The flow of parts is starting to become a river, but that means decisions need to be made. Case in point is cabin lighting.

If we were going to be sailing only during the day and then be moored/docked/anchored at night, the decision is easy. I wouldn’t have to be concerned with preserving night vision. However, Opus is also intended to be a racing sloop for big, multi-day races wherein she’ll be sailed day and night. This means she needs dual lighting systems in the cabin. White light for when we’re relaxing. Red light for when we’re racing at night.

Why red light? (actually, it could be blue light too, according to the latest research I’ve read) White light destroys your night vision. After being blasted by the white light, it can take a long time for your night vision to fully recover. Red (or blue) light doesn’t have that same effect. For racing, this is important as you don’t want your crew to be blind on deck at night.

So, back to the issue of lighting. Right now the cabin is illuminated with white incandescent lights. These are power hungry and, of course, white. I want to replace them with White/Red LED lighting. LED lighting is a lot better for power consumption, which is important when you’re sailing for several days and don’t have some (alternate) means of recharging your batteries – you want to keep the amount of engine running time (the engine is used to recharge the boat batteries) to a minimum since you have to carry fuel to power the engine.

Rather than buying a bunch of LED lights (which are about $100.00 or so each) and then finding out whether they’d work, we ordered ONE light to try out, and it’s a good thing that we did. The light works well and it fits in the existing holes in the cabin headliner. However (isn’t there alway a however or a but?)…

The LED light has three wires and no intrinsic on/off. One wire is common, it’s attached to ground. Then, depending on whether you want white or red, you apply power to one or the other of the remaining wires, and that’s where the difficulty comes in.

Right now, Opus’ wiring only has two wires going to each location. That means I can turn the light on or turn the light off from a switch at the nav station. I can NOT select whether it should be red or white. Also, it would supply power to all the lights on one side at the same time. The current system has a “master” on/off at the nav station and an individual on/off at each light. The new LED light doesn’t have an on/off at it.

So… what to do… the choices are:

  1. Use two switches at the nav station. One supplies ‘red’ power, one supplies ‘white’ power.
  2. Use one switch at the nav station that provices power to all lights, then put a switch at each light to select “red”, “white” or “none”

Choice one can be further broken down as right now the nav station can supply power to the “port” and ‘starboard’ lights independently. I could set it up where port lights are red, starboard lights are white. However, that still leaves the problem of they are _all_ either on or _all_ are off. “All” meaning all of the same colour.

An alternative is that the “Port” switch at the nav station is repurposed to “white” and the “starboard” switch is repurposed to “Red”. This has advantages of all lights can be either red or white. However, we again have the problem of all the lights are on or all the lights are off. A second drawback is that it allows all the lights to have BOTH the red AND the white lights on at the same time – something the manufacturer says not to do.

Choice 2 has the drawback of more complexity and expense since now I have to wire in (and mount) a switch next to each light. However, it overcomes the difficulties of option 1 and uses the existing wiring runs to each light. It does have the drawback of a light being accidentally set to “white” during the day so that at night, when power is turned on, that light blinds people.

This will take some thought.

Keep pushing the pawns forward

Progress is being measured not by the completion of tasks but instead it is measured by any forward motion at all on any of the myriad fronts.

It seems the “completion” is a somewhat slippery and elusive quality. Just as I think one thing is getting close to “finished”, fate decides to drop another little present, or should I say “challenge” in my path. Fortunately, help is on the horizon.

We’ve decided to contract out some of the work and I had an opportunity to talk to the mechanic earlier today. Some things just require a second person. Case in point is that the idlers for the steering are said to have problems. However, to witness this and therefore derive a solution requires that I be (a) in the machinery space to see the idlers in operation, and (b) up at the helm turning the wheel, both at the same time. Sure, the answer would be to make a friend on the dock and have them turn the wheel while I witness, but it’s pretty much a desert around here for people.

So some things are just up to the whims of the fates whether I’ll make any progress or not. I can only hope and wait, and be prepared for when things offer opportunities. Or else contract them out, of course.

They will, hopefully, begin the work at the end of this week or the beginning of next week and it should take a few days to maybe a week to get it all done. Then, finaly, we can go sailing!

Speaking of sailing, Quijote is home. Who is Quijote? She is a Hallberg-Rassey 39(? 38?) that I’ve crewed on a number of times, owned by Captain R. Mercer. Originally intended to do a circumnavigation of the Pacific, COVID put a sudden stop to it while she was waiting in Mexico for the right season to continue on westward. Unfortunately, borders remained closed and after sitting in a boatyard in Mexico for a year, it was time to bring her home. I was supposed to crew, but COVID made that a non-starter for me too. Well, they have brought Quijote home from La Paz, Mexico to Seattle by way of Hawaii. You can read about it above under the “friends” menu.

Finally, stuff getting done!

If you’re at all a “maker” or a “handyman” or some such, you know what holds the world together. Duct tape. It’s in every toolbox under the sun, and there are probably more miles of it wrapped around stuff than there are roads in Canada.

Well, that may be true of you land-bound creatures, but in the boating world, it’s cable ties, also known as zip ties. You know, those plastic thingies that you wrap around stuff, pull one end through the other and then pull tight with a “zzzzzzzt!” sound.

One of today’s projects was to put fender holders in. These are basket-like things that hold fenders when the fenders aren’t actually in use. Opus is a big boat and so her fenders are big too. In fact, most things about her are big. I got the big fenders for her (G-6, if anyone wants to know) and holders properly sized for those fenders.

