21 June, 2017

Autopilot and tiller lock

You maybe wonder why do I have to install both the tiller lock and the autopilot at the same time. The simple answer is that the tiller lock was installed last year and I forgot to put it here, sorry :-)

The tiller lock is a wonderful thing when you need single hand the boat and let the tiller go for some simple tasks. There are numerous locker designs, but there is one with a very neat solution called the TillerClutch by WaveFront Marine. It's very easy to operate and is specially shaped to fit tiller shafts that are rounded, like the 1" tubing I have on the boat.
I've drilled and tapped the holes bellow the shaft and simply screwed the clutch onto it.

TillerClutch mounted bellow the tiller shaft

The control lines are attached to the stern rails with carabiner on one end and the v-cleat on the other to adjust the tension of the line. The installation manual suggests both ends with the v-cleat for easier handling, but this is working fine for me so far.

Control lines

Detailed view

This winter, however, my wife bought me a proper autopilot from Raymarine, model ST1000+. That's definitely a different level of single handing and it provides more time for other tasks instead of holding the course by hand. The big advantage over the TillerClutch is that it keeps your boat on the specific course, no matter how the wind or current changes.

Mounting it is the other story and after a lot of "head scratching" sessions in the cockpit, I've installed it without any additional Raymarine removable pedestals or extension rods, however, I had to fabricate a custom tiller bracket from the 3mm thick and 20mm wide stainless steel plate to cope the specific shape of my tiller shaft. Then drilled a hole for the shortened tiller pin and welded it in place.

Then I had to drill the 13mm hole into the cockpit locker lid, prepare the thickened epoxy and glue the brass mounting socket.

Mounting socket position

Epoxy around the socket

The next step was to mount my custom tiller bracket using the existing screws for v-cleat for the rudder lifting line. It's two small M4 screws, but seems it's holding fine.
At first I've mounted the bracket directly under the tubing, but there was a huge flexing to the sides so I had to add a small piece of the U profile to follow the shape of the tubing and reinforce the bracket to prevent the wobble.

U profile reinforcement between tiller shaft and tiller bracket

Tiller bracket

Autopilot in place


And finally install the electrical socket on the stern where it shouldn't interfere with anything. The cable is routed together with other cables to the main distribution panel and is now using the same switch as for the depth sounder. I've just replaced the 5A fuse with 10A.

Socket cable
The Raymarine ST1000+ is capable of receiving the speed through the water over the SeaTalk protocol, but it's not connected yet. I suppose it will not make much difference in the tiller adjustment speed. Keeping the angle to the wind is a good feature, but I don't have the wind meter yet too.

There is also a possibility to connect it to the map plotter using the NMEA0183 and navigate to the waypoints.

Installation has been done, so let's test it....

20 June, 2017

Cabin ventilation fan

During our trip to Croatia last year we suffered a lot from the sun and heat and thought we could install some fan in the cabin.
The decision came to the relatively quiet Canadian fan by Caframo Bora, model 748, 12V.
It has three speeds, can be locked at any position or folded to the ceiling.
The power is connected to the cabin lamp behind so there is no need for additional switch.

Caframo Bora fan


Folded position

The Webasto MultiControl is able to run the heater on ventilation mode too, but this can move the hot air better.

Diesel heater installation III.

Finally, after two weeks of intense work, I'm done with the heater installation.
I was doing this for the first time, but if I exclude all that challenging woodworking, it was pretty easy and straight forward project.
Electrically speaking, you have to just supply the onboard power, connect the control panel and that's it.

Webasto heater unit in the port cockpit locker

The exhaust pipe is attached to the hull using one support pad made from the heat resistant material. The bold is going through one layer of that material and the second one is glued with the hole bigger than the bolt head to leave a distance between the bolt and the hull.
Everything was then glued to the hull with Sikaflex.
One remark regarding the exhaust pipe connection. The installation manual doesn't mention it, but when I first started the heater, I saw a little of smoke from the joints so I've applied a little amount of the exhaust cement seal used in automotive.

exhaust pipe with heat insulation "sock"

Exhaust outlet

In the same port locker, there is also a 7 liter diesel fuel tank from Ateso and the fuel pump attached directly to it with the fuel filter. I was trying to follow the installation instruction as possible to keep the right angles on the fuel pipe so the known fuel pump ticking is really inaudible in the cabin.

