Thursday, May 16, 2019

About boat projects

I guess this post should be the first one this year. And of course it should be posted way before now. It is probably too late to wish you all a happy New Year and happy Easter, but I can thank any one of you who are still reading this and haven't given up on us.

It is not that we haven't have enough topics to write about, but these couple of months just flew by so fast and our lives are so hectic, that we either don't have time or the energy to write. The thing is that we decided to sail off on another longer sailing adventure this year. We optimistically took on plenty of boat projects, some of them because they needed to be done - like repairing the watermaker, replacing all the through hulls, replacing the cooker, repairing the counter top in galley, replacing some of the sails and lines, and some of them because we wished to - like having an electric winch, and new anchor, and more powerful solar panels, new mattresses, a proper washing machine, new shroud with the furler for a new jib and the biggest project - building a new fridge with freezer. 

Captain's plan was to finish everything and sail off at the end of April. My plan was more like May, April weather can be cold and wet. As it looks now we'll be really happy if we finish most project by end of May. Some smaller things will have to be done under way.

Captain figured out new tracks are also needed for new jib. 

The holes drilled into deck needed to be filled with epoxy to seal off the soft core before the screws can be placed. We are quite inventive in creating the tools - sometimes a plastic bag and a little bit of duct tape and a nozzle of a standard sika tube can be adequate tool to do the job.

The installation of tracks of course didn't go without hitches - while drilling the holes through the deck we managed to drill through two 220V electric cables we didn't know were there. Would not happen if they were indicated in boat's electric diagram. But as we noticed a lot of things do not comply with the boat's documentation. It took us two days to repair the cables. We also did some mess on deck with epoxy resin and Bison glue that we will need to clean, or at least try to clean.

Working on a boat is always a struggle to free the space were you're working and put away things that are in the way. We put stuff into any place that is not full yet, including a bathroom, that can then look like this ...

... or all over the galley ....

Once some work is put into it, a bathroom can quickly go from this ...

... to this...

... and then, when the space is needed elsewhere, unfortunately, to this again.

But in the other bathroom the washing machine is already in the place. We plan to test run it before we depart. The washing machine can not use its internal heather, that would be too much load for our inverter, but we can switch the internal heather off with the button and feed the machine with the hot water from the water heather or even with the hot water we would warm up on the cooker. At least that's the plan.

One of the bigger projects was putting the new antifouling on the boat, since we decided to put a copper coat on. This requires stripping off all of previous anti-fouling paints...

... putting on several coats of primers, like this silver one on the keel...

... and bronze ones, all together four of them.

Then the copper coat can be painted over - four to five coats.

We had great luck with the weather, everything was drying perfectly. After a couple of days we arranged with the marina to get the Heron to the lift to shift her in her stands for half a meter, so we could do the whole procedure on spots that were not accessible before.

Another huge project is the fridge with freezer. Originally there were two fridges on our boat, both water cooled. The one that was colder opened from the top like some freezers and other, less cold, opened from the side like most fridges. Their insulation was not the best and the side-door was not very practical, especially when we were sailing and the boat was heeling, many times stuff just jumped out of the fridge when we opened the door - I still remember how we cleaned the chilly sauce from underneath the floorboards while on the Atlantic passage. And we really wished to have a proper freezer, it would make the life so much easier. All these reasons led us to decision to remove the old fridges and build new ones. It was not an easy decision, we knew it was going to be a huge undertaking and a completely new terrain for us.

We had to cut the old fridges out of the boat, piece by piece, we didn't want to disturb the countertop and the front wall. We cut a new opening into the countertop for the new door and started to build the fridges from outside in - we surrounded the whole space with a thick layer of insulating foam and tried to mould the shape to the shape of the boat and maximize the volume. We then glued the plastic sheets over it - here the interior is still one big space ...

... sealed the edges with a pliable plastic tape...

... put a division wall between two parts and installed the cooling elements. Then the certified fridge specialist connected the tubes and put the gas into the cooling elements. We were so happy when we tested it and it worked well. If you look closely you can see the slight frost still on the cooling plate on the right.

We still need to do the doors to close the fridges, build some internal shelfs and install the thermostats. And of course thoroughly test run it. So more photos will follow...

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Heron is in the water!

Finally! Yesterday Heron was splashed, here she is in her berth in Nautec marina in Monfalcone.

Looks peaceful, doesn't she? The process of getting her into the water was anything but. We were due to splash already on Friday, but when we came to marina on Thursday, we discovered a small rusty spot on the keel that would need to be treated. It needed the complete procedure - grinding, epoxy primer, filler, primer again and then couple of coats of coppercoat. Even with placing the heather under the keel to speed up the drying of all the phases, we figured it would be nice to have a bit more time than 24 hours. Luckily marina's big travel lift did have some free slots on Saturday and they could move us from Friday to Saturday. On Saturday we had a bit of a delay partly due to the strong downpour around noon, so we were hoisted in lift slings at around four as the last boat for the day. 

