Travel 2015-2016

Hauling up Anchor

We’ve moved our ground base again. After about 16 months in Richmond, we’re off to Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.

CA bought about 16 boxes from U-Haul: a mixture of medium and small. She bought some tape, too: the brown paper tape is better than the clear.

We don’t have too much that’s left “loose.” There are some things on the closet shelves, some things in the head. The galley supplies involve the largest  number of boxes and some complex scheduling.  Most everything else is kept in a container. 

In the picture, you can see two Ikea Kallax which have four plastic baskets in a shelf. We stacked the baskets on a hand truck and carried the empty shelf. Also we have two Ikea Algot which have four drawers: we can just carry them around. They’re a little awkward for a long-distance lift, but everything stays in them.


The most complex part is the last few days before the move. We want some galley supplies, enough stuff in the head to shower, and enough bedding to be comfortable. But everything not on that short list are boxed during those last few days.

Moving Red Ranger

When we moved the boat, the berths were always available, the galley could be used, and the heads were in full service. The complexity of leaving two just towels out wasn’t part of the planning.


When moving the apartment, the last things to get packed are the first things to get unpacked: the minimal set of galley supplies, head, and berth.  

Since downsizing the house — back in 2009 — she's gotten really good at moving.

We went from Niskayuna to Norfolk on Boissevain Ave. Then to Manteo Street. Then from Manteo to Red Ranger. Each step involved less and less stuff.

Red Ranger through something like 4,000 miles of anchorages. 

Then from Red Ranger to Exchange Place in Richmond. And now to Tyson’s Corner. 

And things got discarded. CA made trips to Goodwill to pare down some things we’d accumulated over the past year-plus that we didn’t really need.

It took about 90 minutes to move stuff from apartment to lobby and then lobby to truck. The staging allowed us to be sure the apartment was empty and clean. It also allowed us to consider the whole pile of stuff as we loaded the truck.

We did the same thing at the other end. We moved everything from loading dock to the vestibule for the freight elevator. Then we moved everything from there to the apartment. It was a slightly longer walk, but the elevator was bigger so we took fewer trips up and down.


We started at about 08:00 and had finished by 17:00. Here’s the breakdown: an hour to get the truck; total of 3 hours of shifting cargo in our out; 2 hours of driving; an hour for lunch; an hour to return the truck; about an hour of “other” activity. 

We actually run a timer on the cargo shifting just to see how long it actually took us. She had allocated two hours. We did each leg in 90 minutes. 

Monday, I’ll find my new work space here in the office in Tyson’s. CA will start doing “1womanwalking” to explore the neighborhood and look for a job.

Boat Show Takeaways

In no particular order.

The Foldaway. The idea is to replace the transom ladder with a foldaway that hangs from the toe rail between the lifeline gates.

ECH2O Tec Watermaker. We’re looking specifically at the belt-driven, modular unit. We can put the pressure vessel in the hanging lockers. The control panel can be put behind the companion ladder or in the galley.

A FilterBoss FPM 60 Fuel Polishing Module. This is essential for working with the central fuel tank. If we recommission this tank, we need to use the polisher to transfer fuel to the starboard saddle tank. We can also simply polish fuel periodically from either tank.

A NavPod RMX 4800 to hold a new BMG Zeus Touch chart plotter.

Did I mention the B&G instruments? I’m (currently) set on the following:

  • A Zeus 9″ chart plotter. (Our current plotter is 5″)
  • A new wind instrument. 
  • A new depth/speed/temp traducer.

This will replace the failing DMI instruments. It allows me to put in an NMEA 2000 backbone. Once this works, I can look at 

  • A Triton Pilot Display
  • The Computer, Compass, and Rudder Position Reference.

This will replace the Benmar control head. I think that the high-current B&G computer allows us to keep the rugged hydraulics and merely replace the control. I think there’s a linear position sensor that clamps onto the hydraulic ram.

This allows the existing Standard Horizon CP180i to move down to the nav station. The Triton display will allow us to see autopilot details that the Standard Horizon can’t show.

