Vertue Engine and Alternator Sizes

January 28th, 2014 Alasdair

As there seem to be a few Vertue Owners logging in I thought it might be useful to describe Sumara’s engine and the charging arrangement and to open up some thoughts as to the ideal horse power for a Vertue. I seem to remember coming across one Vertue with a 20 hp engine and I believe some have 10 hp Yanmars. I suppose the engine size depends on what you propose to use the yacht for. If you moor at the head of a strongly tidal estuary and you mainly sail at weekends then perhaps 20 hp would be a good choice. If you like to venture further afield, then a smaller engine will allow for a larger fuel tank. I like the 12 hp size, it has a bit of grunt when needed (especially with the alternator turned off – I’m coming to that!) and yet it will gently push the yacht through hundreds of miles of flat sea when the calms set in. A worry with a large engine is the tendency for Vertues to squat. When Terry built Sumara he was well aware of this problem and sneaked in an extra couple of inches to the turn of the bilge under the cockpit. Even with this extra buoyancy she sits down when all the crew are snugged up aft. My feeling is that a larger and heavier engine would result in needing to add weight up forward with a negative effect on her ability to respond to large waves. Going smaller would be fine but it could be a struggle to get into harbours like Dover against a spring tide (even with 12 hp, Dover needs care if the timing is wrong).

Sumara has a 12 hp Kubota which Terry maranised. Transmission is via a Hurth gearbox. She is solidly mounted to heavy bearers and raw water cooled. As the engine is now 22 years old with a good few hours I am able to vouch for the installation and the raw water cooling. Being solidly mounted allows for the engine controls to all be via stainless rods rather than cables. This makes the controls pretty bullet proof. The raw water cooling simplifies the engine and results in far better belt grip on the alternator because the belt does not have to drive the heat exchanger pump and therefore has a 180° grip on the alternator pulley.

When I installed the Eberspacher heater for the first Arctic trip I had to give consideration to the battery capacity. I spent a year or two researching and, with the help of Merlin Power, came up with the following highly successful solution.

I installed a Balmar 75 Ah marine grade alternator. It is twice the size generally used on this size of engine. I also installed a Balmar controller which enables me to run the alternator at half power or turn it off entirely. So now I have and engine which, at the flick of a switch, turns into a generator to charge the batteries at anchor. On full power it takes about 3.5 hp off the engine. The extra load put on the engine while charging at anchor helps to prevent the cylinders from glazing (so they tell me!). I can also turn the alternator off when I need every bit of motive power I can get to round the harbour wall.

To make use of all this power I changed the batteries to Adanced Glass Matt batteries choosing a 105 Ah (or was it 120 Ah) general service battery and a small light punchy 45 Ah engine start battery. I actually saved weight on the old twin 75 Ah lead acid batteries while dramatically increasing the capacity. Furthermore there is no chance of leakage of acid into the bilge. The batteries charge faster too so in no time the little engine has topped everything up.

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Sumara’s Maintenance

January 19th, 2014 Alasdair

South Dock

19th January 2014

There were a few jobs that I wanted to get out of the way before Sumara is lifted into the yard. My poor Eberspacher had conked out after the Jan Mayen trip so I sent it off for servicing. Easier said than done because it is mounted in a totally inaccessible spot under the aft deck. This very small area also has the exhaust swan neck and various bilge pump pipes and sea cocks. Access is by wrapping your arm in through tiny locker hatches and everything is done by mirrors and taking snaps on the phone! Without my Festool work light I think I would have given up. In any case the newly serviced heater eventually went back in place using about 8,000 different tools and wearing Puggy gloves to stop the shards of razor sharp tubing slicing up my delicate mitts. I went below to start it up but nothing showed on the screen. I had a further mooch around checking the wires etc and when I was taking out the fuse I noticed the control panel lit up. I fiddled with it and cleaned up the fuse and it all worked well. I reckon it was probably the scruffy fuse that was the problem in the first place. Maybe I could have saved the £600.00 service fee but at least it should perform well during our Arctic trip this year. Also on my to do list was to service the cooker and move the pressure tank into Sumara’s forepeak. This will free up space under the cooker for pots and pans and keep all the paraffin tanks together. The tank is now mounted as is the new fuel filter. I’ve just got to service the cooker, polish it up and pipe it all in. Nice evening jobs for next week.

