Monthly Archives: March 2011

>Progress on holding tanks and a radar arch for Pandora.

>It’s been a very long winter and the last of the (record?) snows are now melted.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that it’s 25 degrees out and it’s 11:00.  Not what you’d expect for late March.  Alas, I digress.  The really good news is that I continue to make progress, if slow, on the projects for Pandora.  The fridge upgrade is done with a newly installed compressor and cold plate so that we will have a true freezer instead of the wimpy little box that couldn’t even hold ice cream. Can you imagine a proper vessel that doesn’t have the ability to keep ice cream? Hmm…  On the true other end of the spectrum, literally, I am also making progress on the holding tanks.   While the going is slow, with work being very busy (another good thing) there’s just not a lot of time for projects like this beyond the weekends.

One evening after work this week I did take some time to enjoy a few hours in the shop constructing the framework for an ottoman for the main salon of Pandora.  My friend Marc who lives aboard his SAGA 43, and has for many years, showed me this idea on his boat and I had to have one.  The ottoman is constructed out of 5/8 marine grade cherry plywood and is designed to have a full hight cushion that will match the new cushions being made for the main salon.  The box is lightweight but sturdy and has internal supports made out of 3/4″ oak.  The entire box is fastened with #6 pan head self tapping SS screws.

This shot shows the box in it’s rough form.  The next step will be two coats of varnish on the interior and then I will drop it off at the canvas shop to be covered with a nice contrasting cover of Ultrasuede.  The top is designed to be removable so that we can use the interior for storage.  The interior is 18″x18″x12.5″ so that’s a decent amount of space.

Before I drop it at the canvas shop, I will put a few coats of varnish on the interior.  I wouldn’t want to have those chips and cookies stored in a compartment that isn’t varnished, would I?  Only the best for Pandora’s Pringles.

As the plywood is relatively thin, I needed a structure to screw the fastenings into, so these stringers, rounded of course, will serve nicely.

The cover will have the cushion affixed to it and the interior lip will fit nicely into the base of the box.   When we are under way the ottoman will nestle between the dining table and the port settee.

While I try to do most projects myself, the new radar arch isn’t something that I can tackle on my own.  Sorry about that.  However, I could make a great looking arch out of wood.  Perhaps not.  Anyway, my arch is being made up in Canada by a terrific fabricator Klacko Marine and will be shipped down in the next two weeks.  The owner of Klako, Doug, did all of the stainless fabrication for Pandora when she was built.  Doug’s work is really first rate.  While the arch isn’t yet done, Doug sent these photos as an update on his progress. Notice that there are horizontal bars on the side of the arch that we can climb up on to escape rising waters, no make that to service the radar or other instruments.  Perhaps some will even choose to jump from the arch for a swim.

This photo isn’t of my arch, but it shows how the radar will fit on top of it once I move it from it’s current spot on the backstay.  The nice part of this is that I won’t have to purchase another mount and will just be able to  slide the Questus unit on top of the bar that will be welded directly onto the arch.

My holding tanks are progressing slowly but surely and are now ready for two coats of gelcoat to ensure that it’s not only water tight but vapor tight as well.  Black water tanks (aka: sewage) must be really well made as they tend to become stinky over time.  Now that all of the interior work is completed I will secure the lids with epoxy paste, lots of screws and several layers of fiberglass mat.  I will also cut an access port into the lid so that I can clean the tank as needed.  These tanks will be first rate, I hope.  I should note that I wouldn’t have been able to make this project happen without the help of the folks at LBI.  While their main business is doing industrial fiberglass and other fabrications for the Navy and others, the owner is an old friend of mine as he sold me and Brenda our first boat, a Legnos Mystic 20 Cape Cod Catboat.   We had a great time aboard “TAO” and cruising on that boat took us from Western Long Island Sound as far away as Nantucket.  This article from the Chesapeake Catboat Association shows photos of her sister ship Gull who was owned by our great friend Bill Hoover.  He did love that boat. Yikes, another digression, and a major one at that.  Back to LBI.  Along with the fabrication business, they have a terrific line of fiberglass and resin supplies.  Deb, in their customer service area, was a great help to me in making this project possible.

There are several fittings that will provide an inlet and outlet for the “stuff” to get into and out of the tank.  These fittings are fiberglass reinforced plastic and are bedded in several layers of fiberglass mat.  These guys aren’t going anywhere.

It’s good that I like this sort of work as these projects are time consuming.  However, as much as I like working on Pandora, I much prefer sailing and that’s likely to happen soon with warm weather just around the corner.

That’s all for now.

