Friday, October 28, 2016

Keeping Our Cool While at Anchor

A few days ago I put up a post about Keeping Our Cool in the Boatyard.  

Given that we spend most of our time swinging on the anchor, it's even more imperative that we keep our cool while living onboard, on the water!  This can be especially important if you are spending extensive time in the tropics - like hurricane season in Grenada where the daily temps are often over 40C and the humidity over 90%.  We've added a few bits and pieces of canvas to Mowzer over the last couple of years to help us do just that, the latest being a wind scoop for the cockpit.  Amazingly simple, can't believe it's taken me two years to make this one (scroll down to the bottom for a view.)  Maybe there are a few ideas you can use on your boat.

Here's our current inventory:

Sun/rain shades on our forward hatches - we have two hatches on our forward saloon windows that interestingly open inwards.  This means that with the slightest drop of rain, we are wet inside along the backs of the salon cushions.  Even with our big sunshade up, any rain that drips over the front edge of the cabin top makes its way inside.  The solution:  I afixed some bolt-rope track under the edge of the cabin top overhang, made a couple of rectangles out of Sunbrella with corner ties that clip easily to the lashings of the trampoline and removes easily for when we are getting underway.  Now when it rains we are dry inside up to about 25 knots of wind - then it starts to blow along the deck and up into the open hatches so we shut down the hatches.  Essentially this just recreates a hatch that opens outward, which is just what Fountaine-Pajot installed on later models of our boat.

The only problem with the forward hatch covers is that they impede access to the anchor locker, but at least we don't have to go in there too often once the anchor is down.  You can also see here the sunshade covering we have on all the saloon windows to reduce glare and temperatures inside.

Hard top on the helm station:  Last year we installed a hard top bimini over the cockpit and also a hard top shelter at the helm station.  Because in the Caribbean the wind nearly always blows from the east and the helm station is on the starboard side of our boat, this means that nearly always the shade from the hard-top protects the cockpit from the most intense sunshine of the day.  If we roll down the front windscreen it also helps to keep the cockpit dry.  These were not the primary benefits foreseen when we built the hard-top, but they sure are much appreciated.

Just look at that lovely dark shadow under the helm roof.

Aft Sun-shade:  A few years ago (before we even moved aboard) I made an aft sunshade for the back of the cockpit.  As I mentioned above the wind nearly always blows from the east, which means that at prime cocktail time the sun is shining directly into the back of the boat.  It can get brutally hot and some sort of shade protection is obligatory if you are going to spend any comfortable time living on your boat in the afternoons.  Based on the premise that a light colour would reflect more light and would therefore be cooler I made a white sunshade.  It worked very well but finally after about five years of constant tropical sun it packed it in, both the fabric and thread completely sun rotted.  Considering it was not made of Sunbrella and I spent about $50 for the fabric from some discount bin I consider this to be stellar performance.  This time around though I paid heed to a number of experienced cruisers who voiced the opinion that a dark colour is in fact cooler because it creates a deeper shade.  Trusting these experienced voices, I made a new sun shade this past season out of dark blue Sunbrella and immediately we noticed a difference.  It feels like the cockpit is at least 10 degrees cooler and the deep shade is a huge improvement for the eyes.

I also made sure to split the wide panel into three pieces, joined by zippers.  This makes it much easier for one person to roll up and stow away.

Shade Awning:  A lot of boats will sport a shade awning of some sort throughout their stay in the tropics during hurricane season, when the sun is at it's hottest.  The one area on our boat where an awning is really appreciated is on the trampoline and the front window area of the salon - this means that if we want to sit out on the trampoline and enjoy the trade-wind breezes we can find a bit of shade to prevent the crispy bacon look.  I made our shade awning back in the fall of 2014 and we use it quite a bit when the wind is below 20 knots.  However, I would say that of all our little heat-beating missiles, this is the one we use the least.  I posted some pictures and commentary on the blog here.  (You can also see there our old helm protection - almost non-existent.)

Cockpit Wind Scoop:  The latest addition to our arsenal, just added this week.  I tested out the concept with a couple of sarongs, then more robustly with an old bed sheet (thanks Janice!) and finally moved into construction phase.  The purpose of this wind scoop is to capture the wind as it blows along the side of the boat and funnel it into the cockpit, creating a nice cooling breeze as we sip sun-downers behind that lovely dark blue sun shade (sure, all we ever do in the cockpit is sip sun-downers!)  You'll note that I made it out of clear plastic - the type used for dodger windscreens, edged with Sunbrella which means that it doesn't blocke our view out the side of the boat.  I won't leave it up in really heavy winds but in the steady trades of 10-20 knots it is scooping away quite happily and we are much cooler as a result.

Our (almost) unimpeded view of the anchorage at Mount Hartman Bay.

I love that this scoop is almost invisible on the boat.

And there you have it - keeping cool in the shade and the breeze makes all the difference to our enjoyment of Mowzer!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Final Update from the Boatyard - And Then a Splash

Between our return from Canada on October 11 and our scheduled launch date on the 22nd we had a few boat jobs to complete, those that can only be completed when on dry land.  Once we got going, things progressed well and to avoid a Saturday launch and potential conflict with an afternoon of fun at a Hash, we moved the date up to Friday afternoon and actually made it on time!

Here's what we got up to...