Newly Positioned Paraffin Tank in the Forepeak

Newly Positioned Paraffin Tank in the Forepeak

The Cramped Mass of Pipes in the Lazarette

The Cramped Mass of Pipes in the Lazarette

Vertue News

January 19th, 2014 Alasdair

South Dock 19th January 2014

I went to the Boat Show out of habit really. My expectations were very low. Last year the day out was made worthwhile because the show was linked to the outdoor show. The combination worked well with good stands in the Outdoor Show selling binoculars, cameras, decent clothing and bikes. This year the other show was the Telegraph Cruise Show. Zero interest from me I’m afraid.

However the start of the show wasn’t too bad at all. Firstly the trip there was fun. We went by boat from Greenland Pier (next door!) and took the cable car across the river. A great trip but a bit pricey. Tarik from Rotamarine had kindly given us two free tickets so that was an excellent start. We entered the hall and turned right and enjoyed our stroll down the aisle chatting with various stand holders until we reached the Adventure Cruising Corner. This was the best bit of the show. We went to two talks. Tom Cunliffe was hysterical the way he was slagging off all the AWB’s. I’m surprised the organisers didn’t throw him out. Then came Will Sterling who gave three shorts talks about his trip to the magnetic North Pole, his amazing “new” boat yard in Plymouth, and his dinghy sailing trips out to lighthouses. These adventurous dinghy trips suited his desire for adventurous sailing yet without taking up too much precious time.

Will as sailed around Spitzbergen, right the way around it, which is quite a feat and we had a good chat. As it happens he is currently renovating Vertue V111 (Tom Thumb). This sounds like a fine all teak Vertue built to Lloyds A100 specification. His client is keen to have everything in top order without it brimming with technical gadgets. It sounds like the yacht will be going on some adventures once the work is all finished. Will came down to have a look at Sumara and we had a grand evening together chatting about Vertues. Tom Thumb has a deck stepped mast so the layout inside is quite different to Sumara but we swapped information about cockpit locker drains (I’m rather proud of mine!) and teak decks.

I heard from two other Vertues this week. A chap called Greg Currie dropped me an email to say he owned Vertue V162 in Australia and was keen to see Sumara when he visits London in February. I shall look forward to that.

I sent Adrian Morgan a copy of our theatre catalogue as I had read in Classic Boat that he is an avid fan of the Axminster Catalogue. I received a nice acknowledgment and an invitation to sail in company with Sally Vertue V2 the next time we are on the West Coast of Scotland. Well sadly that will be a few years away with the Russia Trip being next on the list.

 

 

Running Times in and around Greenwich

December 28th, 2013 Alasdair

South Dock

28th December 2013 (updated 25th August 2014)

I really enjoy going along to British Military Fitness Running Club on Wednesday evenings on Blackheath. I find that running with a group pushes you to run much harder than you would ever try when running alone. Every week is different but they often include some timed circuits. I keep forgetting my times but have now decided to jot them down here for reference.

If anyone is thinking of trying these routes, to set your own target, my fastest flattish half marathon time is 1 hour 46 minutes and I am noticeably slow on short sprints. Every time we do a new circuit I’ll try to add them and maybe add little maps if I can. I’ll also add details of any long runs in the Rotherhithe – Greenwich areas.

Greenwich Park Outer Circuit.

This is when the park is closed and you need to run the roads by the shortest possible way. Maze Hill is a long and gentle hill and Crooms Hill is short and steep. You can go either way.

My fastest time 18 minutes 20 seconds (some BMF runners can do this in about 14 minutes!) 131200

Greenwich Park Inner Circuit

Apparently this is 2.2 miles. When I lived next to the park it always seemed to take 16 minutes but hopefully it would be a bit faster now?

Maze Hill – Westcombe Park Road – Vanbrugh Fields – Highmore Road

A little all road circuit for sprinting

3 minutes 131200

Gloucester Circus

Good for pairing up, one person runs while the other waits.

