Archive for March, 2009

Entry for March 30, 2009

March 30, 2009

We’ve had a VERY busy last two weeks!  We arrived back to Second Wind on Saturday after spending 8 days in St. Augustine working on a beautiful Schooner named Marguerite.  Her owners Jim and Barbara treated us like royalty while I spent over 80 hours replacing and improving systems that really needed my help.  They are sailing to the Mediterranean in May with our friends Rob and Sue (from Mandate) aboard as crew.  They really wanted someone knowledgeable and experienced to go over their 12V system and make it reliable and useful for a long ocean voyage.

They had a list of 37 items – big and small – for me to look at during my week on-board.  After a short time investigating and learning their configuration, the first thing I noticed was their batteries were “truck” batteries and not deep-cycle marine.  Standard wet cell batteries will not take being discharged then charged back up every day like a typical day on a boat.  These batteries were only a year old and they were pretty much shot.  The first two days were spent taking out the 3 huge 8D size batteries (140 pounds each) and replacing them with state-of-the-art Absorbed Glass Matt (AGM) batteries. 

I then added a new, big Inverter / Battery Charger and replaced all the relatively small #2 and #1 size battery cables with giant 4-0 (four-aught) cables that would easily handle the 200+ amps the inverter could draw.  The inverter required its own circuit breaker panel so I rewired much of their 12V panel to accommodate the new functionality.  The new inverter will allow them to use 120V AC systems while underway (which the inverter makes from the batteries) and charge the new batteries at up to 140 amps.  Their old charger was 40 amps and took forever to charge the large battery bank.  With the new inverter I added a really nice battery monitor called a Link 2000.  This will let them closely monitor every amp of power going into or out of the batteries at any time.  It will also closely control the inverter / charger.  I use the same system on Second Wind so it was very familiar to me.

The boat was originally wired for both 12V and 24V systems.  Since they didn’t need 24V for anything, I pulled out all the cables for that system and Jim toted away about 200 feet of scrap cable.  We also pulled all the old 120V cable that was obsolete and added it to the pile.

It’s hard to remember the next few days as I kept busy from sunrise to sunset working on rewiring and hooking up new systems.  A new stereo (from Wal-mart) sounded awesome after I fixed several speaker and wiring problems.  Their instruments were not talking nice to each other and I fixed several problems by going deeply into the setup configuration and telling them to behave.  I also ran wire between instruments for new communication lines to bring latitude and longitude to the marine radio and Practor Modem. 

Every evening Barbara and Laura would cook up a great meal and we’d try to pick-up the boat from the days work by 7 or 8 PM.  A bottle (or two) of wine before, during and after dinner, and much good conversation added to my great feeling of accomplishment and sore muscles.  Then it was to bed early so I could get up and do it all over again the next day.

By day seven I had completed most of the list when we received many large packages at the dock.  Their new watermaker had arrived!  Just when I thought I was almost done I saw another 2+ days of work in front of me.  Oh well….  DIG IN BILL!  Several hours spent looking over all the components and seeing where everything could fit on the boat brought us to a decision of mounting everything under the forward starboard bunk.  It would use up some of their pantry but we found places to stick parts that kept them pretty much out of the way.  It was easier because the watermaker was modular even though it was HUGE!  It was the largest watermaker I had ever seen on a sailboat and would deliver 20 gallons / hour of fresh drinking water from seawater.  Plus, it could be expanded to 40 gallons / hour just by adding another membrane.  That meant all the pumps and hoses were sized for a 40 gallon / hour watermaker.  That’s megayacht size!  Jim and Barbara found a great deal on this system so they bought something a little bigger than they actually needed.  They will also have to change their lives a little when they have all this “extra” water.  Instead of barely rinsing the shampoo out of their hair they will be washing down the boat with fresh water while at sea.

Thursday afternoon and evening along with a looooooong day on Friday saw us testing the completed watermaker at 8:30 PM.  After fixing a few leaks everything looked great and I was done (both physically and mentally)!

We had a great dinner and were up early Saturday morning for Barbara to drive us back to Marathon with their rental car.  After stopping in Ft. Lauderdale to check out Blue Water Books (a great nautical book store), pick up some parts for our boat in Miami and a couple hours at Wal-Mart in Homestead, we arrived back at Second Wind around 5:30 PM after 430 miles. 

Barbara stayed overnight then headed back to St. Augustine on Sunday morning.  They were awesome hosts and we hope to get together again when we head north in a few weeks.

