Oct 20

Well, we have spent a very very windy day at the South Jersey Marina in Cape May. It has been sunny, but gusting up to 40 mph, and even in this protected marina, the boat has been rocking. We’ve been meeting some very interesting, strange, and nice people. Our favorites so far are a South African couple who , yes, sailed their catamaran from SA to the USA. They’ve been cruising and living on their boat since July 2010, are about 10 years older than us, and have a wonderful attitude to life. I spent the morning with Maureen while we both did laundry and had a lovely time, talking about sailing, life aboard, places to visit that they have been and we haven’t and life in general.  They are on their way back down south, probably wintering over in the Bahamas. Maureen and Alyn need to get over to the UK by June 2012, as their daughter is expecting her first child, and their son is getting married in September. Maybe we’ll have company to sail across the Atlantic?? If we decide we really can do it.

I am baking an apple cake in my “seer pela” , wonder pot, the first time using one in over 30 years! It’s smelling wonderful, I just hope I don’t burn the cake. Our oven is still on the blink, after Jack tried installing a new gas jet. He thinks it’s either the thermostat which is gone, the sensor, or both. (If I got that right). A new stove is very expensive, so we are trying to fix this 27 year old one first. It’s not manufactured anymore, so spares are not available, just reconditioned parts. We’re looking into it.

Looks like we won’t be heading to the Delaware River until Saturday as the winds will still be blowing tomorrow, but worse, the waves will be quite high coming around the bottom of Cape May. There is a canal which cuts through from Cape May to the Delaware, saving at least 2 hours of sailing time. But alas there is a fixed bridge of 55 feet high, and our mast is 58 feet, so that’s not an option for us.

I made a big pot of vegetable soup for dinner, and to have for another day or two. Tomorrow, I have to try to get back to sewing.

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Oct 19

We are now in South Jersey Marina in Cape May after a rather stressful night on the anchor near the Coast Guard Station last night. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to get Shuki to shore there, signs all over saying “no landing”. I tried to dingy across the way, without looking at the chart and as the sun was setting, hit some rocks and turned right around back to Dror. Poor dog had to wait until we got onto the slip this afternoon. He just won’t use his fake grass or anything else on board.

Of course, depending on the weather, we hope to carry on tomorrow. We have a good friend and work partner in Baltimore, have sent some stuff to be delivered to him tomorrow, so we will be stopping near him for a day or two.

So I’m not quite sure where our next stop will be, we’re getting kind of tired of these 9-11 hour days of sailing. We’ll see.

We got to Cape May yesterday around 4:30, and it took us an hour to sort out getting our anchor set: set it once, tangled with someone else’s, pulled it up, reset it. Last night it was really blowing, but our anchor held. Then early this morning we hear a horn blowing and Jack looked out to see a pair of boats on a single anchor dragging: towards us. They didn’t wake up, so Jack went over in the dinghy, rain and wind and woke them up. Excitement.

We are now at a slip in a marina, wanted a bit of an easy time for a day or two.

This is Jack, hijacking Rani’s email. She is walking the dog. Yes, we are spending the big bucks at a smart marina. Probably moving on friday. Tomorrow I am working and Rani is touring and doing laundry with some new South African friends.

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Oct 17

Tonight we’re in beautiful Barnegat Bay: coming in was interesting, as there were pretty big waves coming in (3-5ft) and an outgoing tide. But Jack did a great job. Tow Boat US guy came along side to make sure we were ok and we picked up a (free) mooring. Only about 7 other boats here tonight.

It was very windy today, gusts up to 25. We had the full genoa out, motor sailing and averaged around 6.5 knots, often getting to and staying in the 7’s! It was a long day, 9 hours of sailing. Tomorrow will be more, we have 67 miles to go to Cape May. Gotta leave at 7 am latest. Then Wed/Thurs/Friday we’ll be in Cape May waiting for the next weather window.

This is a loonnnggg trip!