50 seconds per lap is about my fastest but 1 minute per lap over four alternate laps is just achievable 131200

Thames Circuit through Greenwich Foot Tunnel and over Tower Bridge about 11 miles

This is my normal long slow run. I start at South Dock but it makes no difference. The run can be increased by adding bridges with London Bridge being a half marathon. A word of warning – although it is lovely running at high water there can be bridge lifts to mess up your timing. Deptford Creek, Limehouse Basin and Tower Bridge can all open up but are less likely at low water. The locks at South Dock and St Katherines don’t normally hold things up as you can run over the closed lock gate (on the assumption they can never open them both!). Other things to mess up your run are unthinking property owners who leave rights of way locked with padlocks and Tower Hamlet Council who for some reason insist on locking a Memorial Park (even on Christmas Day!) forcing you up onto a horrible main road. Also beware on Tower Bridge as the tourists often step backwards to get a scene in their camera causing a major trip hazard.

This is a great circuit to do with less able runners as a river bus connects everywhere so people can decide to go half way if they like.

This is generally treated as a long slow run.

1 hour 50 minutes 131200

1 hour 53 minutes 131225

About 2 hours 140201 – This time we ran clockwise and it provides much better views with a great vista of Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf when heading east. Sadly we ran in the evening and the path is virtually closed off by all the flat owners on the north bank who put up gates all over the place. Such a shame that the Thames Path hasn’t right of way.

2 hours 8 minutes 140810 (wow that was slow) 5.3 mph 11.25 M

1 hour 41 minutes 42 seconds (that’s better) 6.6 mph 11.15 M

 

Our neighbour has done this route in 1 hour 18 minutes but he is entering the Mount Blanc Marathon. Has anyone done the loop faster?

Putney Bridge to South Dock

This is a 12.42 mile run along the river, except by Battersea Power Station where you are diverted inland. Clearly marked but it get crowded along the stretch from Westminster Bridge to Butler Wharf and you need to run quite slowly to avoid the tourists. We did it as a long slow run. Sadly there are no hills!

2 hours 1 minute. Average speed 6.2 mph. 140119

Greenwich Park 10K – including triple climbs up One Tree Hill

This was a wicked route devised by BMF as a Sunday morning race. The route was complex, I got slightly lost right at the end, but it was a good and hilly run so it was excellent training with maybe 150 -200 m of ascent. The fastest in was 40 minutes and 9 seconds. My time was 49 minutes and 8 seconds.

Preparing Sumara – Stripping the Mast

December 26th, 2013 Alasdair
These three tools stripped 99% of the varnish with the help of a heat gun

These three tools stripped 99% of the varnish with the help of a heat gun

You can see just how thick the varnish was

You can see just how thick the varnish was

26th December 2013 South Dock Rotherhithe

Sumara’s mast is now 23 years old and the varnish has never been stripped off. Despite a trip to the Caribbean and various trips to colder places the varnish actually looks pretty good. However each year there are two or three blisters which need repairing. When I prepare the blisters for primer coats it is obvious that the bond between the thick varnish and the timber is giving way. It would be possible to slide a scraper blade under the varnish and lift a much bigger area. Although I could leave major work on the mast for a few more years it seemed wise to tackle this job while the boat is next to home in South Dock before leaving on the Russian Expedition. There is very little evidence of water penetration so the timber all looks clear of staining. The mast is made from Douglas Fir as a hollow box glued with resorcinol resin and solid by way of the spreaders and winches.

I decided to take off only the necessary fittings but to leave the track and fittings around the spreaders in place. Using an AEG heat gun with two speeds and six heat settings I softened the varnish and lifted it off with an 30 mm wide Hamilton scraper – slightly blunted to avoid scratching. The thick varnish lifted off easily in sheets. I then scrape over the area again without heat using the brilliant Bahco Ergo Scrapers. It was interesting that the newly applied varnish (in the repaired blisters) was really hard to get off because it had better grip on the timber and less thickness.

For the most part the stripping was pretty trouble free but some areas lifted patches of the grain. This was hard to prevent even by scraping gently across the grain but it is limited to a couple of areas about three inches long. I’ll need to see what it looks like once the mast is sanded but I suspect it won’t be worth trying to fill or scarph in a grafting piece. It is possible that the grain lifted due to the timber being very slightly damp. All the more reason to get the old varnish off. I didn’t quite finish all the scraping on Boxing Day due to it getting dark but the process would be complete after eight hours work (the mast is 36 ft long).

