Monday, December 24, 2012

At Work in St. Thomas

Back in the USVI,  we got down to work on the projects that didn’t get done during the summer. 


Shortly after Thanksgiving the refrigerator quit working while on a little getaway in St. John, so we promptly headed back to initiate the repair process.
Randy did preliminary diagnostics on the system, then called the Cool Blue Refrigeration manufacturer TechNautics Inc. in California and described the problem. The owner (another Randy) felt confident that the electronics module had failed.  We ordered a new one on the December 3 and it shipped the same day. When it arrived 16 days later, it took about an hour to install, no tricks.  The lifespan of the module ranges from 1-8 years in the tropics; our lasted 2 and 1/2 years. 

The black unit is the electronic module.
Randy is happy with the service the manufacturer provided but not with the USPS.  While waiting for the part, each day we bought 2-3 bags of ice at $2.50 apiece, hauled the ice aboard, drained the old ice, unpacked and repacked the cooler boxes. We kept the ice in dry-bags inside the refer box to contain the melt water. The upside is that our refrigerated food inventory was reduced and we are lean and mean and ready for a passage.
While the refer was down, Randy repaired some small but significant gaps in the insulation of the freezer and added another two inches of insulation on bottom and another half-inch on the outboard side. The result is a much colder freezer holding temperature (<12 degrees F in the middle of the box) and slower frost buildup.

New refrigerator thermometer- "Mister Frosty"

Solar panels:

We purchased two new Kyocera 140W solar panels to complement the two 135W Kyocera panels we installed last January in St. Thomas and June in Curacao.  Randy installed them on top of the bimini, on two new angle aluminum frames he built here in St. Thomas. 
 The panels are wired to two separate Solar Boost 2000E controllers, one controlling portside panels, the other the starboard, so that energy from the sunny-side panels does not dissipate into the shady-side panels.  A total of 550 W of power is provided now, sufficient for energy needs of refrigeration and future water maker.  The KISS wind generator remains a great alternative power source.


Randy  installed security bars on our midship and forward deck hatches.  They are designed to hinder intruders while we are asleep. They are made of angled aluminum from here on the island, and can be easily removed for passages.  

Routine maintenance:

The forward head joker valve had to be replaced, the third time in  two years for the forward head.  The aft head is still on the original valve.

 Di did some necessary repair and modification to the dinghy chaps. She sewed extra tabs on it to attach to new D rings –this will secure the aft ends of the chaps in place.  She added Phifertex panels at the ends to allow water to drain out, and added additional vinyl material where unforeseen chafing had occurred.  Amazing how much wear and tear is already evident.  Well, at least the dinghy is protected.

 Comfort and privacy:

In a crowded anchorage, it is hard to have privacy while taking our showers in the cockpit.  Di sewed privacy panels of white Phifertex which roll up and are lashed to the bimini top.  Attached inside of those is a separate panel of canvas, which provides shade (especially welcome on hot passages), deep privacy, and a bit of protection from light rain in the cockpit. Both can easily be rolled up out of the way.

Phifertex mesh for privacy.


Canvas for shade and light rain protection.

Di made new curtains for inside the dodger, which provide shade and privacy.  She used dacron sail bag material she got at the sail loft in Crown Bay. 

Di also made shade panels for use under way.   Our shade canopy, which hangs suspended from the mizzen sheet over the aft cabintop while we are at anchor, must be struck when we are under sail.  It can get pretty hot when the sun beats into the cockpit from behind.  Di sewed two panels which attach to the back of the bimini, separated in the middle to permit use of the main sheet.  They can be suspended higher for shade and open view, or dropped down if it’s raining to keep the helmsman dry.  They can be used one at a time.  We tested them and enjoyed some welcome shade during a hot sail to Salt Pond Bay in St. John.

Di sewed and Randy rigged a water catcher, much like a canvas eve trough with drain hose, which zips into place along the side of the bimini and drains into a jerry can.  Since we finished it, it has not rained.  It looks like it should work out.  The design was found on S/V Orion’s blog, dated September 5, 2012.

Rain catcher (darker gray)
 Di has also started work on a helm seat, to boost the helmsman while seated so the view is better for steering.  We do a lot of hand steering.

Pest control:

Everybody gets a cockroach on board eventually if they are in the tropics long enough.  Fortunately, the two inch long “American Cockroach” (Periplaneta americana) that boarded us in Curacao is one of the less invasive varieties. We did our exterminating here, as it involved being off the boat for most of the day. Residual pesticides were available down island (and not in the USVI), and the fumigation bombs of the safer contact-type pesticides, we found only in St. Thomas. We emptied food, utensil drawers, pots and pans and dish cabinets, placing all in tightly sealed garbage bags. Di carefully applied the residual pesticide in the bilge areas, staying away from water tank inlets, and Randy deployed the fumigation bombs and we left the boat for a day ashore.  Then we thoroughly washed and dried all the counters, shelves and cabinets, and around water tank openings, before replacing the contents. It was a lot of work.
YUK !        KILL !!!!   
Throughout many of these tasks, there were opportunities for deep cleaning, sorting and eliminating.  We inventoried canned and dried goods stocks in preparation for our next passage from BVI-St.Martin-Antigua to Dominica.  We also discarded several items which seemed needful a year ago, but after a year of cruising, we found unnecessary.  We refilled our propane tanks are pretty much ready to head down island.

While sorting things we did not need, we eliminated Di’s big old food processor, an electric hand mixer, a small smoothy blender, and a small food chopper (the last two bought to try to stand in for the food processor, which overwhelmed the inverter with it’s power demands). We found and purchased a great gadget, the Cuisinart Power Trio High Torque Hand Blender. It combines a detachable motor with immersion blender, small multi-bladed food processor, and a whisk. It is compact and works well to replace all the separate gadgets we got rid of.

 Di has been on a cooking binge ever since. Out of our galley have come pumpkin ravioloi, spinach cheese ravioli, sour cream pecan bread, and rum balls for Christmas entertaining, made possible by the handy Cuisiniart.

1 comment:

  1. wow,i got tired just reading bout all the work! now i know why randy wanted to swim to shore! everything looks great guys. keep up the good work & remember: KILL THE COCKAROACH! KILL!