Wednesday, July 31, 2013


SeaClearly is back in the water! And, we are now able to spin her around in circles at the push of a button. Well, OK, not quite.

Wet bottom again.
The bow thruster work finished up on Monday. Bayliss Boatyard did a marvelous installation. I won't say inexpensive but it is beautiful, finished work. This was a complex upgrade to SeaClearly that involved cutting through her hull, mounting the thrusters, adding batteries and chargers, running controls to the helm, etc. Even after all my years in manufacturing and software, it still amazes me when complicated things actually work as planned.

We were also chasing down a hot stuffing box/vibration/alignment issue. We got the propeller balanced, the shaft checked for trueness and run-out, a new coupling (re-faced to guarantee run-out), a new key, re-packed the stuffing box. That wrapped up on Monday as well.

The last of the minor damage repairs wrapped up today with the installation of a new piece of stainless steel around the stern caprail.

So, today was re-launch and sea-trial day. Our list of requirements for a successful day was:

  • No engine wobble in gear at any speed
  • Cool running stuffing box after running at high rpm's ( 3200- 3400 in our case)
  • Bow thruster action that allowed us to back, unaided, into a slip

Check, check and check!!

The thrusters were tested briefly while we were still hanging in the slings. They pushed a LOT of water even constrained in the lift. We did the normal checks for leaks and then the additional checks for new leaks from new stuff. Started up the engine and dropped her in gear. Smooth as silk.

Zack, one of the Bayliss mechanics (technicians?) went with us for the sea trial. Cool running, no vibration, wonderful. Then, the big re-entry. We already had our slip picked out. They made sure that they put us WAY far away from the year-old, 80 ft Bayliss 'Dream Time'. Just as well. I don't think our liability insurance would cover even a small dent on a $10 million boat.

Pointed South and ready to go!
Our first attempt at backing in was my first chance at coordinating the bow thruster ballet. I got straight but over a bit too far. So, as I have learned, you just have to start again. The second pass was gorgeous. Reverse a little, thrust a little, reverse some more, thrust a little - suddenly we are backed in, three feet away from the dock and parallel. Woo Hoo!

Everybody was pretty impressed with the performance of the thrusters. They really exceeded expectations. Junie is very happy. Sorry I didn't get any videos (of the thrusters or Junie being ecstatic) but it was a little hectic.

So, we are in a slip until the weekend and then we are headed out. As two retired people sailing away.

We will keep you posted!

Friday, July 26, 2013

More Bow Thrusters

Just a few pictures to show progress. We are looking at wrapping up early next week. We are keeping an eye on the tropical storm situation and will stay put if it comes our way!

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Bow Thrusters

Work goes on! Never as fast as expected but that may work to our advantage. Junie has one last business trip to Chicago before they let her retire in peace. So, by the time they finish up on SeaClearly, she should be wrapped up and we are planning yet another escape. This time we will try south for a couple of weeks. Ocracoke, Morehead City, maybe a short trip into the big water.

I am a little slow on the updates as well. We were playing grandparents this weekend and that, of course, demands undivided attention. Reagan is developing a personality and it is a joy to watch. We had a great time.

Thruster tube glassed in
That bright spot is where the
thruster will mount.
Meanwhile, the bow-thruster project moves ahead. It is actually going very well. The location seems ideal, the installation is very professional. They are doing a great job squeezing stuff in so that we can keep as much storage space as possible.

The tube goes through down low in the locker. That allows us to keep about 75% of the original volume. We may have to shorten a couple of the drawers that are under the berth but, overall, not bad!

The thrusters require two batteries and a charger of their own. They managed to locate these batteries just forward of the existing house batteries under the starboard settee. They also managed to get the charger behind the settee - and provided enough flexibility and wiring to actually unmount the charger to pull it out and work on it on the settee if required.
We also had them include a parallel switch so the new batteries can act as reserve power for the rest of the boat in a pinch. And (wait, that's not all folks!) the new charger is now a back-up for the existing charger in case it fails. All in all, we think we are getting as much as we can from this.

As one last added bonus, the wiring that they ran to the helm for the controls has several spare wires so we could add a 12 volt outlet and still have a couple of extra wires for future stuff.

The Low Rider drives a little slower...
On the outside, the fiberglass work is just about complete. We asked them about adding a flare to the hull just forward of the thruster tube to improve the flow of water. 'Sure!', they said. (All it takes is money). But, since the install is going better (simpler) than expected, we have some wiggle room. You see this flare on their sportfisher boats all the time but we had read that it was also important on sailboats. It just keeps the on-coming water from slamming into the back wall of the tunnel. I think they are kind of enthusiastic about doing a sailboat just because it is a little different than the normal routine. They went off and researched and determined that we needed a little bit more down-angle on ours since we are dealing with slower speeds. The result is some aqua-dynamic effects up front.

