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.

First Ding

First Ding

Fun traveling today. After a good warm dry sleep I left Campbellford at 0900 and got to the Murray Canal at 1730. Sunny, light winds, temps in the high teens. I love lazy rivers like the Trent, and the locks break things up, though there are a lot of them on today’s segment.

I took a video tour underway from the flybridge. https://youtu.be/Pz4kTX3zNHk

I decided to try to limit my use of the thrusters. I left this morning with charged batteries, but have some power management issues.

I was traveling with another boat and on my best behaviour for the first half of the day. But they dropped off at lock 4, and it was just me and the roving lock tenders for the last three locks so I figured I could drive Mazurka style. I came into one a little hot and ended up a couple of feet from the wall and deliberately kicked my stern in rather than use the thrusters. All good except I wasn’t really fendered up for that.

Lesson learned. There is a now a second minor paint scratch on the hull. My first. I had a buoy sitting in the cockpit ready to hang over the side. But I’d become so accustomed to doing perfect landings using the thrusters I had neglected to fender up properly.

I’m now anchored just off the canal entrance. Met up with Samantha and Sarah for takeout dinner at the bridge then came out here for the night. Tomorrow I’ll head for Toronto.

Pit Stop

I pulled into Campbellford early this afternoon and stayed put. I had noticed the starter seeming a bit sluggish – I’m locking down every few miles on this stretch, and at the last lock I lost engine instrumentation after starting.

Fortunately there are nice municipal facilities here with power. And groceries and takeout very local. So I plugged in, confirmed charging, and had a lovely afternoon tidying up and getting provisions. I’m not concerned about the batteries. I already have plans for tearing the charging system apart this winter.

It’s also nice to have heat. The last couple of nights have been in the low single digits, and it’s been sunny but cool in the daytime. The portable electric heaters plugged in fore and aft tonight are a welcome luxury. I was tied up at the locks in Lakefield and Hastings but without shore power or working generator.

I was frustrated when I dug out my heated matress cover and it wouldn’t work. Turns out that it doesn’t work on the inverter, but works when plugged in. One more argument for a fancy new inverter.

One nice thing about extended shakedowns is that you can try out various situations and use cases as you go along. I was in a deep lock today and had the opportunity to consider my railings in that context. I thought I had this solved last week, but that was in the context of boarding and open water. It won’t work at all for vertical walls. Back to the drawing board. It might just be a really robust hip strap and more handholds.

I also noticed a noise today that I took to be play in the linkage to the backing rudder. On investigation I found the linkage to be broken, and the noise was the cone swinging around and coming up against the prop shaft. I secured it in the centered position.

I’ve had a bit of a fascination with this device. I may have broken it when reversing aggressively out of Buckhorn the other day. It’s a rigid linkage and one of the threaded pipes broke at the fitting.

I had to take on fuel at Peterborough. I have sight tubes, and both tanks were low. I’ll empty one by transfer before I refuel to get exact capacity, but as suspected these tanks are small, no more than 300 l each.

Boat is fabulous. Lots of compliments from the lock tenders on this stretch, and I’m spending more time appreciating the inside now.

This is a lovely stretch of the waterway. It’s completely different, far less jagged and threatening. I’ve been able to relax and look around a bit.

Buckhorn

I’m anchored here just above Buckhorn Lock. I arrived there shortly after lockage stopped for the day at 3:30, then steamed back here to spend the night at anchor. The destination locks in this section always collect overnight dockage fees, and I’m just as happy out here. They open at 10:00 tomorrow.

I’m really liking driving the boat. Got the autopilot fully figured out, and am feeling very confident in close quarters maneuvering. I backed out of the Buckhorn Lock entrance into the breeze today rather than try to turn around in the channel. Made it fairly cleanly. Using the thrusters I can slowly approach a wall and easily come alongside. Pretty slick.

I’m also liking the inside. I like to sprawl, and there are comfortable places for me to hang out in the pilothouse and the salon. The outdoor grade cushion coverings are perfect for me.

Today was warm with a moderate south wind. Beautiful day. Tomorrow it cools off. Probably should look for long pants. I should have some aboard somewhere.

Stopped for a few minutes in Bobcageon to grab some takeout sandwiches from the Italian Deli, but otherwise just cruised along. Spent a lot of time at 5.5 – 6.5 knots. Tonight I am digging into my inverter and AC system a bit. Getting familiar with what I have, and figuring out what I may want.

More of the same for the next few days. I’m enjoying this.

Rosedale

Got up to Balsam Lake today. At 841 feet above sea level this is the highest point on the waterway. Now at Rosedale lock 39. Nice spot. I haven’t stayed here before.

