Tuesday, November 12, 2019

AIS Antenna or Splitter and Axiom 12 Goof

I'm working with John and Kim on their new Leopard 45, GypseaBLU, with some electronics installation and have a couple of tips to share.

Raymarine Axiom 12 Chartplotter Chip Goof

The chart chip socket on the Axiom 12 (not the Pro model) has a small space above and below it where the case fits around it. It is easy to insert the chip into one of the spaces instead of into the chip socket. These spaces are just the size of a chip, so it seems like you're inserting the chip correctly until it doesn't click into place. It seems that missing the chip slot is a common problem. World travelers who need to regularly access and update the chart chip may want to invest in the Axiom 12 Pro or in the Remote Card Reader. At a minimum, be very careful in inserting the chip. A simple fix to prevent this goof is to add a bit of caulk around the perimeter of the chip socket. But on the late model L45's access to the back of the chart plotter is challenging, so a better solution may be the remote card reader. You don't need to ask how we learned this tip. 😞

AIS Antenna or Splitter

We're installing the Raymarine AIS700 transponder. There is a new AIS Class B+ standard that uses a 5 watt transmitter and the same transmission protocols as are used by Class A transponders. Raymarine doesn't yet have a transponder that supports this new standard (very few vendors do as of  Nov 2019).  The AIS700 incorporates a splitter, but we were prepared to install a separate AIS antenna. A bit of searching on the subject found an in-depth analysis of the various tradeoffs: AIS Overview and Installation Considerations. Another good article is VHF‐AIS masthead antenna and coax installation, selection, and test. The end result of this analysis is to use a good quality coax and that height is more of an advantage for distance than having a separate antenna. Note that VHF antennas should not be placed within 4 ft of another antenna or of parallel metal objects like masts and shrouds. These metal objects result in signal propagation distortion that can result in reduced distance in certain directions. So a masthead installation is better than a solar arch. A spreader installation is affected by the mast and shroud. Two antennas on the masthead affect each other.
We opted to go with the built-in splitter, since it has low insertion loss.


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Two Days in Beautiful Beaufort

Dear Readers,
We have spent 2 days in beautiful Beaufort. The locals call it that not only because it is a lovely town, but to remind you how to pronounce it properly. Staying at the docks right here in town makes it so easy to wander about. 

One of the lovely features here is the town park right on the water.
Yes, the sidewalks are concrete tiles with embedded shells framed with bricks. And there are many swings along the walkway for you to stop and enjoy the view.
Terry and Peggy tried one out on the way to breakfast this morning.
Now that we've enjoyed the town, we'll be headed south later today.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Yikes! That's the Smoke Alarm!

It was one of our smoke/CO alarms! Which one? Is there a fire? There was no smoke in the cabins or salon. The genset wasn't running, so that was unlikely.

Both engines were running hard as we motored down the ICW from Charleston, SC.
A quick check of the port engine room shows steam. The starboard engine room was clear.
We quickly shut down the port engine and the steam cleared out. There was coolant on the inboard deck next to the engine. Briefly starting the port engine showed a leaky hose that was spraying coolant onto the hot alternator, which created the steam. About the time we had determined the port engine was the problem, the voice report from the other smoke alarms told us that it was the port engine compartment alarm.

The smoke alarm saved our engine from losing all its coolant and overheating! Installing those smoke detectors paid off! We had installed a set of communicating smoke and carbon monoxide detectors back in 2015, see Detecting Fire and CO. None of the alarms have notified us of an active alarm situation--until today.

Some of the units have failed over the years. When a unit fails, it says something like "Malfunction in Living Room, Please see manual." The room varies according to what we've programmed for each unit. The unit will then beep periodically to let us know that it has experienced a problem when we weren't around to hear the initial message. These units are build for residential use, so it isn't surprising that they occasionally fail in the marine environment. At about $50 each, they are affordable and provide an early warning system.


Passing Charleston

Dear Readers,
Trips up and down the ICW can be fun. But, sometimes, it's also a long day on the water. We are not in favor of long days, but there are parts of the ICW where you must push on. There are not many stopping places between Georgetown and Charleston. So, we push on.

