Sunday, August 31, 2014

What else we did on our summer vacation

In the midst of all of the summer trips, adventures and events, we also had a few SeaClearly lists to address. Some things were big, some small. We spend a lot of time working on SeaClearly. We have had comments like, "You know you guys are giving sailboats a bad name. All you ever do is work on your boat." and, " Do you think you guys work on your boat more than other people that are cruising on sailboats?"

Well - I don't know. I read a lot of other sailing blogs and it seems to me that they work on their boats a lot. And take on crazier projects than we do. Not everybody has the luxury of having their boat sitting in their backyard. So, I am sure that it just looks like we walk out there every day with tools and bags in our hands.

Solar panels - very happy with our clean install.
What I do know is that, when I compiled a list of the major tasks we did this summer we no longer wondered what we did with our time.

Solar Panels - We were pretty sure that there had been some efficiency improvements in solar panels in the last ten years but we couldn't justify a replacement. Fortunately (not!) one of our panels failed and forced the decision. I thought they were supposed to last longer so I assumed it must be a connection problem. After checking everything with the meter, all the way back to the internal connections in the panel, it became clear that the port panel was outputting zero. We got two new panels from Grape Solar, moved from 150 watts up to 210 watts, smaller footprint, no change required on the ProStar Controller, minor bracket modifications and Bam! we went from 2.4 amps to 9.5 amps output in full sun. Cool!

Refrigeration - The second part of the energy equation is consumption. We did some adjusting on the refrigeration and that reduced our consumption from 9.5 amps 100% of every hour down to about 7 amps 60% of the time. Big, big difference. Between these two changes we bought ourselves an extra day at anchor without recharging batteries.

Radar - OK, this one sucked. The radar died on the way back down the Chesapeake in June. A call to Raymarine Tech Support indicated we had a failure of an optical sensor in the unit. We climbed the mast, took down the radome and mailed it back to Raymarine.

Up in the air
Further up in the air, looking down.

After several weeks and multiple phone calls, they finally evaluated the unit and reported 'Could not replicate'. Having worked in the software industry for a lot of years, I know what that means. "We don't know either." They sent it back, I went through all of the connections (again), climbed the mast (again), and re-installed the unit. It works just fine. Not my favorite resolution. It always leaves me feeling like I haven't seen the last of this problem yet.

Sewing - Junie finally got her Sailrite sewing machine this year. That unleashed a series of projects.
- Fender covers
- Jerry can covers (complete with color coded emblems for water, diesel and gas)
- Dorade box covers (this one was an interesting patterning and geometry problem for me)
- Companionway screen

- Bimini view port fix (the original, very creative sail viewing window leaked in any rain)
Kick-ass sewing machine
Jerry Can UV protection
Dorade boxes

Somewhere, down there is a wheel brake.
Steering Wheel Brake -  This was another interesting project. The Wheel Brake on the Edson steering would not hold the wheel in place anymore. Sometimes, you just need to step away from the wheel for a minute and have the boat keep going in the same direction without the aid of autopilot (ours is named Horatio, by the way. Horatio Hornblower. Who better to take the wheel?). It seems like this should be a simple enough fix but getting into the actual brake requires taking apart the pedestal, the compass, and the engine controls. What a perfect opportunity to inspect the entire steering system! Just a little cleaning and adjustment fixed the problem. And, everything still worked when we put it back together.

We also:
- Repaired the staysail furler. Long story.
- Applied 303 fabric treatment to all of the canvas
- Completed the replacement of the foam for interior cushions
- Replaced primary bilge pump, reclaimed old one (WooHoo! Saved $500)
- Replaced springs in rope clutches

- Added a second jerry can lashing board on deck. We decided we wanted plenty of extra fluids on board.

There is also a fairly substantial list of things we purchased for replacements, updates and safety and comfort improvements. We also have a couple of outstanding projects that we hope to complete before we take off. Plus, we intend to stop in Oriental, NC for a haul-out in October. The rule of thumb for calculating the cost of maintaining a cruising sailboat is to figure 10% of the boat value, per year. Looks like we are tracking to the norm. 


  1. You should open a Cabo Rico maintenance facility. You'll have me as your first client! Recently I replaced my 2 13 year old 55W solar panels with 85W ones. Amazing how much more they put out, more that you would expect from the increased wattage alone. I wonder if they deteriorate over time, or if it is the increased efficiency of the newer panels. Expenses: 10% seems high if you do most of the work yourself, but then again, last winter I got a new mainsail, new canvas and new upholstery. This summer new solar panels and a back-up battery charger. Now I am looking at replacing some of the electronics. The autopilot failure got me thinking. The B&G h1000 displays I never liked, and now I start loosing sections of the AP controller screen. I like the new B&G/Simrad products and I may be able to keep the same AP ram. Or Garmin. Their products are getting good reviews too. I'll decide at the Annapolis boat show. It's just money....

    1. Nice to hear from you Thierry! I am sitting here drinking coffee from the mug I picked up in Solomon's at the Calvert Marine Museum when we visited there with you.

      Not ready to open a Cabo Rico maintenance facility - although, since this post we have replaced the raw water impeller, added a manual water pump at the head sink and cleaned the holding tank sensor. Funny how those dollars add up even though we have done all the work ourselves. In the last year, we have only actually paid $84 dollars for services and that was a diver to clean the bottom in Florida. Where do the money go?