Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Projects, projects, projects! 12.1.09

Whew! This season we really took on a lot of projects while getting the boat prepared for the season. And not a lot of time to get them all done. We had expected to have everything done by December 1st….but that isn’t going to happen.

What have we been doing, you ask? What takes so darn long to get the boat prepared?! Well….we had three major projects this season, on top of the normal pulling the boat out of storage mode, which took a significant amount of time – we pulled the boat out of the water for a leaking thru-hull, re-insulated the refrigerator and added two solar panels to the boat. Let me see if I can do a worthy recap….

Re-insulating the refrigerator. Last season we realized the fridge accounted for most of our energy drain and one reason was because it had to cycle on and off so often. So this season we cut out the bottom & reinsulated the bottom & back. This sounds easy but, um….no. The first step was the bottom had to be removed. It took two guys, one who was standing on his head and upside down most of the time, two different types of saws, a plastic sheeting enclosure that was designed to attempt to keep the fiberglass dust at bay (which didn’t work), removing the middle shelf that was riveted in so the rivets had to be drilled out, removing the cold plate from the side and suspending it from the fishing rod holders on the ceiling so the cut could be made.

The cold plate suspended inside the fridge!

Once the bottom was out, the old insulation was removed which turned out to be old, wet insulation and a layer of fiberglass was revealed. That layer of fiberglass was removed revealing Styrofoam which was also tossed. Next came the job of making a false bottom with plywood & many, many holes.

The holy false bottom

Michael poured a 2 part expanding foam into the bottom which expanded up through the holes in the false bottom. Once the foam cured, the foam that was expanded above the holes was shaved down, giving us a nice flat bottom.

Gettin' there...

The old bottom was dropped in and both re-fiberglassed and gelcoat’d back in (this took about 3 days – day after day of fiberglass, sanding, more fiberglass, sanding, gelcoat, sanding, gelcoat, sanding…). Finally that part was done. It was then time to scour the boat. Fiberglass dust was everywhere and I do mean EVERYWHERE!

The cleanup begins

Every single nook & cranny, on top of everything, underneath, inside, outside, & upside down. We had covered as much as we could with plastic or towels but the dust still managed to permeate the boat. We spent 3 whole days cleaning & re-cleaning the boat to try to get it live-able again. The ceilings, floors, underneath the floorboards, inside every cupboard, all the dishes, appliances, walls, curtains, doors – you name it, it was a mess. And believe it or not, we’re still finding spots that we missed, or more likely, the dust reappeared after cleaning another area.

BUT! Once the new & improved fridge was cleaned out, the inside was painted, the cold plate re-attached (which required some fun boat yoga positions from Michael), inspection of all copper lines (luckily, no damaged lines!), and it turned on….and worked!! Woohoo!! :-) Now comes the fun part – tweaking the thermostat to find the perfect turn on and turn off points to ensure it does not get too cold or too hot for the items in the refrigerator. Michael re-charged the refrigerant in both the fridge & freezer compressors and placed pink board insulation in the top and behind the refrigerator which should also help. We had Mike from Mexicolder (a marine refrigerator technician) come by and check out the system & test the superheat setting, which turned out fine. He recommended installing a 12v fan and adding foam tape to the temperature sensor and to move the temp sensor to a different spot. We had brought down two 12v fans, basically a computer fan, which we mounted on top of a piece of tube & attached to a 9v battery dongle running a 9v battery. That worked wonderfully for about 2 days….but it only took 2 days to completely kill a 9v battery. Oh well, so much for that thought. We’ll have to hard wire it, which will involve drilling a hole into the top of the fridge and running the wiring down inside. Just when we thought we were done with this project!! Haha… Oh well, that piece won’t be done before we leave. It will have to be one of our ‘at anchor’ projects… :-)

Oh, so I didn’t mention….all of this took about 3 weeks. That’s 3 weeks without a working refrigerator. But, lucky for us, our friends Mike & Julie from S/V Slacker loaned us a portable refrig/freezer that they brought down and are installing on their boat this season and since they aren’t quite ready to begin that project….we gratefully borrowed it from them. It was a lifesaver!

Our other major project was installing two additional solar panels. We found last season that we were running the generator more than I liked, especially as we had such crazy issues with it. So we figured if we added just two more solar panels, it would reduce our generator time by nearly two thirds. We brought two Kyocera 85 panels & two five foot sections of 1 ¼” Stainless Steel tubing as well as all of the fittings & mounting brackets we would need down from the States with us. After realizing that the original plan to mount them would not work, we went on to Plan B. Rick from Cape Starr helped design a bracket that mounts to the side of the stern pulpit that will allow the panels to both pivot & swivel. Sounds good! We sent the tube to get bent but because it was a heavy wall, we had to swap it for some 1 ¼” thin wall that the stainless guy had. However, this new tubing turned out to not be a true 1 ¼” which meant all of the fittings didn’t fit & we had to send all them to the shop to be mic’d out, the mounting brackets also didn’t fit so they had to be altered as well. Once the tube was bent, two legs were welded on to mount to the side of the stern pulpit. Flat strap aluminum panels were installed on the back of the panels and the panels were mounted onto the brackets. Then all the wiring had to be ran which entailed drilling holes in the deck. I hate putting holes in the boat! Michael changed out our 15amp solar controller for a 30amp solar controller, changed the wire to the main battery bank from a 10 gauge wire to an 8 gauge, setup a bus bar to accommodate for the new wires into the solar controller, & finally…..plugged it all in. And woohoo! Works like a charm. Now instead of 9 amp hours we’re getting about 24 amp hours on a nice sunny day at the height of the day. This new energy combined with the lower load from the refrigerator is letting us run the generator very rarely! I am happy, happy, happy! :-) And the boat looks like it has wings….or like a cool transformer as the panels come out & swivel.

