Most of the past week has been consumed with moving (from a house to a condo). We are finally feeling “moved in” and tomorrow is our last day in Seattle before flying back to Cabo on Thursday morning. Aside from being tired of packing and shuffling boxes, we’re very much looking forward to being warm for a while.
There have been a few boat-related projects the past few days…
Roberta and I spent yesterday afternoon on the boat, meeting with the team who is doing all the work while we are gone. Jeff, who is managing all of the upgrades this winter had a long list of questions for me. It was quickly apparent that Jeff has everything under control, and that I didn’t really need to make any decisions.
Here’s a quick list of the larger projects this winter. I’ve discussed all of these in my blog, so I’m just giving an ultra condensed version of the work being performed. If anyone wants more info on any of these, feel free to post a comment and I’ll go into more detail.
– Upgrading the electronics. We’re upgrading from Furuno’s Navnet 2 system to their newer Navnet 3d.
– Upgrading the Internet Access. Internet is a big part of both Roberta’s and my life. We’ve been primarily using a combination of wifi and Fleet 77. The Fleet 77 is slow and expensive, but has served us very well over the years (We had a Fleet 77 on our Nordhavn 62, and now on our Nordhavn 68). There is a finally a high-speed solution (2 megabit) with unlimited access, called Mini V-Sat. My understanding is that we’ll be amongst the first users, and certainly the first private boat to cruise the Bering Sea with Mini V-Sat. It’s a huge project making the change, but if it works, it will be worth it.
– Swapping the batteries. During the first six months after taking delivery of our boat, our international shore power adapter (Atlas) did not work. Our battery bank was completely drained many times, and now seems to be fine, but I don’t trust it. I’m installing a new battery bank that uses half the space, and has three quarters of the amp hours.
– Swapping the air conditioning system. Our a/c system has never worked on the boat. It now appears that the problem may have been an electrical problem, however, I tend to be superstitious about these things. After months of trying to fix the system I made the decision to toss the old system off the boat and swap brands (from Cruisair to Technicold). This may have been a dumb idea, but I am not always rational when angry.
– Swapping our 16kw generator for a 20kw generator. We had two generators; a large (25kw) and a small (16kw). The N68 is a bigger boat than I think we realized, and the 16kw always seemed to be slightly less than we needed.
– Fixing the fresh water system. We had a few leaks in the fresh water system that have been there from the beginning. It’s a warranty item, but it hasn’t been bad enough that we were in a hurry to get it fixed. The time has finally arrived.
– Swapping one of our two tenders. We had two great tenders, but what we really should have gotten was one great tender, and one tender that is designed just to be “beached.” Specifically, we need a small, lightweight tender, with wheels that allow it to be rolled up the beach.
– Upgrading the engine room fans. I describe myself as a “warm water cruiser.” Roberta sold me on our trip across the Bering Sea by promising me that there would be nothing but blue skies and warm water once we get to the other side. We discovered that with the 95 degree water in Costa Rica that the engine room ran hotter than I’d like. We’re going to upgrade to stronger fans.
This is a long list, but not as bad as it looks. When Sans Souci leaves the dock May 1st, it may not re-enter the US for 10 years. Our goal for the Costa Rica run was to put the boat under stress, and spend some serious time aboard, and see if there is anything we would change. Studying this list: the battery swap was caused indirectly by a failure in the Atlas system. The internet upgrade is being done because we’ve been using a decade old architecture, and now there is a new technology. Ten years is a lifetime in internet years. The upgrade from Navnet 2 to Navnet 3 is roughly the same. Navnet 3 is newer and cooler, and I like cool new technologies. The a/c swap is arguably unnecessary, as is the generator swap. The fresh water system is a warranty item, and lastly, the tender swap is being caused because I ordered the wrong tender in the first place. It’s amazing that the list is so small given that we ran the boat over 10,000 miles in the first year.
Of course, this isn’t the whole list. There are dozens of little projects. For instance, I’ve mentioned that I want to “beef up” the monitoring system. I’ve also asked Jeff to explore a system I’ve heard about that extends the time between oil changes.
And on a different topic….
I somehow have found time over the past few days to start digging in deep on trip planning.
This has meant an endless series of hours spent “googling” to find good reference information. I wasted almost an entire day looking for websites or blogs with good information about cruising in the Aleutian Islands. The deeper I look, the more I realize how little there is that has been written, and how little there is to talk about. They are a desolate chain of islands, with almost nothing on them, no reason to go there, and horrible weather.
A few weeks back, I did hit a gold mine, by finding this site: http://www.dec.state.ak.us/spar/perp/aippor/home.htm It has more detailed information on weather and anchoring in the Aleutians than I ever dreamed I’d find. I keep googling, thinking I’ll find another great site, but am losing faith that anything else particularly awesome exists. The only other great reference I found was this one: http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/nsd/coastpilot9.htm It’s the coast pilot to cruising in Alaska and the Aleutian islands. The first few pages of Chapter 7 are mandatory reading for anyone thinking about going to the Aleutians, and explains why we won’t be seeing a lot of other boats.
My googling for Japan has also gone well. I discovered this site yesterday:
It has links to English language cruising guides, charts, marina info and more. I’ve spent hours on it, and my favorite page so far is this one: http://www.sail-japan.info/site/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?op=&cid=4 It has a downloadable file for google earth with placemarks for most of the marinas in Japan. The placemarks have links to the marina’s websites, and show where each marina is located geographically. I’ve been zooming in, to see how many slips the marinas have, and what size boats are at each marina. Very cool. Also, when I go to a marina website, I translate it from Japanese to English using: http://babelfish.yahoo.com/. I just put in the Japanese website address and then I can surf the website in english. The language is sometimes translated so poorly that it is a “detective project” to figure what the site says, but it has definitely been a valuable resource.
It does make you wonder… How did cruisers do their trip planning in the “old days?”