Monday, February 7, 2011

What's going on?

This blog has taken a back seat to my other projects for the past few months.  I've been busy!

Ever since buying Luckness I have wanted to outfit her for ocean going voyages.  She's a blue water cruiser - if properly outfitted.  In this usage, the word Properly is going to have as many different definitions as there are sailors who would undertake (in reality or in theory) the plan on how she should be outfit.  When I was looking around for my boat I saw many which had a more complete set of gear.  Part of my attraction to Luckness was that she was very simple - there was not a long list of gear that I would need to live with or justify replacing.  Buying a more complete boat can save a person many hours of work and lots of money.  Selling a sailboat with a long list of equipment returns a surprisingly small portion of the money used to buy and install those pieces of equipment.  However making all of the choices over what pieces of gear I put on the boat is one of the things I put in the Fun category.

For the past few weeks, Luckness has been back at YachtFitters where Terry, Justin and crew are working on many installations.  They bring much more to the table than simply installing equipment - they have been doing this for a long time and enjoy clean elegant solutions and bring many ideas to the table to achieve those results.  I expect the boat to be busy for several weeks yet.

Last summer after my 16 day 'testing single handing' trip, I came back and varnished for 8 weeks.  I really want this summer to be free of any large projects and so am taking this opportunity to add pretty much every piece of equipment I can think of.  If everything goes well, I should be able to avoid any more long projects and being out of commission for some time.  Losing 6 weeks of prime summer last year won't happen again, with any luck.

So, what's going on is:
  • installation of two solar panels.  I've chosen Kyocera 135 panels.  The panels are large, but I wanted to have as much solar power as I could fit on.  Since Luckness is a double ender and doesn't have a stern arch right now, I've chosen to mount them on the rails.  This installation option is the cheapest and simplest.  If it proves inadequate I can revisit how they are mounted in the future
  • Blue sky 2512iX solar charge controller with IPN remote.  This is a MPPT charge controller which supports three stage charging.  The remote also provides battery monitoring
  • installation of an Air Breeze wind generator.  The breeze is a 200 watt (max) wind generator.  There were many factors in this choice - among them is that Practical Sailor reviewed it well.
  • design and installation of a pole to hold new radar and wind generator.  I was torn between either installing an arch on the boat, or using two poles for the installation of the radar and wind generator.  I've seen many arches which look strange on canoe stern boats, and boats with two poles are also often very busy visually in their stern.  Terry suggested using a single pole which would both mount the radar and the wind generator.  This is the approach I'm taking.  The pole will also have a hoist for the dinghy engine and other accessories.  PYI is manufacturing the pole to a YachtFitter design.  The pole will be installed in a hole through the deck in the stern just to the port of the propane locker lid.  This should lead to a very strong installation
  • installation of a single side band radio.  The backstay has now been cut and insulators have been installed so it can act as the antenna.  There is an Icom 802 and AT-140 antenna tuner in a box about to be installed.  Along with this there is a Pactor IIusb modem with a Pactor III license
  • installation of monitor wind vane
  • new instruments.  I'm replacing my older wind/speed/depth instruments with new ones.  I've chosen TackTick and have new wind/speed/depth/temp/heading ready to go.  TackTick instruments are wireless, so mounting is very flexible.  I also have a remote capable of displaying all the information in the system as well as showing the alarms (depth, wind, cross track error, etc).  The remote will be useful when I'm below, allowing me to keep track of the boat when I'm not on watch
  • new radar.  This decision was made long ago, although I spent quite some time reevaluating it and justifying it recently.  I have liked the Simrad BR24 since it came out.  Its not a pulse radar, but instead is FMCW (frequency modulated continuous wave.)  Google those terms if you want to learn how it works.  It has a very low power draw, very good resolution close to the boat but trails pulse radar in range.  It only draws around 17watts when operating, which is very low
  • new chart plotter/multi-function display.  As I wanted a BR24 I needed some way to display it.  I had an older pulse radar displayed on a CRT behind the nav station, but I wanted the radar at the helm where I steer the boat.  So looking at chart plotters that could work with the BR24 I saw a few options.  The Simrad NSE12 is toward the high end of simrad plotters and looked awesome.  A new one from B&G came out just recently based on the NSE12, the Zeus.  The Zeus has many sail specific features, which would be cool.  These units consumed quite a lot of power however, around 3 amps.  Simrad also offers the NX45 which is a 12" plotter which uses C-Map charts and draws a max of 750ma (350ma without the backlight.)  I picked the NX45.  (as an aside, check out the coverage of the MW18 C-map chip - one chip covers the entire west coast, Alaska to Panama and out to Hawaii.  Less than $300.)
  • upgrade pedestal.  I'll replace my current Edson straight guard with a new offset guard so that I can mount the chart plotter there
  • new forward looking sonar - an Interphase Escort.  This is a vertical forward looking sonar that scans from down to forward.  It will be displayed through a video connection to my multi function display.  It has alarms for depth and obstructions forward of the boat.  It draws 0.5 amps
  • new sails.  Carol Hasse is going to build me a full suit of sails for Luckness.  I'm really looking forward to these.  I want to be able to pole out my Genoa, and the clew on my current genoa is too low for that to work.  So I need a new genoa.  My stays'l is smaller and not as strong as I wanted, so another new sails.  I didn't have a storm stays'l or trys'l, so two more.  I wanted a better spinnaker, so will add a cruising spinnaker.  Of my sails the main is the one I could use for a while.  However Carol's work is excellent and I have gone for the whole set.
  • a pole.  I was going to buy a whisker pole but Carol has convinced me to get a fixed pole instead.  I'll work with the folks at Port Townsend Rigging on this as I saw and liked their setup at the boat show
  • work on the boom.  My outhaul will not move once the mainsail is loaded up.  I'd like to fix this.  I also want a vang - either soft or hard
  • Pacific Seacraft recommends an 18" prop for the 37.  It turns out that my prop is 15". I've been pretty unsatisfied with the performance while motoring into wind and seas (even the small seas we get in Puget Sound.)  Finding out that my prop is 15" is a big clue in the under performance.  The current prop is a max-prop, which I like.  I'll be installing a new 18" Max Prop.  Since I was buying a new prop, I tried to get one of the new Eco-Wind max props which looked good - they claim to save 30% on fuel which given my 40gal tank would be welcome.  However they don't fit in the aperture.  The Max Prop classic is the only max prop which fits
  • new dodger.  My current dodger was one I was going to live with.  Its pretty weak, but in strong winds it could just be folded forward and out of the way - exposing the crew to the full brunt of the elements.  Oh well.  My biggest complaint about it was that while leaving the cockpit and going forward there was no side rail on the dodger so there was a short distance where there was no good hand hold (aside from the life lines which I prefer to avoid for something rigid.)  Iversons's dodgers are awesome and very sturdy.  They have strong side rails as an option which will make going forward safer.  After visiting with them as the Seattle boat show and speaking with many folks, I've chosen to get a new dodger, an iTop.  A few more bucks.  At this point, why stop now!?
  • new canvas work.  I'll have lee cloths made, as well as weather cloths, a new sail cover, a new pedestal cover etc.
There is more, but that's enough to give the impression that I'm not sitting on my butt idle.  What's going on?  Quite a lot really!

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