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Server Issues

So I am sure some of you have noticed the website missing for intermittent periods over the last day or so. Our server is a virtual server running on a larger hardware server. The physical server underwent maintenance and a major OS upgrade. This for some still unknown negatively impacted the virtual servers running on top of it, one of which runs our website as well as several other websites. I have been working trying to figure out the issue and get the site back up. As of the time of this post it is running but the performance is really bad. Expect it to be slow until we figure out what is wrong. If we can not figure it out in the next week I will have to start looking at moving the website to a new VS server, which will be a lot of work and more disruption. Hopefully though even if slow the virtual server will stay stable.

I just wanted everyone to have a little heads up on what is going on.

Scott Carle

DE 38 Fuel Tank Replacement

When we bought our Downeast Cutter 38’ in March 2014 we knew were in for a project. The boat had actually taken on a considerable amount of water partially submerging the engine, flooding the transmission, and fully flooding the aluminum fuel tank in seawater. The seawater had risen to about 18” into the salon between the two sofas. The owners agreed to get the engine running, pump out the water, and clean up the boat. I spent a few months doing various repairs, including a complete transmission removal/rebuild, as the salt water had gotten into some critical parts of the engine room. In the end, the damage seemed worse than it really was. However, after one particular day out, it became evident to us that the fuel tanks were in need of replacement.

The Downeaster 38 has a large Y-shaped fuel tank directly beneath the floor in the galley. The original tank appears to have been made from aluminum and was installed before the furniture was built in an effort to maximize the capacity. Beam-to-beam, the wings on the top of the tank extend as far as underneath the stove and part of the navigation station. Fore to aft, the tank is between the galley sink and the engine room. What’s particularly interesting is that the keel for the boat drops off abruptly into the deep sump under the engine, so the center of the tank is not flat on the bottom. Rather it follows a stair-stepped shape on the bottom to accommodate the keel which protrudes partially into the space below the galley.

Previous Owner's Sketch of Tank...

Previous Owner’s Sketch of Tank…


The first step was to get all of the fuel out of the tank. This was important not only to make it possible to work on the tank, but to prevent any potential fuel from leaking into the bilge as it would present quite an environmental hazard if the bilge pump were to kick on. To do this, I obtained a 55 gal. fuel storage drum and used a hand crank pump to extract all the fuel. We had about half a tank of fuel in there. The easiest way to do this was to pull out the fuel sensor in the tank, stick the tube from the extraction pump into the hole and pump it all into the drum. We just left the drum on the salon floor while we did the rest of the job, with our plan being to replace the fuel as soon as we finished.  I don’t know that I would do it this way again, as I’m not sure if the weight of the drum had done some damage to the salon floor.

One we were able to get all the fuel removed, and I was able to see what we were dealing with I decided that the project was bigger than me and it was time to get the help of a pro.  I found a mechanic who came highly recommended by some friends, and I gave him a call…

The perfect addition to any salon...

The perfect addition to any salon…

With the fuel out of the tank, we could sleep a little easier knowing that we weren’t keeping fuel in an aging tank.  We enlisted the help of a mechanic and boatwright to get us through the rest of the process.

The challenge we faced was removing the tank without having to cut apart the furniture or the cabinet beneath the galley sink, but we didn’t exactly know what we were dealing with until we were able to actually get a good look at the tanks. For those of you who haven’t had to do this yet, the floor of the galley is constructed from what appears to be a piece of ¾” marine plywood wrapped in fiberglass on both sides. The decorative finished floor is a piece of ¾” marine plywood with a teak and holly veneer screwed to the top of the solid fiberglass sole. Luckily this can be removed in almost one piece which gives you access to the fiberglass below. From there it was a matter of simply cutting a large rectangular hole so we could get a good look at the tank.

Upon closer inspection, we were able to see exactly large the tank is. We could also finally view the inspection sticker showing that the tank was built in 1979 (two years before the boat was built) and had a max capacity of 81 gallons. The decision was made to actually cut and remove the tank from the boat.  The tricky part was to keep the tank pieces in shape so the fabricator could make a new tank using the pieces as a reference. Cutting a tank in the boat can be very dangerous. In spite of the fact that diesel fuel is far safer than gasoline, it is still very possible to ignite the vapors while cutting. Because of this, it is necessary to purge the tank of any fumes as well as fill the tank with some inert or non-flammable gas in the tank while cutting. This is no joke, as many metalworkers have been killed accidentally igniting vapors in tanks they thought were safe to cut or weld. It was also important to make sure the fuel sludge did not spill into the bilge, as it would have created an oil spill hazard if it got into the bilge. This is without a doubt, the dirtiest part of the job.

