Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hello California, hello boat

We made it to California.  By design we took a longer route so we could enjoy a sampling of state and national parks along the way, and I'd estimate our total mileage at about 4,000.  The route alone mapped out to 3,600, and we spent 3 days driving around parks so I figure that added at least another 400.  It was a great trip, but we are both glad to be out of the truck.  Our mileage through the whole trip averaged to 12.8 MPG.  That might seem awful, but for anyone driving a full-size truck, and especially anyone who has towed a large heavy trailer, it's actually pretty darn good.  And other than the little dinghy dolly mishap before we departed, the trip went off with only one small snag - we left a bag in Jackson, WY.  But the hotel found it and we received it today via fed ex.  Problem solved.

Getting settled in here at Dana Point has been a bit of a whirl wind.  Our first projects have been to 1) find a place where we can store the trailer for the duration of our stay, and 2) get a few large items out of the trailer and on the boat while it is still close by.  Much of that was accomplished today, but the plans we made this morning where immediately foiled by an email received as I was leaving the hotel.

Sea Trial!  The guys were gearing up to take Tanglewood for a spin to test and exercise a number of things, and asked if we wanted to go along.  Well, YES.  So off we went for our maiden voyage.  It was all-in-all a successful trip with several issues confirmed to be fixed, and a few new ones discovered.  At this stage, if we are not finding issues, we probably aren't looking hard enough.  The trick is to flush them out as early as possible.  Some can be time consuming to fix, so the earlier you know about it the more time you have to solve it.

Happy owners

Out on maiden voyage

After that welcome diversion from our day's plan, we got back to it.  The big project for today was to get the dinghy launched and get the kayaks up on the boat and stowed.

As you may recall, the dingy rode out here in the back of our trailer.  To launch it required getting the dinghy out of the trailer, and getting it close to a crane or lift that can pick it up and lower it into the water.  Easier said than done.  There is a county-run marina here and they have a sling for launching boats, but it's set up for larger boats.  The slings are a fixed distance apart, and if you use it on too small a boat there is a risk that they will slip off the ends of the boat and you will end up on YouTube.  My boating/cruising goal in life is to not end up on YouTube, so this was a problem.  I suggested that we just run a line or two between the two slings to prevent them from splaying out, but you'd think I was asking the marina to commit murder.  It was completely unacceptable to even think of such a deviant action.  Back home it would have been done before the discussion even had a chance to start, but I guess things are different here, so we'll respect the local rules.

After much measuring and checking, the guys agreed our boat would fit OK, though there was great reluctance for anyone to make such a risky decision.  But it fit just fine, and within a few minutes the dinghy was in the water, fired up, and running.  It was the best $12 I've spent in a long time.  Laurie went off for a little ride while I drove the trailer back around to PAE's parking area and went to meet her at the boat.

Well, a few minutes went by, then quite a few, and I started to wonder where she was.  I finally called and it turns out she was towing someone who had capsized their boat and couldn't get it righted again.  Apparently boat after boat just went right past this guy and nobody offer to help.  Huh?  We're not used to that.  So Laurie towed the guy back to the beach, but when he tossed back the tow line, it went right into the prop and fouled it.  Now she was stuck, and of course nobody offered to help her either.  Huh?  Well, I was walking to the car to drive over and give a hand when she called to say she had freed the line and was back underway again.  So that's our tow and rescue story for the day.

Today's last project was the kayaks.  We realized that the easiest, most out-of-the-way place to store them was right on the boat in the kayak racks that we had bought and brought with us.  Now with the kayaks and dinghy out of the trailer there is tons of space and we can start organizing everything for the next month.

All this brings us back to storing the trailer.  For now we just have it parked near PAE's office but we shouldn't be there and it's just a matter of time before we get called on it.  The lot is nearly empty so we aren't in anybody's way, but I don't want to over stay our welcome.  I was able to find a local storage facility where we can keep the trailer, yet have free access 7 days a week.  With the big stuff out of the trailer, we can bring everything else in stages in the truck as we need it.  So in another day or so, off the trailer goes to the trailer hotel.

Monday, July 28, 2014

And now for something completely different

If you have been following our blog you know that we are driving across the US towing a 24' trailer full of all our stuff for Tanglewood, our Nordhavn 60.  A cross-country drive is a first for us, and something we have always wanted to do.  Now we have the opportunity and are off and going.

