Category Archives: Deck Equipment
Starlink Final Phase
With enough testing under the belt I figured it was time to make the installation more permanent. I measured the outside of the KVH dome and the diagonal length of the Starlink dish and base. The only question was how thick the dome was to determine if the Starlink dish would fit inside the KVH dome. Time to do some climbing.
The first thing to do was climb the mast remove the screws and take the dome cover off the KVH base. As it turned out the dome is super lightweight and only about 5-6mm thick. This is the first time I have removed the dome myself and was a little unsure how it would work. Very easy is my answer.
Fortunately there are only four bolts to remove the old hardware. Access required turning the old dish to remove. Once the dish was unbolted I removed the rescue tape from the coax connections and unplugged the communication/power cable.
The base of the old KVH dome had a slight taper and some ridges. I cut about 10mm off each leg of the Starlink dish support and wrapped with rescue tape to make the legs a little grippy. I reinstalled the four bolts that held the KVH dish and used them to zip tie the legs of the Starlink stand. This may be unnecessary but we have been in some rough water and more support is better than less.
When I removed the old cables I pulled some cordage through the pipe and left one extra just in case. I connected the cable back to Starlink and tested to make sure all was well. Then it was time to clean up the old dome and put in place.
I was paying $145 per month for Direct TV in standard definition via the KVH TracVision dome on the starboard side of the mast. Now I have full internet, wifi calling and streaming via Chromecast plus Google TV for $135 per month. Seems like a great deal to me.
I have heard that a Starlink dish inside a dome may create excess heat and send a warning. I have the snow melt heaters disabled and will check when the weather gets hot. It will be easy to install vents if necessary. At anchor if Starlink loses connection as we pivot I may need to disable the motors so that the dish looks straight up. Because Roxia doesn’t “sail” too much at anchor this may not be necessary. Both of these issues are easy to correct if they become a problem. For now I will test in the current configuration. In the dome with Starlink looking North in the direction of my mast Starlink shows no obstructions. So far so good!
Anyone need an old KVH Mini V-Sat system? Have I got a deal for you…
I was finally able to get multiple days of testing and made decisions on the prop. In the end 10.7/8″ x 12″ was the best prop. I added a fin on the ventilation plate to get on plane quicker with the boat loaded. We have had 6 adults, two children and two dogs on the boat and it planed easily and was able to cruise at 22-25 mph. I think this kind of power is more important than top end speed with one person onboard.
The big test came when we were in Port Gamble for an extended Father’s Day weekend. This coincided with the largest tidal swing in 20 years. The swing when we went ashore for the Mountain Bike Festival was 12′. We carry an anchor buddy to keep the dinghy in deep water on a falling tide. You drop the anchor (we use a box anchor) with the anchor buddy attached and then stretch it all the way ashore. After taking a line to a beach stake or rock you allow the stretch to take the boat back out to deep water. Needless to say we needed more stretch.
The great thing about this boat is that when you pickup and drop people off on the beach, you can step onto the drop-front without getting your feet wet. Also, because the Whaly is roto-molded plastic we were able to slide it down the beach. We place 3″ rounds of driftwood at the keel to keep it from digging in. Four of us easily slid “On-the-Rox” all the way into the water. Nobody got their feet wet and no Whaly’s were harmed in the process.
Take Care of the Davit so it Let’s you Down Easy
For the last four years I have enjoyed a great davit to lift the dinghy without a hitch. It has been pieced together using different fittings without complaint. It was time to give some love to the giant shiny boom on the front of the boat. The biggest challenge I thought would be figuring out the rusty and corroded cartridge on the boom. I learned the cartridge is for load handling keeping the boom from dropping too fast when loaded. This is what the block looked like when I started.
Over time leaking or broken hard lines were replaced. The top left line looks like steel brake line and the top right was replaced with a hose and non-stainless fittings. I was afraid to remove the cartridge so I removed and capped the entire assembly. I worked with Matt at Maximum Performance Hydraulics in Seattle, WA to figure out what to do. My original idea was to replace the cartridge and hard lines using the same block. Matt was patient when explaining the difference between a load handling cartridge and one that only allows the boom to drop slowly. The load holding valve or counterbalance insures that the boom stays in place when you need the boom to stay in one position. It is also a positive stop in case a line bursts or fitting comes loose. You don’t want to be in your dinghy up in the air when a line breaks and the davit drops unexpectedly. The old design slowed the motion with a spring cartridge but did not provide a positive stop. Matt determined this by the old block design. A true load holding cartridge requires ”pilot pressure” in order to open or move at all. This could have been done by piecing “off the shelf” parts together but I wanted it to look nice also. Fortunately, Maximum Performance Hydraulics has a full machine shop and talented machinists. Matt made CAD drawings and I had some suggestions on how I wanted to install it on the davit. Matt made the modifications and here is the result.