Is that a

Is that a “7” or a “9”?

With the tank out in pieces, the it was off to the metal shop for the fabricators to assemble a new set of tanks. After review, the mechanic recommended building the new fuel system as three tanks that would be plumbed together as one.

In order to avoid doing demolition and fiberglass repair work on the various furniture pieces in the galley and navigation station. The three tanks would be inserted in the boat in pieces, then plumbed together using large diameter fuel hose such that they behave as a single tank. This design may seem counterintuitive at first, but keep in mind that tanks are built with baffles to avoid sloshing of fuel while underway. In effect the separate tanks with fuel hoses acted as additional baffling; though each of the three tanks did have internal baffling on their own.  I do believe baffles are required per ABYC, but I could be wrong. In total, we sacrificed 10 – 15 gallons of fuel capacity to save some money and headache during installation. The original tank sticker showed 81 gallons of capacity, and the new tanks showed 75. Unfortunately, the new tanks tanks did not fit properly, so we had to have them cut and re-welded for extra wiggle room. We estimate perhaps a total 5 – 12 gallons of capacity was lost from the original 81 on the tank sticker, but it really is anybody’s guess.

Staring down in the abyss...

Staring down in the abyss…


The final installation of the tanks was to replace the fiberglass sole and the flooring on top. Once installed, it took the mechanic a day or so to fit the newly modified tanks, plumb them together, prime the fuel pump, and get the engine running. We were almost ready to go!

However, at this time we had a bit of a problem. We had terminated our lease at the marina because the waiting list for a better location had popped up.  For those of you who know San Diego, the South Bay is nice but it is far from the ocean. We like to do most of our sailing on the open ocean, and it would take and hour or two of motoring, sailing through dirty wind, and dodging other boats to get to blue water. So we actually had to sail the boat out of San Diego Bay, around Point Loma, and back into Mission Bay while the floor had a huge hole in it. To do this, we quickly dropped the floor back in with nothing attached and set out.

The final steps were completed in the new marina. The boatwright attached large plastic tabs to the hole in the fiberglass sole rather than to re-glass, or use the aluminum repair studs. I requested this just in case I needed to get to the tanks for maintenance later. It’s nice that the galley floor simply pops out in one large singular piece and is only held in by some screws. I opted to leave the teak plugs out of the floor, again, just in case. I have thought about drilling the holes wider and putting some sort of bronze plug or something in there to allow for easy access to the fasteners but so far nobody has really noticed the holes in the floor.

A job well done.

A job well done.

Well…that’s it. This brings this saga to a close. I’ve included pictures along the way, in case anybody is curious or wants to see the process.  Having been caught up in it so much, all the pictures you see are the ones we have.  Next time (which I hope isn’t for a while) I ‘ll try to get a better shot on how the three-tank plumbing system works.  It was rather quite clever on behalf of the fabricator.

Have fun out there, and be safe!

Valkyr’s Hard Dodger

So I thought I had posted pictures of Valkyr’s hard dodger long ago but it seems that I didn’t. These are not the best formated pictures but should help to give an idea of what I did.


aft starboard view boat and dodger

Starboard view of whole dodger frame

dodger aft view handrail and boom protector mounts

We had 1/4 inch aluminum plates welded into frame to bolt the top rails onto. In finished dodger this is what actually holds it to dodger. There are 6 of them.

dodger aft view 1

Aft partial view of dodger frame

Drilling coring filling mount holes 7

We drilled the holes to mount frame to boat and then filled with epoxy and drilled again to make sure we would never have an issue with water penetration into the core.

deck mount and backing plates for under the deck

This is picture of the above deck mount and two of the backing plates for under the deck. As you can see the deck mount has a pivoting base. The reason we went with this is that once mounted we could unbolt the entire dodger with four bolts, and have no risk of water ingress while it is off the boat. also 4 bolts vs 16 bolts is a lot quicker and easier.