It's been really interesting along the way to see the condition of each State as viewed from a major interstate highway.  So, for a little fun, we have started grading the States.  Now this is about as unscientific, incomplete, and myopic a view one could possible form of a State, so please don't get upset if your favorite state doesn't do too well.  And similarly, don't got too puffed up and proud if your favorite scores highly.  All this really means absolutely nothing and is just entertainment for the drive.  New Jersey is a great example of why you should pay no attention to this at all.  As seen from I-95, New Jersey is about as close to Hell as one might ever hope to get.  But, having been raise in Jusey, I can say with confidence that there are many parts of the state that are very rural and absolutely charming.  You would just never know if from the highway.

So, in order of appearance, here is the grading and commentary:

Massachusetts:  East of Springfield it's pretty bad.  I'd give it a C-, and I might be giving it too much benefit of the doubt because I live there.  The roads a badly beat up, most bridges look like large parts of them, if not the whole bridge might come down on you as you pass beneath.  And the roadside is a mess too.  Crap everywhere.  Doesn't the state own any street sweepers?  The place is an embarrassment.  Sorry, but it's true.  West of Springfield it gets a little better, but is still spotty.  I'd upgrade it to a C+.  Through out the rest areas are dumps.  Run down, grass and weeds growing up everywhere.  Totally third world.  Cost of fuel is high too - around $4.19 for diesel.

New York:  New York is actually pretty good.  I'd give it a B-.  There road condition is not bad on average, and the rest stops are really very nicely done.  The biggest complaint I have is that it sucks for trucks, which we classify as with the trailer in tow.  We go over in the truck area of all the rest stops, both because of our size, and also because our truck is diesel and that's where you get fuel.  But at the NY stops, there is only one (yes, just one) diesel pump at pretty much all of the rest stops.  And you can't just pull up, run your card through, pump and go.  No.  You have to hike over to the office, preauthorize some amount, walk back, pump, walk back to the office, cancel the authorization and pay the final bill, then walk back.  It's a pain in the ass.  Fortunately my filler is on the correct side since you can only come up to the pump on one side.

Pensylvania: We only passed through a small corner of PA, and quite frankly is was indistinguishable from NY or OH just driving on I-90.  No grade given.

Ohio:  Ohio was about the same as New York, but we stopped and refueled near the hotel where we stayed, so we didn't get as much exposure to it.  The one rest stop was typical, not exceptional, so I'd give it a C+.

Indiana:  Indiana is another dump.  Even worse than Mass.  D  And they have this totally screwed up system for taxed on diesel.  When you enter the rest areas, the signs direct all trailers to the truck area, which we are accustom to.  And they have lots of diesel pumps, and the price is significantly lower than Mass, NY, and Ohio - like $3.60.  But no, I can't buy diesel at those pumps because I don't have some dumb-ass truck ID number.  I have to go over to the car pumps on the other side, which by the way you can't get to without going out the entrance, pulling a U turn, then another U-turn.  It was bad.  It turns out this is because unlike every other state in the nation, Indiana doesn't collect taxes at the pumps on diesel for trucks.  Instead they pay quarterly.  WTF is all I can say.

Illinois:  Illinois was pretty much the same as Indiana, but I don't think we stopped for fuel.  But the roads were generally pretty tough.  I'd rank it the same as Mass; a C-.

Wisconsin:  Ok everyone in the other states, pay attention.  This quiet, out of the way state that many people ignore really has their shit together. They get an A.  The roads are in good shape.  All the bridges are in great shape.  The rest areas are neat, clean, well kept, and well groomed.  The people who live there clearly care about their state and take pride is every aspect of how it appears and runs.  Fuel prices are very reasonable (around $3.80), and everywhere we went everything was it tip top shape.

Minnesota:  Not quite up to Wisconsin's level, but still pretty darn good.  Roads are in decent shape.  Rest areas are in decent shape.  Not bad at all.  A-

South Dakota:  Now things start slipping again.  Yes, yes, I know, Wall Drug is now only 356 miles away.  I can't wait.  The bill boards really are pretty lame.  The rest areas are passable, but nothing to write home about, and other off-the-highway services are pretty run down.  For the most part, the road is in good shape.  Fuel remains comparatively cheap at about $3.60.  It gets a C.

