02/26/2009, 26 06.08'N:81 47.94'W, Tied up to dock @ Dotty's house
Thursday, February 26. Today I spliced the Vectran to replace the steering cables. Splicing is really more tedious than difficult as long as you follow the instructions from NE Ropes and keep all the various marks on the line clear. One issue, however, is that the first line turned out 6" too short! Fortunately it was the long side and I was able to cut it and reuse it for the short side, but when I did and end splice on the next line, I carefully measured everything and, sure enough, it was 6" shorter than when I started. Sooooo, with that info in hand, I made up both sides and came out perfect. Tightened it all up and it feels great. I do have to rebuild the stops at each end as TMM had screwed that up as well as the lines, but it will be easy. After that, I finally got the Air Breeze up. That was quite exciting. I had started with the tower kit from Southwest energy, but because I decided to mount it half way down the swim steps, I needed to extend it. Originally I made a 4' section of PVC which was the same diameter as the aluminum pipe, but it just didn't seem strong enough. John Elliot (the welder) saw it and agreed and offered that he could get me 4' of 1 ½" aluminum pipe the same as the original and two 4" sleeves to attach it with. That worked out great. I painted them first and pop riveted the sleeves in place. Mounting the final top section with the generator was the exciting part. The mount swivels down but the way I had it mounted, it swung out over the dink and on to the seawall. The biggest issue was trying to get the heavy wire that they call for to fold and stuff enough extra down in the tube so that it can be removed for service if necessary. To lift it into place, I got in the dink and walked it up while Deb pulled on the tail line of the Air Breeze. Once it was almost vertical, I got up on the swim steps and pulled it into place and locked the stays into place. It now feels very solid. Wiring the switch was another contest i n getting too heavy wires to bend. I finally got it in place, but it is a very tight fit and I am worried about possible chafe. We'll keep an eye on it. Now all we need is wind to test it out! With the watermaker and solar panels done, we really have all the major projects complete now. (But, of course, there are lots of 'minor' projects yet to complete.) Ray and Nadia MacStay arrive Sunday and will help us take a shakedown cruise to see how all this is working. Then we will return to Naples for probably another two weeks to try to finish everything before heading out.
02/20/2009, Tied up to Dottie's dock
I have not been good about keeping this log. We've been working on so many projects, many of them in parallel, so here is a summary of what we have accomplished:
Home theater I salon - no TV reception, just DVDs, but it fits in and works well.
SSB radio - had to wait for the welder to mount the antenna, but got everything else done ahead of time and have since made contact with folks in Belize, Honduras, and the Bahamas. Still have to set up email - it may mean changing our address yet again.
Shelves in forward berths - I cut them to fit and Deb stained and varnished them then I installed them. Look great and provide much needed storage in what was wasted space.
Workshop - I converted the starboard forward berth to a workshop, Removed the mattress (put it on top of the one in port) and fit plywood on Â¾ of the space leaving a 'hole' to stand/sit in while using the rest as a workbench. With tools on the shelves, and spares under the plywood, it is very convenient. I cannot imagine attempting these projects without it.
Wine rack - since finding wine in Central America has proven to be a challenge, I installed a wine rack made of PVC tubes under one of the salon berths. We can carry about 3 cases of wine there.
Storage baskets for aft berths - Deb found great baskets that fit perfectly in the shelf space beside the aft berths and allow us to utilize all of that space for storage.
Remove life raft locker - We decided against buying a life raft (the boat will float even if holed and a floating wrecked catamaran is much easier for rescuers to find than a tiny life raft.) So I pulled out the locker that was made into the stern to utilize the space for a watermaker.
Water maker - Installed a Sea Recovery 15 gph watermaker. We had had the thru-hull put in while hauled in Guatemala, but I had to locate the intake pump and strainer next to it under the port aft berth and then plumb them to the watermaker in the port engine room. Then I had to run the product water line all the way forward to the starboard water tank - locate so very conveniently behind the shelves I had just installed (and which, of course, had to be remove to get at the water tank). While there, I installed a tank sending unit to measure how much water we had as there was only one in the port tank, not the starboard. We haven't tested it yet as the water here has a lot of particulate matter. We will take a brief cruise out into the Gulf to test it soon.
Installed the house battery bank - 10 Trojan 105+ batteries that I bought in Maine for a total of 1125 amp hours. Should be good for three to four days without sun.
Solar panels - 8 x 100 watts. Four on each side above bimini. I made a frame from aluminum pop riveted to the panels and then mounted that to some Starboard that I cut to fit over the tubing of the bimini. Wired everything up and ran it through conduit over the bimini and then down inside the upright pipe of the bimini, through the space above our berth and into the starboard engine room where I mounted the controller and wired it to the batteries. The controller is cool as it gives you all these stats about how much energy the panels are putting out and how it is feeding it to the batteries. So far I have seen 600+ watts nearly every day, but the batteries are usually filled back up by mid day so the controller starts limiting output before peak sun. Such a great problem to have!
I'm sure there are others and I will revise this list as I think of them, but this is at least a summary of what we have been up to. Add to that socializing with Larry & Dottie and some of their friends here, and we have certainly kept busy.
02/12/2009, 26 06.08'N:81 47.94'W, Tied up to dock @ Dotty's house
We are now permanent residents of Panama. We flew to Panama City to pick up our Visas, then wanted to get out to Bocas and see the house. As we were unsure of the time needed in the city we didn't reserve seats on the early flight. Sure of ourselves, we got to the national airport at 5:30a.m., the flight was booked, as was "Scare Panama", the other carrier. So we sat until 1:00p.m. and then flew to Bocas. We stayed on Dottie and Larry's boat, "Changes in Attitudes" with their insane cat Evita. She is a talker and was lonely, so we had many conversations. The house looks great, I can't believe it is almost done. We had the chance to visit with Captain Ron who was wonderful at ferrying us back and forth to Solarte to see the house and talk with Russell about the next steps. The Indian crew was very proud of their work and just beamed when I said,"Mucho Gracias por mi casa".
