Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last Minute

I did the final cleaning today.  There will be leaves, no doubt.  But no dirty shoes.  She is packed and ready.  The trip will blow the leaves off.

I am leaving Tuesday, next week.  Monday is Karen's birthday, so I am staying a day to celebrate.

We actually have two warm days, yesterday and today.  Yesterday I sprayed Tridarka's decks with thick anti-slip paint.  The Awl-Grip product Griptex has worked well mixed in with the Interlux Brightside polyurethane.  The reason I had to repaint the ama was that I goofed on the last respray and left a few runs.  They were successfully sanded out and the final coat was applied with 33 lbs at the gun, thus avoiding excess flow.  This time, give or take a few landed gnats, it looks, well, perfect at least to me.

This is all in preparation for the debut of the new Tridarka at Cedar Key, May 4, 5, 2014.  We have two weeks reserved at the campground in our favorite site, number 38.  I almost gave up on getting Tridarka ready this year, but Indian Summer gave me a second chance.

During the winter I will finish the steering and the rigging and be ready to go.

Meanwhile, Belle is ready for up to 2 months out on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

All Aboard

Well, this is it, home sweet home for the month of November and perhaps more.  Everything is aboard.  Just my medicines and last minute personal items will be loaded the day I leave.

Monday, Karen and I will be reinserting the masts and securing them for travel.  One more cleanup of the exterior remains.

I suspect the next blog entry will be from Florida.

I just finished helping my friend Norm by installing a new antenna atop his tower.  Tuesday, I will be changing out a rotor and straitening up antennas atop Mike, ND4V's 70 foot tower.  That will conclude my tower climbing for a good while I trust.  While I am happy to help, I feel I have been up the tower enough considering my near 25 trips up my on 60 foot tower.

Again, Belle is ready!  See you on the water.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Getting ready in Earnest

Here we have 201 lbs of food stock for the trip.  How long do you think that will last? I'm thinking a lot longer than I'll be gone.  I'd say around 3 months give or take a few stops for incidentals.

I'm setting my sights low.  A good friend gave me some good advice.  It went something like this: " Take it in stages...30-40 days is what I have done... and finally.  Cedar Key to the Dry Tortugas is  one hell of a long trip for a small boat."

Actually I am leaving from Tarpon Springs, but I get the idea, and I agree.
My plan: somewhere about a month to six weeks.  Keep going if I am having fun.  Head back to Tarpon Springs where the truck is located and go home when I have had enough.  "Thank you Bill, for that sage advice," was my response to his words of wisdom.  Last trip, when the weather got so unbearable and I had a serious case of cabin fever, I bailed in 2 weeks.  That trip was supposed to be 3 months long.  Let me say, a short shakedown is in order when you have made major repairs and haven't sailed in three years. 
No harm, no fowl, I guess.  Just goes to show you that staying flexible is the key.  Every day is a day unto itself.  When the negatives kick in, stop while you're ahead.

I spent a lot of time getting the Little Tarheel II installed.  Trouble shooting the current vectors was a real nightmare.  I finally got rid of 200 pf of unwanted capacitance by bonding the solar panels and associated metalwork to the rest of the system. Finally, I came to realize that with the large aluminum structure of the trailer under the boat, the reactance (note  to spellchecker, reactance is spelled right!) is not going to respond to remediation.  I need that even pool of salt water under the hull. 

I spend a lot of time picking up after the trees!

Finally, I solved the pesky plumbing leaks.  I bought a 15-30 pound Jabsco low pressure pump to replace the high pressure RV type pump.  The nylon to plastic treads where bonded with Cyan o-acralate gel. Not the accumulator tank that keeps the pump from cycling.  A inline filter gives me pure fresh-tasting water.  And most of all, there are absolutely no leaks.  
I have 44 gallons of water and 24 gallons of non-ethanol fuel.  Most of my clothes and supplies are on-board.   
After the Stone Mountain ham fest, I am out-a here!

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's been a long time since I made an entry on this blog.  We have worked hard all year trying to get Tridarka ready for next year's Cedar Key event. 
The weather just didn't cooperate.  We had so many rainy days we just couldn't finish all the work. 
Then there is the matter of the winter trip on Belle.  It took most of the summer for Marine Concepts to finish painting Belle.  Same problem we had...really poor painting weather. 
Now, Belle is done and absolutely stunningly beautiful.  The job, well it was the best paint job I have ever seen.  Dan did a splendid and may I say, perfect paint-job.  So to Dan and Jim, thanks so much for the new beautiful Belle. 
Now it's time to get ready.  The blog will be active from henceforth.  I plan to leave around November 5.
The current jobs are mostly related to chasing leaks.  There is a tiny leak in the fore-hatch.  It is around the glazing, rather than the gasket.  As the hatch is 20 years old I thought it best to replace it with a new Bowmar series 900.  The hatch was bedded with 3M 5200 which is a permanent bed. So removing it was quite a chore.  The MAP gas torch came into good use softening the hard adhesive.  I still took a couple of chunks of gelcoat. Luckily it was under the rim so I can fill it with epoxy for now.  Next year I plan to pain the deck so it should look fine then.  I have ordered the hatch...$265 worth of it.  Cha-ching.  There goes another big chunk of prep money. 
I did find a very nice product called Anti-Bond that softens up the remaining adhesive so it can be removed without too much strenuous effort.  Once again, the 5 in 1 tool is indispensable for removing both the hatch and the adhesive.  It has to be one of my favorite tools
I have continued to improve the grounding for the ham radio system.  I finally had the nerve to drill through the deck and transfer ground from the bow pulpit/life line system down to the grid of 2 inch copper that circles the boat at the water line and connects as well to the ground plate.  The final solution will be the new Little Tarheel II screwdriver antenna and its compliment, the Turbo Tuner II for automatic tuning 10-80 meters. 
We are postponing our RV trip to Crooked River Campground due to the government shut-down.  Cumberland Island was a big part of our plans so we have decided not to spend money on a trip so very constrained by the closure of Cumberland Island. 
Therefore I am moving the new Icom IC-7100 over into the boat for my trip.  I plan on running APRS as WB4FGF-9 on 30 meters and use 40 and 20 meters for communications.  The radio runs DSTAR as well as 2 meters and 70 CM.  It should be a great addition along with the Tarheel to ham radio operations aboard Belle. 
The trip is going to be rather open ended so as long as the weather is tolerable and I am having fun, I will continue south from Tarpon Springs to as far as the Dry Tortugas (if the government shutdown is over by then).  For sure, I will frequent my old favorites along the Gulf coast of Florida going south. These would include stops at Caladesi Island, Bunces Pass and a leisurely visit to Fort Desoto.  I will continue south with stops at Sarasota and Venice.  I will spend a good deal of time in Charlotte Harbor headquartering at Caya Costa.  I hope to explore the Peace and Myakka rivers and so many other old haunts in the area. 
Enough about what I will do.  Stay tuned for the reports as the visits happen. 
Solar panels drinking in the fall sun.