Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nav Station & Helm

You only need to know Myron for a short time to recognize that he helps out a lot of folks around the marina. Problem solving, it is in his nature. That problem solving social network keeps him informed of good deals on used equipment. As a result, we now have a dual chart plotter function and NEMA 2000 network. We have an AIS (Automatic Identification System) VHF radio and Garmin 546 GPS chart plotter at the nav station that is networked with the RAM (Remote Access Mike) and Garmin GPA Map 441S at the helm. Our Raytheon radar is stand alone because it is not of a vintage conducive to networking.

The radio/RAM mikes are also connected to our hailer on the main mast, which gets exercised when the weekend water warriors are disruptive to the marina. But I digress…

From Nav Station & Helm

A little about AIS and RAM – Commercial ships are required to transmit information about their vessel, such as name, heading, speed and destination. Our AIS equipped radio receives that information. It does not broadcast anything about us. When we cruised before, foggy days or night encounters with cargo ships could be unnerving to visually or audibly ascertain heading of these behemoths. AIS takes all the stress out of that interaction by showing us distance apart and whether or not we are on a collision course. There is an audible alarm should we be on a collision course. The AIS also gives us a ship name to hail on the radio as well as the ability to call the ship digitally, which is recorded on their system. The RAM at the helm has a digital readout in the mike itself and the ability to controls the radio channels, volume, and even the hailer from the helm.

A little about the Garmins – They are both GPS chart plotters. We can chart a course and see our progress against that course. The course and progress can be viewed at both stations. In addition, some of the fish finder data on the Garmin at the helm (depth and water temp) is shared with the Garmin at the nav station. Data on bottom contour is only displayed at the helm.
From Nav Station & Helm

It appears we will not add wind. Many cruisers mention that they do not use their wind instruments. It is an expensive addition and another difficult run of line up the inside of the mast. We will likely pass it up. Rather, we can use tell-tails and do visual comparisons to the Beaufort scales and leave it at that, unless we get a hand held wind instrument. Always subject to change if Myron helps someone out and we get wind instruments out of it!

In addition to the nav station network, we have outfitted with a Kenwood TS480 HAM radio, a Super Tuner, and just recently, a Pactor for email transmission over the HAM. Myron ran a sloper antenna from the main mast to the deck and he has been able to make contacts as far as Montana from right here in the marina. Myron has already hooked us back into the Maritime Mobile HAM net.

Yes, it is hi-tech. Not to worry, we still have old school: A Ritchie helm compass, a sextant, a watch, paper charts and a pencil.
From Nav Station & Helm
From Nav Station & Helm

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wood/Coal Stove

We caught grief for lack of attention to the blog, honestly it grieves us as well that we have not had time to keep you all informed. All our attention has been focused on Hold Fast herself, not the blog! Following is one update, clearly not all the way to current, but headed that direction nonetheless.

Wood/Coal Stove – January 2011

In the first month of our relocation to Jacksonville back in 2008, we learned that Jacksonville reaches frigid temperatures that simply should not be allowed for any zip code within Florida. We tried to take it in stride as preparation for southern Chilean latitudes.

We are so glad we kept the wood/coal burning stove on board. To add to our delight, Rich and Paulette on Morningstar brought 160 pounds of anthracite coal from New York state. Not exactly fluffy bedding Lucky dog wanted for the long drive home. We were thrilled, but it must be noted that it took some experimentation to get the coal to burn for any length of time in our little stove. Coal likes to burn very hot. No point in firing it up if it was 55 degrees or more outside, it would cook us out.

For the most part, Myron’s most successful formula was to use lump charcoal, also known as cowboy charcoal, and add the anthracite peanut coal in several layers on top. The top layer of coal tends to be cooler, so at least 2 or 3 layers are necessary to keep the coal hot. This configuration would provide us with serious heat for up to about three hours, at which point the coal would smother itself in its own ashes due to our small ash tray. Solution: Clean out ashes and repeat. We consider the coal a great solution as long as it is accompanied with lump charcoal. I attempted to capture the rich blue flame from the coals in a picture. A big thanks to Rich and Paulette!
From Wood/Coal Stove
More updates soon enough. In the meantime, you can see updated pictures at our Picasa site. There is a link on the right of the blog site, or here is a link: