Look who just pulled in on the other side of Palafox Pier across from our marina:
She’s the Spanish Navy training vessel Juan Sebastion Elcano, the third largest tall ship in the world. Pensacola has a special connection with Spain, as Spanish conquistador Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano established America’s first settlement here in 1559, a full six years before St. Augustine was settled, and 48 years before the English landed at Jamestown. If only it weren’t for that darned hurricane that hit the moment they stepped ashore…
I wonder if they’ll invite us over for a potluck this evening? If so, we’re going to need a bigger pot!
Today’s issue is ventilation. Fans, specifically. It’s now that time of year where the sun is high above the yardarm and the temperatures are bumping up against the 90’s here on the Florida Gulf Coast. Eagle Too’s original owner sailed her on a lake in Tennessee. I guess it didn’t get very hot there and keeping cool wasn’t much of an issue, because our boat doesn’t have a single fan onboard. For us, however, staying comfortable while underway is starting to become a bit of a struggle. The air conditioning manages well while we’re tied to the dock, but we don’t intend to spend the rest of our lives sitting in marinas, and the extension cord to reach to the Caribbean is out of our price range. No, we’ll need two things when we’re sitting at anchor in the tropics—shade, and the ability to move air around onboard. We need some fans, and quick. It’s a project that has leaped to the top of our to-do list.
For reasons I don’t entirely understand, fans for boats are pretty darn expensive. Like $80 to $140 apiece expensive. And we need at least one for each cabin, with probably an additional one for the salon. We’re easily talking $500 in fans plus the materials to install them. And it just doesn’t seem right to have to pay that much. I mean, come on, it’s a motor and some blades. Why in the world should it cost as much as a VHF radio? Especially when you can walk into WalMart and buy one of these for less than $20 (tax included!):
Not only does it run on 12 volts, but it’s mounted on a handy spring clamp and has a ten foot cord so you can move it around to where you need it most. And it even oscillates! None of the fancy $120 marine ones do that. So it started me thinking. What If instead of dropping half a boat buck on fans that don’t move, I just install some 12 volt outlets and buy a few of these?
Am I venturing where angels fear to tread? Will Neptune curse my thrifty ways and exact retribution for deviating from the accepted way of doing things? Time will tell. But what’s the worst that could happen? If they don’t hold up to the marine environment, we’ll still end up with more 12 volt outlets, and those can be pretty useful things. So we decided to give it a try.
A 12 volt outlet and a dual USB charging port would fit perfectly right above the lightswitch at the head of our berth.
In true boat job fashion, accessing the back side of that panel required the complete disassembly of the locker I store most of my cloths in.
But once I had the locker taken apart, it was pretty easy to wire up the new outlets.
It took the better part of a day to work out a route for the wire from the aft cabin to the breaker panel in the main cabin, but I eventually found a way. Our fishtape is turning out to be one of the most useful tools we have onboard:
Its utility might diminish once we’re finished installing new gear onboard, but it’s a must-have tool for running new lines and hoses through the deep recesses of the boat’s bowels.
Even though the boat came without a single fan onboard, Hunter Marine had provided a handy breaker to supply the new circuit.
Technically it will be powering outlets rather than fans, but I think we’ll be able to remember which switch to flip when we need to move some air around.
So after a day and a half of drilling holes and pulling wire, we have a way to blow air around in our berth, and a place to plug in our phones and Kindles while underway to keep them charged.
Our WalMart special seems to blow air just as well as the overpriced marine cabin fans, with a nice oscillating motion, plus it can be moved to alternate locations if needed.
A better idea? Check back in six months and we’ll see…
While we’re getting a bit anxious to throw off the dock lines and get on with this grand adventure, at least the weather is finally nice enough to allow us to spend our weekends receiving much needed doses of aquatherapy.
A weekend on the water is the tonic that gets Rhonda through another week of earning money for the cruising kitty and gives me the energy to keep crawling through the bowels of the boat pulling wire for new gear.
The Spanish Mackerel are running, and Rhonda put both of her Cuban YoYo’s out to try and snag a few for dinner. No luck this time, but watch out little fishies, we’ll be back next weekend…
I like to think I’m pretty handy around the boat. Yank an engine and replace the motor mounts? Done it. Knock out a bulkhead and build a new one to replace it? Not a problem. Pull the shaft, install a new shaft seal, and lap the prop? Piece of cake. Install all new electronics and successfully network them together? Got that T shirt. I almost always leave things I work on in better shape than they were before I started, which is the true measure of success for any boat project. But there is one task for which I have virtually no talent. A chore I truly dread tackling. An important maintenance skill which I am hopelessly inept at.
