Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy V-day and We're Sailing!!!

The first two weeks of February we were feverishly finishing projects that we’d started in hopes of setting sail soon. After much discussion of longer term options, we received a thumbs up from Don Anderson (the HF radio weather guru) that May is a fine time to do a crossing to Hawaii and locked that plan in. The shorter term was a little bit more difficult as there is so much to do and see in Mexico’s beautiful sailing waters we kept putting off making a decision about where we were going. Chris’ dad, Dave, was hoping to visit in late February and was still awaiting a decision on where he should fly to. After much more discussion regarding either more time on the Baja seeing places we’d missed or visiting the mainland with which we were less familiar, we both agreed that we wanted to focus our time on the mainland this season. Dave bought a ticket into Mazatlan and out of Puerto Vallarta, so with that set, we continued our projects, staying warm through a very cold and eerie norther that we were well protected from in the Bahia.

1.) Electrical panel(s): one of Chris’ big hanging projects has been to get our electrical system organized. This included making a new hinged lighted electrical switch panel in the cabin above the engine, adding a hinged fuse panel accessed from the quarter berth, and creating a new water tight engine instrument panel with new improved gauges in the cockpit. For all three panels we used ¼” black polycarbonate and a clear piece to cover the external panel. We opted away from more complicated and expensive marine grade breaker switches (which in our experience have shorted due to moisture) and instead chose to install an easy to maintain ATO fuse junction box. In addition to the already existing Faria tachometer and hour meter, we installed a 4-in-1 Faria engine gauge set to monitor: alternator status, fuel levels, water temperature, and oil pressure. So far so good and we have room for another 16 switches should we choose to wire anything else new.

2.) Head salt water foot pump/vented loop: our head sink was originally plumbed to our fresh water tanks with a difficult to use vertical hand pump. Before we left Berkeley we replumbed it with a T to the saltwater head inflow. This worked fine, but the system begged for a footpump and at the same time our head system begged for a vented loop for the saltwater inflow. After a dinner with loving and not-so-gentle reminders from Coconut Express that how our head inflow was plumbed was a safety concern we reprioritized and quickly finished that project.

3.) Top stripe/Galley sole: with a vision of all of our projects coming together we have started to shift Tao’s colors from white and blue to white and red. We have purchased terra cotta sunbrella material for our in-the-works dodger and this year’s bottom job was red covering the original blue boot stripe. That left only the blue top stripe. So, we got the local Santa Rosa Sherwin Williams to mix us a liter of 2 part polyeurathane paint to match. As the container they provided it in was not going to last very long, we decided we had to implement it before leaving San Carlos so Shawn jumped on it. We mixed half of the paint and had plenty left after three coats on the top stripe (affectionately called our racing stripe) so did an imprompteau coat over our previously painted cabin sole at the base of the ladder in the galley and under the navigation station (which we had previously put sand into for traction). It all looks quite fresh and clean!

4.) Complete reorganization for sailing: After having spent two months using electrical tools for projects every day, the boat required a complete reorganization stowing power tools deep and pulling sailing gear (sails, charts, foul weather gear) to the top. We also moved all the stainless we’re carrying for that planned dodger from the stern lazarette to the V-berth to balance out our water line.

After having spent over two months in San Carlos working on Tao, we finally felt close to ready to have people over. Over those two weeks, we had dinners with Brady and Jodi the young enthusiastic new crew of Anum Cara, fun and supportive Cate and Paul of Coconut Express who are living on the Caricol, Jenny and Randy of Mystic who plan to head to the Marquesas this spring, and an honorary almost pizza dinner with Hermy and Jack of Iwa. Several more trips to Guaymas for final provisions and Valentine’s Day, our hoped for sail date, was upon us. The winds were up and forecasts were looking good but we had yet to get the new computer with Window’s 7 to talk to our HF radio (USB to 9-pin serial port adapter issues). Since we kept our older computer aboard that could still connect and figuring that we could keep coming up with excuses not to go, we decided to deal with it underway... And we're off!

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