Saturday, June 14, 2003

Week of Boat Prep

Saturday, Olympia
This week was boat prep week. I've been slowly knocking items off my list. The big surprise project this week was installing a new water strainer. Earlier in the week I was feeling positively lazy. I was going to let Shurtz install the strainer for me. So on Wednesday we cruised over to the work dock and started the process. Turns out the old strainer had two different size hoses on it: 1 1/4" where it connected to the thru-hole and 1" where it connected to the water pump. I, of course, just measured one side of the strainer and picked up 1 1/4" fittings. So we nipped that project in the bud. Shurtz was also supposed to install my new bow sprit platform, but that wasn't quite ready so we delayed that until Friday.
On Thursday, Kathy and I cruise back up to Seattle to get parts and to look at our life raft. The life raft is getting ready to be repacked and is sitting fully inflated on the floor of Puget Sound Inflatables. It is kind of nice to see what the thing looks like before you need to use it. The raft also has a dome light and flasher that needed replacing. but the (rather small) battery cashed out at $180, we are already paying $600 to get his thing serviced. Screw that! The existing one still had a good charge on it and we have a strobe on our EPRIB, so I decided to nix it. Then another trip up to Fisheries Supply to pick up all of the water strainer parts. Hmm, it is 5pm and I have all of my strainer parts so I decide to install the damn thing myself. Of course nothing is ever as straight forward as one might expect. I had to move by charger first (to a drier location!) and remove the inverter that was mounted on the opposite side of the bulkhead. Now the inverter was not connected and I was going to see if it even worked. When I removed the inverter it made the most amazing rattling noise. I opened it up and noticed that someone had let all of the smoke out of the power transistors that were connected to the AC output. Looks like someone had connected the inverter directly to shore power --- oops. Pitch one inverter. The rest of the installation was pretty straightforward and three hours later and it was all done.
New strainer with old leaky strainer below.

Charge it
Friday morning was wet. After being here for about two weeks it was our first rainy morning. I had to cancel the bow platform installation because of the weather. Of course about an hour later it cleared up a bit. I spent the rest of the morning deciding what to do about my batteries. Kalliope has two battery banks. Bank 1 consists of 2-4Ds. Bank 2 consists of a 4D and a DF180. On the charging side of life a nice multi-step shore charger (Truecharge-40), Solar panels, and a Delco-type Automotive Alternator. This set up is seriously broke and I suspect it is why bank 2 holds less of a charge than a AA battery. When I bought the boat, the Truecharge had been set on AGM instead of gel. I initially thought that was why bank 2 was trashed. But I have other issues. First the solar panels put out an unregulated voltage of around 18v. So they will just charge and charge as long as there is sunshine (there is a cutoff switch though). Second, the alternator puts out 14.8 volts and is unajustable. This voltage is way to high for gels and is probably what cooked them. So now I am looking at replacing the alternator and Bank 2. After thinking about this on and off for about a month I've decided to rewire the boat so that it has a single house bank (Bank 1) and starter bank (Bank 2). I think this will be easier than it sounds since the only major thing that I need to do is move the dedicated electronic connection from Bank 2 to Bank 1. The other thing that I decided was to use independent chargers for each bank instead of using a combiner or an isolator. So the Trucharge-40 stays since it can charge multiple banks independently (by the way, the house switch was typically set on both at the dock, this defeated the advantage of having multiple charger outputs). A couple of months ago I picked up a FlexCharge Solar charge controller with dual outputs (PV7D), it also stays. And the final piece will be a Balmar alternator with dual outputs and two chargers. Monday Update: On monday I called up Balmar. It turns out that the dual outputs are not independently regulated like I thought. It only uses one charger. Kind of a goofy solution. So now the change is a single output alternator with a digital echo charger for the starting bank.
So with the pieces in place, I decided to install the Solar charger next to the Truecharge-40. I also placed an off switch so that it won't fight with the Truecharge when I'm at shore. Today I've turned off the Truecharge and just using the solar panels. I had a light on all morning and have been running the fridge and playing the radio. It has been mostly cloudy and the panel seems to be keeping up. Tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny so I'll measure the current at noon and see how these panels are doing.
Wash Day Sunday
The panels put out a peak of around 4.3 amps when connected to the charger. Average seems to be around 4 amps. So we should get around 40 amp-hours a day on an average day and maybe up to 50 amp-hours on a really sunny day. Probably enough to run the fridge!
So we pulled the sails up to the grass to wash them and also to inspect some of the random sails that we have. We had a bit of a nasty surprise when examing a couple of them!
Sail Inventory:

  1. Main: Heavy duty main. Dirty, but seems to be in good shape.

  2. Staysail: Original sail. This sail has a rip at the head and needs repair. As an added bonus it's luff cord is basically gone. We will repair it for now and replace it at the end of the summer.

  3. 130% Genoa: In really good shape except that the UV cover stiching is completely dead and must be restiched - bummer.

  4. 100% Jib: The original jib. Pretty dead. We will use it until we get the Genny back from the sail maker.

  5. Storm Jib: Really good shape. Doesn't look like it has been used much. Use it until the Staysail is repaired.

  6. Big Ass Asymetrical Spinaker: Fine shape.We will probably stow this for now and bring it out once we have our shit together.

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