The holders fasten to the safety rail of the ship, and this is where today’s tale of woe and frustration begins. Apparently the manufacturer feels that even though you have a boat big enough to need big fenders, your safety rails are still little scrawny things. They size their mounting bracket accordingly. Unfortunately, as I said before, Opus is a big girl and her safety rails are sized accordingly. Little bracket, meet big rail. Little bracket faints and then backs away saying, “No no no! Too big for me! Too big for me!” After trying sweet talk, then threatening, then force, I had to finally concede. Too big for you indeed.

After a bit of head scratching and thinking, I finally broke down and used zip ties to fasten it to the rail. This probably is not a permanent solution, but it will work for now. Another task for today was fixing the dock lines. The ones that came with Opus were not the right size. Sure, they would probably work, but I don’t like “probably” for these kinds of things, so I had some new docklines delivered. Well, I should say I had the raw parts of docklines delivered. The rest of the day was spent turning dockline parts into docklines. I made them today not because there was an urgent need for them, but rather to clear some boxes out of the cockpit so I have room to work on other stuff.

I also spent a fair amout of time in the machinery space tracing hoses and trying to figure out what are various pieces of equipment that seem to be only partially attached to things. the puzzle continues, so back to the internet I go!

Unfortnately, that is probably the end of progress until Tuesday as everything shuts down tomorrow and Monday. Tuesday we start back up again.

Things start to flow!

Pieces of Opus are starting to arrive. Yesterday the SmartPlug arrived. It should have been a fast job, but turned into an all-day affair as these things often do. The first thing was to turn off -everything- so that there was no chance of electricity going where it shouldn’t. Can’t be too careful when there are puddles on the deck from the rains!

After that was removal of the old electrical socket that is attached to the coaming. It came off easily. Too easily. I don’t think it was ever sealed to the coaming. Sealing isn’t actually required, there’s a gasket that should keep things watertight, but I tend not to trust just a gasket alone. Oh well, different strokes for different folks. I worked on the old socket trying to free the wires for a bit and then, in sheer frustration, just cut it off with a combination of box cutter and wire cutters. Later on I discovered I’d have to cut things anyway, so this wasn’t the bad move I thought it might be.

Unfortunately, the cord slipped from my hand, zipped right through the hole in the coaming and went… somewhere. So now the great hunt began to try to find where the wires are. Are they accessible in the port lazarette? Nope. How about the port stern berth? Nope. Ok, move everything from the berth (I’m using that for storage at the moment) and pull up the boards. Not there either. Hmmm, maybe the stern end of the lazarette is removable to provide access to that space? Nope, though studied that for a while.

It took me a while, but then the light dawned. It probably fell into the machinery space, aka “engine room”. To get there, you open the -starboard- thing that looks like a lazarette. Then you step into there and disappear into the bowels of the ship, work your way under the cockpit deck and… SUCCESS! There’s the line! Now how to feed it back up and… Nope, that’s not going to work. I can’t reach high enough and, being alone on the boat, I’m a little reluctant to get myself into a situation where I might need help getting back out.

I know! I drop a cord through the coaming hole down to here, tie the cord to the electrical cord, go back up to the cockpit and pull the electrical cord back up! I have some thin dyneema around, that should be good, but since I had moved everything around, I have to find THAT. Another hunt ensues.

Finding the dyneema, I tie one end to the ship’s wheel (so that it doesn’t fall completely down the hole too) and feed the other end through the hole for the electrical socket, down the hollow space and (hopefully) into the engine room. Then worm back down the starboard lazarette, underneath the deck, over to the electrical cord and look for the black dyneema which blends in with a lot of other things. Finally I find it, caught up on some things and out of reach. Back out, feed more dyneema down on the assumption that SOME loop would eventually make it to the machinery space floor, worm back down again and success, there’s the dyneema. Dyneema is slppery. Electrical cord sheathing is slippery. Use an old method of fastening fletching to arrows to attach the two together. Slither back out, reel in the dyneema and up comes the electrical cord. Tie off the dyneema to the wheel (a second time) so that there’s no way for the electrical cord to slip back down.

I start following the directions for the smartplug installation and one of the things they stress is to make sure that you’ve cut back the electrical cord far enough that you get clean, uncorroded, copper. Hmmm. Cut back some cord. Cut back some more. Cut back some more. Finally find clean copper (see, cutting off the old socket didn’t matter – I’d have had to cut anyway). Now that end is installed and I just have to install the socket into the coam… Oh, hell, the new socket is JUST SLIGHTLY too big for the old hole. Get out the dremel and I’ll sand away… ummm… power. Where to get power for the dremel? Sort that bit out and sand away some of the old outlet’s hole until, eventually, the new outlet fits. Drill a few holes for the… Drats, my cordless screwdriver battery is dead so I have to somehow get power to it so that I can recharge it. That done, I drilled new holes for the mounting screws and voila, done.

Now repeat the process for the end of the cord that runs from the socket to the electrical supply on the dock. Having done the socket already, I knew what I was in for, so this part of it went a bit faster as i took BIG pieces off the electrical cord until I got to clean copper.

As always when working with electricity, there is that feeling of “Please let me have done this right” as I turn on the power to the boat. I’m just waiting to hear the sparks and stuff. This time, nothing exciting, so all’s well except that there’s still caulking to do. I sourced some caulk and this morning got it. I left the socket protected by a tarp overnight in case it rained even though the installation SHOULD be watertight regardless. Silicone calk arouund the edge of it this morning and the whole thing is A-number-1 done.

Since I had caulk in hand, I went and caulked the joint between the kitchen counter tops and the vertical surfaces, so that’s another job done. next job is measuring the luff of the foresail for a genoa cover and, if the weather holds, paying out the anchor chain to make sure that the rhode is attached to it.

Ok, here we go!