Monday, July 17, 2017

Pondering the Post-Apocalyptic and Whether I Will Need Bridge Swings

I have finally abandoned a requirement I imposed upon myself from the very beginning of the Autarkia project.  And that was to have a mast that can fold down from a tabernacle, so that I could easily get in under the local bridges.

This stemmed from fears of a post-apocalyptic Lower Mainland BC, where in this chaos - if bridge swings were still possible at all - they would be controlled by trolls and overlords - requiring me, in the dark of night, to stealthily sneak under.

There!  I now admit that I have gone overboard in a train of thought mostly born and fed by reading to much Dmitry Orlov, James Howard Kunstler, and others.   No, I am not a doomer.

That said, I still believe that we are in for a heap of trouble nonetheless that will include predominantly a financial crisis.  I predict though, that most infrastructures (including those involved in transport) will remain intact and functional.  So, the bridges will still swing.

So to move on with getting Autarkia a sailing rig, I intend to have her masted at least this year.  I am presently making inquiries and getting quotes for a steel tube, and the cost of getting it hot dipped galvanized.

Details to come....

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Off Center Board Installed and First Test

Yesterday, My son Wesley and I brought the board down to the boat.  It is quite heavy, and the two of us huffed and puffed a fair bit to get it from the pickup truck, up and over the dyke and down the ramps to the dock.

I had previously turned the boat around so that the starboard side was against the dock so we could set the board in place.

Since the board, despite the weight, has a fair bit of buoyancy, it was not too difficult to get the bolt through the hole in the hull.  I smeared everything with lithium grease.  Once the nuts and washers were in place it was easy to push the board under and haul it down vertical with the line tied through a hole in the leading edge at the bottom.  There is a similar line on the trailing edge to use as an uphaul.

The bolt hole is reinforced with some angle steel lag-bolted to the stringer.  The only load on this fitting is the tension on the bolt.  The board bears against the gunwale at the top, and at the chine at the bottom.  Both are very beefy structures.  With the bolt snugged down tightly the board is very stiffly held in place.  Yet, I believe that it will 'give' sufficiently should it collide with an obstruction.

After the install Wesley and I took her out for a little test outside of the harbour.  Compared to when we brought her in last October, the boat was much easier to handle.  At speed, she turns on a dime without skidding at all!  Sharp turns to starboard have avery tight radius that is only slightly larger turning to port. Nonetheless, she is a heavy boat and there is a some delay in her response.

We will take her out again soon, and document it with lots of pics and maybe some video in an upcoming post.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More on the Off Center Board

Work on the board continues albeit in bits and bites.  It has been one of those jobs that has dragged on since starting last winter.  Just as a recap, and so you don't have to refer to older posts, Autarkia's off center board will be a single board, as opposed to lee boards that wing out, thereby needing one on each side for either tack.  This board will bear the lateral loads in either direction for either tack.

Because I had a lot of structural fir 2 by 4s I decided to laminate the board from those.

I glued them up with PL premium and used epoxied deck screws to hold them all together.  The board overall was 8 feet long and 2 feet wide.

I achieved the foil shape by rough shaping each individual piece with the table saw, and once glued up final shaping with a power plane and belt sander.

For a leading edge, and for ballast, I epoxied in a length of 1-1/2 inch mild steel bar stock.

I didn't do anything else to it until recently so here is where we pick up.

I fiberglassed the whole thing with epoxy and 10 oz cloth, doubling on the edges.  I made a steel bearing plate for the outboard side, epoxied it in along with galvanized lag bolts, coated the whole thing with more epoxy and painted it.  The pivot bolt is 3/4 inch diameter.

I am in the process of painting it now.

Here is how it will mount to the starboard side of the boat.

Once I have made a final determination of where exactly along the side the board will be mounted, I will install the reinforcement on the inside of the hull.  That consists of 3" by 3/16" steel angle about a foot long, that will be through bolted to the paired 2 by fours under it.  The pivot bolt I already have installed on the board was longer than I needed, so I will make spacers with some HDPE I have.

