Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Test from Pactor modem

If you're reading this then I successfully sent a blog post to the internet from a Single Side Band marine radio!!!

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Checklist getting checked off

As we wind closer to our imminent departure from San Diego (and not an easy thing to do, leaving family, good friends, and an amazing place to live) we are checking of to-do items and the prep work is getting done pretty efficiently.

The following is likely incomplete but these are some of the things we are undertaking as we finalize prep for Mexico:

- Generator running now but needs some parts replaced before we leave, those were ordered today so hoping they're here soon

- Water maker is making water but only at about 60% of capacity, I believe the problem is one of two things, either 1) low voltage due to corroded wires, or 2) feed pump heads would like to be rebuilt.  I'll tackle this later this week or next week

- New Pactor modem for our SSB (HAM radio for mariners) needs to be hooked up

- VHF has never worked as good as it should, doesn't always transmit or receive as far as it should, hoping it's just a antenna to cable connection issue

- phone plans changed (several good plans for North America now from your standard US carriers, ie no roaming charges any more, Canada, USA and Mexico are all covered under the same plan) so we will be able to keep our current phone numbers at least until leave Mexico in a couple years

- purchase an emergency health travel plan, see D.A.N., this will provide emergency medical insurance and flights back home if needed

- change billing addresses and get a PO Box for future mail (Monica's parents having been kind enough to check up on our PO Box! THANK YOU!)

- update boat insurance for lower latitudes including hurricane areas - this has been a major pain, the insurance companies couldn't be more vague and in some cases completely unresponsive (I may write an entire blog post about this when this task is completed)

- plan our going away party on January 7

- Misty Cutter is working on looking into extended Mexico visas, we have an appointment at the consulate in Los Angeles January 5

- defrost freezer which we need to do every 3-6 months depending on how much frost builds up

- make a reservation for our slip in Ensenada, we will be staying at Hotel Coral for 3-4 weeks

- and...... anything else that comes up

Despite all of this, we and Misty Cutter are taking a road trip to Ensenada tomorrow because.....well because we can and want to!  But also to satisfy anyone's curiosities about the area, the marinas we can choose from, and just to get familiar with processes.  Basically for me it's trip for tacos and a ballena!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Uno mez mas!

November was very busy, starting out with my birthday, continued work on the transmission, a haul out for bottom paint, Thanksgiving week and even a new marina!

Had a great birthday, even if the Vikings continued their horrific downfall after a 5-0 start by losing to the Lions in overtime.  The rest of November wasn't much better for them as they went 1-3 and now likely don't even make the playoffs after reaching #1 in the NFL of the press writers power rankings after week 6.  Ahhh Vikings how you do this to us almost every year, get our hopes up at some point in the season only to finish 1-6, miss a 23 yard field goal at home in the playoffs, get blown out 41-0 when you were favored in the NFC championship game, miss one kick all year but turns out it was the one mattered to go to the Superbowl...... I suppose the legitimate reason this year is that they have played with 11 different offensive lineman, a traded for midseason quarterback and no Hall of Fame running back.  Just makes December that much more freed up for me to prep SeaGlub, so here's those updates....

Birthday friends!

So work continued on the transmission.  Recall after returning from Catalina in September we had excess water in the bilge (more on that issue below) with a layer of some form of engine fluid.  I could see an area of the transmission that appeared to be leaking, the photo isn't that great but the gunk buildup is where I believed the leak was coming from.

Hard to see but that black gunk buildup represented a growing separation of the gear box from the flywheel cover

After taking quite a while to figure out how to remove the transmission and with help from neighbors Miles and John, we managed to get the gear box out in a couple different pieces.  Little did I know the mistakes I was making by doing that.  You see, the transmission is held together by those pieces I separated and by separating them I was loosening up other oil seals, unbeknownst to me.  So after 6 weeks, and taking the transmission and / or prop shaft off three times, replacing the gear shift cable (that I also managed to strip during this process) we now appear to have a working and dripless transmission.

Transmission mission: remove all the things in the way first!