My friend and former co-worker Seth arrived for a vacation with his family the week before we left to work on Marguerite in St. Augustine.  Seth and his daughter Morgan love sailboats so we had them over for an evening then took them out for a sail a few days later.  Unfortunately the winds were very light and the boat rolled a little which made things a somewhat uncomfortable for them.  But, on the way back, two dolphins swam over to the boat and played around the bow for several minutes.  Laura and Morgan had a great time as they watched these dolphins put on a show for us.  We’ve had dolphins playing around the boat but had never seen them so lively as these.  They were right on our bow jumping out of the water and snorting loudly from their blow-holes.  If our deck wasn’t so high out of the water, Laura could have reached down and petted them.  After a nice but slow sail we motored back into the marina.  Seth and Morgan left a little later and it was great to talk with him and hear about things happening back in the corporate world that no longer affected me.  Here is a picture of the dolphins around the bow.  You can just barely see Laura’s head on the left side.  See how close they are!

Now we are without a car which feels OK.  Having a car made it too easy to just jump in and drive somewhere to spend money.  Hank will let us borrow his car for groceries or emergencies so that is fine.  In the meantime, we’ll get more exercise by walking to the stores and using the dinghy for local travel.

We’ve accepted a charter for June 6th on the Hudson so we’ll be heading back north shortly.  The chartering here has been very disappointing and all our hard work getting the necessary permits brought in one dinner charter.  What we’ve learned is the resorts (where the high-paying visitors stay) make it very difficult for an outside vendor to take their guests off-site.  They don’t allow any advertising on their grounds which makes getting the word out difficult.  Now we’ll concentrate on our summer season on the Hudson with hopes that it will bring in enough business to keep us afloat (pun intended).

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Entry for March 14, 2009

March 14, 2009

It’s Saturday, March 14 and Laura is diligently working on a canvas job up in the cockpit.  I just did some work on “Waterway Guide” – a boat in our marina run by a great couple who own the Waterway Guide magazine.  Actually, Laura is sewing canvas and netting together for a doggie-net around the decks of their boat.  I stopped by with her to measure stuff and we started talking to the owners about the schedule to get things done.  I mentioned I was heading up to St. Augustine this Thursday to work on a boat and when Jack found out I worked on 12 volt systems he asked me to look at their Inverter which wasn’t working.  It was a system I was familiar with so I stayed behind while Laura headed back to the boat for more sewing.  Typical to boats, the system had many previous repairs and nothing was documented.  I spent about 1 ½ hours figuring everything out and eventually found the right procedure / switch settings where everything worked correctly.  Jack was very happy and asked how much he owed me.  I mentioned we didn’t have any Waterway Guides on our boat and he immediately went to dig out new copies of all their guides.  10 minutes later he presented me with a stack of guides worth about $150 retail.  Not bad for 1 ½ hours work, huh?

This Thursday we had my cousin Don and his wife Kaye over to the boat for a sail.  They are down here for a month sharing a house with friends who we invited also.  We motored out of the marina and sailed on the ocean side of The Keys for over 4 hours.  What an AWESOME sail!  The winds were perfect at a steady 12-15 knots as we worked through just about every point of sail – upwind, downwind, beam-reach and everything in between.  We had a ball and everyone greatly enjoyed the trip.  The picture is from the stern of the boat while we are underway.  From right to left are Don, Jack, Kaye, Bill, beautiful Laura, Diane and Judy. 

Yesterday we had a call from a gent in NYC asking about a Spring charter on the Hudson River.  We ended up booking a luncheon sail on June 6th for six people with him.  I guess we’re going back!  The business here is terrible and we’re hopeful things will be better on the Hudson with people from NYC and NJ looking for get-away sails. 

Rob and Sue on Mandate are back in the U.S. after about 2 months in the Bahamas.  I will be bringing their car back to Titusville on Thursday then traveling up to St. Augustine for work on a friends boat Margarite.  Rob and Sue will be crewing on Margarite to the Mediterranean in May and Rob talked the owner into hiring me to go over their boat’s systems to redesign or fix anything that wasn’t right.  Laura will join me if she is caught up with the canvas work but boats here are preparing to head north and everyone wants work done NOW.  She’s very busy.

My co-worker Seth from ReserveAmerica will be arriving today with his family for a week in a local resort.  I’m looking forward to seeing them and talking about old times and new happenings.  If the weather cooperates, we’d love to get them out for a sail.

That’s about it for now.  Everyone join me in wishing my brother-in-law Tom a happy 60th birthday on April 3rd.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOM!!  HOPE IT’S A GREAT ONE!!