03 October 2014 | Tampa, FL
Communication & Comfort: An approach we took to this part of our objective was to connect them in some way. Communication included our ability to safely operate our vessel and reach necessary information resources but it also included staying connected in our busy 21st century world. As the Captain - I run the boat and was focused on the resources to facilitate that endeavor - be it at dock, anchor, on passage or under a variety of diverse circumstances. My choices included VHF with DSC, SSB with HAM features, a modem and satellite weather feed. Although there are many features embedded within equipment to communicate via radio - I wanted two specific safety features riding on my VHF & SSB transmissions (location and call sign). I spent the time to learn about and connect my GPS gear to the radios to take advantage of the on-board DSC features. I plan to install ATS (transmit & receive) in the near future. I have been in busy ship-lane traffic in places like Norfolk, Tampa, Miami and greater Chesapeake during poor visibility and feel the investment is worth it - especially since we intend to cruise more extensively in the future.
The comfort side of the equation includes the ability to maximize the advantages of our cellular devices in coastal areas; to reach internet resources when cellular coverage is absent and to (most importantly) keep the Admiral connected to her work with little or no interruption. The Admiral runs a company and has the flexibility of doing so from literally any geographic location. Her one requirement - keep her connected to the internet! Yes Ma'am! Right now, we do this via a hotspot (cellular) with AT&T...possible since we are coastal right now. Our future goal is to seek an efficient but somewhat economical satellite linked system that permits internet access when conditions are acceptable to sit at the desk in her office cabin to do work without getting sea-sick. We are exploring the "connection" side of this equation now - but what we have done is fully wire the boat for Bluetooth, wireless LAN and video. We have 4 x computers aboard. A desktop that handles my navigation suite. A back-up laptop for same. The Admiral's business server and her laptop. All are interconnected to an array of scanner, printer combos as well as our video system and navigation tools so that any/all are accessible from all parts of the boat. Every cabin has a flat-screen, DVD combo that will slave to any laptop. Back-up archives are serviced by 4 x Tera-Drives linked through a USB hub to the wireless network. The Admiral's business server backs up to the cloud routinely when cellular 3/4G service is available through the hotspot. We have a full-function entertainment system with a BIG screen in the salon that can be piped into each of the cabins via VGA multi-function control box but each cabin's flat screen is capable of independent operations with DVD or Blu-Ray and isolated sound local to the cabin. The stereo is also "plumbed" into the distribution system for diverse sound/entertainment throughout and above deck on water-proof speakers. We even have a flat screen station in the cockpit (removable during sailing). The Wii system is a nice entertainment "add-on" in the salon and we can control the system via blue-tooth from our Iphone/Androids. OK - sounds like we have money to buy toys - no...not really...I put the system together with a diverse array of inexpensive spare parts and rescues from our home. However - we are comfortably connected with exception of the satellite reach on the move (next project/acquisition).
Some other more analog comfort items we have added (or have aboard) include:
- The bar-style ice maker (what a great $250 investment)...it makes 25lbs a day and is plumbed into our water and drain systems...no maintenance!
- A bilge heater for cold Potomac winters
- A separate (electric heater coil booster) for our heat pumps (AC/Heat).
- A combination microwave/convection oven.
- An electric dinghy crane to place the big 10ft RIB with 25 HP motor on the foredeck. This is my "invention" using a spinnaker pole...which I will cover in another post.
- 60 GPH SK Water-maker
- Washer/Dryer combo (Splendide)
- 20 GAL hot water heater (electric)...but will be adding an engine heat exchanger attachment soon.
- Hydraulic davits - for that BIG RIB
- Electric blankets while in the DC area - Admiral's orders!
- 2 x large fridge/freezers (each about ½ the size of a standard household kitchen unit) which do great on the solar array.
- 12V fans in every cabin
- Electric sail winches (Barrient 20s)
*** Note - Remember, we have a large 4-cyl Diesel 16KW Phasor Generator on board that will power a small marina complimented by a large Xantrex inverter servicing 13 full-size AGM batteries and a 520 watt solar array. Power hogs - sometimes we are!...but we know the amperage loads and can slim down quickly for austere sailing - we call it "Running Silent." The wind generator is a "next toy" purchase when I can find a used one that is appealing.
Next post - building hours in the sailing log...