Friday, June 21, 2019

Moving forward

Just a short update on things from my last post:

Outboard carburettor was replaced and all the work done and captain picked it up already on Monday.

On Tuesday the fridge expert came on board, measured the pressure, temperature and figured out the culprit has to be the expansion valve, that either got stuck or some small piece of something blocked it, so it didn't let the gas through. After some fiddling with it it started working again and the fridge is now working like it should. Hope the valve won't give us any more headache in the future, but now at least we know how to deal with it. The best thing of course was that we didn't have to disassemble the galley or do any welding anywhere inside or around the fridge.

The newly ordered cooker is on the way, this nigh it arrived to Munich from Bremen, it is just a matter of days when it will be here. And we got the money from the cancelled order back.

So although the week is not completely over yet, it is looking much better than the last. What greatly contributes to this were two great evenings we spent with our friends, and the next couple of days that we will spend with our families. And as the projects are slowly finishing, the D day is coming closer. As it looks now, we might sail off on next Sunday. I'm already in the state of mild panic, next week will not be easy.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The worst week ever

This week has been a real disaster. It felt like for every step forward we made three, not just two, steps back. It started on Monday, when captain brought our Mercury outboard (the motor that we use on our dinghy) to be serviced, which we thought would be an hour job with not too high costs. But sometime last season the salt water must have come into carburettor, probably with fuel, and during the winter it corroded the carburettor so much that it couldn't be saved even by hours of cleaning, so we are now waiting for a spare one to replace the damaged one. And the costs will probably be couple of times more than we originally thought.

On Tuesday captain's tooth chipped off. Not a catastrophe really, but this spring we were visiting our dentist very frequently to make sure all our teeth are fixed and we wouldn't have to search for a dentist in some unfamiliar country. So he had to make another appointment, luckily it was already next day. Hope that this was the last one, but it still delayed us for half a day.

And here is a sad story about my new cooker for the boat, that begun already in March, but culminated last week. You might have notice that on every photo of Heron's galley there is a hole where the cooker should be (well, hole with some random things we didn't know where else to put).

My old cooker was already 14 years old and it survived 6 seasons of charter before we got it with the boat in 2010. Not to mention that it was also heavily used while we had it. The burners started to corrode and were chipping off, the electric ignition didn't work, the grill was corroding as well, the knobs were pretty worn down, so we wished to repair some things and make it better and prettier. We contacted the cooker manufacturer, which is Eno from France and they let us know that they do not produce spare parts for our model any more. So I decided I shall have a new one, after all cooker is one of the most heavily used pieces of equipment on our boat. I studied different models and types and it was really hard, because it is difficult to find any reliable information. All the manufacturers state that their product is the best, so that doesn't help much. And among the sailors the cookers are not the most talked about topics in forums, there are very few that have tried or owned different models of cookers so they could compare them, or they are so in love with their own boat including the cooker, even when they are ancient, that there is no room for any objective opinion. After a lot of comparing I figured I want an all stainless steel one, with good oven with thermostat, three burners and of course it have to approximately fit into its space and gimbals. And I thought - why not have another Eno Bretagne again, it would fit exactly, and the newer model is better, more modern and prettier than the old one was. So I wanted to order one, but it turned out that cookers are heavy, they have glass door, so they are difficult to transport, so even many on-line shops that are selling such a cooker wouldn't ship to Slovenija. Needles to say, I was not able to buy it locally, it is way too exotic for a small Slovenian market. After a bit of frustration with ordering, captain decided we would buy the cooker in German Segelladen and organise the transport ourselves. That was in second half of March. Initial information that we got was that the cooker would be available in 7-10 days. After couple of weeks we contacted them and asked if the cooker was ready. The answer was that they are very sorry, but the cooker is going to be shipped to them in third week of May. By that time we already knew our departure was not going to be before end of May, so we didn't panic too much. On fourth week of May we contacted them again, they said sorry, there is some more delay, the cooker will be available in the beginning of June. We contacted them again last week, and they said, it will be any day now. Then we got a mail this past Wednesday, that the cooker got lost during transport, but we could choose another model from their shop or order another Eno Bretagne, which will take another 6-8 weeks. And they are sorry, but it isn't their fault, because it got lost between the manufacturer and central German distribution center. Ok, maybe it wasn't them who lost the thing (that by the way weighs 34 kilos and is transported on a pallet), but to have such a bad control over ordered items is shocking. After initial shock we realised we needed to act quick or we will have to put our old sad cooker back into the galley. We checked what is available fast and meets most of my criteria, so on Friday we ordered Techimpex Deluxe with 3 burners from SVB (another German company, hopefully better organised and run), they have it on stock and they do ship to Slovenija, and now we are hoping it will arrive soon. And that Segelladen will return our money soon, as well. I know, we were way too patient about it, but with another 1376 project we had to do, this one wasn't always in our focus.

The thing that weighs on us the heaviest is our fridge - it just stopped working. I think I might have jinxed it by writing so cocky about how great it works and boasting how well we made it in my last post. The water pump, that was giving us the hard time, was replaced some time ago and is working well, the compressor is also still working, it just stops after couple of seconds with error: high pressure. We're hoping it could just be the pressure of gas inside the system that is too high and it worked before when the temperatures were lower, but not in the heath that we're having now. If it means any blockage or leakage, we will need to take apart half of the galley and we're dreading it already. Another thing is that it is not easy to get a fridge expert to diagnose the problem fast, hopefully we'll get some help next week. We can't leave without a fridge.

