Ham Radio On Board
I have recently been bitten by the ham radio bug, bought a rig for home, and am busily chasing DX. When we bought Ranger we installed an iCom M710 SSB radio system, which was the gold standard at the time. It still is good, but the iCom M802 offers some mounting advantages. While I have not used this radio much (but will soon), but it did go with Eric Thomas a few years ago on his Olson 30, racing solo from San Franscisco to Hawaii.
My radio was purchased "opened up" to the ham bands, and I am an Extra Class licensed amateur, call sign W0LGS (Let's Go Sailing!) I tried the iCom on ham bands this winter at home, and the rig is definitely NOT user friendly, as it is very tedious to shift frequencies. The idea is to use the radio to pursue my ham hobbie. The marine channels will be used for checking into the various nets, downloading weather, SailMail, etc. I have already made a contact in Hallifax, NS, and have an invitation to meet him if we ever get there (we should.) That contact opened my eyes to the possibilities of making contacts thru the very friendly and generous ham community. This winter Amy passed the Technician Class test too!
I found a few references to custom software that would run on our PC to control the radio from the PC. I've not found a freeware version that I can figure out, so I think I will have to purchase a software package called Marine Radio Ops which seems like it will do what I want. The objection is the price of $160. See: http://www.cssincorp.com/Marine_Radio_Ops.html
They do offer a free trial, and I think I'll try to get it running this winter at home.
I also got an inkling from somewhere on the 'net that the Airmail software I use with the Pactor moden can be made to control the radio, but I can't get anything to work without the modem connected (I'm not going to bring it off the boat.) I'll try it this spring before I invest in MRO.
I'd appreciate any sage advice....
I've attached a photo of Harvey his first fall on the boat, apparently just having placed a call "home" to the puppy farm via the high seas operator. You can see the SSB radio on the far left, lower corner of the shot. BTW, dogs typically need assistance when working with the microphone due to their lack of opposable thumbs. A BOM (bark operated mic) would be a good option.
Also, we located our Pactor modem in the panel in the bulkhead behind Harvey. It is just above the blue binoculars and white fan outboard of H's right ear. There is a large space behind the lower part of this panel, which is 1/4" plywood. The modem doesn't require any real attention during operation. It just has flashing lights, as it is controlled (incl. on-off) by the laptop/radio system. The hardest part of the installation was to run the connecting cables from the modem to the SSB. Just a long path behind and thru tight spaces. Typical of all boat projects.
01/31/2013, On the hard at BIM
Our preparations for extended cruise and "offshore" sailing continue. An end is in sight. Here's what we've gotten done or added in the last coupla years:
-North C1 light wind sail
-Sliding bow sprit for the C1 and Gennaker
-130W Solar panel mounted on the original Bimini frame
-Racna 45# anchor (replacing the 35# CQR). Backed with 200' of 5/16" chain, this is now our main anchor
-Monitor self steering with a Simrad tiller pilot
-Pactor 4 modem (p4 Dragon-the little guy works great but the occasional fireballs are annoying.) We now have email and weather forecast downloads from anywhere! BTW, this product is made in Europe and I found a much cheaper source (SailCom Marine) in the UK. They set it up and shipped it to me in 5 days. It was truly plug and play.
-Garmin 640 Chartplotter with AIS transceiver.
-Converted the (never used) 20 gallon bladder holding tank to a diesel tank. With a couple of jerry jugs on deck, Ranger can carry ~60 gallons of diesel. The bladder also provides a completely separate fuel tank (which would be useful if the main tank became fouled.) It is set up to gravity drain into the main tank or the engine can draw off it directly.
-"Stackpack-like" mainsail cover. Boy has this made a difference in managing the mainsail. Pull up the lazy jacks attached to the cover, drop the sail, making sure it flakes well into the cover, and zip it closed.
We are now making decisions and prepartions pertaining to our plan to paint the deck in the spring of 2013. Big job, but something we can do ourselves (with guidance from Eric Thomas at BIM.) Our non-skid is in good condition and we have no complaints about its performance. Painting non-skid is a BIG hassle we understand; it's difficult to achieve the non-skid properties using some kind of entrained grit. It is still a big job, but somewhat easier with this decision. To aid in keeping especially the non-skid clean, we will upgrade our washdown pump to one with higher pressure and volume. That will improve anchor washdown as well (seems we need to was the anchor more than 1/2 the time we use it.)
