Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy New Year 2008!

Here I am starting my third year with this blog - and this year will be an amazing one, I assure you!

More than anything, I hope you all have a wonderful 2008 filled with happiness, health, and the love of your family and friends! Great success would be nice, too.

As I write this it's cold here. Arse biting cold, in fact. Two heaters on Pelican are just barely keeping up so there's going to be an upgrade here real soon now, definitely before the next cold snap. Next week it's going to be in the 50's. Go figure.

Harbor at Caernafon from castle wallI've been to England for Christmas at my sister and brother-in-law's home. There are some lovely places to sail on the Irish Sea and beautiful harbors to stop in. I'm going. What a place! Tentative plans are for the spring of 2009, with fall back to spring 2010. There's lots to do on Pelican and you'll be privy to all that.

Here is an observation I have about the U.K.: no matter where you point a camera you're going to take a postcard picture! You can't help it. This comes from someone who is absolutely incapable of composing a picture.

One of my devoted readers, Brooke, (there are two) offered a suggestion for a new digital camera. My Kodak DC280 is a fine 3 megapixel (MP) camera but it's getting long in the tooth and even low-end digital cameras today have 8 MP capabilities. I like doing panoramas and the Kodak can't take pictures fast enough. It takes about 10 minutes to take the 8-10 necessary.

So on Brooke's advice I purchased a Canon SX100 and a 2GB SD card for saving pictures. Let me simplify this: it's great! I love the thing. It has 10x optical zoom with image stabilization, it has all sorts of modes, does movies and takes terrific pictures (see above). Other than my propensity to push the power button rather than the shutter one (my fault, not Canon's), it's a terrific 8 MP camera. And if you want to play with settings, you have about a bazillion. Almost as flexible as a professional camera. Highly recommended. Thanks, Brooke! You rock!

As I am planning to do all sorts of navigation lighting upgrades I was thinking to myself about how many breakers the nav lights take on the panel - it turns out they take 5 breakers of 10 or 15 amps. Since I want to add, eventually, a Single Side Band radio (SSB), and maybe a watermaker and probably other stuff I'd like to free up some breaker space. One of the participants on the Pearson 424 owners' site mentioned he'd moved all the nav lighting to a new panel.

First, I turned off every DC load and then I turned on all the navigation lights. This resulted in an 8 amp draw. Normally and legally you wouldn't light every lamp because it would make a confusing light pattern. The lighting is as follows:

  • Normal low nav lights (two on bow, one stern)
  • Masthead tricolor light
  • Masthead anchor light
  • Steaming light
  • Masthead strobe light
Each one with its own breaker! So, I picked a 10 amp breaker labeled 'Nav Lights'. Why so low an amperage? Because I plan to replace all the bulbs in the navigation lights with LEDs from Dr. LED so that the total current draw will be more like 2 amps. I'll buy them in the spring when I can get them in. Now's not the time for climbing the mast.

New Nav Lighting PanelI got a 6 fused switch panel from West Marine for $50 or so and some crimp fittings to do the job. I installed it next to the main panel and just moved the wires from their current breakers to a switch on the new panel. The whole project took about 3 hours, 4 if you include the schmoozing at West Marine...

The net result is that I have one main breaker for all navigation lighting and each light or light set is controlled from a common panel. I have 4 free breakers now and the last switch on the new panel will be for the compass light. As it is now, the compass light only goes on with the lower navigation lights. It should go on any time I want it on. Or off, for that matter.

The new panel is the one between the main panel and the Xantrex Link 2000. It solved another problem, too. It filled a huge hole in the wood that was left from removing a Datamarine Log instrument. Tada!

In 1978 when Pelican was constructed there were no electrical standards for pleasure craft, especially with regards to ground fault interruption. Well, I'm going to add two GFCI outlets, one on each AC circuit. It means cutting out the current outlets because they are siliconed into their hole, adding plastic boxes, and installing the new outlets. I'll let you all know how it goes.

When I purchased Pelican, the main salon table wasn't attached to the cabin sole. It may have been at one time or another but the fittings had disappeared over the intervening 30 years. So, how to replace them? First figure out what they're called and then go to Jamestown Distributors and get them. It took a while, but they're called table leg fasteners. Who knew? Anyway, once acquired I mortised them into the cabin sole and ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing, fuggeddaboudit!

Net result: I can use the table opened without it sliding around and tipping over.

Part of the the joy of boat ownership is doing these small, pleasant, easy, and satisfying jobs that make life aboard a little bit more pleasurable.

Finally! Big News! I am officially a Master of Steam, Motor and Auxiliary Sail up to 50 Tons inland and OUPV vessels near coastal to 100 miles offshore! (Captain's License) I also got my MMD card (Merchant Marine Document) as an Ordinary Seaman. It means I can work on commercial vessels and I can do things like mop decks, serve food, wipe steam engine piston rods, and other very low level stuff. It also means I can go to a military base PX. Will I ever? Who knows? Also, it's a start towards getting my AB card - Able Bodied seaman. That's my next goal. Then I can stand bridge watches.

Ok. That's all the news for now. It's January, so only two months to go! Woohoo!