As a weird side-note, the old chart plotter is about 5″×7″×2″. It seems to have some kind of VESA/FDMI MIS-B standard M4 screws that small flat panel TV’s have. I doubt the holes fit the 75mm or 100mm standards. The wires (and a bracket) pop out the back, so most TV backing plates won’t work without 1.5″ thick standoffs.


The old chart plotter is much thicker than any tablet, so a simple tablet mount won’t work, either. As part of this upgrade, I think I'll have to make some kind of backing plate out of Starboard to fit a tablet-sized (and thickness) bracket. I don’t want to cut a giant hole in the nav station.  I will put the Triton display in the hole occupied by the existing wind-speed display. 


When we pull out the DMI instruments, we’ll have four big instrument holes to fill on the forward edge of the cockpit. I might try to actually glass over the holes. It involves putting a backing plate behind each them, carefully grinding them to be conical, then taping over the hole with several layers of wetted-out fabric to create a solid structure. I’d then have to sand it all fair and apply a layer of gelcoat (or maybe just paint) that more-or-less matches the existing cockpit.

Or, I could get a piece of teak-veneer plywood and screw it over the holes.

The Spinning Prop


When we’re sailing, the prop is left spinning — freewheeling. It appears that either some transmissions say “never let this happen” or sailors have determined through the rumor mill that this is bad. The idea is that the transmission has no pressure to circulate fluid and this causes wear.

The Velvet Drive manual says this:

There’s no damage from letting the prop spin.

(In spite of this, Red Ranger has a Sarns PropLock brake. Similar to the existing ShaftLok brake. We have the brake shoe backed off far enough that it does nothing.)

Can the freewheeling be put to use?

Start here: They talk about a Valeo alternator that works are low RPM’s.  

Some folks call this “propellor regeneration,” a “shaft generator,” or a “prop shaft alternator.”  From what I can gather, it’s not terribly efficient because of some hydrodynamic concerns regarding pushing vs. being pulled. 

But. It can turn propellor motion into electrical power rather than uselessly heating up the transmission.

Here are some more pictures of an installation.

Some Design Considerations

It appears that the issues involve (1) mounting the alternator with a proper belt tensioning arm, (2) fitting an appropriately-sized wheel onto the shaft, (3) supplying a switchable voltage to activate the field coils. A self-exciting alternator is a permanent drag; a switchable alternator can be disconnected when trying to drift in light airs. It also needs to be disconnected when running under power: there’s no reason to have the extra alternator running when under engine power, it’s just more drag. 

Since alternator fans are unidirectional, the fan will only properly cool the alternator in one direction. We only want this alternator to work when the shaft is spinning in reverse. When the shaft is moving forward we have to be sure the exciter circuit is off or we’ll bake the alternator. We might want to rig some kind of safety interlock based on the transmission’s neutral safety switch. We should only be able to power the alternator’s exciter when the shifter is in neutral.

How big a wheel for the alternator itself?

Generally, the alternator RPM’s need to be over 1,000 to generate a reasonable level of output. A 12” pitch propellor will (ideally) turn 1 revolution when dragged through 12” of water. Banging along at 6 knots (437,480 inches per hr) should turn the shaft at something close to 600 RPM.

Sanity Check. We use a 2:1 transmission, so that means 1200 engine RPM’s should yield 6 kt. We often have to dial the RPM's it up a bit higher to overcome friction and other losses. So this 600 RPM at the shaft seems right.

If we use 5:1 ratio of wheels, we can get good voltage all the way down to 2 knots. For 1 knot, we’d need 10:1 wheels. Below 1 kt, we might want  to turn off the exciter circuit: we’re barely moving as it is. If we put a 12.5″ wheel on the alternator, we can just put the belt on the 1.25″ shaft itself — no wheel needed.

When we size an alternator for an engine, we have to consider the number of horsepower involved. There’s a direct relationship between power generated and horsepower consumed. Volts × Amps = Watts. 746 Watts = 1 HP. If we want to produce 100A at nearly 15V, we’re putting an additional 2 HP load on our engine.