Yes, nice and clear, everything out of the way including shaft removed, now just to get it out!
Cleaned up transmission, new gasket in place, but this picture shows what I mean buy all the gears are held in place by this bell housing.  All my gears shifted and thus created my second leak.

n.b. - as a sidenote to the additional leaks I managed to create, 1) try to keep the gear box together as one piece when removing, I smashed in the output shaft seal causing a leak by removing the gear box from the flywheel cover, 2) always check parts for corrosion evidence, our coupler (picture below) was badly pitted, and 3) be careful with moving around the gear shift cable, I stretched ours out and was fortunate to make it back to our marina as we lost gear control just as we pulled into our slip!

You can see the pitting from corrosion, this is where the oil seal sat and thus we were no longer getting a complete seal.  This wasn't leaking yet, but.....

While removing the transmission I had removed enough parts, wires and hoses to give myself a better look into the bilge areas.  Remember the water leak I mentioned?  Well, I found it and 2 or 3 potential more leaks....  The exhaust hose for the engine was leaking because hose clamps on an elbow were sitting in a low part of the hull and so for years whenever we had any water at all run past them they were getting corroded.  This could've been solved by not placing the hose here or just elevating the hose slightly.  When I went to move the exhaust hose the clamps literally fell off.

Here's the exhaust hose where an elbow turns the hose towards the stern.  The hose clamps at the top of the picture were so corroded they fell off, thus our water leak.

Corroded hose clamps
Here's another area on the engine exhaust hose which was eventually going to leak.  This area had a section of generator exhaust hose rubbing against it.  Not good.

Here's the section of generator exhaust hose

And here's the majority of hoses removed.
All new hoses are now in place for the engine and 80% of the generator.  Thanks again to Miles across from us for his hours of sweat and labor to get the new hoses in, not an easy task bending a 3" steel corrugated hose around corners of the boat.

Moving on from these repairs, we knew we were going to haul out to get new bottom paint and since I had a few struggles with the transmission we figured we'd go to the yard sooner than later so I could get some assistance.  So we got new bottom paint and replaced a thru hull we had some concerns about.  In and out of the yard in 3 1/2 days.  Thank you to Shelter Island Boat Yard, these guys were great!

New thru hull going (and you can see our new engine exhaust hoses)

But as always, it wasn't all work and no play.  I managed to get away for a week to Mexico for a camping and surfing trip, awesome time with my bud Andrew and a good trip to confirm that the bay we surfed is indeed an excellent anchorage!  SeaGlub will see you soon.

Monica had a great weekend with family in Big Bear, seeing family, having fun talking and hiking.

And Tessa is always on either play or sleep mode.  Tessa got to go camping in Mexico for a week and hiking all over Big Bear!  She loves the no-leash-life!

We ended month with our impending departure on our minds, and having friends to help get those things done is always welcome, thus we found a mega yacht slip to share with Misty Cutter.  We're working on several things but none that will keep us from leaving.  Generator for us is the biggest and most important fix it item, SSB radio is getting a new ground cord and Pactor modem, water maker is under producing, need to figure out health and boat insurance, and changing mailing addresses, etc.

We're planning on having a going away party January 7 and departing for Ensenada 2-3 days later.  We have a bunch of family flying in and would love for you to make it too!

Harbor Island West Marina - all day January 7, 2017 - no gifts please, just your smiles and empty cocktail cup, we'll fill it for you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October update and penciling in plans for departure

It's been a very busy month onboard SeaGlub.  Upon returning from Catalina last month we found oil in the bilge.  After a lengthy investigation, we surmised that the leak was coming from the transmission where it connects to the bell housing on the engine block.  I've been told, all we have to do is take off the gear box, clean it, put in a make-a-gasket sealant, and put it all back together.  Riiiiight.... alllllll we have to do.....

Getting at the gear box, of course, was no simple process.  First I had to take off everything I put on last spring, the turbocharger, mixing elbow and other components.  I also had to remove a bunch of hoses from the generator (that's a separate rebuild story still on going...) and remove other various items.

before removing everything in the way

and after, now to get that out of there!

