I worked like the dickens in the days leading up to the departure. Stan (electrician) came by and wired in the chartplotter
(Standard Horizon CP300i), checked the alarm wiring
for the oil
pressure, hooked up the GPS
to the Icom
so that the DSC
button would transmit my MMSI number. I contacted BoatUS and made sure all my MMSI data was up to date. Put aside some history
and listed the ex as a possible contact then called her and told her. Stan and I took apart the binnacle and found out that the old compass
was built to be wired, so he rewired the compass
using data cable. It now has a gorgeous deep, gentle ruby red glow at night! OMG! What a simply fix with rich returns as I would learn during the night passage. The compass was within 3 degrees of the Standard Horizon chartplotter
and the USB GPS
plugged into the Mac Laptop
running MacENC. So Hud, there was no need to make any compass adjustments. I installed a depth
meter and he wired that into my electrical
The engine oil
was utterly gray white. I had not checked it for a while and this concerned me. The transmission
fluid was pink white. Pumped out some oil and it was heavily emulsified. Thick like molasses. Very thick. Ran the engine
on Monday and decided I had a problem. Warmed up the engine and pumped the oil out using a vacuum pump from West Marine
. Wonderful unit! Highly recommend it. Nonetheless, it took HOURS to pump the oil out -- it was so very thick. Talked to a mechanic
and he said to change the filter and put 3 quarts of 30 weight in and then 1 quart of ATF transmission
fluid in. I did that and ran the engine again. Over that week I cycled close to 7 gallons of engine oil and ATF fluid through the engine. The final change still gave me gray oil (instantly, without running the engine), but the consistency and feel of the oil felt better.
I decided that the engine had been neglected by Steven the previous owner AND by myself. And that what I was dealing with was a huge build up of sludge contaminated by water
from a previous steam cleaning
. The mechanic
agreed with the assessment and said "she would probably make it to San Diego
.". Believe me, these multiple oil changes took a huge time drain on my schedule. The West Marine
unit is sweet: You stick in the tube and pump it about 20X and step away. The action creates a vacuum and the unit just sucks on its own until it fills -- at which point it stops. No more vacuum, no more suck.
While I am dredging up what looked like cold molasses, I was working on a host of other things: I mounted the Plastimo Inflatable
COB Module and the Lifesling. Practiced using the 5:1 Lifesling pully system. I drilled a hole for the depth
gauge -- and learned to drill Mahagony REALLY slowly. And I resanded and refinished all the teak
and mahogony paneling in the bathroom. I wanted a gorgeous head
for the voyage. And I refinished the aft starboard cleat. I know. I was insane to refinish the head
. But I so badly wanted to smell nice smells in the head.
Was not going to get a chartplotter -- but I was so annoyed that a decent refurbished GPS at getfeetwet.com was going to run me about 200-300 bucks, that I started researching plotters. Settled on the Standard Horizon CP300i. Why? Step-in price
point. West Marine was willing to match an internet price
. So for 650$, I got a decent plotter with GREAT resolution, landscape orientation (worth the price alone!) built-in GPS antenna
compatibility (SiTex works), AIS
capable with my unit, and a digital depth sounder
capable. And NMEA
outputs. And DVD
inputs. And a 3 year waterproof warranty. Garmin
cannot touch that for 650. They just cannot. Of course, Stan nor anyone else at WM agreed with my initial assessment "Its a POS Mike!!" but I made my own call anyways. Yes, the CP300i mount is a POS. It is wiggly and weak. The unit ought to flush mounted. But for 650? It was worth it to me. I loved the unit on the trip. I think a comparable Raymarine
product would have cost me easily 1200 bucks more.
Got an inverter
wired into the boat too. I was all worried about the inverter
. Wanted to do it "right". Had heard on different posts on different boards that Macbook batteries are sensitive. Mac laptops need a pure sine wave inverter. They might run, and they might not. Reagrdless, their batteries will not charge with a squared wave. BS. My 70 dollar inverter powered the laptop
the entire trip and the sucker ground my coffee. I did not need to spend hundreds of dollars. Still, I know you get what you pay for, and it may be that there could be future residual damage. Frankly, I was shocked to see that the squared sine wave energy was charging
. And I even took the battery
out and ran the laptop for a while without the battery. That worked too. In my opinion, the square or pure sine wave macbook debate is moot. Squared power wave worked.
The chart table I designed worked very well. A chart table in that location is a necessity. Willard
owners: You need a decent chart table! Use this idea! It folds away!
Taped up the cabin
lights with red auto tape (thanks Scott!). That worked great! The pot holders that kept the pot on the stove worked great!
Went to WM and looked for the manager. Told him I liked his store and his people and that I wanted to support his people, but I had a trip to take and I needed safety
items. Said that I could go and bottom feed the net, or we could strike a deal. He said get what you want and I will see what I can do since there is a different mark up on each item.
So I bought safety
tethers, parachute flares, autoinflatable rearm kits, another autoinflatable PFD
, Plastimo Inflatable
COB Module by Plastimo, Standard Horizon CP300i, and other odds and ends.
I know Mark --- no need to go crazy buying
crap, but all that stuff I bought was basic boat safety stuff. And it is all one-time purchase
stuff. I was not buying
marine speakers or dishsets or teak
Weather reports showed a window. Hahahahah! Window? There was no "window". There was a giant hole in the wall. There was no wind (save till the very end).
