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#1 Thu 02nd Nov 2017 20:59:46

Marcus Hember
Registered: Wed 22nd Mar 2017
Posts: 17

Black Dog - SD41 - an update

Hi all,

I thought it was time for an update.

Having picked Black Dog up from Julian and Lesley Smith in Falmouth, myself and a couple of friends sailed her around to Bristol and up to a berth there near our house.  Hazel sadly could not join because of work.

After a really good blow, then a bit of motoring up the Severn Estuary which was uncharacteristically still, we arrived in one piece having learned a lot about BD - most of it very positive!  The entry to the River Avon at the start of the flood (get your timings right!) is reasonably interesting - my crew consisted of a Navy specialist navigator, and myself (an ex navigator) and a third naval chap - all of us have commanded ships and seen some stuff and it gave us all the creeps, driving towards what appears to be a closed mud-bank until the channel opens up.  In any case it was a great sail and I felt very comfortable even in the chop and blow.  Lands End was kind to us, and I got the tides right.  The only problem we had was that Mylor (Falmouth) had not done an especially good job of fitting the Raymarine autopilot - despite the excellent guidance provided by Peter Jagodzinski of Dogmatic.  After some time upside-down in the aft cabin I had it working again but not for long - in hand for most of the last day, and not impressed!  Essentially it was not sufficiently well mounted and so broke away from the frame.

We settled happily into Bristol Marina, where Black Dog sat happily over the summer whilst the work started.  The priorities were:
- Top to Bottom the rig.
- Understand the electrics and engine properly.
- Make her comfortable for us (Hazel, Hektor (6), and I)
- Do some trial sailing.
- Get Mylor to come and re-do their installation!

BD was re-rigged in 2009 and all looks good; it will certainly last until I take it all down next winter.  I had a local sail-maker replace some of the cockpit cover windows, and re-rigged some missing halyards.  I've got the standard problem with the heads door - which I need to investigate!

As investigations into the electrics proceeded it became apparent that although a lot of money had been spent, whoever had done the work had not done the best of jobs (to put it mildly). 
I ended up removing first of all the 12v distribution wiring, and some terrifying 240v stuff which was also no good.  I re-used the (good) existing panels and was able to retain some of the internal wiring.  The end result was more reliable and a very large pile of unused (and mostly very corroded) cable on the cabin deck.  Every termination carefully tinned & soldered so it should all last.

The second phase was the generation side; I still have the original LUCAS AC10 alternator being controlled by a very old 'ADVERC' regulator which was not behaving consistently.  Cue boat jumble, and a nearly new sterling power regulator which is working brilliantly.  Next was to replace the ammeter (very long and poor cable run all the way up to the console) for a modern shunt-type (having found a modern one with a similar look to fit the hole).  New charging cables and a Merlin 'Smartbank' monitor / charging relay combination. I now get 50+ Amps from the alternator which is far more than it was designed to do.  I'm going to hold back on replacing it as I suspect the noisy (but solid) Perkins 4107 will not be around for more than 2-3 more years......  I've got a single 100Ah services bank which seems to be enough - if not there is space for a further battery so that might come next year.

Mylor have come back and re-worked the autopilot; it is now excellent and working very well indeed.  In terms of instruments, BD was (badly) fitted with NASA depth and log, and a decent Lawrence chartplotter and DSC VHF.  There was also an ancient Japanese GPS which had not rolled over past Y2k!  I've invested in an 'ACTISENSE DST-2' - this is a depth, speed, and temperature unit which uses old transducers to provide NMEA data.  An old Navy oppo gave me an NMEA 2K Class B AIS / GPS transceiver to boot. All this is now fitted in the aft cabin next to the autopilot equipment, with an AIS antenna on the Mizzen, and new GPS antenna on the quarter.  All was a straightforward fit although I had to build a small comparator (amplifier) to make the NASA speed log work (not keen on new holes in the hull for a new transducer).  The end result is that the Raymarine display and chartplotter now display log, depth, water temp (!) and AIS contacts and the autopilot is happier with a water speed input.  I still need to remove and blank the old instrument displays (both of which are available if anyone wants them - Clipper log and NASA TARGET depth).  Both instruments are fine - the log probe was damaged, and it turns out the depth sounder transducer was not fitted properly - so available to anyone who wants them.  I can provide diagrams / details of these installations if anyone is interested.

Hazel and I then stripped the galley out entirely, cleaning back and re-painting, and stripping back to bare wood where we could. Having had it all apart for the re-wiring I re-assembled the chart table area.  I've also replaced most of the lighting with LEDs (inside the old fittings) and built a switched dimmer unit for the compass light.  The white PVC lining material is a pain and I think I'm going to be getting rid of quite a lot of it....

