New Dinghy

I just bought a new dinghy, a 2021 Highfield Ultralight 340 Hypalon. Info here

I’ve been thinking of a new RIB for the last year or more. The local dealer runs good January specials, and they had very good pricing on the Hypalon version. I think I’ll be happy with it.

I have an old Yamaha 15 hp 2 stroke that will be a good match for the boat. Total dry weight of the boat and motor is under 200 pounds. My plan has been to keep it on top of the deckhouse, but I’ve recently been having doubts about that. The alternative is a good set of davits. In any case the new dinghy is well suited for either storage method.

Winter

No ice yet, but -5 or so with a stiff NE wind. Recent gusts at the island airport in the high 30s. East winds are nasty here, with the wind coming down the waterfront.

I got the shrink wrap on last week, and went around today tying the frame legs together and checking it over. Overall it’s a D grade job. Sarah and I did it all from the deck, which was a very bad idea. We messed up the belly straps. And the film I bought was low quality. Burned a few big holes. But I think it’ll hold together for the winter.

Heat is great, hot water plentiful. I had no problem filling my water tank this week using the permanent hose laid underwater from the dock house to the dock close by. It’s a comfortable home. I love the motion and connection to the water and weather. 123 hours on the furnace after 21 days of operation.

For the next few weeks I’m cocooning with family. There’s a pandemic raging around us, and the city is on lockdown. So I’m visiting the boat daily, but not living aboard.

Happy holidays!

Solar Panels

I got solar panels installed this fall.  700 watts on the pilothouse roof.

I bought the four 175 watt flexible panels from Renogy and installed a Victron Smartsolar 50/100 controller.  This connects via bluetooth to my phone to a slick app.

I put a Victron Smartshunt on the house bank as well.  Ran the boat on just solar for a week or two and no problems running the fridge, lights etc. 

To mount the panels I used VHB tape, the thickest available.  I ran strips parallel to allow some air flow for cooling.

I’m very pleased with the result. The panels are very unobtrusive, and will allow me to live at a mooring comfortably.

Total cost was about $2,000.

Heat!

I wrote wrote earlier about my plans for heat, and the new system has been running perfectly for 12 days now. Just in time.

Master bedroom heater and themostat

The install went smoothly. I did most of it myself with support from Sarah, who advised, assisted with some pipe pulls and gathered local materials. As I reflect on it there really weren’t any big challenges. Running hoses and wires is relatively painless in this boat.

I should have put more serious planning into the exhaust design. I talked myself into going over the fuel tank, but the outlet is a bit high and getting enough rise to keep water out is problematic. Should have run aft then down behind the tank and out a foot lower to get a bulletproof system. I have the winter to noodle on that as I work in the ER.

Apart from that I’m delighted with the system. I now have heaters in each room, each with their own thermostats. And no cold toilet seat or shower.

Heated head

I’ve averaged 6 hours a day operation on the boiler in 12 days. Fuel consumption is 1.75 l/hr. But I’ve done zero winterization and have had a warm boat. We just covered the boat today, which will really help with heat.

I hate to take pictures of a messy install. The ER will get lots of attention over the winter, so I haven’t tied anything in there yet. You can see the footprint isn’t dramatically different from the water heater it replaced.

The whole thing wasn’t cheap – about $10k – but it achieves my goals elegantly. I’ve got hot water and limited space heating available from engine waste heat when underway or plugged in, with diesel fired heat always on call.

I’m again reminded of my small fuel tanks. Full they’re about 600 l. I arrived here almost full. But that’s not going to last the winter. I’m going to pursue additional tankage. There’s lots of room under the floor.

I want to write also about my solar panel install. Will do that soon in another post.

Samantha took a few shots leaving this evening. Nice to have some festive cheer from the neighbors!

My neighborhood

We got the plastic on today and I’ll shrink it tomorrow. Forecast looks perfect, so I have confidence I won’t fail this time. Then some decorating…

Here’s a video of me drilling out the exhaust port. Measure twice, cut once! I never seem to learn.

Shrink Wrap Aborted

Today’s breeze

I was watching the weather last week and knew some violent weather was coming. So I thought I’d get the cover on. It looked like there was a weather window yesterday. I had all the materials, and Samantha and Sarah came to help.

But in our usual fashion, we didn’t get at it until mid afternoon, and by the time I was ready to apply the torch I was in trouble. There was a south breeze blowing perpendicular to the boat. No more than ten knots, but enough to make shrinking the large vertical surfaces really tricky. I tried doing the forward section and then gave up. The results were not good.

Today I figured I was in trouble. When it blew up in the afternoon I cut the cover down the ridge and let it hang down on either side from the boat. It was pretty violent. No harm done apart from a wasted 36×70 roll of shrink wrap.

Lesson learned. Start early and make sure it’s calm. It’s a big boat, with big vertical surfaces that require good weather and technique to do properly.

In other news, the new furnace is finally on its way. Just in time! I’ve been comfortable aboard, but heating is currently limited to a couple of plug in electric heaters.