Hmmm…some of the other smaller projects:

- Repainted the anchor chain markings
- Ran all halyards – noticed one chaser line was broken at the top of the mizzen
- Climbed up the Mizzen 2 times to fix broken chaser line & reattach halyard
- Raised all sails (4)
- Changed fuel filters on main engine
- Started engine – purrs like a kitten…well, maybe a panther :-)
- Change zinc on generator
- Fired generator – it runs!!
- Removed & attempted install of a new carburetor on dinghy engine we brought with us from the U.S. Didn’t fit…wrong style. Called dealer in the U.S. and made arrangements to send ours back to him and he’d send us the correct one. Ran (literally) the old one to Julie who was flying back to the U.S. in about 30 minutes who was kind enough to mail it back to the dealer for us. Made arrangements with dealer to have the new one overnighted to Julie so she could bring it with her when she returned to Mazatlan, in 3 days (not an easy feat since it was on a Saturday!).
- Fixed head two times – the first time was just standard maintenance stuff, the next an emergency. Ultimately, it required a diver in the water with a super long screwdriver to remove the critters & calcium deposits in the thru-hull.
- Standing rigging re-tightened
- Rebed chainplates after loosening & tightening the rig (caused some water intrusion – in my closet, of course, during the rains)
- Cleaned bilge
- Reinstalled all electronics including the repaired & reprogrammed SSB
- Installed new sink faucet & repaired towel rack that was broken while fixing the faucet (haha!)
- Soldered on pigtail allowing us to run our computer on 12V (more efficient)
- Countersink two screws to reinforce galley table legs
- Transfer all files from old computer to new one, install all programs, & ensure proper functioning.
- Un-pickled the watermaker
- Cleaned main engine raw water strainer
- Real Estate license renewed (tests)
- Bimini & dodger re-stitched

Hmmm…I’m sure I’ve missed a lot but that’s what I can remember. Michael loves to not only cross out items on his list but every once in a while, re-write what’s remaining on the list and throw the old one out! But you get the idea.

With all of this hard work (we estimate we’ve been here 42 days….and have worked on projects for 40 of those days) we have made every attempt to take time to socialize in the evenings and even take a much needed day off every once in a while. We went to a Venados Baseball game, the local triple-a ball team that has been the champion that past two years and is currently in 1st place, with about 29 other cruisers one evening,

Venados baseball

sold a bunch of extra stuff we’ve had on the boat at a swap meet and to some of the service guys, went to dentist appointments for cleanings, went up to the Hotel Freeman for a spectacular sunset & dinner later at a new restaurant called La Cueva de Leon (the lion’s cave), which was spectacular, with Anne & Jeff from Outrider & Lori & Ken from S/V Esprit,

Fun at the top of the Freeman

did Fat Fish a couple times (a must-do!),

Amazing food awaits you at Fat Fish!

had a lovely day with Elvira & Ramiro, enjoyed amazing watermelon margaritas and yummy appetizers at Vicki’s condo – a new friend we met at the Thanksgiving Dinner who is from Cordova, Alaska (near Valdez), indulged & had a very memorable evening with Joe & Deb from Pacific Jade and John from M/V Maestra, our friend who we visited up in Coupeville, WA, at his condo,

Fun with John & the PJ's

and, of course, the impromptu dinners/drinks/etc as often as possible.

We also managed to squeak in provisioning, though this season we didn’t do near as much provisioning as we can find most things at most of the towns we’re stopping at. This is the season of using – everything – on the boat. We still have things on the boat that we stocked up on during our first provisioning run….in the U.S…..in 2005! So nothing new is coming on the boat if we can help it! Haha… Of course there are still items that are easier to pick up in bulk or cannot be found down the road easy so we made a run to Sam’s club, Mega, Sorianna, and even Wal-Mart.

Oh! And let’s not forget we had to be a legal citizen….so we had to renew our FM3’s…our immigration document allowing us to be in Mexico for an extended amount of time. That was actually a breeze. Go to the Immigration office, pick up the forms, go down the street to the little tienda who charges a mere 20 pesos to fill out the paperwork and makes all of the copies you need (get a poison oak type rash on my arm from rubbing up against something!), go to the bank and pay the fee, go back to Immigration to turn in the paperwork to receive our appointment. Our appointment was Dec 1st – we drove back to Immigration, took a seat and waited about 15 minutes, they called our name, we went upstairs and after some stamps in the booklet, signatures, & our renewed FM3’s….we’re legal! Woohoo! :-)

Wait! We still need our fishing licenses! Haha…. This year I’m taking no chances, I’m letting the master handle it for me – Elvira who runs the office of Marina Mazatlan. Last year, if you’ll remember, it turned into a disaster when I tried to do it myself. And of course, it turned out fine this year – get the printed out paperwork from Elvira, go to the bank to pay the fee, give Elvira the receipt who then prints out our fishing license. We love her more than she knows!!

Geez, is that it yet?! I’m ready for the blue umbrella drinks, basking in the sunshine, being at anchor not worrying about anything, rolling with the swells, snorkeling, swimming….relaxing!! It’s time to get the flock out of here! ;-)

Fun stuff to follow!!


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