>Back, finally and lots going on with Pandora

>I haven’t posted since December, first because I was so busy with the holidays, and second because I couldn’t get into the site.  Frankly, I often not sure what to writer about when Pandora’s not in the water.   Then I had password problems with the site.  I had difficulty with my password in early January there wasn’t anywhere to turn to solve the problem.  When I set this blog up 4 years ago I was using a different e-mail address which I don’t have access to anymore.  Well, tonight I was reading a friends blog (more about that later) and I decided to try and log on again.  After a few tries, I stumbled on the correct password.  I really don’t know why it didn’t work before as I thought I tried it.  However, clearly I didn’t.

Well, I’m back and I am becoming very excited about this coming sailing season aboard Pandora. For those of you who have read past posts, you are aware that I started a new business with a partner just over a year ago.  My goal was to continue to work but to be able to do so with less focus on “being in the office”.  With all the communications gear available these days, why not work aboard?

I am happy to say that things are going very well now and we are very busy.  While I fully expected year one to be really tough, and I wasn’t disappointed on that point, things have really picked up now and we are very busy.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that it’s going to be a busy summer but at least I can continue to work aboard Pandora where I have set up an office complete with a cell booster, internet access and even a printer.

For this summer, the plan is to launch a few weeks before Memorial Day and head to Mystic CT where we have access to a mooring.  Our cruising plans through the end of June include eastern Long Island Sound, Block Island and the waters around Newport RI.    After that we will head up to Maine where we will be sailing through Labor Day.  There will probably be a few trips home to see clients, but it will mostly be a waterborne summer.  The big challenge for me will be keep up with the demands of work while being on the water.  Plenty of distractions from both, I am sure.

It’s been a busy winter or work on Pandora.  In spite of the really cold and snowy weather, I have been aboard Pandora for a day or two most weeks working on one project or another.

Here’s what I have been up to.

First.  I built a new spice rack behind the fridge.  I went to great pains to be sure that the cabinetry was exactly like what SAGA built elsewhere aboard which definitely slowed things down.  However, I am very pleased with how things came out.  This photo gives a good feel for how it’s situated.

I also purchased a new refrigeration system to augment the one that came with Pandora from the factory.  While the original unit was great for keeping food cool, it wasn’t really set up for sub-zero freezing.   This required the addition of a freezer box within the fridge compartment and a really powerful DC driven cold plate.   The system that came with the boat had three evaporator plates secured in an aluminum box (like you would expect to see in an old style small refrigerator).  In order to make the system work better for my new arrangement, I separated the plates from the box and secured them to the sides of the box.  This set up is a much more efficient use of space and will actually allow me to put more items in the fridge.  This means that we have one system for the fridge and another for the freezer compartment.

All and all, this is a much better arrangement.  You can see that the panels don’t take up much room at all.  Notice that they are secured in the top of the compartment so that they won’t come in contact with food which would cause freezer damage to delicate produce.  There’s a full foot of space below what you can see.  The good news is that SAGA put in 4 inches of insulation so I won’t be cooling the entire world when I crank this baby up.  However, this setup is still the biggest energy hog on the boat, by far.

This shot shows the new freezer compartment, made of one inch of foam insulation sandwiched between two sheets of white plexiglass.  It’s just outboard from the fridge shown above.

You my be asking yourself how much power this will consume but fortunately, my solar panels put out loads of power so I expect to be able to turn things on when Pandora goes into the water and keep everything frozen all summer.  This is particularly notable given the fact that she’s always on a mooring or on the hook.  No shore power for Pandora, that’s for sure.

You can see here that the solar panels are indeed big.  At peak output I have seen 35amps.  Each panel is rated for 135 watts.  That’s 540 watts and no, I don’t understand the conversion from watts to AH into the batteries.   BTW, I have over 700AH of gel batteries so I have loads of capacity.  With the panels, I generally get over 100AH per day in northern climes which is plenty to run all the equipment on board.

We also purchased a hard bottom inflatable dink which will be somewhat heavier than our current tender so we had to have a more substantial davit system.  With this in mind, I have ordered a new radar arch/davit setup which will look like the one on Firecracker, sistership to Pandora.  You can see here that this is a much better system and one that I can operate from my electric cockpit winch when I want to put the tender into the water or pull it up.

You can see Pandora on the right and the other system on Firecracker.  The davit setup is very different and  I am very excited about this upgrade.

As they say “but wait, there’s more” as I am also making new holding tanks to replace the crummy aluminum ones that came with the boat.  I have never done fiberglass layup on a “large”, for me, project before but with good guidance I am very excited about this.  The tanks will be formed inside of melamine coated molds from 5 layers of 5oz fiberglass mat with vinylester resin coated, inside and out with two coats of gelcoat.  I am a bit anxious about the project and intend to tackle it this weekend.  Here’s one of the custom molds that I made.

Finally, I also needed a place to store cell phone, hand held VHF and my air horn so I built this nifty holder to go inside the companionway.  We will see if it gets in the way.  Time will tell on that one.

There are other projects but I will cover them later.