Monday, November 30, 2009

The View from the Bridge

Our boat has a fly bridge (or flying bridge to some).  It is located directly above the lower helm in the pilot house. On nice days it is a delightful place to pilot the boat or simply spend time. For close quarter maneuvering, its view (especially forward) is outstanding.



The view to the rear is fine except for close-in objects. Having someone below telling you what might be lurking in your blind spot is handy.






The lower helm in the pilot house is more comfortable and has a larger set of controls. It also is part of the normal living/social area of the boat not dependent on having good weather.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Electrical Panel

We often joke about when you own a boat, you become a city manager on account of all of the systems on board necessary to support a style of living similar to that on shore. Old-timers will scoff at the complexity of a modern boat saying it is an invitation to disaster (or at least a smaller bank account). Nevertheless, that is the way new boats are built because boat buyers expect creature comforts comparable to their home.

To illustrate this, below are photos of our electrical panel.

Our boat can handle shore power of either 110VAC or 220VAC. Internally, we use 220VAC so shore power of 110 VAC is “stepped” up to the higher voltage through adjusting the connections of our isolation transformer.
Since this photo was taken, we have added a warning telling us to NEVER, EVER step up 220 VAC to a higher voltage.  Bad things happen.
As mentioned above, internally we start with 220VAC which is used for selected items which would only operate with shore power or the generator. Most AC devices operate with 110V which we obtain by stepping 220V down.  
The gritty backside of the AC panel.
We own a 24VDC boat but we do have some 12V items.  The 12VDC is obtained by a DC-DC converter from 24V.
The backside of the DC panel

Stepping a Mast – 8 November

First, I apologize for some of these out of sequence posts.  On account of the inaccessibility of our blog site provider, (one of the many subsidiaries of Google), I am catching up on posts while in Hong Kong. My first burst of posts were simply restating what I had sent out in e-mails to some people. Now that I’ve caught up with those, I am doing new posts and filling in the “blanks.”

The Seahorse (SHM) “duck” boats come with a large, for power boats, masts about 10 meters (33 feet). When they are mounted 10 feet above the waterline, as ours is, it makes for a very tall boat. The purpose of the mast is to support the steadying sails, which reduce the rolling of the boat to due to beam seas (see roll stabilization). In addition, the sails serve as “get home” propulsion should the main engine fail. True sailors dismiss the paltry pieces of canvas we call sails on our boat and say our sails provide more of a “get to a continent” feature as you can’t really sail upwind with them. Since we aren’t sailors, will take what we get and deal with their limitations at some future date.

Anyway, when the boat is launched there is no mast mounted on the boat. Two reasons are: 1) the mast gets in way in factory; and 2) wires for lights and electronics have to be stuffed into the mast which is easier when the mast is horizontal.

A few days after SD462-02 was launched its mast was “stepped” (i.e., mounted). In boat yards where fewer strong backs are available, cranes and winches are used. At SHM, lots of hands are used. It took no more than 15 minutes to take it down the dock and get it vertical and secured on the boat.

The mast is walked down the ramp to the dock. You can see all of the rigging, lights and antenna are mounted on the mast.
The bottom of the mast is lifted onto the boat deck of the receiving (SD462-02) boat deck using a combination of ropes from the boat deck and poles with a mast saddle from the dock. Clearly they have done this before.
The top of the mast is raised to the boat deck of our boat using the same technique. There is a support saddle for the mast at the end of the boat deck on SD462-02. This saves a lot of backs of the workers and allows them to rest and reposition themselves.
A rope is attached to the top of the mast and the mast is slid forward until the bottom of the mast can be put into the tabernacle on the boat deck where a hinge pin is inserted keeping the bottom in position but allowing it to rotate forward.
A team hoists on the mast from the bow while others push from the back and others are prepared to use the back stays to keep the mast from going sideways.
Most of the hard work is done and now it is time to secure the rigging to the boat and tighten them down a bit.


First Night Aboard – 15 November

We spent our first night aboard last night and survived!

We bought a comforter and other household needs (wastebaskets, dishwashing soap, etc.) yesterday afternoon in town.  Later we attended a family event of the boatyard owners (a grand nephew's one-month birthday) at a restaurant in Zhuhai (about 30 miles from the boatyard).  The food was excellent and everybody is very accommodating/understanding of my need to watch my sodium intake.

We got back to the yard about 9:30, made up our bed and were lights off about 10:30.  This morning, not long after I went to the galley to heat water for drinks, I hear a plaintive meow.  I looked around several times before seeing the senior boatyard cat outside asking to come in.  "Slick" the cat inspects all of the boats so we had to let him in to check things out (actually, he's been on many times so maybe he was just checking to see if we were all right).



