Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful All Day Long

Being U.S. Thanksgiving it is a slow day on St. Thomas and feels more like a Sunday than most Sundays and this year we get to celebrate twice which is rather fitting since we feel rather thankful. This morning, after almost a week of incessant 25-knot winds and squalls we awoke to a beautiful red sky and a gentle breeze. It was like someone had flipped the off-switch overnight. In addition, CYOA has all but two boats out on charter at the moment, which is great for them but I have to say it feels like a ghost-town with the docks so empty!

All quiet on the docks this morning.
I haven't posted in a few days as we have been busy, busy with boat jobs and a goal to leave the CYOA dock early next week. Paul has been working with us almost non-stop all week and has checked pretty well everything off the list, along with helping Henry with the solar panel wiring.

One of the nastier jobs he got to do was to replace one of our electric heads (toilets) with a manual model. The new head arrived in it's box on our deck one morning as one had been removed from a new charter boat to be swapped out for electric. Ironically, the hand-written label on the box proclaimed our head to be "manuel" so from here-on-in he shall be called "Manuel". I won't go into the gruesome detail of the work involved with pulling out a 5-year old head and all its associated plumbing, but let's just say that Paul was happy to take a shower afterward.

Manuel all ready to be pumped
The water maker has now all been installed and high pressure tests have been run, although we're not keen to make water from the harbour water. Henry just has to chase down a few final leaks and then we'll be all set to create our own H20.

Filters, membranes and pumps all installed and ready to start production.
The back of our boat is feeling rather naked at the moment since we have the fabric bimini (shade cover) removed so I can sew the attachments for the solar panels to it; they are thin flexible panels that can be attached with velcro so although not difficult it is a large quantity of fabric to fit through my machine and there are three large panels to be set up. The fourth panel will be attached directly to our cabin top and at max sun exposure we have potential for 345 watts of power. We know that typically one panel or another may be shaded since we have them mounted on both sides of the boat, but with this wattage we should be able to cover our daily battery requirements for the refrigerator, fans, computer charging, etc. On cloudy days we have our backup generator or if we have to motor anywhere that also tops up the batteries, but it will be so nice to sit in an anchorage and be able to quietly (and freely) generate power! I will post later on the details of the installation of both the solar and water projects.

Bimini off and wiring threaded through the bulkhead - it's definitely a work-zone!
These Solbian panels are so thin and flexible.
Still need to clean up what looks like a rat's nest of wiring.
In prep for changing our dinghy and adjusting the layout at the back of the boat, we have also moved our life raft. Once we removed a support post from under our helm seat, which was non-functional anyway, it was like the life raft was made to fit there out of the way but immediately accessible should it be needed. In this picture you can also see the Port Visor that we added to the aft berth port. Given that this port is directly above my head at night and is the only ventilation in our berth, this little addition will allow us to leave the port open at anchor in all but the most heavy rainfall, which is a great alternative to being woken up with rain in the face followed by a stiffling berth until the rain is past.

Life raft strapped under the seat and port visor already doing it's job against the rain.
And last but definitely not least, Bob replaced two of our leaky windows. We took very careful notes on this installation given that three of five have now been replaced which makes it a fair likelihood that we will need to look after the other two in the not too distant future. In actual fact, these hull windows have a nasty habit of bleeding black streaks down the hulls, giving what some call a wet-mascara effect, but the product used on the replacement windows should not have this nasty side-effect, so we may want to replace the other two very soon.

Bob getting the last window reinstalled.
Today, we're taking it pretty easy and then have been very kindly invited to join John & Joanne and some of the other crew from CYOA for a Thanksgiving feast. This weekend will provide time to finish up the final testing and installation on the water and solar projects and then we should be ready to kick off the dock heading eastward towards St. Martin as weather permits. The last few weeks we have definitely been live-aboard boat workers, but shortly we'll be able to truly begin life as cruisers. There is no doubt there will be many more days of boat work in our lives, but it is time to move on and spend more time on the hook.

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