C'est la Vie is a 1966 Charlie Morgan 34.

Her home port is Everglades City, FL. Our typical cruising area is Southwest Florida, the Florida Keys, the Southeastern Atlantic Seaboard, and the Bahamas. We are C'est la Vie's third owners and purchased her in 2005. We continue to maintain and update this classic vessel. Please post any questions or comments about C'est la Vie or our travels via the comment links below.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

tis the season...

With 6 coats of Bristol Finish applied to the gallows, generator box, and lazurette hatch, I moved on to the brightwork aboard C'est la Vie.  Tis the season to knock out refinishing the brightwork.
We have little wood topsides, but it feels expansive when driving a sheet of 220 grit sandpaper.  I did complete all the sanding & prep this afternoon, so barring any rain tonight or Sunday, we will be able to complete the refinishing tomorrow.

I spent some time this morning researching the various NMEA protocols and methods of linking electronics aboard the boat. The realization that our GPS, VHF, handheld VHF, & autopilot all speak NMEA0183 inspired the morning research.

I learned that NMEA0183 allows one device to be the "talker" and multiple other devices to "listen".  Thus with our system the GPS would be the talker and the two VHF's and the Autopilot would listen.

The newer NMEA2000 standard allows for each device to be both a talker and a listener.  Currently none of the systems on C'est la Vie are NMEA2000.

So back to the the task at hand... create a network where the GPS can talk while the VHFs & autopilot listen.   I believe that this could be achieved with a simple electrical bus, but my internet research lead me to the Actisense QNB-1 network block and we now are awaiting the shipment.

The ability of this block to host communications and act as the power supply/ground will allow us to simplify the wiring in our electrical panel and avoid numerous runs from electronics back to the panel.  Another great aspect of this block is that it is both NMEA0183 and NMEA2000 compliant.   So as we upgrade systems this block will not join the growing bin of obsolescent boat parts (note: the block can be either 0183 or 2000, but cannot host both systems simultaneously.)

Why does do our VHF Radios and Autopilot want to listen to the GPS? 

Both our fixed VHF - ICOM422 - and our handheld VHF - HX600 are DSC equipped.  This feature enables the VHF radios to broadcast a distress signal that identifies our vessel and it's current location - if the radio is linked to a GPS.

Connecting the GPS - Garmin492 - to our electric autopilot, a Raymarine ST1000+ , will allow the autopilot to steer to a waypoint selected on the GPS system.  In the past we used the GPS to identify a point to which we wish to travel, then we asked the GPS to give us a heading in degrees, then steered this heading, and then set the autopilot to the heading we were steering.  Allowing the GPS to talk to the Autopilot would eliminate many of these steps and hopefully make the system more accurate.

I'm guessing that a large portion of our blog followers are simply wishing that Anne and I would cast off already and start posting more images and narrative about our travels.  What is all this talk of NMEA and images of projects day after day after day.  I'm also growing weary of the projects and the price tags that come along with the projects.  Soon the day will come... at least that is my mantra while I sand the brightwork.

Friday, May 28, 2010

nearing the finish line.


 and after...
The difference is four coats of Bristol Finish. Since the lazurette hatch has previously been finished four coats is enough.  For the boom gallows and the  generator box, I will continue on until there are 7 coats of Bristol finish per side.  It feels good to be nearing the finish line on these projects.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

All together now...

The clamps are off and the sanding is nearing completion on the generator box.  For the first time I can show everyone a picture of my vision of the box  because it is all together now...
The only remaining work is to 1)apply Bristol Finish to the wood, 2)install a gasket where the lid meets the box, 3)install cam buckles on the webbing.   For those of you following along, yes the riding mower is still up on blocks.  I strategically positioned myself to have the box eclipse the mower in the image above.  Don't worry we now have the part to get the Husky back to mowing - tomorrow mornings project.  It is a big ole yard and the grass is getting long.

Back to boats... Anne and I also installed our new battery monitor today.  Advice from the Sailnet.com/forums lead us to choose the Victron Energy BMV-600S.   Working as a team the installation went smoothly.  The only outwardly visible change is the circular, digital interface on our electrical panel...  middle, right with a blue backlight in the image below

The monitor provides an accurate, real-time report on battery voltage (volts), battery charge/discharge (amps), amp hours consumed, and state of charge (% of charge remaining in battery).  The unit will also provide a dizzying array of historical data for the battery bank.  We will definitely need to spend some time, manual in hand, to fully reap the benefits of the monitor.  The monitor did provide us some immediate insights into our power consumption.  Immediately after the installation Anne began turning on various systems one by one (i.e. instruments, cabin fans, fresh water pump, propane sniffer, etc.) to measure the amps drawn by each system.  We also can now monitor the input of the wind generator.  Boaters and non-boaters are always asking,  "How much power does the wind generator produce?"   Perhaps soon I will have a good answer.

My suspicion that our 2 year old, 360 amp hour house bank made up of 4 six volt, gel batteries fails to hold a full charge is what lead to the installation of the monitor.  Prior to installing the BMV-600S our systems for monitoring the state of the batteries was either the analog gauge at the breaker panel or a monitor embedded in our Garmin GPS.  The two monitors would often diverge by .2 volts with the Garmin consistently reporting higher voltage than the analog gauge.   Hopefully the new monitor well provide some answers... now we only need to figure out the right questions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

progress on both the top and bottom of the generator box.

today's efforts were entirely focused on the generator box.  I started the day by assembling the lid.  In the image below the components of the lid are arranged on the right.
With the pieces assembled but the glue still wet, I placed the lid on the box to ensure that the clamping had not compromised the fit of the lid. 

