Friday, February 28, 2014

An Umbrella for ‘Minnow’

Today there has been non-stop rain, and the thought occurred to me that ‘Minnow’ could do with an umbrella. I remember seeing one on ‘Little Jim’, Al Law’s Paradox. When we sailed in company to the Scilly Isles there was a mixed bag of weather, including rain. One day we experienced storm force winds, and as a precautionary measure, Al removed ‘Little Jim’s’ mast before the onslaught.

An umbrella under those circumstances wouldn’t have stood a chance, but for times when it is raining and the wind is not too strong, an umbrella can be a useful accoutrement, particularly when the boat is at anchor or she is beached. With a brolly rigged over the hatchway, the hatch can be left open, and the crew can sit on the seat without bumping his head.

If I have a criticism of ‘Paradox’, it is not being able to stand or move freely within her cabin when the hatch is closed. This is especially irksome if one has to remain below for hours at a time on account of rain. An umbrella over the hatchway can make a lot of difference.

Finally, an umbrella is not unlike a parasol, and if the sun is baking hot, an umbrella can provide shade for the crew.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Depth Sounder for ‘Minnow’ – Part 2


My associations with depth sounders/echo sounders have not always been happy. I had a NASA Target 2 Depth Sounder on ‘Ladybird’ and it played up. I have subsequently learned that the present owner of ‘Ladybird’ has experienced similar trouble with same depth sounder.

In November of last year I acquired a NASA Marine Sting Ray depth sounder by winning it on Ebay. I was aware that the sounder lacked a power cable, a transducer, and a transducer cable, but what I didn’t realise was how costly replacements would be.

In response to my November article about the Sting Ray, Paul rightly commented that it could be power hungry. I gave some thought to the matter, but continued looking for replacement parts. As cheap replacements could not be found, I more or less gave up on the Sting Ray. I further rejected it on account of being bulky. Modern depth sounders are far more compact and less power hungry.

Two days ago a neighbour offered me a Sowester EchoPilot 660 that he no longer wanted. The gizmo came with a transducer and cable, but what I didn’t realise was that the transducer cable was not suitable. I only became aware of this when I examined wiring within the cable. There were four very fine wires in the central core instead of the usual thick one, and the total diameter of the cable was thinner than it should be.

An Internet search revealed that any of the old type 150 khz transducers and cables will do. They work out at about £33, inclusive of packaging and postage.

The Sowester 660, once manufactured by Incastec Marine of Ringwood, was considerably smaller than the contemporary Sting Ray – hence more attractive from my point of view, but I have yet to make up my mind whether I should buy the missing parts for the 660.

I do not believe a depth sounder is essential, but being able to obtain an instant sounding can be very helpful and it could make a vital difference in a tricky situation. Meanwhile I have a lead and line, and I could make a sounding pole for use in shallow water.


Depth Sounder for ‘Minnow’

Important Priority

NASA Target 2 Depth Sounder

NASA Target 2 Depth Sounder

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

‘Minnow’s’ Boom Fitting for the Sheet

To attach the sail to the boom, one must feed the boom through a sleeve at the foot of the sail. You cannot do so from the tack end of the boom, because the furling drum is far too large to pass through the sleeve. Likewise you cannot slide the boom through the sleeve from the clew end of the boom unless you first remove the fitting to which the mainsheet and topping lift are attached. The fitting can rotate around a bolt that is set into the clew end of the boom.

Before I had the sail repaired by Jeckells I had to first take it off the boom; therefore I had to remove the retaining bolt. I had to forcefully unscrew it from the boom, and in so doing, break the bond between it and the boom.

After replacing the sail, I had to renew the bond, but instead of doing it with proprietary epoxy filler, as I believe originally was the case, I made my own with West Epoxy and colloidal silica. The air temperature today was less than 15 degrees Celsius which is the minimum for carrying out epoxy work; therefore I warmed the locality by using my mini blow heater. Six hours after preparing and applying the epoxy it was well and truly cured.

Whatever forces may be imposed upon the fitting, and these could be considerable, I’m hopeful the bond will hold firm.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Stowage aboard ‘Minnow’

Today I examined the practicalities of stowage aboard ‘Minnow’, and I was pleased with the possibilities. The lazarette will be for items such as warps, fenders, boots, wading shoes, cleaning equipment, toilet paper, the folded stove gimbals, saucepans, frying pan, crockery, and vegetables.

Under floor stowage will be for ground tackle, drinking water, tinned foods and milk.

