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Monday, November 24, 2014

It's warm and the wind is from the South? North?

24 November 0600UTC Wind
The plan was to depart this morning. The forecast is for winds from the South gusting to 30 knots. Since I am heading south down the Elizabeth River this is not a good plan.

But wait! Winds from the south. Cast off, head out due east from Hampton Roads, cross the Gulf Stream with a nice south wind to lay the waves flat. What a deal! Until I looked at the offshore weather (courtesy of Passage Weather.) Look ma, strong winds from the North. In fact, the yellow area is predicted winds of 30 to 35 knots. And across the Gulf Stream to boot! I guess that is not happening today.

I am deferring my departure until tomorrow. I may get hit by rain late in the day. The tides are favorable for an early departure and the winds will drop and then shift toward the north. The temperature will drop about 10 degrees but I can deal with that.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Apple takes over the world

Digital Yacht AIS to WiFi Converter
A standing joke between Ed and I is that Ed feels there is only once device needed on a sailboat: an iPad. We have a lot of fun with it. But sometimes he shows me some really neat apps on his iPad.

I mentioned in a previous post that I helped Ed rewire his AIS, Chart Plotter, and WiFi (I think I actually said Ethernet but it was WiFi) The box on the left is the WiFi converter. It is from Digital Yacht This particular model talks high speed NMEA - the normal connection for AIS devices. There is also a model that talks low speed (4800 baud.) and I believe but can't find the link a version the interfaces with a NMEA 2000 network.

The way we set this up on Hooligan is that the output of the AIS is broadcast over a WiFi link on the boat. Since AIS devices also contain GPS devices the Converter knows the location of the boat in addition to the location of the targets. These are displayed by an app on the IPad. Since it is all wireless Ed can walk around Hooligan and still have a picture of the AIS vessels nearby. I am sure the Captain of the USS Stark would have loved to have such a device!

It is pretty cool. The downside is that it uses a TCP connection so only one device at a time can connect. We had the iPad and Ed's computer both trying to connect (the device does a great job delivering data to OpenCPN) and of course the software wasn't having it. But still, a pretty cool device in the $275 range.

Fair winds and following seas :)

The "Uptown" Solution

After I helped Ed rewire his AIS, Chart Plotter, and ethernet connection with new wires, terminal blocks and Dymo labels he laughed and told me that my solutions were "uptown."

This is the new control panel I made for my new wind generator. The red button is a 50 amp circuit breaker, the switch will short the leads from the generator. The control circuitry in the generator knows that this means to stall the blades. One does this in high winds to prevent damage to the blades. The next big step (not while it is raining outside as it has been all day) is to actually mount the generator on the old radar pole. I hope to get that done in Oriental NC on my way to Beaufort.

Very "uptown."

Fair winds and following seas :)

Becoming Impatient

Now that I have committed to leave of course I want to get out of here. The air temperature this morning was 43.5 degrees, the water temperature was 42. Not very comfortable. Getting ready to go means that I am reviewing the weather every day. I have two route choices - go out Hampton Roads, cross the Gulf Stream, and head South, or take the ICW to Morehead City, cross the Gulf Stream and head South. Looking at the weather for the next week there are gale force winds off Cape Hatteras. The first weather window is next Sunday. The plan, therefore, is to depart early tomorrow morning (when it is forecast to get up to 60 degrees) and head for Morehead City. I have 6 days to make it. The trip normally takes three but with the short days it will take a extra day or two

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Getting Ready

I had hoped to depart tomorrow but it just was not to be. For one thing I have not worked so hard in a long time, it wore me out. Got the propane tanks filled. Topped off the water tanks. Provisioned for up to 30 days without a store. Tried to do my laundry but was closed out by all the other people using the machines. So that will happen tomorrow morning at about 5 AM. Still have a couple of minor electrical glitches I would like to fix before I depart - in particular the autopilot (electric) is acting up. Since I intend to go down the ICW to Morehead City to avoid Cape Hatteras it would be nice if it were working. The vane steering is working so I will not be without the ability to take a break once in a while - just not as much as if both systems were working.

The weather here as been very cold and is not really forecast to get any better so there is no point in waiting. It will be in the 50's day and 40's night next week so I hope to get clear of the coast, cross the Gulf Stream and head South within the next two weeks.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, November 21, 2014


DeLorme inReach
Ed (of Hooligan) has a Spot tracker. He decided that he wanted something with more features so he purchased a DeLorme inReach. This device posts one's GPS position every ten minutes to four hours (user setting) and permits short text messages to be sent to any email or telephone address. The message recipient is sent a link to a web page that displays Ed's position and gives the recipient the opportunity to respond to the message. Unfortunately this requires linking to a web site. If you don't have Internet but do have a phone (like a satellite phone) it is not clear how one can respond to the message.

The device is quite nice looking. I had some trouble getting the direction keypad to work properly. The screen is very small. Fortunately one can download an app to their iPad and interact with the device that way. It is a lot easier to read and simpler than trying to deal with the small keys on the device.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Vietnam Story

Yesterday Ed and I were driving around doing errands and the conversation changed to bizarre experiences. Ed related a story about a particular firefight in Vietnam. Ed was out on a patrol when his unit came under fire. He found a destroyed tank and got behind it for cover. Machine gun fire was all around but was unable to hit him behind the tank. As he was sitting with his back to the tank he noticed that there was a guy lying on the ground about 10 yards away taking Ed's picture. So in the middle of the firefight they have this conversation:

"Are you taking my picture?'
"I am a freelance photographer."
"So you get paid to take my picture?"
"Maybe. I take pictures, send them to Saigon. If they use the picture they pay me."
"I am here because I have to be. You are crazier than me."
Crawls off to find another photo opportunity...

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In the cups

My Garmin anemometer cups arrived. Bill volunteered (again) to climb the mast. A quick trip up, snap on the cups, and a quick trip down. I now have wind speed on my instruments again. Yea! Thanks Bill.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, November 14, 2014


Sig Marine P-9000 Propane Heater
Fired up my trusty Sig Marine P-9000 propane heater to combat the cold. Did not realize that Sig posts propane consumption numbers on their web site. Even running on low it made an immediate difference in my comfort.

These heaters are quite expensive but on days like today and are forecast for the next week they are life savers. I have purchased a variety of electric heaters over time. They seem OK for keeping your feet warm but don't do much of a job of heating the boat. The bigger heaters not only require a lot of power but are difficult to store.

XO and I were buddies last night. I do have a mattress heater and we had it turned up. With a heavy blanket on top XO just kept snuggling up to me all night looking for the warm spot. It was most appreciated.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Not going anywhere soon!

The weather forecast through at least next Tuesday is for nightly lows in the 30's here in Virginia Beach. I don't think I will be disconnecting shore power (and therefore heat) anytime soon.

Fair winds and following seas :)