Clark Beek

Cool LED Retrofit

11 Apr

The LED "revolution" is sweeping the boating world. Installing LED lights means less power to get more light, smaller lights, smaller wire, tiny switches, and less weight. I'm not running out to replace all my lights with LEDs, but when I have to replace a light anyway, I replace it with an LED.

If you've got the kind of florescent light  pictured above (I've got three on my boat) it might be tempting to replace it with an LED strip, but the then you've got the stained footprint and screw holes from the old fixture to contend with. 

My customer ...

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The Clever Clevis

1 Apr

With the Clever Clevis™, you’ll be the hit of any sailboat!!!

Simply wait for an appropriate moment, toss the Clever Clevis™ onto the cabin top, and let the mirth unfold!!!

Note: Nobody must see you toss the Clever Clevis™. It must seem like it just “fell from the sky.”

Watch your shipmates scramble around, looking aloft! See how long it takes before someone looks at the rig through binoculars! See if you can get every single shipmate to look aloft at the same time!

For added fun, deploy the Clever Clevis during a race!

For maximum enjoyment, deploy the Clever Clevis ...

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Clipperton Island Still Uninhabited

26 Mar

I’ve just returned from Clipperton Island, a French atoll lying 800 miles off the Mexican coast. I went as part of the Clipperton Project, an art/science/environmental/documentary expedition, but I was involved more with boats, landings, and communications. They tasked me with a survey of sea turtle nesting sites, but I walked around that whole island (about seven miles) and there didn’t seem to be any nesting sites, or I’ve got really bad eyes.

Masked Boobie with chick

I left La Paz on the mother ship, the Lucia Celeste, a 48-foot expedition dive boat. I returned to Baja on a Downeast ...

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Out of Office Reply: Gone Cruising

29 Feb

I am off for 3-1/2 weeks on The Clipperton Project, a scientific/artistic expedition to an atoll in the middle of nowhere, and not on the way to anywhere…or I might be the unwitting participant in some bizarre social experiment or new reality show. At any rate, about twenty of us are off on three boats, leaving from La Paz, with the goal of having eight days on the island to carry out various studies on the island, the lagoon, and the surrounding reefs. Clipperton is a French possession, but closer to Mexico/Central America.

I arrived at about 10 p.m. ...

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Gauge of Confusion

27 Feb

 

Gauges and sending units can get very confusing.

In the photo above, this very nice Beneteau came with this engine panel, which has idiot lights for high water temperature and oil pressure, but no gauges. In an ideal world you want both, the gauges to show you normal temperatures/pressures and trends if anything changes, and the idiot lights/buzzer to go off if something catastrophic happens. This also builds in redundancy, because you have two pressure senders, two temperature senders, and the corresponding guages/lights at the helm.

To get a new panel from Yanmar with gauges cost $1700, and I ...

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The Good and Bad News About a New Electric Windlass

23 Feb

 

The good news is that there are a lot of quality electric windlasses on the market, they keep looking cooler, and there can be some hot deals. For a 40-foot boat, you can get a decent one for just over $1000, at the low end.

The bad news is that the cost of the windlass is just the beginning. I’ve had several customers express pronounced sticker shock when they hear the rest of the story.

You’ll need a foot switch, a breaker, various lugs, connectors, a solenoid, mounting hardware et al. Some manufacturers include a lot of this; others ...

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Wedding Ring Recovered

14 Feb

Yesterday I dropped my wedding ring off a dock.

I got back to the marina in San Rafael at 7 a.m., and indeed the tide was very low, only a few feet deep where I’d dropped my wedding ring. I forgot a towel or anything else to make me comfortable after my early morning swim, which made jumping into freezing San Francisco Bay, in the middle of winter, that much worse.

I dropped a fishing weight tied to some 1/8” Dacron to mark the spot. Without a weight and a line, I get disoriented underwater, and my search becomes ...

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Idiot!

13 Feb

Today, as I often do, I took off my wedding ring to put on my keychain before starting work. I knew someone once who welded their wedding ring, and their finger, to an engine, because the ring shorted the alternator terminal to the engine block.

I was walking along, slipping the ring onto my key ring, thinking don’t drop it, don’t drop it, whatever you do, don’t drop it, this would be a really bad place to drop it because it would go right in the water, so be sure not to drop it.

And I dropped it.

And it ...

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Core Electrical System Revamp

1 Feb

 

This is a standard project for any sailboat older than thirty, for three reasons:

  1. Sailboats used to be built with electrical systems designed to power a VHF radio and a reading light, and now we ask them to power refrigeration, inverters, all kinds of electronic gizmos, and to charge the battery banks that supply them.
  2. Electrical stuff has come a long way in the last thirty years. Back then we had variations of automotive equipment, and now we have purpose-built, high capacity alternators and regulators, marine wire, and better distribution products.
  3. The thirty-year-old stuff is, well, thirty years old,
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