portside aft handrail and boom protector mounting plate underside

Underside of one of backing plates for top rails.

aft port side view of whole dodger

aft portside view of entire dodger frame

aft starboard view down dodger

starboard view down top of frame. You can see the next attachment point at the center of the handrail and then forward attachment point. Dodger has 3 rails, hand rails on either side that are full length of dodger and atached with 12 1/4 inch stainless bolts. I’m almost 200 lbs and can yank on a rail as hard as I can and it barely shivers the dodger. More rocks the boat the the dodger. The third rail is what you can see in the left foreground of the picture and is simply to keep the boom from hitting the dodger if it falls and for tieing it down if you need to.

visibility sitting at helm looking under dodger

We spent a lot of time making drawings and sitting on the boat taking measurements to get the height of the dodger correct. This is the view sitting at the helm. You have clear unobstructed view under and if you stand up you can see over it. We also did a lot of different version of the side supports to finally end up with the graceful design we got. The curves added strength and elegance yet still left us with a lot of unobstructed view forward under the dodger. The top of the dodger has the same camber as the deck under it.

dodger pad mounting 7

dodger bolted down with sealant.

dodger pad mounting 1

sealant to keep water from running down the bolt.

dodger pad mounting 6

again sealant to keep water from running down bolt. All epoxy filled holes through deck were counter sunk to allow the built up sealant around bolt here to fill and compress in the holes.

dodger pad mounting 8

It took several go around over a few days to fully tighten down. The sealant we used was pretty thick and it would gradually ooze out as it sat after being tightened. After a couple go arounds it was all good and hasn’t leaked in the 4 years since it was installed.


Temp attachment of forward port side handrail on dodger.


temp attachment on starboard


port side view of dodger frame


Middle starboard side attachment for handrail.

Waterproof junction box

This is a bit out of order but has to do with dodger. This is the central junction for all the solar panels on the dodger near the startboard aft leg of the dodger that the main wires from it run below to the charge controller. We used a water proof document case that we modified into a junction box. notice all wires into have a drip loop. All exposed wire and buss bars are coated in di-electric grease. 4 years later it still looks like new. No corrosion.

Wires from solar panels penetrating dodger top

You can see the deck penetrations where the wires from the solar panels penetrate the dodger. It was a lot of work drilling and then filling all the holes with epoxy and then drilling again. We actually glued the wires to the underside of the dodger in neat runs to lead to the junction box. It has also worked well.

solar panels1

Solar panels on dodger roof. We used a adhesive sealant to attach them to roof. It has held really good. Forget what it is called, something kevlar 400? from PPG.

solar panels2

another view of solar panels. Each one of the panels is 25 watts. They are a thin flexible panel that it is safe to walk on. There are

junction box closed

junction box closed

wire runs to junction box

roof penetration for solar panel wiring and runs glued to roof as they go to junction box. I used quick set gel super glue to do the gluing. Run a line of glue and press wire into it for a few inches and hold for 15 or 20 seconds and then repeat. It took a while to do it all but in the end it was very neat and held good. when I painted it is hardly noticeable under there. Sadly I should have sanded before glueing the wiring in. Not that it was an issue with the wiring but some of the paint flaked off on the under side.

underneath of dodger

another view under dodger. If you notice the chips in the white paint on the aft upper edge of the dodger, That edge takes a beating sometimes an has to be touched up on a regular ( annual basis )

butyl mastic used to seal under the hand rail pads.

Hand rails being attached to the top of dodger once roof is installed.

Hand rails installed

Picture with 12 panels attached. For some reason I think I added a 12th panel behind the aft most two panels for a total of 275 watts on the dodger. There is another 190 watts in one big panel on the dingy davits also for a total of 465 watts on the boat. We had power hooked up at the dock when we lived on the boat to run the AC. Since then though the boat has been powered by the installed solar. We turned off the dock power to save money and never noticed the difference.


Kaylin helping paint!!


Zsanic in the galley and kaylin hanging out under dodger.


forgot to mention. If you look in the lower left corner of the dodger you will notice a drain. We custom made drains in all 4 corners of the dodger with 1/2 inch hose leading down on deck from it. No matter what angle of heal rain will drain off and if we wanted we could lead it to the tanks.


