02 December, 2014

Boat Expo 2014 in Prague

The winter and spring is time of several boat shows across the Europe and this weekend it was held in our country in Prague. It's called Boat Expo 2014 and it's not that big due to the small market, but this time there were two sailboats from Dalpol - Phobos 21 and Phobos 25 in the"Exclusive" edition.
We wanted to see, how the Dalpol evolve in time and also to get some inspiration of the new features.
Thanks to our boat dealer Mr. Linhart, we were able to visit the boat show for free and have a nice chat.
There was also plenty of power boats and one other sailboat Mariner 24.

overall view

Phobos 21 class - hull #34. According to the dealer, this one will sail the seas of the Mediterranean.

inside Phobos 21

bigger galley with buildin fridge - my wife loves that

extra storage in the V-berth

depth instrument cover in the head

bilge cover

I was curious about the cabin floor and this boat has a completely flat floor with teak and holly plywood floor. It looks like the Dalpol fixed the issue on the convex floor that I have.

place for the propane bottle in the anchor locker -
I'm not sure this will comply with the marine standards!

new version of the stanchion fittings

And this is the second boat Phobos 25 - Exclusive edition:

inside Phobos 25

Dalpol logo in the cockpit

And finally the other interesting stuff:

Mariner 24

Torqeedo I tested this summer

There was no boat accessory this year, but let's look forward for the next years.

22 November, 2014

Replace Volvo Penta LCD hour meter

This article is not strictly related to our boat, but could be useful for some other sailors. When bought our previous boat Catalina 25 with inboard Volvo-Penta diesel engine, the LCD hour meter on the tacho instrument was not showing any digits. This is a common issue with this tachometer made by VDO Technik AG. The issue behind this issue is the humidity and the corroded attachment of the ribbon cable to the LCD display. Someone fixed it by leaving the display on some heat and dried it, but this is just a temporary solution and the digits will go away anyway. It hasn't worked for me because only a fraction of the digits were visible after.
At least, however you can read the last motor hours before you replace it if this worked for you.
I wanted to fix it on our boat, but we sold her just before I could do that. However, my brother had the same issue on his boat. So I found this neat manual how to replace the display with an hour meter module that fits nicely into the instrument. The module I've used is Curtis Instruments hour meter module 701 series (12-48V) with 5mm tall digits for about 20 Euro.

original VDO Technik AG tachometer model: N 02 070 109

dissembled instrument

original LCD and the replacement module 701

I used the soldering iron and cut the rectangle hole into the plastic to fit the new module

fixed the module with hot glue gun

assembled and module connected

and it's showing hours again!
The cons of this solution is that the 5mm digit series modules are not backlit, which is not really important, but I hope that the hot glue will transmit some light into the module using the instrument's original backlight bulb. This was not tested yet.
The other downside is that the this replacement module is not able to detect if the motor is actually running so it can count some hours during the waiting for the river locks and so on. I think that even the original hour meter was designed such way, but I'm not sure. To avoid that, simply turn off the electronics when the motor is off. Hope this helps someone and don't be afraid to rebuild one of our self. I was done in less than 2 hours.

Updated 15.12.2014: The guy called himself Multihullgirl on Sailnet.com forum suggested a possible attempt to fix this issue, but as I said, it did not work for me. But you can try it first:
The LCD module is connected to the main circuit board via a flat ribbon cable. The problem is poor contact between the pads of the ribbon cable and the board receptacle. Lever up each end of the receptacle to release pressure on the cable and pull it out. Lightly clean the pads of the end of the ribbon cable with contact cleaner. You may also need to get a little contact cleaner inside the receptacle. Fully dry each with heatgun/hairdryer before reconnecting. Be careful when doing that as you don't want to overheat the ribbon cable.

Update 17.1.2017: Great tip from Anders Gustafsson, how to start the hourmeter only when the engine is running:

Stumbled across your page after already locating a curtis hour meter at Farnell. Anyway. To modify so that the counter only runs when engine is running. do as follows: On the module P goes to positive and N to negative. R (reset) also goes to negative. From the W spade terminal (usually nr 4). Run a wire to a suitable diode (I used an 1N4148, wire goes to anode, the cathode (denoted by ring) goes to an 1k ohm resistor (1/4W). The other end of that resistor goes to the cathode (ring) of a 9.1V zener. The anode of that zener goes to minus and parallell to that zener, put a 500nF ceramic cap. Run a wire from the cathode of the Zener to the I terminal on the counter module. Theory of operation: The W signal is AC, you rectify it with the first diode and clamp to 9.1V with the resistor and zener. The capacitor is just filtering. Result is a 9.1V signal whenever the engine is running. The docs accompanying the module are horrid, but at 12V, the module will start counting at approx 5.5V on the I terminal. The current draw is 42uA.