If we keep tracking like this, we should be wrapped up this week. But we will need another week to put the boat back together. They had to get under things and behind things and through things. So they drug out everything. The cabin looks like a bomb went off. We are feeling pretty positive and looking forward to getting underway.

Thanks for all the comments! It is fun to share this process and we love hearing from everyone.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bow-thruster project underway!

As a rule, I don't care much for holes in boats. Much less an 8" diameter hole that goes clear through the bow. But, this is a necessary step in getting the bow-thrusters installed in SeaClearly. Not, by any means, the first step.

First, the questions of:
Side-Power SE100

  • Which bow-thrusters?
  • How much thrust?
  • Where can they fit?
  • Where can all of the components fit? (Batteries, chargers, motors, controls, etc)
  • Are we crazy?
  • What are we going to lose in the process? Storage? Water tank?

The specifications for the thrusters have a lot of parameters. Just a few key considerations are listed here.

  • The tunnel needs to be at located at least one-half the tunnel diameter below the working waterline. One full diameter is better. But it needs to be one diameter above the bottom also.
  • The length of the tunnel needs to be between 2 and 4 times the diameter. Never more than 6 times the diameter.
  • It needs to be as far forward as possible but still meet all of the criteria above. 

It originally looked like the optimal placement would be right through our forward water tank. Not ideal. Much more work, lost water storage, undoing plumbing. Not good.

After a lot of investigation and evaluation, we came up with a plan that works much better. We could move back just a bit and miss the water tank. This would put it through some underutilized lockers, and leave a large portion intact. The batteries can fit adjacent to the current house battery bank and even be switched to parallel with them in an emergency. The charger we are adding can be used as a backup for the existing batteries. We are feeling pretty good about it.

Thorough tenting with
 zipper door to forward cabin
Completely taped

So, we committed. First step was actually clearing out all of the stuff from the forward cabin. The next step involved tenting and taping so that the unavoidable dust could be contained.

New hatch in the center.

Then Bill, our installer, came out and we talked through  the process. I was pretty nervous and kept asking how to make sure we had the right spot. Finally he says 'Well, eventually, we have to make a hole'. I laughed at myself and away we went.

Bill cut a new hatch through the top of the berth and moved some plumbing out of the way. He marked the best spot on the inside of the hull for tunnel
placement, leaving enough room to work the fiberglass and mechanicals. Then, he stuck a drill bit through our boat.

Next, came a bigger hole. Two inches. Then, move to the other side. Another two inch hole. And then a pipe stuck all the way through as the starting point for the really big holes. Bill leveled up the pipe, decided to move the center up, enlarged the holes, raised the pipe up about an inch and wedged it in place. Level, straight.

Two inch pipe through. Tunnel on the ground.
Starboard inside, water tank forward.

So now, the really scary part. An 8" hole is bad enough but there is not one flat spot on a sailboat hull. So, the hole isn't round. It is some ridiculous convoluted shape that needs to be transferred to the hull. Fortunately, they have done this before. They have a cool tool - a jig, of sorts - that they slide over the two inch pipe. This allows them to spin a marker around the pipe and draw the appropriate shape onto the curved hull surface. Pretty frickin' neat. The result is a very odd shape that will accept a perfectly round fiberglass tube. Twenty minutes with a Sawsall and we have big holes in our boat.


That is as far as we got today. More later!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

Independence Day. Please feel free to celebrate as you see fit. Isn't that great?
Well, this part looks straight.

SeaClearly is still in the boatyard. We are chasing an issue with the stuffing box / shaft/ whatever. But, while we are there, we have decided to invest a little (well, OK, a lot) in our independence. SeaClearly is a pretty big boat, has a long bowsprit, a fair amount of windage toward the bow and, as a result, a mind of her own when approaching docks or operating in tight spaces.

To help the two of us manage all that a little better, we are getting bow-thrusters installed. For those of you unfamiliar with bow-thrusters, it is basically a little propeller stuck sideways through the front of your boat, underwater, to help push the boat around. To those of you familiar with bow-thrusters, you know that the are either considered a 'God-send' or 'cheating' depending on which sailor ask.
Hole goes here. Yikes!

This is no minor project but we figure - hope, expect - that it will increase our flexibility, help us out of potential jams and, ultimately, keep us sailing a bit more comfortably if not longer. As we mentioned before, Bayliss Boatworks builds custom sportfishers so they know fiberglass and that is a major part of this process.

This is cutting into the summer sailing season but we are looking at it as an investment. We are really anxious to get started on sailing adventures. And we are more than a little frustrated. But, we are not even entirely retired yet so now is the time.

Enjoy your independence. Happy Birthday America!