When I did arrive at Lady Rover and started attacking things, I did realize that it is better to fix anything which has to be done before adressing improvements.
Turned out that the list grew every day. Here what we did actually do, mostly repairs and not what was planned, but the boat is in much better shape now that we run out of time and money ;-)
+Complete rebuilt of portside bow
+New bow paintjob
+Completly new built aft beam
+New fiberglass cover on aft beam
+New petrol tank with doubled capacity
+Access hatch of petrol locker rebuilt (tank did not fit through by coaming width)
+New location of propane locker
+New LiFePo4 battery
+New solar arch with panels
+New switchboard and wiring of central electrics
+Nav station rebuilt
+New shower water collection from fiberglass panels
+Renovated forward aluminum beam
+Renovation of many wooden strips and stringers
+Installation of newbuilt centerboard
+Repair of board case
+Navtex antenna moved
+Wires routed more aesthetically
+Front windows split in half, all in all six windows reglued
+All windows got a black anti UV paint strip over there perimeters to protect the glue seams
+Box for desalinator built
+Box for all charging devices built
And much much more...
We did not get to:
+Moving engines, they will stay in their location. If one breaks, we will replace it with an electric motor in the aft lazarette.
Hopefully not in the next few years!
+Keels, the boardcase was not as bad as I remembered and I added some glass. We keep our shallow draft.
+Bow modification, would have been nice, but to much other work needed to be done, the new paint job at least makes it look nicer.
+No new paint on hulls & deck, no time & money.
+No roof modification yet, but all prepared and I will do that before we are heading south in May/June next year.
So, it was an eventful summer, but I missed being on the water dearly.
Lets hope I can get enough contracts until next summer that we can actually cast off!
Below a few details on some of the projects.
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED
Driving to France was a tad special this time, as they required a PCR test no older than 48hours and there was an evening curfew at the time in France. So I left at 03.00AM in the morning to be at the border early to make it in time to Cordemais.
My trusty old Ford Ka turned out to be incredibly big once more. Look at the first two pictures. All you see, did fit in there on the 1500km trip to Cordemais.
Likely it was a fair bit overloaded ;-)
I was a bit scared this time by the normally fairly unnoticable French-German border as they announced COVID controls, not that I had to fear anything from that end (I am fully vaxed) but I thought that they might realize that my car was seriously overloaded.
When I approached the border there was actually a border patrol officer stopping cars and I slowly rolled towards him shrugging my shoulders, smiling and wondering what he wants. He smiles, gives me a wave and stops the car behind me.
Guess the Pony tailed blonde was lucky once more ;-)
RENOVATED FORWARD BEAM
Well, that was not on the list, but, way overdue. Lots of sanding, adding anti corrosion laminates under the anchor fittings, mounting hardware with Tef-Gel and repainting it a second time because a 1 minute rain shower (the only one in the whole day!!!) created a moonscape after the first paint job.
I was not very pleased with those raindrops as you might guess!!!
PORTSIDE BOW REPAIR
So, while I was finishing the forward aluminum beam renovation, I thought, hey, before you mix up the grey paint, lets have a look at that strange crinkle in the portside bow laminate.
I drilled a tiny hole with the Dremel into it and it grew, and grew, and GREW. BIG TIME!
There was a tiny leak which had, over the last 25 years, eaten slowly the outer stem away. The beam was built from pine, light and inexpensive, but not the best boat building wood.
So of I went to the little boatyard next door, to buy some big chunks of Iroko, a sustainable tropical wood which will last much better.
Than I cut the rotten parts out, dryed the remainig parts thoroughly out and treated it with epoxy before glueing the new wood in with epoxy and a lot of silica gel.
This was followed by an orgy of electric plane and grinder.
Once that was done, I added several layers of biaxial cloth as reinforcement. It's a real strong bow now, right as it should be!
All finished with several rounds of phenolic microbaloons and epoxy as filler and a lot of sanding before adding our new paintjob.
Do you like the new looks?
NEW AFT BEAM
From my last visit I knew that that the aft beam was compromised, but I had hoped that the beam would be salvageable as was the forward one in Stralsund a few years back.
Turns out it was not to its advantage to not have been fully glassed in. I was under the impression that it was neither built from marine plywood. Both things we (Eugen has arrived!!!!) would do different this time.
Side comment, our old fridge proved to be a real asset! We did cool the epoxy batches in there, so that we had a longer working time in the summer heat. Equally helpful was the old Jeantot Privilege cat behind us. Perfect protection from rain and sun!