Diesel tank for the heater

The control unit was attached in the cabin next to the main distribution panel. It has also the build in thermostat so there no need for more holes.
There is an option to configure the startup mode - heating or venting, startup temperature and so on. You can also configure the schedule for automatic startup.

MultiControl display

The electrical installation requires direct connection to the battery to avoid unintentional power cut and to allow the heater to cool down. You can see the small fuse box with two fused 15A for the glow plug and 1A for the heater and control unit.

Separate fuse box

And finally this is the pictures of the vent outlets in the cabin. One with closable vent in the head, one for the cabin and one in aft berth.


Cabin vent outlets

Rotating outlet in the aft berth

Hose cover in the aft of the head

The last thing I would like to show here is the relocated outboard fuel tank to the center cockpit locker.

Outboard fuel tank

I hope we will now enjoy more cozy days and nights on our boat.

22 May, 2017

Cabin window curtains and bug screens

This is not a rocket science project, but I would like to share my struggle finding the suitable solution.
My wife Verka always wanted the cabin window curtains to provide shade on sunny days or privacy at night. That sounds simple, but Phobos 21 has a a very difficult internal shape around the windows and the windows itself.
The first idea was to buy something already available on the market. However, nothing usable with reasonable price. The second idea was that Verka sewed the curtains and using the self-adhesive Velcro tapes around the window trim, it will be put on the windows.
That works until you realize, that self-adhesive Velcro tape is peeling from the walls leaving the nasty glue gunk behind.
I said, ok, that was cheap kind, so replaced with something more expensive. Bam, again after a few months in hot weather it started to peel again.
Oh well, using the heat gun it took a while to remove all the leftovers, but what next - screw the stainless steel snap buttons or expensive Tenax fasteners?
Nope, I've decided to use the KAM T5 12mm plastic snap buttons and pliers like found on the Aliexpress.com.
It's cheap, plastic does not rust, the holding force is less than SS ones, but still way more than needed for this purpose.
The last struggle was to find really small stainless steel self tapping screw. Then I found the best suitable screw is DIN7981C 2.2x6.5mm.

KAM T5 12mm button base and the tiny screws

Drilling 1.5mm hole has been just enough.

One note about drilling. Since I didn't have the optimal 1.8mm drill, I've used 1.5mm and then beveled the gelcoat to avoid chipping!


Port window

Longer starboard window

It's holding perfectly and easily removable without fear of tearing the soft fabric.
We have also special curtain for the companionway hatch doors, which is from the same fabric, but the top hem is sewn over the 6mm aluminum rod that goes into the grooves for the sliding hatch. Fast and easy.

Companionway hatch sun cover

Companionway hatch bug screen

The small port holes in the head and above the aft berth were not addressed, because they are opening inside and not really a problem.
For the front hatch above the V-berth, we have a special cover made from Sunbrella-like fabric with the rubber bend sewn inside the hem.


Verka also sewed a bug screen with lead beads in the hem which is holding very well even in the gentle breeze.

We are also planning, as the English sailors call it, the cockpit dodgers (lee cloths) for the colder sailing areas which could add also more warm and privacy.

Cockpit dodgers (lee cloth)

Happy sailing!

19 May, 2017

Bow ladder and the other stainless tuning

Last year, we were cruising the whole season on our famous dam Orlík on the river Vltava. It's very deep with steep shores so the most common way of anchoring preferred by local freshwater rats is to drop anchor from the stern slowly approaching the shore with the bow. This way you don't have to retract the centerboard, rudder or the outboard motor, like when dropping the anchor from the bow and reversing to the shore.

Example of anchoring with the stern first

This maneuver with bow first can be done easily single handed, however you suppose to have some kind of ladder on the bow or bowsprit.

