Saturday, 27 June 2020

Air Vanes, Watercatcher Drains and Windlass

Hi everyone,
We've had several busy weekends recently.  We've had great weather on most weekdays but less so on weekends.  So we've been working on the to-do list.  The main items have been air vanes, watercatcher drains and windlass...

Air Vanes

As described in the preceding post we now have a new WindPilot Pacific vane gear.  The standard air vane is too tall to clear our goalpost so we needed to make replacements.  An important factor was to keep their weight close to that of the standard vane - about 400g bare wood and 500g painted.  We purchased two panels of 6mm marine ply and got to work.



Cutting out the four vanes took a morning.  Sanding them to prepare them for painting took an afternoon.  Painting took several days to get on since we had to source more paint.



We liked the shapes but thought them rather bare, especially after looking at WindPilot vane art here.  So we bought some stencils and got to work.


Here are the resulting vanes in place.  The Z is decorative - not sure it'd last long in action!  We may add Zen Again's travels to the world map.

Raincatcher Drains

The next job was to adapt the drain fittings provided with the canvas to suit our needs.  We didn't want to use a barbed fitting and instead wanted the garden-type click-in fittings.

Luckily the drains provided had an inside diameter very close to that of the fixed part of the click-in fittings.  So we could cut off the barbed part of one and the hose connection part of the other and they slotted into each-other beautifully.  Sometimes ya just get lucky!  Add a little sika and job done.

Old tail cut off

Click-in fitting sika'ed in place

Hoses cut to length for each drain

Now we wait for a good downpour to try out the system!  We expect a few alterations will be necessary to maximise 'yield'.


Time to fess up to a minor debacle.  During our 2013 refit in Phuket the bow fitting was replaced.  The new assembly provided an integrated forestay attachment, bow roller and chain trough.  The trough extended aft to a new Muir manual windlass.  Previously we'd had an electric windlass and chain locker which opened on deck.

It was a full year after we left Phuket until we noticed the trough came so close to the windlass that it prevented access to a screw securing the windlasses' chain peeler.  That meant we couldn't disassemble the windlass to service it.  

Several times over the intervening period the windlass has jammed.  Not much fun pulling up the anchor hand over hand.  At various locations we've tried to find a mechanic willing to take an angle grinder to the s/s trough.  We finally found one last week here in Gosport.  MarineTech got the job done in 15 minutes.

We could then get the peeler and gypsy off, but the cone below was jammed to the base.  It took 4 days of WD40 and serious leverage to gradually work it loose.  Muir in Australia and their UK agent were very helpful via email and phone.


Peeler & Gypsy Off

Cone Off

Pawl springs disintegrated

With the windlass fully disassembled we could go to work cleaning up the parts.  Emery paper and polish did the job nicely.

Ready to reassemble

Base cleaned up and ready

Pawls with new springs and plastic washer on

Cone greased, on and secured

Gypsy greased and on, and washer on

Clutch nut (the top) fitted

We still have a small problem with the windlass.  While removing the cone I damaged the thread on its top.  So the clutch nut doesn't spin on as easily as it did.  Spinning easily is vital to correct operation.  Working on that!

Trust all's well where you are!

Monday, 1 June 2020

WindPilot Pacific Vane Gear and Canvas Raincatcher

Hi everyone,
This weekend we installed new vane gear and a canvas 'raincatcher'.  We also did a host of smaller jobs.

WindPilot Pacific Vane Gear

Zen Again used to have an Aires vane gear but it was in a sorry state on arrival in the UK.  We had refitted it in Canberra where we had a home workshop.  It served us well all the way to the UK but we sold it since another refit just wasn't practical for us.

This week our new WindPilot Pacific vane gear arrived from Germany.  It's a really well designed and engineered system.  The documentation is good too.

Just like Christmas!
On Friday evening we unpacked and assembled the system, less the mounting bracket.  The trial fitting proved we didn't need a mount extension.  A range of extensions are available to suit different transom configurations.  It also allowed us to decide the mounting height.

