Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

After all the preparation there was not much to do but wait, so I took that as an opportunity to knock out a bunch of (inside the boat)  projects.

I had an order from Tactical and  Marine Wholesalers shipped to the marina so my project list included installing all of the alarms recommended by my surveyor and in some cases required by my insurance company. The hardest part was figuring out where to put them, near the ceiling, near the floor away from corners, not near hatches. . . First was the battery powered smoke alarm, since there was no wiring to run this was going to be the easiest of the bunch. Next up was the CO detector, this required a power feed so was a little more complicated. These two ended up on a bulkhead between the navigators station and the starboard pilot berth. The last alarm was the propane detector. Nobody required this one but I'd just read about a fellow who blew himself and his boat up as a result of a propane leak so I added that one for good measure.

This was the hardest one to place, try to find a spot 20" from the floor in the confines of a sailboat that won't get kicked, mashed, or soaked repeatedly. I settled for a tucked in spot under the navigators seat, which is just across from the propane stove in the galley.

 To finish the wiring required a quick trip to West Marine and Radio Shack. By this time the rain was pouring down and wind was in the 30+ knot range so I made a foray out into the storm to check all the lines for chafing and relocate some particularly noisy halyards.

I also made a stop at Walmart to pick up a blanket, I just about froze Saturday night. I know the weather service calls these tropical storms but there is nothing tropical about the temperatures that it brought to Norfolk!

Before moving on to the next project required some major leak remediation, it turns out that my mast boot wasn't as well sealed as I had thought and I had what were starting to look like rivers feeding lakes flowing down the mast and dripping from the adjacent headliner panels. To control the flow I removed one of the panels and the board behind it, this kept the flow concentrated around the mast where I placed a series of bowls and plates to catch the water. The plates were needed because as the boat rocked over 5 degrees in either direction the impact zone kept shifting.

The wind and rain were annoying but, for me and the others in the marina I spoke with, the storm surge was the biggest concern. At the peak high tide we were within three feet of the docks floating off of the pilings, at which point things would get very bad very quickly.

Monday evenings project was the installation of a new Standard Horizon Matrix AIS+ GX2150 VHF radio. I picked this radio because of the integrated AIS function, for those unfamiliar with AIS it provides position and course information for all commercial vessels in the vicinity, particularly useful in low visibility situations. (Like we experienced going into Baltimore Harbor). From an electronic perspective the installation went great,  including setting up the NMEA 0183 connection to the GPS. This part was interesting enough to merit a post of its own later. The appearance side of the project didn't go as we'll. the new VHF was smaller than the one it replaced so I will need to fabricate a bezel to fill the gaps.

Late Monday afternoon the wind switched and it turned even colder, that night I ended up dragging a spinnaker bag into my bunk for added insulation! The wind switch also brought significantly lower water, the levels dropping several feet in just a few hours.

With the latest additions the boat is ready for the next leg of its journey!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Getting Ready for Sandy

Friday night I drove down to Norfolk to make sure we were ready for Hurricane Sandy. Because the apparent track of the storm had it missing Norfolk by several hundred miles I elected to keep the boat in the marina and prepare it to weather the storm there.

On the way down I picked up 150 feet of 3/4" nylon/polyester blend rope to upsize the dock lines. The current lines are 5/8" and some of the spring lines are 1/2". Friday night the wind was relatively mild so I dropped and stowed the roller furling headsail. Angela from the marina and Mike helped me get the sail put away, it would have been a much less pleasant job without them.

First thing Saturday morning - before the rain started I installed the two stern chocks that I'd purchased at my last visit to Bacon Sails in Annapolis. This let me properly cross tie the stern lines which really improved the angles to the dock cleats. It also allowed me to better control the boats position in the slip. I was also able to duct tape the forward vents, they are old and stiff and I wasn't ready to fight with them to put the caps on the vents.

At this point the rain started to fall, lightly. The next step was adjusting the existing dock lines and rigging the new larger lines. I made two 30' and one 50' line to supplement the existing lines. After cutting, splicing and whipping the lines I added them as bow and spring lines. Also added chafe gear to the lines using sections of hose zip tied to over the line.

The whole day Saturday at the Marina reminded me of Minnesota before a big snow storm, everyone was out getting ready sharing supplies and advice on how to best prepare.

By the end of the day it was raining pretty hard and blowing 25 knots, everything appeared in order on the boat so I met up with Zach and Susan Nelson for dinner to discuss the next leg of the trip back to Charleston.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I "discovered" Bacon Sails

This past weekend on my way to work on the boat I stopped in at Bacon Sails hoping to find a decent used spinnaker. Dimi II is is rigged for a a spinnaker but Herb had just been borrowing one when he raced and recommended I add one to the sail inventory.

What a great place, it's like a "Habitat for Humanity" store for boaters. The showroom was full of used gear at good prices. The team there was very helpful and knowledgable and helped me to find a sail that would meet my needs. The prize was a consignment from Navy Sailing in need of a few patches, I can hardly wait to get it down to the boat.

I also checked an item off of my shopping list, two chocks that will allow me to cross tie the stern lines. I was sure I was going to spend over $100 each for the size I wanted, but found a set for $39.99 each that will work perfectly.

I did finally make it down to the boat and finished putting in the DC electrical panel, it's nice to finally be able to plug in to some power while underway.

I also took some rig measurements and am rethinking taking the Inter-coastal waterway at least part of the way to Charleston. I'm torn between wanting to take the offshore passage and the idea of breaking the trip into a couple of more manageable pieces.