Lately, mornings look like this.
Yes, it is cold even here in the south. Our trusty pilots dress warmly for our early starts. Close friends KNOW it is cold when Mike puts on a jacket AND a flannel shirt. Not to mention, he has on long pants!

Luckily, long days on the water afford us the opportunity to see and hear many different things. The day started with the trawler, Almost Perfect, passing us. We could not resist asking what made the boat 'almost perfect'? The answer was that it was perfect- until they had to fuel up!

Because it was cold, the crew felt the need to heat up the cabin. Our favorite method of doing that?

Yes, we baked muffins! We used a basic cranberry muffin mix. Then, we stirred in dried cranberries,  dried blueberries,  and pecans. We dusted the tops with cinnamon sugar, and we added a pecan half to complete that gourmet look. And, yes, they were ever so scrummy. 

Happily for us, the ICW also shows signs of upgrades and improvements. Yesterday, we saw this:

It was not the first dredge we've seen. And, we are happy to have them along our path, proving that our next passage this way will be even easier.

As the afternoon wore on, we passed Charleston harbor. It's always an exciting passage through that area. There are boats of all sizes going in all directions. We even saw a few dolphins. But we continued on to a quiet anchorage on the Sono River. It was a beautiful evening.

This morning, it was chilly yet again. Luckily,  Peggy came up with the idea of warming up yesterday's muffins in the oven. It made for a great (and warm) start to our day. Here was the view this morning. 

We're headed off to Beaufort, South Carolina today. As always,  we look forward to an adventurous day on the water.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A GREAT Two Days in Georgetown

Ah, Dear Readers - Once we got to Georgetown,  we could not bring ourselves to leave. Georgetown just happens to be one of our favorite spots. All the marinas are right off the main street. Our marina had 2 washers and 2 dryers that work. Both restaurants and ice cream can be found just a few blocks from the boat.

The deciding factor was the Taste of Georgetown held yesterday to benefit the Family Justice Center located in town. Main Street is lined with restaurants.  Most of the restaurants had small tents outside. You purchase tickets. Then, you trade your tickets in for samples of great food. 

We sampled the Cajun shrimp,  grilled chicken and andouille sausage over linguini from Graham's Landing. Oh, yum! Next, on to Root (yes, that truly is the name of the restaurant). There we sampled meatball served over creamy grits. This was a new idea for me. I never imagined this combo.  We continued wandering up and down the street, trying out tastes of food from this charming town.

Yes, they even had tents so you could sit in comfort as you enjoyed your seafood chowder followed by carrot cake and homemade ice cream. We had enough tickets to fill up on fantastic food AND get things to bring back to the boat.

This morning, we are once again off the dock bright and early. For breakfast, we enjoyed cinnamon rolls from Pawleys Island bakery- one of the last items picked up with our tickets at the Taste of Georgetown. 

Here's one last look as we leave Georgetown behind. It was a great 2 days. Now, we're headed south again.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Oh no! Someone Stole the Warm!

Dear Readers,

Yesterday was a lovely day on the water. It was warm, but not hot. It was partly cloudy, so the cabin did not overheat. We made good time, and arrived at Osprey Marina in the late afternoon. 

This is an interesting marina to visit. Once again,  the entrance is a long narrow cut with barely enough room for 2 boats to pass each other (for me, that would be 2 kayaks). There is one long dock that extends a long way down the entrance- we are tied up there. 

From our spot, it's a long walk to the office. It's so long that the dock hand asked if we wanted him to give us a ride in the car- it seems he doesn't walk it himself! We turned it down. After all, he wasn't going to bring us back!

However, Osprey Marina makes it worth your while. You get a bag full of treats when you register. We received: pen, can koozie, 3 mints, a package of pecan twists, a Honeybun pastry,  a jar of pepper jelly, crackers, and a whistle. You might be thinking, Dear Readers, that this bounty was due to Halloween. Oh no, this is the usual gift bag!

