Friday, January 30, 2015

Boat Work

Sometimes we have to fix things and sometimes we want to make changes to things.  There is a “to do” list that grows, changes, shrinks, gets re-written and gets re-prioritized.  It’s actually not a list, but a “Boat Maintenance” notebook that Malcolm fixates on from time to time (but that’s a whole other story).

The new solar panels took over the radar arch and left the antennas and radar dome waiting for their new home. “Move antennas and radar to new post and connect cables” has been written into the Boat Maintenance book.  There is an “H” next to this for HIGH priority, and an asterisk next to the “H” for “Must do before leaving Mexico”.  

Last year, we found that one of the steering cables was slightly frayed. “Replace steering cables” has been in the Boat Maintenance book ever since.  It also has an “H” and an asterisk.  If we’re actually going to go to the South Pacific, we better get these things done.

First, the steering cables.  We’re at a dock so we probably don’t need to steer the boat much.  The old cables are stainless steel and run over some pulleys and such from the wheel to the rudder.  Taking them out is pretty simple.  Once they were out, we discover a second frayed spot.  It’s not like they were going to break right away, but it was certainly time to replace them just to be sure. Our new cables are not steel, it’s “Amsteel Blue” - a synthetic rope which is just as strong.  A bit of measuring, a bit of splicing, a bit of running lines through hard to reach places and there we go…job done.  
Malcolm running the steering cables (with stupid walking cast on)

Splicing an end of the Amsteel line

We’re still at the dock, but the rudder turns when the wheel turns! Hmmm, time to leave the dock and actually steer the boat!! 

Good news!!! We left the dock and the steering works.  Of course it works, there was nothing to worry about.  Why wouldn’t it work?  Update the Boat Maintenance book, cross off that steering thing!! Next job, set up the antennas and radar on the new post.  That’ll be easy!

Hmmmm.  How high is that antenna post? How far do the cables have to run to get there? Oh, they are further away than they used to be?

New antenna cables cost how much?!!?  New antenna cables aren’t necessarily available right away!!?! 

Hmmm, who is coming down to visit us and can bring some supplies?  Tim is coming down from Toronto!! Place the order!  Tim was great. He got cloudy weather during his visit, but it was warmer than Toronto and he brought a couple of new antenna cables for us, so it was all good.

More about Tim and other visitors later… How are the cables getting from the post to the inside of the boat?  Make a new hole in the boat?  Where?? Let’s just start by getting the cables from the top of the post to where the hole is going to go.

Four antennas – four guide wires for pulling cables.  Two cables for the radar – two more guide wires.  Pull guide wire one…snap – it breaks.  Pull guide wire two…snap – it breaks.   Pull guide wire three…snap – it breaks.  Yank the others out because this isn’t working.  Arrrrgh!

Rob (from Avant) to the rescue!  
We use two magnets to pull a thin piece of whipping twine (think dental floss), to pull a medium size line to pull an antenna cable…repeat until done!  This takes a full day at anchor.  Rob is happy to help, his better half Deb is happy to have him tinkering on someone else’s boat, Malcolm gets a nice view from on top of the antenna post.  The cables run through the post…How are they getting into the boat?
Malcolm attaching an antenna, Dina tidying up cables, Rob supervising

Sure, let’s drill a hole in the boat.  It’s way above the water.  With Rob’s supervision, it all works out well.  Hmmm, maybe he should come over more often (Deb would appreciate it). 

New cables go into the hole. Radar connections go into the hole….A bit of wiring on the inside and the GPS works, the Radar works, the backup VHF radio works, the satellite phone works!!  Yeah!!!  The antennas cast some shadows on the solar panels but there is still a lot of power there!  Yeah!!!  Update the Boat Maintenance book, cross off that Antenna Post thing!!

Malcolm has some ideas about writing stuff in the Boat Maintenance book.  If it’s a super easy task, just do it right away and don’t write anything down. If it’s super important, just do it right away and don’t write anything down.  If it involves making holes in the boat, write it down in the book and then procrastinate
Jennifer and Dina joked about the Blue and Tan crew uniforms
while Malcolm and Campbell worked on a simple task

Malcolm up the mast for some other job

Finally, one of the most important rules about doing boat work....If it involves going up the mast, take a camera.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Oops, another broken foot

Back in December, Malcolm was working on the boat and didn't watch his step while climbing down.  It all happened quickly and there were lots of bad words.  The nice doctor confirmed what Malcolm already knew, another broken foot.

It wasn't that bad, as we were staying at the dock in La Paz. In fact, the dockmaster had a wheelchair that we could borrow, Thanks to Rob (on Avant), a photo was posted on Facebook and Malcolm's secret was out.
Nice doctor putting a cast on Malcolm's foot
The plaster cast didn't last long, so we picked up a walking cast.

The whole episode is over now. The foot is fine and Malcolm doesn't want to talk about it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Solar Power

We are energy self-sufficient!!

Thanks to our new solar panels, we have lots of electricity to run our fridge, freezer, navigation instruments, vacuum cleaner and so on. We haven’t relied on our other sources of electricity (engine, generator, wind generator, shore power) since we hooked up the solar panels.

The boat came with two solar panels on the radar arch. The positioning of the original panels, and their small size meant that we didn’t get a lot of power from them. On the drive down from Vancouver this past fall, we stopped into a store in Arizona and purchased some new panels. We got the biggest ones that would fit onto the radar arch.

The radar arch needed some adjustments to handle our new panels. Namely it needed to be strengthened for the additional weight and the radar dome and antennas on the arch had to move to make room for these great big panels. These changes also meant we’d have to change the way our dinghy (Tubby) was lifted. Thanks to some great stainless steel work in Guaymas, the changes were done quickly without much issue.
We left Guaymas with the new panels in place and a new antenna post. While at the dock in La Paz, we finished up the wiring and installed the old panels on the railings. The wiring was finished late in the afternoon, with the sun low in the sky, but we saw a little trickle of power coming in. The next day we were quite pleased to see how much power we can receive from the sun!

Next, we’ll have to run the antenna cables to the new antenna post.