That said, I think I need to spend another two full days to remove the fiddly bits and to sand the mast prior to varnishing. I am debating the idea of giving it a coat of preservative first. It will eventually be varnished with Epifanes Gloss Varnish.

I have invested in the Festool Linear sander which I hope will make the sanding process very fast (I need to sand between each coat of varnish too so that is nine x 36 foot!). I have to make up a profiled block for the linear machine which only sands with a back and forwards motion. The profile will match the curved corners of the mast perfectly. I hope to be able to sand the mast in two hours using this and other machines.

I’ll post some photos later and update as I go.

Russian charts at the CA

December 14th, 2013 Alasdair
Atlas Cover

Atlas Cover

Side Elevation Diagram from Canal Atlas

Side Elevation Diagram from Canal Atlas

The Entrance to the Canals at Belamorsk

The Entrance to the Canals at Belamorsk

Diagrams of the Canal Bridges

Diagrams of the Canal Bridges

A Typical Section of "Canal"

A Typical Section of “Canal”

6th December 2013

During our Russian Meeting No 1 at Kentish Town Graham kindly suggested that he may be able to arrange a viewing of the Cruising Associations collection of Russian Charts. On Friday evening Grit and I arrived at the CA to take up the offer.
Graham and Fay had found the folio of charts, maps and “atlases” which were stored in the loft and had arranged them in organised piles on a large table in the Committee Room. We had the luxury of a whole evening to study them.
The charts are of significance because they belonged to the first pioneer yachts to make the journey. Some charts were marked with Wallace Clark who was the father of Miles Clark who sailed White Goose through the whole canal system sadly dying before finally completing the journey. The book “Sailing Around Russia” was completed by Wallace Clark.

We had a variety of aeronautical charts, maps, navigational charts from British Admiralty and Russian Sources plus three “Atlases”. These Atlases were books of charts plus side elevations and diagrams and photos of bridges. These books were fascinating and contained everything needed to navigate the “canal”. I suppose naïvely I rather had the impression that the journey would be a matter of entering and leaving a canal into a big open lake and then entering the next canal. It is apparent from the charts and atlases that it is all a bit more complicated. The canal joins into small areas of open water and buoyed channels and even when you exit into a massive lake there are large shallow areas and areas ridden with weed and rocky outcrops. That said, certainly from these 40 year old charts, there are plenty of navigational markers to help us on our way.

Looking at used charts has the benefit of being able to take heed of various notes written on the charts. Even knowing which town is which is tricky without a copy of the Russian alphabet to hand. Markings pointing to reporting Radio Stations reinforce the need to have Russian speakers on board.

Grit and I have taken extensive notes from the charts and we have posted a couple of pictures we have taken to give a feeling of the quality of the charts. The charts we studied were clear and easy to understand (given access to the Russian alphabet). It looks like we will need to purchase two Volumes (Toms) to complete the sections from the White Sea to St Petersburg plus various lake charts and charts of the White Sea. Obviously there will be more charts needed to cover our exit from Russia into the Baltic. It could be quite an expense.

 

 

Surrey Hills Run

November 24th, 2013 Alasdair
The Ugly Truth!

The Ugly Truth!

The Juniper Valley Route that we intended to run!

The Juniper Valley Route that we intended to run!

Gareth, Laura and Anthony. It's not that cold Gareth!

Gareth, Laura and Anthony. It’s not that cold Gareth!

