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The Two Captains



Volume II - February 1999

"Boats is boats is boats" which is daughter Tiffany’s reaction to a time-honored, unavoidable phenomenon that happens when any boater gets an audience: the parts stories, the maintenance sagas, the epic dramas (and comedies) of boat projects. "No shit, there I was…" is much less often the prelude to a storm at sea, than the opening statement of a tale of man and his wrench.

There are those that yawn and those that eat it up. This page is for the latter group .


letter_A.gif (393 bytes)s we last saw our brave OLD boat Captain/Mechanic we were leaving for our glorious 11 day Christmas Vacation, with the only high output alternator not working and nobody very happy about it!! Well as it turns out, when you spend several hundred dollars for a system that tells you 48 different functions of the electrical system (of which you really need to know about 2) all in half inch tall digital, back lit numbers, you have to be pretty damn smart to fix it. TURN IT OFF and TURN IT BACK ON. Fixed it in 5 minutes (reset time) and not one cut on either hand!!!

For my next great feat, we pulled out of the slip and headed for Yacht Haven to pick up the new chain and start our vacation. Believe it or not, everything worked all week (mostly), and I actually read two books with no wiring diagrams or layout requirements.

However, on about the 2nd or 3rd day, I did get a little tired of the reading and temporarily hooked up the new depth sounder and knot log so the other Captain would not get nervous anchoring without a depth read out in spots we have been going for the last 3 to 8 years. HA! The new ST 80 gauges are really neat to read, with lettering even I don’t need my glasses for, and one "page" in the "depth chapter" gives you a histogram of the bottom over the previous 5-, 10-, 30-minute, hour, 6-hour or 24 hour period and can even be tuned to work as a fish finder!

Once we reached the slip again and plugged in, we found out about the offer on Whisper and the upcoming survey. YIKES---lots to do and none of it was on TacklessIIWhisper resisted the sale at every turn. Nothing worked, except for the engine, and it leaked water in two separate places. The list is long but the major stuff was refrigeration, AC, bilge pump, lights, alternators, transmission leaks, etc. WE say it was the boat’s personality, but truth be known, over a year in dry storage and any boat is going to have major start-up problems. Our problem was it had to start up quickly without us on board everyday to find out what was needed. If you live aboard, it is a piece of cake. You’re there, just fix it!!

Whisper passed the survey, with several surprises, but overall got great marks from the Florida surveyor. (And I personally do not think it had a thing to do with the fact he ended the day on TacklessII drinking cold Amstels with a free ride back to his hotel in the "white Limo".)

As for action on TacklessII, the new generator was installed and now has 5.2 hours on it. The installation was pretty straight forward, and I had very little trouble with it. That is primarily because I paid Gwen’s friend Dennis (of rewire the battery box fame) to do the job, while I’d done a tremendous amount of prep before his arrival, I still spent most of the two days it took running after the parts and pieces I had forgotten. Dennis has installed many of these and took great delight in watching me squirm as he took the thing apart in 3 pieces right out of the shipping crate right on the dock. After spending several thousand dollars for a shiny piece of equipment, the last thing you want to hear is the mechanic asking for a can to put the pieces in. After breaking it down into those 3 chunks, we used the main halyard to lift the engine up and "swing it" onto the boat. Then Deno and I carried it the length of the cockpit, reattached it to the halyard through the dodger , and lowered it into the main salon. The rest of the installation worked out fine, making use of old inlet and outlet through-hulls, which was comforting as there’s nothing like drilling 1" holes in the waterline of your boat…while you are still in the water! We did give in and let Deno set it up with a side exhaust, in hopes of avoiding all the problems Gwen had on Whisper with the long exhaust run to the stern. We put a ball valve in line to close the exhaust off when heeling in heavy seas. This is something you don’t want to forget to open when you start the engine. We had a demonstration of what would happen, when our master mechanic did just that…(only moments after warning us about it)…and the hose blew of the new muffler with a wet "bang" spraying mucky droplets all over the clean white engine and freshly painted shelves…and Dennis. Can we say "oooops!" No damage done. Our only problem now is loading it up for the break-in period (50 hr.). Our formula is the battery charger (drawing about 18-20 amps), the hot water heater, a bowl of water in the microwave, the shop vac in the head, the air-conditioner in the cockpit, and sometimes a blender full of water to hold the load up!!!

The refrigeration is getting YET another tune up. Our slip mate in the marina is DR.ICE. Good guy and very good refrigeration technician, not to mention more expensive than the normal "island guys". But he is tuning a system that has never worked the way it should, and he explained WHY! He’s also teaching a class that I enrolled in. Figure if I can learn a little more, I can charge less and get out of town quicker—we planning on moving a lot anyway.

So, next project is the 12 volt refrigeration units. Already wired, they should be installed by the time you read this. Not much else done to date. Pulled the engine room porthole out yesterday, after years if leaking it didn’t have too much holding it in except 12 bronze bolts. On the other hand, something I thought would take half a day, only took a half hour, for once! A new backing plate is being made today and new bolts ordered (don’t even think anybody on this island stocks bronze fasteners—GO FIGURE!) Plans are to pull the mast in the next week or so. Lots of new wire, fittings, etc going into that project. Made the list today and it has 26 items for the mast alone. List of projects for the boat before we leave now sits at 42—YIKES!! I haven’t had a list that short since I bought the boat 9 years ago!!!!


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Published at Burlington, VT