Mount suspended in place for trial fit
On Saturday we fitted the system.  Most of the time was spent cutting, shaping and fitting wooden backing plates for the four mounting bolts.  They were only necessary due to the backstay chain plate's backing plate which was close to the new bolt holes.  With the backing plates in place we could fit the mounting bracket.

Mounting bracket in place
Backing plates in the lazarette 
Small, neat mounting bracket
The next step was to fit the system to the mount.  It simply slots in and is locked in place with two bolts.

Ready to mount
System in place
We could then attach the water vane and check its height above the static waterline.  Twould have been a shame if it wasn't!  Then we could swing the water vane up into its stowed position, checking it cleared the boarding ladder.

Water vane stowed
Next we ran the tiller lines.  This required fitting two new blocks and re-using two from the Aires installation.  Sadly the vane gear pin integral to our s/s tiller is too large for the s/s chain supplied with the WindPilot so we'll have to source an alternative.

Tiller lines run via two blocks each side
The vane gear's apparent wind direction is controlled using a light 'endless' line.  It's attached to the tiller via a shock cord loop for easy access.

Adjustment line
The final step was to fit the air vane.  This showed a problem which we'd expected - the vane is too tall to clear the goal post.  Apparently this is common and the solution is to rake the vane as shown below.

Air vane fitted at a rakish angle
Below is a closer view of the mechanism.  Under the red cover is the bevel gear.  When the air vane tilts (due to the boat going off-course) a push rod moves up/down.  The bevel gear transforms this linear action into rotation of the water vane.  The water vane then moves to port/starboard and the arm on the other side of the pivot point pulls a tiller line.  Hopefully that puts the boat back on course!

Canvas RainCatcher

One of the things we have found difficult at sea is catching rain water.  We could do so using our boom tent at anchor but not while sailing.  We came up with an idea to have a canvas panel under our solar panels to collect rain water.  Adrift Covers in Gosport constructe the raincatcher for us.

We fitted the raincatcher on Sunday.  It took a while, mainly because there's so little room between the solar panels and the s/s surround.  The raincatcher laces-up nice and tight.

All laced up
The backstay feeds through a reinforced slit in the canvas.  So we had to disconnect the backstay to feed it through.  The HF antenna feed goes through the slit too.  There are two drain fittings to which we can attach hoses down to jerry cans.

Top View
It's surprising how much more shade we seem to get without sun coming through the gap between the solar panels.
Bottom View
After a month without rain we're now looking forward to rain forecast later this week!

Other Work

  • Rotated our two propane cylinders so they lie outboard
  • Polished the goalpost s/s prior to fitting the raincatcher
  • Replaced two vane gear blocks and removed two other redundant vane gear blocks
  • Removed outboard bracket (since our next outboard will be electric and stowed below)
  • Built and fitted a new PVC board to mount the gas regulator

Twas a busy but fun weekend!  Looking forward to testing all the above soon.

Gosport to Gosport #2

Hi everyone,
On Sunday a week ago we sailed from Gosport to Osborne Bay just east of Cowes on the Isle of Wight.  We stayed overnight before returning to Gosport on Monday.

Here's our track...

The outing gave us an opportunity to try out our recently regalvanised Manson Supreme anchor and our anchoring gear generally.  The anchor was fine but the anchor windlass is jamming - a problem we've encountered before.

Excellent regalvanising job
Shinier than new!
We had a great sail to Osborne Bay in a light westerly wind.  The anchorage was quite busy initially but most boats headed home later in the afternoon.

One boat which arrived in the afternoon was Evita.  We think we last saw them in St Helena in the South Atlantic in 2016.  Turns out they're based in Gosport and they dinghied over to say hello - in a safely socially distanced manner of course. Twas great to see them again.

Zen Again in Osborne Bay
Osborne Bay sunset
On Monday the winds were very light - as they had been overnight.  So we decided to give the recently serviced engine a workout.  We normally run the engine at 2000 rpm but used 2500 for the trip back.

During the week we took the boat out of the pen, but only to turn her around ready for a working weekend.  Next time we install some new toys...