Instead of a combination of fittings the new design is clean and all stainless, including the fittings. The Sun Cartridge is not stainless because it was ten times more expensive and not available for at least six months.
The rest of the davit work was simply removing the ram covers cleaning off the old white paint inside, prime and paint the inside then polish the outside.
The last item on the list is to remove the six old hydraulic lines make new ones and reinstall. I used six colors of shrink tube cut in rings to mark which hose goes on each fitting. I will wait until the snow clears a bit to remove the hoses. So in the words of Billy Currington ”…if I fall, can you let me down easy”. Another project in the books.
An Exciting day at Haul-Out
I think it was IBM who used to say you never have a loyal customer until you solve a problem. They also said you shouldn’t hire a salesman under 6′ tall…
In the case of the first remark I was a loyal customer of Port of Everett and now I can’t imagine going anywhere else. Recently, we hauled out Roxia for some routine work. POE has a 75 MT lift and we are right at the limit. I have been hauling out at POE for about 8 years and all the employees are great. They have hauled multiple N62’s so I know they have the experience.
As usual the slings were ready when I arrived and I slipped in with no problem. They waited while I shut things down and I stepped off. On the way to the pressure wash area (away from the water with containment) one of the tire stems broke and started to leak air. These are 300psi airplane tires that I think they run around 140-150psi. With 150,000 pounds in the slings the action started pretty darn fast. One call on the radio and 10 people came in trucks with blocks, a spare tire, a BIG jack and breaker bar. Did you know the lug nuts are torqued to 300 foot pounds. Think about that, with a two foot breaker bar I still could get enough force from my 140 pounds of cinnamon rolls to torque the lugs. Fortunately the mechanic had a 4′ torque wrench. The tire was brought in with a forklift and four guys rolled it into place. All’s well that ends well.
Anyway PORT OF EVERETT You ROCK!!!
Roxia has a Dog Run
There are many places when cruising where it is difficult to take the dogs ashore. Our spoiled dogs need a place that is “just so” to do their business. We have tried the small potty patch and it worked for a short time with our 9# dog but the 80# dog just wasn’t doing it. I decided to try again.
This time I bought a 4′ by 14′ foot section of turf from Costco. I cut it in half and laid it out on the swim platform. If we left it out without washing it off I can only image the smell of stale dog pee. I NEED a raw water wash down for the pad. I purchased a Marco wash down pump package. I have used the Marco pumps for years and really like these gear drive variable pumps. They make transfer pumps, domestic water pumps and this one came as a kit with hose and spray nozzle.I had a spare shutoff valve in my sea chest so the only difficulty was running the hose through the lazerette into the bustle. I was fortunate enough that Roxia was prewired for a cord retrieval. On the panel was an extra breaker labeled for the cord so I knew it must be in the bustle because that’s where I have seen cords on the N62. Success! 24 volts and appropriately sized wire. How lucky was that. I used my Weld Mount kit to epoxy four 8-32 studs inside the bustle. This kit is great to have so you never have to drill holes. I have 8-32, 10-32 and -20 studs plus other tie downs for various wire ties and straps.
The last item was to install a bulkhead fitting for the water hose attachment. Somewhere in my parts supply I found a flush fitting that I have had for 10 years. After install I found a small leak so I can’t leave the pump powered up. The pressure switch makes the pump cycle a bit. It will work for now but I think I will replace with a quarter turn valve.
Both dogs used the pad while we were anchored and I just washed everything down and leave the turf rolled up when not needed.
The Great Torqeedo Challenge
Because of a generous loan from Kevin and Alison Jeffries I was able to test the Torqeedo 1003 electric outboard motor. I have an inexpensive 7.5′ roll up inflatable boat that I used as a test boat. What I found was a little surprising to me.
I did not expect “Mr. T” to have as much power as it did. I ran it fast and slow for about 30 minutes and put it through it’s paces. I docked it and approached the boat and swim platform to simulate being on the hook.
The Pros: Powerful, quiet and simple are the selling points but you never know. It is definitely true. The motor is easy to put on the transom of the dinghy because it is so light with the battery off. You can easily hold it in place with one hand and tighten the clamps with the other. It looks like the handles can be lined up and locked like most small outboards. The battery slips easily in place and locks with a special pin. I think if I was leaving the boat on shore I might run a bicycle cable through the battery handle and lock it to the boat as a precaution. The motor tilts easily like a normal outboard and locks in place so you can drag the boat up the beach. I didn’t see the lock down on the other side until after the first time I tested reverse. It was just like when I was a little kid again and the prop popped up out of the water. It was a little embarrassing with the Dockmaster watching. Surprisingly I was able to get the little 7.5′ boat on plane when I leaned forward in the boat. That was a shock.