We settled in for the night. The wind started up. The wind kept getting stronger. We had thunder and lightning. It rained.

This morning, we awoke to changed weather. 
In the night, the heat pump switched from air conditioning to heat. It is 49 degrees at Myrtle Beach. The Coast Guard is reporting 'heavy weather' out on the coast. Even Michael has put on a jacket! Someone took our warm weather. We definitely got tricked instead of treated on Halloween!

Today, we are headed to Georgetown. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Up Early Again

Yesterday was another long day on the water. But, Dear Readers, we have not one single bad boater story to relate. It is true that I could share stories of power boaters roaring past us, uncaring of wake or waves. But, that is the usual day on the ICW.

Instead, let me share some good news.
Look! DOLPHINS! Three of them rising and diving in the waves. Okay, so your view is not as good as mine. Feel free to blame the photographer. When the best views could be seen, she was busy yelling, "Arg! Where is my phone?"

We left our dear dolphin friends behind, and we headed on towards Southport.
Southport Marina has, in the past, been a favorite stop. As you can see, it is the favorite stop for many boaters- so many that they did not have room for us.

We pushed on to try a new marina recommended by a fellow boater- St. James Plantation Marina. This marina has a tight entrance.
Could it be that they planned it this way? After all, it is a golf course community. It probably seemed quite natural to make this a narrow fairway!

We did eat dinner at the restaurant overlooking the marina. There are no pictures. The food was so good that we ate it all before anyone thought to take a picture.

This morning, we are leaving under a beautiful sunrise. 
It was so beautiful that I could not resist taking multiple shots. The weather may turn rainy later today, but it is beautiful right now.

Happy Halloween. No tricks for us today- just the treat of being on the water.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

It's COD Time Again

We really did get up at the Crack Of Dawn today.
The rest of the boats weren't stirring- all 12 of them.
You can see some of the anchor lights. So, we tiptoed out on our little cat's paws.

Now, we are back on the ICW. All the other boats are waking up and hopping into line.
Today's goal is to get to Southport. It's cloudy and calm, so it should be a pleasant day out here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Late Start. Early start.

We had planned an early start today. However, no one seems to have clued in the tides! The bridge leaving Beaufort is a little short for us when the tide is high. So, we ended up waiting until 11 to leave. We used our time eisely, though. We went shopping! We visited a few stores that had been closed the night before. We passed the time pleasantly. And then we were off. Here's one of the views leaving Beaufort.
This yacht is a mere 105 feet in length. It was just one of the 'small' boats in Beaufort. And, they were expecting more. We find ourselves in the middle of the great fall boat migration! 

We had an uneventful trip southward. Tonight, we are anchored in Mile Hammock Bay. It is part of the military station we all know as Camp LeJeune. That could be why tonight's entertainment is the continual noise of large helicopters circling us. I've checked twice to make sure the anchor light is on- the helicopters are flying around with lights out! And, it is dark out here tonight.

We'll be getting up early tomorrow for the run to Southport. We're still in the pack- there's no available space at our favorite marina. This does give us the opportunity to try somewhere new. It will be an adventure, and we'll share it with you- later tomorrow!

In Beaufort, Planning to Move Southward

Yes, Dear Readers-
It has been quite the dry spell without internet. We spent two days in Campbell Creek at the dock of a friend. It would be nice to say that we stayed to enjoy a long visit. No, Dear Readers, we were held there by the weather. But we are not ones to ignore a fine opportunity. We visited. We were offered a ride to the grocery that we accepted with alacrity. Being good planners, we made it to the store and back in between the intermittent showers. But, this location was far from any cell towers. We had trouble getting even text messages to work.

Monday dawned bright and beautiful. 

We headed out, but not too early. After all, R E Mayo Seafood did not open until 8 AM. 
One of the joys of traveling on the ICW is visiting truly local establishments. This place offers docks and free WiFi so that you can stop to buy seafood. And, yes, Dear Readers, that is a real shrimp boat out there. They catch and sell their own. You can buy them fresh or frozen. I saw a worker walking around with a FISH in his hand! We bought frozen - fresh still had heads on those shrimp!

