Posts Tagged ‘Sailomat’

Biding our Time

Monday, October 18th, 2021

it has been awhile. I guess I need to just stop apologizing and blog when ever I am thinking of something. I’ve been working long hours on the website. Thus I have two new larger picture galleries . One, of our travels though French Polynesia and the the other of our three visits to San Blas islands.

Trying to play catch up on web stuff is not easy. I now know a little of the web add ons. The styling part called CSS, and even less of some of the under the hood programming for the web, called JavaScript. But, like the turtle in the classic race with the hare, I will keep trudging on.

Then too is our time here in Australia dealing with Covid. While the Covid fight hasn’t effected us all that much, it is effecting other cruising friends. One, who I will not name, is going to ship his yacht back to the Caribbean at great expense. I asked him about it and he said; he’s not having any “fun” now. A sad point to be at in life. I understand.

Fortunately, both W/ and I are having fun. We enjoy the boat projects. We don’t want to work full time on them but improving the boat and keeping it looking; in our minds good, is important to us. We play tennis 3- 4 days per week and have met a great group of Australians. None of whom are yachties, but that is how we like it. We cruise not to to be water tourists but to experience life as others live. And luckily for us, Covid struck while we were in a place that is like what we had at home. Weather wise, traffic wise, supply wise and tennis wise.

Oh there are differences. Australians drive on the side of the road that feels odd. I’ve gotten in the wrong side of the car looking for the steering wheel a couple of times. People drive the wrong way around- Round Abouts. Round abouts, those circles at intersections where there are no lights. Some words have similar meanings and others like “Fanny” are verboten. Luckily when I used it once, a nurse I knew came up to me and whispered what in the local culture fanny refers

Epoxy Varnish Removed

Signature Finishes Epoxy Varnish removed

to. To help one understand, it is the slang for a little kitten – part of the female anatomy.

Needs to be cleaned up and Powder Coated

So we plod on. I’ve ordered some new parts for the rigging. They’re at the shippers for posting them to Aus. We’ve taken the Sailomat wind vane apart and those parts are at the sandblasters and powder coaters. We’re having a new memory foam pad made for our new aft bedding. We plan on three new foam cushions made for our sea berth in the main salon and then I get to make new sets of crew covers. We work a bit each week on the teak. The idea is to have the exterior teak Varnish completed when we leave here.

If all goes well, if the governments around the world get their act together, if Covid is under control, we will be heading North and back to the tropics; next winter in Australia. Remember now, cruisers plans are written in the sand at low tide.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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Day 2: Ready to Die

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

I awoke in the early am. At least W/ said I woke up. It didn’t feel like I even slept. Lynn W. from work and I used to share with each other that if a problem was unresolved for either of us we wouldn’t; couldn’t sleep well till it burned it’s way out of us or we could resolve it. Problems on boats can mostly be resolved; somehow, some way. Our problem was an autopilot. Neither of us wanted to hand steer for 3 more days. Neither of us wanted to turn back, one day away Windward Islands; and that would be too much to windward for our liking! So I had to figure out a way to get our boat to steer without us continiously at the helm.

It seems that every moment since Neptune took our steering oar I had spent trying to figure this problem out.  We have a small Simrad Tillerpilot (TP). That autopilot was to connect to the windvane to steer when we were motoring and had no wind. Problem is; the TP pretended it was the wind and the oar in the water provided the power to actually steer the boat. I had no oar in the water anymore. Well that’s not exactly correct. I had an oar in the water but it wouldn’t steer the boat; CAUSE IT WAS 9,000 FEET DOWN!

I’m thinking that maybe somehow I can connect the TP to the wheel. Multiple problems kept getting in the way. No way to attach the arm to wheel. I could maybe solve that, no way to attach the body perpendicular to the spoke on the wheel. Installing the body would mean that I would need to drill a hole in the deck and put in a new fitting. I had the new fitting but drilling the hole I didn’t want to do. And finally; if I did both of the above could the power be routed to the TP?  First thing in the am we pull out the TP and check. I put the connection aft, close to the windvane and lo and behold there is no way the power cord will reach the cockpit. I could always splice some wires to the unit but in an environment where salt spray can be problematic; here it would short out any electrical connections and maybe ruin another device or worse yet – we would then HAVE to hand steer the rest of the way. Besides too, I didn’t think that stepping across wires on the deck would be all that good of an idea. Either of us falling overboard would  be much worse then loosing the self steering! So – Cockpit mounting – out of the question as of this point in time.

