We've been in Ft. Lauderdale for the past 2 months doing MAJOR work on BlueJacket. To say that we worked our butts off would be an understatement. During our 2 months there I worked an average of 10 hours per day, every single day that we were there. I figured out that I put in over 600 hours of labor! Glad that I wasn't paying $60/hr for my labor! I had planned on writing more often, but I was often so tired that I just didn't have the energy to write. We actually took one day off and shopped for the boat. Wow, how exciting! Both Sue & I were worn to a frazzle by the time that we left, but it sure feels good to have everything completed and to be back on the water again.
While we were doing this work we were staying at Tom and Kathy Taranto's condo in Hollywood and had BlueJacket in a slip at their marina, which was just a 5 minute walk away. They have a beautiful condo and living there made the boat projects much more manageable. When you do major projects you end up pulling the entire boat apart and have things piled everywhere. It would be like remodeling your entire house and trying to live there at the same time. We can't thank them enough for their hospitality.
While we were there we undertook quite a few major projects and a ton of "minor" projects. On the major project list the Fischer Panda generator was removed and replaced it with a NextGen generator. The Fischer Panda was completely unreliable and used hard to get parts. The new generator uses very common parts and should be much more reliable. The new generator wouldn't fit in the compartment with a sound case, so I had to line the compartment with 2" lead lined foam.
We also installed a KISS wind generator and solar panels in an attempt to be more energy self reliant just in case there are problems with the generator and/or engine alternator. The solar panels were installed on a fiberglass dodger (windshield) that we had fabricated. The new dodger also required that new clear Strataglass panels be fabricated, and that took a LOT more time than expected, but the results turned out great.
The existing Atkins & Hoyle davits (used to hoist the dinghy off the stern of the boat) were replaced with much heavier duty A&H davits, but during that process I found that coring of the fiberglass on the transom (back end) where the davits were mounted was soaked with water and the coring had to be cut out and replaced with solid fiberglass. I'm glad that the davits were $1000 less than I expected, because that $ was easily chewed up in that fiberglass job. The life raft, which had been in a cloth valise, was repackaged in a hard container and was mounted on deck in a cradle.
We also did lots of sewing projects. We made a triangular sun shield that goes from the bow to the mast, terry slip covers for the main cockpit cushions, and fabric and screen shields for the companionway to keep the A/C in and the bugs out. I also installed lots of electronics including a galvanic isolator, battery combiner, new Autohelm displays, and a Tri-metric battery charging display for the wind generator & solar panels.
One major project that I undertook was replacing the existing 120 V refrigeration with a 12 V system which runs off of the batteries. This involved selecting all of the components (motor, compressor, condenser, accumulator, receiver, connectors, pumps, driers, etc), ordering them from Rparts.com (which is no small feat), bending tubes, soldering joints, installing it, testing and tuning the system. This was no small task, but I learned a ton about refrigeration and now feel completely secure in my ability to maintain the system anywhere. Refrigeration problems are one of the major headaches that cruisers have, so we should be all set, especially since I now have a complete set of gauges, vacuum pumps, leak detectors and infrared thermometers. Gotta love those tools! :-)
One of the more humorous tasks involved repainting the 15 HP Yamaha dingy motor cover. The old paint sloughed off when you touched it, so we decided to repaint it with Awl Grip (a 2 part marine epoxy). Sue painted it blue to match BlueJacket and then we went out and got some 9.8 HP Tohatsu decals that we put on the motor. Everyone in the Caribbean wants 15+ HP Yamaha motors, so we decided that no one would steal a 9.8 HP Tohatsu!
There were a ton of other smaller projects that we did, but they all take up time, sometimes an amazing amount of time! Oh, we also pulled the mast to fix a creaking noise and mounted some new hardware. Of course, that required removing all of the lines, sails and rigging, which takes a long time to put back up. The amazing thing is that everything went back together just fine and all of the systems are working well.
We'll spend a few days in Key West and will then be headed back to Mexico, then down to Belize and then back to Guatemala for hurricane season. Bill Spires, who has been aboard since Ft. Lauderdale, may join us on the trip to Mexico or beyond. We're expecting to be back in Boston in early August. We can't wait to get back home and see friends and family. We hope that all is well you everyone. See ya soon!
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