Good view of the aft rail that protects solar panels and dodger top from boom if it falls.

I will link to here from the forum where I was asked about this. Probably best to comment in the forum rather than on the post if you want to talk or ask questions on this post.

High Tech Towels

We were having space storage issues with our regular towels as well as them staying damp forever. I did a lot of reading of reviews on a lot of brands of the new high tech towels and finally came down to the Discovery Trecking brand. They were very expensive and the only reason we ended up getting them was a gift card we got. We bought 5 of them and it is all we have used now for the last 6 months or more. We purchased the largest size they had and it is huge. I probably would have tried the next size down if I had known how huge these are.  Remember I’m saying that as a 6’2″ guy. In retrospect I would now spend my own hard earned money for them.

The Good

  • 5 of these take the same amount of storage space as one of our cotton towels did.
  • Even as big as these towels are you can fold/roll one up small enough to stick in a pocket.
  • These towels are also the silver treated anti-microbial kind that don’t grow mildew.
  • We just wash and dry them with the rest of the cloths and they seem to take it just fine.
  • Using them is a bit different than a normal towel. they sort of stick to your skin as your trying to wipe yourself off and end up kind of just rolling over your skin. You get used to it and I think it works as well if not better than normal. It’s kinda freaky amazing how dry they will get you with just a single swipe. If you give three or four really good rubs to your head it leaves your hair very dry also. 🙂 assuming you have short hair like me I guess.

The Negative

  • The negative is the cost. They are expensive comparatively. We bought our very nice thick cotton towels from a guy selling them in at a flea market for 2 dollars each. You can get cheap wall mart towels for 4 or 5 dollars. I just hope these last for years seeing we laid out about 130 dollars for all 5 of them.


So far we are very very happy with these towels. They dry us very well, they dry out very fast, they haven’t ever gotten a mucky odor and they take up very little space. Here is a link to where we bought them on amazon. Given the free shipping they ended up cheaper from there than anywhere else at the time we bought them.

Discovery Trecking Towels



Reviews of those most essential items, your kettle and airpot :)

Reviews of the
KitchenAid Teakettle 2-Quart Gourmet Essentials Stainless Steel Kettle , Brushed
BUNN 32125.0000 2.5 Liter Lever-Action Airpot, Stainless Steel

My wife enjoys her coffee (maybe more than enjoys)  and I really like my hot tea, chocolate or chai, not to mention a pack of instant soup or oatmeal of one sort or another once in a while. Hot chocky (chocolate), is also a vital part of our two and half year old daughters morning routine.  Very Vital! hmmm… maybe a bit of daughter following in mommy’s footsteps. She started off wanting mommy’s coffee but we compromised on hot chocolate. 🙂

With two women in the house and on the boat I am finding that the word compromise is a good word 🙂 Yes luv, and yes dear, also work very well. 🙂

Heating water in the kettle takes a fair amount of energy and time, we came to the realization that we could use about 1/4 the energy to have the same volume of drinks/soups etc.., over the period of a day, if we used an airpot. We now heat water two to three times a day, rather than every hour or two, because of using an airpot. It is also  much more hip with today’s lifestyle of instant gratification with a large dash of energy conservation and green living. Hot water on tap any hour of the day or night. If your on watch it takes just a couple seconds to make a cup of something hot as opposed to having to heat water to make it.

The below reviews are the accumulation of about a decade of experience using different products and continually refining what worked and what didn’t for us. There are many products out there that we have not used and I can not comment on how well they would work, but these I have experience with. This model kettle holds exactly the right amount of water to fill this specific airpot, so they work well together that way. To slightly overfill the airpot I have to seriously overfill the kettle, which ends up causing a mess anyway. If you over fill the kettle that much it will bubble out the spout as it is heating and starts to boil.

What to start with “The Kettle”

So I happened across this kettle that we have been using for the last three years on amazon and decided to write a review of it there. Then I thought you guys might find it valuable as we have found it to be a great product at the house and on the boat. As you can see from the below picture it fits the burners perfectly on the Hiller Range for those of you still using the original stove on our boats.

