Saturday, August 23, 2008

August 22, 2008.

We crossed a couple more chores off the “to do” list.

I couldn’t dodge it any longer so I finally got around to re-packing the stuffing boxes. The stuffing box on the prop shaft is a giant pain in the ass to get to on our boat. I can only put one hand on it at a time with my arm at full extension. In direct contrast with past stuffing box encounters, this time everything fell right into place. I was able to get the thing apart with no loss of knuckle skin or blood and only some minimal cursing. I added the new stuffing and had it back together in record time.

Then came the rudder post stuffing box. It lives directly under the bunk in the aft cabin. Once we took the mattress and all the bedding out of the cabin the rudder post stuffing box was nicely exposed. Adjusting this box is always easy as the box is readily accessible once the bedding is gone. But there’s a catch, there’s always a catch isn’t there?

While adjustments are easily made I had forgotten that disassembly was impossible with out completely removing the steering quadrant and let’s not forget about the auto pilot. There I was, still basking in the glory of the first box going so well for me and now this.

So after gathering several more tools I set about taking everything under the bed apart. The ease of access to this area of the boat really makes this an easy job. I was just a bit bummed as I thought that the more difficult stuffing box was already done and then that one just got a lot more complicated. In the end it all went well and was back together in short order.

Next up on the list was the new bilge pump hose. Our bilge pump has always spewed water into one of the cockpit scupper drain hoses. It was an “okay” arrangement until we encountered some really big waves, hour after hour on our way back from the Bahamas. Of course, this shit always happens as soon as you get into 4000 feet of water.

Water was actually being forced up the cockpit drain line. Not far enough to make it into the cockpit but far enough that it was running down into the bilge through the bilge pump line. Then, when enough water accumulated the bilge pump would come on and pump it all back out. This meant that the bilge pump was running every 15 minutes and when you’re not sure how the water is getting into the bilge it makes for a pretty tense situation. Once I realized what was happening, we decided that we needed to re-route the bilge pump hose when we hauled the boat.

So I spent some time and installed a new 22 foot run of hose to the transom of the boat. Now when the bilge pump comes on it sends the water out the back of the boat as it did when the boat was designed.

By the time I had the boat put back together and the bed remade the day was shot so we headed over to the pool. After swimming and lying about for 2 hours we had dinner on the boat before heading over to the Captains Lounge to watch some Olympics.

The list is getting shorter so today I decided on a chore that I’ve been looking forward too. Thank God Christy keeps a list because I had forgotten that I wanted to add a chartplotter to the aft cabin.

We have our old chartplotter on board as a spare in case we need it. I realized that if I installed it at the bedside it would make a handy anchor drag indicator. I mean as long as we’re taking it for a boat ride it might as well pay its own way.

As it is now when we are in a situation where dragging is a concern I leave the chartplotter on in the cockpit with the alarm set. When the boat moves a predetermined distance an alarm sounds until you get up and shut it off. We’ve never dragged *knocking wood* but we have found the alarm very handy when swinging with other boats in a tidal flow situation or when a front comes through and swings the boat. So the boat swings, the alarm goes off and I get up to see who’s where and make sure that we’re still happy campers. The downside is that the alarm isn’t very loud and I have to go topsides to silence and reset it.

So since we have the spare and the antenna is still mounted we can put it to good use. All I have to do is re-route the antenna lead, run a power cable to the bedside and mount the unit. Then I realized that I had to take the entire bed apart yet again. Shit. If I had done it yesterday it would have taken half the time but whatever. It all went well, fits nicely and seems as if it will work just as I had envisioned.

The next chore was one that Christy snuck in on me. I’ve been fist fighting with the new laptop for the last few evenings. The new system runs Vista software and I pretty much hate it. Vista doesn’t recognize our Engenius Wifi amplifier. Without the amplifier we can’t reach out and borrow peoples unprotected wifi signals from the boat. After taking the laptop up to the Captains Lounge and downloading this and that then deleting everything and then starting over several times, I was ready to kill someone. Finally, mercifully after reading a tutorial that explains how all the other tutorials are wrong I was able to get the laptop to recognize the amplifier. It was definitely the toughest thing I’ve done this week.

Today the marina parked a power boat next to us for a few hours. It was being readied for delivery to the new owner. It had a German engineered propulsion system that I thought was noteworthy. The props were mounted at the front of skegs that somewhat resembled backward saildrives. The skeg could rotate 90 degrees so the boat could pretty much be parallel parked. There were no rudders either; you steered at speed by changing the angle of the skeg.
It seemed kinda stupid to me to have the propellers as the first thing to hit any obstruction. No prop shafts or skegs out in front to fend off underwater debris. I guess they don’t have crab pots in Germany. Nice boat, interesting design, that guy is screwed.

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