I've created a scheme for it:

21 October, 2014

Oh boy, it's winter again

This weekend we have finally prepared our joy for the winter months. Almost everything, including the sails, battery, clothing and so on is stored at home to keep them dry. Then I poured a little bleach into the water tank and flushed the hoses. Then I've removed all the water from the hoses and the tank and cleaned the water tank via the inspection hole. This is essential to keep it clean because after one year of use there was a nice junk. I would strongly warn anyone against the flexible water tanks, because you cannot clean them!

The first thing is to jack the trailer and put it on the concrete blocks to ease the axles.

concrete blocks to lift the trailer and ease the axles
Then raised the mast a little and added the wooden A frame to support the mast in case of heavy show and finally wired the line netting from side to side to prevent water collection on the tarp.

additional mast support
bow mast support bar

32mm plastic pipe tee to prevent tarp chafing from the stanchions
Then I leave the forward hatch slightly open to let it breathe with the bug screen to avoid bee's nests in the cabin.

One word about the tarp. This is very heavy tarp used on truck trailers which is very durable, but a bit struggle to put it on. Still in a good shape after ~8 years I own it since I bought our first sailboat.

So now it's time to rest and buy some new marine stuff for the Xmas :-)

19 September, 2014

Bimini top and sprayhood prototyping

Bimini top and the sprayhood are nice things to have on the boat, but it's a pretty tricky to build something useful and also good looking at such a small boat we have. Our requirement is the easy handling and also storing for trailering. So I started Googling and found some interesting ideas I would like to implement.

Bimini that could be open when sailing with standing headroom ...

Catalina 250, small aft bimini top with boom awning extension.
More photos on Catalina 25&250 forum.

Hanse 350 bimini and boom awning extension

... and sprayhood that would not interfere with the lines, rope clutches and winches. I've found this nice "racing" style sprayhood. You have great views from the cockpit, but the only problem is that you are not really covered from the cold wind.

So called "racing" foldable sprayhood.
More photos on Pacific Seacraft Dana 24 blog

The boat is on the hard finally to be prepared for the winterizing so I've found some time to prototype these ideas on our boat. I cut some plank into thin sticks and made the frames for the bimini and sprayhood.
bimini top and racing sprayhood - version 1

racing sprayhood - version 1

racing sprayhood (final dimensions - slightly lower, version 2)

aft view (final frame will be more rounded, of course)

bimini top with 190cm standing height and sprayhood v.2

The bimini top should be mounted on the top of the pushpit with some vertical support tube and horizontal so it would stay open without any other straps leading forward and aft.
The green lines coming from the top of the Bimini going to the mast are representing that awning extension.

This racing sprayhood is nice, but I've found that it would not cover the window opening on the cabin side so we are still not decided whatever to use this one or build regular sprayhood like on this Phobos 25.
Phobos 25 with sprayhood

Anyway, I have all the dimensions noted so It's now easy to have it build by someone by our requirements.

Update on 15.10.2015
I've found the first Phobos 21 with a sprayhood on the pages of the Sweden dealer (Carisma boats). He let it made locally, but it looks very good and functional.

sprayhood on Carisma 22 (formerly Phobos 21)

folded aluminum frame

Update on 14.10.2016 - I've installed the regular bimini top finally. Check out here!

02 September, 2014

Trailer support pads repair

When we bought our used trailer I knew that it will need some repairs. I bought new tires, sanded and painted wheels and replaced the position lights with LED waterproof version.
The last repair I did this weekend was to replace the carpets on the support pads.
I bought commercial polypropylene carpet with gel backing. To spread the load on the hull a bit, I've inserted between the carpet and the pads the 5mm high density closed-cells foam.

old carpeting... was about the time

I've rounded the edges of the timber a bit

5mm foam

new carpeting and the cuttings

finished pads

Hope the new pads will support the boat and won't scratch the gelcoat too much.
Now I'm in touch with the trailer maker to build the tongue extention bar so we can lunch the boat in gradual slip or beach. I'll keep you updated.