The side bins will be for items requiring immediate access, such as navigation equipment, the VHF radio, charts, torches, cooker, paper towels, snacks, drinks and personal things such as hats, scarves and gloves.

Soft and dry foods will be kept in a large moveable plastic container at the forward end of the cabin. Beside it to port, there will be a large plastic bucket which may at times have in it the kedge anchor, chain and warp ready to let go at a moment’s notice. At night, I’ll stow the food container under the foredeck, and I’ll strap the bucket to the aft deck. That will leave the floor free for my self-inflating mattress, sleeping bag and pillow. When these items are not being used, they will be stowed in the forepeak.

There’s a good possibility that I may stow my deflated pneumatic kayak, along with her pump, forward of bulkhead two. Her dissembled paddle I’ll probably lash next to the yuloh on the starboard side deck.

Finding a safe place for outboard fuel is always problematical, but providing the containers do not leak, there is no reason why they should not be securely stowed in the compartment forward of the cabin. I shall keep one container in the lazarette within a plastic bowl and along with it a funnel. The smell of petroleum is not pleasant, but if I want an engine I must be prepared to accept it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Some Time for ‘Minnow’


There was no way I could work on ‘Minnow’ yesterday, because I was fully occupied, and today, the story was almost the same, but I managed to put in about 40 minutes painting ‘Minnow’s’ ground tackle locker. I applied a second coat of International Pre-Kote to the floor of the locker, and I think two coats will be sufficient for sealing the plywood.

Two anchors, their chains and cables will be stowed in the locker. Every time they are lifted from the water, they will bring aboard a certain amount of water.  Most of it, I’m hoping to catch in a bucket or waterproof container before I stow the anchors etc in the locker.

Today, the bulk of my energy went into obtaining three fence panels from Homebase and setting them into place where old ones and been blown from their supports by strong winds in recent days. I had to dispose of damaged panels, and I thought the best way of getting rid of them was to burn them. By early nightfall the job was finished.  Only a tiny pile of embers marked the spot where they had been consumed by flames.

I’m going to be busy again tomorrow, because I have to prepare a bedroom for an electrician who will be installing additional sockets and a coaxial cable for a TV, but who knows, perhaps I’ll also find some time for ‘Minnow’?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

‘Minnow’s’ Ground Tackle Locker

The floor of ‘Minnow’s’ ground tackle locker deserves some protection from water that will inevitably end up there. When hauling in anchors I shall try to catch most water that comes up with the cable by flaking the cable into a bucket or a waterproof container, where I’ll leave it for while. A fair amount of water will find its way to the bottom of the bucket or waterproof container, and if I want to stow the anchor and its cable in the ground tackle locker, I shall be able to do so without much water ending up there.

I don’t want water running through the limber holes to other parts of the boat, and to help prevent that happening, I could put sponges on both sides of the locker. Periodically, I could wring them over the side of the boat.

Today I painted the floor of the ground tackle locker with a coat of International Pre-Kote. One or two more coats should be sufficient to prevent water from soaking into the plywood floor.

Friday, February 21, 2014

'Minnow's' Furling System etc


The photos tell the story, except they do not communicate how pleased I am with the furling system, which works really well. In fact, the sail can be adjusted in a jiffy with very little effort. I put that down to all lines, including the topping lift, being led through ball bearing blocks into the cabin.

The other thing I’m pleased about is three new fairleads on the port side for deploying the fenders.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

'Minnow's' Vent Box and Innards

The inside of ‘Minnow’s’ vent box is not a pretty sight. Fortunately, it is not seen, and as long it works, that’s what matters.

With great difficulty I succeeded in attaching two blocks to the forward face of the interior of the vent box. Originally I intended putting them side by side, but on inspection, I deduced there would not be enough room for the mast to pass by when inserting it into the vent box. Perhaps there would just be enough room for a double block.

Meanwhile, I have joined two blocks at their beckets. The forward one is for the furling line, and the aft one is for the topping lift. I could manage without a topping lift block by feeding the topping lift through the becket of the furling block. As far as I can see, that’s how the previous owner did it.

The main difference now is that instead of the blocks being held in place by two small screws, they are more securely attached to the bulkhead by two stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Two things for ‘Minnow’


Today I finished making the water dispenser. The new pump perfectly fitted into the hole I cut through the cap of the carton that once contained Comfort liquid. When I unscrew the lid for topping up the water I can smell a slight fragrance. In time, I hope this will disappear. The carton very conveniently fits into the port side bin, which is within easy reach, so that I can transfer water to a kettle or cup etc without spilling any.

