Work and Play - Part One - Mostly Work
21 December 2009
So sorry for the gaps in my postings this year. I'll try to be more reliable and diligent.
Well since that last post, Sea Sharp is still in Stuart. Our plan had been to launch in Riverside and move to the lovely facilities in Stuart where we would leisurely get Sea Sharp ready for the winter cruising. Well, we certainly have stuck to the "leisurely" aspect.
Boats are robust and capable things; they have to be, they operate in harsh environments. At the same time, the systems need constant maintenance, cleaning and upgrading. I may have posted this last year, but I recall one time hearing the adage that to do proper maintenance on a cruising sailboat you should expect (between a two member crew) to do 1 hour of maintenance for every foot of waterline. So in our case, Sea Sharp is 37.5 feet LOA (length over all - from stem to stern) and about 33 feet LWL (length of the boat at the water line). So using that formula, Judy and I would between us have to spend 33 hours a week cleaning, mending, fixing, futzing and putzing around. (BTW, apparently futzing and putzing are not synonymous - putzing, is puttering and more aimless and less productive than the more deliberate futzing which is more purposeful and focused).
Let's look at it another way. Our boat contains about 250 square feet of living and storage area (take half of the beam of 14 feet times the length of 37.5 feet and you get 262 square feet). This is about ten percent of the floor area of my house, including storage and garage. Yet, I'm sure I spend at least double the time working on the boat as I do the house, so this amounts to a ratio of 1 to 20. For the area of my boat compared to the house I spend 20 times as much time working on it!
All this to say that we spent a fair bit of time over the last three weeks doing boat projects. A biggie was a replacement for my automatic pilot. Like the name conjures, the autopilot is capable of self steering the boat based on establishing a determined heading (it's more complicated than that but that's fine). It relieves you from the tedium of hand steering when you are doing long passages. In fact, we use good old Auto for much of our time underway which relieves us to futz and putz around. You still have to keep watch, and very careful watch, in complicated areas, but Auto can steer better than we can so he's an important part of the crew,
Well, Auto packed it in on our way from Fort Pierce to Stuart. This troubled me for two reasons, a new one way more than a boat buck ($1000 u.s.) and the installation is complex. There are basically four parts to mine; a fluxgate (or electronic compass), a motor, a drive wheel which is attached to the ship's wheel and the control head (the computer which figures out what to do) . The wires serpentine their way all around the bowels of the boat and there are something like 25 wires sprouting out of the back of the control head which connect it to the various other navigational instruments which give and take directions from it.
Suffice it to say that I wanted neither the expense or the hassle of installing a new one. So first is to repair the existing. I isolated the problem to the motor and upon removing discovered that there was a broken wire. Too easy? Yep. I had that repaired but it did not cure it. Next, can I get a replacement motor? Well, even though this is an older, long obsolete model, I can still get a motor and at the unheard of price of $46.00! A pittance for a complicated boat part. So I head to the marine electronics store to order one up. On the way I run into a fellow cruiser from Ontario travelling on a Whitby 42 who is also heading there and in our conversation he tells me he has a perfectly good spare autopilot; the same brand but a newer version of mine. We quickly arrive at a mutually agreeable price and I'm good to go. I order the new motor anyway so as to add to my ever expanding spare parts bin.
While the installation is far less complicated than starting from scratch, it still takes me a full day but when I turn it on, everything works and I'm content. More work and play in the next post.....