Wyoming:  Wyoming is quite a place.  The roads are good, fuel is reasonable ($3.90), and the off highway services and facilities are in good shape.  A-

Utah:  Utah is pretty dumpy.  The roads are OK, and fuel is reasonable ($3.90), but it's pretty gross driving through.  C+

Nevada:  Nevada is also pretty rough, but no more than most of the other states.  C

Arizona:  We were only in Arizona for our diversion to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, then a small corner between Utah and Nevada.  I'd say it's about average.  C

California:  For the most part CA is pretty run down,  just like a number of the other more populated states.  Another C.

So, there you have it.  A road and road-side condition report across the country, or at least across part of it.  And remember that this grading system does not take scenery or scenic beauty into account at all.  The states would score very differently based on that, and we might do another post from that perspective.....

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Solar Power 101

Over the past day or so I made a number of postings on TrawlerForum.com as part of a discussion about solar power on boats.  It occurred to me that it might be interesting to our blog readers, so here is a reconstruction of what I wrote over there....

As a little background, we have a house in VT that is 100% off the grid, and solar powered.  It has an inverter, batteries, solar panels, and a backup generator.  For all intents and purposes, it's a boat that ran aground.  I have now designed and built three generations of power systems for this house, which is over 200 years old and was NEVER electrified.

The first generation system was about 15 years ago and was mostly a feasibility experiment.  My brothers and I would go to the house for weekends, drink too much, and I was sure it was just a matter of time until someone knocked over a candle, oil lamp, or lantern and burned the place down.  So I set out to install electric lights.  A few years earlier as part of some renovations, we wired the house for the first time, even though there was no utility power.  But it allowed us to plug in a generator and have normal power in the house for a few hours here and there.

The first inverter system, ironically, was all based on marine equipment.  Anyone remember the Heart Interface Freedom 10?  Well, that was the inverter/charger, coupled with 4 deep cycle batteries that I bought at Walmart and a Blue Seas DC breaker.  Battery recharge was only via the generator.  It worked great and proved viability, but was under-sized and needed solar panels.

Generation 2 was a more elaborate and more integrated system.  The goal was a system that would allow the house to be used like a "normal" house, and be sufficiently automatic that anyone could use it, not just me.  The new inverter/charger was a Trace SW4024, an main-stay device in the boating world, and the off-grid gold standard of the time.  We added a modest solar array totaling only about 800W, and an Onan 4KW propane RV generator that I built into a small shed away from the house.  Batteries were 8 Trojan L16 flooded lead acid.  The Trace inverter provided automatic start/stop control over the generator, so the system would tend to itself.  It worked great, and ran the house for about 8 years.  By year 7, one of the batteries had to be replaced, and by year 8 others were going too.  Plus, we were using the house much more and needed more solar capacity.

Generation 3 has been running now for coming up on 7 years (wow, how time flies), and consists of 3200W of solar, a Schneider XW6048 6KW 240/120V inverter, and 1300 Ah of giant Surrette batteries at 48V.  The backup generator is now a 14kw Kubota diesel commercial set.  This system also works great, with essentially zero generator run time between April and October.

But enough of that.  Let's get back to the questions about solar on boats.

Should I install solar on my boat?

Lots of people wonder about the merits of installing solar on a cruising boat, and more particularly a power cruising boat.  There are a variety of arguments against solar, all of which are valid in some way.  The arguments usually are one or more of the following:

Argument 1) My boat has a large enough power load that I run a generator 24x7, so why bother with solar.  If your boat and its power requirements are like this, then I can't argue with you.  Let that generator rip.

Argument 2) I don't run my generator all the time, but my power load is still too large for solar to make any real difference.  This might be true, but might not HAVE to be true.  Lots of boats are built with a seemly total disregard for power conservation.  Stylish halogen lights versus LED lights is a good example.  If your boat is like this, but you are still interested in reducing your generator run time, then it's well worth looking carefully at ways to reduce you power loads to the point where solar can make a meaningful difference.

Argument 3) There is very little space where I can reasonably locate solar panels on my boat.  Small space means little generated power, and no real benefit.  This is very real on most boats, and goes hand in hand with (2) above.  Most boats have very limited space that is flat and free from traffic, and this inherently constrains how much solar can be installed.  Between load reductions and space dedicated to panels you need to be able to generate enough power to make a difference in your cruising or it's not worth it.  Typically "making a difference" translates into reducing the amount of generator time while at anchor.

