I know it’s been awhile, but I’ve been busy sorting out a few boat issues, and just haven’t had the energy to post again. I’m beginning to see some light at the end of my several tunnels though, so I thought I’d write a quick one to bring you up to speed.
I’ve been working on three different projects, more or less simultaneously. I am still in the process of replacing the leaking water tank, I’m doing some fiberglass work in preparation for reinstallation of the interior parts of the stabilizers, and I’ve rewired the upper helm and installed my custom made mount for the new Garmin chart plotter.
The new water tank arrived a week ago, and I have it on the boat, but I need a day when Janet and I are both there in order to move it from the salon down into the master stateroom. It’s too cumbersome to try to snake down the stairs singlehanded. I have all of the fittings I’ll need to connect the two, and I’m going to do it in a completely different manner than the factory did. My way, I feel confident that there won’t be any undue stress on either tank from being rigidly connected, and so I’m pretty confident my method won’t cause a similar crack to appear in the new tank. I’ll install a new sending unit so we can rely on the water gauge, and the vents will be arranged differently so that as the tank fills, it will vent overboard instead of into the bilge.
The guys who worked on the stabilizers were complaining about the rather small amount of reinforcing there is for the shafts as they go through the bottom of the boat, so I’ve been playing Mr. Fiberglass installing and glassing in some reinforcing blocks. Once that’s done and it’s all painted, they can come back and finish. It wouldn’t be too bad, except that where the shafts go through the hull, I have to crawl back behind the engines and do a pirouette under a cabinet at waist height to get squeezed into the work area. I can last about 10 minutes contorted like that, then I have to crawl out and unbend. If I don’t I just know my knees are going to lock up and I’ll be there looking silly when the nice 911 people come to get me. I will be SO glad when this job’s done.
As for the flybridge wiring, well that was something I wanted to do almost from day one. On the first night of our trip from Virginia to Florida, we realized that the cigarette lighter socket on the flybridge was non-functional. That meant we couldn’t plug in our portable chart plotter, and that just wasn’t going to do at all. So, the guy I hired to help me bring it down and I were on the flybridge at o-dark thirty that night replacing the socket with one I bought at a nearby West Marine. It was then, that I saw the rats-nest of wires under the helm. It looked like someone had purchased a fistful of fuse holders and had stuffed them into as small a space as possible, being very careful in the process, to avoid leaving any marks on anything that would give a person a clue as to which wire went where. We finally figured out which one went to the socket and got it replaced, but from then on, it’s been gnawing at me that I need to sort out that wiring mess.
Purchasing my Garmin 4212 chart plotter gave me the excuse I needed to start. I wanted to get the wiring for the plotter and the new Garmin radio done right, so I bought a 12 circuit fuse holder that uses the current blade style fuses instead of the older glass fuses that were up there, and I started ripping wires loose. At one point, I counted thirty-two loose power and/or ground wires. I then started tracing each one to see what went where. As I suspected, several went nowhere. They were leftovers from when something or other had been removed and instead of removing the associated wires, the genius doing the work just cut them off at the device and left the ends hanging.
Now, I have a nice shiny fuse block, orderly wiring, and am starting to install the NMEA 2000 network that will let the chart plotter and the radio talk to each other. This is important, because the GPS data that the chart plotter’s antenna collects is used by the radio to broadcast my current position if I ever hit the “Mayday” button. Also, the radio includes an AIS receiver which also uses GPS position data.
AIS stands for Automated Identification System and basically, big ships are required to broadcast an AIS signal that digitally reveals the ship’s name, size, direction of travel, speed, and a lot of other information. Smaller ships can also broadcast if they want to, but the transmitters are pretty expensive, and generally speaking, vessels under 65 feet aren’t required to do so. But I digress…because my radio has an AIS receiver, it will “hear” the AIS transmissions of ships in the vicinity, and through the NMEA network, will plot the position of those ships with an identifying icon on the chart plotter screen. Maybe not all that useful on a bright sunny afternoon, but really handy on the open ocean at night when it’s nice to know who else is out there.
So that’s what I’ve been doing with most of my Fridays and Saturdays lately. This weekend however, I’m declaring a holiday. This weekend is Aquapalooza at Disappearing Island at Ponce Inlet. It’s a huge boating get-together and quasi-party, semi-officially sanctioned by Sea Ray, but open to anyone in anything that sort of floats. We will be going in the Pathfinder, because it’s a lot easier to weave in and out of the crowd in it than it would be in Magic Carpet.
I’m really looking forward to looking at all the boats, and Janet said there might even be some bikinis, so I guess if I happen to see some, I’ll glance over at them, just so she knows I’m paying attention. See, if I don’t at least glance, she’ll think I’m losing it, she’ll start looking for an old farts home for me, and I’ll never finish my projects, so I guess I almost have to look at the bikinis, don’t I?