18 May 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea, French Polynesia
It was hot again today. Yeah, yeah, we’re in the tropics. Got it. We both need to drink more.
We carted our new walkie-talkies to the boat with every of intention working on the sea cocks again. I stay below decks and rotate the sea cock handles, and Conni is outside, applying lubrication through the through-hull fitting using a small disposable brush. In a noisy boatyard, it’s impossible to hear the other person and we need to coordinate our activities so that the valve is closed when she applies the lube and her brush is out when I rotate the handle.
Last year, our autopilot would not communicate with our chart plotter. The autopilot would operate as a standalone unit, steering a compass course, but without direction from the chart plotter, we couldn’t steer to a location. In a sea full of wind, waves, and current to push us off course, a compass heading is better than nothing but not ideal. I had called the manufacturer of our out-of-production unit, and we talked through the various options. Today, on a whim, I decided to test the chart plotter and other electronics, and perhaps determine what the problem was.
The network that connected all of these various products is proprietary, and is called SeaTalk, and there are many newer versions than ours. Nevertheless, on Wings, there are only three possible problems: the chart plotter and its SeaTalk port, the autopilot and its SeaTalk port, and the network wiring itself. I attached the autopilot directly to the chart plotter using a short jumper cable, removing the network entirely. Everything worked! We now knew where to start the search.
I suspected the connections for the three SeaTalk wires where they attached to the electronics wall, so went there first. it’s in the “Man Cave” so terribly uncomfortable for me. I removed the possibly bad ring connectors, but on testing, they were not the problem. I came up to discuss things with Conni. She mentioned that the SeaTalk plug that used the SeaTalk port in the chart plotter was a bit corroded and that caused us to consider that perhaps the plug itself was bad and not all of the wiring. I HATE pulling wire through tiny spaces, anyway. One of the three wire connections in the SeaTalk plug was corroded, and after I removed it, I could see that the wire itself was corroded, too. Culprit found! At any rate, after splicing another SeaTalk connector to the wire, the entire system worked! OK!
I had to return to the Man Cave to repair all of the damage that I had done as I prepared to remove the cable, but it was complete in a half hour.
Previously, I had found and repaired a bad ground/drain wire in a SeaTalk cable that connected the wind gauge to the display unit. The “drain” is an uncoated wire that makes contact with the aluminum foil wrap around the wires and is meant to absorb stray electromagnetic radiation from entering or leaving the wire. Unfortunately, I had to use a wire outside the foil, so there will be some leakage, but I had no choice. I think that we’ll be fine, but we don’t yet have the masthead instrument mounted so there was no testing. It’ll be nice to have all of our electronics working. Conni loves the wind instrument and reminds me that she paid good money for an instrument that doesn’t function. Not subtle.
So, our electronics now operate, and tomorrow we’ll return to sea cocks and sails. As I think that I mentioned, we hope to splash on Tuesday, so we have much to do and less and less time to accomplish it. The nice Madame Faux, the sailmaker, dropped by today to announce that she’ couldn’t complete the work that she had promised since she had a rush job of gargantuan proportion. I don’t doubt it. As the sailmaker located with two major sailboat rental companies, it’s easy to imagine her quandary and she came by personally to explain. All is forgiven and we’re really in no hurry. If stuff isn't complete, we'll just sail around for awhile and then return, perhaps to her very marina. We're lazy this year.
Closer to home, the wedding plans for our friend and host, Raihau, are proceeding. He and his wife-to-be will marry on Sunday, and there are festive tents erected that completely cover the Raiatea Location parking lot. We have been invited and are puzzling over what to get for the newlyweds. Got any ideas? We’re considering some small appliances such as an electric tea kettle, or perhaps some good champagne if they drink alcohol.
I haven’t mentioned the drummers. We’re close enough to hear drummers and choruses sing and chant for several hours each evening. The drummers are fantastic: rhythmic, very fast, and extremely coordinated. The chorus, or choruses, sing together, of course, and the songs are more chants. They’re repetitive and melodic. They never play too late and since we sit outside for a few hours on returning from the boatyard, enjoying some beverage, good French cheese, a baguette, and saucisse (sausage), then dinner, they provide a local sound track to our evening.
We love our evenings here. It’s cooler, we can quietly discuss the day’s events and tomorrow’s plans, and as long as leaping geckos don’t attack, all is well.