Argument 4) I already have a generator and it's cheaper to run it than to buy solar.  This generally isn't true.  As an example, I'm putting 750W of solar on my Nordhavn. The parts cost for the panels, mounting rails, clamps, and feet, plus a top end MPPT charge controller was $1500. It will produce about 3KWh per day, accounting for weather etc. Some days more, some days less. A diesel generator produces about 10KW/h for every GPH, so at $4/ gal of diesel that power costs $0.40/KWh. And that's the fuel cost alone without figuring in the costs of maintenance and amortizing the cost of equipment, so that number heavily favors the generator. I recently heard about a Nigel Calder article that figured the fully loaded cost of generator power at more like $1.00/KWh. Regardless, with the solar displacing generator power at $0.40/KWh, payback will be in about 3 years.  That's a pretty good payback for any form of capital investment.

But arguing in favor of solar is more than just the hard financial numbers.  There are a number of other factors to consider.   For example, I don't like listening to a generator running if I can help it. If solar can reduce gen time while in a peaceful anchorage, that alone is worth it to me.

Then there is the whole issue of top-off charge for your batteries. Nobody wants to run their generator long enough to fully charge the batteries, so we all typically charge to 80% or so. With solar working away all day, full charge will be reached much more frequently, thereby extending the life of the batteries.

So there are lots of factors that play into one's decision about going solar or not, not just hard economic numbers.

How do I figure out how much solar I should install?

Chances are real good that the answer is "as much as you can fit". One of the challenges with a boat is that there is usually far less space available for solar than there is demand for power. In other words, physical space will be your limiting factor, not how much power you need. On really power hungry boats, the amount of solar that you can fit isn't enough to make a meaningful dent in the boat's power consumption. Other Nordhavn owners have warned me about this, but I have decided to do it anyway, determined to lower my electric loads enough to make the solar significantly helpful.  Hopefully I'll succeed.

A lot of boats don't fall into the power hungry category, and I don't think their owners would regret putting as much solar up as they can. The panels are remarkably inexpensive at the moment. As an example, my 3 panels and mounts were about $1000, and the charge controller was $500. The controller can handle a lot more panels, so the incremental cost of more solar is relatively small. If only I had room.

Speaking of controllers, I would really recommend an MPPT controller. On land-based systems the argument for MPPT has always been that the $$ spent for MPPT gets you more power than spending the same $$ to adding more panels. The assumption, of course, is that you have ample room for as many panels as you might want.

On a boat you will almost always be panel space constrained, so the objective is to get as many watts of power out of those precious square feet as possible. An MPPT charger will get another 15% - 20% out of those square feet, maybe more. They also let you run higher voltage panels, and wire them in series for even higher voltage. This gives you a much greater selection of panels to choose from so you can find something that is just the right size to fill your available space.  And higher voltage means less current between the panels and charge controller, which means smaller wires which is always welcome when you have to fish them through the boat.

I keep hearing about MPPT charge controllers and PWM charge controllers.   What does the jargon stand for, and what's the difference between them?

PWM stands for Pulse Width Modulation.

A PWM charger simply connects and disconnects (switches) the panels and the battery in such a way as to maintain a desired voltage. The amount of time that the panels are connected vs disconnected is considered the Pulse Width. By varying (Modulating) the pulse width, the controller regulates the voltage and hence the charging of the batteries. The more time the panels are connected to the batteries, the higher to battery voltage gets.  The less time they are connected, the lower the voltage.

MPPT stands for Maximum Power Point Tracking.

Now we're going to dive into electrical engineering geek-land, so be warned.....

To understand MPPT, you need to understand a basic principal about solar panels.  They are what's know in the electrical engineering world as a constant current device. That means that over a range of loads, they produce a constant current, and only the voltage drops/rises.  This important characteristic is the motivation behind MPPT chargers.

Understanding that panels produce a constant current regardless of voltage, a PWM controller effectively operates the panels at the battery voltage. So if the panels generate 10A of current, and your battery voltage while charging is 14V, you will get 140W out of the panels (10A * 14V). The issue is that panels are typically rated at higher voltages. In fact, every panel has a maximum power rating which is base on the highest operating voltage just before the current starts to collapse. This is referred to as the Maximum Power Point, and is achieved at the maximum power point voltage, known as Vmp (Voltage, maximum power). If you look at the spec sheets for any panel you will find all these numbers, and they are all based an a set of standard test conditions. Getting back to a PWM charger, it operates the panel at 14V where the panel's Vmp is more likely around 20V. So a panel that is ideally able to produce 200W (20V x 10A) is only being harvested at 140W. The difference is the opportunity that an MPPT controller captures.

