Monday, July 2, 2012

And lo, for there were upgrades ... and maintenance.

Brigadoon, on the hard, at CSR boatyard.

It's been quiet because we've been busy.  The new sails are settling in, though we have had little time to seriously exercise them during the normal Seattle Juneuary (cold, little wind, not fun cloudy days).  That's just fine though.  It allowed us to take Brigadoon out of the water for a planned haul out.

The haul out was to redo the bottom paint, inspect the cutlass bearing (that is the bearing that supports the prop shaft as it exits the hull) and rebuild the stuffing box (the thing that keeps all that water out of the boat where the prop shaft enters).

There was also the matter of our electronics/navigation instruments, or the lack thereof.  Brigadoon came equipped with a rather rudimentary set of instruments.  There was a 25 year old depth sounder, with nixie tube display (look it up -- they used this type of display on the Apollo missions).  The knot meter was funky.  We had no real wind instrumentation.  So we started researching putting new stuff on the boat.

We did a lot of research and had some mighty plans for Brigadoon, which we ended up scaling down as necessary.

As I look at the systems on Brigadoon and my plans on going places in this boat, I have thought a lot about systems that I have, which ones need an upgrade, which ones I need to obtain, and which I need to junk.

I mean, I could load the boat up with the latest in chartplotter/radar/AIS/VHF/depth/fishfinder/watermaker/inverter/tv/vcr/dvd/blueray/blender/mcrowave/hot tub/etc/etc/etc

I could spend a fortune loading the boat with gadgets. I could also have to quadruple my battery bank to support them. I could get ridiculous with it. Or not...

So I'm looking at what is really necessary, what can be re-purposed, what can be used for dual purposes. The thing is, as you add one capability, you have to take into account the infrastructure to support it and then, maybe those things need additional infrastructure, etc, etc, etc....

It can be a long and winding road of this thing, supporting that system, requiring an upgrade of another and pretty soon you are so surrounded by what you *have to have* to support something maybe you really didn't need in the first place.

I understand this is blasphemy the manufacturers out there, who want us to consume their "marine grade" pens, pencils, log books, and toasters that they are very very proud of -- just look at the co$t. Well, I don't have to buy all their stuff just because it is shiny and new, because it was reviewed in the latest issue of SAIL, or I think I have to keep up with the Joneses when at anchor.

So every purchase is backed up by some questions.

Do I really need this?

Can this capability I'm acquiring be done another way -- especially one that is less costly?

Do I need additional infrastructure to support the shiny new thing and, how much is that going to cost?

What are the unintended con$equences (costs) of the addional infrastructure?

With those thoughts in mind we decided to haul Brigadoon, take care of some maintenance, and do a few upgrades.

The first was the haul out and bottom paint at CSR boatyard.

She needs new bottom paint, bad.

The prop didn't look too good either and, there is no zinc here.
While she was out, we also decided to make use of her "dryness" to take care of a possible worn cutlass bearing, and replace the old stuffing box with new packing. 

The stuffing box in an antiquated thing; technology a century old. It consists of a bunch of flax rope, soaked in paraffin, that is stuffed into a "packing gland" around the prop shaft.  It is supposed to keep most of the water out of the boat while allowing just enough to lubricate the spinning prop shaft.  There is a newer version of this technology called a "dripless seal" but, when doing my research, I found that it's failure mode is a little too catastrophic for my tastes.  You see, when an old style stuffing box fails, you just get more water.  When a "dripless" fails, you get a whole lot more water -- gushing water.  I like simple technology that is easy to maintain and repair over more complex technology that you have to replace to fix.

Since we are caught in the "while she was out" phase, we decided to have her hull polished too.  And this is what we got...

New bottom paint and polished hull.  
New paint, pretty as can be.
CSR did an excellent job with the bottom paint, repacking the stuffing box and polishing the topsides of the hull.  We are very happy with their work.

I will never be comfortable watching my eleven ton boat being hauled around like this.  I know they don't drop them but...
And they put her in the water nice and gentle.

We also decided to have this haul out allow us to replace her depth sounder and knot meter.  This was a perfect time to upgrade her navigation instruments.

This meant we could go with an all-new NMEA-2000 network on the boat.  This is extremely simple and useful.  The backbone powers all the instruments.  It allows every single NMEA compatible sensor, computer, instrument, antenna, to talk to each other and share information.

So we decided to go with the backbone, a new GPS antenna (hidden under the deck), new masthead instruments, depth sounder, knot meter, water temperature, air temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, three displays, and an interface to our laptop, which contains our navigation software.

All this was installed by Yacht Masters, which is located right near the boat.  They did an excellent job.  We are very happy with their work.

We have data!
In graph form too.

And one next to my bunk too so we can monitor the boat at anchor.
There is also a GMI 10 at the wheel in the cockpit.  It's great being able to display any data we want, at any location, and on the laptop too.  

This was a big bunch of maintenance and upgrades for us.  There is no doubt out capabilities are greatly enhanced.  They were well worth doing.

Now it's on to much smaller, less expensive projects, and to get some sailing time in this summer -- it's on August 22nd and 23rd, right?

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