I’m back from about a week in Hawaii working on boat projects to prepare Illusion for her journey to Vancouver, Canada this summer. These were all projects we’d hoped to do once the boat was in Vancouver, but since this trip has been so long delayed, I decided to work on them now. And they’ll be useful for this coming passage, too, of course. I went alone this time (sorry, no cute photos of Toby on the boat – though, cute story, apparently he spent the whole time I was away saying ‘Dada, boat!’) and apart from the odd run along the beach or walk through the park, it was pretty much work, work, work. It was great to see the Full Monty crew and Johnson who runs the Sumo Ramen and Curry place across the road – always good to see his friendly face and catch up. Here’s a brief list of what I got done:
- Fixed the aft head (toilet) – an old Sealand Vacuflush toilet. Stopped working mysteriously while prepping to depart New Zealand. I didn’t have to replace any parts, but checked the vacuum chamber pressure switch and worked on the motor.
- Broke Y-valve handle for aft toilet diverter! After getting the aft toilet running, I decided to check the diverter valve, but the mineral deposits around the valve prevented me from turning it cleanly and while working it through the full range of motion, I broke off the handle. Bought a new valve to be installed later. (One step forward, one step back… )
Replaced galley faucet – the ceramic cartridge began to leak on our last visit, so I bought a replacement from a local DIY shop. Then another. And another! The first one had no dimensions on the box and was too tall to fit. The second one was poor quality (made out of chrome-finished plastic), but the 3/8″ compression fittings didn’t have enough thread to securely connect and leaked after I installed it. The third one (from a different shop) works great.
- Unpacked and tested the new 100 Watt solar panel – I bought a WindyNation monocrystalline panel and had it shipped to the harbor. I also bought a bunch of MC4 connectors so I could upgrade my solar wiring system. I bought some 20 Amp MPPT charge controllers from AliExpress, so I installed one with the panel. I ran the boat systems from the panel for several days and it performed about as well as my old array of 3x55W panels.
- Unpacked and partially assembled a 400 Watt wind generator – by the time I got an old aluminum pole cleaned and set up on the arch to hold the generator, the Hawaii was under a high wind advisory and I couldn’t install or test the wind generator. With wind gusts up to 45 knots, I also took down my shade structure!
- Begin rewiring the battery charging system – I have an old 30A charge controller that simply closes a relay when the input voltage is higher than the battery voltage. The newer MPPT controllers can provide more power than the older, simpler controllers. I bought one for each of my solar panels/arrays and one for the wind generator.
- Disassembled my Atwood water heater – looking for the type of heater element used so I might be able to find a 12V replacement element. My plan is to have a power diverter for the excess generated by the solar & wind so that power will provide hot water while underway. Normally, we’d only have hot water if the engine is running or we’re connected to shore power, but in the colder waters outside the tropics, it would be nice to have a bit more hot water! Also, wind generators need a place to “dump” power.
- Checked and ran the main engine – so far, I’ve put about 10 hours on the engine since the rebuild. I want to have a few more hours before leaving Hawaii, but also wanted to check on systems and small leaks: fuel injector cap needed re-torquing, main heat exchanger drips salt water (always a hassle to reseal them perfectly!).
- Gathered parts left on the boat for HRPT receiver – I’m hoping to build a weather satellite image receiver in my spare time and have almost all the parts (some on the boat and some in Vancouver), so during this trip I collected the remaining parts I need that were on the boat.
- Installed a remote valve operator for my propane system – I’ve thrown away enough corroded propane solenoids! At US$80/solenoid, I’m ready to try something new. I found a ball-valve arm actuator that can use the same wiring I had for my solenoid, so I bought and installed a new valve and mounted the controller. We can again turn the propane on and off from the galley!
- Spent another few hours drilling lock-down holes in the radar arch. One might think that aluminum would be easy to drill and tap, but I’ve spent many hours over the last 18 years and have only managed a 4mm hole depth! I was told when I bought the arch parts that the machined fittings had been cryogenically hardened, but I didn’t realize it would mean that I couldn’t easily alter them! This trip I increased the 3mm hole by another 1mm.
- Scraped the hull growth down a notch – I didn’t go into the water, but cleaned everywhere I could reach. Most of the growth is on the first 20cm from the waterline.
Those are the main projects that I worked on during this trip. Of course there’s always the day-to-day stuff too, and every time we visit the first day is usually about prepping the boat to live on (getting shade structure up, filling water tank, a bit of cleaning) and the final day is about getting ready to leave (airing out futons, washing sheets, cleaning thoroughly, etc.) I hoped – as always – to accomplish more, but the galley faucet debacle took up much more time than planned! Luckily, though, the boat was pretty clean and mold free, and, better still, free of infestations – Sara got rid of all the infested grains on our last trip in Nov 2015 and did a thorough galley and storage clean – so I didn’t have to do any major cleaning jobs below deck. Many thanks again to the Full Monty crew (check out their sailing blog) for trips to hardware stores, yummy dinners and great conversation. Next time I arrive at the harbour (in about six weeks) they may have already set sail north, and hopefully we won’t be far behind them….