Later in the morning the new kitten at the yard came by to see how we were doing as well.  As you can tell from the photo, Marcia is quite taken with him. You can also see the borrowed jacket Marcia is wearing.  The temperature has dropped in recent days to overcast, windy and mid-50's.

Since it is Sunday, no workers on our boat today.  We are running our generator and doing a load of wash in our washer/dryer combo.  We are also running our AirCon units as heaters today to add load to the generator.

Sea Trial – 13 November

We had a brief (slightly more than an hour) sea trial yesterday, Friday the 13th.  On account of weather and conflicting schedules we could only squeeze in what our surveyor needed to check for engine vibration, fuel/oil leaks, noise level, etc.  The boat performed well and seems very solid.

The boatyard is on river and a bridge is a quarter mile up river from the yard and about four miles down river.  Neither bridge opens and their clearance is a smidge lower than our high point.

In addition, the river has a pretty good current at times, lots of commercial boat traffic and is less than a half mile wide in many spots.  All and all a not particularly convenient spot for pleasure cruising.  Despite that, we will have some more sea trials in order to test the sail rig and paravane deployment/retrieval.

Today, we hope to move on board (at least the master stateroom) and begin “living” on the boat. There is work still going on and we’ll leave most of the protecting materials intact for shipping so it isn’t quite like real life but we are looking forward to it.

Lots of things are on the "fix" list but things are coming off of it as well.  Marcia is great at pushing the SHM staff to help us get the boat done.

First Day of “Final” Suvey – 11 November

Tuesday was lots of work.  Ray Wolfe, our surveyor, arrived at the yard early and we got to work quickly.

Yesterday, 11 November, was lots of plumbing and electrical checking.  The two water tanks and three waste tanks were filled with water looking for leaks.  All fixtures were checked for hot & cold water and leaks. The bilges in the five water tight compartments had water added to them and the electric bilge pumps and manual bilge pumps were checked.  Lights, AC & DC outlets were tested.

About 100 gallons of fuel was loaded yesterday afternoon.  We'll fire up the generator and test it for voltage and frequency stability, next. 

I am not sure whether we'll have time today to do a sea trial on the river since the owner of SD462-02 (the boat launched last week) is making a one-day visit to the yard and there is lots of activity associated with that.

The sails have arrived but not yet been installed so perhaps a sea trial will be Thursday with sails up.  Lots of testing left to do!

Night Launch of SD462-02 – 5 November


A sister ship to ours (SD462-02) was launched on the high tide which was about 9:30 PM. It was quite a sight, almost like a rocket launch with all of the lights and people climbing ladders into the capsule/boat.

In the attached night shots you'll see many round artifacts which I believe are the flash reflections from the dust floating in the air.



Once the boat was in position (a slow and careful process), fire crackers were set and the clutch on the cables holding the carriage supporting the boat were released.  It slid backwards rapidly into the water at a speed faster than the boat will probably ever go under its own power. 


  The day shot shows the new boat (yellow mask) moored behind our boat (blue mask).

Progress continues on our boat and we hope to do the final inspection with our surveyor next week (9 November).  With luck we will be able to move aboard after that for some "hands-on" experience of systems. 

Cruising will have to wait until the boat makes it back home on a freighter.

State of Ship – 28 October

Below are some photos I took this morning before too many workers came on board.


First is the side profile. The bimini cover over the fly bridge is installed so that is why you see only the stainless steel tubing. 




Next is the salon and “U” shaped galley. Instead of one large refrigerator, we have two stacked DC refrigerators each on a dedicated breaker so that we can only turn on one if that is all we need. We also have a freezer built in under the pilot house settee.


The master stateroom photo right clearly shows the installed mattress. The hatch enters the engine room and a hinged book case covers the hatch.  A seat is under the porthole (no cushion yet) is at the right of the image.




The final photo is the forward stateroom. It has a smallish double bunk below and single bunk above on the starboard side. A very functional array of drawers, lockers and counter top are to the port side.

Great Firewall of China

File this under the "don't commit to something you can't control" department.  A few weeks ago I sent out a message with our relocated blog site (  I had great intentions of posting regular updates to the blog site during our visit to China for the final inspection of our new boat.  Well I didn't reckon with the "Great Firewall of China." 

China has chosen to protect its citizens from some material on the Internet by filtering out "offensive" web sites.  As it turns out, our blog site host, (a service of Google), is on that list.  I can neither read nor post to our blog site.  I tried one work around but that was blocked as well.

Rather than spend all my time trying to circumvent the Chinese governments efforts, I acceded to them and have not posted to my blog site while in China.  Currently we are in Hong Kong to clear out our storage facility and have unfiltered Internet access.  I will now try to catch up on things.