10/24/2008, San Diego
Having installed the new autopilot yesterday, we took the boat out on the bay to calibrate the autopilot. This took about an hour.
Back at the dock, I installed a backup engine starting switch right at the engine. We had some instances where the engine wouldn't start, but putting a screwdriver across the solenoid terminals got it going. The new switch replaces the screwdriver.
That being done, I investigated a freshwater leak that was draining a large amount of our fresh water supply into the bilge. This was keeping both the bilge pump and the water pressure pump working more than they should. I found the source: a pinhole leak in the side of the pressure reservoir. Water was squirting out in a steady stream.
I made a trip to West Marine and got a new pressure reservoir, and installed it. Problem solved.
While at West Marine, I purchased a bilge pump and a water pressure pump, and another head rebuild kit, just to carry with us as spares. If we don't use them, we can always return them later. Finding those parts in Mexico would be very difficult.
Meanwhile, John laid out the anchor chain on the dock in preparation for painting marks on it every 20 ft. John also installed the brackets for the dinghy wheels on the dinghy.
I spoke to Jonah, our rigger, on the phone today, for his advice. I found 73 feet of Vectra 5/16 line at 10 cents a foot. Normally it sells for 3 bucks a foot. I was asking Jonah what we could use it for. He said, not too much, but for the price: go for it. The stuff is amazing, with a breaking strength of 11,000 pounds.
Jonah reminded me that, in an earlier blog post, I understated how much rigging work we had done. We replaced all the standing rigging, and most of the running rigging, changing stretchy lines and worn out blocks where it counts. I especially love the new low stretch jib sheets, so much better than huge 3/4 inch sheets that came with the boat. The old ones were so big they pinched in the turning blocks. The new ones are even color coordinated with the boat!
The locations of visitors to this page today are tracked on this world map.
We arrived in San Diego the same day we departed Catalina, at 830 pm. We tied up at the fuel dock, filled our diesel, propane, and outboard gas containers, and then proceeded to our marina at the Marriott.
The following morning, I got a ride to West Marine, where I stocked up on parts needed for projects, and then picked up the new autopilot and E80 charplotter/radar unit. All this cost, by the way, an embarrassing amount of money. I keep reminding myself that the old hardware I removed will have a good market value after I've had them refurbished.
Back at the boat at 230 PM, I started the installation of the new autopilot. I got that done at around 7 PM. The only thing remaining is to calibrate the new autopilot. This new autopilot includes a gyro, which the previous one lacked, which should make its performance much better. I'm looking forward to sailing with the new autopilot.
Then from 7 pm to 9 pm, I installed the new Raymarine E80 chartplotter/radar display. In the process, I raised the height of the instrument pod by three inches which will make it eaqsier to view and use the instruments.
Tomorrow, my big projects are to:
- install a backup engine start switch, for those moments when the cockpit engine start switch doesn't work. It'll be better than having to put a screwdriver to the starter solenoid to get it going.
- install a bigger, better fuel filter.
- unclog the aft head (oh, joy). I bought device that you can hook up a garden hose to the head to force open any blockages. This will either end up very well, or extremely badly. I can just imagine this device blowing up in my face.
Plus a million other little projects that we'll probably end up doing underway.
Pascale, the boys, and John enjoyed themselves at the pool at the Marriott while I worked on the boat all day installing the autopilot. I'm not bitter or anything, just tired, and looking forward to my chance to relax sometime soon.
Pascale prepared gifts for everyone on board, for our arrival at San Diego. It feels like Christmas already!!!
John catches some rays as the fog breaks, between Avalon and San Diego.
10/22/2008, San Diego
October 20: We left Santa Barbara and headed down to Catalina Island, the night sky was just gorgeous! By night time, we arrived at Catalina Island. We could see plankton glowing in the water as we headed into the anchorage. As we lit the water with our powerful flashlight we could see the bottom.
The next morning, my brother and I got in our wet suits, put on our fins, got our boogie boards out, and swam all the way to shore. We played on the beach for a while, the, John and my mom came to shore in the dinghy to do a little shopping. After a little while, we went back to the boat. We stayed one night there. The next day, we sailed to the other side of the island.
Having arrived at Two Harbors, Catalina Island, we took a mooring in the harbor. The water is so clear, you can easily see the bottom.
The day was dedicated to getting to the bottom of projects/problems, and there have been many. In addition to the autopilot that has given up the ghost, the new Raymarine E80 display I installed has taken up the disconcerting habit of going black, at random intervals, for about a second. This was the only used piece of equipment I bought for the boat; that turned out to be a bad decision. Now I have to get a new one rather than take a chance of losing all our radar/chartplotter capability while in Mexico.
I did some tests on the autopilot, connecting the motor drive to 12v DC to see if it moves. It does, which proves the motor is good but the "course computer" electronics are burned out. In talking with Raymarine, it turns out the autopilot we have is undersized for the weight of the boat (26,000 lbs / 12,000 kg). So to just replace the electronics is out of the question. I have to upgrade the entire autopilot to something that is rated to handle this size of a boat.
This is very expensive, of course. I try not to think about the dollars involved.
I ordered new autopilot components and a new E80 charplotter/radar display from a dealer in San Diego. These will be ready for us when we arrive.
There were other obstacles to overcome today. The outboard motor wouldn't start. It turns out the cylinders and carburetor were filled with engine oil because I had laid it horizontally on the wrong side (not knowing there WAS a wrong side, silly me). A nice mechanic came out to the boat and fixed everything up for a mere $30 labor charge. That was the best $30 I ever spent.
Then it came time to make dinner. However the propane wouldn't turn on. We have a Xintex propane sniffer, and to make a long story short, the poor machine is confused. It thinks there's a second sensor connected where one isn't. I was able to modify the way the thing is wired so we could get dinner cooked.
One would think this was enough trouble for one day. But John took a shower in the aft head, and lo and behold, the sump pump for the aft shower no longer pumps water. So I have to either figure out why that pump isn't working or replace the damn thing with a new pump. I think I'll get a new self priming bilge pump in
San Diego, to carry along, even if I can get this pump working again.
I wonder, how boat owners who aren't technically inclined, manage to get through these technical challenges. I think the answer is, you have to be able to fix this stuff yourself in order to be a cruiser. Otherwise you would be helpless.
View of Avalon casino from the deck of Calou