Now with everything removed I can get at the gear box.  That includes uncoupling the prop, sliding that back without flooding the boat and then removing the gear box.  That's alllll I have to do.....  two days later and three men working together, we successfully removed the gear box and flywheel cover but the order was 1) remove flywheel cover with gear box attached, 2) remove gear box from flywheel cover because they wouldn't come out still bolted together, then 3) physically pull them out.

Now just put everything back in in the reverse order and cross our fingers that putting a new seal in will solve our problem.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.  I'll update this project when we're back up and running.

Also this month we have rebuilt the Spectra watermaker after it sat unused but properly pickled (stored) for 5 years.  Our seals in the pump had gone bad and the membrane was due to be replaced.  She's working now but I'm still troubleshooting the output efficiency which is lower than it should be.

Spectra 380c before rebuild

And as we get closer and closer to our departure, we have starting stocking up on spares.  I did a 2 1/2 hour aisle by aisle shopping trip at West Marine, now just to figure out where to put it all.

so many to choose from

that was fun!!
So we're wrapping up some of our big item To-Do's, we have a very busy November planned, a haul out in December and hopefully out of here in early January....

Oh ya, January 7, mark it on your calendar, that's the day we've decided to have our going away party.  It's a Saturday and wild card weekend for the NFL, yes we will have the games on for any of you NFL fans (me!).  Our plan for now is to take our time down the Baja peninsula, get to Cabo, hang out a bit and then work our way to Puerto Vallarta by April.  Then we'll work our way back north to the Sea of Cortez.  Why no Sea of Cortez when we first get down there?  Because who wants to snorkel in <70 degree water???

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Catalina Shakedown

We had a great time getting SeaGlub back out on the water in September.  We headed to Two Harbors, Catalina with our friends Adam, Jess and Rocket on  Our trip took us Two harbors followed by a few days in Newport Beach and we stayed in their new marina called Marina Park, a gorgeous facility, a bit pricey but awesome amenities and free laundry!  We had one more chance to hang out with Mark on sv Starbright as he slowly heads back north.  We then returned to Two Harbors, picked up a crew member in Chris Parcel, skipped down to Avalon and then returned home.  Here's a quickly put together video of our trip:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

In Between Boat Projects...

In between boat projects we're always finding time for lots of fun.  Taking Tessa to the beach has become a regular adventure, that little puppy has sure turned into one heck of a swimmer! But sometimes she's plays harder than her body is ready for.  Last week she turned on her front left leg to chase down a toy in the soft and wet beach sand.  Her entire body turned but her leg did not.  She yelped over and over, tried to get hobble back to me and finally just fell over and laid down.  After determing nothing was broken, we got back in the dinghy and headed home.  She had a few days of R&R but was still limping pretty noticeably so we took her to the vet, they weren't able to diagnose anything we didn't already know but did prescribe a muscle relaxant, Meloxican, and after 2-3 days shes now back to swimming and playing.  Our lesson learned is that after a fun day of playing, when we notice she's exhausted we need to stop throwing the toys.

My two beautiful girls!

Tessa getting hauled around after turning her ankle.  Poor thing struggled to even make it to the grass to do her thing 
We spent a fun weekend rafted up in Glorietta Bay and got some good sailing pics on the way there with sv Volare and sv Starbright with Mantus Anchors holding us down snuggly!

Sailing puppy!

SeaGlub about to head under the Coronado Bridge

SeaGlub from Volare

Volare chasing us down

sv Starbright

Time to get our beach on!  The puppies are ready too!
Mark and Linda ready to go play on the beach

The girls getting some sun

The boys heading back to refill the cooler

Swimming puppies!

Mantus Anchors holding down the raft up
Mantus dinghy anchor at work

And most recently I got to go play around on a classic little sailboat, a Hobie Cat 18.  Tons of fun and made a short video about it here:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Battery upgrade

One of the last few 'before-we-go' projects was always to replace and upgrade our battery bank.  We were wired with two 245amp AGMs but we were wired for three.  Last week when I began to survey and prep the area for the new batteries, I realized we could probably fit four AGMs giving us a total of 960amp hours available.  In order to do this we'd have to lose one sock drawer.

