Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ludicrous Speed

We took a diesel engine class last weekend. It was only a one day class so for the most part it was an introduction to diesel engines and maintenance. We'll definitely be taking a more extensive hands on class when it's offered later this year. The main thing we took out of this class is that we've been babying our motor. Every diesel has a continuous RPM and horsepower that it's rated at. For us this is 30hp @ 2600 RPM. If you don't run ever run it that high you run the risk of getting soot buildup inside the motor. Normally when we've been motoring I'll put it at 1900-2000 RPM and get 5.5-6 knots out of it. I kind of felt that was running it hard, but I guess not. So we took the boat out and I incrementally moved the throttle up to the stops, where the motor hit 2600 RPM, we made hull speed, and nothing blew up.

We've actually sailed the boat at 7.5 knots, so it's not a speed record for us or anything but it's nice to know we can motor at 7 and not suffer and adverse consequences!

Water Tank Metering Project

Bella Star holds 90 gallons of water in two tanks. There are many options available to monitor the tank levels in the water, fuel, and holding tanks. These range from systems that use electrical resistance to systems that use air pressure or internal floats to Gage fluid levels. The accuracy of these systems vary and the speed at which the gauge moves from full to empty is often not constant since most tanks on boats have irregular shapes.

For now, I'm really only interested in monitoring the water tank levels. Our holding tank makes disturbing gurgling noises when it's getting full so no need to put a gauge on that. Our fuel tank is about 80 gallons and I monitor approximate usage with the hour meter. (We only used 16 gallons last season with regular use of the boat so I'm not too worried about running out of diesel.) As for water, rather than monitor the water left in the tank I'm going to monitor the water going out of it. I bought a low flow water meter from (DLJSJ50C) that measures down the the hundredth of a gallon. I talked to these guys on the phone about my particular application and they were very helpful in choosing the right meter.

The meter will be attached on the pressure side of the water pumps and is able to output to an LCD display that reads off the gallons used in 1 gallon increments. The LCD display resets to zero by pushing the reset button. So my plan is to get it all hooked up, fill up the tanks, and then pump them dry to see exactly how much we water we hold. Once I've got that number I can just subtract the amount displayed on the LCD to know how much water remains in the tank. Whenever we refill the tank we just zero out the LCD. The meter gets the power to send the signal from a 10-year battery inside the LCD unit. Total cost was about $150.

You can buy a system similar to this ( that is a bit cooler since the readout can be programmed with your maximum tankage and the and readout counts down to zero from a full tank. I decided not to go with this since it required wiring 12v power and it was twice as expensive.
Stay tuned to see how the installation goes and get a report on how it works out!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bella Star's New Home

Elliott Bay Marina has been great, with its gorgeously maintained grounds, fancy bathrooms complete with granite and etched glass (and piped in smooth jazz), views of the Space Needle and top-notch staff. But the time has come for us to move north around West Point so she can join her own kind. We're moving to Shilshole Bay Marina!
This is a view down our fairway. Note the sea monster on the breakwater and the view of the Olympic Mountains. Love it.

Shilshole is one of the largest marinas on the west coast with over 1,400 slips and is chock full of sailboats--and the sailors who own them (a change from the powerboat crowd at Elliott Bay). It's located just a few blocks from the Ballard Locks and downtown Ballard and is next to Golden Gardens Park. The marina recently underwent a major renovation, replacing the docks and widening berths and fairways... and it shows. They may not have bathrooms with smooth jazz, but it's a great location with great people, and we can't wait to get Bella Star moved in.