24th November 2013

This was the first event organised by the South Dock Running Club – Fell Running Division. It may well be the last if our map reading skills don’t improve. Having recently discovered that Anthony had entered the Mount Blanc Marathon we felt some hill training would be in order. The plan was to drive to Headley Heath and park by the arrow on the map (coming soon!) We would warm up thoroughly and set off on a 9 km circuit which would take us to the bottom of Juniper Valley and up to Box Hill and around the North Downs Path with spectacular views over the Mole valley with another steep ascent and a jog back to the car. Basically a big hilly circle. How could it possibly go wrong? Gareth and Laura are now well accustomed to passing the same things two or even three times after experiencing one of my “circuits” of Oxleas Wood (just keep the fence on the right and you can’t go wrong). Laura was a bit worried about joining the Surrey Hills circuit in the first place and once we arrived at the same junction for the third time she smelt a rat and decided to call it a day. Gareth either being gallant or also smelling the rat offered to accompany her back to the Cock Inn at Headley. Anthony and I thought we would push on a bit further. We headed off in opposite directions. Twenty minutes later we met each other running along the same path the opposite way! Undeterred Anthony and I ran on faintly convinced that it we head north west we simply must find Box Hill. The thing is Box Hill is a massive great big hill so it can’t be hard to find surely. It is Surreys biggest tourist attraction. We sheepishly asked a walker, the Ordnance Survey map and compass swinging from my neck. “Oh, just go down there and up the other side and you can’t miss it”. We had just come from “there” but thought maybe we will give it another go. Twenty minutes later we were back where we had asked the lady the way. Anthony by now had realised that I was totally hopeless with the map, “all the gear no idea” kind of thing. I don’t really like to admit how rubbish I am with maps but I had better own up and get some training before I get seriously lost. Prudently Anthony suggested that we should finish off our running by running up the three hills that departed from the bottom of the valley as a kind of three pronged circuit. We could’nt get lost because we would stay in sight of the junction. So that is what we did. At this point I took off my rucksack with the Sports Tracker and left it at the junction. We ran up the steps and down, ran up the hill and down, hopped up the steps and down, and towed each other up the hill and down. Then we did some short hill sprints. Note that the Sports Tracker was static in my bag so when you see the picture of our actual attempt at the route it didn’t even include these runs. Nevertheless there are FIVE runs along the same path on what should have been ONE lap! That is how rubbish my map reading was.
We never got to Box Hill, never saw the views!
We met up with Laura and Gareth in the pub and had a huge beef sandwich and a pint of London Pride. We had run about 9 hilly miles so all was not lost.

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Weasdale Circuit

November 11th, 2013 Alasdair
Weasdale Circuit

Weasdale Circuit

8th November 2013

I have been up in the Lake District doing an Industrial Rope Access course with Gareth from work. It involved a lot of hanging about in the most exciting way. As it happens Gareth likes a good run and is a founding member of the famous South Dock Running Club (est 2013) so we planned on getting up into the hills together. We bought an OS map and found a few paths near to Teabay where we were staying in the Cross Keys Pub. Dave Ellis from Lyon Equipment, who were training us, got wind that we fancied a run and very kindly came up with a very promising looking circuit just a five mile drive from Tebay. It was a route that the local Mountain Rescue Team used to take on Friday nights after work. This was re-assuring because at least they will know where to find us. We managed to persuade Victor to join us. Victor was from Spain and was completing a series of work at height courses at Lyon and then in Aberdeen. Poor Victor completely confused us with people who know what they are doing! On a wet and dark Wednesday evening we jumped in my car in search for the run. It was pretty hard just working out where to park the car and after about five minutes running we were officially lost. With one fading head torch, a hand torch and another dull head torch we gazed at the map and compass and shot off through a woody lane. However there were no woods on the map. We stopped again and half heartedly convinced ourselves it was off to the left, but it wasn’t. After about 30 minutes of getting rather cold we eventually found the start of the run. We knew it was the start because of a map on a post saying “You are here”. We set off a little way up the very wet and muddy trail before deciding to call it day. For a bit of exercise we ran up and down a road hill a few times (Victor wondering why we had to run back up having just ran down – good question) then jumped into the car and had a goat curry in the pub.

However, on Friday after we had all successfully completed our exam we decided to celebrate and have another go at it. Victor wisely pulled out. Time was slipping by so we purchased more batteries got changed and headed to the start. This time we parked right next to the start of the run and set off. The ground was wet and soft but runnable as we followed a dry stone wall until the sheepfold. We then set our compass and ran SSW up the gradient. I say “run” but actually by the time we were half way up the 586 m hill we began to walk. As the light faded away we were afforded some spectacular views, just a hint of what we were missing by running in the dark. At the near top we found some quad tracks which led south to the first “summit”. Here the land drops steeply away then rises again until you reach a cairn on Randygil Top.
Time to celebrate with a massive chunk of marzipan. Now the cloud had dropped in and the visibility was very low as well as it being a moonless night. We set the compass and ran off in a NE direction following some rough tracks. Running again it was very pleasant but even with nobbly trail shoes it was occasionally very slippy. We skirted the edge off Green Bell (605 m) and relaxed into a 3 or 4 km run down towards the east edge of the enclosed field. We hit the road bang on target and ran the last 1 km or so along the road back to the car. It took about 1 hour 50 but could have been faster with more light. We joined Victor at the Cross Keys for supper and some celebration beers.

