28 February 2021

Heater project: fuel and exhaust connection

Sunday am
Engineer connects the exhaust to the burner, and is happy with result.
Love the curve in that exhaust pipe
Mate is getting the washing done at the club laundry while he works. She returns to find the boat reeking of diesel and an engineer trying to connect the fuel line, frustrated because one of the fittings purchased for the job is the wrong size. Mate performs acrobatic feats to come down to the cabin (the companionway steps are out) so she can help with the cleanup and with plugging the fuel filter outlet that was to be used to connect.
The white object labelled Yanmar top left is the engine fuel filter
where the fuel feed for the burner is to beconnected
Sunday pm
Fuel connection can't be completed until shops open tomorrow.
Engineer turns his mind from plumbing to electrical connection.
He thinks that will be straightforward. The mate is not so sure. Here is the wiring...
Electrician is undaunted, says it's "just a harness"

27 February 2021

Heater project: connecting continues

Hoses connected to the manifold at the burner which controls the balance of flow between HWS and heating system.

Th manifold is the collection of pipes and blue valve handles

All chart table drawers are removed (again). Second outlet register connected, with bypass manifold under the bottom drawer. All chart table drawers put back (again).

While the engineer is plumbing, the mate has the job of vacuuming all the sawdust from under the cabin sole. While the floor is up she cleans out lots more age-old dust and grime.

The galley foot pump started playing up today so after dinner and some rubbish television, the cook clears out the undersink cupboard so that the engineer can fix the pump, which means he spends yet more time lying on the floor. Once done, cook restores the cupboard contents.
Life seems to be an endless succession of taking things out and putting them back again at the moment.

26 February 2021

Heater project: Only Connect!

There is a project pause on Thursday morning. The engineer has to prepare and record a 2 minute talk as part of a memorial event for a colleague who died recently. Winston Churchill famously apologised for sending someone a long missive because he didn't have time to write a short one. We know what he meant. It takes us most of the morning to reduce Peter's speech to just over 2 minutes, and to record it satisfactorily.

Next task is to complete the tidying up process that we began Wednesday evening, as we are expecting guests for drinks at 6pm. That takes most of the afternoon. Shelving that was removed from the shed cupboards through which the PEX hoses now run is replaced, and then all the things that normally live in those shelves can go home there. Tools are put back into their cases, and the cases put back into the shed. That clears most of the objects from the floor of the guest cabin and the chart table. Safety gear from the chart table cupboard comes out from under the saloon table and goes back into the cupboard. Superfluous boxes are removed from the wine cellar. Quantities of rubbish are taken ashore, Things in the cockpit go back into the lazarette. By 4pm we are ready to go for a quick shopping expedition, as the food cupboards are bare. After six bags of provisions have been brought back to the boat and stowed, we take the last load of rubbish and items to go into Shed 10 ashore just as the guests arrive at the club. We bring them back to our now immaculately tidy vessel, and enjoy drinks and nibbles until the last light leaves the sky. We drop them back at their accommodation in Salamanca, and call it a day as far as the project goes.

Friday, and we are ready to start connecting. Engineer decides to start on the forward-most register outlet in the saloon as this is the one with the most constraints. After a bit of experimentation and discussion, we decide that it will work best if the bypass manifold is located inside the area where the water tank is located. As we need the handle which opens and closes the bypass somewhere accessible, the shaft will be put through a hole in the dividing panel so that it can be reached via the hatch above the wine cellar. Two more holes are needed for the short rubber hoses that join the manifold to the outlet register. It's quite complicated, and it takes the engineer all afternoon to get all of the bits in place, connected and secured.

Getting down to it (or was it up from it?)

Bypass manifold in place, PEX hoses connected above, black hoses below

View from above, manifold on the left,
black hoses coming through to connect to the register outlet,
blue handle for the bypass valve on the right side of the partition.

Screwing the register outlet into position

One outlet connected, mounted, all done.

So tomorrow will begin with connecting up everything at the burner end, followed by conecting up the other outlet under the chart table. The engineer thinks these will be easier...