We then headed off to Beaufort. But first we had to cross the Neuse River. Yesterday, it was a bit bumpy.

No, I did not adjust this picture. Those are white caps out beyond the dingy. Yes, the boat is not level. It will be the last picture of the Neuse because I went down to my cabin to take a nap.

I came out of my cabin as we got closer to Beaufort. We love Beaufort, NC. It's a quirky little town with a Main Street that runs right along the docks. The town marina gives each crew member a wooden nickel good for a beer or wine at the Dock Restaurant.  It's a really popular place with everyone.
This visit, we were at the very end of the docks. Those really big yachts took up all the prime spots. We did have our free drink - and some awesome nachos. They were so big that they ended up being dinner. We walked them off. We then had dessert at Clawson's. Those desserts were just as awesome as the nachos. A great way to end the evening, if you ask me.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Leaving Alligator River Marina

It was an incredibly beautiful morning at the Alligator River Marina. Yesterday, we did arrive early afternoon. Laundry was done. Cleaning the boat happened. And, we had dinner in the gas station! Yes, this marina still has great food.
And, they have a nice back room where you can eat it.
Although the picture is terrible, that is LUX in the second photo.

This morning, we are off bright and early. We will head to the Belhaven area. As we get closer, we will decide where to spend the next 2 days. As you will see in the picture below, even the sky knows the weather is not going to stay this nice.

As they say- Red sky in morning, sailors take warning. We will see.....

Friday, October 25, 2019

We're at Coinjock Marina

It appears that most boats were headed to Coinjock Marina yesterday. The place was hopping. We had a long wait to register because all the deck hands were out getting boats to the dock. And. The dock was packed! They were fully booked for the night.

We woke up to a beautiful day with interesting skies.
It is now 8:45, and we are feeling a little lonely. Here are the docks today.
Mike asked around, and other boat captains said they were heading out early to get to Oriental. We're setting off in a bit ourselves. We'll be heading to the Alligator River Marina. According to the web, our favorite cook is still there. Miss Annette makes wonderful fried chicken and very tasty fried shrimp. Plus, there will be laundry! We'll be there early afternoon, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to catch up on basic chores. Yes, Dear Reader, it's not always fun and games on the water. Sometimes you just have to take care of the basics!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Hurry Up and Wait

We were up bright and early to make the Gilmerton Highway bridge opening.
So was everyone else. And we all milled about for over an hour. The bridge would not open until TWO trains went over it.

Okay. A slow start. But, it had to get better. Didn't it? No. There was a barge blocking the Great Bridge lock. LUX and 17 new found friends had to wait 30 minutes for the barge to move. Then, we all stuffed into the lock.
Then, we had to wait between the lock and the Great Bridge bridge for more vessels to make the lock before they would open the bridge.

Now, the parade is finally moving. But, there are 2 more swing bridges in our future. It is turning into a long day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Sitting at the end of Water Street

We left the Piankatank early this morning. It was a beautiful day on the water. We had another spinnaker run. 

We made such good time that we were in Portsmouth early afternoon. That allowed us to snag a free spot at the end of Water Street. But, as the saying goes, nothing is ever really free! It appears that Portsmouth has been experiencing high tides. The end of Water Street is under water!
It appears that we won't be hopping off the boat any time soon- unless we really want to go wading!

Tomorrow, we head off to Coinjock.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Taking NO Chances

We left Reedville bright and early this morning with only one goal- to find a spot further south to ride out the predicted bad weather. We are now in the Piankatank River with 17 other boats who must have had the same thought. It's a large cove back here, so we are spread out. The wind is rising, and we getting some wave action back here. The rain has also started.

Meanwhile, repairing your boat in exotic locations continues. Today, the water pump got replaced. It resisted, but we were triumphant after a short battle.

Because I am blogging on my phone, I can't easily place the pictures. So, I will tell you that I have one from this cove and one of the dreaded Volvo box- a sign that we carry spares just in case. Today, that was a good thing.