Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Our Happy New Year cruise

Horizon got to shake her sea legs for the first time in a while and we got to spend several days on the hook to start wringing out her systems.  It was pretty chilly for Florida with highs in the 40's and 50's.  Since the oven is our sole source of heat, Cate worked her magic keeping us warm and well fed over several days making Christmas ham, pop-overs, pecan pie, oatmeal bread, escalloped oysters, dilly cheese and chicken and other (obviously non-fattening) entrees.

Point Desoto, Manatee River

Things that worked well this time:
1. The Torqeedo electric outboard purred like a champ!  It is so light and easy to lift on and off the dingy and runs with absolute quiet.  Of course 3-4 HP is not going to get the dinghy up on plane, but it is great for tooling around an anchorage.
2. The Lighthouse windlass smoothly brought up the 60# CQR and 3/8" all-chain rode but I did have some problem keeping the foot switch activated and may end up moving that for easier access.
3. The deck washdown system got a good workout cleaning mud off the chain and anchor.
4. The Rutland 913 wind generator worked fine in winds over 15 kts to keep our house batteries nicely full - unfortunately the wind only stayed above 15 for one of the nights.  Even with the KISS isolation mount we still get some sound of revving airplanes but it is not objectionable and will always be an alarm of rising wind.
5. Unhooked from cable, we were surprised how well the mast mounted TV antenna worked.  Now if we only had enough surplus power to use the TV a bit more...
6. I keep finding new and great things the Lowrance HDS-8 chart plotter does so well.  We are starting to settle down to a fixed set of pages and detail data that make navigation so much easier.
7. The marriage saver headsets augmented the hand signals nicely with only a rare one finger salute thrown in for good measure.
8. Purists may scream but we really enjoyed sailing "jib and jigger", under jib and mizzen sails.  As a test we never once raised the main and Horizon still moved nicely and was extremely controllable.

Things that needed help:
1. While the solar panels worked, they just do not put out anywhere near what they should.  They are 30V panels and the Xantrex C-60 controller just wastes too much power feeding a 12V system.  We have already ordered a Blue Sky MPPT controller to eek out every last drop of power from the panels.
2. The existing batteries hold even less power than I thought.  We have decided to go with Trojan lead/acid batteries instead of AGM's.
3. Our 1800W sinewave inverter is wired in the AC side but still needs the two battery cables run.  The only form of AC we had available during the trip were square wave inverters that most of our boat electrical items just do not like.
4. Likewise the Link battery monitor is only partially wired in and cannot yet be fully used to monitor the system.  Replacing the house batteries will be the perfect time to add all the incidentals like moving the rest of the engine room grounds to the bus bar, adding the big battery fuses, and generally cleaning up the 30 year old daisy-chained power distribution system.
5. The ancient Simrad W-32 wheel pilot did not work well at all and we may be moving a Simrad hydraulic autopilot higher up the wish list.  Along with the heading sensor on a new autopilot would come other benefits such as overlaying chart display with radar and showing MARPA vessel trails.

1. Our Navico/Lowrance 4G Radar was not one of the things we could use since we had to send it back for repair.  It had stopped working a month or so ago and when we brought it down from the mizzen mast, it sloshed!  Factory seals were still in place but water got in somehow.

While I spent some time working in my office (the engine room) we did get lots of quality time jigsaw puzzling and reading months of magazine back issues and just chillin' - all endeavors that will be much more common after my retirement in a few short months.  Just a little more work and we will be so ready :)

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