Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Awash in projects

We are back at the Deltaville Boatyard in Deltaville, Virginia (map).  We arrived here shortly after my last post, and spent a night on a T-head on the marina side before being moved over to a yard slip.  Our friends Steve and Sandy took us to dinner that evening before he had to zip off to the Fort Lauderdale show.  We've also since had a farewell dinner with cruising friends Tony and Liza, who shoved off Saturday for points south.

Nordhavn 47 and Selene 48 side by side.

In addition to old home week, we've also been reunited, in a way, with a number of very familiar boat models.  When we arrived a Nordhavn 47 and a Selene 48 were next to one another on the hard.  We had spent a great deal of time looking at these two models, and this particular Nordy 47 was one we had seen just last year at the Fort Lauderdale Trawler Fest.  It was quite revealing to see these two boats side-by-side on the hard, as I tend to think of them as more or less the same size as each other and also as Vector.  Both vessels splashed last week and also shoved off Saturday, when the weather was perfect for cruising.

Selene 48, Nordhavn 47, and Vector all lined up.

Now we find ourselves in the company of a pair of Krogens, a 48 and a 52, also very similar boats to Vector.   The 48 is a rare twin-screw example -- the vast majority of Krogen 48s are singles.  Almost everyone is in the middle of a southbound migration, so we are in good company.

The yard has belted out a good number of the items on our list.  The bilge discharges have been extended with 18" loops above the discharge outlets, the bilges have been cleaned out, and the rust spots have been addressed.  Today they are taking care of some paint issues on the aft deck, which will leave the black tank vent problem as the lone remaining issue to be fixed, plus wrapping up the stabilizer repair in the "new work" column.

The tank vent has been held up because the tanks need to be pumped out first, and there is a problem with the yard's pumpout system.  Parts have been ordered and we hope to get pumped out perhaps tomorrow, which would let them get the vent work started Thursday.  With any luck at all we will be done before the weekend, but I am not counting on it, nor can we count on the weather being cooperative for a departure this week.

So long as we were here, I tackled a number of projects of my own, and we had a number of items delivered here to an address that is now already hard-coded into my eBay, Amazon, and McMaster-Carr accounts.  The project list, it seems, never gets shorter -- for each project I tick off, a new one takes its place.

You may recall that our departure from Baltimore was delayed slightly by a late-arriving package.  That package contained a Furuno FA-100 Class-A AIS transceiver as well as a CRT-style radar display, both of which had been removed from a Washington State ferry.  I paid less than $500 for the whole lot, shipping included, and I have since sold the CRT display, bringing my total to less than $450 for the AIS system.

FA-100 with all covers and front panel removed.

The downside of buying these sorts of used commercial electronics is that there is "some assembly required."  The AIS was pulled out of service well over a year ago, and thus the soldered-in lithium backup battery which retained the settings was deader than a door-nail when I tried to fire it all up, and the first thing I needed to do was locate and order the weird battery for it.  To their credit, Furuno's tech support has been absolutely wonderful to work with, supportive and helpful.  Now that the new battery is in I can start wiring up and programming the system, which will likely be the subject of a future post all its own.

Removing the main board.  The pesky battery is zip-tied in place at upper left.

We've been lamenting the absence of any sort of table on the enormous flybridge.  We can seat 6-8 people comfortably up there, but there is nary a place to set down a drink or a bowl of bar mix.  Ever since I completely re-did the pedestal on the dining table and installed a pilothouse table from scratch, we've been contemplating ordering something similar for the flybridge area.  Louise came across a nice Garelick teak cockpit table, complete with pedestal, on final closeout, and ordered it for delivery here.

Where do I set my drink?

Unfortunately, the table arrived damaged, with a big chunk broken off the fiddle edge.  The vendor was very accommodating, sending us a whole new table and leaving it to us to dispose of the damaged one.  We installed the replacement as planned on the flybridge, and it looks and works great up there.  Louise is planning to make a cover for it to keep the teak out of the weather, although until then we can just remove it and move it indoors as needed.

Ah, that's better.  Louise also made the snazzy pillows, which are tied to the stanchions.

I ended up gluing the fiddle back together on the damaged one.  It would not stand up to outdoor use, so we could not have used it in its intended spot on the flybridge, and you can tell it was damaged if you look closely, but we opted to install it in the pilothouse in lieu of the imitation-cherry pressboard round that I had installed there originally.  This oval is a better aspect ratio for the space, and the real teak looks much nicer than the fake cherry, even with the repaired damage.  The old cherry round is going in the giveaway pile.

It's been pretty cold here since we arrived, but we did have two days last week in the low 70s, and I took advantage of them to work on the tender.  Now that we are using it, the lack of a working fuel gauge for the integral 8-gallon tank has become a liability -- there is no "reserve" setting.  So I took apart the console to trace out the electrical system.

I discovered that the wire which is supposed to supply the gauge with 12v power had never been connected, so no matter what, the gauge could not work.  Unfortunately, the wire coming from the sender is also reading a dead short to ground, so now that I have power to the gauge, it simply pegs above the Full mark.  I did everything I could inside the console and the tiny anchor locker, but it appears I will need to access the sender to repair it, which means cutting through the sealant and removing the sole above the tank.  That's a bigger project than I wanted to tackle at the time.

As long as I had the console apart, though, I took the time to install the electric horn I bought for it several months ago.  I had also bought a waterproof pushbutton for the horn, but rather than drill another hole in the console, I opted instead to connect it to the existing power-trim rocker switch on the throttle lever.  Our new 25hp outboard does not have power tilt or trim, so the control was doing nothing, and this lets me use the horn without taking my hand off the throttle.  The horn, BTW, is a Coast Guard requirement, which we previously met with a whistle stowed in the glovebox -- not exactly convenient should use of a sound signal actually be required.

