Blog Archives

Putting Our Stamp on TTR ~ Part II

Our previous post concerning customizations for TTR seemed to be well received; so we will go forward with “Our Stamp, Part II”. Please remember that the decisions and changes we have made are not necessarily right, wrong, or suitable for everyone; they simply reflect our preferences. These aren’t necessarily the most exciting topics, but they are important when planning to live on a sailboat.

Dinghy davits – As much as we loved Let It Be, one of the Helia’s weakest features is inadequate dinghy davits. Frank and I removed the dinghy engine for any overnight passage and the dinghy remained a matter of concern on passages.

Improving on the dinghy davits seen on previous HH Catamarans was well spelled out in our contract for TTR. The redesigned davits in addition to carrying a sufficient load with a big safety margin would have to meet the following criteria 1. With the engine down, the bottom of the shaft had to be 38 inches off the water 2. Both davits had to touch the port and starboard inflatable tubes of the RIB for stability 3. The dinghy had to sit level from side to side when fully lifted into the davits 4. The stern of the dinghy had to be lower than the bow to allow water drainage.

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Initial renderings of the modified davits.

Combining the design skills of Gino Morelli and James Hakes with HYM’s fabrication capabilities,  dinghy davits have been created that are both esthetic and functional. The design and fabrication of the first set of davits was finished in time for installation on Utopia, HH55-04, which arrived in Newport, RI last week. The reports so far are very good. Many thanks to those involved, we look forward to a happy and stable dinghy.

Solar MPPT controllers – HH offers several solar package options and all HH solar installations include Solbian SP flex panels fabricated in Italy using ultra-efficient monocrystalline Sunpower cells and installed on the coachroof of the boat. HH’s standard install involves  wiring 2 of these super expensive 12v panels in series to one 24v MPPT controller to charge the 24v house bank. All this makes sense except when confronting the shading issue which is inevitable in all boat applications. When only 2 of the total 72 cells (36 cells each panel) on these 2 series wired panels becomes hard shaded, the charging output drops by 60% or more. Genasun boost controllers to the rescue! TTR will have 1 Genasun MPPT boost controller for each panel boosting the charging voltage from 12 to 24v. Therefore, if 2 cells on any panel become hard shaded the loss will be only the output from that one panel not two panels. I know this all seems like a lot of mathematical gooble-dee-goop but that’s what my man does well! We are hoping that our solar charging will reduce generator run time to only 4 hours every third day at anchor. Thank you to Jessica Li, the HH electrical install team, and the onsite supervision squad for helping us to make this happen.

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Installation of the solar controllers in the salon ceiling of TTR.

Folding propellers – HH offers a Gori 3 blade folding propeller as it’s standard; it’s shiny and beautiful. Nevertheless when researching folding props for Let It Be; we were overwhelmingly led to the Flexofold 3 blade folding prop and specified the same for Ticket to Ride. Yachting World Magazine performed the most objective testing of folding and feathering props and published the results in their March 2015 issue. These tests showed the Flexofold prop was the top performer in all categories including forward and reverse thrust, top speed, low side force, and low drag when folded. The Flexofold prop has an inexpensive off the shelf hub anode in comparison to Gori’s expensive proprietary anode. The Flexofold is simple and maintenance free without the gimmicky overdrive feature touted by Gori. And last but not least we were incredibly happy with the service provided by our Flexofold props on Let It Be. We could see no reason to change from what was working.

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3-blade saildrive folding propeller by Flexofold

Antifouling Paint – During our 5 years owning Let It Be, we had antifouling paint applied 5 times. Three different paint brands, 3 different boatyards, 3 different islands and all the bottom paint work (sanding, preparation, application) for better or worse was performed by the boatyard. The paints ranged from Sherwin Williams (least expensive) to Sea Hawk Islands 44 (most expensive). Regardless, none of the bottom jobs looked satisfactory at 10 months much less 12; very disappointing. While living on LIB a bottom job cost $5000-7000, required planning, involves some risk for the boat, and moved us off for at least a week. Our cost involved haul, launch, blocking, paint, labor, yard days, lodging for us off the boat, kennel time for Captain, and eating out. We figured there has to be a better way. TTR will have CopperCoat brand epoxy paint applied to her clean hull undersides under the supervision of the Chinese Coppercoat rep and we hope to get 5 years out of CopperCoat. CopperCoat will add about 100 pounds, cost maybe 25% more, and only comes in a brownish/tan color that will patina into a blackish/green color; however, it could save us mucho dinero, is much more environmentally friendly, and could remove the hassle of annual bottom jobs.

