Thursday, January 31, 2013

We're Ready!

January 30thth 2013  

Position N 27° 22.225’.
               W 82° 37.075’.

Longboat Key Club Moorings, FL

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Well, here we are still at the dock! Finally Jim our electronics guy, on December 31st, fathomed out the problem with our redundant autopilot installation, it was the autopilot computer. He had another customer about to have the exact same system installed on his boat and Jim had an idea...he called the other gentleman who was up north and not due in Florida for another week to ask him if he could use the computer from his job to diagnose if indeed it was the problem in my installation, he agreed. In no time Jim had the unit installed and would you know it, all was well, hurrah! It has taken two months to get to this point. Jim made another call to his other customer who agreed with Jim to leaving my successful installation intact, Jim assured him that he would get him another computer for his boat without delay. All I have to do now is call Nobeltec to get some help with setting up my software so the new autopilot and AIS is recognised by my Admiral 11 software. Once done Jim will return, probably next week, and we will go out for a sea trial to calibrate the fluxgate compass and ‘voilĂ ’ everything should work and we can go to sea! 

 The Christmas and New Year holidays are past, ‘Partners’ has shed here regalia. The Admiral expressed, regarding her decorations, “she (‘Partners’) was like a young girl all dressed up for a party”. She did look good and HT did her usual good job with the decorations, miniature tree and lights. Today is January 1st 2013 so she is busy taking everything down and stowing it for another year...I wonder where we will be spending next Christmas and New Year 

Oh no! Yet another problem, the Nobeltec software cannot ‘see’ the Simrad AP28 pilot! Jim used the AIS unit to convert the NMEA 2000 data so that we could use a USB cable to transmitted information to the navigation computer. The problem is the AIS data in the common cable is blocking the autopilot data information. There is a solution, however, which will require another piece of equipment! The jury is still out and the delays continue our next appointment to install the added equipment is January 10th! Hopefully we will be able to get everything done in one day, we will have to wait and see. Our target date to be under way is still mid month. (As you will see later, we are optimists). 

Danny, the rigger, arrived today to install our dinghy hoist, we can’t wait as to be able to hoist the dinghy up to the boat deck by just pushing a button will be an absolute luxury! It only took half a day to complete the installation, fantastic, no more hand cranking! We chose a Warn 800 lb hoist as it was recommended by several other Krogen cruisers in a conversation concerning the subject on the Krogen Cruisers website. Camaraderie is wonderful and saves so much ‘reinvention of the wheel’. 

We did an about turn on the plan for our dinghy to install a consol and steering. We decided that it would reduce the usable space too much and cause us carrying capacity problem with our gear and bicycles. The answer...we bought a new 20hp Tohatsu four stroke outboard with tiller steering and settle for the hand steering after all. I also installed a new water separator filter and fuel line. We are set but unfortunately can’t use the dinghy or our new hoist at the dock due to the pilings which are either side of us, so we will just have to be patient... 
This should hold it, right!
I received notification that my order for 400ft of 3/8” BBB anchor chain had arrived at the freight depot in Tampa. I was given 72 hours to pick it up so with Ron and Jeff my neighbours we set off in Ron’s truck to collect it. Fortunately the depot was on the right side of Tampa for us and we didn’t have to battle the traffic. The drum looked small for the length of chain it contained but weighed 670 lbs! The journey home was uneventful. 'Partners' has only 125’ of chain and 250’ of rode on our main anchor at present and with our plan to be anchoring in much deeper waters than found around Sarasota, it is necessary to carry more chain. Jeff, my good neighbour and I laid out the chain on the service road beside our slip in the marina and proceeded to mark the chain. In no time that was I had decided to switch the chain and rode we had on our main anchor to the Bruce secondary anchor we have on the port side of our anchor platform. By doing this we will have two very usable anchors. By the end of the day the job was done. One thing though, the main Delta anchor ‘moved’ considerably from side to side; the solution was to install two blocks screwed into the anchor platform between the flukes and the underside of the platform. more movement!. 

