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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Radio Labs WiFi
Randy
10/15/2006, Southern California

More and more marinas and harbors around the globe are offering WiFi service to visiting boats. This is not only convenient but a great business move for the folks providing the hot spots. Cruisers are famous for being fairly frugal (as one of Scottish descent I prefer this description to: 'cheap', etc.). Give a cruiser free or fairly inexpensive access to the Internet and they will be emailing, browsing, and skyping like crazy.

Most folks take their laptops to the hot spot but more and more cruisers are bringing the hot spot to their boat with amps and antennas. You can get into a fairly complex/expensive setup pretty quickly. After looking around a fair amount we ran across the Radio Labs Marine WIFI solution. It is an all in one unit with an antenna and integral WIFI card attached to a 15' USB cable. Install the drivers, plug it in and you're done. It's great because we can put the antenna in a spot that has good line of site with the hot spot. I often tape it to a jib sheet at anchor or stick it in the sail bag. It is also easy to take it with you and use it with your laptop. We have been able to get on nets more than a mile away.

In the picture above you can see the 2 foot antena hanging from the Starboard jib sheet with the USB cable running into the boat through the forward port light.

http://radiolabs.com/

We carefully considered a BGAN Explorer 500 Satellite system for phone and Internet access. While I think that the BGAN is the way to go if you're going satellite, we have tabled the satellite solution for the time being due to the availability of WiFi and the utility of SSB email and document retrieval solutions. If we feel like there's a gap in our coms solution after a few months cruising we'll reassess the situation.

http://www.bganwarehouse.com/

Refit
The West Marine Crew
Randy
10/14/2006, US 1 and 84

Ron and Abbey from West Marine came over to visit with their significant others, Jeff and Stormy. While we try to spread the commerce around I think we probably go to West Marine at least every other day. Ron took us all to dinner at a little place up the river that we took the dinghy to. It was great listening to Jeff and Abbey's tales of their sailing trip from Florida to Australia. They are planning another trip in their new boat soon. Its amazing how many nice folks you meet in the boating world.

Refit
Back in the Water
Randy
10/13/2006, LMC Working Dock

We hit the water late in the day on Friday and immediately proceeded with the renaming ceremony. Roq was a big help. You can see the New River flowing by here. The fish are constantly jumping out of the water across the way, I can only assume that they're trying to escape the horrendous pollution.

Refit
Monohull Field Day
Randy
10/12/2006, LMC Yard

The anti-catamaran salts will have a field day with this shot. You can see that the Saint Francis has not only escape hatches for capsize hull exit, but also a red rectangle in the gel coat for spotting by air and jack lines on the underbody. You can see a small bit of glass work in the starboard bow where we found a void.

Refit
Flying Boats
Randy
10/11/2006, Lauderdale Marine Center

We hauled our boat out on October 11th and she was back in the water on the 13th (yes Friday the 13th). Very nerve wracking seeing your new boat flying around 15 feet above the concrete. And yes, we renamed her on the 13th as well. Good thing we went through the process correctly, de-naming, keels clearing the water, renaming, champagne and assorted chanting to Neptune and the four winds. We had the bottom painted, repaired a ding in one of the keels and had the Water Maker and Dyna plate through hulls installed. Not bad for a bit less than 3 working days.

Refit
Best Place to Sleep on a Cat
Randy
10/08/2006, Fort Lauderdale, FL

We love our Catamaran. The Saint Francis 50, like any boat however, is not perfect, but it will be when we get finished with it! That said you have to start with a solid platform, and the Saint Francis is an amazingly well built and appointed boat. We spent a year doing hard research including factory tours and many multiday sea trials in up to 40 knots of breeze. The Saint Francis 50 was as close to perfection as we could find. I'm sure that most owners feel the same about their boats.

We have quite a laundry list to check off while refitting.

- Spectra Newport 400 Water Maker with MPC5000
- ICOM 802 SSB/Pactor w/ SailMail
- Upgrade AC systems
- Drain AirCon into sump rather than bilge
- Install upgraded computer at nav station
- Integrate home theater with helm and nav (charts on the TV, etc.)
- Brownie's YP35 dive compressor and bottle locker
- New stern anchor and glass in a chain locker in the lazarette
- Splendide 2000 Washer/Dryer install
- Install dinghy chocks and outboard stowing systems
- Wind screen between cabin top and bimini
- Upgrade ground tackle (Rocna 40 and 300' of 3/8" High Test)
- Create secure stowage spots for all gear

Those are just the large bullets. It's going to be a lot of work over the next few weeks. That said there's always time for a little snooze with the pooch. Roq prefers the tramps to the hard gel coat.

Refit
Honey, I'm home
Randy
10/07/2006, Lauderdale Marine Center

We're starting to adjust to living on the boat. We still have no idea where things are in Fort Lauderdale though. It's strange coming home to the boat yard. The rain probably isn't helping with the vibe either. This yard also isn't the friendly "everyone's a cruiser" type yard either. It is power yachts and big business. Hopefully we'll be in the Bahamas soon!


Preparations

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