I was struck again today by the igloo effect of the white cover. It’s very opaque. I couldn’t find a clear wrap in my large size, but will ask around again. I said last year that I wanted clear. I think that’s still true.

Heat and DC power

I ordered a bunch of components this weekend for revising my battery systems, and have finalized my heater order. Progress. And solar panels are coming this week.

First, the heating system: I am getting a Hurricane Chinook diesel boiler, with thermostatically controlled fan heaters in the two cabins, head, pilothouse and salon. This will replace the existing water heater, and will mount in its place in the engine room. Lots of room and easy exhaust straight out.

This gives me pretty much my dream setup. The boiler has 3,000 watts electric and a heat exchanger loop with the engine to scavenge waste heat. Lots of flexibility.

For the DC system, I had an ideal, and in the end I followed it. The boat has bow and stern thrusters, both about 7 hp. The 12v bow thruster currently runs off the house bank, and the 24v stern thruster off a bank of batteries that is in parallel with the start batteries except when switched over to 24v.

I have ordered five new Optima Red Top AGM batteries. Two to form a 12v bank supplying the bow thruster and windlass, two to form a 24v bank supplying the stern thruster, and one to start the main engine.

Each of these banks will be charged by a dedicated DC – DC charger that will draw power from the house bank. These chargers are highly configurable and communicate by bluetooth to a phone app. Pretty neat stuff. I’ll be able to monitor bank health through those tools.

The generator has its own starting battery as well. I’m not planning at this point to connect it to anything else.

Since the engine starting battery will be charged from the house bank, all charging will go directly to the house bank – solar, alternator, and AC charger supplied by shore power or generator.

I’ve also ordered a Smart Shunt to monitor the house bank.

That leaves the house bank. Lead acid batteries scare me a little, but I have four brand new 6v golf cart batteries and room to add a few more. I think that’s what I’m going to run for now.

I’m still chasing the idea of having air conditioning underway without running the generator. I have a 2500w inverter and a 18,000 btu unit that I’m planning to install in the pilothouse/salon. Will experiment once it’s installed and running.

I’m going to be busy when all this stuff arrives! Will try to take some pics.

Fall Projects

I started ordering boat stuff today. 700 watts of flexible solar panels that will almost cover the top of the pilothouse, and a fancy Victron controller. Exciting. I really want to be self-sufficient and comfortable off the dock, and solar is part of that. It should easily keep the fridge and lights on. More work to follow on batteries and charging systems. The seller bought four new 6 volt FLA batteries at closing, and I’ll likely build on that for the house battery bank. Not my first choice, but inexpensive and practical.

I brought the Westerbeke 5 kw generator with me from Mazurka, and it fits nicely under the cockpit. The old generator had a double isolation mounting system and I’m going to mimic that for the newer generator. It should be quiet and smooth when running.

Heat is coming along. I’ve pretty much settled on a 50,000 btu marine hot water system by ITR that will have individually controlled heaters in each cabin. Found a local sales and service rep and will try to finalize the order this week. The furnace will also live in the stern under the cockpit and vent through the transom. There is a huge amount of equipment space on this boat, and installing heaters and running pipes and cables should be very easy. I’m debating whether to incorporate a heat exchanger that would allow me to capture waste heat from the motor for some heat when underway. It can be added later, but I’m inclined to do it now as part of capital improvements. There’s a recent discussion on Trawler Forum that has helped guide my thoughts on this capability. I have a small new Espar forced air heater that I had considered installing in the pilothouse, but the fully integrated hot water system makes more sense. Maybe I’ll install the Espar on Tin Lizzie.

There are no other big projects imminent. I’ve been slowly going through the inside, and all is good. Replaced a bunch of halogen bulbs and swapped the old incandescent to LED. Got CO and smoke detectors up. Will order shrink wrap also this week, to make sure I get the size I need. Things are moving along at a nice pace.

Escapade is getting lots of positive attention here. It’s a big unusual boat, and the finishes inside and out are very nice. I’m feeling fortunate to have the boat and the time and money to make it pretty perfect for me.

I suppose I should start taking some interior pics. This one is from my favourite lounging position in the salon looking aft. The door leads to a lovely deep covered cockpit. Headroom here is almost 8 feet.

More to follow…

Toronto

Im back at Marina Quay West. Could have saved some money by delaying my arrival, but I’m ready to be tied up and tackling some fall boat projects, like heat. Also have some dental/medical needs that are hard to solve when underway.

Some summary stats from trip from Sarnia. It took three weeks, with a couple of weekend breaks. Approximate as I didn’t mark my starting numbers.

  • Distance 1,150 km
  • Hours 105
  • Fuel 620 l

No other noteworthy items – I have a list of projects, but nothing unexpected. Electrical system needs an audit and revisions.

The trip up the lake was uneventful. Benign weather. I anchored for the night in Whitby and fueled up there.

I’m open for visitors. Today is a cleaning day, inside and out.