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Oct 14

We were making great progress until a couple of days ago. Now we are in  a holding pattern, waiting for some high seas and winds to calm down.  It’s frustrating, but we are at the mercy of the weather. At least we  got stuck near Jack’s aunt and uncle in Edison, NJ, which is where we  are today. And looks like we will be for another few days. Unfortunately, when I packed to come here, I really only brought enough stuff to do for a day or so. It didn’t seem to make sense to shlep the sewing machine and all the stuff with us. And there was a pretty intense thunderstorm last night, I was glad to be in a house.

We have found a way to break up the trip along the New Jersey shore so we won’t have to do an overnight. There’s a bay called Barnegat, which we checked out with TowBoat US, and we should be able to get in there. It’s at about the halfway point between where we are and Cape May. But we can’t head out until the winds ( gusting tomorrow to 35 mph) and seas (4-6, 5-7 ft) calm down. I’m going to call our new sailing partners/friends, John and Melissa and see how they’re doing. They are the folks we followed through NYC and told us about Great Kills Harbor and Barnegat Bay.

Shuki has been doing well. Before we set out, we had a few days of getting organized and fixing things on the boat. I decided to see how long it would take him to pee onboard, while we were still near his vet. He went 35 hours before he finally gave in and used the fake grass tray I had prepared! I was calling the vet every several hours, she said he would eventually go. whew. and he hasn’t been prepared to use the tray since.

When we arrived at Jack’s aunt and uncle’s place, and thankfully they love him, he went wild: running like crazy from room to room: Space! I think he only tolerates the boat because he’s with us, but prefers land. Poor thing, what we subject him to!

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Oct 10

We are now in Manhasset and there’s a Macgregor 26 classic
on a nearby mooring! We also saw one of the newer models going by earlier.

We have been making tracks, trying to take advantage of the good weather while it lasts. Tomorrow is through Throgs Neck, should be very interesting sailing/motoring through New York City. But I really look forward to getting to the Chesapeake: my dad’s old stomping grounds.

It’s taken a while to get into the swing of living aboard, moving daily. I
look forward to a bit of rain on Thursday because we can take a break before we go down the New Jersey shore.
Had a beautiful sunset this evening. And I did take pictures of the light on Execution rock.

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Oct 6

We’ve dropped the hook ( put down the anchor) at Point Judith, RI tonight. The winds were pretty high as we went down the Sakonnet River : 20knots with gusts up to 30. We were flying along at 6.5-7 knots on only the fore sail! As we got out into the Rhode Island Sound, the winds subsided a bit to 10 knots. Then as we passed the mouth of the Naragansett Bay, we got blasted again. We made it down the Sakonnet River in record time: 1 hour 40 minutes, no engine.

Tomorrow we will try to get to Noank, CT for Yom Kippur: there is a nice marina there where we think we will be comfortable. I hope its better than tonight: we are rocking and rolling, my head is dizzy.

I dingied Shuki to the nearby beach this afternoon when we arrived: beautiful location, sand, rocks…I got my sea boots full of water when I stepped out of the dingy. Oh well. The sunset this evening was spectacular. I’ll try to send some of my pictures.

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From Email:

We spent a lot of time today stowing away all the stuff we brought on board. Jack got the new fuel filtering system hooked up to the engine and we decided to take advantage of the lower winds and seas to go into the marina to fill up with diesel and water. The sun was shining and it all went off flawlessly, including coming up to the dock and leaving the dock. That dock ,and the approach to it, are pretty tight on space: a boat any bigger than ours probably would not quite make it.

The fun started on the way back to the mooring: the engine sputtered and died ! Jack attempted to get close enough to an empty mooring on the boat’s momentum alone, but he didn’t have enough forward motion for control. I got the anchor ready to deploy while he scrambled to switch fuel filters and try to restart the engine. The engine started again, but sputtered again. I dropped the anchor just as we were drifting closer to a moored boat. All 40 feet of chain! At first, I thought I would have to deploy the anchor manually, because usually we can only power the anchor windlass while the engine is running. But thank goodness for our solar power, the batteries were topped up. And with a 35 lb anchor, letting it out by hand is no joke! Pulling it back in is even less fun.