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LIB’s hull full of barnacles only 7 months after an expensive bottom paint job!

Yes, HYM really has worked with us to deliver a boat that meets our needs, plans, and expectations. I have saved the major interior customizations for a later blog when I will have pictures from TTR.  I think the interior changes are as exciting and important as the outside changes that have now been discussed.

Please stay tuned and let us know if you have a question or comment. Check out our FB page for more frequent posts.

 

 

Atolls and Islands of Belize; Our First Few Days.

So the last blog was short on pictures and long on words because there aren’t many things to take photos of when out on a passage.  But the eastern islands of Belize were beautiful and I took a few pictures to make up for the lack of photos in the last blog.

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Long Cay in the distance with the rim of the reef visible (the brown coral and white sand).

If I were to think of Belize as a person, I would say that Belize is a bit shy and hides her qualities so that one must try hard to get to know her.  I think of the line from the movie Shrek where Shrek tells Donkey that ogres are like onions, they have many layers.

I think Belize is also like an onion. She is not well documented and you must either spend time finding the best water spots or make friends with people who are willing to share the secrets of Belize.

Although we don’t have enough time to uncover the layers of Belize, we have seen many beautiful places and the people of Belize have been wonderfully friendly and happy.

Here are some photo highlights of our first two islands in Belize:

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Captain’s first trip to shore after our passage. That is a happy Cappy!

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Strolling along the sand road on Long Cay you can see the island is lush.

Long Cay was a welcome sight and we all enjoyed walking on the stable island instead of on the boat. It was a hot day but the shade of the trees really helped reduce the temperature.

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Crop circles in the ocean?

We decided to move over to Half Moon Cay which is only about a 40 minute motor. The island is a preserve for turtles, birds and marine life.

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The aqua, shallow water of Half Moon reminded us of the Bahamas.

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Walking the path to the bird observatory on Half Moon Cay

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Fluffy headed baby bird.

There are a ton of Frigate Birds and Red Footed Boobies on the Half Moon. The observatory is right up in the trees and it is easy to observe the nests. Some of the Frigates still had inflated gular pouches.  Male Frigates inflate their bright red pouches to attract the females. I wrote a little about the Frigate birds when we visited Barbuda.

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Tents for rent on Half Moon Cay.

Since Half Moon is a sanctuary, it is not developed, but there is a research center and these tents are available for rent. I spoke with a person staying in one the island and he told me he was part of a NatGeo tour and this was one of their stops.

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Arial view of the tent area on Half Moon Cay.

Doesn’t a NatGeo tour sound like a really cool way to travel and learn about the area you are visiting?

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A ship wrecked on the reef outside Half Moon.

After a few hours on land Frank and I decided it was time to cool off, so we snorkeled from LIB toward a wreck out by the reef.  The coral was in good shape but we didn’t see very many fish…. except the shark that I saw while Frank was swimming elsewhere!!

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LIB on a mooring at Half Moon Cay.

Unfortunately, the wind direction shifted and came out of the north which made the anchorage much too bumpy, so we moved back to Long Cay.  We would have preferred to stay a bit longer at Half Moon and scuba dived to explore under water.

We have a bit of a schedule to keep thus we don’t have time to really linger in Belize, so we upped anchor and headed to our next planned stop at South Water Cay.  South Water is a darling island with several resorts on it. We returned to South Water later, so I’ll share those pictures in another blog.

Except for this one!

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My first seahorse in the wild!!

Every single time we dove in Bonaire I looked for seahorses and every time I failed to find one.  But on our third stop in Belize, at South Water Cay, I saw a seahorse right by the dock!! Of course I would never have spotted him myself. I noticed a man pointing out something in the water from the dock and it was this seahorse.  I didn’t even get in the water to see him!

In addition to South Water Cay, we stopped at Tobacco Caye and at Hideaway Cay.  We revisited both South Water and Tobacco with friends and I’ll cover those islands in the next blog.

