Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Boat Projects and NewEgg Fail

I had a good day running around yesterday.  I:

1.  Took the broken chart table seat to a welding shop for repairs
2.  Took my propane tank for the in cabin heater to the propane shop to be re certified, get a new valve, and modified so that the propane hoses lay more evenly in the locker
3.  Got my ASUS computer (the one that NewEgg refused to fix) off to be repaired by ASUS.
4.  Got my hair cut - which I really needed.
5.  Solved all the problems of the world over beer with my dockmates.

A good day.

Asian Carp and Lake Michigan

Here is an interesting story in the Chicago Tribune (click to read) about reversing the flow of the Chicago River (again, it has been done several times in the past.)  to prevent Asian Carp from getting into Lake Michigan.  Asian Carp have no natural enemies in the Lake and are expected to devastate the fish population if they were to  become established.

I found two things very interesting about this story:
1)  That damming the river (not building a lock, but permanently cutting the river in two) would cost billions of dollars.
2)  That all of the solutions would end navigation from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River.  I guess some entrepreneur could position a marine crane that would pick you up and put you down on the other side - but I wonder if there is enough recreational traffic to make that a viable alternative.

It appears that any solution is still years away so if you are planning to do the "Great Loop" you better get it done.

Only the government could make closing the lock doors and filling a lock with concrete cost billions of dollars!  That is really all they would have to do to cut the river in half...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New VHF Radio

Flush Mount
I purchased a VHF radio for the cockpit a few months ago.  It was a sweet setup as there was a very nice recessed flush mount kit..  I did this because the purchase price of $79.99 was less than a new (and discontinued) remote mike.  Everything worked fine until the microphone cord brushed against the volume control and the volume control snapped off.  Since I had purchased a plus plan from West Marine (not really necessary in this case as the radio was less than a year old) I took it back for a replacement.

The saga:
1.  The radio was discontinued so they could not replace it.  They agreed to replace it with the current version of the same radio.  The current radio had different physical dimensions so it would not fit in the recessed mount.  Not to worry, they agreed to get me a new flush mount kit.
2.  They forgot to do anything.
3.  I called them a couple of weeks later and they said whoops, don't know what happened, we will take care of it.
4.  The next day I got a call that the radio was in.  I drove down to find out that the flush mount kit was just a couple of metal brackets, not the nice recessed plastic mount from the previous radio.
5.  We looked for radios that would cover the hole in the fiberglass once the recessed mount was removed.  We came up with an ICOM and a Garmin solution.  I settled on the Garmin solution.  Since the (of course expensive) Garmin VHF 200 integrated with the rest of my Garmin gear I chose it.  As an aside, apparently all of the radios with wireless remote microphones have also been discontinued.

Garmin VHF 200
If you are interested there is a review of this radio at Panbo Electronics Review

6. When I got back to Reboot I discovered that the hole I had cut out was about 1/16th inch larger than the face of the radio.  Since I was going to have to build a new mount to cover up the hole this created the opportunity to obsess for a couple of days: do I mount the new really cool radio in the cockpit, or do I mount the old (with the volume control chewed by XO) radio in the cockpit and the new radio in the chart table. Ultimately I decided to mount the new radio in the chart table.   I had to expand the hole in the chart table.  The good news is that I got a NMEA 0183 out and NMEA 0183 in port freed up as the new radio talks NMEA 2000.  I will wire an outlet that lets me get to them from the front panel.  This will make it easier to hook them up to a computer.

The new radio does two interesting things:
1.  It links the AIS target MMSI to the radio so that I can poke the AIS target on the chart plotter, push a couple of buttons, and do a routine DSC call to the ship without having to enter the MMIS number.  A nice feature.  I wonder, however, how ships will react when their VHF radio buzzes with an "incoming call" alarm.  I will have to find a friendly ship and try it out.
2.  I can track up to three ships automatically.  Most DSC equipped radios have a feature where they will send a position report in response to a position request.  If I load in an MMSI the radio will send a position request every 5, 10, or 15 minutes (depending on if I am tracking, one, two, or three ships) and plot the result on the chart plotter.  It is a great way to keep track of ships in company that don't have AIS.  Of course the other boat needs to have configured "auto response = true" or they will get pretty tired of their radio beeping over and over.  Again, I need to find a properly equipped vessel that is friendly to try this out.

I was also pleased that in addition to providing fog horn, hailer, intercom and remote mike capabilities the Canadian and International settings are complete.  I discovered in Canada that many of the Canadian VHF marine frequencies were missing from my older VHF radio even though it had a Canadian setting.  So this is good.

Tomorrow I will mount the old radio in the cockpit and this project will be done.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Newegg Fail #2

Today I finally got my computer - unrepaired - back from Newegg (http://www.newegg.com).  It has been almost a month exactly since I sent it in to be fixed.  Then I contacted ASUS and was told that their computer system was down and they could not give me an RMA number until tomorrow.  Joy of joys.  And oh by the way they forecast a month (including the shipping both ways) for the repair.


Monday, January 23, 2012

You know its time to diet when ...