Example of anchoring on Orlík with bow first, near the castle Zvíkov

The boat on the left is using the kind of add-on foldable ladder to the bowsprit. This is good, but you have to store it in the anchor locker after every use.
The other advantage of this type of anchoring is, that you can reach the shore with dry feet.

A good friend of mine David, lent me his add-on ladder to test it and it was working perfectly.

Foldable add-on ladder test

So was decided to add some foldable ladder to the bowsprit permanently for an easier manipulation.
After many hours of checking the various ladders found on the internet, I've found these 210mm narrow, 3 step telescopic ladder from Osculati article #49.541.23.
At first I wanted to bolt it somehow from the top of the bowspirt, but found it bad with too many edges for bare feet and it would collide with the anchor.

Ladder on the top of the bowsprit

Final decision then was to weld it bellow the bowsprit tubing. I've cut the hinges to the shape of the existing tubing and added a small piece of 3mm thick stainless strip as a reinforcement near the bolts.

Modified flange


Then asked the local welder to weld it under the bowsprit and this is the final product.


Welding from bellow


When retracted, it's also usable for boarding from marina pier


Simon was the testing monkey

There is a little flex on the ladder itself, but there is no problem holding me (84 kg) with no flexing on the ladder flange or the bowsprit itself.
The last thing is to add some line to it for easy retraction when standing on the bow, but this has to be tested once on the water.

When I had the TIG welder on the place, I prepared him some more work.
The factory anchor roller is mounted on the plates under the bowsprit which has a pretty sharp edges. I've tried to file the edges a bit, but still chafing the anchor line. So I've fabricated the 4mm thick rods chafe guards and welded them to the front edge of the roller plates.

Anchor roller chafe guards

The last update was to replace the railing clamps for the addition lifelines ends and gennaker sheet blocks with the stainless steel rings. They were created from 5mm thick rod winded around 11mm tubing, then cut with the angle grinder and flattened.

Welded rings for the stern lifelines

Welded rings for the gennaker sheets block

Finally polished everything and one more job finished.

02 May, 2017

Diesel heater installation II.

Here I come with some update after two weekends I had a time to work on this project.
I've realized how hard this could be if I want the best possible quality. The worst job so far is doing the ducting hose covers in the aft berth.
At first I had to create a carton template, checking all right angles, transferring all kinds of odd shapes and curves. Then transfer it back to the plywood, double check, remove from the boat, make tiny adjustment and check it once again. This all over again and again until it will fit perfectly.

gluing cover for the ducting running though the head

I've used my woodworking router to create a right-angle edge molding to hide the plywood joint and to keep the factory look. For this I've routed the 15x15mm oak strips found in the local hobby market.

gluing edge molding

Then it was a time to create ducting cover base which was then glued to the hull. The factory is using the thickened polyester resin so I'm doing the same. At first I'm using the hot glue to temporarily attach it to the hull and then glued it permanently with resin putty consisting of Cabosil, microballons and short chopped glass fibers.

cover base "glued" to the hull

aft berth - hole in the top going to the aftmost part of the head

oak strips for front cover screws

The factory heavily uses the polyurethane adhesives for all wood joining. This is cool as you don't see ugly screw heads, but you are unable to do the future upgrades. So that's why I've decided to use the screws for the ducting cover, so I'm able to add more wiring or whatever time brings.

cover after 3 coats of satin varnish

In the mean time, I was painting the fuel tank shelve and heater holding plate with the top-coat (gelcoat with 2% of paraffin solution)

finished fuel tank shelve with strap in the middle locker

I was worried about the amount of space between the locker hatch and the locker opening so I've installed additional port locker vent and stainless grille.
Maybe it isn't necessary, but before the final installation, I've put the butyl tape stripe on the left, top & right part of the grille to make it more watertight.

port locker vent

bug screen

The last small modification is adding a 4cm height shelf border in the port locker to prevent small parts or tools to fall down inside the locker.
Again stripe of plywood, laminated and top-coated.

in the middle - shelf border

Stay tuned for the next part - hopefully the final installation.