The decision was easy enough, the process actually not much more difficult.  I removed the drawer and built a frame for the battery case to sit on.  The fiberglass case to hold the battery amazingly fit super super snug.  With the help of two friends and the admiral (Monica) we heaved out the old batteries just using the spin halyard and lowered four new ones down.

The two older batteries

Drawer removed
Frame built
Fiberglass batttery case installed

Four new AGMs

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Starbright Makes Her Way to San Diego

Starbright at anchor

After 10 great days in the Sea of Cortez on the charter trip (see post here) I was granted an opportunity to sail with recent retirees Mark and Terry southbound from San Francisco to San Diego with several planned stops along the way.  I was really looking forward to this for several reasons, getting back out on the water, sailing with good friends, and maybe actually getting to sail this passage versus our passage last year on SeaGlub where we motored the whole way to Point Conception.  Well.... I wasn't let down.
We left on a Sunday with predicted winds of 18-20kts near San Francisco and supposed to increase to 25-35 over the next few days.  As we left the slip the winds in Marina Bay were 16-18kts and we knew we were about to get some real sailing in under our belts.  Thanks to Terry we had several pre-made meals like chili, spaghetti, and elk ghoulash where all we would have to do is heat them in a pan to eat, plus we had a thermos we'd fill with hot water to make Cup-o-Noodles for the rougher parts of the passage.  As we exited under the Golden Gate Bridge, the weather was pretty crappy, and therefore pretty easy for us to say goodbye.

But the crew was in good spirits and very well protected inside Starbright's cockpit enclosure.  As fate would have it, though, we were teased by Mother Nature for as soon as got outside the Gate, the winds virtually stopped!  Huh?!  What happened to the 16-18kts blowing us out there?  What happened to the predicted up to 35kts???

Ask and you shall receive....

A few hours later we put the sails back up and then made days of 150 and 165 miles and rounded Point Conception our third morning out to sea.  We did find the 25-35kts, and we had sustained winds of 20+ all through out the nights, and we stayed double reefed pretty much the whole trip (and we did make it all the way to Santa Barbara despite the tracker shutting off somewhere before our final destination - 380 miles!).  As you can see from our track, we basically did two gybes per day, once before dark taking us well offshore, then again in the morning in preparation for the winds to pick up and take us back to within sight of shore.  We had a blast and Starbright performed magnificently!

380 miles SF to SB

first morning in Santa Barbara - back to shorts and flip flops!
After Santa Barbara we stopped in the Channel Islands for a bit, two different anchorages, Pelican Bay which required bow and stern anchors but offered pretty good protection until the Santa Barbara sundowners hit in the evenings with winds of 25-30kts, just be sure your bow and stern anchors have you pointed NNW!  Here's our anchor plot from one day in Pelican bay:

We also stopped in Smuggler's Cove, beautiful place and easy anchorage with good holding, but for the second straight year my experience was less than recommendable.  The exposure to the south swell in summertime can and did for my trips leave the anchorage a bit too rolly. 

From there we headed off to Two Harbors Catalina, had a great couple of days, then headed to Dana Point, a new marina for me(by boat at least).

The guest slips were reasonable rates and generally available if you call ahead, you can even reserve months ahead of time.  The anchorage was the surprise to me - bigger and deeper than I had expected, I could see us going back there on SeaGlub later this year.

After 12 days we arrived in San Diego where Starbright took up her new temporary residence in the San Diego cruiser anchorage which is available to non-San Diego residents for up to 90 days - for free!  You just have to stop by the customs dock on Shelter Island and request a Cruiser Anchorage Vessel Inspection (mostly just checking that head thru hulls are closed and no oil or fuel in the bilge).

We had a great trip and I want to thank Captain Mark, Terry, their wives and especially Monica for a granting me this time away from home.  

Approach into San Diego