Lots of Joy, but Not Totally…

On January 13, I put myself on an airplane bound for Tampa St. Pete International Airport. Dream SeQueL was not, by any means, ready to go back into the water, but I decided that I absolutely had to start working on my lengthy “To Do” list if there were to be any chance that we could go to the Bahamas in April. My return flight was booked for February 5, giving me just barely over three weeks. Barbara’s flights were arranged so that she’d arrive on January 26 and return home with me.

One lesson I’ve learned since we bought this boat is that nothing — and I mean nothing — gets done as fast as I expect it to. If I estimate a task as a half-hour job, it’s going to take an hour. Sometimes, the ratio is much greater.

For example, one of the tasks I’d given myself for this trip was to installation of a new, below-decks autopilot, an AIS transceiver, an ST70 instrument, and an ST70 autopilot controller. Naturally, that involved installation of a SeatalkNG backbone and the concomitant goodies. I thought I’d been generous in planning for this work to take “a full day”. What I hadn’t counted on, though, was that the problem was less well-defined than I’d believed. For example, it took quite a lot of frustration plus a couple of phone calls to Raymarine’s tech support before I realized (discovered?) that AIS data cannot be fed to an E-series classic multifunction device…such as the E80 I have installed at the wheel…across SeatalkNG. It must be transferred using NMEA 0183 (high-speed only)! I still haven’t found this anywhere in the documentation. It took at least as much time and frustration (plus another call to Raymarine tech support) to learn that ST70s do not, in fact, act as a translation gateway between Seatalk(1) networks and SeatalkNG networks, regardless of what the documentation says!

Eventually, after three very full and hard days, I got most of the new network working. I was unable to find (before I had to fly home) the now-required Seatalk(1)-to-SeatalkNG adaptor, so I still cannot bridge data between the two networks, but that will be resolved as soon as I get back on the boat and install the adaptor that I have since purchased. I also have not completed the autopilot installation. Among other things, I have to find an appropriate place to install the fluxgate compass that it requires and run the connecting cable to the X30 autopilot corepack. After that, I believe the only thing left to do is connect the motor/drive and clutch cables from the X30 to the linear actuator that Snead Island Boat Works (SIBW) installed while I was there.

One thing that had me especially concerned before I flew down on this trip was the condition of the external brightwork (e.g., the caprail, companionway hatch). In December 2010, I paid my maintenance guy, Earle, a bit over a boat unit to refinish that brightwork, which he did and which looked very, very good. When I took the boat in for the bottom paint job at the end of July, I knew that Barbara and I would have to do some minor maintenance (adding a protective coat) to the brightwork, but then I learned that the boat would have to be out of the water for months drying out. I asked SIBW to have somebody put a quick coat onto the wood, but it fell through the cracks. By the time I got there in mid-January 2012, all that brightwork had deteriorated so badly that I might as well have not paid Earle to do it :(  Consequently, Barbara spent a very hard four or five days slightly sanding the caprail and “eyebrow”, taping everything, and then recovering it with two or three coats of Cetol. Sigh…

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