Not much else to report. Just read up on the Robertson/Simrad AP21 that came with the boat. Worked fine in open water but dead zone was too wide for narrow channels. I think I’ve got it configured now to be more aggressive. Also discovered rudder position display, which I was missing. All good.

Mazurka – Total Cost of Ownership

I think I mentioned earlier that I had completed a five year plan with Mazurka.  I want to lay out the context in which I bought the boat, and the basic costs, planned and actual.  It’s part of my retrospective learning, and might be of interest to others.

Whenever I started seriously contemplating getting another big boat it was a tough sell.  Not just for my wife Samantha, who has an active and fulfilling life without boats, but for me.  I had no use case that would come close to justifying the cost of ownership.  There were no places that I wanted to keep the boat within easy driving distance of our home.  I had played with the idea of getting a Nonsuch off and on over the years – the 30 is one of my benchmark boats – but always came to the same conclusion. 

But I had a dream to travel the inland waterways that had been percolating for a very long time.  And I was getting within sight of executing on that dream.  My kids were nominally independent, my parents had both died, and I had been working remotely for years.  And there’s no life better for me than messing around in boats.

One of the big triggers for me to act when I did was an inheritance from my mother.  She and I and Suey had worked collaboratively and thoughtfully before her death to appropriately allocate her modest estate. My kids got some money to help with uni/life expenses, and I got a pot of about $65.000 that was pure mad money for me.

So I basically took that as a budget for five years of ownership, with an expected significant residual value at the end.

I still only had a vague use case. I planned on being solo. Never owned a power boat.

I put an upper bound of $40k on the purchase price, and started the search. As it happened, Mazurka came with a use case that was my template. The owners lived in Chicago ten months a year, and cruised the great lakes from end to end the other two months. Had done it for eight years and kept the boat in top condition. Never had a permanent slip.

I bought Mazurka on shore in September 2015 for US$24k, wrapped and winterized, storage paid, fuel tanks full. Arrived back to the boat in the spring and got underway. Landed in Canada total cost was about $36k.

Major costs (approx) in 5 years:

  • Insurance $3,500
  • Winter storage ashore (2 years) $2,500
  • Equipment (cover, electronics) $9,000
  • Repairs from grounding $3,500
  • Winter liveaboard Toronto $6,500
  • Hauling and storage NY $1,500
  • Waterway passes and fees $1,500
  • Transient dockage $5,000
  • Oil, filters, bottom paint $2,000
  • Fuel $11,000
  • Mechanical $28,000

I’m just doing this off the top of my head, but I’m pretty close to an accurate accounting I think. So total is $36k purchase + $74k since, total $110k. That missed the budget by a lot. This is the first time I’ve actually totalled it up.

Residual is also settled, more or less. I traded Mazurka plus cash for Escapade, and we valued Mazurka at $25k in the deal.

So, net cost for 5 years of ownership was $85k. Nice round numbers. Canadian dollars, if that wasn’t clear.

A few notes in my defence WRT managing to budget: my plans got more ambitious as I went along, and went from seasonal great lakes to 2 years of full time liveaboard/travel including the Great Loop. That use also decreased the residual value. The boat was ready for some time in the shop when I traded it. And the mechanical costs are only as high as they are due to my own negligence and ineptitude. I learned lots.

Was it worth it? I was fully prepared to go back ashore at the end of my mad money adventure, but instead here I am in Escapade. Doubling down.

I just went back and read one of my earliest posts here. No comment. https://boatingadventures.ca/2017/06/16/faq-cost/

Gamebridge

I came across Lake Simcoe this afternoon from Barrie. Played with a variety of speeds between 7-9 knots. I’m really pleased with the economy and ease of operation in that range. The boat just slides along. Reminds me more than anything of small ferries I’ve been on. I guess that makes sense given its heritage. I like it. I also like that I’ve had no temptation to go up top. Docking and maneuvering is very easy from the pilothouse, and I have good 360 degree visibility using the back window and sticking my head out either door. Boat has wicked prop torque in reverse, and I’m learning how to harness it for good when maneuvering.

I’m now secure just inside the swing bridge for the night. Fall hours are 10:00 – 3:30. But I’m not in a big rush. Canceled my shore side obligations this week and will travel each day. I have a few projects like installing the generator that I’ll poke away at en route down the waterway.

When I came south through here 4 years ago I was tied up on the lake side when a 28′ flybridge boat came through from the canal side and steamed straight into the bridge. Took out the top of the boat and disabled the bridge for a day. Fun times. I had the minor equivalent earlier today on a fixed bridge when I lost the top couple of feet of my VHF antenna. Bridge is fine :-). Mast is now down for the duration of the trip.