24 February 2021

Heater project - PEX hoses finally conquered

After two days spent on the mast pad replacement, we return to the PEX hose problem.

We use some more flexible black rubber hose to test whether we can pass a hose behind the hot water service, then through the locker in the head, then into the area under the chart table, and conclude that we can. More holes are cut with the hole saw in the sides of the various cupboards and walls along the way. Then we start from the burner end, and using the black rubber hose as a "mouse", we push and pull the stiffer PEX hose through the shed lockers, along the back of the HWS, through the shed locker across the back of the small drawers in the chart table, across the back of the map drawers where it dives down to go under the cupboard on the left of the chart table and into the area under the sea berth where the water tank is located.

We already have a length of PEX hose coming past the water tank and into the area under the chart table, so from this point on we can get the long run of hose to follow this hose, which will become the shorter length running between the two outlets. By lunchtime we finally succeed in getting a single run of PEX hose from the back of the shed to the forward outlet under the sea berth. We heave a sigh of relief and go for some lunch.

Our plan for the section of hose from the burner to the first outlet under the chart table is now to have this follow the same path as the long return run of hose. Once again we use the more flexible black rubber hose to make sure there is room for a second hose to pass through the various holes, and in particular to go behind the HWS. After a bit of shoving we find that yes, it can be done. But first we have to extract the PEX hose that we'd mianaged to get under the floors of shed and head and round to the chart table before giving up on Sunday because we realised we couldn't possibly get a second hose all the way via that route. It proves to be just as difficult to pull out as it was to put in, and we have to repair the red cover of the insulating material with duct tape in lots of places where it's been torn as it is pulled in and out.

Once we've patched it up, we start from the chart table leading it back above the return hose the back of the drawers, through the head locker, behind the HWS, through the other shed lockers to the burner. We employ the same technique using the black hose we'd already used to test that the space was big enough to lead the PEX hose through. Again it's a tough job, with each of us moving back and forth from one to push and pull in different spots, usually doing so in a kneeling position with one's head in a cupboard. At one stage we think the hose is irretrievably stuck, but then the engineer takes the cover off the Sani-Loo, allowing us to reach in behind it and get a bit more purchase on the hose near where it is jamming.

At about 6pm this hose reaches the burner, and we now have the three sections of hose where we need them, after a very solid day's work. However the boat is now absolute chaos. All the drawers have been removed from the chart table. Most of these are in the front cabin, with one on the saloon table. The  cupboard under the chart table is the home of an assortment of safety equipment, all now located under the saloon table. The base and back of the seaberth have been removed, and are also in the front cabin. Almost everything has been taken out of the shed lockers, including the shelves, and added to the piles of stuff already in the guest cabin. The chart table is covered in tools and a big box of heater parts. Lengths of hose yet to be used lie here and there, and there are a few metres of PEX hose that are now surplus to requirements.

For the next hour we put in a concerted effort to impose a degree of order, so that we at least have clear spaces in which to eat our evening meal and sleep. That involves putting back into place the seaberth seat and back, bits of the cabin sole and all the chart table drawers, Tidying the cockpit, emptying the guest cabin floor, clearing the chart table and restoring the contents of the shed will have to wait for another day. Then the engineer will be able to start on the more interesting part of the project: connecting everything together.

23 February 2021

Heater project interlude - mast pad replacement

The story begins week or so earlier, when the captain notices that one of the shrouds is a bit slack and tightens it.

Some days later, looking up, he notices a loose bolt. It's one of the four bolts that go through a wooden pad on the ceiling, through the deck, through another wooden pad on the deck and finally into the base plate of the mast. He asks the mate to put a spanner on the nut on the mast plate while he tightens from below. The bolt just keeps on turning, and the mate realises this is because the wooden pad under the mast is rotten in that corner. Further investigation reveals that the visible edges of the pad just break away like a crust, and that what is within has the colour and consistency of mud cake.