As if I did not already have enough to do with all the boat projects, my laptop computer is on its last legs and needs to be replaced.  I did an extensive write-up here the last time I went through this process, wherein I lamented the passing of Windows XP from the market.  Windows-7 is probably the least of all evils had I needed to stay with a Microsoft OS, but even that is hard to find now with the advent of Windows-8.  Fortunately, the software that had me married to Windows on the bus -- our highway mapping software and satellite dish control system -- have no place on the boat.  For this go-round I've moved to Ubuntu Linux instead.

Fortunately, the marine charting programs we use, OpenCPN and Polar View, both have Linux versions, and almost all my other software is also Linux-friendly, so I should not have too many problems making the switch.  The new computer just arrived yesterday, so I am expecting a good week or so to get myself fully up to speed on Ubuntu's new GUI and get everything moved over to the new platform.  That will free up my old laptop to run the chart software over on the helm, where the fact that the battery is shot and he power supply is taped together are non-issues.

Also in the category of otherwise discretionary projects that have moved up the priority list is replacing the carpets.  I had hoped to hold off on this one for at least another six months or so, but we knew it was inevitable that our aging cat with kidney disease would eventually have an accident, and it happened sooner rather than later.  We've done what we can with enzyme treatment, but once this starts, it's a vicious cycle.  We spent a couple of days looking into alternative floor treatments, since carpet is not really a good idea with these cats.

We settled on a commercial woven-vinyl product similar to what we used on Odyssey.  These are 50cm square tiles rather than roll goods, so they should be fairly easy to cut to the intricate shape detail of the saloon floor.  We'll take delivery of the tiles while we are here, but I don't expect to install them until we are further south.  We'll also need to do something about the carpet in the master stateroom, where tiles are not a good choice because of the bilge access hatches.  Louise is trying to find similar materials in sizes large enough to do the whole room in three or four sections, which can easily be peeled back to reveal the hatches.  The VIP stateroom, which is closed off from the cats, will retain the carpet, which is in very good condition in there.

Whenever we are done here, we'll head south to Portsmouth in two hops, likely stopping somewhere on Mobjack Bay en route.  Not a moment too soon -- it was 48° here yesterday.  I will try to get in one more post here before we shove off.


  1. This stuff works for cat odors.


    Bill Kelleher

  2. I hope your laptop transition goes well. I've been discovering tablets for 'single job' devices. You can buy a decent Android tablet for less than you pay for a GPS, and you end up with a more flexible device. I'm "all in" to Google as well, having fully bought off on letting them store pretty much everything I used to lose in hard drive failures.
    Meanwhile, with those cold VA/NC temps kicking in, I'm projecting that you make an attempt or two at getting Vector to plane as you run for warmer climes. I've seen the NC coast in snow and ice one time, and that was pretty much all I needed. Fair winds.

    1. I am not a fan of tablets for general-purpose use. I much prefer a keyboard for email and blog posting, and by the time you add a keyboard to a tablet you more or less have a notebook anyway. More importantly, the charting systems we need do not run on Android or other tablet OSes.

      I will probably get a tablet for the flybridge, though. The laptop will be more or less bolted-in to the pilothouse, and it will be nice to have a more modern display on the flybridge when I am running the boat from up there. The trick will be to get a display that is mostly readable in full daylight.

      We are definitely itching to head south. We're hoping you'll come out and see us in St. Mary's when we finally make it.

  3. Also consider the Linux Mint OS with the Cinnamon Desktop.. Mint is based on Ubuntu but with cinnamon retains the latest Gnome 3 desktop.. I haven't been a unity fan as it is kind of like the same reason I don't like W8... Way more glitz than functionality...

    1. Thanks, Rod. I wanted to get up and running "out of the box" and I bought a netbook preloaded with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. As you note, it comes with the Unity GUI. I might switch at some point in the future, but I can type commands into terminal faster than I can do anything on a GUI anyway.

      Once I am completely off this old XP machine I will probably upgrade it to Ubuntu as well, which should eek a bit more performance out of it. I'll keep XP on dual boot, in case I ever need to run any of my old Win-only apps.

      Otherwise, glad to finally be free of Microsoft once and for all. What it took was for a critical mass of apps available on Linux. If the charting software was not available, that would have killed the deal.

  4. Hi Sean,
    Just curious, what are your thoughts on anchor weights, I've never used them but they seem like a good idea.

    Also, what are your thoughts on fishing from your boat or boaters that do fish. Please share and thanks for your blog, it's a great read, it gives us an idea of life aboard.

    Bill and Vicki Marks

    1. These type of weights are known as "kellets" or sometimes "sentinels" and tomes have been written on the subject. One such tome would be Earl Hinz's Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring.

      I don't presume to know more about this than he does, so I would simply refer you to that volume. What I believe is that a kellet would be of marginal value for us with our 400' of heavy chain. That said, it may be of greater value for boats with nylon or combination rodes.

      As for fishing, I am really the wrong person to ask. Neither do I eat fish (except for shellfish and a very small handful of pelagic species) nor do I enjoy sport fishing.

      I can tell you, though, that fishing from cruising boats is popular, at least if the number of rod holders and stowage we saw on the boats we considered is any guide.

      Bear in mind that fishing from a cruising boat, or, in many cases, even just having tackle aboard, can expose you to a byzantine panoply of laws and regulations everywhere you take the boat. Generally speaking, if you have tackle aboard, you will need to have a fishing license in every state and country you enter.

      The only fishing tackle we have aboard Vector is whatever comes hermetically sealed in the emergency kit on the liferaft.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!