Since The upper part of the board will bear against the rub rail I will make a bearing plate from some more HDPE that I will fasten to the rub rail with bedding and counter sunk screws.  The lower part of the board that bears against the chine will be made with some Teflon I have, and will be bolted to the board itself.

I will make some spacers from HDPE to go between the board and the hull.  When I drill the hole through the hull, I'll coat it with epoxy.

The board has holes drilled and coated on the leading and trailing edges at the bottom to accept lift and downhaul lines.

If I make a rudder, I will likely use the same technique, although I'm going to experiment with a steering oar first.

And now for something completely different - our new fridge!

We bought this fridge from Costco online.  It is Canadian made, runs on 12DC and when running typically consumes about 33 watts.  It has two compartments - one larger and one smaller (compressor is underneath) for a total of 2.4 cubic feet.  Either compartment can be run as a fridge or a freezer or both as one or the other.  We've had it in for a week now, and the solar panels and deep cycle battery are doing just fine with it.  And we haven't had that much sun!

Lorri is pleased

Monday, June 19, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Back to Junk Again!

Here is a very low aspect junk sail for Autarkia.  The mast - a single section of 5 inch Schedule 40 aluminum pipe (comes in lengths of 20') extends about 20' above the waterline.  This gets me under most bridges except for during freshet, when we won't go out anyway.  It is a small sail for the size of the boat.  Only 218 square feet, but it will be easy to sew up and cheap to make.  And I don't have to worry about a tabernacle or stays.   Autarkia will be under-powered under sail, however as a motorsailer she should do ok.  Going downwind or on a reach she'll poop along, and if I get a few knots then we'll be happy - for now.

I have to make a decision soon because I'm just about ready to install the off-centerboard.  The placement depends on the sail I'll use and its center of effort.  Also, I am going to experiment with a steering oar that I can deploy or stow as required, and also fix in place as one would pin a tiller.  The advantage is there is no issue in shallow water with nothing to hit or hang up on the bottom, and it may also function as a Yuloh.  More on that in a later post.

The sail by the way is a traditional fan shape.  According to Hasler and McLeod it should furl nicely as the boom, yard and battens all point to roughly the same spot.  I can likely get away without any winches, and by using a double sheeting system can keep most of the lines and mess forward.

Fickle me.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Autarkia as a Gundalow

Well, truth be told, we are nearing the limit of our budget to build Autarkia.  However the good news is that she is mostly built, mostly fitted out, and once I install the off center board within the next short while she will be completely functional as a motor cruiser.

But the dream has been to sail her.

And over the past year and a half I have kicked around, researched and have agonized over a sailing rig for her.

The criteria have been specific in one case, and loose and flexible in others.  For example, we have always wanted to get under the bridges on the Fraser and Harrison Rivers.  The spars and rig must be dippable and easily done so by two people in their sixties and ,alas, not getting younger.  But in all other areas, we are quite willing to compromise.

Autarkia is based in Mission Harbour here on the Fraser.  We don't see that changing any time soon.  The Fraser is a tidal river and depending on the time of year can even flow a little backwards on the incoming tide.  During freshet though (the time of this writing) she flows along at up to 5 knots or so.  The tug towing operators here (log booms and gravel barges mostly) take full advantage of what the river is doing at any particular time.

And that is exactly what all of the traditional sailing barges around the world have done.

Take for example the Gundalows that used to operate in the Piscataqua Region of Maine.  These flat bottomed cargo carriers would follow the tide up and down the river, augmenting the tidal flow and providing control with a lateen sail - an ancient and proven rig.

What makes this rig desirable functionally for us, is that we can use a very short mast (say 16' from the waterline) that I can easily build up from fir lumber that is readily and economically available.  I can hoist a long yard (say 35 to 40 feet in length) at the beginning of the season and leave it there, hauling down the high tip as required to get under the bridges.  I can also build that yard from fir lumber, and counter-weight it with lead so that it is easy to do so.

The other interesting and economical thing we can do is hank on a genoa for a sail.  It should be relatively easy to find a used one for a reasonable cost, and maybe have a nicer one made later on.  In any case it will not be something strange and difficult for sail-makers to quote on.

