Monday, December 24, 2007

The Family is in for Christmas.

I woke up early this morning with the chance to take my brother out for a sail. He also provided some extra crew while I read up underway to figure out how to finish the Raymarine autopilot commissioning. I learned something new today also. If you push the ignition button on a diesel engine and they don't start, they are pretty easy to hotwire. I think my starter solenoid is going bad, but a jump from the battery post across the ignition circuit did the trick tog get the engine humming again. Thanks Julie! Your book, Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Guide, saved the day today. Luckily, my mom was standing at the Kemah Boardwalk on our way back in and snapped a few shots of us under way.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I think we are going to go for it. The boat is cleaned up and most of the loose ends have been taken care of. Jason flies in the morning of the 27th and we should be ready to head for South Padre. I am almost giddy with excitement. I am going to restow the cabin today make room for Jason to get his gear stowed. I need to pick up a few more things like a 4 in. cowl vent, new life jackets for guests, and get provisions the day before we go. I’ve been checking the weather conditions every day for the past week and it’s looking like rain right now, but hopefully we’ll catch a break. For sea conditions I use You can click on the region you want a forecast for. I also check the conditions at the blue buoys at There are three blue marks approximately on the line from Houston to South Padre. These guys give you the wind speed, direction, and wave height and period. Good stuff to know before setting out.

Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you are all having a safe and happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's alive!

I got the autopilot back from Raymarine today and all is well. Fearfully, I plugged in one component at a time starting with nothing more than giving the unit power. After it was all plugged in it beeped happily and I started the dockside comissioning process. All is well. I can even describe what a reliefe it is to have that project in and on time to go to Padre. I also tore out the old battery box, fiberglassed in new supports, and will add the tie down mounts tomorrow. The boat is getting a good compound waxing this week and should be ready to go by the 28th.

Good news on the flotilla. I've got at least one other boat with 4 crew going down. It will still just be Jason and I on my boat, but this gives us all some added security. Not to mention they are fun people. During the rest of the week I need to buy a fishing rod and license, replumb the replaced exhaust thru hull, add the battery tie downs, swap the 110 jib for the 150 geneoa, replace the mainsheet, fill diesel and water tanks, provision, sea trial the autopilot, and if I am really aggressive maybe I'll install a new macerator pump and the radar. To do lists on boats are never ending.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Getting back on track.

I finished up my autopilot! Almost. I finally get everything mechanically installed exactly the way I wanted it, ran all the electrical per the manufacturer specs, and plugged it in. Snap! The breaker threw. What do you do when that happens? Try it again. Snap! Ok, something is wrong. So, I checked all the connections to every piece of the autopilot and found one wire that was not connected terribly well and replaced the whole run of wire with brand new stuff. I then reconnected power and, POP! I didn’t know what the sound was, but at least the breaker didn’t blow. So, I start digging around again and sure enough, I blew the 30 Amp fuse on the autopilot course computer. That’s the brain of the whole deal. I blew a couple more of them both out of frustration and in an attempt to troubleshoot the install. Fortunately I got Raymarine on the phone the next day and they informed me that the only problem I had was with a bad piece of equipment, not my install job. So, $130 bucks and a day later it is sitting on their workbench in RI confirming the computer was faulty. I should get the replacement back Monday to commission and test the new unit. Keep your fingers crossed. Maybe say a prayer.

I also tore into my battery box problem and if it will stop raining think I can knock it out in a day or two. Nothing major, but I need to fiberglass in a few reinforcements to carry the extra weight of my Trojan T-145 golf cart batteries. These little dudes are heavy, but I love them because they give me lots and lots of juice.

I may have recruited another boat to sail down to Padre with me as well. I was absorbing a rum and coke last night and ran into a group of people I met when I first moved to Kemah. We laughed hard for a few hours, mostly at my expense regaling them with tails of my boat projects. Next thing I know we’ve got volunteers to sail down for New Years with us. Now, this may be one of those late night great ideas that never really materialize under the light of the next day, but I am hoping it does. It would be fun and a bit safer to make the trip with some friends. We had 50+ mph gusts of wind last night. I hope we get better conditions for the Padre trip.

I'll leave you with a quote I pulled from another sailors blog. You can check out his page by clicking on the title to this blog entry above.

“To me a voyage is essentially an act of will and a testing of the human spirit. If a sailor doesn’t learn anything more important from the sea than how to reef a sail, the voyage wasn’t worth making. One of the pleasures in setting out on a voyage is not knowing where the sea will lead. On a voyage a sailor is at risk. On a voyage a sailor knows he is truly alive. A voyage is not an escape from life; it is a reach for life.” - Webb Chiles

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Slow going.

I’ve ordered the charts and am halfway done with my autopilot installation. My buddy Jason is flying in on the 27th and we are setting sale on the 28th for South Padre Island. There is a slew of work to be done and I’ll never get to it all as every project takes three times longer than I imagine it will. I think I’ve been fighting with my autopilot for almost three months now. Some of that is me just finding other small projects to work on. I can’t leave on this trip unless I have my autopilot in and my battery box rebuilt. Considering I have three weeks that shouldn’t be too much by any means.

The votes are in and Jargo is by far the front runner. The more I think about that name the more I like it. I’ve also never heard of another vessel named Jargo and Google searches turned up almost nothing on the name except for a bad German movie.

I need help. I still haven’t found a developer for the SOS website who has really sold me on their ideas or ability to do what I want. If you know anyone who is really good at both graphic design and the back end database coding please refer me to them. I am starting to feel the pinch of time. It’s less than a year before I need to be ready to sail. I’ve hit the financial goal I set for taking the trip, now I just need to make this old boat seaworthy.