Out with the Old, In with the New

When we began the process of building a new exhaust system. One piece that had to go was our muffler. Here it is welded out of stainless steel.

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After reading up on how the exhaust should be installed, all the experts agreed that after water was injected into the exhaust line it should run downhill all the way into the muffler. That makes the elbow on top of this muffler a real problem. It is on the inlet to the muffler, so the exhaust gases have to push the injected water uphill at least a little bit. In addition the welds were starting to rust on the bottom of the muffler, possibly leaking a little bit of salt water. We decided to replace the muffler with one better suited to our boat.

After speaking with Centek about the correct muffler for our engine we had a plan. We were going to replace our metal muffler with a fireproof, rust proof, fiberglass muffler. In addition we could get a muffler that had the inlet on the side, making it easier to mount the muffler below the water injection point. Just before calling Centek back to place the order I contacted Defender to see what their price was for a similar muffler. They had the exact same muffler listed for a much lower price. Unfortunately they didn’t have it in stock, but they could have Centek ship it directly to me…I don’t quite understand the pricing, but I’m happy to keep the extra dollars!

Here is the new muffler safely installed in the engine room.

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Now all we had to do was come up with something to do with the old muffler. We came up with a lot of ideas, but we’re starting to think this muffler-like object isn’t really good for anything anymore.

We tried using it as a dumbbell to keep us in shape since we’ve been anchored for so long.

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We tried using it as an anchor for the dinghy…

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We tried using it as a watering can for our new thyme plant..

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We tried using it as a teakettle…

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We tried using it as a new musical instrument, very tubalike but without any pleasing sounds.

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We had it try out for “The Wizard of OZ” but they found a better tin-man…

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However our muffler was most successful as an internet billboard to deliver this message!

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Boat Projects

We have been quite busy here in Newport harbor working on some projects around the boat.

1. New engine room shelves! This has been on the list for a long time, and while we were back in New Hampshire for jury duty I used Darren’s table saw to cut panels to almost the right size. My first attempt at installation ended when the panels just didn’t fit, but a little bit of work with the jig saw and most of our messiest items like the grease gun and engine oil are now securely stowed inside the engine room. The top shelf has a plywood door on it that secures with a barrel bolt, while the lower shelf has a bungee and a large plywood lip to keep its contents in place.

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2. A new downhaul for the genoa.

Sometimes when the wind is really blowing the genoa doesn’t want to come down and Stephanie has to go out on the bowsprit to pull the sail down by the luff. Since we are starting to head farther offshore we want to eliminate as many trips out the bowsprit as we can. The new system is simply a block mounted at the base of the forestay and some fairleads back to the foredeck. By running our old staysail halyard through this system the genoa can be pulled down from all the way back by the mast. In addition the sail can be “locked down” by a cam cleat at the last fairlead.

3. New kayak tie downs.

Using stainless lifting eyes from the Fastener Warehouse, our kayaks can now be ratchet strapped in place. The new lifting eyes are through bolted through the deck and sealed in place with polysulfide sealant. It was really hard to drill 3/8″ holes in our solid deck, but the kayaks are now fully secure.

4. Installation of our new Cape Horn windvane!

This is one project that we are really excited about. This should allow us to set the windvane and then the person on watch will no longer have to steer the boat the entire time. We will be able to actually move about the boat while still maintaining a good course. The installation took a long time and involved a lot of steps, but it is now very solid and we should get a chance to try it out very soon.

The first step was to fill up the entire inside of the boat with the box that the windvane was delivered in and read the instructions. An entire booklet of instructions but only about 1 page was for our model. The instructions basically read “bolt it to your boomkin”. Doesn’t sound too complicated, but… it does come out of the box looking like this.

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So now the parts are scattered across our bed, and the boxes with packaging are taking up the entire salon.

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The first step for me was to assemble the windvane “tower” so I could see what was actually going to be “bolted to the boomkin”. This part which was not in the instructions at all took well over an hour.

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After attaching the “quadrant” to the tower, it was time to start bolting pieces to the boomkin. When we bought the boomkin, we were told that it was predrilled to accept a Cape Horn windvane. When it actually came time to start the bolting, none of the holes lined up at all. Very clearly they were not predrilled for this type of windvane. I very quickly learned that the hand powered drill that has seen a lot of use around the boat for drilling wood and fiberglass was not going to drill stainless, no matter how patient I felt like being.