Jack got the engine running again for long enough for us to be able to haul anchor and get to our mooring. Turns out, he didn’t finish bleeding all of the air out of the system after installing the new fuel filter system. He thought he had let it run long enough to purge all the air, but apparently not. Enough excitement for one day!

Meanwhile, Shuki hasn’t peed or pooped in 26 hours. I got his toilet station set up and every hour or so would take him to it. I want him to learn to eliminate on board. He has his fake grass spot and a stanchion wrapped in more fake grass, and he won’t do it! So I went the route of step by step training him with bits of chicken to at least get to and sit on the grass patch.I spoke to the vet and she said that he will eventually go. I hope so.
We’ll see how he goes through the night. He won’t be sleeping with us!
That will be interesting…

We’re waiting for a weather window: tomorrow will be raining all day. Then the wind will be picking up to 10-15 with gusts up to 25-30 on Wednesday and Thursday. But the seas will calm down from 2-4 feet to around 2 feet. And we are trying to pick a good spot to be for Yom Kippur Friday night and Saturday.

Not having a car here really brings home to us that we are now living aboard!

Gotta sleep, all this fresh air makes me tired.

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Cruising South on Dror

Taking Dodger Parts to Dror

Rani here, I will be posting here as we continue our trip south from  the Sakonnet River, Naragansett Bay, RI to New Bern, NC.

Jack , Shuki dog, and I moved on board SV Dror, our 39 foot O’Day sailboat, Oct 2nd with the help of our son, Cheni, and friends Harry and Nancy. We took a couple of days to get organized, fill the water tanks and fuel tank at the marina dock. On the way back to the mooring, with the new fuel filter system, the engine stopped. In the mooring field. Not far from another moored boat. I quickly dropped the anchor as Jack tried to get the engine started again. It hiccuped back to life and we managed to get back to the mooring. Hmm, not an auspicious start to a long cruise. Jack spent the rest of the day bleeding the new fuel filter system, figuring some air still needed to be purged from the system. He tested the engine on the mooring, revving it up to put load on it. All was fine.
Tuesday the 4th, we dropped the mooring, taking the lines with us, and headed down the Sakonnet River.Chugging along at about 6 knots, we passed the island , raised the main sail and carried on motor sailing. An hour later, the engine started to cough, splutter, die. It did this repeatedly, while I, at the helm, reminded myself that I am a sailor first, and I had a sail up, so we still had forward motion and control. Jack got the engine started and we continued. Splutter, cough, cough, loss of power, engine restart: all the way down the river to Third Beach.

If something was wrong with the engine, it’d be better to stay where we knew we could access a good diesel mechanic. We picked up a mooring in Third Beach and Jack checked the new filter system. He wasn’t sure what was wrong, but air seemed to be finding it’s way in somewhere. He reinstated the original fuel filter, the engine was fine. We headed back up river to our mooring , the engine was charging along with no problems.  We decided to keep the old system as the engine preferred it. Jack would work out what was wrong with the new system along the way.

So that was our “shakedown” cruise! Two days later, Thursday, Oct 6th, we headed out again. This was it. We were on our way. First stop: Point Judith.

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Refrigeration Controls

Having installed refrigeration, now that we have solar panels, I started thinking about a better way to control the refrigeration.

The refrigeration unit I installed came with a basic mechanical thermostat. After freezing the vegetables then melting ice in the freezer while learning how to set the thermostat I decided there must be a better way.

In addition although we have a lot of energy from our panels, there are days that are cloudy and rainy and the refrigerator runs at night when solar power is not available.

I work from the boat and write this blog which is also a drain on power resources when there is no solar energy, so efficient use of power especially at night is a priority.

As refrigeration is the largest use of electricity, its the place to start when looking to conserve energy.

Most refrigeration systems use the Danfoss BD35F, BD50 or BD80 which all include an electronic compressor control which allows the compressor speed to be set by inserting a resistor in the thermostat circuit. Danfoss also offer an expensive AEO compressor controller which saves energy by optimizing the compressor speed. The slower the compressor speed the more efficient the cooling even if it takes longer to reach the set point.