We do have a backup system, that is air-cooled and is working well...
... the oval shaped thing up left in the photo is its cooling element, but it is not so powerful as the water cooled one (that is cooling the stainless steel plates to the left and right of the lower part) and while it keeps the beer cool, it can't be really used as a freezer.

And now we could really use a very good week for a change!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Some more galley news

We're still at home, or rather in Monfalcone on our boat most of the time. We haven't sail away yet, it's going to be another couple of weeks probably. While we're working really hard, without a break, it just seems that many projects take more time than planned, parts that we ordered are still on the way, and then every now and then an unforeseen problem appears from nowhere and messes up our schedule completely. 

But let's get to the good news - our fridge/freezer is almost finished and it looks great! This is the fridge part...

.... with shelves on both sides...

... and this is the other half....

... with the freezer part under the shelf. We made all the shelves out of the material from our old fridges.

We made sure the fridges are very well insulated, this is how thick the lid insulation is.

Since we had a true hot summer weather now from beginning of June, we put the fridge to it's use immediately.

What's still missing are the hinges for the lids, and the thermostat for regulating the temperatures inside the fridge. At the moment we are simply lifting the lid out completely and putting it on the side, which makes opening of both lids simultaneously a bit difficult. And we have a thermometer inside the fridge and we manually switch the fridge on and off. In spite of the current heath we need to run the fridge only an hour and a half in the morning every day (the fridge is water cooled and has two huge cooling plates that keep it cold and the freezer below 0 deg C even when it's not running), so obviously the thick insulation is doing it's job.

Captain managed to finish another difficult project - repairing of our Spectra watermaker. He changed all the seals and gaskets and replaced the membrane. He took the whole thing apart and then he put all this back together...

... into this. We then together mounted it back under the floorboards. Needless to say, it was a humongous task, and a big and valuable learning experience as well.

Heron is staring to look more like itself rather than the workshop or the toolshed...

... but there's still a lot to be done.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

News from Heron's galley

We've been working really hard on our boat these past couple of months and several projects have been finished. Our galley is not completely done yet, but is getting the look that we planned. Unfortunately there's still a lot of things to do and the date of our departure is not yet determined. But maybe the cold and wet May that we had was really a blessing in disguise because it wasn't so difficult to work all days instead of already sailing somewhere in Italy.

Nevertheless, birds started to mate and make nests and on a motorboat couple of boats down on our pier an Eurasian coot (črna liska) made a nest on their swimming platform and even laid and egg in it. We saw her once and she got quite upset with us passing by, probably also by others, and after that encounter we didn't see her again. Poor little thing abandoned the nest. The egg was still there for couple of days, and then it was gone, maybe some animal took it. I'm sorry it ended like that, but the spot she chose for her nest was really bad. Hope her next try was more successful. 

Beside the fridge, the renovation of the countertop was the most difficult and time consuming project in our galley. The old one was not very pretty, but we would gladly keep it if it wasn't cracked on several spots, and when the water got into cracks it started to swell up and cracks got bigger. At first we thought we might want to remove the complete countertop and put in the new one. The old one is made of two pieces, both huge, and is thoroughly glued and screwed in place and it looks like it could be a structural element. Surely it was put in place before the deck was put onto the boat. We figured out that we could't get such huge pieces of material into the boat, and even if we did, we would never be able to built it in and make it so sturdy and strong as the old one is. So we made another plan - we would keep the old countertop, after all there was nothing wrong with it, and try to remove the top layer and replace it with something new. Luckily the old top layer didn't resist too much. After removing it it was time to make the surface even and free of all the glue residues.

After the surface was prepared...

... we tried the fit of the new top layer. It is a 3 mm thick laminate like composite material, and should be very durable. It was a big struggle to get it to fit, since in the boat almost nothing is parallel or perpendicular, so it was difficult to get the right shape and measure the sizes. A friend that we will eternally be grateful took our drawing and the measurements and put it all in the computer programme and printed it out in actual size on a huge plotter, so we brought this blueprint back to the boat and were able to check how it fits. After a few corrections we were ready to go live - actual material was cut with water jet to the shape. Of course it didn't fit absolutely perfect, so we still needed to do some sawing and sanding. You just can't get it perfect without several iterations of sanding, checking the fit, sanding, etc.

And once we were happy with the fit, we glued it to the countertop. We actually used epoxy resin, thickened a bit with some synthetic fibres. Epoxy has a nice habit of spreading itself well over the surface almost by itself, filling possible cracks, and gives you couple of minutes to move the upper part a bit if it is needed. But then of course you have to weigh it down and wait a bit till it hardens. We used all that was at hand as weights, from hammers to electric tools to chains in bucket to cans of paints, winch, pack of newspaper...

This is how the part where the fridge is looked (the fridge lids were not yet finished by this time)...

... and this is the part with sink and the new faucet. The empty space to the left is where the new cooker is supposed to go. The white thing behind the sink is the place where the wet dishes are placed to dry. That thing gave us a lot of headache as well, it was really worn down, and it didn't bother us so much before, but now it really didn't look well among all the other new and shiny things. So we painted it and sanded it and polished it, until we had enough. It is definitely much prettier than before, with more time it could be even better, but at some point you have to stop and start the next project.

One of the most recent things we did is glue together the lids for the fridge. We worked from below - we created a support inside the fridge onto which we put insulation part and on top the countertop with the new surface. This way we were sure everything fitted. And then it needed to be pressed together and to harden.

And this one is already done, and fits the fridge opening perfectly.