MPPT works a little differently than PWM, and is instead based on a variable DC to DC converter. It's called an MPPT controller because it operates the input to the DC-DC converter at the panel's maximum power point, namely 20V in out example. So the input power to the DC-DC converter is the full 200W that the panel has to give. It then operates the converter output at the desired battery voltage, say 14V while charging. Well designed DC-DC converters are pretty efficient - around 90% or more, so 90% of the 200W input power is available at the output yielding 180W to charge the batteries. Compare that you the 140W we got from an PWM controller. That's a 28% increase in charging power. Pretty nice, right?

That's the basics, but there are a lot more smarts in an MPPT controller. It needs to "search" for the max power point on whatever combinations of panels you have attached, and it needs to find that max power point as the sun exposure varies over the course of the day, and as weather changes. This is where the "Tracking" part of MPPT comes from.  Different manufacturers do the tracking differently, but all manage to find and track the maximum output from the panels over the course of the day.

You said that an MPPT controller permits a wider selection of solar panels.  Can you elaborate?

Back on the PWM description, you'll recall that regardless of the panel's rated voltage, all the power you get from the panel is that which is available at the battery's voltage.  As a result, it only makes sense to get panels that are rated a little above the max battery voltage that you expect. For a 12V system that ends up being around 18V give or take. Anything more than that is just wasted power and money.   Furthermore, you need to wire all your panels in parallel to maintain the 18V max voltage. When you go looking for panels, you will find a very limited selection rated at 18V, and the panels tend to be smaller in capacity (around 140W max), and a good bit more expensive per watt.

On the other hand, you will recall that an MPPT controller is based around a DC-DC converter, and pretty much all of them can accept an input voltage (panel voltage) up to around 140V. So all of the sudden you can pick panels of pretty much any voltage you want, including the 250-350W panels that are out there. And you will be able to find panels that cost around $1/watt, if not less. This ends up being a huge advantage when you are trying to fill the limited space you have available for panels because you have a much wider selection of shapes and sizes to choose from. I was able to find panels that almost perfectly fill the space available on my hardtop, and probably wouldn't have even come close if I were constrained on my selection.
Stay tuned for a post later on about the solar system to be installed on Tanglewood, but I'll probably wait until it's actually installed and I can also report on its performance.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The engineering department has been sacked!

Today we hauled the trailer from VT which has been our primary staging location, to Gloucester for final loading and our ultimate departure.  The trip went well, it seemed, until we opened the trailer after our arrival.  The wooden frame I had built to hold the dinghy chocks and casters and support the dinghy had shattered allowing the dinghy to drop down on top of a bunch of other stuff.  Crap, crap, double crap.  Visions of crushed "stuff" under the tender were running through my head.

After a pause for some lunch and a little pondering, we started unloading stuff to get access to and around the dinghy and to assess the damage.  I got both ends of the boat jacked up and blocked, which freed all the junk that was taking the weight.  As far as our stuff is concerned, we totally dodged a bullet.  The weight was spread out across a bunch of stuff, none of which was damaged.  But the cradle/dolly was completely destroyed.

Here's a picture of the rebuilt cradle, and you can see it's nothing more than two pieces of wood that run fore/aft between the chock mounting points.  The chocks are offset a bit behind and forward of the casters rather than being supported directly by the casters which isn't ideal, but necessary to bolt everything together.  The Civil Engineering department assured be that 2x4s were more than enough for this project.    There is essentially zero span being supported by the 2x4s, and just sheer force on them.  And the Department says they have used this technique successfully many times before for large, heavy tractor implements for storage and moving around the shop.

Rebuilt cradle with blocking

But not this time.  The 2x4s snapped right in two just inside from the casters.  And not just in one place.  All four snapped clean off.  So the whole Civil Engineering department has been sacked over this debacle.  They tried to blame the trailer and driver, and the driver blamed the road crew.   I might have to sack the rest of them too.

Snap points (1 of 4) where old cradle broke

The re-engineered frame uses 2x6s rather than 2x4s, and for transport I have cut up some blocking to put directly under the chocks so the load passes directly through to the floor of the trailer.  I had suggested this to the engineering department the first time around, but they ignored me.

Same design, more wood

Tomorrows project will be to get the new cradle/dolly back under the dinghy while the dinghy is still in the trailer, then pack everything up again.  And here's the trailer, by the way.  The bright side to all this is that the repair was made in my driveway rather than a parking lot in Toledo Ohio.

