Happy New Year! – Blanca, 5Jan2015

Happy New Year!  To take the edge off the winter cold, here’s a picture of the “new” diesel-fired cabin heater I installed last month. 

You can also see the rest of the companionway sole that’s been replaced.  I had to re-surface and paint the bulkhead behind the heater and install a heat-shield, as well as the flue-pipe and the thru-deck fitting.  Once I figured out how to tune it and clean the fuel lines, that baby pumps out the heat.  So no more electric space-heater.  And heat away from the dock when we need it!

I also completed the installation of a secondary 200-amp alternator on the starboard engine.  It directly feeds the house 12-volt system.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of it.  When the full-size battery box is reinstalled, it should show any pictures I take of that, so stay tuned.

On that note, I received delivery of 4 200 amp-hour 4D size AGM batteries for the house bank.  They’re monsters!  Thanks to Anthony at batterystuff.com for a great price, and free shipping (it was a holiday deal).  Free shipping on 4 125-lb batteries.  That’s huge!  I wasn’t really ready to buy them yet, but with that deal going on, I had to jump.  So now refurbishing and reinstalling the battery box and putting in the new battery bank has moved up the priority list.

There’s a similar story on the refrigerator.  I had been poring through the internet, looking for a fridge that would fit in the alcove in the galley.  We found one that was close, but would require enlarging the alcove and losing a chart-drawer that’s above it.  We bought that fridge last spring and set it up in the garage at home, with the intention of moving it to the boat when the galley is ready.  It served as a secondary “beer-fridge” in the garage all summer.  Then I found another fridge online that was the right size without modifying the alcove.  Afraid that it would be out of stock by the time the alcove is ready, I jumped on that fridge.  It’s now sitting in its box in the foyer at the house.  And darn, we’ll just have to keep the first one as a beer-fridge.  So the galley alcove refurb moves up on the priority list, too!  I’ve a new 120-volt circuit installed; all it needs now is paint and new decking for the fridge to sit on.  Then we can get rid of the tiny dorm-room fridge that’s been taking up counter space in the galley.  I’ll get pictures of that when it’s installed.

So, things move along.  I need to learn to take more pictures.  New Year’s resolution, perhaps?  Happy New Year!



Electrickery – Blanca, 04Aug2014

I finished this last month and finally remembered to snap a few pictures– the DC electrical system is mostly in place.  All the heavy metal: up to 4/0 gauge cables and heavy copper bars to handle as much as 400 amps (at 12 volts). The plan is to combine the batteries in the battery bank with a “star” approach, instead of the traditional daisy-chain.  A little more money in a second set of bus-bars, but this way each battery has an identical copper path, preventing any imbalance from one to the next.

I ordered the inverter/charger I’ve been planning for– a 3000 watt Victron Multiplus.  That guy should be heavy-duty enough to handle a microwave or other heavy load (for short periods).  Along with Victron’s battery monitor and monitoring panel, I’ll be able to keep track of the batteries, etc. and have some expansion room for things like solar or wind charging.

The DC distribution panel is installed and working.  Thanks to Phil at Polaris Panels (http://www.polarispanels.com/) for that.  He’s been great with advice and quality products for my AC, DC and engine panels.

Finally, I got a start on replacing the cabin sole in the galley.  We’ve been tip-toeing from stringer to stringer so long, it was really nice not to have to look down for each step.  The companionway stairs are solid now, too, so they won’t tip.  And the railing is re-installed,  making it safer and easier to move around, especially if the boat rolls.

Next project– secondary alternator.


The Payoff – Blanca, 14Jul2014

In May, I was able to get the navigation lights all installed.  That required a “mini-mast” on the bridge for a mast-head light.  That light will move to the real mast-head when we get one.  I also installed a life-ring holder for the life-ring, complete with Blanca’s name. (Thanks, doityourselflettering.com!) All set with all the required equipment.

We had a beautiful Memorial Day evening on the river, starting with a boat ride with friends for an hour or so, then anchored off the beach to watch the holiday boat-burning bonfire.

While anchoring, I snagged a crab-pot with the port prop.  It’s almost impossible to avoid them in the 10-15′ range off the beach!  The prop wound the pot-warp up like a windlass– pulled the pot up to the prop and wrapped it around the blades like a rag-doll.  Over the side I went!

After an hour or so of fighting with the mangled wire, both in swim-trunks and then with scuba, I emerged victorious, with no damage other than scrapes all over my hands.  The poor crab that was in the pot had the ride of his life, before being dismembered.  I’m an Apex Predator!!

After dark, while idling up the channel to drop off our friends at the fuel dock, I had to counter-steer quite a bit to keep straight.  Current?  Wind?  Um– try disconnected prop-shaft flange!  The struggling while anchoring made the flange-bolts work loose, and the prop pulled partway out.  Another foot and we’d have had a 1 1/2 inch hole where the prop shaft used to be!  I pulled that back together and snugged those bolts down tight at the fuel dock.  Sea-trials find problems; it’s nice to be able to fix them myself.

We anchored out in peaceful Herring Creek over night.  The loudest thing we could hear was a dog barking in the distance and the gentle lapping of the ripples against the hull.  Our friends who like to kayak paddled out to us early the next morning and quietly left hot coffee on the gunwale for us to find when we woke up.  Nice.

Finally, some payoff for the work I’ve been doing the last 4 years.  Feels good.