I looked around and could not find an electronic thermostat (so that I could control and display temperature) that would also minimize energy consumption when excess energy is unavailable and quickly cool when excess energy is available. And all at a reasonable price.

Having worked in control of refrigeration for energy savings since 2003, I decided to develop a controller based on components I have used and my experience as a controls/electronics engineer. The result is CoolSaver.


Its a digital thermostat/thermometer that minimizes energy consumption when running from the batteries and maximizes cooling and cooling storage when there is excess power. Similar to the “coasting” principle used by cold plates.

Rather than describe it here, check out www.coolsaver.net which is the official CoolSaver  website. CoolSaver is available in 3 versions.

  • A thermostat/thermometer that uses energy save technology.
  • A thermostat/thermometer without energy save technology, but with the ability to switch to an energy saving temperature and compressor speed manually via dedicated buttons on the front panel.
  • A Digital Thermostat  (for those who want an excellent thermostat and have all the energy they need)

These products are available at www.GreatBoatGear.com and at installers / distributors.

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Installing a Windlass

The O’Day we purchased in 2006 came with a new Lofrans windlass. It had never been installed.

As I planned the installation I began to realize why. Boat stuff cost a lot but the installation cost with the bits necessary can be double or triple the cost of the piece to be installed.

There are 2 thoughts on powering the windlass:

1. Run heavy cables from the batteries.

2. Place a battery forward to save on the heavy (expensive) cables, and run lighter cables for charging the battery.

When you consider that a windlass for a 40′ boat is rated at 1,00 to 1,500 watts, you quickly realize that its pretty much like cranking a starter and that a 100amp hour battery will certainly not provide 100 amps continuously for an hour. If you don’t want to damage the battery, I would say 15 minutes is the limit.

Then thinking back to the time we chartered. They interlocked the windlass with the engine. No engine running, no windlass. The reason being to save the battery from ruin.

So, in my opinion the option of mounting a battery forward, possibly in the anchor well or under the fore bunk is just wrong.

You don’t want weight forward. When things really go wrong, like you can’t set the anchor or its dragging. You really don’t want a quota of 15minutes before waiting for the battery to charge!

You certainly don’t want all that weight up forward and you still have to run cables forward.

So, my clear choice was to run cables. I calculated that I need #2 cables based on running from the batteries that are located in what was the 2nd head to the anchor well.

The windlass included deck switches. I add a switch/ thermal circuit breaker rated at 100 Amps and the cable.

I ran a light 3 core cable at the same time in case I want to add remote control from the cockpit. I don’t know if its advisable but I left the option open. It will require adding a double solenoid in the anchor well which costs about $100 and another thing to go wrong.

I used multi strand tinned cable that I got from genuinedealz.com at a fraction of the West Marine price. Shipping was free. Got the breaker from them as well. High quality and great service.

Although the O’Day has a conduit running under the deck rail, it appears to be blocked by a few bulkheads that require drilling.

I used the conduit to the forecabin locker then ran it down and alongside the hull.

The cable need termination lugs that typically need applying once the cable is run and cut to the right size.

I found that a simple bolt tightened nicopress crimp tool for light rigging makes an excellent lug crimper for tight spaces at a low cost. I don’t believe in soldering for the same reason one uses multistrand on boats.

Mounting the windlass. Important to make it strong. I bolted a 2×8 pressure treated plank under the lip of anchor well using 3 1/2″ carriage bolts on each side and with blocks to take up the space under the lip. Liberal use of fender washers.

The plank had holes cut in it as per the Lofrans template and was sandwiched between the windlass and its motor. The motor is very heavy but the keyhole slots in the motor casing allows lift and hang.

My windlass has a chain/rope gypsey aand no drum so careful placement of the plank has the cover bumpout covering the gypsey and the chain dropping to the deepest part of the well.

The foot switches are mounted just aft of the locker.

Photos and spelling and gramar check to follow.

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