I cannot use a caulking gun to save my life.
Oh sure, I can squeeze the trigger and make the stuff ooze out of the tube. But when I pull the nozzle along the surface where I want to lay a bead, the caulk drags and balls up. When I push the nozzle along the surface, thinking the tip of the tube will feather the flowing caulk, it builds up like a freshly plowed furrow. I attempt to use a moistened finger to smooth the bead, and it gets all over my hands. And then the caulking gun. And then everything around me. By the time I’m done, I have a stalactite of caulk hanging from my nose where I absentmindedly pushed my glasses back onto my face, my shirt is a total loss, because you just can’t wash the stuff out of clothing, and I’ve used a least a quart of alcohol and a half a roll of paper towels trying to get the stuff off everything it’s not supposed to be on.
I’ve made peace with my shortcoming. It’s one I can live with. I was resigned to having to allow an hour for cleanup after any five minute caulking job. But then I met my saviour. It is a miracle of modern science called butyl rubber. And since I discovered it, I have left my caulking gun behind and have never looked back.
One of the projects on our to-do list was to replace two hatches just forward of our mast. They both dripped from the hinges a bit when it rained, and the frame on the port one was warped just enough that you could see daylight past the seal, which means it leaked in anything more than a light drizzle. Having to put bowls under the hatches to catch drips whenever it rains just felt too much like living in a shanty for our taste. We considered trying to repair them in place, but I really wanted to replace them with heavier models. Hunter Marine used Lewmar Low Profile hatches, which are pretty light duty for hatches that tend to get walked on a lot since they’re so close to the mast (not by us but by every rigger and canvas guy that steps onboard. They just don’t seem to care). As part of our big Defender order during this year’s Annual Warehouse Sale, we bought two new Medium Profile hatches to replace the leaky ones. They have 1/2″ thick acrylic lenses instead of the 5/16″ acrylic on the old ones, and will stand up much better to abuse.
Normally, installing a new hatch would mean the use of caulk. Lots and lots of caulk. Some Boatlife or polysulfide, or the dreaded silicon, or God forbid maybe even some 3M 4200. I have no sympathy for anyone foolish enough to reach for a tube of 3M 5200. They get what they deserve because they brought it on themselves. There’s a reason they call it Satan’s Glue.
Anyway, the weather called for several days of dry, which was perfect hatch replacing weather. So, out came the old hatches.
Old Ones Out, New Ones Staged For Installation
Now I’ll be honest here. I’m a handy guy, but I value my time. While I cut the old caulk from below with my oscillating saw and removed the mounting screws to help the process along, I called our friends at Troendle Marine to yank the old hatches. They sent one of their crack marine mechanics over, who had them both out in under an hour. Money well spent in my opinion, as I would have sweated and cursed my way through the job for an entire afternoon, and let’s face it, I had blog posts to write.
So after scraping off all the old caulk and cleaning up the holes to accept the new hatches, I dropped them in place for a test fit. Even though they were the same brand (Lewmar) and size (size 40) as the old ones, the mounting holes were in different locations (naturally. This is a boat job we’re talking about after all). So I shot some epoxy into the old holes and a little more into a low spot where Hunter hadn’t faired out the surface properly at the factory, and waited for it to cure.
Interestingly enough, the easiest way to do this was with a tube of West Marine Six10 self-mixing epoxy adhesive, which is actually applied with, yes, a caulking gun. But since it is epoxy and not caulk, it is not inherently evil, and thus easy to use and achieve good results.
Easy And Useful
Difficult And Evil
See the difference? I mean, it’s so obvious, right?
So while waiting for the epoxy to set up, I started preparing the new hatches. The butyl rubber I use comes in a 1/2″ by 50 foot roll. It’s sort of like a long gray ribbon of chewing gum.
So I layed a nice bead of it all the way around the hatch flanges, working it up into a slight mound as I went.