We had dinner at Busters and I was beat. That oil changing and transmission fluid changing and sanding
wore me out. We pulled out about 6PM and motored SWW for an eternity. Then turned left onto 135 magnetic and headed south for three more eternities.
What is there to report? There was no wind. We did not sail. The Perkins
4-108 ran flawlessly for 18 hours. About 8 hours into the trip, during my time to sleep, I woke with a vengence: The boat felt different. We had been running with just the main to help steady the boat, but she felt faster now and less jarring. The throbbing of the diesel
for hours now was like a deep pulsating totem in my blood: BoomBoomBoomBoom BoomBoomBoomBoom BoomBoomBoomBoom BoomBoomBoomBoom BoomBoomBoomBoom BoomBoomBoomBoom.... I felt like I was in a JRR Tolkien book feeling the incessant beat of the Orcs war drums.
The oil pressure stayed about 60+ and the engine never broke 180 on the temp gauge.
Still, I got up and asked Steven why the boat felt different. He said we were getting a little help from the wind and some help from the current
-- but not enough to sail. We were doing about 6.5 knots then
It was biting cold. My levies which had always felt heavy duty and rugged now felt like a pair of light linen pants such as one would wear in the Sahara desert. There was NO substance to my pants! My nice Gil Coastal jacket was insufficient in of itself. Had to use two jackets and multiple layers under that. My leather neoprene gloves were good. And I forgot to get a woolen pullover cap. Had a baseball cap, but that sucked mightily.
Then there was a following sea. Arrrgghhhh! I could not hold a course for the life of me. Every 3-9 seconds seems I was pointing in a different direction!
stuff worked flawlessly. Looked at the infrared images
of our area and agreed with the satellite
that it was damn cold. Very little cell coverage. But... almost always could get an SMS text message out. Could not call, but texting worked. 3G network not available that far out. We ranged between about 9-17 NM miles from the coast.
How sad is a main sailing boat cabin
with no heat in the dead of night. Gone were my cheery incandescent lights, jazz and blues, and toasty toes from my West Marine space heater. Instead, there was a hellish red glow in the cabin made more surreal by the frosty, damp feel of the air and the incessant throbbing drum beat of the diesel
. All the counter tops were damp. My joints were stiff. My hair, matted with sweat from raising the main, hours later still had not dried. The air stank not of wine, coffee, beef, or chocolate, but diesel fumes. This was sailing?
I spent two years preparing for this???? I looked up and saw Steven still at wheel
with a fleece blanket wrapped around his legs. He let me sleep an hour longer knowing I had not really slept the first time around. As I strapped on my PFD
and cinched the harness, I gasped as the cold damp cloth pressed against my now shivering flesh. Still, this was the real deal as far as I was concerned and it was wayyyyyy past my watch.
I go out into the real chill and relieve Steven. He goes below and before he goes to bed
, he spends a good 30 minutes taking readings, recording position points, and charting our progress! He is an amazing man and I was lucky to have bought this boat from someone like him. I saw him crawl into the V berth and the red glow disappears and all I am left with is a cold night and the utterly relentless, incessant, perfect beat of the diesel. When it is dark on the ocean, you cannot see ahead and you cannot read. All you can do is play mind games with the compass points.
The morning glow came. The sun rose and the dolphins
started playing. Steven poked his head out about the Point Loma appeared and wanted coffee. He was aghast when he heard me grind my beans in the grinder. Where is the instant??? He shouted! Told him what I had was wayyyyy better than instant! We drank coffee and talked. I was even more stiff. Later, I got some cleaner and scrubbed the surface of the boat and read the chartplotter manual.
We made the SD buouy, but I corrected course a little too eagerly and entered some kelp. We were still a distance from the Point, and other boats were in closer, but I turned and headed us out to sea a bit. The plotter showed the buoys pulsing – nice feature! As we entered the bay, Steven could not believe how people simply did not obey the rules of the road. Even the police and Coast Guard sped up and down the channel wherever at whatever speed. Riding all the various wakes was quite an experience.
There were a few remaining glitches – as we came came deeper into the bay, Kona Kai Marina called and said that my slip was not available and put me elsewhere. However, I did not have a slip map and so we spent a good hour backing in and out of slip channels looking for the right spot. Finally, we docked with the transients whose boats looked like they could have been extras from a post-apocalyptic world vis a vis Waterworld and walked to the Marina and found the new slip. It was hot and we were dressed for the North Pole.
And the wind? It started up as we entered the channel! Damn!
I posted more pictures in the album called First Coastal Passage on my profile. I even got all the pictures in order -- and with captions! But here are a few shots from the album.
Could I have done it by spending only money
on some food
? Skipped the fueling (she actually would have had enough for the trip in her tanks
as was), not bought any fuel
filters (we did not use one and I bought many primary and secondaries since she had not been run hard for three years!), not bought any safety gear
, and not done any wiring
, even skipping the paper and electronic charts
I bought? Yes. All I really needed in hindsight was some water
to eat (and I ought to have cycled the water out of the oil). That was all I had to do for this trip. But I just could not do it that way. I had to prepare for the worst that I could imagine. Even when I was into offroading, I took the same approach.
Thanks to all the offered advice. I am afraid the reality of this trip is that it was a tempest in a teapot. Shakespearean thought: This was not King Lear weathering the ultimate storm in that hovel, this was Much Ado About Nothing.
Nothing really happened.