Our final stop before heading into Placencia was at Hideaway in the Pelican Cays. The only people on the island are Dustin, Kim and their daughter.  Dustin and Kim actually built their home, dock and restaurant/bar themselves over several years. They live on Hideaway for like six months of the year, then they go back to their home in Florida.  I absolutely cannot imagine how much work is involved in building on these islands and how hard it is to prepare your home to leave it for six months.  In these salty, harsh conditions, the repair necessary upon return must be great!

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Part of the Hideaway.

Maintenance thoughts aside, Hideaway was lots of fun. The crew of three other boats were at the bar and four of them also stayed for dinner. The six of us were seated at one table and shared a delicious dinner of fish Dustin caught and Kim prepared.  This was the second restaurant we visited in Belize and at both places, you make the reservation and you eat whatever dish is served.  That certainly saves time reading a menu and trying to decide what to order! I rather enjoyed not making a choice and I know my eldest son would really like that feature too!!

At Hideaway everyone was served fish, but it was a variety of species.  I had sheepshead for the first time, while Frank was served snapper and someone else had hogfish.  Everyone seemed to enjoy his meal. When I first spied Hideaway, I was a little skeptical, but after enjoying the atmosphere and food, I would definitely recommend it!

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This tiny piece of sand was all we could find for Captain one night.

For those who have dogs on board, Dustin and Kim have two dogs and I don’t think they would like other dogs on their turf.  Better to take your dog to this little bit of sand pictured above. This island is across from mooring balls Hideaway generously installed for visitors.

So there you have our first few days in Belize. Now we are off to Placencia to meet Susan and Kevin, friends we made on the 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally. We are super excited for them to visit!

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Just a gratuitous sunset.

A special thank you to Frank for flying his drone and capturing a couple of pictures of Half Moon Cay. The arial photos are such a cool way to get a better feeling the beauty of these islands and the water.

~HH55 Catamaran Update~

When we decided to buy the HH55 rather than other boats on our list, one big factor was that the HH is made of carbon fiber.  We knew that with a larger boat, strength of materials becomes increasingly important and that carbon fiber brings strength without an increase in weight.

Because carbon fiber is the current darling of light, strong sailboats, I decided to ask preeminent marine architect and the designer of our HH55, Gino Morrelli, to offer insight into why carbon fiber is so valuable. (Read this article from March 2017 for more information about Gino’s thoughts on performance catamarans.)

I asked Gino if he could tell me, in a few sentences, why he prefers carbon fiber and he quickly shot back this response:

“Advantages of Carbon Fiber over E-Glass:
1. High specific stiffness (stiffness divided by density)  Carbon is 6-8 times stiffer than E-Glass for the same weight, less stretch = less flex in platform… ie windows and joinery stay glued in longer, hatches don’t leak…. We can use less carbon to have the same stiffness or add stiffness very easily. Lighter boats, more payload. more performance..
2. High specific strength (strength divided by density) Carbon is 2-3 times stronger than E-Glass ie, we can use half as much carbon to equal the same strength! less resin too! Lighter boats, more payload..
3. Extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) boat does not grow and shrink in hot and cold weather. Again the windows and deck hardware stay put, and leak less…”
Well that all sounds excellent to me and it sounds like our new boat will be very strong and light! (Plus any time a guy throws around formulas it sounds pretty impressive, right?)
This week we learned that our HH55 has undergone and completed the “post cure process.” I was not sure why that was important, except that I knew it gets us one step closer to painting the boat our color of choice!
So I asked Gino to fill me in on what the post curing process accomplishes and here is his response:
“Post curing is essentially baking the boat in an oven. The epoxy resin these boats are built with cures to 75-80% of its strength in the first 24-48 hours when cured at 78f… Baking it in an oven after this initial curing (post curing) process accelerates the curing process to near 100% in 8-12 hours of additional heat of 150-160f. Post curing also improves the resins “toughness” ie more flexibility. This improves damage tolerance. We also post cure to allow us to paint the boats dark and they “print” less. They don’t show the underlying layers and foam joints through the paint and primer, if the boat is “post cured’ to a temperature that is not exceeded by the Sun out in the ocean later on…” 
Some of this might be slightly above my pay-grade, but I definitely have a better idea of why the post cure is necessary. 
And, ta da!      Our future boat is pictured here after the post cure is complete. 
  

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Post cure completed on our HH55.

If post cure is complete, can paint be far behind? Nope!

We anticipate our hull will enter the paint booth for the external paint application in mid-May. I’m excited to see her when she is all gussied up and sporting her color.

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