When sailing is the only option

All dressed up in the beautiful new Seatiger 555, James and I were raring to go and the weather looked like it might cooperate. Spring forecasts and all, but there was a lot of hope for a fast downwind run from Gloucester to Provincetown (the fist of Cape Cod, though the queers of P-town know better than to make that kind of fist). Enough wind, but not too much, and we decided to sail off the mooring though there were more boats and docks around than we usually aim for. The 10-15 knots of wind from the NE were, I don’t know, holding off until later in the day? Sure, that’s a thing. We were being quite self-congratulatory because, the day before, we’d found a oil and diesel mess in the catch basin under the engine. If you think that doesn’t sound good, you’re right. I (Dena) touched the oil filter and it turned under fingertip pressure. There was wetness around a bleed-bolt on an injector. We used our oil changing suction pump to clear out the basin, topped up the oil, and cleaned up. This isn’t the kind of thing we like to talk about – engine shit. We never updated the blog with our winter’s engine problems (hard starting in the cold leading to backing the raw cooling water right into the cylinders), which James worked hard to fix. The whole time, we were doing math on replacing the fucking infernal combustion engine with an electric motor. Then it was over and we still had the Yanmar. Well, getting the windlass installed was a far, far more interesting and exciting project than getting wrist deep in Rotella 15W40. You wouldn’t be reading about it now if that had been the end of it. We had three hours of[…]

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Oh yeah, the 555!

So we got this incredible machine, the Seatiger 555 windless, from Bacon in Annapolis and…it’s totally awesome and all…but the fact is our boat wasn’t built to accommodate this device. It’s very important for the proper function of any windless for the chain to drop straight down the throat of the hawse pipe. On Cetacea the hawse pipe is a good 10cm away from the bowsprit, the only real spot for mounting the windless. So we had to build a mount. Before Dena retired from Krohne, one of the engineers there (thanks, Steve!) manipulated a big chunk of aluminum into a base for the 555. We wanted to make it to where the load of the windless was equally distributed between the mount and the most solid part of the bowsprit. The center. We lined everything up, measured about ten times between us, then drilled oversized holes in the bowsprit… …Filled the holes with epoxy. Then we went sailing! A winter’s worth of the city of sin trailed abaft of us all the way to Gloucester. We had a last minute weather change and figured we could pick up a mooring and finish the install on the windless from the protection of Gloucester harbor as opposed to our first anchorage being in Hull. What we thought was going to be a four hour broad reach to the downtown moorings turned out to be a six hour beat all the way there. Cetacea was slow but the sailing was…Fucking sailing, yay! Once we picked up that mooring and got the boat stowed, we broke out the lags, the hammer-drill and the epoxy and installed our new windless. Spit-Spat…Just like that. We have a working system! Dranks!!!

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And then I was done

I worked this last 14 months. It wasn’t mostly fixing flat tires, but there was rather a lot of that. This very last flat of my North Shore commute was immediately visible and rather easy to fix. Which is rather emblematic of the actual end of my employment at KROHNE Inc. After rage-cry quitting back in March, I marshaled my ability to see the fundamentally good intentions of the people around me and agreed to an extended notice that fattened our cruising kitty and let me try to leave on smoother terms. They didn’t manage to hire a replacement so my final feeling is similar to the earlier one – frustrated and irritated and done. No rage tears at the end, though. Instead, I had a lot of opportunities to share appreciation with my fellow workers and feel richer for being and giving the upshot of investing in doing good work. Next, the really good works.

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Integrating the wind mast with the PET

We’d ordered the mounting kit for our new Rutland 1200 wind generator thinking that we’d use only parts of it. Because of the way the solar panels fit, though, the mid-tower mounting location looked less attractive than we’d hoped. That mounting kit included two 1.5 meter stainless tubes, though, which gave us quite a great height if we put the base on the caprail. So that’s what we did! Again with the pipe clamps, because binding the wind generator mast to the solar tower struck us as the most solid installation. With lags holding the base and those three points of attachment between the two units, we have a five-footed Primary Energies Tower comprising two metal structures and 900 potential watts of power. Of course, that skips the part where we put together the Rutland 1200 while getting over food poisoning, working in the spring chill, and fighting an unending wind. And there was no shortcut. We just had to do it. Once it was all up and working, we tidied the wiring in the lazarette, sorted every frickin thing James had moved to the work barge, and loaded the boat for leaving the next day.

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Redefining the AET: meet the PET

After a lightbulb moment and a short discussion, we’re renaming our tower. The power we will get from the sun and wind aren’t “alternatives” – they’re primary. So we’re going to quibble and call it the Primary Energies Tower or PET. Wiring the tower meant running pull lines for the electrical cables. Our retractable fish tape once again did not do the job. It’s a flat metal tape and only bends in one direction whereas this project required multiple direction bending. The tool of the hour? A plumbing snake. The other portion of that job was creating or widening the holes near the solar panels. Then we got to work on the tabbed fittings that connect to the feet we installed a little while back. And then…we put the whole tower together. When James told me that he was going to climb it, I blinked and grinned. I was confident that our installation could handle it and, really, it was such a total James thing to do. Since we didn’t actually install it as a jungle gym (James?), we kept on with the project. We’d thought maybe the side solar panels would go vertically, but the tower nests inside the original aft rail. We wouldn’t have been able to get the panels well and truly down. Horizontal it is! The side panels are on stainless steel hinges that come apart with a cotter pin and split ring. The top two are hard-fixed with rubber-lined stainless steel pipe clamps. Those things have plenty of strength and the whole system is easy to run a visual check on. Since the tower is aluminum, the fasteners and fittings are stainless, and the solar panel frames are aluminum, we used a seriously generous number of plastic washers to fight electrolysis. One near-miss on the[…]

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Installing the AET Part 1

One of the biggest set-backs you can come up against when your boat is your workshop/is your home is the weather. Springtime is the worst when it comes to relying on the weather! Last weekend was a total bomb. It was cold and blustery and about as uninspiring as it gets for working outside so we completely blew it off for a raging Cetacea Dance Party!!! But this past weekend was absolutely perfect for doing the worst job ever. Through-bolting the primary support bases for the Alternative Energies Tower (AET). We’ve had the AET aboard now for three weeks but because every part of installing this thing is a two person job we really did just have to wait until the time was right. The first thing we did after a healthy breakfast at The Capitol Cafe’ was pull all the tie downs and mock up the AET (above). Next we drilled the holes and emptied the lazaretts. Now I can’t exactly remember who once, a million years ago, compared every job in a lazarette to dumpster-diving but that’s what I think of every single time we get to do some work in a lazarette. Diving in a dumpster sucks and so does every lazarette I’ve ever dove on. I didn’t take any pictures of us in the lazarettes this time. We both just wanted to get the job done as soon as we could before the weather went tits-up again in that uniquely- springtime in New England- kind of way. Like every project we do together we split the work into left-handed and right-handed gigs. Dena (lefty) dove the portside lazarette first. She nailed that shit in a mere hour and a half. During that time she invented the butyl-tape-on-washer-and-wrench (BTWW) method of fastening an unseen through-bolt from a[…]

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