Before our fall trip, we did of course need to take a few days (two 1/2, really) to tweak a few things, upgrade a few things, and get ready for a decent chunk of time out in the islands. Fortunately, for perhaps the first time we arrived without any GIANT undertakings planned, just a few little tweaks to make everything work a little more smoothly.
Task #1 was replacing our shore power cord and, therefore, shore power plug on the boat as well. The 30′ power cord that came with our boat seemed like it has some miles on it… not thrashed by any stretch, but definitely showing some corrosion on both ends, and boat fires scare the @#$@# out of us, and seems like a large number of them happen somewhere in the shore power area. Plus, since we were replacing the cord anyway, we really wanted a little more reach for (a fifty footer instead of thirty) those marinas where the power pedestal is a little ways away… we also kept the old cord to use as an extension in a pinch.
We decided to not only replace the cord itself, but change out the receptacle on the boat to the SmartPlug. This is a replacement socket for your cockpit that takes a plug that is a MUCH better design than the 1930’s era twist lock design that is still the standard: more securely holds the plug in, much greater contact between the plug and socket, all around a better solution. For more details on how this design wins out, see Compass Marine’s detailed (as usual) post on the subject. Despite the wiring colors in our boat being very different from what the instructions led me to expect, simply mimicking the existing, properly wired socket made install pretty straightforward… the big bonus here is the SmartPlug receptacle is designed to be a drop in replacement to the standard Marinco, uses same screw holes and everything:
Two other mods that met with approval during the trip… first was routing the crankcase vent hose back into the engine so the oily mist that occassionally burps out of the crankcase (normal) simply goes back into the engine to be burned up, instead of leaving an oily smell in the boat and a film on things, as well as possibly dropping noticable amounts of oily mist onto our bilge water, meaning we can’t pump it out and have to shop vac the bilge water out and recycle with the marina. We learned about this from the great Aeolus blog (post #1 and post #2 on the subject) which has once again been invaluable to us.
It was a simple task, just remove the old (nasty, oily) hose, hose clamp a new one in its place on the block and run the other end to a barbed fitting that is threaded onto the end of our K&N air filter. Easy cheesy. If you search enough on this you’ll hear people say it could lead to a runaway diesel (basically even with the fuel cut off your diesel keeps running, burning oil out of the oil pan), which is technically true, but were that to happen I would have to remove the air filter anyway to starve the engine of fuel to kill it, in doing so I would also be removing the “fuel” source.
The other notable change we made was to move our 12v Engel fridge / freezer to a better spot. We LOVE this little guy… short trips we run it as a fridge, longer trips we run it as a freezer, rotating jugs of water from the freezer to the ice box that we use as our fridge. This setup lets us have good freezer space for frozen food and ice for drinks and good fridge space for fresh food and, you know, beer… best of both worlds for ~2 amps per hour. But last fall’s trip we had the Engel on the quarterberth, which cramped the navigation station and also robbed us of a logical “put your wet stuff down here before you walk into the saloon” spot. So we moved it to underneath the folding table down below… it’s really not in the way there at all (it’s wasted space otherwise), it’s secure even in rough weather, and when the dining table is up it works as a little coffee table. A little fiddling and tweaking with some 4×4’s, 1×2’s and a few other scraps and we managed to get it steady, level and padded on the curved cabin sole:
It wasn’t all work work work, though. Last summer we moved to a new upwind slip (thank goodness… no more backing into the slip with 20 knots of cross breeze!), and this trip we met our new dock neighbors, who promptly gifted us 3 fresh caught crab. Woo hoo! Brigid went to town on them and cleaned ’em and cooked them up on the spot for great lunch… and then of course, a few walks for the dog, the obligatory trip to Anthony’s for dinner… hard to beat, although I think we wore the dog out!
Coming soon, fall trip reports, with old favorites like Sucia and Montague and new very much favorites like Wallace Island and Ladysmith!