In 2013, in addition to painting the deck, we plan to add:
-Replacement batteries (the original set lasted 10 years.) We probably will go with AGM technology for greater capacity and faster charging, but with a shorter life expectancy.
-(Re)connect the head for overboard discharge. The Y-valve and sea cock are in place; it's just a matter of adding a vented loop and some hose.
-Install a mascerator pump in the head pump out hose, as well as a 1" seacock (another chance to saw a hole in the boat. Makes me happy the hull is NOT cored, but solid 'glass.)
-We will purchase a liferaft around the time of the fall Annapolis Sailboat show when they are on sale. We will arrange spring 2014 delivery.
-We will be going over the engine, correcting several oil and antifreeze leaks, as well as rerouting/replacing the AF hoses connected to the water heater. The only serious leak is the rear main seal (typical Perkins thing.) I will be pulling the transmission this spring and will consult with BIM on the seal replacement. Oh boy! I'll be I could do this job in < 1 hour if the engine/transmission was sitting on a stand in front of me. It's going to take a bit longer in-situo......
Our first year with the boat
We bought Ranger in 2002 at Crowley's Yard in S. Chicago with very little equipment on board. The POs hadn't done much, as I think they were using it to daysail. There was only a single Danforth anchor, no batteries, obsolete instruments, and not even a stereo. We were also "blessed" with a pressurized alcohol stove/range (that was immediately rebuilt to use Origo burners.)
The boat had been on the hard for 8 years (but had been maintained by the yard) and was very dirty & messy. I threw out a lot of junk.
Our immediate goal was to get the boat ready for extended coastal cruising which Dale accomplished over the first winter, commuting a few times to the boat in Chicago. We used the following criteria to evaluate where we would spend our money:
(You can imagine that there is a great deal of overlap, but I think you get the idea.) We continue to use this hierarchy today.
Here is a brief list of the equipment added and major accomplishments that first season:
-Nexus instrument suite including below decks autopilot
-Bruce & CQR 35# anchors with individual bow rollers. One rode is all chain and one chain/3-strand combo
-Lofrans vertical electric windlass
-Rolls batteries (2) 185 aHr
-55W solar panel
-Balmar high output alternator and controller
-Xantax 1000W inverter/charger with battery monitor
-iCom 710 SSB with antenna tuner, insulated backstay
-iCom VHF w/RAM
-Raymarine radar (antenna on mast) with helm display
-ProFurl roller furling
-Lewmar 48ST primary winches (in addition to existing winches)
-FrigoBoat refrigeration (love it)
-25 gallon Nauta bladder for auxiliary holding tank (never used)
-Safety gear including flares, PFDs & teathers, radar reflector, jacklines (and additional hard points to fasten to.)
-Docklines & fenders
-Interior lighting and ventilation upgrades-each corner of the main saloon has a halogen reading light
-Custom V-berth matress
-We stripped and barrier coated the bottom before applying bottom paint
-I had made an 8' pram that we used as a dinghy. We bought a new Mercury 3.3 HP outboard
Welcome to our new blog
03/12/2012, Duluth, MN
Welcome to our new blog! We are developing our plans to take Ranger, our Morgan 383, from our home port of Duluth, MN to someplace warmer (most places are as it turns out.....) More specifically, we are planning to go out the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Canadian Maritimes, then to New England, the Chesapeake, ICW to Florida, and on to the Bahamas.
We will begin in the late summer of 2013 by delivering the boat probably to Clayton, NY, which is at the eastern end of Lake Ontario and just inside the beginning of the St. Lawrence river. In the spring of 2014 we will rejoin the boat to begin the journey.
We have been cruising for nearly 10 years on Ranger, and began our assocition with the boat when we purchased her in 2002 in Chicago (at the old Crowley's Yacht yard; she was known as "Annie's B" then.) We cruised from Chicago, to the North Channel, Georgian Bay, Trent Severn Waterway, accross Lake Ontario to the Oswego Canal, Erie Canal, Hudson River, NYC, around NJ to the Delaware Bay (crappy), and into the Chesapeake via the C & D Canal. The next season we headed north to Maine for some of the summer and then back to the Midwest via the Erie. We left the boat in Detroit for winter and brought Ranger to Duluth, our new home town, the following summer.
Over the years we have extensively upgraded and modified her and still have some work to do to get ready for our upcoming voyage. I'll explain in subsequent blog entries.
Below is a picture of our boat at anchor.