When dragging the prop through the water, we’re losing 2 HP of forward power. A Whitby (23,000 lb) sailing at 2 kt (202 ft/min) is creating about 140 HP of power. The 2 HP alternator load is a negligible 1.4%.


It’s only an 80 HP engine. Where does this “extra” power come from? AFAIK, the answer is inertia. Our 80 HP engine can accelerate us to a comfy 6 kt (420 HP overall) because water is essentially frictionless. Water is, however, relatively adhesive (“wet”) and this tends to hold us back. More importantly, water is heavy: we must displace about 23,000 pounds of water up (creating wake) so that we can go forward into the space the water used to occupy. Once we’re at a cruising speed, we are adding 80 HP to push water aside so that we maintain 420 HP overall. We can watch our 340 HP of built-up inertia bleed away when we kill the engine.

Whitby Rendezvous 2015

CA did it again. Another wonderful rendezvous. Food. Friends. Fellowship. Fascinating Stories. 


We had only two Whitby’s at the docks. The nor’easter and Hurricane Joaquin intimidated many of us, keeping folks away from the West River Sail Club docks.

Here’s a summary of what we did:

Monday 5 October

  • Crews arrive during the day; lunch on your own; boat visiting.
  • Social hour: cash bar, hors d’oeuvres provided by the Rita T.
  • Supper — from our caterer, Real Food. 

Tuesday 6 October

  • Coffee and Continental breakfast
  • Welcome/Introductions/Boat Card exchange
  • Latest and Greatest Communication and Applications. Your iPad and Tablet can do a lot of useful things.
  • Writing for Fun and Profit
  • Patrick Tewes of Marine Electric Systems, LLC
  • Lunch
  • Davis Craven of Waterway Diesel Center
  • Water Tank Replacement on Joie de Vivre. Removing the old aluminum tanks and replacing them with Dura-Weld Fabricated Tanks.
  • Center Fuel Tank Replacement on Allegria. Removing the old (leaky) aluminum tank and replacing it with a new aluminum tank with a better cap and no foam to trap moisture against the aluminum.
  • Social Hour (cash bar)
  • Supper 

Wednesday 7 October

  • Coffee and Continental breakfast
  • Cruise Director's Corner. Solutions to a number of cruising problems. Cooking. Cleaning. Guest Accommodations.
  • Cruising the Western Coast of FL. Popular destinations. 
  • Lunch
  • Sales info and Trends — The State of the Fleet
  • Whitby Brewer Sailboats Association business meeting. CA, Terry, and Scott were re-elected unanimously.
  • Social Hour (cash bar)
  • Supper

Thursday 8 October

  • Coffee (leftovers, if there are any) and Clean Up
  • Crews Depart. Hugs and Farewells. Plans to meet again.

The chance to connect with the other Whitby (and Brewer) owners is a wonderful thing. There’s a lot to learn from the other folks. 

The Center Tank Issue

We’re going to see what we can do about our center fuel tank. Leaving it empty is not a good option: more experienced sailors have pointed out that a Whitby handles better with a full 80 gallon (about 600 pounds) load of fuel in the keel. It’s only 7.5% of the keel weight, so it doesn’t seem like it would be noticeable. An empty tank, however, is buoyant to the tune of about 680 pounds; so we’re talking a shift from -8.5% to +7.5%. A 16% swing in weight becomes a far more serious consideration.

We can fill the center tank with water. We have to be careful because we’ll eventually want to pump it back out again when we try to rebuild the center tank. We don’t want to have any of our fuel system contaminated with any water.

As an interim solution, I may be able to work out a better dam to redirect water around the tank. We can then fill it with diesel and see if it gets contaminated with water or not. The weight is helpful. Fixing the fuel plumbing and sensors is always beneficial. Right now, the tank is completely disconnected — no pickup, no return, no filler, and no vent.  

Dee’s pictures of assembling a proper fiberglass cap over the tank was instructive. If the tank is capped, seawater can’t rust through the cap and contaminate the fuel. A cap over the tank can be installed by hauling the engine. It can also be done by cutting away the keel and replacing the tank. 

Most of the job is pretty straight-forward. Most of it.

