Monday, April 8, 2013

Outfitting for Cruising

It was a big day when the solar panels were installed!

Svendsen's Metal Works - We spent a good part of the winter at Svendsen's in Alameda.  Our slip had a great view of the Alameda estuary, with the US Coast Guard across the way and the Cal Berkeley's crews practicing right in front of us.  It was entertaining at times, especially listening to the coach's bullhorn at 6:30am.  Despite the industrial-park ambiance of living in a boat yard, we really enjoyed getting to know Alameda's grocery stores, restaurants, laundromats, WiFi hotspots, and every one of the many sources for boating supplies.

Berkeley Crew practice

This was our first winter living aboard and we also learned what happens when constantly using two space heaters - breathing, cooking and taking showers in a small space  - ­­when its much colder on the other side of the fiberglass.  In other words, we learned all about condensation and the mold that comes with it - lots of mold!  So we bought our first dehumidifier, which we think is a pretty good likeness to R2D2.  We ran R2 for a few hours every day.

Our new humidifier - aka R2D2

We accomplished a lot while at Svensen's.  At the very top of our project list was the design and construction of an arch by Chris Evanoff and his team at the Metal Works Shop; Rodrigo, Jair, Heriberto and Nicholas.  The arch will see duty as a platform for our solar panels, satellite phone & wifi antennas, stern & cockpit lights, a means to lift our dinghy and outboard and to store our outboard gas tank.  Chris and his crew were great to work with, very creative and professional.  We feel the end result is elegant in both form and function.

An early fitting

Arch frame in the shop ...

... with the solar panel bracket

Installation was definitely a team effort

Brian Theobald, who did all our electrical commissioning, also wired the solar panels and wired & installed the solar controller, the antennas and lighting.  Routing the wiring was often the biggest challenge.

Brian at work

The finished product ... 560 watts of solar, wifi and satphone antennas, stern lights, dinghy & motor lift ... the dinghy is high enough to see under when backing.

Grand Marina - Our next stop was Pacific Crest Canvas at Grand Marina for canvas work.  We've worked with Pacific Crest before and were really happy with the result, so it was a proven source for a bimini and a transition piece connecting the bimini to the dodger to shade us when we arrive in the really warm parts of the world.  We also added a dinghy cover to protect it from the sun & rain.

 Tight fit - it was good that we arrived on a windless morning

Pacific Crest's work slip was at the exit ramp for 3 docks, so people from dozens of boats walked by every day.  It was a big change from being at the boat yard with only a few other boaters nearby.  It was a fun place to stay for a few weeks and we met a lot of nice people.

 Pacific Crest owner Eric McKinley (right) and one of his employees - his dad!

 Transition canvas fitting

 Dinghy cover, bimini & transition

Hansen Rigging - We worked with Glenn Hansen when Agave Azul was commissioned.  Glen is one of the top riggers in the bay area.  Below is his repair dock ... another temporary home for Agave Azul and hopefully our last stop for projects for a few months.

Yet another marina - Hansen's repair dock

One of the items we had on our warranty list was a "twisted boom".  We had a lot of experts look at it, but the consensus was ... "it looks OK to me".  So I asked Glenn for his opinion and he suspected it was the toggle that holds the boom to the mast.  When the part finally arrived, Glenn made quick work of the job and the new toggle corrected the problem.

Does this look OK to you?

The toggle was quite twisted

The new toggle installed ... and no twist in the boom!

One of our final projects was to find a second anchor.  Although there is little agreement on the best anchor, an accepted rule of thumb is that bigger is always better.  We've read enough stories about cruiser's dragging their anchors that we didn't think our primary anchor was big enough to let us sleep soundly during a blow.  Although we had the "correct" size for our boat and appropriate for most anchorages, we wanted an oversized anchor that would join our primary on the bow roller.

But we had difficulty finding a bigger anchor that would fit alongside our primary.  So we decided to order the next larger size of the one we had and sell the old one to another 470 owner.  We increased the size to 80 pounds from 60.  West Marine had to order it and the day before we were scheduled to leave Alameda, the new anchor arrived.  I had to temporarily install it on the bow to mark where the pin would go that holds it in place while we are under sail.  Then a quick trip back to Svendsen's Metal Works to get the hole drilled.

Rodrigo and Jair at Svendsen's Metal Works

80# Manson Supreme

We still have a few more projects to complete, but if we needed to depart tomorrow we would be OK to go.