I am typing under way across St. Andrew Bay, having spent last night docked at the very nice Panama City Marina (map), right downtown. We arrived mid-afternoon after a long, winding cruise along the ICW. A combination of having the air conditioners running before arrival and a bit of seabreeze at the dock made for a much more tolerable docking experience.
Vector tied up to the transient dock at Panama City Marina.
Around 5pm we had a visit from retired naval skipper, fellow trawler owner, and on-line acquaintance Rich, who, after a brief tour of Vector, was kind enough to run us over to Home Depot to pick up a portable air conditioner. We rounded out the evening with a casual meal at local institution The Place downtown.
The 9/11 memorial, adjacent to our pier.
After we returned to Vector with our new purchase, we set to work unboxing it and getting it set up. The exhaust hose turns out to be quite short, and although we had expected to place the unit on the floor, we ended up removing one of the cushions and putting it on the pilothouse settee in order for the hose to reach the window.
Mr. Roboto, our extra crewmember.
Sitting there, as it is, it feels like we have an extra crewman in the pilothouse with us. We have dubbed him Mr. Roboto. In the store we vacillated between the 12,000 BTU/hr unit and the 10,000 BTU/hr model; we decided on the smaller one since it was an experiment anyway and it was ten pounds lighter and a bit smaller all around. Now that it's in position we are glad we went with the physically smaller unit.
Once we had tested its ability to start on the inverter alone, we then spent about an hour last night jury-rigging a window insert for the exhaust duct using heavy cardboard from the packing box. The plastic window inserts that came with the unit are all but useless with out curved slider windows on a very thin sash. The result, held together with duct tape, is something of a mess but will at least let us get up and running. If this works out I will make an insert from plastic.
Nothin' but class here aboard our yacht.
So far we've been under way today for a little over an hour in 90° heat and it is making a huge difference. While it is by no means cold in here -- the pilothouse is something of a greenhouse with all these windows -- it is mostly comfortable, and we have not had to run the generator. We may have to run the generator a time or two under way to cool down the rest of the boat, but probably not the four hours we ran it yesterday.
We'll give this experiment another couple of days, and if it seems to be working I might order a mini-split for permanent installation. I will definitely go with the larger 12,000 BTU/hr unit, the largest available in 120-volt. I don't think our inverter will have any trouble starting it.
This morning we walked into town for breakfast at The Bagel Maker before shoving off. Today's cruise will take us through St. Andrew Bay and then another 20 miles of "ditch" before depositing us in Choctawhatchee Bay, where we will anchor for the night. Tomorrow we should be in Fort Walton Beach, one of our old haunts, and we should make Pensacola on Monday, in plenty of time for my Tuesday flight.