The Cons: Care must be taken when connecting the cables not to cross thread the plastic fittings. The tiller and throttle were very stiff. If this wasn’t a borrowed motor I probably would have tried a few modifications to make these easier. The throttle was similar to the early electric shift controls on boats with a slight delay. Initially I had a tendency to click the throttle out of the detent and keep turning until the motor started going. By the time the prop was engaged it jumped forward (or reverse). After a few near water landings I learned to turn and wait. It starts out so slow that you have better maneuverability than a gas motor when placed in gear. Same thing for the stiffness of turning the motor. It is so tight when you want to make small adjustments the stiffness makes you over correct. There is a collar that looks like it could be adjusted. The last con is interesting that Torqeedo didn’t think of it. The tiller arm easily lifts up and down like most outboards but if you lift it all the way up it comes out. There is no stop that I found to have it up but not held in place. It’s minor but I wanted to lift it up out of the way and have it secure. I worried that I would lift the tiller and have it hang by the two cables.
Final thoughts: All in all I loved it. Mr. T could easily power a larger tender. The boat I have has a flat bottom and would have benefited from a keel. Even the inflatable type keel in some small boats would have helped. I used 8% of the battery during 30 minutes I was running it. The charger is the size of a computer adapter rated at 2.0 amps. It took an hour or so to top off. The charger draws so little it can recharge the unit from our house batteries and inverter overnight. With a little throttle modification kids (or grandkids!) can run the dinghy for a long period of time. Maybe all day. The next test would be to run it a lot and row home if necessary.
A BIG THANK YOU to Kevin and Alison!
Anchor Chain Marking
I do not have a fancy chain counter for my windlass. If you ever anchor you need to know how much rode you have out to insure you have proper scope for holding power but not too much. In general more is better for holding but may not be a good idea for other reasons. If you have too much rode out, you might swing into other boats at an anchorage or go aground when the tide goes out by swinging closer to shore. I used to mark my chain with paint. I would lay all the chain out on the ground and paint the chain for about 12″ inside a cardboard box. The problem with paint is that it wears off and the chain has to be dry to repaint. Repainting usually involves taking all the chain out again after it is dry. I decided to try a new method with zip ties. The chain doesn’t twist in the gypsy so I figure the zip ties will last a long time if I put them on top where they won’t rub. I have been using the same color code for years and replicated it with zip ties. I ordered colored zip ties that are red, white and blue. I can keep extra zip ties in my front locker and replace when they break when the chain is wet or dry. The big test will be after anchoring during our three month Alaska trip this summer.
I mark every 25′ with white, every 50′ with blue and every 100′ with red. I put two ties per link on three consecutive vertical links.
No project is complete without finding another problem. After all the chain was out and sitting on the bottom of the bay in my slip, I found the bottom of the anchor locker full of water. There is a false bottom to the locker creating a flat surface to keep the chain from jamming into the small triangle. I lifted the false bottom of the anchor locker and found the drain full of mud probably from years of use and no cleaning. I tried a plunger and running a wire down the pipe. I pumped out all the water and scooped out the mud so I could disassemble the hoses in the bilge. I removed the hose (with a bucket handy) at the check valve after closing the thru-hull. The hose was draining but nothing was passing the check valve. The type of valve on the line was a spring loaded piston type rather than a swing type used on our sinks so I couldn’t just push the valve open. I removed the check valve and took it into my engine room work bench. When I finally got the valve dissasembled I found the piston completely frozen. The screw holding the rubber seal had also broken. I cleaned and buffed all the parts with the scotchbrite side of my bench grinder. I lubed the piston and reassembled and it worked great. Fortunately, when I went into the newly organized Roxia Hardware Store I found the right size screw.
Teak Sign Boards
I’m headed back to Roxia today after two months away. Roxia has been in the care of Brett Hensler and staff at Bundaberg Marina. By the time I get there, she will have new bottom paint, PropSpeed, a new PSS shaft seal and main cutlass bearing. I have a number of projects to complete before the arrival of Nordhavn salesman extraordinaire Devin Zwick in a week. Devin and I will take Roxia south to Brisbane to load onto Yacht Express. Here’s the project I kept busy with while away:
Roxia Sign Boards- Because Roxia is named the same as my grandparents 40′ Wheeler, I wanted to try to tie the two eras together. My son-in-law Bobby matched the gold leaf typestyle on the transom of the original Roxia by hand drawing. Then my son Will digitized the letters so I could print them the 4″ size I wanted. Overall size turned out 6″ by 28″. My goal was to make the signboard look hand carved so not too perfect and a little old fashioned. Someday I may write all the details how to achieve this result. In a nutshell I have about 40 hours in it from milling rough sawn teak to the dimensions, hand carving the letters, creating “crinkle” finish gold and finally 10 coats of varnish (6 on the back). For now the pictures here will have to do. Suffice it to say it would never make sense to pay someone to make these because it ended up about $16 per square inch! I wanted to be able to remove the signs to refinish so I used Weld-Mount ¼”-20 female standoffs and silicone bronze flathead bolts.