Another finished item is the tiller extension. Before being adapted for its new purpose, it was the leg of a small beside table that I no longer wanted.

I don’t think there will be an opportunity for working on ‘Minnow’ tomorrow, because I shall have a very busy schedule, but if I can snatch a moment, I’ll have a go at fitting blocks inside the vent box for the furling line and the topping lift.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

More Goodies for ‘Minnow’

Inadequate screws

Suitable bolts

New block for the topping lift

Terylene topping lift

I had a bit of a shock when I checked the blocks for the furling line and the topping lift. In fact, only the furler block was there. A close inspection revealed that the block for the topping lift had been pulled free from the bulkhead and was no longer there. Two small holes revealed where the retaining screws had been. The furler block was similarly held in place by two tiny screws. Only by the grace of God was it still attached to the bulkhead.

This situation necessitated a trip to the chandlers for buying a suitable block for the topping lift and nuts and bolts for fixing both blocks. While I was there I also bought three fairleads for attaching fenders to the port side of the boat, and a 9 metre length of Terylene rope for use as the hauling part of the topping lift. The cheap Polypropylene one I initially set up was no good, because it kept slipping out of the jam cleat. I retained the fixed Polypropylene part of the topping lift and tied the new rope to the eye at the apex.

Those few goodies cost me £36.20 – amazing! Incidentally, back in the early 1970s there used to be four chandlers within the boundaries of Southend-on-Sea, Westcliffe and Leigh; now there is only one. Hard times and purchasing through the Internet are largely to blame.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sunny Distractions

Yesterday the weather was blissfully sunny, so markedly uncharacteristic of what has been the norm over the past two or three months. Forecasters tell us that this winter has been the wettest since 1914/15.

Now, just as the sun uniquely shone on Sunday, I found myself indoors – at church in the morning and at a Salvation Army hall in the afternoon, but at both venues another brighter sun shone. In church there were therapeutic rays of spiritual light, and at the hall there were party lights and the sound of children’s laughter, but that was not all ……………..

Twenty-four children at a birthday party, all aged about seven, can make an awful lot of noise; add to that the party leader’s ear-splitting continuous banter, you have what sounds like a jumbo jet on take off.  Put fingers in your ears, and you can see the kids are having a fantastic time. If that’s not sunshine for mums and dads, what is?

I came away knowing I had been pleasantly distracted from the gloom of winter.


Wettest ever winter

Waterworld: Britain’s wettest winter on record

Saturday, February 15, 2014

More Little Things for 'Minnow'


I was able to do a few small jobs for ‘Minnow’. I bought a waxed sash cord for wrapping around the mast to protect it from the boom and sail sleeve, and I sorted and assembled a number of ropes that can serve as mooring lines etc. There were some sharp pieces of metal at the front end of the road trailer, and as they were potentially dangerous, I covered them with the bottom of a plastic carton.

Because I shall on occasions sail ‘Minnow’ when I'm seated on the aft deck, I made a tiller extension to pass between my shins.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My mini IPad – Part 3

I last made mention of my mini iPad on Friday, 7th February. Basically I was fed up with the online company from whom I bought it, because they were not playing ball. They had promised to pay UK import duty of 20 percent; instead, they invented numerous excuses for not doing so.

I could have given up on ever receiving what was rightfully mine; instead, I kept reminding them of their obligation to pay what was due. Eventually, I had to resort to saying I would reveal how they were mistreating me and others. Mention of my blog and Twitter did the trick. They realised I was serious, and shortly after the threat of global exposure I received an email saying they would indeed transfer funds into my account.

I really didn’t know if this was yet another delaying tactic, a lie or the truth. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, and last Tuesday, much to my surprise, they transferred the money to my account.

I was reminded of the story of the importunate widow who wanted justice, and in order to get it, she kept on and on to the unjust judge. (Luke 18:1-8) Jesus told a similar story of persistence about a friend who required a loaf of bread. (Luke11:5-9)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.*


My mini iPad

My mini iPad – Part 2

*Try, Try and Try Again

Thursday, February 13, 2014

‘Minnow’s’ Name Confirmed

When I first acquired ‘Minnow’ I was doubtful about retaining her name. Her second owner had given it to her.  I preferred it to the original one, which was ‘Enuf’.