While the project in itself was not overly complicated, it was still a big job:
+Get the plywood to Cordemais
+Get the 5.3m long wooden slats to the boat (1km from a nearby Carpenter, on the roof of the Ka of course!)
+Built a scarfing jig
+Set the old beam up as worktop
+Scarf all planks
+Coat all interior surfaces three times with epoxy
+Glue the lower half together
+Add carbon strips over the inside slats
+Add local reinforcements
+Glue the upper, already carbon reinforced slats in
+Add Carbon to top and bottom of beam, glass it all over
+Tape the beam up. The tape is really helpful if you have no vacuum pump at your disposal. Still you need a lot of it!!
+Sand the beam thoroughly
+Primer, fair and paint the new the beam
+Mount the new beam
In parallel there are a few "little" more things to do ;-) renovate the beam box on the boat, and while you are at it built new fiberglass beam covers as well.
Here some pictures of the job:
NEW LIFEPO4 BATTERIES & SOLAR
Still back at home we decided that we would get new batteries for our long cruise. Once I did arrive I noticed that this was rather clever, as one lead acid battery had blown out, luckily it did not do to much damage.
A bit of research turned out that LiFePo4 is by now actually much cheaper than Lead Acid.
Provided you start with bare cells and do not buy a drop in replacement with built in battery management system.
The main drawback is that you need some patience until the cells arrive. Ours took 2.5 months. Still at about 1250€ incl. shipping and taxes for 840Ah it was a steal. Add on top the BMS and active cell balancers and your assembled system is just shy of 2000€.
A lot of money, but drop in replacements from Victron or similar would have been easily 5 times that.
Add to this, that this new technology allows the occasional use of the full capacity without harming the cells, can be left without maintenance for months and has a multitude of cycles of similar sized lead acid cells and the choice is clear.
One more word to LiFePo4, this is not the same as LiPo technology, its chemically different and has almost zero chance to produce thermal runaway events like the fires some of you might know from electric cars.
We mounted our batteries on a stainless plate and separated it from this with a thick layer of dry fiberglass mat. The same mat was used to separate all 3.2V cells in the system from each other.
Our BMS is a 400A unit from Daly as it tolerates the theoretical absolute maximum power input from all charging sources we have combined which is 200A. In reality we will never reach this though.
The BMS is classic, without Bluetooth or the like, still, if we would get one again, we'd source one with these input options.
We followed advice from the web on this, but on this occasion I'd decide different in the future. It is very convenient to be able to set voltages on BMS, MPPT and charger in a way that they work in harmony.
We also installed switches (and fuses!) between the solar panels and their controllers as to allow the panels to be switched off before the MPPT solar controllers are disconnected from the batteries.
Generally MPPT solar controllers should not be connected to solar sources without being connected to a battery first (even though there are sources to be found on the web which say that this still usually does not lead to failures if its done accidentally).
So its the sequence battery to solar controller and than to the solar panel and the reverse if you want to switch them off.
Each of our solar panels has its own MPPT for redundancy and to reduce shadowing issues.
For emergency charging when renewables produced not enough power, we keep our old lead acid charger and use it then with the genset.
As long we do not let it control the charge cycle automatically this should do no harm and allows us to charge the batteries say from 5% up to 80% before switching it off again. We will not flow charge in any case, as LiFePo4 banks do not like this.
As I am working as a CGI artist (www.das3Dstudio.de) I need a lot of computational power when working from the boat, so we sized our system accordingly.
We had some side projects here as well, a new navigation front, a dedicated charging station for all chargers (Phones, radios, tools...) as well as Eugens biggest job, rewiring the switchboard and all related parts. He spend weeks in the tight closet there and did a tremendous job.
Next we'll be replacing the supply wiring by proper tinned copper cables.
It's amazing to me to see all the wiring which goes into a boat and I am thankful to have a great "sparky" on my side who can take care of this.
Personally I would not have the stamina and endurance he showed on this.
The boatbuilding department (Me!) is a bit jealous of the clean hands and tools of the electrical department (Him!) though ;-)
NEW SOLAR ARRAY & EQUIPMENT ARCH
The ugly old arch had to go, as had the solar panels from 1991 ;-)
The solar panels were wildly inefficient and we found that the old arch was to high up and vibrated severely in waves when the dinghy was pulled up against it. Further we found out, that the old arch was not properly attached to the boat but was rather screwed into the aft beam with wood screws. Amazing we did not loose it and amazing how stupid that was done.
