Wind and Work

CLR Marine.  The only other thing I needed was a couple of ShurFlo elbows, a couple of T’s, and a couple of Y’s.  These were much harder to find than I thought – but I found them at US Plastics.

Windlass

Since I’ve owned the boat, I’ve been popping the 75AMP breaker that “protects” my windlass.  It doesn’t happen every time I pull in the chain/anchor, but it does happen.  Since the problem is intermittent, and I only notice it when I’m picking up anchor – I didn’t tackle it in my “refit” in Puerto Lindo.  But I quickly became sick of it.  There’s nothing worse than having your anchor halfway up, in strong winds, and having to run below to flip a breaker.

So I did two things – first I checked the breaker.  Seemed fine.  Then I pulled the manual and sat down to do some reading – turns out that there are two models of my windlass – the Lewmar H2 and the H3.  I didn’t know which one I had – but both called for a breaker over 75 AMP.  So, again, the previous owner had done something not-so-intelligent by installing an under-sized breaker.  I sifted through my spares and managed to find a 110AMP breaker – which would be perfect if I had the H3 version of this windlass.  Since I didn’t know, and wanted to inspect the windlass anyways – I got into the anchor-locker and pulled apart the windlass.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was still in excellent shape, and I learned it was the H3.  So I swapped the 75AMP breaker for the 110AMP breaker I had onboard.  We’ll see today if this fixed my problem, but it’s pretty likely fixed.

Generator (again)

About this time I began using some power tools.  Which means that I cranked up the generator I thought I had “fixed.”  Of course, it ran for awhile and then died again.  Not cool.  I managed to get the rest of my work done using my inverter.  Then I pulled everything out of the locker with my generator in it and started all of the troubleshooting again.  After awhile, it seemed like my fuel/water separator might be clogged.  When I put the filter-wrench on the filter, it became clear that it was a little too tight.  I managed to crumple the outside of the filter without it budging.  Before I completely destroyed the filter, I went below to look for it’s replacement – and I didn’t find it.  I tore the boat apart – but I couldn’t find the replacement filter.  That was a major bummer.  I dropped everything, jumped on the computer and tried to find somewhere I could overnight the filters to Luke.  I managed to find a place that would ship quickly, but nowhere would guarantee delivery by the date I needed it.  I took a chance and ordered the replacement anyways.  If they don’t get here, I’ll just have to figure something else out.  Complete amateur move – heading off without a filter replacement, but I swore I bought them.

Dinghy

The best all-around dinghy is the inflatable dinghy, if you excuse price and the fact that they don’t sail well, don’t row well, deflate and are a PITA to repair.  Which means they aren’t always the best all-around dinghy. But for my purposes – they’re a pretty good dive platform, pretty light, simple to get in/out of, don’t sink, and are fairly comfortable.  Add to that the fact that they don’t ding up my (or other people’s) boat when I come alongside.

Well.

Mine started to deflate.  It’s clearly not a new dinghy, and I’ve been threatening to get a new one.  My thought on the inflatables is that if you choose to go the inflatable (also known as “deflatables”) – with heavy use you’ll probably need to replace them every 5 years or so to keep them from adding to your list of maintenance items.  Mine is about 7 years old.  It’s had a tough life.

More than a couple of people have asked:  Why replace your dinghy?  Why don’t you just patch it? 

Experienced cruisers know better.  When a dinghy starts to go, there are a myriad of problems that begin happening all at once.  One pinhole leak turns into 5.  Things begin separating.  Seats fall off.  Handles tear out.  Old patches fail.  Fiberglass bottoms become waterlogged.  Davit-points begin to leak.  Oars don’t clip in anymore.  My thought is that I have so many maintenance headaches already – the last thing I want is to have to worry about my dinghy.  As such, if I can afford it – I’m going to replace it relatively soon.  I don’t know if I can afford it yet, but here is what I’m looking at.

The contenders for my new dinghy are:

  • Caribe 10ft Fiberglass – Solid, dependable.  Heavier than the all of the AB’s below.  Likely slightly cheaper.
  • AB 10ft Fiberglass – Same as the above, with a slightly lower weight and likely a little higher quality.
  • AB 10ft Aluminum – Lighter than everything above, decently thick hull, more expensive.
  • AB 11ft Aluminum – Roughly the same weight as my current dinghy (and the new Caribe 10ft), with greater stability, a very high-quality (thick) aluminum hull, more room, and more waterline.  A definite favorite, the issue being the price.

Two things put the AB’s ahead of the Caribe, right now:

  1. They have a limited 10 year warranty.  I’m hoping for 5-7 years of service out of this inflatable.  I’m really happy to see a company show some level of confidence in the longevity of their products.  Especially considering what kind of abuse these things take.
  2. They’re made in Columbia, which is my next-door neighbor.  I can justify a trip to Cartagena to sell my current dinghy and replace it with a top-of-the-line AB, if I get a good enough price.

Stuff

Having people come in from the States has helped me immensely during this refit.  With the speed at which things break and need to be replaced, refitting without having people that can help by being boat-parts-mules would be longer and more difficult.

Luke is coming down to help me start capturing the trip on video.  I’m finally at a point that The Nomad Trip will start proving to be an adventure, as opposed to an exercise in boat-refit futility.  So I didn’t plan on shipping much to Luke. But that’s changed as things have broken.  From the simple to the complex, having access to the postal system and system of commerce available in the US is immensely valuable.

Here’s a small example.  Yesterday I ran out of drill battery in my portable drill.  I slapped in my spare, which I always keep charged, and found it wasn’t charged.  I plugged my charger in, put the spare battery on it, and found that the charger wasn’t charging it.  After a bit of inspection it became clear that the battery had corroded – a result of an ex-crewmember leaving it out in the rain overnight.  Without a spare battery, simple boat projects can drag on for days. But with someone coming down from the States, I was able to buy a refurbished drill, and two new batteries (for the price of a single new battery in Panama). Thank the little Baby Jesus.  Even more important is replacing my French Press – which Mom dropped off of the back of the boat the other day when cleaning it.

So.  Today we’re going to get some water from a (very nice) neighbor, then sea-trial all of my fixes.  Then Luke comes down, and we’ll have a full boat until Mom leaves.  It’ll be cool to have another young freediver aboard, and I’ll be able to provide a better look into my life – through Luke’s video.  Stoked about that, and hope you are too.

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