One of butyl’s many outstanding features is that it never hardens. It has the consistency of well-chewed gum today, and it will have the consistency of well-chewed gum 20 years from now. So unlike caulk, once you get started, it’s no problem if you want to take a break. Go ahead, make a sandwich, get some iced tea, it will still be nice and gummy when you get back. Phone’s ringing? Answer it. This stuff isn’t going anywhere. It’s not going to harden in your absence.
When I was finished gumming up the hatch flanges, my fingers were clean, my shirt was clean, my nose was clean, and there were no silicon skid marks all over the deck from accidentally tracking caulk around. It took 15 or 20 minutes a hatch to build up the butyl the way I wanted, rather that 5 minutes or so to coat it in a thick goop of caulk, but I was way, way ahead on cleanup time, so I’m fine with it.
I had already drilled the new mounting holes and had used my bevel bit on them (more on this in a moment). So I pushed each hatch into place and installed the mounting screws, working my way around the frame, tightening each screw in turn. After a few minutes, I gave them each another partial turn. At that point it looked like this:
A nice bead of butyl rubber had squeezed out from under the hatch flange. Trace around the flange with a sharp knife, use your fingers to peel off the extra butyl, and done!. Nothing left but to stand back and admire your work.
Well, not quite. I wanted to finish the entire job while I was up there in the hot sun. Our boat’s original owner had had some nice sunbrella hatch covers made. Unfortunately, he mounted them with button snaps screwed to the deck, which has got to be the worst way possible to do such a thing.
Really, Really, Really Bad Idea
Why a bad idea? Well, most decks have a plywood or balsa core sandwiched between an upper and lower layer of fiberglass. The plywood or balsa is there to give the deck stiffness. Fiberglass alone would result in the deck being something like a swimming pool springboard. Drill lots and lots of tiny holes in the deck and fail to seal them properly, and it gives water a way to leak into the plywood core. Which will then turn to mush. And then your deck is a bounce house in the sun. Oh, and if you do it this way, you also can’ t open the hatch when the cover is snapped down. There are probably some other reasons as well, but those will suffice to qualify it as a bad idea.
I had a sneaking suspicion those button snaps weren’t sealed properly. I removed one to check. Damn I hate being right all the time. But you can hardly ever be wrong if you just assume the last guy didn’t take the time to do it right. Whoever had installed those snaps (I’m going with the canvas guy who made the hatch covers) hadn’t bothered to put so much as a drop of silicon under them. They needed to be sealed. Fortunately, I just happened to have a nice golf ball-sized glob of butyl rubber made up of the excess that oozed out of the hatch flanges. So I took my bevel bit in my cordless drill and beveled each of the holes.
It only took a few seconds per hole, but hey, time is money, so I guess it’s too much to have expected whoever installed these to take the time orginally. I had beveled the screw holes for the new hatches the same way. By doing this, the butyl rubber compacts down into a nice tight gasket when you tighten the fastener.
So I then tore off small gobs of butyl from my ball of leftovers and stuck it in the holes. Remember, it’s not caulk. It’s uber bedding. It’s still nice and gummy and ready to go to work.
Screw the button snaps back down, and it compresses the butyl into a nice tight seal, with the excess squeezing out around the snaps.
You don’t even bother scoring this with a knife. Just pinch the excess with your fingernails and peel it off. The butyl that got compressed into the beveled hole isn’t coming out.
Throw the leftover roll of butyl rubber in a ziplock and toss it in a locker, and it will be there waiting for you whenever you again need to bed a hatch, port or fitting. And if you screw it up and it leaks, it’s no big deal to just pop the hatch or fitting back out, add some additional butyl, and try again. It never cures. so you don’t have to scrape off the old stuff in order to add new, unless it’s gotten contaminated by dirt or grime. Have a few bits stuck in the non-skid that you can’t get off? Take a small ball of butyl and use it like silly putty to pull up the loose bits. Or a dab of mineral spirits on a rag will take it right off.
So if you’re saying to yourself, “Thanks Robert, I hate caulk even more than you and that stuff looks amazing, tell me more and where do I get some?” then here’s a link where you can learn more about this modern day miracle and purchase some for yourself:
You know, sometimes life on a sailboat can kinda suck. You’re standing on the foredeck with the sun beating down on you, sweat running in your eyes, as with one hand you fumble with the nuts for a piece of hardware that you don’t dare drop or it will go right overboard and you’ll have to buy another while with the other hand you try to reach a wrench that you just can’t stretch far enough to grab, stomach cramping slightly, probably from being a bit dehydrated due to being out in aforementioned hot sun for several hours now, and you think, “Man, this bites.”