Here is a sketch of Autarkia with a lateen rig, using a genoa with a luff of 34', leech 30',7" and a foot of 21'.  The sail winds up being about 315 sq.ft.

No, she won't be a rocket at all.  But we have tidal flow here and an engine.  Facing the truth once more we know that we are now at a stage of life where the time to learn  to cross oceans or venturing dangerous waters is behind us.  Being realistic about how and where we will enjoy Autarkia - our local waters - and taking into account our present skill set with regard to sailing, I think we may be on the right track.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Next Project

I finally made the deck box covers.  I used plastic composite fascia boards from Rona.  They are 1/2" thick and 7"wide. I joined them together with 3/4" aluminum angle and SS nuts and bolts.  Now we can sit outside!

My next project is going to be a doghouse for the companionway.  With all the rain we've had so far this year, it has been quite apparent that we need one!  Every trip in or out of the boat so far has meant rain getting in when we open the hatch.

I intend to make it with plywood, and paint it up with the house colour.  I will make the door with 3/8" or 1/2" tinted Plexiglas framed up with aluminum.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Propane System

I finally built the deck boxes that house the propane tanks, fuel tank, gas cans, kerosene and other flammables, as well as extra storage for line, stern anchor etc.

I made them from high density polyethylene and abs plastic, fastened together with aluminum extrusion and SS fasteners.  They are screwed down to the deck and bedded with polyurethane caulking.

So just this evening I completed the whole propane installation consisting of a Dickinson BBQ and a Dickinson cooktop.  Each has its own tank, with the tank feeding the cooktop inside via a 12v solenoid valve so that the propane can be safely shut off so as not to accumulate in the hull should a leak occur.  The switch that operates the solenoid has a very bright red LED indicator so as to remind the chef to turn it off after use.

 The boxes are cut out at the bottom so any accumulated heavier-than-air gases drain overboard.  The hose leading from the solenoid goes through the deck via a galvanized nipple and flange screwed and bedded to the deck.  The hose and wire are sealed with electrician's duct seal putty to the top of the nipple.

The switches are yet to be labeled.  The far right one turns the gas on and off.  The far left is the galley light.  Beside it is the momentary contact water pump switch.

Hinged covers yet to be made

Friday, April 21, 2017

Autarkia's Pooper Part 3

I ordered some mini computer fans off Ebay a while ago and was holding off working on the head until they came in the mail.  I have them now.  Also in the meantime, I have got most of the electrical work done - having installed the batteries, solar panels and mounting the electronics.  I still have the VHF antenna to mount as well as the transducer for the Lowrance.  The stereo is installed and working along with Sirius satellite radio which now graces Autarkia's interior with the sounds of Bluegrass, Folk, Jazz and Old Time Country from the seventies and earlier.  If I find my pinkie extended while sipping tea we may even switch to classical....

Anyway, before continuing with the pooper saga, here are some self-explanatory pics of some of the work done so far:

The solar panels are 200 watts in total, and are connected to the deep cycle battery via an MPPT controller.
Nav lights are LED of course...

Oh, and one more little clarification before further pooper discussion:  I'm still going to fit Autarkia with a mast and rig - most likely junk.  But for this summer at least, we want to take her out and enjoy her.  Lorri and I have had a lot to deal with in our personal lives this year - nothing particularly bad - but LIFE nonetheless, and we need to get out and have some fun.  So with a few more little jobs completed we'll start doing that and build a rig next winter.  In the meantime we will fly kites from her deck, shoot the pellet gun at passing flotsam, fish, take pictures and enjoy.

So here is what I did with a mini computer fan.  The fitting is an inch and a half PVC pipe coupler, and I made it into a little turbo to vent the toilet by trimming the corners off the fan, wrapping the perimeter in foam tape, and squeezing it down into the fitting.  The wires got fed out a drilled hole.

I sat it over the vent hole on the toilet have since left it running:

It will exit out the front bulkhead, and per RLW's excellent recommendation, will have a bug screen.  Anyway, what I found out while leaving it running, was that over time even the very heavy plastic contractor's trash bag sucked away from the sides of the pail because everything was so well sealed.  So I will have an inlet pipe directed over the poop so we get a drying wind across it.  That will prevent too low a pressure developing inside.

