Archive for February, 2007

Progress Update

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

A lot has been happening in the last few weeks and we are making good progress toward our cruising goal, so I thought I’d post a quick entry. The biggest news is that I have volunteered to be laid off from work. My employer is looking to turn around some bad financial performance and the most popular short-term way to do that is get rid of people. I had planned to quit work sometime this year (Nancy retires at the end of this year) and by taking a lay-off package, I can quit work earlier than planned and continue to get paid for a few months longer than planned. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Some people define a boat as a hole in the water into which you pour money. Well, we have started pouring money. We have been compiling a list of upgrades and additions to the boat that we’d like to make before we actually start cruising and have now started purchasing some of the items. We are getting the more essential items first so that when the money runs out, we’ll be able to start cruising. The highest priority items are as follows (not in any particular order): self-steering (both an autopilot and a windvane), ground tackle (I want to get a large Rocna for my primary anchor), safety gear such as inflatable life vests, harnesses, life raft, etc., sails, rigging, spare parts for essential systems. Once we have everything we feel we need in those categories, we will start getting other things like a new SSB radio, pactor modem, larger auxiliary diesel engine, etc. Even lower on the priority list are things like a flat panel TV, image stabilized binoculars, etc.

The first big item we’ve bought is an autopilot. The boat came with a CPT autopilot which mounts to the binnacle below the wheel and actually turns the wheel, via a toothed belt, in order to control the rudder. It is really a great little autopilot once you get the sensitivity adjusted, but it is rather old and I don’t think it has the power necessary for handling the boat if we happened to get caught in really bad conditions. I’ll keep it for a backup, but we bought a linear hydraulic piston autopilot that connects directly to an arm on the rudder post. It is rated for boats up to 48,500 pounds, so it will have plenty of power for our boat, without operating in the margin of its capability. We are hooking it to the Raymarine S3G corepack, which is essentially a computer that takes rudder angle, rate of turn, and magnetic heading information as input and sends signals to the hydraulic autopilot to steer the boat. We got the Raymarine ST8002 control head for it, which is the part that is mounted up in the cockpit which allows you to set the desired heading and engage or disengage the autopilot.

We also bought 175 feet of 3/4″ rope for dock lines and an anchor snubber. I cut two 20′ lengths from it for bow and stern lines, two 40′ lengths for spring lines, and another 20′ length for a snubber. I put eye splices in one end of each of the dock lines and put a whipping on the other end. I spliced stainless steel thimbles on both ends of the snubber, with shackles, and a chain hook on one end. The last time we took the boat out, I had to use a rolling hitch on the chain to improvise a snubber, so it will be nice to have a custom-made snubber.

We’ve bought several other items but I’ve already gone into more gory detail than I intended, so I’ll stop here. I might make log entries for each piece of gear I install, both for your edification and future reference for myself.

As I read over this post, I realize that I’m using terms that most of my friends and family will not understand (e.g., thimble, snubber, spring lines) so I think I’ll add a glossary page and perhaps even hyperlink from the words to the glossary definition. Maybe I can get that done in the next week or two.