Friday, July 19, 2013

Red-hot road trip

We are at the Elks lodge in Kent Island (Stevensville), Maryland (map).  We left Deltaville in Odyssey yesterday afternoon after the yard had wrapped up for the day.  We've had lots of good progress and I am in a better place than I was two posts ago.  Vector is still on the hard, though, which is why we are making this trip in the bus.

The most dangerous thing to have on a boat is a schedule, and notwithstanding that fact, we made fairly firm plans long ago to meet close friends in Southold, NY, on the north side of the eastern end of Long Island this weekend.  That would have been part of a nice loop trip in the boat, which would have included a cruise past Manhattan and an excursion up the Hudson at least as far as West Point.  We may still get that far this season, but clearly we could not make it dovetail with this visit.

We did not want to miss this long-scheduled visit with friends who actually live in California, and so we decided to take a weekend off from boat projects to make it happen.  We briefly considered taking the train to New York, a very pleasant ride, but that would once again mean finding a way to get ourselves to and from Richmond, more cat-sitting, and other logistics.  So we opted to just come in the bus.

Unfortunately, I did not take into account the massive heat wave that is stifling the east coast at the moment, even though the heat index was 105 in Deltaville when we left.  Unless we want to run the generator 24/7, at around $100 a day, that means we will need to find power outlets for most of our stay.  This lodge, just a few miles from our preferred route up the DelMarVa peninsula, had 50-amp power for just $20, and is a very welcoming and active lodge -- we went in for a cold beer after we got parked.

So far, so good, but ahead of us lies a dearth of electric hookups.  I'm kicking myself now, because my two 50' ten-gauge extension cords are back on Vector, and it looks like we may well need them when we finally get to Southold.  That's in addition to the 75' of six-gauge power cord and 50' of ten-gauge cord that we already have aboard.

We are actually meeting everyone tomorrow morning in Rockville Centre, much closer to the southwestern end of Long Island, to caravan out together.  Our original plan had been to spend tonight at one of the several Walmarts or even the lone Elks Lodge nearby, but with no power available at any of those, we're now looking at alternatives much earlier along the route, possibly leaving us two hours or so away from Rockville Centre tomorrow morning.

Given that we may very well be spending the afternoon and overnight running the generator anyway, we've opted to stay here with our nice 50-amp outlet until the last yawning instant, which would put us into Long Island around 7pm this evening, minimizing both our heat load and generator run time should that be required.  In the meantime, if one of the earlier options pans out, we'll stop then and finish up in the morning.

This past week or so saw our fresh water tank re-coated with epoxy paint, NSF-approved for potable water use.  The hull bottom has also been prepped and painted, the propeller shaft and propeller installed, line cutters mostly completed, crab pot diverters welded on, and I finally finished wiring the windlass and plumbing the washdown system.

New shaft going in.

To save some money I painted the propeller myself.  The propeller had been coated with a product called PropSpeed when we bought the boat, and this is really wonderful stuff.  It was in good shape, too, with the exception of some wear right at the edges of the propeller, and if we were just doing a regular haul-out, we would have had the Prop Speed touched up.

Unfortunately, all the PropSpeed had to come off at the prop shop before they could true and balance the prop, leaving us with the prospect of having to prep and reapply a complete coating from scratch.  We're already over budget, and PropSpeed, as wonderful as it is, is very expensive -- $235 in materials alone for our size prop.  Instead we opted to go with a "barnacle barrier" treatment.  "Barnacle Barrier" is actually a trademark for propeller paint made by Pettit, and as marine items go, it's pretty reasonable, around $27 for a 16-oz rattle can.  It turns out, however, that Rustoleum "Cold Galvanizing Spray," less than $5 for a 16-oz can at Home Depot, is exactly the same stuff, and that's what I used.  When it's dry, it's basically 93% zinc.  I did not get a photo of the prop before we left, but it came out pretty nice.  I have a spare can of the spray aboard, so I can touch this up myself now any time we get hauled out.  Total cost to do the whole prop: $5.

The windlass wiring ended up taking much longer than I had hoped.  I'm not sure what they were thinking, but whoever installed the windlass ran two four-gauge wires for the up and down motor circuits, and a single six-gauge wire for the negative return line from the motor.  The main positive and negative cables feeding the solenoid and ground post were also six-gauge.  The instructions that came with the windlass call for a minimum of two-gauge, so the windlass power was undersized by a factor of three.  I don't think the windlass has been run enough over the life of the boat for there to have been any significant damage to the motor, but this definitely needed to be fixed.

Windlass motor connections exposed.

In order to get the correct size wires where they were needed, I ended up partly disassembling the windlass, cleaning out the holes in the deck, and rewiring all the solenoid wiring under the forward berth.  All of the old wire had to be discarded and I used 35' of new two-gauge marine cable.  I also got to use my new hydraulic cable crimper for the first time, which worked like a charm despite being a cheap Chinese knock-off purchased on eBay for $50.  I would not trust this tool for thousands of crimps, but for the two or three dozen I will need to make during the course of rewiring the boat, it should be fine.

The windlass is working once again, and I beat out the guys working on the anchor roller, so my part of the job will not be the gating factor to getting us back in the water (we need to get the anchor chain back aboard before going in the slings -- it weighs a thousand pounds).  I'm really happy to have new windlass wiring of the correct gauge, especially considering we would not even have thought about this project had it not been for the anchor locker renovation, which required us to remove part of the wiring.

The washdown pump is in the same area and runs from the same battery bank as the windlass, so it made sense to finish that while I was in there.  Also, the plumbing runs through the anchor locker, and I wanted to finish all that work before loading the chain back on board.  The pump works great (I had to haul a 5-gallon bucket of water down to the bilge to test it on the hard), and it will be great to have a nice high-pressure washdown available any time we use the windlass.  Previously, we had to execute a three-step procedure to get raw water on deck, involving one of us having to go down to the engine room while the other watched the helm, with the reverse three-step procedure, also in the engine room, after the anchor was stowed.

I have yet to finish the wiring, but we now also have automatic electric bilge pumps in every compartment, plumbed directly overboard via new above-the-waterline Marelon through-hulls.  We kept the complicated manually-operated high-volume pumping system as a backup, but these automatic pumps will ensure we are de-watering the boat even if we are away, or asleep, or just unaware.  A separate high-water alarm is associated with each of the four pumps.

We have one more hole yet to drill in the boat, for the direct discharge for the new gray water sump.  This hole will again be above the waterline, so we can tackle this after we splash.  I'm sure whoever has to install the sump will be grateful for working air conditioning.  That project is waiting on the last of two waste holding tanks to arrive, I hope sometime next week.  (The waste tanks need to go in before the gray sump.)

I am hoping that we will find the prop shaft finally coupled to the transmission when we return on Tuesday, which, together with loading the anchor chain, is the last remaining item keeping us out of the water.  With any luck we will splash before the end of the week.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man. I'm tired just reading this. Good call on the wire gauge. I don't think everyone who installs electrical stuff understands how easy it can be to burn out a motor when there's a voltage drop. Isn't that Ohm's law or something? All I know is, the manufacturers generally write those instructions for a reason. Hopefully you'll be back in the water soon. Good luck.


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