Removing the old tank means locating the boundary of the tank and cutting into the fiberglass. This is only the first step. Then the foam needs to be scraped out. The aluminum tank won't lift out easily: it needs to be cut up and pried out in pieces. It’s a lot of messy Sawzall and crowbar work.

The space needs to be cleaned and painted. The bottom needs to be filled to bring it up create a usable flat floor with a lower drain sump under it. The choice is sand (and gravel) mixed with epoxy. The low spot can have a couple of bilge pump strainers dropped into it. It will be inaccessible when everything’s assembled, so a spare strainer and hose makes sense. 

Some folks have put the sump under the middle of the tank. I’m inclined to put the sump at the stern end of the tank. If the tank is made 4”-6” shorter than the available space, I think this void might allow some access to a bilge strainer that would be positioned under the tank.

Once the old tank has been removed a cap can be installed that will direct all bilge water over the top of the tank. More importantly, a dam should also be fabricated to protect the access panel from seawater. 

One possible modification to Dee’s design is to use rectangular FRP tube stock to create a structure so that water can flow through the tubes over the tank cap and around the access panel. I think that two tubes on each edge and a flat sheet in between would be ideal. A dam at the forward end would assure that water is directed into the tubes and can’t get to the top of the tank.

A new tank can then be designed to fit the available space. It’s about 80 gallons, and the new tank’s top access panel has to precisely match the opening under the engine. An aluminum tank can be covered in Petit Aluma Protect or similar product to prevent future corrosion.

We don’t want to foam the tank in: it’s far better to use something like rectangular FRP tubes. These can be stuck to the tank with thickened epoxy. They can also be stuck to the walls of the keel to both keep the tank in place as well as support the wall of the keel.

A custom polypropylene tank can be used instead of an aluminum tank. I’m intrigued with plastic because it doesn’t require any barrier coat to protect it. Nor does it require a cap to keep bilge water off of it. It does require more support than an aluminum tank does: we’d have to assemble a fair amount of FRP channel to cover an approximately 4’ x 4’ surface of each tank. That’s about 96” of 2”-wide FRP channel to completely block in one side of the tank. We can’t simply bond a support to polypropylene, so we need to wedge the tank in firmly rather than use adhesives. 

The Hard Part

Once the tank is in, and the keel skin glued into place, then the really difficult parts begin.

The seam where we cut the skin needs to be ground down at a 12:1 or 15:1 ratio. This will lead to about an 8” swath on each side of the seam. This will expose over 20 layers of glass. The filler will use a combination of fiberglass fabric — something like 3 sets of four layers — roving, cloth, mat, and cloth. The roving is considered to be equivalent to about three layers of cloth or mat. Each layer is smaller than the previous. We’d start with a 16” wide piece and after 12 layers, we’d be putting on a 4” wide piece. 

Dee says this is a three-person job. One person mixes epoxy. The next wets out a strip carefully and rolls it into a cylinder. The third unrolls that cylinder into the hull, using a small paint roller to mash the material it flat and air-bubble free. If the team works quickly, they can get back to where they started when the previous layer is still a little tacky. If it sets up hard, there’s a break while they sand it down to make a rough surface for bonding.


One the glass is in place, we’re down to an easier jobs of sanding, fairing, barrier-coating, priming, and painting. 

It’s a lot of work. It gets us 80 more gallons of fuel. And possibly much better boat handling by trading some buoyancy for ballast.

On The Water Chartguides

Useful resources. Everyone should have them. We would describe them as indispensable. Mandatory. Don’t leave home without it. 

BTW. Check out the sample page:

Yes, that’s us in Hampton, Virginia. And yes, it’s a truly great anchorage.

agv pad08

We were at the Hampton Snowbirds Rendezvous. I also rebuilt the engine raw water cooling system at this anchorage.

It’s time for the Whitby Rendezvous. This is followed by the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis. Then the Hampton Snowbirds Rendezvous. They’re great events, helpful preparation for the trip south.

We’ll be at the Whitby Rendezvous. And we’ll stop by the Sailboat Show to look at new instruments for Red Ranger.

ty  © Steven Lott 2020