Here is the pee tube arrangement:

I drilled a one inch hole in the side of the bucket for the tube to exit. 

I installed the tube on the bowl assembly...

And routed the tube out of the toilet through a hole cut in the bag, sealed with tape.

The poop pile will never reach that level; it will be emptied well before that happens.

In Part Four, which should be the last pooper post, I will detail the pee bottle, the air inlet, outside exhaust, and the peat sawdust mixture we will spread on the bottom of the bucket and sprinkle on our droppings.  We'll likely give it a couple of weeks of trial before reporting.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Call Me Crazy

Today I'm going to try and complete the wiring aboard Autarkia.  We have bought solar panels, a controller, a satellite receiver for Sirius music, and the battery box has been built and installed.  I will detail all of this in a post as soon as the  work is complete - probably in the next few days.

The fact is - Autarkia is just about ready for sea trials - sans a sailing rig.

But I have been thinking crazy thoughts.

Consider the following:

1) .  Autarkia has a very reliable and pretty much brand new engine, that is quite fuel efficient (Evinrude Etec 30hp).

2).  Autarkia also has large, uncluttered and unencumbered decks, that we are very fond of.

3).  She is low, stealthy, and sleek looking in her present state.

Given the above, you may think that we are considering abandoning wind power altogether and simply using Autarkia strictly as a power boat.  But that is not the case.

But we have long considered how we would actually SAIL Autarkia given who and what we are, our skill-sets at this stage of life, and how much effort and bother we want to put in to powering the boat with the wind.  And I have always said - probably in the blog previously, that most of our SAILING would be downwind in ideal conditions.

If that's the case (and getting closer to being sure of it) then a rethink of how we might harness the wind is in order.

Firstly, since we would sail only with the wind say - 30 degrees either side of aft - then the lateral resistance of that honkingly big and heavy off-center board I built is not required.  What IS required would be a a couple of smaller skegs (say about 2 sq.ft. each below the waterline) that I could make up with 3/4 inch engineered plastic sheet held in place against her sides with a through bolt and large wingnut to allow them to give way upon striking the bottom.  Also, a smaller rudder could be made up from the same material and of course be designed to kick up as well.  I could make all three items in very short order.

And what then would be capturing the wind in these ideal conditions?

Why THIS of course!

Or Something Like It

A pilot-lifter kite, appropriately sized, is very stable in a range of wind conditions, has a LOT of pull, and is inflatable without any solid spars.  In other words, it packs in to a little bag when not in use.  They can be readily purchased ready-made, or can be sewn up by yours truly from many proven plans that are free online.

Those of you who are so inclined, can do some research on kite-powered sailing, but in a nutshell you will find that most efforts so far employ parafoil designs that are very powerful, but are very unstable as well and must be controlled constantly.  The surfboard crowd who use them for example, fly across the water with these kites way out in front of them at a low angle - not high up - so that the force is in the direction they want to go.  Forward as oppose to up, although there are many examples of people flying up in the air with them.  But to get that forward pull, they must constantly weave the foil in a figure eight pattern ahead of them.

There are also efforts being made by a German company to use kites on cargo ships to reduce fuel consumption.  But again, these are parafoil designs that in this case are controlled with servos and computers.

Which brings us to our very stable and hands-off pilot lifter kite.  It pulls, but as the name implies, it is lifting more than pulling.  The force applied is in most cases at an angle greater than 45 degrees straight up.  A waste of effort in that direction.

But there is a low tech solution I have come up with, though I do not claim to have thought of it first, though as of yet I have not found an example.

It is best explained with this horrible schematic sketch:

Launching large kites can be challenging - especially from a boat.  However, Autarkia with her large fore deck, flat and without the clutter of lines or rigging, would certainly have an advantage over other boats.

I would also have a short mast - say ten feet or so - that could be used in some way to assist in inflating the kite (the mast could also accommodate the anchor and steaming lights).  Three inch aluminum pipe would be more than adequate, and it would be low enough that it could be fixed in place.

Let the controversy begin!