M/V DESERT VENTURE
Voyage Preparation II
April 25, 2009
(Note: Ha! I wrote the bulk of this as part of Part I, and expected to post it within a couple days… so much of the best of plans!)
While we were doing all the improvements mentioned in the previous post, the boat was sitting patiently tied to the dock, never having gotten to go anywhere. And for those of you who don’t know boats, that is one of the worst things you can do to a boat – to let it just sit. With us getting close to departure, and with lots of projects having been done, it’s necessary to take the boat out and sea trial the new upgrades/repairs/improvements and make sure we didn’t leave some important thing undone in the process. The boat needs to be taken out and all the systems tested. Give the boat a chance to talk to you and tell you where it “hurts”, if necessary.
So, we did a “sea” trial on the Columbia River. It was really nice to get underway, and since I have been doing so much work to provision for the summer, it seemed in some place in my mind that we were really – finally – underway! Yeah! Alas, it was only a few hours out and I sure didn’t want to come back to the dock. We motored to the west and crossed under the two bridges we will need to cross under to head back out to sea. Sure enough we fit under just fine, not having to lower the mast – check! (We did lower our VHF antennas.) Then we turned around and headed back up river. While a friend and I stood watch and manned the helm the captain ran back and forth from the engine room to the helm running through his check list. For the most part everything was a positive “Check”!
The anchor windlass had been dismantled, cleaned, oiled, and returned to its proper place. Now we need to make sure it works. We don’t want to find out that Tab A didn’t go properly into Slot A when we are far from a dock and needing to anchor. So, we got as far east as Government Island, and dropped the anchor just past the Government Island public docks. While I made some lunch for all of us, the captain started up the generator and put on a full load. It ran very well, as expected, but due to the ever vigilant inspections of the captain he found where the exhaust manifold elbow had sprung a leak – NO CHECK! Not good, as we depend on the generator for our quality of life when we don’t have access to proper dockside power. Also, our fuel transfer system relies on 110 AC electricity, which our generator provides for us while underway for just such important circumstances. No problem, as this is just what sea trials are for, and the part will be received and replaced before we depart.
We tested our inverter system, too. The inverter system is one of the jewels of the boat. It is predominately responsible for much of our quality of life while underway and at anchor and not using our generator. It is an incredibly robust system of two Outback Inverters with 2000 watts (True Sine Wave) each, that allows for the use of 110 AC use while being supported by our DC batteries. It takes all the wonderful DC power and – like magic (for a woman) – turns it into AC power. We don’t have to have the generator running or be tied to the dock with us connected to shore power to enjoy some comforts. I have the luxury of being able to run the microwave, toaster, and coffeepot at the same time (check), though, generally, I try not to put that much load on at a time. We can also have normal lamps/lights on while watching our favorite DVD and having just-popped microwave popcorn. (And don’t forget the use of blow dryers and curling irons for the lady.) Oh, the wonderful luxuries we enjoy living aboard.
I often think about new boat owners. Though the men may have some idea of the domestic power limitations of their boat of choice, I can pretty much bet a large sum of money that the women don’t know what they are getting or will have to live with – at least the first year out. Once they experience their limitations and learn what other boaters (women) have for power accessories look out poor new boater/husband – you have a big winter project awaiting you! The upgrades are often complicated and certainly aren’t cheap, but doing that project will more readily insure that his partner will go next year, and for years to come. Maybe he can get the new decked out fishing dinghy he has his eye on in a couple of years.
Back to the systems test – both port and starboard main engines were checked out for the following items – micro-commander controls, fuel oil filters, reservoir caps, raw water pumps, alternators, sea strainers, belts, charging relays, pilot house and fly bridge engine instrumentation, gear box temperatures, main engine temperatures, and the fire suppression system. Other systems and functions tested were the VHF radios/loud hailer, radar, depth sounder, rudder indicator, horn, auto pilot, GPS, bow thruster, navigation lights, search lights, and navigation computer. For the most part everything got a great big – CHECK! As you can see there are many systems on a boat and there are smaller systems within those that must be inspected and tested and basically watched on a regular basis. It is simply a matter of being dedicated to the cruising life and not wanting to tell any stories on ourselves about events happening due ignoring the boat system as a whole. I am very proud and totally dependent on Captain to keep us safe, secure, and happy with a very nice quality of life. Since he is totally dedicated to the lifestyle it all works out beautifully for us!
So, the “Note” at the top of the page – Remember the “little drip” I mentioned on the generator? Well, there is no drip now – no not one! But it was not without great effort and determination upon the Captain. It became apparent in further investigation that the initial installation of the exhaust system was not totally up to snuff. Though it has worked very nicely there were parts of the system being vibrated constantly under stress that finally showed themselves with the “little leak”. Well, all is fine now. We now have a totally new exhaust system, installed properly and working beautifully. All the hoses were replaced. And while he was at it he replaced the heat exchanger with a new one he had, on hand, as a spare part awaiting the ever present replacement need. And then – in the testing – what now?!?!?! The raw water pump started dripping – NOT authorized! But, once again, Captain to the rescue WITH a brand new spare part awaiting just such an occasion. VOILA` (ie. Really Big Check!)! We now have three whole new systems on the generator, all properly mounted, and all happily purring away. Aren’t they all very handsome? We should be good for many more engine hours of quality of life. Would somebody please knock on wood right now? Thanks!!
Though departure was scheduled for May 1, give a day or so, an additional appointment came up for the last minute. That is okay, as it is better to get all business properly dealt with before we depart. We do not want to stop cruising once we are underway. So, the check list looks nearly complete, with just a few items left, and with one more appointment to go –
We REALLY are almost ready – for Cruising 2009.