Sunday, September 16, 2007

Getting ready for the Harvest Moon Regatta!

I don’t know if I’ll sail as a part of the race or not, but I am going to take advantage of the full moon and do a shake out sail offshore. It’s about time. I still haven’t had Romance outside the Galveston Bay jetties so this isn’t a small undertaking for me. I’ve got a short list put together of things I need to accomplish on the boat before I could even meet the Category 3 offshore racing requirements. Not to mention it’s just stupid for a novice sailor to go offshore without some of these things. A few of these have been on other lists, but things like fixing the transmission took priority. I am really excited to be back on track and getting my boat ready for offshore cruising.

Must Do:

1. Purchase and install an offshore life raft. Practical Sailor just did a big spread on life rafts. I may take their advice and buy the budget recommendation. Avon makes a good raft that is relatively budget conscious as well. I need to pull the trigger and get this piece of gear mounted on my deck.
2. Buy an EPIRB! I can’t believe I’ve left this off the must do list for so long.
3. Replace the old Furuno 1621 Radar with a newer 1623. My old unit has crapped out and as with all my old electronics I have realized they are not worth repairing. To do this right I just need suck it up and buy new gear. The 1623 is a direct upgrade to my old unit so should be an easy install. It draws low power and has a 16NM range which should be plenty for me.
4. Finish the autopilot install. I don’t know why I’ve let this drag on, but it’s time to wrap it up.
5. Boil out the heat exchanger on the old Westerbeke 4-108. She still overheats above 2000 rpm.

Nice to do:

1. Buy a Garmin GPS chartplotter. I haven’t decided between the old 492 or one of the 550 models. One is discontinued and the other just had a major recall. Probably the newer one since Garmin does have great customer service if it has a problem.
2. Replace the mainsheet, main halyard, move the current main halyard to the spinnaker halyard.
3. Replace all running rigging on davits, mizzen mast, and spinnaker pole.
4. Get my Garmin handheld back to Garmin for repair.
5. Install lifeline netting on the deck to keep me and the pup onboard while underway.
6. Pull the windless and get it sand blasted and powder coated.
7. Do a top and bottom oil change on the 15 hp Johnson outboard.
8. Get the Main and Mizzen over to Cameron for repair, renewal, or replacement.
9. Secure the second CQR to the anchor chain and road with new stainless fittings.
10. Win the lottery to pay for all of this.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day: Part One

So I should note here that I was motoring to both check the engine, and because Red Fish was dead into the wind. Yes, I could have beat my way out there, but the concert only lated an hour and I wanted to hear a little of it anyway.

The noise from the power boats was deafening. I stayed way out on the perimeter of the anchorage until almost everyone was gone before I moved into the lee of the island.

This wraps up day one. More to come as I get them uploaded. I am thinking about buying a software package called Pinnacle for video editing. Does anyone have any experience with it? I'd like to be able to cut these together and get the whole story put into one video instead of five or six shorts. Hope everyone had a great weekend. I know I am not ready to go back to work.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A typical chain of events.

Romance did leave the slip last weekend. I finished up the major clean up and repaired the engine kill cable, but figured it was more important to get the boat out of the slip than spend more time on the autopilot installation. I was a little concerned right off the bat because the engine was running a little hot. Nothing major, but around 190 – 195 when she should hold at 180. Georgia and I made it out to Galveston Bay and after feeling sure the transmission was working well decided to hoist the main sail for a quick run under sail.

This is the first time I’ve ever had romance out single handed and it was an interesting challenge. I got the main up, but had a batten get hung on the outside of one of the lazy jacks so it looked terrible. While I was fighting with this, Georgia let me know she didn’t quite have her sea legs yet. She was walking around very carefully concerned that the place she was about to put her paw might move out from under her. Nothing she won’t get used to.

After fooling around on the water for a half hour or so I headed back to the slip. Everything was going pretty well until I heard my bilge pump go off just as I was pulling into my slip. Any time that goes off it means the boat has taken on some water. Once every once in a long while is ok, but the damn thing went off again about 3 minutes later which meant I was taking on water and rapidly.

I crawled down below to find the leak and was shocked to find water pouring out of my hot water heater. My first reaction was to turn off the boats water pressure pump and luckily that stopped the flow of water. I mulled it over awhile and concluded it had to be one of two things. First, the over pressure valve on the hot water heater could have gone bad as they are known to wear out easily. This would have been the easy fix. The second option was that the over heating of my engine was in fact boiling the fresh water in the hot water heater tripping the correctly functioning over pressure valve. The raw water that cools the engine runs through the hot water heater so that you don’t have to use electricity to heat the water while you are under way. To test it all out all I did was let everything cool off and turn the pressure pump back on. Sure enough it held water so I had an engine problem.

Yesterday I had the mechanic out from Y.E.S. to walk me through the diesel servicing procedure for my engine, a Westerbeke 4-108. Having a professional walk me through the procedure probably saved me many days of fumbling around the engine lost on my own. He also gave me tons of insight into trouble shooting and general maintenance tips. His first suggestion was to replace the coolant reservoir cap and see if it helped. Five dollars later from O'Reilly auto parts I got the new cap on the engine held her temp almost exactly at 180. This made me really happy. Just to be sure all was well I pulled off the engine cover and to my dismay found coolant being blown all over the engine. The mist was so fine I could actually taste the sweetness and realize how this stuff kills so many pets who find open bottles lying around. Anyway, I shut down the engine and luckily it’s nothing more than a hose that needs cleaning up and refit to the engine. A 20 minute job. Having the new 7 lb cap on the coolant reservoir increased the pressure of the closed system and forced the hose to blow. Better to find out now rather than later.
Overall, I am ecstatic with the progress. The boat is literally ready to go sailing at the drop of a hat. I know how to maintain most of the systems and believe I can keep this boat running. I do still need to learn about the refrigeration systems, but that is for another day. Today, I am going to write up the servicing procedure so I’ll have the reference for next time and may head out to anchor somewhere by Galveston or Red Fish. There is a big party called the Red Fish Raft Up on Sunday and it sounds like a good time to me.