We needed to pick out tile for the bath and kitchen so planned to fly to David and pick it out and then fly to Panama City for our flight to Florida the next day. Again we arrived at 8:00a.m. for a 9:00 flight but it was raining. The Aeroperlas plane was there but it didn't have enough fuel to get to David, so it had to fly to Changanola for fuel first but that runway was underwater. (Such is often the case in Panama) We waited and waited for the rain to let up which it finally did and the plane left. Of course the rain then proceeded to really come down and now, no plane. Finally they canceled the flight. No problem, or so we thought, we'll just fly directly to Panama City in the morning. "Noooooo..... that flight is full Senor, but we can get you on the 11:00a.m. flight today as it hasn't left yet, (it is almost 1:00p.m.). We know this flight will go as it has to come back tomorrow". The logic defied us but we finally got on and got to Panama City, but no reservations for a hotel room. Mark was great, cell phone in hand he got us a room and we had a great evening.
Our flight home was calm, compared to the flight down. I use a wheel chair in the Miami airport as it is so huge. They always have one waitting but won't let Mark push me. This time they took me a "different"way, and no Mark couldn't come with me but could meet me at the jetway. They took me God knows where and then left me in a locked in glass room near the jetway. The woman promised to come back, at least I think that's what she said, (I really do need to improve my Spanish). The flight was boarding and I was stuck in this room, American Airlines strikes again. Finally I see mark coming down the escalator and between us we got someone to let me out. The man couldn't believe someone just left me there, but there I was. I'm glad I can laugh and that I have Mark to help me.
I really could get worked up about the way the airlines treat handicapped people in wheelchairs. They push them around as if they were cargo with no consideration if they might need a drink or something to eat. Then they line the chairs up one after another, all facing forward so there is no one to talk to, the people all look so humiliated. I have no problem telling the "pusher" if I need something but so many of these people can't speak up for themselves and it sucks. Nuff said.
We are now "home" in Naples and working on the boat. Watermaker, radar and many other additons are complete. Today Mark starts the solar panels. The panels are quite well traveled as the company shipped them to NH despite the very clear shipping orders. I am walking on the beach every day, trying to maintain muscle and joints. I am up to four or so miles a day but it takes me a long time between my snail's pace and all of the shells I pick up. We hope to be back underway by the end of the month.
01/25/2009, 26 06.08'N:81 47.94'W, Tied up to dock @ Dotty's house
Some folks have commented that we have not been updating our blog. That is because we are not sailing. We are working on the boat, still tied up at Larry & Dottie's house in Naples Florida. Nonetheless, this is what has been happening: We installed a new stove - four burner propane with oven and broiler. It is wonderful! We have installed the SSB radio - all except the antenna - waiting on a worker to complete the stern rails for that. We have built and installed shelving in both forward cabins. The starboard cabin is my workshop though it can be quickly converted back to a bed. The port forward cabin is still a bed but has lots of long term storage. We have installed a home theater system - not TV, just DVDs. We have installed a power winch. Eventually all lines from the mast will be led back to this winch so there will be no need to leave the cockpit to raise or lower sails or to put in or shake out reefs - a major safety issue. We have ordered solar panels which we will install as soon as we return from Panama (see below). We bought 10 T-105 batteries and are in the process of doing all the wiring to install them as our primary bank. We have installed the mast mount for the radar - it will probably go up tomorrow unless we play hookey for the day and go sailng. We have installed "hidden" wine racks for transporting large amounts of wine to Central America where it is generally unavailable and expensive. Deb has done a fantastic job of making this once charter boat into our HOME. We wer happy to see JAck & Ellen who drove down from their new second home in Venice and also Currie who came for a visit between seeing both her grandparents who are in Florida. We have also had a wonderful time with Larry and Dottie who have proven not only very gracious hosts, but just delightful people. Finally, we have just received notice that our "pensionado" visas to Panama have been approved. We will travel to Panama on Wed. (28 Jan) for a week to get them and also to check up on how our house is coming - picking out tile for the bath and kitchen, choosing fixtures, etc. So that is what we have been doing. We hope to be back sailing again by the first of March when friends Ray & Nadia are coming to visit.
12/19/2008, 26 06.08'N:81 47.94'W, Tied up to dock @ Dotty's house
Thursday, 18 December. We have been living in Central America for nearly two months now. We have come to expect fantastic fruit for pennies, questionable meats (unless frozen and then expensive), and a general scarcity of "things" requiring you to be creative and resourceful. We have come to know incredibly wonderful people whose annual income is probably less than I used to make in a day. And now we come to the land of the rich. As we sit in front of Dottie's house, comfortably moored in a quiet lagoon, we look out over a landscape that is as foreign to us as it is beautiful. Every house in sight is worth multiple million dollars. As we drive to West Marine (Thank you Dottie for letting us use your car!), we pass store after store that I couldn't afford to even walk into. The selection in the grocery store (sorry, supermarket) is overwhelming, but the fruit doesn't taste the same as that we bought in the open markets. I have to admit, I am more a product of this cultu re than the one we have been living in; and it will be great living in the land of plenty while doing the refit on our boat/home as anything I could possibly need will be readily available. But once we have done the work and our home is self-sufficient, I cannot wait to return to the land of scarcity. Life is slower and simpler and that suits me just fine.