Friday, March 18, 2011

Counting down and lounging on the lido deck...

We spent last weekend up in Sydney on Lucey Blue. The weekend didn't go quite as we had planned, due to Ryan having a nasty chest infection, but the lovely warm weather up there (as opposed to the icky cold weather in Canberra) was a very welcome change.

While we were there I got to thinking about how it is not very long at all until we depart. The kids finish first term at school on the 15th April - which is only four weeks away!!!!! We then madly pack up the house, and hope to be fully installed on Lucey Blue by the beginning of May. I have guesstimated a departure date of 15th May...and set up a countdown in the right-hand sidebar. ONLY 58 DAYS TO GO. At least it feels a little more real now.

We still have a mountain of things to do...and Nick is running around with no fewer than 6 balls in the air at any one time....

Attractive shade curtains no? Stay tuned for more about what's going on here!

Bet you can't work out what he is up to in this one. If he has to bring the boat home to Canberra in bits to get the job done...he will!!!!!

I am busy studying (generally while feeding the first class passenger ;-) for my Marine Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency (MROCP). I don't have any photos of me pulling my hair out to show you, HOWEVER, I do know that if you want to connect your batteries in series you need to connect the positive terminal of one cell to the negative terminal of the other (this tidbit of info gives me recurring nightmares about first year university physics...something I thought I'd buried long ago ;-).

Some of the crew are doing not much at all! I don't call him the lounge-about for nothing...

Greetings from the lido deck! And for those of you with sharp eyes...NO, the mostly empty foil bladder does not contain Chardonnay. It is water only...although there were certainly times last weekend when I WISHED it contained something a little stronger ;-).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The saga of Lucey Blue's Sunbrella Saloon Cushions

The story about Lucey Blue's saloon cushions is a long one, but thankfully it now has a happy ending (wish we could say the same about the start).

The cushions were made of a lovely (not so much) white vinyl. My issue with these cushions was that on hot days…you tended to sweat profusely on them, and then your legs and back would stick to them, and that was just plain icky. Also, being white (or at least once upon a time they were white), they tended to show up all the dirt and sweat and kiddy bits that landed on them…this said, at least with vinyl you could wipe it right off (or hose them down if it came to it).

Vinyl was also a good choice when you wanted to sleep on the cushions on the floor of the cockpit…which I did at least once when feeling a bit green around the gills in a big southerly swell near Manly last year.

After a bit of badgering, I finally got my way and Nick and I started to look for marine trimmers. We ended up getting two quotes, and the one we went with was David Fisher of 'Cover It Australia' in Drummoyne (we found his advertisement in the Afloat magazine).

We had him out to see Lucey Blue while she was on the hard at Woolwich last year. Then, once we had decided on a fabric (we chose Sunbrella Mediterranean Blue exterior fabric), Nick took all of the cushions, and a $700 deposit to David. After one or two phone calls determining the timing of our job, we never heard from David again. Nick went to the Drummoyne premises, but David had packed up shop and scarpered with our deposit AND our cushions (what on earth he would want with some custom saloon cushions that, I guarantee you, were never going to fit another cat [except perhaps one of the 50 other Lagoon 42 TPIs in the world] was beyond me. The deposit was hard to lose, but the cushions were the real killer. They were such irregular shapes and were going to cost a MINT to have professionally replaced, not to mention that subsequent quotes just to cover the now NON-EXISTENT cushions were in the $5000 range (OMG…Maybe I forgot to mention to them that we did not need silk thread!!). David….if you ever read this, what you did really sucks!

Anyhoo….we eventually moved on (although it was not without a fair amount of ranting, raving and tears on my part…I was about 6 months pregnant at the time…so I do have an excuse ;-). Nick then spoke to Andrew, a school friend of his. Andrew used to be a marine trimmer, and offered to visit Lucey Blue with Nick and talk him through the process of cutting new foam to shape. Thanks so much for your help Andrew! You were a lifesaver. Nick bought the foam from Clark Rubber, and prepared for the cutting phase. The whole cutting process didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would…given we were using an old, blunt bread knife, this surprised me considerably!

I should mention at this point that Nick spent an age marking the cushions with detailed measurements in black marker…which the trimmers then told him he should remove as it could run through the fabric!! He had to go back and carefully slice it all off…a trick for new players!

We then decided to look for an upholsterer/trimmer in Canberra (our faith in the Sydney trade having taken a serious hit). Nick scoured the Yellow Pages and came up with Steve's Car & Boat Upholstery:

The guys there have been absolutely FABULOUS. They took our hinky, home-hacked, foam shapes (raggedy edges and all) and covered them beautifully in just two weeks….and let me tell you, that was no easy job considering they did not have the boat at their disposal (to make measurements and fit the curves precisely).