We were both a bit nervous, Captain replaced all the through hulls (skoznike) this winter, so we were a bit worried that there might be a leak somewhere. When Heron was lowered into the water, Captain quickly checked all the through hulls. None of them was leaking. Well done Captain! 

But there was a leakage from Volvo dripless shaft seal! After a couple of minutes we realised there was too much water coming into the boat and that our only option was to lift the boat out of the water again and replace the seal. But where could we get a replacement on Saturday afternoon? It looked like we would need to wait until Monday before we could do anything about it. We arranged with the marina for Heron to stay in slings on the lift, and then to see on Monday morning if we were able to fix the problem by then and they can put us in the water, or we need to go back on hard onto the stands for another couple of days.

As we were standing next to Heron, scratching our heads and trying to figure out what to do, couple of people that were working on other boats and boat owners came by, offering their advice and sympathy. But nobody knew where we could get the darn Volvo dripless shaft seal before Monday! That is, until we spoke to Vinko Golobič, also a Yanmar mechanic for company ANS, who not only knew exactly what we need to do, but also that the nautical shop Tramontana in Črnuče might have such seals on stock and that we might get it on that same evening. He made some calls and we jumped into our car, drove to Ljubljana and shortly after 8 in the evening we were in possession of a brand new original Volvo seal of the right dimensions for our shaft! We were amazed by so much help and kindness from fellow sailors. A big weight fell off our shoulders, but not all of it - we still needed to install it.

Next morning we drove back to the boat and started to dismantle the shaft and the old seal. The old seal was not a Volvo original, but we were told it was of the same quality. It was installed three years ago by a boatyard crew when Heron was getting new antifouling. When we took it off we noticed that the inner rubber lips were almost non-existent. Could be due to lesser quality of the material, but also because the intake hose, that takes care of lubricating the seal with sea water was heavily clogged. Captain replaced the hose and through hull for it already a while ago.

It took us couple of hours to replace the seal. We also polished the shaft. We were working so hard that there was very little time to take photos. Here is one with shaft pulled outwards...

... and on this one you can already see it all put together again - the new seal is the black thing on the upper side of photo. Also the shaft is in place, all shiny, the zinc as well, and above the Volvo seal there is a hose that is lubricating it.

It was already evening when we were done. Our mood was still not the best, it was much like the weather - grey and depressed.

Next morning we were up before 7, both too nervous to keep on sleeping. Before splashing we sanded the coppercoat some more to make sure it is activated properly. And couple of minutes after 9 there it was - the big moment. Heron was lowered into the water again and HURRAY! No leaking! We were so happy. We motored the boat into her berth and secured it. And then it was time for breakfast.

I have always had a great respect of my Captain's technical abilities and his relentless optimism and willpower to tackle any problem on the boat, but I was specially impressed with his mastering the Volvo seal replacement. It must have been one of his masterpieces.

We're back home today, returning to Heron tomorrow. There's so much more work to be done. And so many more project and problems to write about...

Friday, November 30, 2018

September sailing

Although this is going to be a sailing or rather snorkelling post again, I have to start with another beauty from my garden - it is a Ruddy darter or Krvavordeči kamenjak (Sympetrum sanguineum). Usually dragonflies visit my garden in early summer, so I was quite surprised to spot this guy at the end of August. It just teaches me to always keep my eyes peeled and always have my camera in the pocket.

In the beginning of September I joined the Captain on Heron again with two of our friends. It was a short holiday, but it was four days of glorious late summer weather, good company and an absolute nirvana. There wasn't much wind forecast, so we made a very relaxed sailing plan, starting from Punat on island Krk, to Hawai near Supetarska Draga on Rab, then on to city of Rab, then around the SE edge of Rab to Uvala Mag, and before returning to Punat a stop on Grgur.