Fortunately this was a problem that could be solved by throwing money at it and a phone call to West Marine quickly located a power inverter that could power my corded hand drill for less than the cost of pulling up to a dock for the night and using their power. Of course getting to West Marine also involved an adventure of learning how to use the Rhode Island Public Transportation system and paying for a ticket from Newport to Providence ($2) and then getting off at the the first stop.

Back at the boat it was time to start drilling holes. The first piece to be attached was the U-clamp that holds the windvane tower to the back of the bowsprit.

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Two holes and one broken drill bit later (drilling from a floating dingy isn’t the most stable platform) it was off to the hardware store for a new 1/4″ bit. Now it was time to move the windvane into place, we tied a safety line to the tower and Stephanie lowered it over the side of the boat while I guided it into place from the dingy.

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Next it was time to line up the arms that would bolt to the boomkin frame. After a lot of jiggling and adjusting and making sure the windvane was straight up and down the spots were marked and it was back to drilling.

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Then bolting the aft arms in place.

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Then it was time to attach the more forward set of support arms. I think that they were originally meant to bolt on to the main tubes of the boomkin, but I decided to bolt them through the tabs that were originally meant for bolting on teak boards to cover the stainless bowsprit. This seemed to work very very well, and it was much easier drilling through the tab then on the rounded surface of the stainless tubes.

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The windvane came with 6 support arms, and suggested that if the u-clamp was used on the boomkin that only 4 were necessary. During the installation I added the attachment points for the extra 2 arms directly opposite the lower arms on the boomkin tabs.

The tower is now bolted to the boat and all we need to do is attach the pieces that are kept inside when not in use and try it out!

It looks like we’ll get an opportunity soon, hopefully it will live up to expectations.

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Reefing Lines & Crossing Massachusetts Bay

We were tempted by a favorable wind forecast for Monday to spend Sunday in Rockport. So we set up to do some projects and installed a more permanent set of reefing lines on our Mainsail. Up to this point we have had a system where we had to run a reefing line out to the end of the boom when we wanted to reef. It wasn’t exactly a problem, but made it a lot of work to put a reef in the sail. We decided that we wanted to have a system in place to make it easier.

For non-sailors a reef is a way to take in part of a sail. In this case we wanted to be able to bring the mainsail down partway and still be able to use the top portion of it. Our mainsail has 3 reef points. Each time you go to the next “reef” the sail gets smaller. So if we put in the first reef we still have about 70% of our Mainsail up. If we put in the second reef we have 50% of our sail still up, and if we put in the third reef we only have about 30% of our Main up. It is very important to be able to shrink the size of the sail in case the wind starts blowing too hard.

Our new system consists of installed padeyes on the port side of the boom that the reefing lines are tied to.

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From here the reefing line runs up through a grommet on the sail and down to a block on the starboard side of the boom.

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From here the lines run forward along the boom to the mast. They run through a bunch of fairleads ( little plastic loops) to keep the lines from dangling into the cockpit.

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After the last fairlead the reefing lines run through a jam cleat which will hold the line once it has been tightened.

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The line is fed from here back to a winch on the boom so we can really tighten down the reefing lines.

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We haven’t needed to use the new reefing lines yet, but it will certainly be easier to reef next time we need to.

This morning we awoke to our forecasted east wind and headed out of Rockport. The wind was very light and we motored until we cleared Thacher Island, we then raised the sails and the wind promptly changed so that was coming from the southeast. We started tacking our way towards Provincetown wishing that the wind had stayed as forecast. The sailing was beautiful and we kept right on moving along. We spotted a shark swimming along near the surface. He didn’t seem very interested or scared of us, but I pulled in my fishing line to make sure he didn’t make off with my new lure.

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Eventually we realized that we weren’t going to make Provincetown before dark at the rate we were going and started the engine to make our way upwind faster. We were moving right along until we started spotting some whales! We saw several finbacks, but no encounters as close as our downeast spotting.

After leaving the whales we noticed that the oil pressure on the engine had begun to drop. I opened the door to the engine room and knew right away that we had a problem. There was oil leaking from somewhere and was making a mess in the engine room. A quick check of the engine oil showed that our level was high again. Uh-oh, we quickly put up sails so we could keep moving while we sorted out the situation.

After pumping out the oil (more than we had put in) and refilling with fresh oil the engine was running at an appropriate oil pressure, without any leaking. It is time for us to get the engine looked at by a professional. If anyone knows a good diesel mechanic familiar with a Perkins 4-108 in the Massachusetts area let us know!

We decided to keep to the plan and are currently heading to Provincetown (where we will arrive in the dark) and will be trying to get our engine looked at soon.

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