Sunday, January 14, 2018

Lil' Toot 37VT75 Upgrades

Ben Phillips reports that they'll be moving aboard this Spring and want to get Lil' Toot in shape before doing so.  To that end lots of upgrades are being done:
-- new engine room insulation
-- straighten prop shaft
-- new PSS dripless seal
-- new prop
-- added an AIS and new VHF
-- contemplating a new, one piece, stainless counter top, backsplash and integral sink
-- new stove/cooktop
-- added a second racor fuel filter
-- all new fluids, impellers, hoses, and belts for the Cummins and BorgWarner
-- new bow seat cushion
-- new sonar transducer and NMEA connection upgrades

Friday, January 12, 2018

Hiaqua 37VT03 Experiments with FLIR

We just returned from a five day New Years cruise in the San Juan Islands (Friday Harbor, Rosario etc). No crowded docks!

Mount Baker
It was 32-35º at night and up to a daytime high of 48º, no rain and partly sunny was just fine for us. Winds were up to 25 knots one day, but no wind against current, so pretty easy.

Relaxing at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island

I received a new toy for Christmas….

Flir One thermal imaging camera for iPhone
It's been interesting checking out various areas of the tug. Can't say much for the wood doors as you can see.

Companionway Door

Dutch door
For nighttime cold, I cutout pieces of 1/4" foil backed foam to inset in the salon windows beneath the blinds.

Salon window without (L) & with insulation & blind (R)
Really keeps the heat in. The foam panels stow nicely in the back of the stateroom closet.
Happy New Year, Randy and Yvonne

Monday, January 8, 2018

Wally 41VT01 Gets a FLIR

Flir M232 working in the pilot house of Wally. Going on the pilot houser roof next. It's a thermal camera that can see in total darkness or bright sun.  You can see the warm footprints of someone that just walked by.  The use on the boat is you can see a log in the water before you hit it. Their
spec is a person in the water at .67 kilometers and a small boat at 1.5

Loon 37VT57 in the 'Bomb'

BoothBay Harbor Maine "Loon" during the Bomb Cyclone December 2018

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hiaqua 37VT03's New AC/DC Electrical Panel & Wiring

From: Randy Miller <>
Date: December 20, 2017 14:43:10

Our major electrical project is finally complete and operational. It started with removing the last bit of 35 year old copper wire (AC & DC) from the shore power inlet to the main fuse panel breakers. The entire main fuse panel wiring was gutted, circuits reorganized, labeled and re-wired (both AC & DC). I designed a new fuse panel using pre-wired Blue Sea circuit breaker panels which just fit in the existing space. A (#8101) ELCI 120V Distribution Panel unit was installed along with three (#80230 12V DC (8 position) Distribution Panel units plus new analog meters. 

A new shore power Smart Plug was installed along with cleaning up the AC distribution terminal block (re-wiring and labeling). 

I did most of the concept design last summer while cruising so the final drawings and panel machining was nothing compared to all the wiring prep work and final makeup. This part certainly became way more involved than I had originally thought. Some circuits had to be split up and new ones created. 

Then I focused on untangling and diagramming the AC side with the help of my ABYC electrician. Starting from the shore power inlet to the AC distribution panel and on to the main back panel, everything was cleaned up, re-organized, new wire run and labeled.


I feel much better finally understanding the mysterious AC side of boat wiring and now able to complete accurate wiring diagrams of this last mysterious area. I also added a third DC panel to the right of the main panel. This panel was recessed in a teak frame.

During the process, the old panel was hung on the port door and just connected by the bare minimum AC & DC during the process. An extension cord was used to supply AC power as needed.

With all the various color code systems for DC (White & Blk, Brn & Yellow, Red & Blk) and then (Blk & White) for AC, I found it best to focus on one side at a time…..Far less chance off error and big sparks. I basically gutted all the DC wires except for a few necessary circuits labeling everything first.

What an improvement! (Working modular breakers positioned to ones liking, working lights, backlit meters, backlit nomenclature and custom label names). Really nice!

We are back up running again and ready to head out for a New Years cruise.

Randy & Yvonne

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hiaqua's 37VT03 Electrical Panel Upgrade

From: Randy Miller <>
Date: December 12, 2017 11:38:26

Just finishing up this major AC & DC breaker panel rewire. No more 35 year old electronics and old CU wire. Re-wiring 120v & 12v in the same enclosure really keeps you on your toes!  Just one more day.....I hope.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

John William 37VT68: Teak Deck Removal, Part 3

Sometimes I'm amazed at how Tommy's workers did things. I had some separation of the glass to the core if you want to call it that. The rectangular pieces are solid glass placed atop globs of thickened resin known as dum dum. This is found through out the boat as a filler since it has ground glass in it, not really a good adhesive. The rectangular pieces do not have a filler and appear to be just hardened resin and some were loose. I spread thickened epoxy on top with the first coat thin so it would fill in the cracks and gaps. I then used the same adhesive filler and used a thick layer to put the glass back in place.