Then a dolphin leaps six feet into the air directly off your bow and crashes back to the water with an enormous splash, makes several fast runs back and forth like a lightening-quick gray torpedo, and then speeds away. And a Bob Marley tune starts playing on Pandora and a cloud drifts across the sun instantly lowering the temperature 15 degrees and you shake your head and ask yourself, “What the hell just happened?”
And then you realize that there’s no place else in the world you’d want to be than on the deck of your boat.
Thanks, I needed that. Could you send him around again about 5 o’clock so Rhonda can see him too, please? 🙂
After Robert’s post regarding “Our Perfect Storm”, it had us thinking about what we need to secure on the boat when Eagle Too does pitch to and fro. We do a good job in securing the cabin on each of our outings and as Robert mentioned we only had a couple of things “fly” thru the cabin; a bag of small parts off the chart table and the tissue box.
But we do have glassware on board. Yes, we shouldn’t but there are times that tequila or scotch makes for good medicine. We didn’t have any glass break during the storm, however, that doesn’t mean sometime down the road, it couldn’t.
Robert had heard or read about putting tube socks around bottles so that when you stow them, they wouldn’t bang back and forth against each other, decreasing the possibility of breakage. If it happens that the bottles break (which would be such a waste), the socks will help soak up the liquid and help contain the glass. So I went shopping and found the perfect looking knee socks.
I am able to put a sock on each of the wine bottles and stow them together below the deck, along with the socks on the tequila and scotch.
So now our bottles are being hugged and when we need that extra comfort, we will be able to pull the sock off, and pour ourselves a toddie for our bodies.
Just saying that makes us smile. We harnessed the wind to travel to see the patron saint of the cruising life. While performing, he gave a shout out to anyone who had actually sailed to the show. We’ve heard that line before. But this time, he was speaking to us.
Best line of the evening: Jimmy starts the show with “Jimmy Buffett in Orange Beach and the mullet toss at the Flora-Bama—it’s the redneck rapture!” You locals will understand.
The setting was perfect. The Amphitheater at the Wharf is an intimate (i.e. small) outdoor venue. Jimmy Buffett fills stadiums. I’m not sure why he elected to do a show in a smaller location like The Wharf. Maybe it was a convenient way to earn some beer money on his way to perform at New Orleans Jazz Fest two days later. Maybe it was a favor for his sister Lucy, who owns a locally famous road house just a short ways up the intracoastal.
The Wharf says the show will go on rain or shine. But we’ve learned that management can be fairly flexible in their definition of “show.” It’s happened that lightening in the area or heavy rain will postpone the start of a concert. If there’s a brief break in the weather at 11PM and the headliner can take the stage long enough to belt out a quick tune or two, well, you’ve had your promised “show,” no refunds.
It’s been a very rainy month. The forecast called for isolated thunderstorms, and as showtime approached the skies looked threatening. With some lightweight emergency ponchos in our pocket, we headed from dinner to the amphitheater and took our seats. There were a few stray drops of rain, and the sky flashed with lightening. But at 8:10 PM, Jimmy and the Coral Reefers took the stage to wild cheers and applause, and played for two hours uninterrupted by quirks of weather.
Maybe God is a Parrothead.
Did I mention we sailed to a Jimmy Buffett concert? 🙂
Motor Sailing To Orange Beach
Traffic On The Intracoastal – Taking His Three-Quarters Out Of The Middle
Traffic On The Intracoastal – Yes, We’ll Move Out Of Your Way Mr. Barge
Safely Docked In Orange Beach – All Our Flags Are A Flying
Dinner Before The Show
We love the logo for this year’s tour. I didn’t love it enough to buy the $40 T shirt though.
Pretty Good Seats
Love The Zoom On This Camera!
In addition to the concert, The Wharf was also hosting a classic car and hotrod show that weekend. There were some awesome rides on display.
We Found One We Could Possibly Afford
I Had One Just Like This. Well, It Had A 289 Instead Of A 390. And The Paint Was Falling Off. But It Was Just Like This!
Will we ever get another chance to sail to a Jimmy Buffett concert? I sure hope so. But if there’s to be a next time, we hope it will be someplace like Antiqua or Martinique…