Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Break Out Another Thousand...

2011 01 14
London - not that London the other one

Soon, not soon enough, we return to our beloved Meredith thence to Culebra and Vieques, the Spanish Virgins aka the Passage Islands.

The absence of charter boats and near absence of "other" boats is a major attraction.  We can always satisfy the craving of a big helping of stupid by hiking it over to the BVIs to watch the beer besotted charter boats for an afternoon. 

Then it is on to somewhere else.  Maybe Sint Maarten/St. Marten.   Why not?

When the spring has passed we make our way back to USA for provisions, pick up our son and son in law and if we get a window we make for Bermuda followed by the Azores.

It's a plan.

Equipment Issues

Liferaft Perfidy

To prepare for ocean crossing we have had the liferaft repacked. A cool thousand bucks.

Years ago we ordered a liferaft from Winslow and had it custom compressed into a shape that would be accommodated in our cockpit seat.  The Winslow company did a great job.  We now travel without that ubiquitous and pretty much ineffective fibreglass egg to hold their liferaft that most people install just forward of the mast.  If Meredith ever sinks we just stand in the cockpit and inflate.  No going forward on deck in the kind of weather conditions that might cause us to need the liferaft in the first place.

We showed our neat little creation to the former head of the Goderich Power Squadron.  Apparently he liked it because he had the same thing done for his Corbin 39 and now takes full credit for thinking of the idea.

ICOM SSB Trashed

Our ICOM 802 SSB blew out its transmitter section and we have decided to buy a new ham radio.  Probably we will go with the Kenwood TS-480 SAT with built in antenna tuner. We are discussing the matter of radio compatibility with ham friend Tim MacKinlay.  Tim, an old ham, used to build and sell ham antennas to geeks.  Now he sells LEDs on his website www.marineledscanada.ca.  I keep on buying them. The ham radio chatter is free.

We have been very unhappy with our Icom 802 SSB.  It is an expensive piece of junk.  ICOM is one of those cynical Japanese companies that designs everything to be custom.  None of their enhancements work better than standard parts but of course you must buy from ICOM at 10 or 20 times more than the going rate for working parts.  I will never again find myself enslaved to a Japanese conglomerate.  Soulless bastards.  The Antenna Tuner (also ICOM) input went intermittent - a break inside the wire.  Deprived of an antenna the transmitter blew itself to bits.

I can buy a new Kenwood radio with built in tuner for $900 which is less than the cost of repairing the old piece of crap.  It will give us some small pleasure to deep six that useless collection of parts.  One issue is whether a ham radio has the SSB channels blocked.  This used to be the case but who knows now.  The vendor will get back to me on this.

We debated going without SSB or ham radio.  The Atlantic crossing does not require it and yet it would be a comfort.  Not to be able to talk to other boats but to be able to download weather info.  If winlink works we will have email too. Never a bad thing.


Given that our daughter is not too thrilled with her husband sailing across an ocean we may, may that is, invest in one of those Spot things.  For a couple hundred bucks this thing sends out, via satellite, an email to 10 friends confirming that you had sufficient life in you to push the send button.

The device is programmed with several preset messages you can send at the push of a button.  None of them order pizza.

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