Victoria Day and the Cruise is over!
18 May 2009 | Halifax, NS
It took two days of rest and sleeping in before it finally registered that our first cruise is complete. I figure that we have traveled over 6000 nautical miles there and back with a few detours in between, stopped at dozens of new and different locations, made tons of new friends, have nearly 12,000 hits on the blog site so some of those tons of friends are electronic, and have figured out what we will want to do on the boat before the next trip.
Barb is working on the financial statement that we'll post as soon as she is finished for those of you who want a fright. In short, we have not gone into debt, but we did spend way more than we intended. The cause has been the number of replacements of key boat components and the fact that we stayed in marinas far more than we had planned. Can't help the first but we are going to get a grip on the second. I'd rather spend the marina money on sightseeing tours or museums or shopping ashore.
Meanwhile we have shaken out several of the existing systems, gaining an increased level of confidence in the engine and the autohelm and a much fuller appreciation of their strengths and limitations, replacing some of them and modifying others, spent 8 months in confined and close proximity to each other and are still married with no clouds on the horizon. That's no mean feat, either.
What are some of the insights that we have gained?
Well, among others, it is obvious that we loaded way too much stuff on the boat to take with us. Of course all my stuff is essential, but Barb insisted on all sorts of useless fluff that took up space and only got used once or twice in the whole eight months! That was a joke, folks. (Barb made me put that in) Seriously, though, there is a lot of stuff that we will have to either leave behind or find a better way to store it, which brings me to one of my projects. In our middle cabin we have a couple of bunks, the lower of which is a sort of L shaped thing with the bottom of the L being a small, useless, never used, seat. Barb has suggested that we replace that with a floor to ceiling cabinet to which I will migrate all my tools from under the V-berths freeing that space up for some of the fluff that I referred to earlier. The cockpit lazarettes are also filled with stuff that barely got used during the voyage. I need to empty them and have a really good review of what we have stuffed in there, perhaps build some shelves into which we could repack those things that we feel that we really need, store some of the rest elsewhere on the boat and (shock upon shock) leave some of it behind.
As far as leaving stuff behind, we have decided that putting belongings in storage, while a perfectly acceptable option, is throwing money away. We have decided to try to find one of those houses with an in-law suite. Money right now is so easy that we could get one and have our daughter live in the suite which would pay a big chunk of the mortgage payment and we would be saving the $400/month that it is costing us to store our worldly possessions. It would be good for her and good for us. We would even have a spot for our son to crash when he comes home for his frequent visits. It would cost us no more, perhaps even a little less, and we would be paying ourselves rather than someone else.
We have also fully exercised the wind generator and the solar panel and I have a much better understanding of their capabilities and shortcomings. First, with all the electronics and power consumption hat we have aboard, including refrigeration, auto helm, home entertainment etc. the current "Static" power generation capabilities are only enough to delay the inevitable moment when we have to start the engine or the portable generator. The 170W solar panel can and does generate up to 4A+ but with its current positioning it can be shaded by the main boom and I have to keep poling it out to let the sun shine on the panel. This is not something that you can confidently go away from for the day and expect to have fully charged batteries when you get back. My idea is to build an addition to the dingy davits to lift a shelf up and outboard a little astern and move the solar panel there. Perhaps I might even add a second so we would have the generation of 8A during the daylight hours. This is more than enough for our needs. Add to that the 5-8A that can be produced by the wind generator when we have about 15 knots of wind, we would be comfortable underway even with the engine off relying on a "green" source of energy for everything aboard. The only thing about this plan is that I have never been fully comfortable with the strength of the mountings for the davits. At present there are only 4 bolts holding each in place and they are through bolted on a wooden pad and fastened on the other side of the deck. There is a lot of torque developed there and I really feel that we need to add additional support. This is the first step and one that I will take regardless of a final decision pertaining to the placement of the solar panels. Once I have removed the solar panel from its arch over the cabin, I will replace it with smaller panels that are at present on top of the bimini. There are four of them rated each at 30W which I can position so that at least two of them will be in the sun regardless of how the shadow is cast. They will be wired to provide a trickle charge of about 1.5A to the cranking bank.
Nelleke now has three anchors which is a good number, and since they are three different designs of anchor, we should have something to suite most conditions that we come up against. The only problem is we only have one of them on the bow roller. My plan is to relocate the bow fairleads aft about 6" and use their current space in the toe rail for another roller on the port side. That's where we'll put the Bruce anchor with a chain and rope rode. Then, my current plan is to take the old anchor windlass that we replaced in Marathon, machine a new and much stronger electric motor to fit and install it in the port cockpit lazarette as far aft as I can with its own chain locker. That's where we'll put the Danforth and be able to anchor fore and aft as in a Bahamian system. And speaking of chain lockers, the one that I temporarily fixed in Gulfport has proven to be just that - temporary. I need to do a better job of it for sure, plus we need to have some mechanism for draining that doesn't include the bilge.
My very first project is to repair the cradle so we can get Nelleke hauled and have the cutlass bearing and engine mounts replaced. I have lined up a friend in the business to do that job for me. While Nelleke is out of the water, we will redo the bottom and I will replace a couple of head sea cocks that have seized up and any other of the myriad bits and pieces that may need replacing.
We have also decided to replace the galley fridge with one of those drawer models. The existing fridge is expecting 240VAC so when it is hooked to 120 it draws twice the current and I expecting it to give up the ghost any day. For its size in outside dimensions it is also quite small in inside volume so the drawer model will make better use of space, plus it will give us a space to store the boats pots and pans at the same time. We are also going to make a drawer for the freezer to allow us to slide it in out of the way. And, but not finally, we will be putting some cupboards into the risers in the companionway stairs to allow for some more dry goods foodstuff storage, and for a place to put cleaning materials.
Getting the picture? I certainly am! I am going to be a busy little puppy this summer. Fortunately it looks like I will have a job to help make the payments.