The distance was about 9 km.

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Russian Meeting No2

November 4th, 2013 Alasdair

1st November 2013

Davy’s Wine Bar – Greenwich

Maxine and Dirk had kindly agreed to meet us for a chat over dinner. By amazing coincidence we found out about Maxine’s amazing exploits early this year when we saw a car with Russian number plates parked in Greenwich. Asking if Dirk was Russian he replied that he wasn’t but his girlfriend was (well Dutch but Russian speaking) and it transpired that she was planning to join a yacht “Tanui” to sail through the same canal that we were planning to sail through. In fact she was going much further than we were planning and actually stayed on the yacht for four months travelling from Tromso all the way to the Black Sea making if the first ever foreign flagged yacht to accomplish the task. Maxine and the Skipper will  be writing a book for Imray in the near future. I could not do justice to all the tales we heard in this little blog but we have convinced her that a talk at Greenwich Yacht Club would be well received and we are hoping Norman can organise it. From our chat we did learn some important tips. Firstly the Russian speaker is totally vital and it would be unlikely (if allowed) for one shared speaker to be enough. On a more upbeat note, there was a mere hint of a faint possibility that just maybe Maxine could be persuaded to do a little bit more Russian Canal Sailing in 2015?! As far as the 3,000 euro fee to transit the canal, Maxine did not think it was nearly that much so that would be very helpful for our budgets. It seems that some training in Vodka drinking is going to be needed.

I’m looking forward to hearing Maxine’s talk.

Russian Meeting No 1

November 1st, 2013 Alasdair
Charlotte Sykpes Vladimir

Charlotte Sykpes Vladimir

Then have a lovely meal

Then have a lovely meal

While we all watch on

While we all watch on

30th October 2013

Charlotte had organised everything! The team met up at the Pineapple Pub in Kentish town. I didn’t make it to the pub having had to bail out of the overcrowded tube and run half way across London. I joined the meeting at Ashcombe Street where Charlotte was staying whilst in London. I burst in to find everyone totally engrossed in a long Skype session with Vladimir from St Petersburg. Vladimir has enabled many yachts to pass smoothly through the often complex Russian bureaucracy and is generally regarded as a top dog hero to every yacht person who ventures into Russia. It was very kind of Vladimir to take part in this Skype session as it was about midnight in St Peterburg.

Present at the meeting was:
Graham from the Baltic Section of the CA
Tim hoping to skipper Thembi
John and Selma hoping to take Brimble with their family
Norman and Christine probably not joining in their yacht but certainly in spirit.
Coll Hutchieson who is hoping to sail anti-clockwise in 2014
Alasdair (me!) and Grit intending to take Sumara on the grand trip
and of course Charlotte who will be taking Svarte and the Good Ship Pouncer.

Business was conducted over a massive Bolognese with beer and wine.

Our big question was “Clockwise or anti clockwise?”. The original plan had certainly been to go anti-clockwise. In fact Selma and John managed to winter their yacht on the South East coast of Norway in anticipation. However we have now decided to go clockwise! Charlotte will transport Pouncer overland from North Sweden to Tromso in the spring of 2015. In the summer of 2014 Thembi will sail towards Tromso from Scotland, Brimble will about turn and sail up the west coast of Norway and Sumara will head out of London.

The hope is to rendezvous for some climbing in Lofoten on 19th July 2014 (Hey might as well give it a date!) before mouching on up to Tromso where the yacht will spend the winter.

In the spring of 2015 there will be hectic fitting out combined with skiing in preparation for the long trip around the North Cape towards Archangel to clear Russian Customs before heading to the canal entrance. Vladimir had suggested Archangel was easier to clear customs than Murmansk which was mainly a military port.

We have been warned that there is a 3,000 euro charge to pass through the canal and we are going to make enquiries as to whether there were any further charges to be expected.

Tonight Grit and I are meeting Maxine and Dirk. Maxine, a fluent Russian speaker, sailed through the canal this year on Tanui joined by Dirk for some sections. We are looking forward to hearing their tales.