The Lunacy Report

INFLATABLE DINGHY MAINTENANCE: Avon Valve Rebuild

Avon inflatable valve

The valve, rehabilitated

SOME MAY RECALL that last year's sailing season aboard Lunacy began with a series of amusing mishaps, one of which involved my inflatable dinghy, a 9-foot Avon with a roll-up floor. The very first time I tried to inflate it, the stem of the valve for the keel compartment popped out like a jack-in-the-box and went flying into the water. I simply ignored the problem and spent the whole season puttering about in a dinghy with a flabby keel. This year, however, I resolved to fix the valve and so paid a quick visit last week to Chris Harrison at Chase Leavitt in Portland, who bestowed upon me a rebuild kit (Avon Part #V00001) for Avon A7, B7, and C7 valves.

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NEW SEA CHEST: Plus A Filtration Scheme

Seacock and strainer

I promised to share pix of my new seacock/sea-chest installation (you'll recall the old aluminum chest had corrosion issues) once it was in place. Lunacy got launched late last week and yesterday was my first chance to visit in a while. I was pretty pleased with what the guys at Maine Yacht Center have worked out here.

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WINTER PROJECT: Corroded Sea Chest & Other Tidbits

Aluminum sea chest

Lunacy is again spending the winter inside at Maine Yacht Center, and though there are no ambitious modifications underway, like last year's bowsprit, I have been trying to address some smaller issues that have been bugging me. Number one on this list was the big Marelon seacock on the boat's one and only raw-water inlet, which feeds the toilet, washdown pump, and auxiliary engine. I've been worried about this seacock failing someday, ever since a sister seacock, on the galley sink outlet, started weeping steadily and had to be replaced a few years ago.

Turns out it wasn't the seacock I should have been worried about. On removing the custom-fabricated aluminum sea chest that sits atop the seacock (so they could in turn remove the seacock), the guys at MYC found the metal in one of the chest's male hose barbs (see above) had corroded and was breaking away.

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ULTRASONIC ANTIFOULING: Full Season Test Results

Antifouling test

Lunacy was hauled for the winter on Friday, which means at last I have answers and evidence to share with the several people who've been asking me about the Ultrasonic Antifouling system I installed toward the end of the season last year. When Lunacy was hauled last year, after two months with the Ultrasonic unit running, there wasn't a speck of growth on her anywhere. This year, after a full five months in the water, the results are decidedly different.

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CHASING BOAT LEAKS: A Noble (if Frustrating) Obsession

Edward Gorey drawing

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,

In a Sieve they went to sea:

In spite of all their friends could say,

On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,

In a Sieve they went to sea!

--from The Jumblies, by Edward Lear/Drawing by Edward Gorey

ONE THING I'VE NEGLECTED TO MENTION is that Lunacy has been plagued with a mild leak this past summer. I'd noticed that a small amount of water was constantly appearing in the bilge sump, and just as constantly I kept mopping it out with a sponge. Gradually the small amount got larger, until I grew steadily more worried about it.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon the source. While putting the boat away after an overnight a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the toilet's inlet hose was weeping where it is clamped onto a sea-chest fitting atop the boat's one and only raw-water through-hull inlet. Upon close inspection, I could see that one of the two clamps securing the hose had cut right through it.

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CASCO BAY CRUISE: Chebeague Island Inn

Anchorage at Chebeague Island Inn

Our Labor Day weekend family cruise aboard Lunacy had been long anticipated, but somehow this anticipation did not translate into a prompt departure for the boat last Friday. As it was, we didn't have all our crew and gear aboard, ready to cast off, until nearly 4 pm. During the depths of the summer this would leave four hours or more to sail to some choice anchorage to inhabit for the night, but now, in the more compressed days of early September, it really only leaves two.

In fact, I had no idea where we were going when we dropped the pennant to Lunacy's mooring at Portland Yacht Services. First I thought we might go east, so started motoring into the southeast breeze toward Peaks Island with an eye toward squeezing into open water through Whitehead Passage. But daughter Lucy, bless her soul, soon complained about the noise of the engine and urgently suggested we shut it down and start sailing.

So I stifled the motor, unrolled the new screecher, and sailed north through Diamond Island Pass toward the upper reaches of western Casco Bay. By the time the sun was starting to lower itself into the horizon, we had reached the narrow choke point off the Division Point bar between Littlejohn and Great Chebeague Island (see chartlet above), and I still had no clear idea where we would spend the night.

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TEST SAIL: New Screecher in Action

Headsails furled

Operation Fetch and Test My New Sail (OFTMNS) officially began this past Sunday evening, when I hooked up with my old pal Loric Weymouth in Portland. He agreed at the last minute to join me as crew on Lunacy for an overnight sail to Rockland, taking the place of Scott Alexander, of Selden Mast, who had agreed several weeks ago to join me, but kicked me to the curb at the last minute in favor of some racing gig. Scott's betrayal was prescient, as the ride to Rockland was no picnic. For the first few miles we did well enough, reaching along at 7 knots in a moderate southerly, but soon the wind died and we spent the rest of the night motoring through a fierce beam sea.

By sunrise we were just west of Monhegan Island. The highlight of the passage came soon after, when we saved two lobstermen from starving in Muscle Ridge Channel. Their boat had broken down, and th ey'd been anchored all night waiting for a tow. We passed them a garbage bag full of beer, bagels, fruit, and smoked fish in homage to the Pot Warp Gods, who had refrained from wrapping themselves round our propeller as we ran blind all through the night.

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NEW BATTERY MONITOR: Mastervolt BTM-III

Master Link BTM-III battery monitor

Some of you may be wondering what happened with that battery problem I was having.  As I mentioned briefly, I was hoping the crazy readings I was getting from my battery monitor were the result of a bad connection or some corrosion somewhere.

Back in the 1990s when I was cruising full time and living aboard Crazy Horse, my electrical system was dirt simple. I had two 100-AH wet-cell batteries, a battery selector switch, and a 30-watt flexible solar panel to help keep them topped up. When I wanted to know how the batteries were doing, I whipped out my multimeter and put the leads on the battery terminals to read the surface voltage. For more sophisticated analysis, I used a big eye-dropper hydrometer to test the specific gravity of the electrolyte solution in the battery cells.

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WEEKEND CRUISE: Cundy's Harbor

An afternoon sail on Casco Bay

I thought I might simulate a mishap or two while out and about on Lunacy this past weekend, just to maintain the theme that has developed here of late, but I was enjoying myself too much to bother. The boat and its systems (thankfully) performed flawlessly, and the weather was fabulous. We enjoyed a nice light-air reach across the breadth of Casco Bay on Saturday afternoon, then pulled into Cundy's Harbor and picked up a mooring for the night.

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