Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Preparations for the upcoming season

For the last few months we have been working part time and getting the house ready to rent out because we are planning a longer trip on Ladybug II. We hope to make the Pacific crossing in the spring of 2012 to New Zealand via French Polynesia and assorted South Pacific islands. There - I've written it, so now we have to do it! Well - anything can happen between now and the spring, but we are planning as if we will be away for two years or more...

Perhaps the biggest project we hope to complete before the spring is to improve the charging capabilities so that we can run a refrigerator. Rani sees this as a necessity to keep veggies for more than a few days in the tropics.

Even a well insulated small 12 volt fridge will draw 20-30 amp-hours per day. And to take this little power, we will need to add insulation and gaskets to make our ice box much more efficient at retaining the cold. The number of bits and pieces this project will require is amazing, because we have to make the power initially, store it during periods when we are not using the motor or the sun does not cooperate, and then draw as little as possible. Parts include:

  • additional closed cell insulation sheets (5" total wall thickness)
  • FRP board to re-line the icebox
  • 2 gaskets for the lid
  • new counter material for when we tear apart the galley
  • fiberglass and epoxy to hold it all together
  • 3 to 5 new batteries (our batteries are nearly 9 years old) 
  • a smart regulator for a high output Balmar alternator (which the previous owners generously left as a spare)
  • 2 extra solar panels and wiring + brackets + through deck glands
  • ... and the list goes on. 
We already have an Adler Barbour compressor and plate that appear to work, but just can't keep things cold with less than 2 inches of insulation and an unsealed lid.

Carrying enough spare parts for the engine and other systems is also a concern, so in addition to the usual disposable items we are going to lay in a spare raw water pump, starter motor, shifting cable, and possibly a spare injector. We have a spare fuel lift pump and a good set of gaskets and miscellaneous bits from the previous owners.

Radar internals

We recently bid on and won the (hopefully) working guts of a Raytheon radar on eBay to replace the defunct one that did not work when we purchased the boat. Our EPIRB battery is out of service, so we need to replace the battery. The water maker has started leaking and the little parts to fix this are hundreds of dollars, so we will attempt a Mexican fix and failing this will retire it and rig up a system to collect rain water.

On a fun note - I just bought a little Singer portable sewing machine (1953 Featherweight 221) that should be very useful on the boat. We need to make new covers for hatches and repair the mainsail cover, among other stitching chores. The 'new' machines sews beautifully and is simple and well made (see picture). It has a zigzag attachment, so I may even see how it does with reinforcing our UV patch on the jib!

Singer 221 and attachments - the bed folds up and the whole things weighs < 20 lbs (11 lbs for the machine)

Much of this stuff, we have already purchased, and will have to lug to Phoenix, via the UK and Nova Scotia (visiting our parents). We will buy the rest in Phoenix and area or have it shipped to our Phoenix hotel. Then with a rental car stuffed to capacity we will drive the 7 or 8 hours south to Guaymas, returning the car a day or 2 later and busing back down.

Back at home, we need to move our stuff (again!) into storage, sell the car, arrange for someone to be a contact for our tenants, and work out the various flights and visits on our way back down to the boat.  Phew - it makes me exhausted just thinking about this!