Sunday, August 10, 2014

Small Projects--Significant Improvements

--Blogpost written by Bob

Our composting toilet has been ordered and we are awaiting delivery (a few weeks away).  In the meantime, we have tackled some small projects (in terms of money and effort) that (hopefully) will make significant improvements to our future cruising plans.

A cat figurehead?

Adjustments to Instruments

During our month-long sailing trip, I had a lot of difficulty reading water depth annotations on my chart plotter--particularly black lettering on a dark blue background.  As I found out (through the help of Fred Street on the C&C List), I can greatly reduce the amount of dark blue area by adjusting the "safety contour" (from it's existing setting of 66 feet) to 7 feet.  Now, there is an additional lighter shade of blue between the dark blue areas (7 feet deep and under) and the deeper areas (in white).

The small adjustment in "safety contour" made an enormous difference in
readability.  Now, if I simply stay clear of the dark blue areas (7 foot
depth and under), everything should be good.

I also purchased a used Navionics map cartridge of the southeastern U.S. and the Bahamas for about one-half of what it cost new.  This is a CF (compact flash) card and it has more Bahamas coverage than I had previously installed on my chart plotter.

Another adjustment I made was to the depth sounder--this instrument tells me the actual water depth under the boat.  Because all my instruments were replaced after a lightning strike destroyed them three years ago, most of the factory default settings were still in place.  The depth sounder was reading water depth below the transducer but the transducer is mounted below the waterline on the boat--so, I adjusted the offset so that the depth sounder reads the total (actual) water depth.  I also set the shallow depth alarm to sound at a 6-foot water depth since our boat draws 5 feet. 

While these instrument adjustments took a very minor effort, hopefully, they will prevent
us from going aground, or let us know just before we do.  And yes, the sea temperature 

is too high--I calibrated it after this picture was taken (It's about 75 degrees right now.).

Several Lifestyle Improvements

We used to have a metal fruit basket like this when we lived aboard but somehow it
got misplaced when we bought our house.  I found a new one on Amazon that is
constructed from aluminum--much better than the original which was plated
steel.  It hangs from a teak handrail on the ceiling and is kept from
swinging by a shock cord tether on the bottom.

During our recent month-long sailing trip, we would hang up towels and swimming suits on our
lifelines.  The springs on our old clothespins were severely rusted and some of them
broke.  These new stainless steel clothespins called Extreme Pegs (available from
Amazon) are a little more expensive but should last a lifetime of cruising.

With a standard litter box, one of our two cats had a little problem hitting the litter
box.  A 8-inch deep plastic bin from Home Depot solved this problem
nicely--it's about the same size as a standard litter box, just
deeper.  It has not made much of a change is the litter
being tracked out onto the cabin sole.

Originally, our boat had two hanging lockers--one forward and one amidship.  The forward
hanging locker was converted to shelves for storing clothes several years
ago.  The midship hanging locker was also converted to shelves
for storing towels and linens--we just reconverted this back to a
hanging locker to further free up the area in the quarter berth.

New Bahamas Courtesy Flag

I still have my old Bahamas courtesy flag from my trip during the winter
of 1991/2 but it is somewhat beaten up and 23 years old.  So, I
purchased a new one for our upcoming trip.

Next up will be the changeout of our 31-year old fresh water inlet hoses.  We have now completed 106 boat projects--63 remain to be done.  We're getting closer!  

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