It's very disturbing to find that you have about 200kg of mast sitting on a bit of rotten wood. It's also disturbing to think that you have been putting quite considerable pressure on said mast while sailing recently. The captain is cast down, not only by these thoughts, but also because he can't envision how the issue can be fixed. The mate has a simple solution: "Ring Ian Brett". Ian is the rigger who replaced all the rigging on Nahani a year or two ago. So we know he is extremely good and professional, and he knows the boat. The captain makes the call and after a conversation with Ian he is much comforted. Ian suggests replacing the wooden pad with one made of plastic and recommends a provider of same. He also thinks it will not be too hard to do the replacement exercise.

Captain, much cheered, gets on to the plastics man, who recommends polyethylene. Much measuring is done and he is provided with a specification for a slab of plastic about 300 by 330mm, 30mm thick. A beautiful, heavy black slab, neatly rounded at the edges is subsequently delivered. Lots more measuring is then done to work out exactly where to drill the four holes for the bolts, as they have to line up with the existing holes in the deck and in the base of the mast. Finally we are confident that we have the measurements right, and the holes are drilled.

We are in regular contact with Steve Edwards, builder of Nahani, at the moment because he and Chrissy are coming to visit in March. We tell him the sad story and he points out that the underside of the block will need to be shaped to match the slight curve in the deck. We purchase an industrial strength sander for the job and the captain has a messy afternoon covering himself in little bits of black plastic as he does the requisite curving of the bottom of the pad.

At some point, the mast has to be raised to do the exchange of pads. Someone else is hiring a crane for a mast removal job, and we consider sharing that crane. But he is planning to do it with the boat in the water, and trying to do a tricky lining up exercise could be difficult or impossible if there was any wave action at all. Ian Brett thinks that because we only need to raise the mast a few inches, it can be done using the small fixed crane in the boatyard. We decide that this looks like a better option, and book in to have the boat hauled out. The bosuns are skeptical about lifting the mast from such a big boat with the small crane, but we have faith in Ian.

Monday is the day, but we have to wait until late morning as there are four other boats to come up or down the slip. By then, it's blowing hard from the northwest, making it hard to get out of the pen. After a couple of anxious moments the mate suggests that we need a third person aboard to help control the boat as we back out, and Paul from Moonwatch kindly obliges. With his help we get out safely and make a pretty good entrance into the cradle, but with a bit of a scrape on the jetty on the way in.

The next issue is securing the boat in the cradle. This is normally done with heavy-weight tie-downs between the cradle arms and the mast, but if you're planning to move the mast, you have to find an alternative. Ian advises the bosuns and we eventually have tie-downs crossing in front of the mast, and ropes crossing in the cockpit. It takes a couple of goes to secure the boat properly - on the first attempt she has a distinct lean to port.

Criss-crossing straps

Leaning to port

Once we're straightened up and on our way up the slip the second time, Ian starts work. On his instructions, the captain has already loosened all the turnbuckles on the stays and shrouds, so that these can now all be slackened off easily.  The idea is to loosen them enough for the mast to be raised, but leave them all connected so that the mast will stay vertical when lifted from near the base. By the time Nahani has been pulled up to the top of the slip, washed down by Mark the Bilge Rat, shunted across to the crane and moved into position under the crane, Ian and the captain have almost completed the task of loosening everything. The mate, down below, has retrieved a bit of the furler that fell to the ground as the forestay was loosened.

Men at work: washdown happening below, rigging work above

Boat with large mast beside a very small crane

Ian swings the crane into position, and fastens the crane cable securely to the mast. Nahani crew watch anxiously as he cranks the crane winch. At first there is resistance as one side of the wooden pad isn't rotten, and is stuck firmly to both the base of the mast and the deck. There is a bit of work done to prise it loose, and the wooden pad is broken up in the process.

The old pad, on the way out

The debris is cleared away, the mast raised a little further so we can clean up underneath. To our relief, there is absolutely no rot in the deck, so the new pad can be put in without any further work required.