Years ago; when we first started sailing on our Westsail 32 we were too poor to have any kind of autopilot. But we had a book called Self Steering for Sailing Craft and I had read of a unique way to use the sails and a rubber line tied to the tiller to steer. Back in our first offshore trip from Pensacola, Fl to Tarpon Springs we used this method.  Tied a line on the headsail sheet, ran it through a bock to the tiller. As the sail would pull the tiller too would be pulled and the boat would luff up. Then we tied a shock cord on the other side and as the boat luffed up and the sail didn’t pull anymore the shock cord would pull the tiller back till the sail filled in and pulled. It worked quite well and steered the boat for about two days then till the wind died. But the principle worked.  The question was how to use the same idea here.

I thought about connecting a line to the headsail and then to the wheel. The primary issue seemed to be that as we were heading down wind in cross seas the sail didn’t stay filled. It would fill and pull like hell on the sheet, then a swell would roll by and throw the wind out of the sail. As the boat came back up the wind would fill the sail and “pow” blow up (not literally), and pull a ton on the sheet. It didn’t seem likely that I could use sheet to wheel successfully.

But; could I mimic that scenario?  If I could get the TP to act as the sheet then use a shock cord to pull the wheel back that may work.  Now all I needed to do was put all the pieces together.  Because I had to mount the TP aft I would need to get a line to the cockpit and pull the wheel. I figured that could maybe use one of the lines from the Windvane  and then to the wheel. For a shock cord would then be tied to the wheel pulling the opposite direction. I give that 95% chance of working. W/s still hand steering while I gather up the pieces and begin the installs.

Oar Clamped in Place

Oar Clamped in Place

As I’m exhausted I’m going slow and doing this a step at a time. First I needed a solid platform to stabilize the TP. I used a wooden dinghy oar that I hose clamped to the pushpit (stern pulpit) and then boom gallows. This would keep the TP in a relatively direct line to the pull.  Then I picked up 3 hose clamps to clamp the line to the arm on the TP. There I ran the line the same as with the windvane; through some doubling blocks so a 2 cm pull on the TP arm would be a 4 cm pull on the line. Since the windvane lines were connected to a place near the center of the wheel this 4 cm pull would amt to about an 1/8 turn on the wheel. I hoped it would be enough.  I took a break.

Then after a break I had to dig and find some shock cord.  I could easily find a Hawaiian Sling that still had the rubber hose (shock cord) attached. I cut it off and tied that to the wheel , then

Shock Cord Attached

Shock Cord Attached

tensioned it to pull in the opposite direction as the TP.  W/ steer a course and I pushed the button. Ok, now, let go and watch. The boat was steering a course. About 2 minutes later we heard  a “ping”.  The hose clamp pulled off!  Ok W/’s back on the helm and I go grab some more hose clamps. I put three hose clamps the TP’s arm and we go through the process again. W/ steers a course and I do the hard work of pushing a button.  She’s holding a course! Yeah. 5 minutes go by. Yeah! “Ping”. Damn.

Three hose clamps couldn’t hold here. But! We have a unique tool called a Clamp Tite. One that cost me some consternation when I bought it at a boat show and W/ said (as she does 90% of the time when I buy a new tool) ” What do you need that for” ? These tools use SS wire to mimic hose clamps and you can tighten them up much more as well as strengthen them more by adding more wire wraps. They can actually be used on hydraulic hoses.  My only regret is that I didn’t also get the larger version too!  So I dig out this magic tool and run 2 wire clamps on the pull arm of the TP. W/ steers a course; I push a button.  Yeah, it’s holding. 5 minutes go by, Ping, Damn.  The line still pulled off the TP.

Clamptite Works

Clamptite Works

I don’t give up. there is a small hole in the end of the ram on the TP that goes on a pin to steer by. I figure if I drill out a smaller hole so as not to effect the use of the original hole I can then run the wire through the hole, not ruin anything and it would hold. I take a break. W/ continues to steer.

I dig out the drill, find the right size bit and drill the hole. I then put two more wire clamps on, one of them going through the hole. W/ steers a course; I push a button.  Yeah, it’s holding. 5 minutes go by, whew, the Willy Wonka is still working. 10 minutes go by. It’s still working. One hour goes by, it’s still working.  3 hours go by; YEAH! It’s still working. We won’t die getting to Bonaire.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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