Something Learned

A forum for discussion of how to rig and tune your boat or kicker to achieve the best sailing performance.

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Berber Boy
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Something Learned

Post by Berber Boy » Tue Nov 03, 2015 4:55 pm

In the last year or so I have been increasingly unhappy with the performance of my :macm: It has been heeling too easily and have found it very difficult to tack and sail reasonably close-hauled. Having just spent four days with the boat where I moor it I have discovered why.

Since I have had the boat, I have a mod (from this site) where I have run a permanent breather hose from the ballast tank bung under the VBerth to the Anchor drainage line. Apart from checking its patency from time to time I have not been checking ballast levels. Further to this I get my marina to put the boat in and out for me so I have not been looking at the outflow when bringing the boat out.

This visit I noticed that although the boat appeared full, when I looked at the plimsoll line the prow was riding high. I checked the ballast tank level and found that it was not anywhere near full. I got three of us to stand at the pulpit and it filled up to the brim.

Reasons for this:

1: I have put in larger fuel tanks in the cockpit
2: I have put in solar panels that hangout the back end
3: I have too much stuff loaded on the under cockpit berth
4: I have kept my galley aft rather than forward
5: I kept only lifejackets in the Vberth lockers

It seems that weight and balance is not just for airplanes. I moved weight forward, rearranged storage until the plimsoll line was correct at the front and the back higher to compensate for the human weight to be added there.

I have my boat back again and the change is dramatic. So obvious and simple but it is important both to safety and performance. I hope I have learned something.

BB

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BOAT
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Re: Something Learned

Post by BOAT » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:01 pm

THIS is why I want a float switch in the ballast tank. Everyone thinks I'm lame but I want to KNOW the water is all the way up to the top of the tank and I want to know if it drops below that for any reason. And I wanna know it from the helm seat.

Image

The way it is now I have to lift the lid to make sure there is water sloshing around in there to know I am full. (No one likes to lift the lid! :? ) You ever lift the lid at home? You never know what you'll find in there. :o

I want a float switch that tells me if the water is not topped off with a light on the helm so I don't have to lift the lid anymore!

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Ixneigh
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Re: Something Learned

Post by Ixneigh » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:17 pm

If the boats stern heavy it can really affect performance water ballast not Withstanding.
Ix

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Berber Boy
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Re: Something Learned

Post by Berber Boy » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:30 pm

BOAT wrote:THIS is why I want a float switch in the ballast tank. Everyone thinks I'm lame but I want to KNOW the water is all the way up to the top of the tank and I want to know if it drops below that for any reason. And I wanna know it from the helm seat.
It looks a really nice setup. I presume the float itself is contained within a tube so that it just rises and falls but cannot be effected by water sloshing this way and that through the movement of the boat. The Fuel tank systems do not seem to last very long. Can you give more Specs?

thanks

BB

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Berber Boy
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Re: Something Learned

Post by Berber Boy » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:34 pm

Ixneigh wrote:If the boats stern heavy it can really affect performance water ballast not Withstanding.
Ix
So balance is important for performance and full ballast important for upright stability although I am sure they both overlap and go together!

BB

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mastreb
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Re: Something Learned

Post by mastreb » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:32 am

My boat has always been well balanced so this never occurred to me, but of course a stern-heavy boat wouldn't be able to take on a full ballast tank.

Excellent warning and discovery sir!

kurz
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Re: Something Learned

Post by kurz » Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:41 am

BOAT wrote:
I want a float switch that tells me if the water is not topped off with a light on the helm so I don't have to lift the lid anymore!
I just installed the autovent yesterday, so I even didn't tray it out.

But I think it should be easy tu install a control: Just make an other whole an put in a electric contact switch or a swimmer switch. But I dont think you need tha control lamp at the helm. Why not put it next to the bow bod so you can see it easily from the helm

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dlandersson
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Re: Something Learned

Post by dlandersson » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:48 am

I've got kids - I'm always lifting the lid to see what is or isn't there. :D
BOAT wrote:THIS is why I want a float switch in the ballast tank. Everyone thinks I'm lame but I want to KNOW the water is all the way up to the top of the tank and I want to know if it drops below that for any reason. And I wanna know it from the helm seat.

Image

The way it is now I have to lift the lid to make sure there is water sloshing around in there to know I am full. (No one likes to lift the lid! :? ) You ever lift the lid at home? You never know what you'll find in there. :o

I want a float switch that tells me if the water is not topped off with a light on the helm so I don't have to lift the lid anymore!