Trailer and cradle - better here than Toledo

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


We've been packing for the past year.  It's hard to believe.  Taking delivery of Tanglewood on the west coast creates and interesting logistical challenge in getting all our stuff across the country.  This "stuff" includes all our gear off of the Grand Banks, including all our clothes, books, charts, kayaks, dive gear, etc.  It's amazing how much crap gets squirreled away on a boat.  Add to that a bunch of new gear where we either 1) didn't have before, or 2) what we had but was an inappropriate size for the new boat.

Shipping everything is certainly an option, but a few things have convinced us to haul it all across the country ourselves.  First, we have never driven cross country, and I've always wanted to do it at least once.  Second, we have a large enclosed trailer that's perfectly suited to carry everything, plus store it temporarily in CA until everything can be loaded on the boat.  Third, we will need a car out there for the month-plus that we will be around for commissioning.  All this led to our decision to drive out with trailer in tow.

So the last year, aside from building the boat, has been about getting as much of the stuff we will need ahead of time, staging it all, and figuring out how to pack it in the trailer, and do so in anticipation of the order in which it will need to come out.  For example, the dinghy and life raft will come out early so they can be positioned and mounted on the boat, which will take some time.  On the other hand, the mattresses and linens will be among the last things off.

One thing we researched and bought well in advance (last fall) was the dinghy.  Another owner had tipped us off to a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) made by AB that has an aluminum hull rather than fiberglass.  It's much lighter than the fiberglass version, which is always good when you are going to put it up pretty high on the boat deck, and the aluminum holds up much better when beached on hard, course surfaces as opposed to sand.  And because it's lighter, it needs a smaller outboard which makes it even lighter again.  So for less weight than a smaller fiberglass dinghy, we got a 15' aluminum hulled dinghy.  For some reason, these are not big sellers in the US, so it had to be special ordered, hence the reason for getting it so early.

From a distance, it looks like any other RIB with a console, but up close the aluminum hull is evident.

Looks like every other RIB

But with an aluminum hull
The next question was how to move this thing around, including getting it into and out of the trailer.  Dinghy's all get "mounted" on the boat deck with some sort of chocks that cradle the boat.  I figured that if I sorted out the chocks now, I could mount them on a wood skid with casters and use it as a transport mechanism.  Plus, figuring out the chocks now eliminates a potentially long project at commissioning time.

A variety of manufacturers make universal, adjustable chocks, but they are more suited to smaller boats.  For bigger boats, custom made cradles are more typical that are scribed to the form of the hull.  Being the cheap-skate that I am, I first tried the adjustable chocks, but when they arrived it pretty quickly became apparent that they were not beefy enough for real comfort, so I sold them and bit the bullet on custom chocks.

The first step was to create a template of the hull bottom, one for the aft chock, and one for the forward chock.  Much to my pleasure, AB had a template already available for download on their web site, so I printed it out full size, transferred it to a piece of plywood, and cut two chocks.  Although I was tempted to send them off for fabrication, I decided to test fit them first, and boy am I glad I did.  They basically bore no resemblance to my hull shape at all.  So what I though would be an hour project turned into a whole day of scribing, cutting, testing, trimming, adjusting, etc.  Thank god for my little Kabota excavator which served as a dinghy crane for the day lifting and lowering the dinghy onto the templates with each iteration.  Finally, they fit

Forward chock template

Aft chock template

After everything fit well, I packed up the templates and sent them along with a bunch of pictures to Marquipt in FL to fabricate the chocks.  About 4 weeks later I got them back, and they fit great.  Next I made a wood frame to hold the chocks in position and attached a set of heavy duty casters to the underside, and presto, I have a custom dinghy cart.

Chocks, wood frame, and casters makes a dinghy transport cart.

Dinghy transporter using chocks

Then, with a little help from brother #3, we rolled it up into the trailer.  It's a good thing the trailer is big, because we are going to need every inch of it.

Dinghy loaded in trailer

Here's a bunch of our other stuff staged and ready to be loaded up.  The Ekornes chairs for the Salon,
liferaft, kayaks, printer, tools, spare parts, dive gear, compressor, etc.  It's now a very full trailer, and we still have more to add.  It will all fit, but not with a lot of room to spare.