So I came up with a new, more pleasing design and refined it in collaboration with our welder. He is a super nice guy and I did thoroughly enjoy working together with him on this.
Eugen and myself came also up with a super low profile system to directly lift the dinghy with the mainsheet winch. Hook up three lines and grind her up.
We used strategically mounted low friction eyes in combination with 3mm spectra line for this. This line has a breaking strength of 950kg, so if you split this over three lines its more than adequate when it comes to lifting a dinghy.
When the dinghy is up against the arch we secure it with ratched straps.
Photos of the lifting mechanism to follow, we simply forgot to make them before heading home...
CUT HER UP! - DINGHY MODIFICATION
Well, not quite ;-) Turned out our dinghy was about 20cm to long to fit in the best possible way onto the new arch/david.
Some might shout now: "Bad planning"!
Well, hold it. The aim was to create an aesthetically relative pleasing arch with a much better attachment to the ship than the old one. That, in combination with the panel size dictated pretty much the geometry.
So, being a boatbuilder myself I had no hesitation to chop off the dinghies bow above the waterline to make it fit. Its perfect now and I'll promise to add more pictures in spring, somehow we did not take some before leaving.
WINDOW SPLIT & UV PROTECTION
When I arrived at the boat after over a year (COVID!!!! ARRRGGGHH!!!!!) I found some water in the portside bilge, much to my dismay. Turned out two windows where leaking.
So, we decided to reglue a couple of them. While in the process of doing this we did also cover all window rims with a wide strip of black 2 component polyurethane paint as additional UV protection to the Sikaflex 295-UV joints. Polyurethane paint is fine for this, its the same base material as Sikaflex=Polyurethane.
I did also fill in the 4 screw holes in the front windows with epoxy and removed these bolts permanently. Glueing alone is very adequate if done properly. Modern aircraft do not fall from the sky despite having large structural glue joints.
The two large front windows where split into 4 panels to reduce issues with heat expansion and panel twist. I could hardly get the windows out due to the fact of how well the 10mm polycarbonate was bonded into the frame.
Cutting the polycarbonate was relatively easy with a thin stainless steel cutting disk in the angle grinder.
Initially I hoped to not gain weight over the summer, but with a guy from Nuremberg as boyfriend, who loves cooking (!), you get pampered every day.
I did only gain 2kg, so its no drama, but hey, I'll need to run them off again.
Guess when we finally cast off next year it will be different as there is more time for walks and exercising.
But wasn't it lovely to get a Cappuchino served in bed and having good hearty food after a hard days work.
We really deserved it, it really was hard work almost every day.
ITS BEEN HARD WORK(!) WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LEISURE TIME
As said before, we did work our butts off!
There were a few days were we have been really fed up with our to do list. You fix one thing and two more new things show up. Sometimes even big jobs like the bow repair,
Anyway we still made 2-3 small trips to Nantes and to the seaside as well into the Loire estuary and its "Marais". Even close to Cordemais, which has this huge carbon power plant, there is really beautiful nature within walking distance.
From bird watching to hiking you can let go on the evening walks.
Apart from that, it helps to have friendly neighbors like Pascale & Joel or Chris around. Chris was especially impressive he renovated a GRP sailboat which was sitting on the hard to quite an acceptable standard within 2 months working time.
When we wrapped it up in the evening we could still see him working with his headlamp. Very impressive dedication. At last his red coloured "Killer Whale" took to the water.
Well done Chris, especially as you had so little boating experience regarding sailboats before!
In spring I did write what work we were planning of doing. Well things went quite a bit different!
Here is what we intendet:
+Renovate the aft beam (CHECK!)
+Improve dinghy davit system (CHECK!)
+Thermo solar waterheating panel (2022)
+Icebox & Oven (2022)
+Seal the centerboardcase of permanently & possibly add a daggerboard on starboard side (CHECK! REPAIRED INSTEAD)
+Move the engines back into the hulls (POSTPONED)
+Move propane & gas tanks into the forward port saillocker (CHECK!)
+Add a windlass (CHECK!)
+Complete electrical rebuilt (CHECK!)
+Several structural reinforcements (CHECK!)
+Possibly raise the aft part of the roof (2022)
+ we'll see what we can get done and perhaps we do, much much more....!