OK, so I have been drinking too much beer.  My chart table swivel chair mount has once again broken.  I had it repaired while in New Bern, but now another part of the moving parts has worn out.  Tomorrow I will call Catalina and see if I can get a replacement.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Online Float Plans

One of the great frustrations of sailing is not knowing if anyone will follow up if you fail to appear at your destination port within a reasonable period of time.  The United States Coast Guard and many other maritime safety organizations recommend you file a "float plan."  This is a statement of your intended departure and destination.  The idea is that if you don't show up someone will start looking for you.

I have always thought it unfortunate that the Coast Guard will not accept float plan filings.  After all, they are the  men and women who would (if you are in US waters) come and look for you.  A few years ago I discovered an online solution to this problem - a web site that permits you to file a float plan and then will notify your contact list if you don't close the plan on time.  As sometimes happens I lost the link but did just find it again.  It is http://www.usfloatplan.com  It only takes a minute or two to set it up and it might save you life.

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

It was a rainy day here at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, FL so Ed, Claudia and I went to the movies. Actually, Ed got a front end alignment and new tires for his truck, and then with the pennies left over we went to see Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol.  It was the first time I had seen a movie in "movie theater IMAX" (as opposed to "science museum IMAX.")  It was pretty good.  The sound system was cranked up and since there were only three of us in the theater it was pretty loud.  I did not like the seats, they were very upright and I prefer to slouch.

Anyway, the movie was OK - about what I expected.  A lot of action and not a lot of plot.  A great rainy day event.

When Ed and Claudia came to pick me up I discovered that they had painted the topper on the Dodge.  It is now a nice white that matches the truck rather than a faded red.  Then I found out that Claudia had painted it by sitting on top of the topper in the hotel parking lot.  You know you are a red neck when ...

Fair winds and following seas.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bring them home - Throw them out

I doubt that few people outside of the military are aware that not only are we “bringing them home” but we are throwing them out.  The services are unilaterally discharging people, many of whom do not want to leave.  Hardest hit are the mid-grade enlisted (E6’s) who have about 15 years of service.  By discharging them the military prevents the possibility of retirement at 20 years.  If the member is fortunate enough to be able to get into a reserve unit to complete their “20” their retirement starts at age 62 vice at the 20 year mark.  The net effect is a saving for the military of retirement benefits that can exceed $500,000 per member.  Many of these people have deployed multiple times to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Our thank you is to boot them out the door into a terrible economy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Senior Moment

Yesterday Ed, Clauida (Door into Summer) and I were running errands when we stopped in a Burger King to grab a bite to eat.  I had ordered and was sitting at a table when Ed and Claudia came in from their stop a Lowes.  Ed went up to purchase a cup of coffee and I said "please get me one."  The young lady delivered the coffee to Ed and volunteered "I gave you your senior citizen discount."  Ah, the cruel truth of getting old.  What made it worse was that the same young lady had not offered me a senior citizen discount and I am 5 years older than Ed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Lost Symbol

I flew back from Chicago after a thankfully good checkup with my cardioligist and internist.  I left the book I was reading in Trevor's car so I ended up purchasing Dan Brown's new book  The Lost Symbol. It was a good and fun read.  As usual I could nit pick some of the story but why bother - it passed the flight times quite well.

Additional Web Address

I have (FINALLY) accepted the fact that I am retired.  As a result I am slowly archiving my business web site www.rjjconsulting.com.  At the same time I have rejuvenated my interest in software programming, in specific to build some apps to make it easier to both cruise and manage Reboot.  My blog has always been hosted by blogger.  One limitation is that I have not found a way in blogger to store files and make them available for download.  In the past I have done this on the www.rjjconsulting.com site.  My solution was to create a new web site.  The site is www.sailboatreboot.com.  There is not much there at the moment, but it will be the future location for my various programming projects and links to other software I think is useful for cruisers.  Since I now have DNS control I have added a new web address for this blog - blog.sailboatreboot.com.  It will bring you back to the same place, that is, this blog.  You might want to make a note of it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Newegg Fails

I was delighted when I purchased an ASUS G74 Series G74SX-XN1 Notebook Intel Core i7 2630QM(2.00GHz) 17.3" 12GB Memory DDR3 1333 500GB HDD 7200rpm DVD Super Multi NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M from Newegg on their Black Friday sale.  It is a great machine and I was having a lot of fun with it when the screen started to fail.  So I contacted Newegg and they said sure, it is covered by the warranty, send it back and we will take care of it.  So I do, and two weeks later they tell me that they will not honor the return because I didn't return the cardboard box.  What BS.  So now I am going to have to wait another week to get it back and then return it to ASUS for service.  Well Newegg, you just lost a loyal customer over a cardboard box.  I how you are happy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The most apt name for 2011:

A Norwegian new to sailing bought a boat to sail around the world and struck a sandbank outside his home harbor. While he was waiting for the tide to rise, he made himself a cup of tea. His stove caught fire, set the galley alight and burned the boat down to the waterline.He escaped unhurt in a rubber dinghy. His name? Bornt Olose.

Courtesy of John Vigor's blog...