While we were stewing on the whole cushion replacement issue, I also decided that the Sunbrella Mediterranean Blue was was a bit darker and blander than I wanted (see, every cloud has a silver lining ;-), so we changed to Sunbrella Dupione Galaxy instead. This fabric is a lighter shade of blue, and has a nice light line through it. We bought it for a very reasonable price through another friend of Nick's, Ben of Gemmell Sailmakers. I also managed to talk Nick into letting me purchase a couple of metres of the coordinating Sunbrella Seville Seaside so I could make some throw cushions too. I had to think long and hard about making the cushions myself. I had a few dramas putting zips in those suckers (the first cushion took me about four hours to finish), but thanks to lots of helpful advice from Robyn and Ruth (a couple of lovely friends that I met in a 'new parents' group seven years ago), I managed to turn out something that looks pretty presentable (in my humble opinion).

So…(DRUM ROLL PLEASE) without further ado…I present to you, Lucey Blue's new saloon cushions…

I don't mind telling you that I am stoked with the way they turned out. They are lovely to sit on (no sweaty, sticky legs and back), and are very pleasing on my eye. They even seem to clean off pretty well….the kids having already trialled them with cereal and milk (as you do).

Nick and I have joked that we are now fit to go into various boating fit-out trades. He is going to move into the vacuum toilet installation trade….his minimum quote will be AUD$20,000. We are also going to have a sideline enterprise in custom cushion shaping….our minimum quote for cushions will be AUD$10,000 (each ;-). Don't call us, we'll call you!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Marine toliet system – Sealand VacuFlush 5000 toilet, J Series Vacuum Generator and 125 litre Wrengco sullage tank

The issue of sullage is an emotive issue on any boat and until recently it was no different on Lucey Blue. When we bough the boat both the toilets were relatively old and the sullage system undersized and poorly designed.

Nick replaced the port toilet and plumbing with a standard manual Jabsco toilet – simple, effective and reliable. The starboard system took longer to design and quite a while to install. Removing the old toilet systems was not a pleasant experience for Nick, however, it reminded him why it is important to do a job right the first time and probably resulted in the new toilet systems being overbuilt!!!!

After a bit of consideration, redesigning and recalculating we decided to install a new Sealand VacuFlush 5000 toilet, J series vacuum generator and 125 litre holding tank in the starboard hull. The old system consisted of an electric Jabsco macerating toilet and a 40 litre Vetus sullage tank (located under the double bunk in our aft cabin). The tank filled in no time, the pipes were always full of waste and the system smelt……yuk….

Ryan chipped in as always and provided some great instructions – incredibly realistic for a 4 year old. However, we also sought advice from Charles Parsons (Marine Advisory Services, Annandale NSW). If you ever need advice on marine toilet systems we cannot recommend Charles highly enough.

The new design has the Wrengco sullage tank and Dometic vacuum generator located in the bow locker with a single PVC pipe connecting the system to the VacuFlush toilet. No more standing waste, no more sullage near “inhabited” areas of the boat and simple access for maintenance etc.

After removing the old system, the first step was to install a shelf in the bow locker for the sullage tank. Nick had forgotten how much fun it can be grinding fibreglass and using resin in a confined space. With the help of a long snorkel (made from new [unused] toilet hose) he made it out of the locker alive after a few hours!!!

The next step was to install the PVC sullage pipe – carefully ensuring a consistent downhill slope from the toilet to the vacuum generator in the bow locker. The PVC air vent piping runs uphill from the holding tank through the bow locker bulkhead, then under the headliner in the forward cabin to the anchor locker where it connects to a carbon filter before it finally vents to a point under the bridge deck (or when at sea to a point in the anchor locker itself).

With the shelf in and plumping in place it was time to install the Dometic Tank Watch 4 monitoring system into the sullage tank before connecting the vacuum generator and tank to the rest of the system. The Dometic Tank Watch 4 is great – no more guessing (and crossing your legs) if the tank if empty or nearly full!!!

The sullage tank is mounted high in the bow locker and has 1 ½ inch drain at the bottom that is split into two 1 ½ inch Vetus impermeable sanitary hoses– one to the through hull fitting and the other to the deck-mounted pump out fitting. Very simple and very, very quick to empty – no pumping just gravity drain or suction from the pump out station vacuum.

While the job sounds simple enough the boat looked like a bomb-site for several weekends with bits of plumbing, electrical wiring and bolts everywhere….

Emily and Ryan helped out passing tools, finding parts and pulling wires through hard to reach corners of the boat. By the end of most days they were tired and ready for a treat or two!!!!

Before too long – but what felt like an eternity to Nick – the “tank” end of the new toilet system was complete and it was time to get onto the toilet itself. This final stage was relatively easy – unwrap all the components, install the base funnel, bolt the toilet to the base and attached the water supply. The hardest part was tightening the bolts “in reverse” while working upside down in hard to reach corners using a mirror – by 22:30 in the evening Nick found it hard to crack a smile.

We are really happy with the new VacuFlush toilet and tank setup. The VacuFlush uses very little water and thus the holding tank lasts much, much longer than normal. Dometic claims a VacuFlush system connected to a 100 litre sullage tank provides the same number of flushes as a 400 litre tank connected to a typical electric macerating toilet.

Overall we think we made the right choice – the system is very easy to use, simple to maintain, quiet, efficient in terms of power and waste storage and best of all it does not smell!!!!!!