Success!  The lid fit tightly enough to create some suction when I attempted to remove it.  The addition of a gasket & cam straps should create an airtight seal for the box.

Clamps are a wonderful thing... is impossible to have too many clamps? 

With the lid set aside to dry, I flipped the box and began to focus on the bottom.
Yesterday  I used epoxy to affix the base trim and webbing straps to the bottom of the box.  The wooden trim pieces extend approx 1/8 of an inch above the base of the box.  I cut notches where the webbing passes across the trim.  After prepping the base of the box, sanding and taping, I poured thickened epoxy on the base and used some scrap wood to fair the base level with the edges of the trim.
This made for a much easier job of fairing in the base than the work that went into fairing the sides of the box. 

And so goes another day of boat projects... 

Anne Lovett Designs is official!

Quick shout out to Anne who aquired her business license yesterday!
Her next step is to register a business name with the state of Florida.  Currently her work can be viewed and purchased from her blog - Cestlabead.blogspot.com .  For those unfamiliar with her work, she created both the necklace and the earrings in the image above.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

80 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit... gett'n gritty with it.

60 minutes with a circular and a jig saw was the prelude to a couple of hours of sanding on the gallows going from 80 grit, to 120 grit, to 220 grit per the instructions on the Bristol Finish.  The image below is from my preferred sanding work area the back porch of the lodge (and, yes we are in the process of repairing the riding mower or have we installed a rocket and the Husky is prepped for launch?)

I have previously used Bristol Finish on C'est la Vies bright work and am pleased with the longevity of the finish and the ability to apply multiple coats, wet on wet.  By applying the two part finish wet on wet four coats can be applied in a single day without sanding between coats.

Below is an image of the completed gallows cross piece.
 With the gallows ready for finishing, I turned my attention to the joinery work necessary to complete the air tight box for storing the generator below decks.  Complete the fabrication of the wooded trim and lid will allow me to apply Bristol Finish to the wood on both projects at the same time.
 In the foreground of the image above  the lid is dry clamped together to test the fit.  In the background is the box.  I have applied blue painters tape to the lower section in preparation for  attaching the base trim with epoxy.  I don't want to nail or screw the trim onto my airtight box...

Monday, May 24, 2010

the birth of a new project...

One of the objectives of creating the boom gallows was to provide a secure attachment point for a cockpit bimini.  With the gallows nearing completion, we need to begin ordering materials for the bimini.  No problem... I'll just go out and grab a couple measurements...
five hours later we had created a plywood template that contained two different designs and an outline of the gallows.  We took the sheet of plywood out to boat to test the "fit"...
By days end we did create a parts list and order the hardware, but we continue to experiment with the shape of the aft support arch.  The arch will be a single section of 7/8 OD stainless steel tubing braced via a single, horizontal strut to the gallows.

We need to create is a template to take to Paradise Welding so that they can transform a 12' section of tubing into a series of curves that will 1) fit with the aesthetics of the vessel 2) not impede the mainsheet or other rigging 3)create frame for the bimini that will keep the sun off our bodies and the rain out of the cockpit.

And so begins the bimini project.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

testing, 1-2-3, testing

I started off the day by shopping on-line for some ear plugs to use while snorkeling. Snorkeling daily during the summer of 2008 proved problematic for my left ear which became impossible to clear by popping and constantly felt congested. Google lead me to some articles on the DAN site which lead me to Doc's Proplugs.  I will report out on the plugs effectiveness later.

Once the bugs had retreated from the rising sun, I applied a 3rd and final top coat of paint to the generator box.  The next step is to began manufacturing the lid and trim from 1/2" mahogany plywood.

Mid morning found Anne and I installing the wooden crosspiece for the new gallows. The crosspiece is in the rough cut stage and before moving forward on sanding and finishing I wished to test the shape and dimensions while sailing. 

The image above was taken motoring out Indian Key Pass.  The boom is resting solidly on the gallows.  Also of note is our new tiller extension.  Anne has suggested installing a tiller extension for years and after one short day sail with the Spinlock extension and I am wondering why we waited so long.

Due to light winds on our stern we motored out to the Gulf.  The trip out to the Gulf also afforded us the opportunity to test the engine cooling system.  The previous afternoon with the Kubuta seems to have resolved our cooling troubles.

Approximately 1NM offshore of Indian Key and in 11 feet of water, yes it is the west coast of FL, we shut off the motor an let C'est la Vie drift while we scrubbed the hull and took in a lunch.  By early afternoon a fresh east wind was building.  Perfect time to test the gallows by tacking back into shore.

The gallows worked well in all points of sail, but the clearance between the boom and the gallows while sailing close hauled was a scant 1.5 inches.  Manually forcing the aft end of the boom outboard or downward  would bring it into contact with the wooden crosspiece.  I fear that in heavy seas the boom may begin to strike the gallows.  Fortunately we can trim 1 inch off the top of the crosspiece without loosing any structural integrity.  The loss of the material will result in more shallow notches for the boom's resting positions, but I'm willing to give up some depth on the notches to gain an additional inch of clearance between the gallows and the boom.

back to the woodshop...