Here is a picture of it in daily use :) It gets a lot of daily use

Here is a picture of it in daily use 🙂 It gets a lot of daily use

I got this Kettle for free from a store that someone had returned it to (Ross, I think). It had been burned, and the store policy was that they couldn’t sell returned kitchen stuff, and someone had mistakenly put it back on the shelf. I really liked the heavy weight of the stainless and the design. So I started working up through the store ranks trying to convince someone to sell it to me for a slight discount due to the cosmetic damage. I am all about a bargain if I can get it, and if you don’t ask you for shure are not going to get it most of the time. 🙂 I finally worked my way up to the manager who told me the policy of not selling returned/used kitchen products, and she didn’t know why it was on the shelf at all. At this point I was alarmed as I wanted it and she wasn’t even going to sell it to me for full price. After a plea or two or three or maybe even four (persistence sometimes works) she firmly told me that she wasn’t allowed to sell it, but if it disappeared out of her sight quickly all would be good since she was going to throw it away anyway. I didn’t argue any more, just said thank you, thank you, thank you, and ran before she could change her mind. If your reading this, thank you again. 🙂 When we got it home I used an aggressive scotch bright pad to clean it to a like new appearance. It took a little elbow grease but it was worth it.

We have used this kettle now for about 3 years. I have overheated and burned it due to forgetting to put the whistle down. Once, it overheated to the point that the plastic spacers between the handle and the body started to melt. It did not deform the stainless body, handle, or whistle at all, and a quick scrub with a scotch brite pad cleaned up the burn marks inside and out till it looked like new (you have to love scotch brite pads). As for the handle I simply tightened the screws to snug it back down to the base; on the now slightly thinner, by reason of melting, plastic spacers. That was at least a year and a half ago. It is till going strong. I have overfilled it hundreds of times and had water bubble through the whistle and it still mostly whistles as long as water isn’t currently flowing through it. 🙂 I will admit that it doesn’t seem to be as loud nowadays as it used to but it still works.

We live on a boat in a salt water environment and I have never seen the first sign of rust on ours like some reviewers on amazon have reported. It has been used with water from the well at our house, that is treated with a water softener and filter, and with municiple water at the dock where our boat is. We filter that water before use for drinking or cooking also. At the house with a reverse osmosis filter there is never any build up of residue over time. At the dock on the boat with municiple water filtered through a seagull filter we do get a bit of residue build up after 3 or 4 months of use, still we have seen no rust either internal or external.

I have used it on both electric and gas stove tops and it works well on either. With gas the handle can get hot if you have a huge burner and turn it on high. Otherwise we can use it bare handed. Like other reviewers have said, if you have an issue with the handle getting to hot to hold, just turn the gas burner down a little bit till the handle  is still cool after boiling your water. The handle with its silicone inserts is probably the best handle out of the many kettles I have used. Most of the high quality stainless kettles I have had in the past had solid metal handles, and often had to be handled with a towel, or oven mitt, to pour from as they got quite hot by the time the water was boiling.

So far, out of five or six different brands of kettles, this has been one of the most durable ones I have ever owned. We use it on average 3 times a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Hey we drink a lot of hot drinks! 🙂 So far that means that we have boiled about 3285 kettles of water in it since we bought 🙂 um-mm..  or should I say acquired it. I am not sure if they still build them like the one I have here but the pictures look identical to ours. Ours is stamped (18/10 Stainless, 2QT/1.9LTR, Kitchen Aid, C Q06, Whistling kettle) on the bottom.

So this is the bottom of the kettle with the manufacturing information stamped into it. I have loved this kettle for the heavy compared to most kettles construction. I have had several kettles that the stainless is just super thin. This has a very decent weight grade of 18/10 stainless.

So this is the bottom of the kettle with the manufacturing information stamped into it. I have loved this kettle for the heavy compared to most kettles construction. I have had several kettles that the stainless is just super thin. This has a very decent weight grade of 18/10 stainless.

On the boat when in use the kettle sits on the stove as pictured above, but as soon as we finish  heating the water and it is poured in the pump pot that is hanging to the left, we then hang the kettle from a stainless S hook. See the picture below, it is hanging  on the right in the picture below. It keeps the counter tops and stove  much less cluttered in daily usage. The kettle is always empty hanging but the pump pot seen on the left in the below picture, is normally full of hot water on its hook, and can be pumped into a cup or bowl while it is hanging. When underway we can use a little bungee to hold the pump pot and kettle against the bottom curtain rail.

