Plans and Technical Lessons Learned

Plans

Our we’ll be packing up from Catalina Island in a few days. We’ll be heading over to San Diego where there is more infrastructure for repairs. Based on email exchange with the designer, it looks like I might be able to have the broken casting on the windvane welded. So I’ll need to find a crackerjack aluminum welder. Also a good chandlery is right near the docks there so we’ll have access to other bits we need.

Today I finally traced down and fixed a fuel leak on the engine that has been bedeviling me. Hopefully that is one problem that won’t come back!

Technical Lessons

I have learned something on every sailing trip I have ever taken.  No matter if it was a short day sail across the bay, or a multiple day trip.  This last trip being longer than only other I have taken I learned more than a little.  Here are some things I thought worth noting that might be of interest or use to others.

Water Use.

Only good news here. We did great without really trying super hard.  After 15 days, we have just emptied the first of our two water tanks.  At about 40 gallons, that is about 1.3 gallons per person per day.  Considering we aren’t set up for super water conservation, that’s not bad at all.  In fact I’ll call it awesome.  The biggest single contributor to using so little fresh water is the saltwater pump in the galley.  Washing dishes with as much saltwater as you like and then giving a quick fresh water rinse works well.

Electricity

Two issues here. We used more and generated less that I expected. I was a bit surprised because I had used the solar panels as my sole source of power for weeks at the dock and they more than kept up.  What changed?  Mostly, it was cloudy.  I hadn’t expected that to be a big issue.  In San Francisco Bay it is foggy a LOT.  The panels didn’t show too much of a drop in capacity on foggy days, so I expected the same in clouds.  Wrong.  San Francisco fog might be gray and dreary, but it is only a few hundred feet thick at the most.  It really isn’t very good at filtering out sunlight. A good thick tropical cloud can be many thousands of feet thick, and cuts sunlight dramatically.  Based on comments from other boats in a similar situation, I am considering adding generating capacity in the form of an alternator powered by a propeller that we tow behind the boat.

Things that did not work as promised…

The mast head instrument that works as a ultrasonic wind sensor, a GPS, and an electronic compass did two of those three functions well.  The issue was with the stability of the compass reading.  Despite the claims of the manufacturer, the compass reading was very unstable when the boat was rolling.  It would give the autopilot fits of “twitchy” steering and the “North-Up” radar display became “North kinda sorta thata way”. I have been on the phone with them, and they sounded honestly surprised by the issue.  A couple calls back and forth, and they promised me a call back tomorrow with more information. On the bright side, with no moving parts sticking out, it is pretty “bird proof”.  I was happy with that one evening when we had a masked booby circling the boat looking for a place to land for the night.

The tracking webpage run by Predict Wind has also been a bit of a disappointment.  To quote technical support from PredictWind in an email about the issue, “This is not a strong feature of the product.”  Of course they blame Iridium for the issue. Oh well, maybe it will get better…

Things to get better at…

Sailing in strong winds is easy… relatively.  Sailing in lights winds is hard.  In light air in calm water the boat does fine, and you can milk it along surprisingly fast.  Throw in an ocean swell, and everything goes wacky at less than 7 knots of wind.  Every roll shakes the wind of of the sails messes up the sail shape and slows you down.  I know I’ll get more practice at this!

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