and everyone should offer me understanding. Everyone lauds Danica Patrick and Ellen MacArthur but have you even seen either one of them park? I rest my case. So long as I can dock without damaging anything we will consider it a win.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Little Day Sail

We didn't do any heavy lifting on the refit. Instead, we opted to head out for a day sail to A:continue to get Kitty used to the boat and B:see if the new blocks did anything to help with our main sail issues. It couldn't be helped, this slacking. We had 18 knots of wind, sunny skies and warm temperatures. What would you do in our situation? You'd stop working and start sailing, which is exactly what we did.

Maura has been good on the boat for a while now but Kitty is just starting to come into her own. She's happy as can be just watching the other boats, the birds and playing with her toys. There were a couple of instances where I thought we were going to get to do a dolly over board drill but she managed to keep all of her little friends in the cockpit.

In answer to the question 'did the new blocks help?', I can say unequivocally 'not a damn bit'. Back to the proverbial drawing board. C'est la vie. That is the goal of these little short sails, to figure out what works and what doesn't so a failure is just as useful as a success. Somehow I think we are going to have a lot more useful failures in our future.

Our new lights arrived. Well, some of them at least. The majority of them are on back order but we hope to start getting them installed this week. That will be my next refit related post- the huge ordeal that was deciding on lights. Yes, something so small and insignificant was something we agonized over for 2 weeks. Sometimes we like to run in circles for no apparent reason, just because we can.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Now about that rigging...

For those of you who read the last post and though "Get back to the boat already." this post should make you happy. For those of you who who could not care less about the rigging of a sail boat and only read this blog to hear about my jacked up craft projects, you can skip this one. It is by its very nature on the dry and technical side. We try to have something for everyone. ;)

Ceol Mor was either set up to look salty while tied permanently to the docks or she was rigged by a masochist. We've known for quite some time that we need to move just about all of the deck hardware to make it easier to handle the lines and sails. We got confirmation of this fact when we went sailing with Salty Gene who commented that while our boat is a solid, surprisingly nimble boat the hoisting and adjusting of the sails was "just too hard". This is what happens when people buy a boat and don't actually sail it- you get awkward block placement, undersized winches, etc. Fair play to the previous owners though. While the deck layout and rigging might not be conducive to actual sailing they did take immaculate care of the interior teak.

Since Mark and I do sail the boat and we've got a departure date to REALLY sail the boat, we've known for sometime that we would be redoing the entire deck layout. Since we've had so many other issues to address, we moved it down the list and planned to take a hard look at every piece of deck hardware one by one and figure out what's wrong and what we can do to make it right and most importantly- make it easier to sail. We like easy.

The first issue we are addressing is the pain in the butt job that is hauling in the main sheet. Ceol Mor is only a 42 foot boat, it shouldn't be this hard. As it turns out, the main sheet and vang lines are both routed through a double block at the front of the boom. The location of the double block causes the main sheet to draw across the vang fiddle when the lines are under tension. Fantastic. As if the undersized winches weren't providing enough of a work out, now we've got unwanted friction to make things just that much more difficult and to chew through our lines. Good for keeping rope suppliers in business, not so good for us our our wallet or our desire to make things easier.

The long term, permanent solution is to replace the boom vang with a rigid vang, install a new block for the main sheet on the pad eye currently being used for the boom vang fiddle. Then we will route the main sheet directly from this point to a block at the base of the mast and avoid the clash with the vang because the only clash we want on our boat is 'London Calling'.

What we are doing as a temporary fix is to replace the double block with two single blocks to ease the passage of the main sheet across the vang fiddle. We chose Schaefer M100-02 blocks for this. We chose them because they retail for $345 and Mark found them on clearance for $112.  That is one sweet deal. If there had been more than 2 in stock, we would have grabbed all of them. We know the sheets will still rub on the fiddle with this temporary fix, but hopefully much less so than before and the fact that the new blocks are much larger than the old ones should help us to more easily trim the sails into a shape that will make all of the brilliant sail trimmers weep at our lack of finesse.

The blocks attach with soft shackles which you can purchase for around $100 a piece or, if you have been hemorrhaging money like we have you can buy some Amsteel line and jolly well learn to splice it yourself. Mark did a good job for a first attempt, I need a bit more practice (okay a LOT of practice.). The finished shackles aren't perfect but fine for just now until our splicing skill gets a bit better. The blocks aren't going to live where they are just now anyway. I imagine those 2 blocks are going to be moved around quite a bit as we figure out all the ins and outs of the deck layout and what we can do to improve it.
Never mind the soft shackles, look at that beautifully varnished table.