More stuff
And more
And more

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Our first few days aboard

I'm waiting for the July 4th fireworks to start out here in Dana Point, CA after a few wonderful days on our new boat.  The commissioning process is just beginning so we didn't go anywhere and won't for a while.  There is lots to test, check, run, fix, repeat.  But we got to spend the better part of four days on board meeting with the electronics guys, carpet and soft goods guys, and getting to know the commissioning crew.  It also been great to see the boat clean, uncovered, and all put together, unlike all my visits to the yard.  Here's a quick look at the finished product:

First below is the pilot house.  90% of the electronics were installed at the yard, but as you can see the computer monitors were not among them.  That was due to a little oversight on our part, but no big deal in the end.  This also turned up probably the biggest oh-shit so far.  I had measured out the panel space based on some drawings and thought we had plenty of space for the three 24" monitors, 2 side by side in the big center panel, and the third on the little wing on the right.  Well, it turns out my estimate was off and the monitor won't quite fit on the wing panel.  After discovering this, Chris from Performance Marine (the electronics guys) brought over one of the monitors the next day for some creative installation brainstorming.  Lots of head scratching ensued, and we finally realized that if we routed out a small part of the lower corner in the center panel, we could get the side monitor to fit.  Problem solved.

Pilot house - the nerve center

Here's the captain's cabin which is behind the pilot house.  The 60 and 63 are the only Nordhavn's with a separate cabin off the pilot house until you get up to the 72.  It's one of our favorite features in the boat, giving both a good place for the off-watch person to sleep close at hand, and a third cabin when you have guests aboard.
Captain's cabin behind pilot house

Here's are a few shots of the salon, all cleaned up and shiny with seat cushions and everything.  The navy blue cushions are for the cockpit and fly bridge settees.

Salon looking aft/port

Salon looking forward

Salon, looking aft/starboard

The 60 differs from the 55 only in the length of the cockpit and boat deck above, and here's what it looks like.  It's an incredible outdoor space with plenty of shade and no cramped feeling.

Cockpit looking aft

Cockpit looking forward

The galley looks great with the granite counters and back splash, stainless appliances, and teak cabinets.
Galley, peeking in from the salon


Here's the guest cabin followed by the office.  These are separated by a sliding door and folding partition so it can be one open space, or can provide privacy depending on the need.
Guest cabin

Down in the engine room things are bright and shiny.  The Deere 9 liter main engine figures prominently, with fuel management, hydraulics, generator, and wing engine filling the remaining space.
Deere 6090 centerpiece in the engine room

Here's a view looking forward in the engine room.
Engine room forward view

And here's what the extended boat deck looks like on the 60.  It looks even more spacious without a dinghy, but the extra space plus the extra extension (the extension to the extension) that you can see beyond the railings lets you push the dinghy further aft to make moving around much easier.
Extended extended boat deck

Boat deck and pilot house

The stack is complete with all the lights and instruments.   Just the sat domes and a few small instruments still to add.
Stack and fly bridge hard top

Boat deck
The fly bridge is now complete with the seats, settee, and table, and the instruments are all uncovered.  We also discovered the first casualty; the monitor screen is cracked in several places.  Our best guess is that the yard tightened it down too hard.  Since I supplied this particular part, it's my loss.  Had I bought the monitor through Performance Marine and/or PAE, the risk would have been on them.  But I had this monitor sitting around from all my experimenting a year or so ago, and it seemed silly not to use it.  Fortunately, I have a spare so we will just swap it out.
Fly bridge helm

Fly bridge help settee and table make for a great hang-out space, and was a good spot to watch the 4th of July rumpus that you will see shortly.
Fly bridge settee and table

Here are the views from up on the fly bridge.
Fly bridge forward view

Fly bridge aft view

Now for the rumpus.   Dana Point has a tradition of a giant, all day long water war in the harbor on the 4th of July.  People slowly work their way up and down the main fairway, mostly in dinghies and paddle boards, and soak everyone and anyone who they encounter along the way.  Buckets, super-soakers, you name it - it's all fair game.
Water wars at Dana Point on July 4th

Here's an example encounter between two boats.   If only our boat had been bow to the waterway, we could have used the hydraulic anchor wash to hose boats down as they passed by.
Take that!

And that!

Looking down the fairway all you see are boats, and the huge wall of water erupting on the far right.
Boats galore

Meanwhile back home in Gloucester the city fire works display was cancelled because of Hurricane Arthur, parties were cancelled, and everyone stayed in on a rainy day.  Oh well.