Next project is remove the hatches and the teak under them.

The front deck has a core also and only found a couple of small spots that do not bother me.

I also found that several of the frames in the side deck are full of water have dried them out best I can with a vacuum cleaner.

If the weather holds I hope to have the decks and bulwarks primed and ready for final paint mid week.

The blocks [pictured above] are from my paver wall which I used as weights to hold down the glass I cut out when I epoxied it back in place.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Boating Safety Eduction

Bicki Howell, Nellie D. 37VT63

According to the American Boating Association, boating education saves lives.  And in that vane many states are requiring boat operators provide proof of completion of a safe boating course (Boating Education Card) when operating a vessel in their state waters.  

When operating your boat in various state waters it is important to know their specific laws and requirements for possessing a Boating Education Card.  But, it gets a little confusing because the law tends to vary from state to state.  In our State of Maryland, the Boat Education Card is mandatory for anyone born on or after July 1, 1972 who is operating a motorized vessel on Maryland waters.  In Washington State, all boat operators born after January 1, 1955 must have proof of completing a safe boating course.   Florida requires anyone born after January 1, 1988 to have the Boat Education Card.  Everyone operating a pleasure craft in Canada must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card or proof they passed a boat safety course in Canada [Note: US Citizens operating a boat in Canada for more than 45 consecutive days must have the Boating Education Card or the Pleasure Craft Operator Card].  The good news is that every state (and Canada) which has mandatory boater education requirements also has reciprocity, in other words they will accept Boat Education Cards issued by any other state. 

Since we routinely cruise our boat outside of our state and are currently in Canadian waters, we thought it prudent to complete the course work to obtain our Boating Education Card.   There are several ways to complete the training.  Courses are offered by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, The US Power Squadron, National Safe Boating Council, Boat-Ed and Safe Boating America, just to name a few.  Courses can cost upwards of $29.95 and most can be completed on line.  

I searched for the least expensive and easiest way to complete the course and obtain the Boaters Education Card.  The winner, in my view, was BOATUS Foundation's On-line State Specific Boating Safety Courses at:  The Maryland course has 6 lessons which are estimated to take 4-8 hours to complete, followed by a 75 question final exam. After passing the exam you can print a certificate for proof of completion (free) or submit the printed certificate to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for an official Boat Education Card ($10 fee).  .    So, this Winter Dave and I plan to complete the boating safety course through BoatUS.  With the Boat Education Card we will both be in compliance with any state and Canadian laws regarding boater education requirements.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Annual Coast Guard Documentation Renewal

Lee Anderson, Jack Robert 37VT17

All of our boats, a total of 3, have been Coast Guard registered vessels and this is true for Jack Robert.  Just getting the registration transferred when we purchased him was an ordeal but that is another story.  I only bring it up so that you might think I would pay attention to the renewal date and take care of getting the Document of Registration renewed on time.  There it sits prominently displayed in a frame right in the wheel house where I can see the date easily…but didn't.  When I did finally notice that I was out of date it was beyond the grace period.  So now what?

I went on the Internet, did a search and went to what I thought was the Coast Guard document center to the document renewal page.  I was so frazzled and in a hurry, I did not really look at the site closely.  The  pictures below of the site I went to and the current USCG site.  

You will notice the Internet address for the site I went to is not a .mil site but a .org site.  The colors match the USCG site and it looks pretty official.  I thought I was where I was supposed to be but I really did not look closely enough.  It cost me big time.

I went along working feverishly to get my document renewed without paying any attention.  In the past I had always gotten a renewal notice in the mail and it was free.  Things had changed.  The USCG no longer sends out an annual renewal and now renewing has a fee attached to it.  I did not know what the fee was.  I was absolutely floored when I saw it was going to cost me $86.  The actual USCG fee is $26 but I was not on the Coast Guard site.  I was actually on a third-party site that did documentation submittals for the unwary.  For the extra $60 I got nothing extra that I would not get going directly to the Coast Guard site.  I found out later that the USCG has changed their site to try and reduce this from happening to other people.  The new site is much easier to navigate than the previous site.  There are two lessons I have learned.  First, take my time when on the net and make sure I am where I actually want to be.  If I don't, it could cost me.  The second lesson I have learned is to use my calendar app to put in a reminder to do the renewal a couple of weeks before the expiration date.  This will provide a reminder in time to get the renewal processed.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Can We Make It?