Propeller & Saildrive Antifouling:  Our propellers mount on a piece of equipment called a sail drive under the boat.  This is essentially a right-angle gearing that drops down from below the engine and about once every ten (10) years it is recommended that the lower unit seal be replaced.  We are only 7 years old but to avoid any unwanted surprises, we went ahead and had the seal replaced, then we replaced all the automatic transmission fluid that fills the unit and finally went about protecting the whole assembly from the nasty growth that can grow on underwater surfaces in warm tropical waters.  Because the propellers and sail drive are made from aluminum they should not be coated with an anti fouling paint containing copper, this can cause pitting on the aluminum surface.  Instead, we chose to use a product specifically designed for aluminum called Seajet.  The idea is that growth is repelled and will not adhere to the painted surface and it will remain nice and slippery, providing little resistance to the moving water as we sail or motor.

The process involved applying a first coat, 15 minutes later a second coat, 15 minutes later a third coat, 2 hours later a fourth coat, 2 hours later a fifth coat and 2 hours later a final coat.  Phew!!  Timing that not to get sanding dust from our neighbours in the yard was tricky business but we managed to find a day when they were taking a break.

Two propellers and two spares, along with two nose cones going through the process.

It many not look all that pretty, but our sail drive is clean and ready for painting.  The blue tape is protecting the shaft where the anode and the propeller will go.

Once we had the sail drives and propellers painted, we moved on to the bottom of the boat to give it a nice new clean bottom.  Since our epoxy bottom is nice and smooth, the primer was in good shape, and we are using the same product as before and to be honest most of it was gone anyways, we were able to just apply the new bottom paint without a lot of arduous prep-work.  Some will tell us that we should have stripped right off and put on new primer but since we have other plans we will divulge at a later date, suffice it to say, this is all that is necessary at the moment.  So happy to be able to get the bottom paint all on in one day!

Wearing your carnival j'ouvert shirt is kinda cheating Henry - it makes you look like you're really tossing that paint around.

It's so nice and easy to paint a catamaran - no scaffolding needed to reach the high spots and even the keels weren't too low to get under.

Calling it "The Boatyard Blues" but happy that job is all done.

By Thursday afternoon, it was time for a little boatyard Tetris.  Two of our neighbours needed to move out and eventually a boat about four rows back wanted out - this happens when you tell the yard you want to splash in December and then change your mind to October.  The guys in the yard a real pros when it comes to moving boats and although the process seemed very slow - we were extremely happy they were so careful, it was still faster than moving other boats (like us) out of the way and then coming back for the offender.
It was pretty scary watching a 50' catamaran pass within inches of our hull.
Finally Friday arrived and we turned on the hose full of free water to wash away the boatyard grime.  It seems that you can wash and wash the boat, but as soon as you get in the water you will still find something that you forgot to wash off.  The freshwater rinse felt so good and then before we knew it, the trailer was there to pull us away to freedom.

Previously we had been lifted out of the water on a travel lift and then transferred to the trailer for parking.  This time, we stayed on the trailer and as a first for us, we were launched down the ramp.  There were two divers in the water making sure all was clear before we were pulled over to the dock and tied up.  Being the last launch of the day, we stayed where we were to check through engines and other systems, with no worries about holding up another boat.

Heading down the ramp to freedom.

But we didn't go too far the first night - it felt good to just be on the water.
 Ah the boating life - this is what it's all about

Sunset view from Calvigny Island anchorage on our second night out.

Now, we've moved around to Mount Hartman Bay which feels like our home away from home.  We'll enjoy a couple of weeks here before moving back northbound to start our third season of cruising.

Interesting cloud formations over Secret Harbour Marina.

Grenadian Thanksgiving and kickoff to the World Series - celebrated with grilled chilli-dogs in the great company of Alan, Marie and Cathy.
Third season!!!  I can't believe it :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Keeping Our Cool in the Boatyard

Okay, the drought has ended on the blog and we are once again back in action on Mowzer.

We had a fantastic month away visiting family in Belgium and Canada but once again we are back on the boat and the last couple of weeks have seen a flurry of activity with our launch date set for the end of this week.

Believe it or not, we have actually stayed on the boat throughout our time at Clarke's Court with the one exception of a night spent in one of their rental rooms on the night we arrived back in Grenada after dark - opening up the boat that night after a month's sojourn was not on my list of fun things to do.

Some people opt for an apartment rental during their boatyard stay and we have certainly enjoyed visiting some nicely air conditioned places with them.  This is particularly a good idea if you can't run your fridge or freezer out of the water.  We are not in that situation so we decided to do it a bit more cheaply and stay on the boat in the yard.  Did I mention that September / October is the hottest time of year in Grenada and that the mosquitos can be quite brutal?

Here's how we handled the situation, managed to stay sane and married, and Zika free.

We bought one of those mosquito nets with magnets down the middle so every time we went through the doorway it automatically closed behind us.

Here's a better view of the screen at the door.

It might look like we're trying to repel aliens, but tinfoil on the windows immediately reduced the temperature inside the boat.  Add fans and screened, open hatches and we managed to get a little air circulation inside as well.

For our top hatch I just sewed a bit of light chain around a large circle of no-see'em mesh - stayed in place nicely and easy to close the hatch without having to remove the screen.

The item that made the most difference though was the A/C unit we rented - at $50US/week it kept our berth cool at night so we could get a good night's sleep.  We usually have to turn it off after a couple of hours so we don't end up feeling like we're sleeping in a meat locker.

The biggest issue now is making your way down the swim ladder for that needed visit to the toilet, usually in the dark of night - I'm happy to make do with a pickle-jar but sometimes you just gotta go!

And that's it - we've been sleeping well and getting work done but will be oh so happy to be back floating on the water.

Still can't sing the praises of Clarke's Court Boatyard loud enough.