January 29th - We haven’t left yet, the problem with the autopilot not ‘seeing’ the navigation software is a Nobeltec problem; after many conversations with Nobeltec they have admitted that they don’t know how to solve my problem! Apparently Admiral 11, our software, has been around for a while and has received many patches and fixes over the years and still has some glitches. Nobeltec’s solution to this was to launch a completely new and updated programme called Trident Time Zero. The long and short of all this is that Nobeltec agreed to replace my Admiral software with Trident at a very reasonable charge. All is well and everything is now ‘talking’ to each other. We are waiting to hear from Jim so we can arrange an appointment to do the sea trial and calibrate the autopilots fluxgate compass. Unfortunately though he is in the middle of rewiring a commercial fishing boat that had been ‘grounded’ by the US Coastguard! We are hoping that we can get the sea trial done in the next week and be cruising early in February...we hope! 

Lavinia is still busy provisioning and between foods, supplies, the new 670 lbs of anchor chain, enough oil for three oil changes and much additional gear our waterline has vanished! I said many months ago that when we painted the bottom next that we would raise the antifouling paint and boot stripe at least one inch...well, I think that we will go up 1½”! Jeff from down the dock, who was visiting Ron and Pam next door to us actually knocked on the pilot house door to let us know that our waterline had gone! They all thought that we were sinking! I was filling the water tanks at the time and they were concerned that the water was just flowing from a leak in the tank straight into the bilge and sinking us! No, it is just a lot of supplies and extra weight at the beginning of our cruise. I am sure that when we ‘find our way around’ and get to know where we can re-provision the amount of stores will diminish. HT is so worried she won’t do a good job that I am sure she has bought too much...we’ll see. Just like everyone we want the things we are familiar with and feel that we may not be able to buy in the countries we will be visiting so are stocking up heavily to ensure we have PG tips tea, our favourite brand s of coffee, cereals, soups, preserves etc., I expect we will find new local products that we like equally, we’ll reading it appears that many of the Caribbean islands have European goods as well as item familiar to us here in the States. I originate from England so am looking forward to some of the things that I have been deprived of since living here in America for the last 33 years. 

I am hoping that my next blog entry will be fired off from Miami or if not there then the Bahamas, we really are ready to get going! We are beginning to feel the conflicting emotions of sadness leaving so many good friends and, of course, our family member behind, in favour of the ‘can’t wait’ excitement of what lies ahead for us and The Travels of Partners. I am busying myself reading the pilot books I have for the Bahamas and pawing over charts and possible alternative courses we can take to cross over from Miami and beginning to look at weather patterns and windows for our crossing of the Gulf Stream...a lot of ‘second guessing’ going on. We will be fine I’m sure; even with much boating experience this adventure is still a little nerve racking for me! Can’t wait to get some miles under the keel... 

During January, in between the frequent shopping provisioning trips, the Admiral has redecorated the pilothouse, it looks beautiful. New ultra suede seat covering, paint and wallpaper and the only thing that I had to do was add four small teak pieces to define the meeting of the wallpaper and the paint. You see my Admiral, wife and love of my life never stops surprising me with her talents, what a 'Partner'. 

While we are at it here are some pictures of our salon with the new and most comfortable, Ekornes Stressless Chairs, the new small chest of draws between them.


I am still practicing with my new Nikon camera and was fortunate to be able to snap this picture of an Osprey stopping for a rest in between fishing sorties... the sights we see. The hawk devoured a fish right on top of the sailing boat’s mast, holding it with his talons and tearing it apart with his/her beak. I wouldn’t want to be the owner of this vessel as hawks tend to be creatures of habit and it is highly likely there will be a repeat visit and consequently a continued cleanup project...the mess on deck must be terrible!

 "Bring hard work to the table and see what you get" I said that... 

Note – The ‘glossary of the terms’ page contains all the writers abbreviations and colloquialisms.