Water was still warm and it was perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Most of the photos here were made in Uvala Planka and Uvala Mag on Rab.
I think this might be albino version of Red seasquirt or Rdečega kozolnjaka ali morske breskve (Halocynthia papillosa). I'm pretty sure it's a squirt (tunikata), would wish it didn't sit under the rock so I could make some more photos from different angles.
This almost translucent delicate looking fish is probably Gray wrase or Gnezdivka (Symphodus cinereus).
This is "just" a humble sponge, but still pretty - it is a Stinker sponge or Snopasta hrapavka (Ircinia fasciculata). With my mask on my nose luckily I didn't notice any bad odours.
Luckily this guy was moving or it would remain unnoticed - it it a well camouflaged Small spider crab or Mali morski pajek (Maia crispata).
This was one of my best finds - a Streaked gurnard or Progasti krulec (Chelidonichthys lastoviza). It must be one of the prettiest fish I've seen here, it is almost as pretty and colourful as it's Caribbean cousins. It spreads its wings when it feels threatened, like when a snorkeler with camera is coming too close.
And this is a red Red seasquirt or rdeči Rdeči kozolnjak ali morska breskev (Halocynthia papillosa).
I'm always so happy when I discover a Sea lemon or Morsko pomarančo (Tethya citrina), although it is only a sponge.
I'm so proud of these next couple of photos (they were taken as they are presented here, I didn't change a bit) - I've seen Common prawns or Žagaste kozice (Palaemon serratus) plenty of times before, but these are by far the best photos I've managed to take. On first two photos there is the same prawn and you can see how translucent it is, as the colour of the background actually shines though its body.

If you look closely, you can see the serrated edges on the sides of its nose near the eyes and hair on its tentacles.
This is a Red-black triplefin or Rdeči sprehajalček (Tripterygion tripteronotus), this time not in red and black, but beautiful bronze and golden colours with bright blue specks. What a display!
Yellow cluster anemone or Rumeni zoantar (Parazoanthus axinellae) has a rather non romantic name in both English and Slovene, but it really looks like a small bouquet of bright yellow flowers.
On our last evening we were anchored on W side of Grgur and decided to go out for a dinner. We knew there were Fallow deer or Damjaki (Dama dama)  on Grgur, but didn't expect them to come almost to the terrace of the restaurant and to be so tame.
This is me trying to make some good photos of them, with Heron and a sunset in the background. It was a perfect last evening of the couple of wonderful days.
Back home the summer weather continued. I discovered this beast in my rose bush - a Praying mantis  or Bogomolko (probably Mantis religiosa). I do see them occasionally here, but not every year. This one was just having a lunch when I photographed her, her pray was a bee.

She was living in the same rose bush until temperatures dropped towards 0 at the end of the October. Don't know if she can survive our winter, will need to check next spring.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Summer holiday - part 3

After snorkelling near Murter we only sailed as far as the S coast of Kaprije. There are just a few of houses there, small jetty and lots of green blue water. It looked so pretty and inviting in early afternoon sun, so we decided to stay for the rest of the day and the night. First we all went for a long swim or snorkelling.

This is a Purple sea urchin or Belobodičasti morski ježek (Sphaerechinus granularis)

Every now and then I have to make another photo of Golden anemone or Zlata vetrnica (Condylactius aurantiaca),.... well as of Painted comber or Pirka (Serranus scriba), especially when they have such a shiny blue belly.

Two-banded sea breams or Fratrci (Diplodus vulgaris) found shelter in the remains of the chair.

Red spotted horseshoe or Apnenčasti cevkar (Protula tubularia) looks so delicate.

It wasn't easy to spot this Black scorpionfish or Škarpoč (Scorpaena porcus), if it wasn't for the stripes on his tail, I would have surely missed him, he could be even easily missed on the photo. The fact that he's hanging upside down doesn't help either, probably it was his intention to remain unseen.

Here is the Goby sections - this is the Red-mouthed goby or Rdečeusti glavač (Gobius cruentatus)...

... and this one is Slender goby or Peščeni glavač (Gobius geniporus).

I'm not sure what this is - maybe an alga? I've seen them already last year, especially on Šolta.

There were fields of beautifully coloured alga, that looked like an autumn forest. I think that green and brown ones are both Red alga Topovejnata lavrencija (Laurencija obtusa) and the whitish one is a Pink bush alga or Kosmata alga (Wrangelia penicillata).

In the evening most of the crew walked over the hill to the town of Kaprije for a snack and ice cream. In the morning after the breakfast we sailed only a short distance to the island of Zmajan. It was time for swimming and snorkeling again.

I snorkeled here before and found several interesting things, so my hopes were high. I saw several Red seasquirts or Rdeči kozolnjak ali morska breskev (Halocynthia papillosa).

It was funny how this Rock goby or Mrki glavač (Gobius paganellus) showed off all his fins in hope to look bigger and scare me away.

After all these years I still find new things - I think this is a very pretty Pink sponge or Vijoličasta zobčasta spužva (Dysidea avara).

Almost under the same sponge that I saw it last year, I found the Dotted seaslug or Pikasti perjaničar or Dalmatinček (Discodoris atromaculata) again. It is one of the prettiest slugs I've seen. Under the lower edge of the sponge a Black squat lobster or Črni skakač (Galathea squamifera) is hiding.

I took several photos of slug and only on my computer back home I realised, that there were two of them, you can see the other one hiding in the hole.

In the afternoon we sailed back to Kremik marina and after the lunch our guests and myself drove back home. I was really anxious to see how my my garden is doing.