The mast suspended, clean, undamaged deck below

Well, almost. As we chip out the old wooden block, a beautiful silver coin emerges. Steve and Chrissy had warned us that they had followed the tradition of putting a silver coin under the mast, and there it is, a large and lovely South American coin. Even though he is keen to get the job done, Ian is prepared to stop and rout out a space in the base for the coin, so that we can keep the tradition going.

The coin, in place on the new pad

Now we're into the fiddly bit of lining up four sets of holes and getting the bolts through from the base of the mast, through the new pad, the deck and the pads below. Much going up and down between deck and cabin area, and finally a bit more drilling, but finally it's all lined up, silicone sealer is applied between pad and deck, and around each bolt, and it's all tightened up. The mate has the job of cleaning up the excess silicone as it oozes out. Once cleaned up, it looks quite splendid.

So elegant
Note how nicely it sits on the slight curve in the deck.

Captain and rigger now go around the boat tightening all the shrouds and stays again, so that the mast can be safely released from the crane. Meanwhile the mate is tidying up and cleaning up. During all this time none of us has had anything to eat except some of the very good fruit cake that was a gift from Escapade, so knock-off time is very welcome. It's too late for the bosuns to put us back in the water, so the mate gives her weekly U3A Shakespeare lecture from a boat high on the slip. When that finishes we go for an excellent meal at Kathmandu restaurant in Battery Point.

First thing next morning the mate does some preparatory work on deck. The boom is lifted from its temporary cradle of fenders tied above the solar panels, so that the fenders can be used when we return to the berth. Nahani is put back in the water, and we return to the berth, making a not very elegant landing despite calm conditions. There is quite a bit more work to do to complete the project - lots of things to put away for a start. With power back on, the deck can be thoroughly vacuumed - there seems to be bits of of the old mast pad and bits of plastic from the new in every inch of the scuppers, and under every rope or other object on the deck. Sheets are put back to their normal positions, halyards are tightened. We decide we will treat ourselves to some new rope bags around the mast, and order those. The boom strut is fitted back in place, reversing the preparations made before we went up on the slip. Rubbish is taken ashore as we go to lunch in the club. In the afternoon Ian returns to tune the rigging properly, which takes another hour or so. The captain thought that the raising of the mast might require disconnection of the electrics (cables that go up the mast to navigation lights, deck lights, etc), so he did so in advance. As it happens, it wasn't necessary, but they have to be reconnected again, another fiddly job.

By the time we are back to normal above and below decks, it's too late to contemplate recommencing the heater project. Tomorrow. 

Heater project - getting the heat into the saloon: outlets and hoses

We have done some preliminary inspection and experimentation to work out where the hoses will go that transfer the heating fluid from the burner to the heat exchangers which blow heated air into the saloon.

The Eberspächer system has two outlets. We could fit both under the chart table, but we think it will be much better if we can locate one further forward in the saloon, near the door to the master cabin. There is an obvious place for it, but it's in a locker currently used to store wine, and we don't want to lose our wine cellar. After a bit of juggling the engineer finds it can be located partly in the locker and partly in the space where the port water tank is situated, with minimal impact on the wine storage capacity. If necessary we can also insulate it to prevent it from warming our wine more than is desirable. 

So we start on the next irreversible steps, cutting holes to mount the two outlets as planned, one at each end of the saloon area. The engineer mounts them temporarily, and they look fine.

The next step is to lay the PEX hose. The two outlets are connected in series, and of course there must be a return line for the fluid to go back to the burner for re-heating. That means one long run of hose from the further outlet all the way back to the burner,  and two shorter ones, one going from the burner to the nearer outlet, then one joining the two outlets.

We decide to start from the further outlet, and feed the long length all the way back to the burner. After a bit of juggling, and the drilling of some additional holes in the panel which separates the port side sea berth from the chart table, and in the vertical divisions between the cupboard and two sets of drawers under the chart table, we get the hose as far as the beginning of the head area. We previously managed to thread a garden hose from the burner area to this point and we've left a piece of string there as a "mouse", so we think we're doing well. But after a lot of pushing and pulling, we conclude we can't just continue to feed the hose all the way.