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Tomfoolery
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Re: Something Learned

Post by Tomfoolery » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:31 am

Then there's the opposite problem: loading up the bow for good trailering behavior, launching the boat without moving some of it back, flooding the ballast, and finding that it's sloshing over the top of the bowl, which happened to me when I launched at the last MMOR. No biggie if you have a ballast vent line to the anchor locker, but could have been bad if I hadn't noticed it and the boat started taking on water.

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Tomfoolery
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Re: Something Learned

Post by Tomfoolery » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:40 am

BOAT wrote:THIS is why I want a float switch in the ballast tank.
You could always use a fresh water sending unit, like this one from Wema (my last boat used this style for fresh water and diesel, and a different style for black water).

http://www.wemausa.com/sensors/level-Fu ... joIpLGL7mE

An inexpensive gauge to tell you the level, installed at the helm. http://wemausa.3dcartstores.com/Water-L ... _p_24.html

They have LED digital gauges, too (little dots that light up), but I prefer analog as you can see it move and it get a feel for what it does when the tank is full, like moving off the pin a little when the boat rocks but the tank is full, which the 8 steps of the digital can't do. http://wemausa.3dcartstores.com/LED-Wat ... p_140.html

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BOAT
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Re: Something Learned

Post by BOAT » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:54 am

lot of good ideas, and I have been poking around the net for a year looking for the right switch and indicator. After all this time I think I am going to fabricate my own switch and indicator so it does not use much electricity but can warn me if something is going wrong in the ballast tank.

C Buchs
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Re: Something Learned

Post by C Buchs » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:38 am

You don't need something like a fuel gauge, because you don't need to know the level of the water. You just want to make sure it is full. I was wondering if there is some kind of switch that is on or off when it is submerged/wet. I found this http://www.instructables.com/id/Water-switch/?ALLSTEPS Do you think you could make it work?

Jeff

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RussMT
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Re: Something Learned

Post by RussMT » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:49 am

C Buchs wrote:You don't need something like a fuel gauge, because you don't need to know the level of the water. You just want to make sure it is full. I was wondering if there is some kind of switch that is on or off when it is submerged/wet. I found this http://www.instructables.com/id/Water-switch/?ALLSTEPS Do you think you could make it work?

Jeff
Like this?

http://www.amazon.com/Sabre-HS-WLA-SABR ... ter+sensor
Image

I've been thinking of doing something like this in the vent. Disable the buzzer and use the LED lead to the pedestal to tell when the tank is full.

--Russ

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BOAT
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Re: Something Learned

Post by BOAT » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:17 pm

Yeah, the two prong sensor was an idea I was kicking around but my concern was that the sensor would give me a false "full" when the leads were wet. The ones I looked at were industrial units - very expensive and I was afraid to pull the trigger but for the ones you found at nine bucks it's cheap enough to test.

I might mess around with that but it's all about the conductivity of salt water, right? And the terminals will attract corrosion 24 7 under saltwater conditions so that was another concern. Failure with a "false Full" indication could be disastrous in a storm and it's the reason i have not gone down the sensor path yet. I am still leaning towards a standard float switch as used for bilge pumps. I was noodling about mounting a float switch by gluing it upside down inside the ballast tank just adjacent to the vent hole.

The float switch is a normally open circuit, so if you turn it upside down I figured gravity would make the circuit close and allow electricity to flow to a lamp on the helm telling you the boat is NOT FULL.

As the ballast tank fills up it should (hopefully) push the switch into it's normally open position, thus breaking the circuit, and turning off the lamp on the helm.

By this method, the lamp is always off when things are good, and if you start to lose ballast for any reason the lamp should come on. (In theory).

My only concern with this method is that the switch is too heavy to float upside down - it seems like it should since it's designed to float right side up, and also that it will trigger too soon - (turning off the light before the tank is actually FULL FULL) and because these bilge pump float switches are a bit pricey (and often too big to fit in the hole) I have not found a good test article yet.

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Tomfoolery
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Re: Something Learned

Post by Tomfoolery » Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:26 pm

A float switch configured like that is not fail-safe: if the circuit or bulb or LED fails, it indicates "full" when it may not be. As to the level sensor, while it's true you don't need to see what's going on in the middle, I suspect you'll see the float moving a bit when full (on the gauge) which is an indication that it's working correctly, as there's constant feedback. You could even mount it to another cup, similar to the one the vent is in, so it will definitely not show a pegged needle when full, at least until the boat is heeled, at which point it will be fully submerged.

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