At first, I couldn’t generate much enthusiasm for keeping the name, but I’ve not come up with a better one; therefore I’ve stuck with it. Another reason for calling her ‘Minnow’ is that the online Paradox sailboat community would appear to know her best by her second name.

Thinking about it, ‘Minnow’ is not a bad name for a tiny boat, on account of a minnow being a small fish.

As confirmation of my acceptance of her name, I’ve applied vinyl lettering to that effect on both sides of her bow. She is now, irrevocably, ‘Minnow’.

There is no reason for a naming ceremony, but all the same, may God bless her, and all who sail in her. Amen.


Boat Names

Signs and Graphics for Boats


Common Minnow

Minnow Fact File

Minnow Video

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

‘Minnow’s’ Galley



What galley? Does ‘Minnow’ have a galley? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines a galley as, ‘The kitchen in a ship or an aircraft’. Strictly speaking ‘Minnow’ does not have one, but what she does have is the equivalent of a kitchen on a very small scale. The essential item in a kitchen is a cooker, perhaps an oven with a hob and grill.

My little boat has a removable single burner stove that slots into fold-down gimbals. I can boil, fry or even bake small things placed in an unsealed pressure cooker, although I doubt I would actually bake anything. Fresh bread and scones would be nice, however. Pots and pans are stored in the lazarette, as indeed is the crockery. Cutlery happily fits into a plastic bin that can be hooked to the side lockers.  Food and drinks are stored in containers, both under the floor and in the lazarette. ‘Minnow’s’ sink is a plastic bowl that can conveniently be placed on the floor between my feet when I’m sat on the seat, which makes washing up easy. The drying rack is the wooden slatted lid of the anchor locker. Her waste bin can be secured to side lockers in several different places.

A great advantage of ‘Minnow’ is that her ‘chef’ can perform his culinary tasks while sitting down. He does not have to move from his seat, nor does he have to spend a great deal of energy. Everything is to hand.

Who would want a bigger, but less secure galley? Not me. I have been there and know of the pitfalls. I’ve had to strap myself in to prevent being thrown to the other side of the galley, especially when beating and the cooker is to windward. Sometimes working surfaces and hobs have been too high, so that when the yacht heeled, the contents of saucepans, bowls etc have been thrown onto the cook and the floor. Scalding water, hot fat, scrambled or fried eggs are not the friendliest of projectiles.

Give me a small boat with a compact galley any time!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

‘Minnow’s’ Waste Bin


Four years ago I visited the London Boat Show and out of curiosity I looked at a large and very expensive sailing yacht. There were several things that seemed odd, but two of them were very strange. She could only be steered from within her cabin, which meant the helmsman had restricted vision forwards and no vision aft, except by observing a CCTV screen. The other oddity was that she had no inbuilt waste bin!

‘Minnow’ can be sailed by her solo crew from within her cabin, and he has good all-round vision and a waste bin!

A waste bin for a cruising yacht is essential. What do you do with your rubbish if you don’t have one? Bung it in a plastic bag - but even a plastic bag must have a home. Most commonly, it is hung on a hook. When the boat moves the bag moves. If the bag develops a hole or splits, contents spill on the floor. Ideally, a trash bag should be contained in a box of sorts, preferably one with an easy to open lid. The box should be fixed, so as not to slide around or tip over.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good waste bin as part of the equipment aboard a cruising yacht.

‘Minnow’s bin can be clipped to the side lockers in a number of places without impeding any moving or movable items such as the Autohelm, steering lines, locker lids and the helmsman’s seat. I grant you the bin is not large, but in my experience it is big enough to hold an average day’s rubbish generated by one person. At the end of the day the contents can be transferred to a plastic bag stowed in the forecastle.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Painting the Kitchen


Yesterday, I said painting the kitchen should be a snip, but in fact, it was not. I underestimated the amount of work involved. Applying masking tape took a little over an hour-and-a-half. Altogether I had to paint three doors, one of which required doing on both sides, and add to that, door frames and skirting boards. Above one of the doors there was a window frame requiring paint, and there was a wide and long window sill.

Altogether it took six hours to complete; well, not quite, because I have yet to paint the radiator which I couldn’t do today, on account of it being hot. If I switch off the central heating tonight, I’ll be able to paint the radiator tomorrow.

My wife was pleased with what I had done, but she’s more than one step ahead planning the next job. Good for her, because she keeps me on my toes. I don’t tell her of my broken back, which won’t stop me sailing. Why should it stop me from doing jobs around the home? I’ve no excuses.