Feeding the PEX hose in from the forward end of the run,
past port side water and diesel tanks.

Plan B is to start feeding a length in from the burner area forward, with the intention of joining the two lengths in the middle. After a lot more pulling and pushing we finally get a length through to meet up with the first bit. BUT we are fairly sure we will not get a second one through the same route. So we started looking for alternatives, and now think that we might do better running both through the cupboards in the shed, rather than under the floor. That's Plan C, but before we can test it out, we have to take a break from the heater project for the Mast Pad Replacement project, which is much shorter, but more intense.

19 February 2021

Heater project - getting started

The engineer has been thinking about whether it is possible to install a diesel heater on Nahani for years. He's looked at other people's boat heaters, visited the suppliers here, wrestled mentally with the issue of where to put the burner and how to pipe the heat into the cabin.

In 2021, we decide to get more serious. Everything on the back shelves and the floor is taken out of the shed, more than once, so that we can think about where to locate things, and look under the floor to see where heating ducts could go. We look at the pros and cons of the Eberspächer and Wallas systems. The engineer leans toward choosing the Wallas, because it's designed for boats rather than RAVs and caravans, but there is a problem. The Wallas uses ducted air. After much consideration and a visit from Dieslheat to inspect the boat, we all reluctantly agree that there is no way that you can get the big air ducts forward into the saloon from aft in the shed where the burner will go, .

We settle on the alternative, which is an Eberspächer with hydronic heating. We think that the smaller pipes carrying the circulating fluid will fit under the floors of the shed and the head. The Dieselheat guy also tells us that we can connect the heater system to the hot water as well, with ball valves that can be used to direct the heating fluid to either the saloon outlets or to the hot water tank. That means that if we stay out of the marina for an extended period not only can we heat the boat but we can also have hot showers without having to run either the engine or the generator. That's a very attractive option which clinches the decision to go with the Eberspächer hydronic option.

The next problem to solve is where to locate the exhaust. This involves making a hole in the boat somewhere, either in the hull or on the deck. After extensive thought and consultation with the guys at Dieselheat and with Steve, who built Nahani, we decide to bring the exhaust up through the scuppers and into a pipe which will raise it well above the waterline. The pipe will have a 180 degree curve at the top to prevent water coming in from above, and will be able to be plugged if you were sailing in heavy seas to prevent sea water ingress. The engineer buys the requisite bits of pipe, and works out a way to make the exit through the scuppers watertight.

Dieselheat deliver all the gear to the RYCT in multiple large cardboard boxes, which are temporarily stashed in the car because we can't make a start until our guest departs. After a bit of post-guest R&R, the project starts with the removal of everything in the back on the shed, and putting it into  the guest bunk.


The boxes are opened and their contents distributed around the boat, along with lots of tools.

Chart table

Saloon seat


The engineer makes multiple trips to "Map 11" (Moonah and Glenorchy) to purchase additional requirements such as more hole saw blades - it takes 3 blades and a borrowed high-powered drill to cut a circular hole through the stainless steel ring frame that forms Nahani's scuppers.

Next issue is to work out where to put the valves which adjust the flow of heating fluid between the heating system and the hot water. Dieselheat suggest that most people put these right at the heater itself. This solution is so much better than the underfloor options we were considering. The engineer had planned to try and keep the option open to reconnect the feed from the engine to the HWS, but now realises that all will be cleaner and simpler if there is a straight connection from the diverter valve to the HWS. The installation plan is getting better all the time.

First irreversible step is cutting the hole in the scuppers, which was the first thing the engineer did, earlier this week. Second step is taken today when the exhaust pipe is locked into position, with appropriate sealant to stop water ingress.

The engineer is still busy beavering away in the back of the shed, where he is mounting the heater, the header tank for the circulating fluid, and the diverter valves that switch the flow between the systems. Here he is, happy in his work.