Dave Howell, Nellie D. 37VT63

A definition of stress?  A strong current pushing your tug into a bridge that you're not sure you can get under.

Here's a simple, inexpensive solution: a landscaper's level (see photo below).  With the mast down the highest object on Nellie D. is the wheelhouse mounted radome.  So, positioning the level at the radome's height and then looking at the bridge through the level tells us all we needed to know.  If the level's reticle is below the height of the lowest steel there's clearance.  If not, it's probably best to wait for the bridge to open.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pre-flight Engine Check

Dave Howell, Nellie D. 37VT63

We have a good head of stream on when, all of a sudden, there's a loud bang and Nellie emits a big cloud of black smoke from the exhaust.  Bicki and I exchange a brief anxious look before Bicki throttles down and I dive into the engine room.  I look at the engine's raw water seacock.  It's closed.  Oops. 

When doing engine room checks I rely on the mnemonic WOBBS--water, oil, belt, bilge, strainer.  This mental checklist worked great until today, and then it failed miserably.  In retrospect it wasn't the routine that failed, it was its application. 
The duckweed (pictured below in Lock 16) in was so thick in Muscatine, Iowa that the Mississippi looked more like a lawn than a river.  When doing the WOBBS check, and knowing how thick the duckweed was, I decided to open and clean the strainer rather than do just the normal, external, visual inspection.  And, this leads us to the crux of the problem.  WOBBS is really a preflight inspection--the last thing that should be done before starting the engine.  If the inspection leads to some maintenance actions, like adding oil or coolant, then the entire WOBBS inspection should be performed again.  

 Since this incident we've added a raw water flow alarm.  There are some good ones on the market like Borel's.  Nellie's is simply a 140°F sensor/switch that's nylon tied to the 3" exhaust hose just downstream of the exhaust elbow.  There are only two wires to connect: one goes to ground; the other to the alarm trigger used by the oil pressure sending unit.  For $1 in parts and a little labor, the alarm is a lot of bang for the buck.   

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

John William 37VT68: Teak Deck Removal, Part 2

Still plugging along or should I say unplugging.
Here are some of my favorite tools,

a Fein Multi tool, an 8 inch sander with 40 grit paper, and
a Milwaukee hammer drill with a spade bit.
I started out removing as many screws as possible and then saw cut across the teak with the Fein and started working the deck up in one foot pieces.
After getting the teak off I used the Fein with a medium scraper blade and removed as much of the bedding as possible. This was not a hard process and progressed rather quickly. Next I sanded the deck until it was just gelcoat left and proceeded to patch the screw holes with thickened epoxy; sanded that and then used a 1 in by 9 oz cloth over the screw holes to ensure they will not pop in the future.
At this time I am sanding and fairing the strips on the stbd side. 
I did find the decking was thinner on the stbd side and the bedding in worse condition.   I attribute this to that side being in the sun for 30 yrs. 
I will sand the port side next and fill all the holes to keep the core dry. 
I have found some of the wet areas have small blisters but not a problem after sanding them, seem to be in the gelcoat only. 
It appears the piece of teak at the cabin side is the cause of many of the leaks since they did not radius the teak to fit the cabin radius and almost all the screws were stripped and hardly any bedding under that piece. 
Will tackle the aft deck on Wed which should be easier as I can stand in the lazaret hatches. 
Will keep you posted on the progress. 
John Mackie

Monday, December 4, 2017

LNVT Officially Announces Fall in Wisconsin

According to the St. Croix Marina's newsletter, E-Mariner, it is officially Fall when Al and Rie Peterson, Kedge 37VT43 comes out of the water.  Al and Rei are original LNVT owners , buying Kedge in 1987, and they have been at the St. Croix Marina for 60 years.  Back in 1957 Al was a 30 year old and proud owner of a 22' outboard Trojan.  Kedge remains one of the favorite boats in the marina.  In 2013 they were awarded the LNVT Loren Hart Award.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mocko Jumbie Update

Liz Harding keeps Mocko Jumbie 37VT48 on St. Croix, USVI.  Hurricane Maria, when she was a Category 5, went right over the island.
"We made it through [Hurricane Maria]
just fine, comparatively.  At least a dozen vessels were totally destroyed.  Very heart breaking.   We are still without power, but everything is ok.  We actually ran the boat for a good 4 hours around Buck Island to give the batteries a good charge.  She has been running better than ever." Liz Harding, 27 November 2017