Sailing consisted of a jaunt around the Bristol Channel; enough to get my son interested and convince us all that we are delighted with Black Dog!  The engine has been rock solid, and I'm now much more confident now I know where most stuff is and the electrics are more consistent. 

So by the time August came around I was more than ready to take BD round to her new permanent home in Plymouth, where I work in the week.  Hazel sadly away again (this time on a science ship in the Arctic so don't feel too sorry) so with my father, brother, and another friend we undertook the passage back down the Bristol Channel and round the corner.  Again, we did it in one stretch and it was a fantastic sail.  Departing on a windy Sunday evening we caught the Ebb as far as Minehead, where we dropped the pick for a tide.  Close Hauled we got past Ilfracombe and then with the wind veering more to the North West and us bearing away to make Lands End, we started an amazing 5-6kt broad reach in a nice breeze.  What a sail! We hoisted our Mizzen Staysail for the first time (Ratsey and Lampthorn 1968 - so from build!).  Lands End saw us loose the wind for an hour or so, as we shot inshore carrying the last of the Westerly set and then had to plug for an hour or so before we started back East.  The last night up towards Eddystone got quite windy from the North West so our first 'reefing at night' experience which was fine, and then we happily dropped the pick in the very familiar Cawsand Bay.  I'm now tucked up in Kings Point marina, inevitably with lots to do still (who knew that anchor winch gypsies could crack!) but enjoying being able to get away from the Naval Base in the evenings to tinker.

So what is next?  The next big job is to remove the old NASA instruments, especially the log from the wheel pedestal (apparently fitted by a madman with a chainsaw).  I'm going to follow the several examples and fit a nice teak panel.  The Tacho is knackered, although temp gauge does work so need to work out the right sequence - do I change instruments now for digital and add them to the NMEA 2K network / fit a single multi-display, or do I wait until I re-engine and just re-mount what I have....... Aside from the usual maintenance, also on the list is heating, shore supply, new cabin covers, some more red lighting below for night sailing…… Next winter will see the rig come down and perhaps some gel / deck repairs.....

Hazel and I have had some good late season sailing; a glorious trip to Polperro and then back to the Yealm, and another (wetter!) one.  We are both very happy with the boat, and looking forward to many more adventures.  I’m already in touch (although not yet met) some of the other Plymouth SeaDogs and I’d love to meet more – so please get in touch if you are passing, always looking for inspiration.  I’m also very happy to pass on details of any of the electrical / electronic stuff.

With best wishes,

Marcus and Hazel
Black Dog

Marcus Hember
Black Dog SD41


#2 Sun 04th Feb 2018 22:15:07

Roger Gee
Registered: Fri 02nd Oct 2015
Posts: 1

Re: Black Dog - SD41 - an update

Hi Marcus and Hazel, really interesting post. Looks like we’re experiencing similar quirks. Seadog of Polruan has been going through a similar refit. She’s back up the Dart for the time being where I am hoping (wishful thinking) that the loss of oil from the gearbox does not mean another engine lift out ... Hoping to get her to the Tamar and her mooring in May.  - so will hopefully make contact.

WRT the reference to “heads door” in your previous post - is this sticking? I suspected that the rig had been over tightened on Seadog of Polruan - evidenced by cracking of gel coat around the tabernacle (and the sticking door!). We removed the main mast and the door shut. We carefully installed a compression post that doesn’t intrude into the cabin, refitted the mast and the ultimate test - the door still shuts. More interesting was that the backstays have had to be remade as they are were too short by a considerable margin. It’s important to point out that the standing rigging had been replaced shortly before we bought it and I suspect that there was a desire (on the part of the installer) to have some mast bend - which it probably only had to a limited extent.

WRT the Perkins 4107: I’ve been well supportedv by Fast and I believe reasonable.

Hopefully see you on the Sound.

Roger & Jennie
Seadog of Polruan

Seadog of Polruan


#3 Tue 06th Feb 2018 17:52:14

Marcus Hember
Registered: Wed 22nd Mar 2017
Posts: 17

Re: Black Dog - SD41 - an update

Dear Roger and Jennie,

Yes - heads door is still an concern and I need to understand where I am regarding rig tension - any recommendation?  What does yours deflect?  I suspect I might be in the business of doing the same thing.
BD has a slightly different layout to some of the earlier boats which does I think support the mast quite well, but it is still a bit of an issue and it might be about angles; any chance you could send me some photos of your compression post? I've had a rigger look over the rig recently and I suspect he tightened it all up a bit which I might need to now undo!  The mast is rod-straight at least so no mast bend that I can tell.

Planning on being in the Dart a bit over the summer so perhaps see you there, unless you get round to Guz.

Best wishes,


Marcus Hember
Black Dog SD41


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