Monday, March 14, 2011

The tides are high again

The sun has returned to Houston, and with it, high tides. Well, not today as we're currently in the middle of a thunderstorm that is actually booming loud enough to shake the building I'm in. However, the past two weekends have been beautiful in Kemah. It's still cool enough that we have to run a space heater in the boat at night, but last weekend I finally made it out of the marina for a good sail and a sunburn.

I've made a few improvements in the past month or so. For my birthday back in February, my mother sent me a new sail cover and jib bag. You've got to love moms who actually ask you what you want for your birthday. The new canvas really dresses up the boat, and it's nice to not have the jib taking up space in the cabin anymore. On a 27' boat, every inch of storage counts.

I finally found some interior hatch trim to cover the jagged, uneven edges of fiberglass on the V-berth hatch. It makes it look a hundred times better, and now we can fit a screen into the hatch to keep mosquitoes out. Of course, there's only one month a year in Houston where you can sleep with the hatch open instead of running the air-conditioner, but I'll be ready for it.

New hatch trim and screen

Unfortunately my first sail of the year wasn't without incident. I started smelling something burning just before we passed the boardwalk and made it to the bay. I did a quick check and one of the wires from the alternator was melting. It had burned itself through by the time we made it home.

This was a frustrating development because I had just gone back through the alternator wiring in November as it wasn't making charge. Now it definitely was making charge, but it was also catching on fire, which isn't a great tradeoff.

After staring at a bunch of generic wiring charts and tracing wires from the control panel down to the engine, I found that the wire we had running to ground, which was the one that melted, was actually supposed to be running to the tachometer -- which had never worked. Suddenly the tach sprung to life. It was a relatively painless troubleshooting expedition, aside from the three times I got electrocuted connecting the battery wire back onto the ungrounded alternator because my brother hadn't disconnected the batteries. He actually seemed to enjoy that part way too much.

Working tachometer!

The temperature gauge had also quit working when I had previously rewired the alternator. We refitted the connections to the sensor, and it came back to life. My last electrical challenge is to fix the fuel gauge, so I'm going to pull and replace the float this weekend.

We made a test run out to the bay and back Saturday evening just before sunset to make sure everything was running smoothly. Everything seems good.

I didn't get to sail Sunday because I'm trying to get a handle on the massive amount of yard work that needs to be done. Between my gutters and my gardens, I raked up eight huge bags of leaves Sunday, but sadly, you can't even tell. Looks to be great weather this weekend. Hopefully I can find someone to go sailing with me.
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