Both the pump pot with water in it and the kettle as well as other stuff pictured here hangs from bronze curtain rods.

Both the pump pot with water in it and the kettle as well as other stuff pictured here hangs from bronze curtain rods.


Here is a link to this kettle on Amazon (sadly is is a discontinued product now but you can still see it at the link.
KitchenAid Teakettle 2-Quart Gourmet Essentials Stainless Steel Kettle , Brushed

Here are a few other highly rated kettles that would make awesome boat kettles Some even better than the above one. In no particular order here they go.

  1. Here is the pink one 🙂 and here is the Green one This Kettle at 24 dollars is the ultimate in compact as it has a stainless base with silicone top that collapses down to make it very compact for storing. I have never used it but it seems to have good reviews. Try at your own risk and let us know what you think.
  2. Large 2.4 quart stainless kettle
  3. 2.75 quart stainless kettle
  4. designer kettle for more money than anyone would ever pay, but it is cool and has a very low center of gravity 🙂

Airpot or Pump Pot the Next Essential Ingredient.

You will have noticed the Airpot hanging up to the left in the above picture. It was a long and expensive journey to arrive at that particular airpot. Many years ago, I started using a Stanley glass lined air pot that I purchased at Wal-Mart for fourteen dollars. It lasted for two or three years at the house and gave good service. However the seal at the neck was some sort of putty, and it was getting old, and pieces of it were falling into the interior, also it lost a lot of its efficiency over time.  The big monkey in the room issue though was that if you dropped one (or had it bounce off the counter in rough seas, we had bought a second one for the boat) it would shatter and leave you with microscopic glass slivers that went everywhere, as well as a couple litters or quarts of boiling hot water exploding like a bomb. It was a Bad! THING!! Luckily no one was hurt when it happened to us. Today with a two and half year old daughter running around, a glass lined pump pot would give me nightmares.

So the journey started into the land of stainless airpots. I purchased a Stanley Professional Air Pot for our boat that had a stainless liner rather than a glass one.  I bought the Stanley as it was the same brand as the cheap wall mart glass lined one that worked quite well for the most part. It worked very well, and we liked it a lot, but something happened to it (don’t remember what right now) that we needed to replace it after a year or two, and we couldn’t find that model again. The reviews for the other Stanley models were not as good as the old one so we passed on them. The next one we purchased was a Trudeau Apollo 2-1/5-Liter Stainless Steel Pump Pot, Satin Finish that we purchased from amazon, we were ultimately very unhappy with this model.  We used it for several years, and over time just were on average dissatisfied with it. It didn’t hold temperature as well as I would have liked and finally the end came when for some reason it would start regurgitating boiling water for no reason just sitting by itself on the counter. This was unacceptable behaviour and we fired it. After much reading and research we bought this slightly smaller unit from BUNN, and it is everything the other one wasn’t, It keeps water hot for 8 to 12 hours without fail. I can put hot water in it at 6 or 7 in the evening and it is still hot enough to be (uncomfortably) hot to the touch 12 hours later. I also like that it is slightly shorter than many of the other units we have owned, just a personal preference.

So far we have owned the Bunn Airpot for 6 months and have used it daily. It has been the best airpot we have owned or used over the last decade. However we only have 6 months of history with it so I can’t really comment on durability. It feels and looks like a solid unit to me though and it does get good reviews from other owners.

Bunn Airpot that most of the time can be found hanging in the galley on a stainless S hook from the curtain rod

Bunn Airpot that most of the time can be found hanging in the galley on a stainless S hook from the curtain rod

The link below will take you to this product on amazon where you can read other reviews of it.
BUNN 32125.0000 2.5 Liter Lever-Action Airpot, Stainless Steel

I know this isn’t strictly a boating review, but these are two of our live aboard items that we feel enhance our daily life a lot. They are some of those items that are not flashy, or ooh ahh, but that when we think about them; we see that they add a tremendous amount of comfort, saved labor, and saved cost in fuel consumption for us. Actually this applies every bit as much to our usage at the house as it does to the boat. I would say that the Air Pot also enhances safety on the boat. It is a lot easier to contain hot water in it, as well as to pump out a precise amount into a cup or bowl, while bouncing around under way than it is just pouring directly out of the kettle.