The Thinking Time

There’s a great deal happening on board Eagle Too right now. But you wouldn’t know it if you stopped by. At the moment, most of the work is taking place in my head. I’m using this gray and dreary time to think about some major projects. I think, and then do some research, and then sketch some ideas, and then think some more. I imagine the parts we’ll need, the order in which things will have to happen, the tools that will be required. Sometimes I drive to West Marine and wander the aisles in contemplation, looking for solutions or verifying some of my assumptions. Then, after a cup of coffee, I start again. Before I know it, Rhonda is home and it’s time to start dinner and have a cocktail and the day draws to a close. Sometimes I’ve made great progress. Sometimes I’ve followed a circular path and ended up where I started. But in either case, it was primarily neurons that got exercised. The only actual work I’ve done has been disassembling large parts of the boat’s interior, and then putting it all back together before Rhonda gets home.  But I consider it all time well spent. Because the purpose is to prevent wasting time and money and make sure we don’t screw something up as we make some major changes to our boat.


Hard At Work

For starters, we need more battery capacity. Our boat’s house bank is a single 4D battery, which is much too small for cruising. And 4D batteries aren’t truly deep cycle, they’re actually commercial truck batteries, not designed for long deep discharges.  I like the advantages of 6 volt golf cart batteries, but where to put them? And how many is enough? Six sounds right. That would give us over 600 amp hours, with a working range of just over 200 amp hours—enough to keep the lights on and refer running for at least two, possibly three days. But our current battery sits forward of the mast, and with 100 feet of chain in the anchor locker, the dinghy on the foredeck, and a full water tank, we already sit 2° down by the bow. Even if we could find room, adding another 300 lbs of batteries would have us plowing a furrow through the ocean. Putting the weight aft will let us double the amount of chain we can carry and still sit level in the water. But can I get six batteries in the stern lazarettes (lockers)? I order six battery boxes, and then start sliding things around like this:

PuzzleTrying every possible combination of how to store things in the lockers until I figure out a way to make it work.  But I then have to measure and size the new battery cables. And finding a path for the cables means hours of fishing through the boat’s inner recesses. Which would have been much harder without this absolutely awesome tool:

RemoteCameraIt’s a remote inspection camera that lets me see live color video of anyplace I can poke the flexible stalk into. If there’s a boat owner in your life that likes to tackle his/her own projects, they’ll love you for getting them one of these. It’s saved me hours of time. If you want one, you can find it here:

Harbor Freight Remote Inspection Camera

Once I’ve figured out the length and route, I find an app that lets me calculate voltage drops for the new cable runs. I think with 4/0 cables, it could work.

Then there’s the additional multi-function display we just bought to install at our chart table.

MFDIt will fit perfectly in that vacant upper right corner, and having a backup for something we’ll be relying on to get us safely from point to point seems like a good idea. (I did take a celestial navigation course once, thinking that that would be our backup. Let’s just say life’s too short to do sight reductions now that GPS is here.)  But networking two chartplotters together so they can share radar, sonar and chart data requires understanding Raynet, which is Raymarine’s proprietary implementation of Ethernet, as well as how to build a Seatalk NG backbone. Off to the Web I go again to download and study the relevant manuals.

And don’t even get me started on AIS. One of Rhonda’s greatest fears is getting run down by a freighter in the dead of night. Installing an Automatic Identification System transceiver will make sure we’ll show up clearly on the chartplotter of any tug or tanker plying the seas. But with a dedicated GPS antenna and the need to splice into the VHF radio and tie to the Seatalk backbone, it’s more reading, head scratching, and where exactly did I put that soldering gun anyway…

Then there’s the whole issue of getting power to all the new gear. We’re out of breakers on the panel, and need to add an additional subpanel. Better brush up a bit on the ABYC wiring guidelines. What’s this? DC ground wires are now required to be yellow instead of black? Sigh…

I’m trying to make the most of this Time for Thinking. Particularly since the weather continues to be too cold and blustery to do any actual sailing. But our gear list is getting close to being finalized, and Defender’s annual blowout sale is right around the corner.

Then it will become the Time for Doing…

Care To Share Your Thoughts?