Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Whirlwind week and onward!

Just so you know, we haven't exactly sat still since we've returned to Jensen Beach, our home port, a mere week ago. It feels like a month, with all the ground we've covered! We're going to be land-based for a bit these next few months, so are beginning to coordinate all the projects, maintenance tasks, repairs and upgrades we have on the never-ending to-do list. (Yes, it's a boat!) So far this week we've done the easy things from the necessary phone calls and repair schedule groundwork, to the harder, just plain grunt work! In that regard, we've discovered that it's an utter luxury to have Equinox just a few steps away here at the marina at Outrigger Harbour: I've made countless trips off-loading boxes of extra/over-stocked provisions, clothing, and other items that I don't want sitting aboard Equinox while we get all the various jobs lined up from upgrades to repairs. SO...onward!

On the upgrade list, one of the first things we're researching is a back-up water-maker. Fresh water is so essential, especially in the heat of the islands, and since it's scarce in most places, it's expensive as well. Many marinas will charge $0.40-0.50 a gallon, which can get pricey, especially if you have a large water tank. If you are in remote areas and will be on the hook, access to water is even more difficult, for quite often you can only get it aboard via jerry cans which can mean a lot of work to get just a few gallons aboard. Water is life!

Both of the alternatives above only highlight how much it means to have a reliable water-maker. Especially so, since I'm a water-girl! (I'm a Cancer, so I come by it honestly.) But really, there is a reason sailors of old called fresh water "sweet water"....nothing tastes better when you are aboard a boat. It's definitely my beverage of choice, as I prefer it over any soda, although a ginger-ale on occasion isn't bad, especially if served along with some good Bermuda rum! And...while this will sound sacrilegious and clearly not show proper reverence to the Holy Water Tank, I admit we are water-hogs in general. We use copious quantities, from thoroughly rinsing our scuba gear after our dives and to washing down the boat after long salty passages. Not to mention showering, doing the daily galley cleaning, laundry, and odd topside cleaning tasks; even though we try to be water-aware and don't waste it, we still use a lot of water! Thus...a small back-up unit would be a valuable upgrade. We're looking into different ideas with the help of our water-maker guru, Dick Murray. Dick will be out next week to help us de-scale the membranes on our existing unit, (bringing the needed service kit!) and to check out where we can fit in a small back-up unit. Onward!

The alternator/centerfielder issue is our main repair priority; we had one of the battery cables to the port alternator start to overheat on one of our legs from the Turks and Caicos, and we ended up disconnecting the whole thing to prevent any further issue with it. But...as to why it was overheating? Not sure. We checked the obvious causes, but nothing seems to be the culprit. And while I've taken a course on boat electrical systems to familiarize myself with the general idea of amps and ohms, resistance and capacity, it's still not my strong point whatsoever, so I'm more than happy to get some true expertise on this. Even just reading the inverter manual is like attempting to read an unknown foreign language: I have no idea what it means, whatsoever. Try as I might...I'm not stupid...but apparently some minds are wired like electrical grids, others like prose and poetry. I think I am the latter! Onward!

Another item we have to troubleshoot is our port autopilot software; whenever we use that autopilot, it takes forever to find its track. Sometimes when we first engage it, it wants to make a wicked right hand turn right off the bat, which can be a bit disconcerting, shall we say? The wind indicator also has a mind of its own, sometimes working, sometimes not. We've tried to log the instances when its not working, but there really doesn't seem to be a pattern to its on-again, off-again, lackadaisical attitude. Hmmm....more phone calls and sea trials ahead to deal with these issues, I believe. Onward!

Beyond that, we've got the convenience items, the small things: a couple canvas pieces to replace (the ones over the forward hatch covers, for instance), a bit of wood-working to be done (the wooden forward hatch screens inserts are literally coming apart at the corner seams) and almost silly housekeeping odds and ends that I want to replace (get new canisters for the flour I use for baking bread, along with a meat thermometer). There are also the odd project or two that I want to do, like making some mosquito screen inserts for the upper half of the Dutch doors in the pilot house and galley. While it's lovely to have the breeze coming in, we have no way to keep the bugs out when the half-doors are open.

So, from essential to the non-essential to the downright trivial, we have things to accomplish! Onward!

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