Aaron's blog

Dog with a flaw

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Tue, 12/31/2019 - 19:35

There once was a dog with a flaw
Who e'er kept a brew in her paw
She was not a witch
Just a basic bitch
Her favorite drink was White Claw

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Vero Beach

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Fri, 12/27/2019 - 18:43
Newly installed microwave

From Cocoa Beach we (Aaron plus two other boats) left at first light.  At some point in the morning the wind went around enough for a close hauled sail so all three boats put some sails in the air.  The wind became pretty brisk so I reefed both sails heavily but both Fruit Bat and Walkabout in their heavy Pearson 424s were able to keep full sails flying, even Walkabout's 150% genoa.  After a few hours the ICW became more winding so everyone put in their sails, but they both had roller furler jams so had to spend a few minutes figuring those situations out.

They carried on for about ten more miles as I pulled off to stop at the Vero Beach City Marina.  I waited for about 15 minutes for the fuel dock to open up and then fueled and arranged for a mooring ball.  They assigned me to raft up on ball five with another boat so I prepared the lines and fenders, motored over to my new neighbor, approached nice and slow, and had a successful "docking".  I took Louise for a walk to the very nice dog park (and every evening after that!).

I believe the next day was the Monday gathering at Mr. Manatee's for the Seven Seas Cruising Association.  I went and mostly talked boats with some people and had a very good burger.  I had snacked that afternoon so didn't go for the Colossal Woodrow Burger which is one pound of hamburger plus lots of other things.  If you eat it you get a T-shirt, which makes the $19 price a little more worth it.  I was still in Vero Beach a week later so went again and did earn the shirt.  I should not have also had two one liter beers, as I was in quite some misery for an hour afterwards.

I spent the week there doing some boat projects (clean the brown stains off the hull with lemon juice, coat the hull with wax, put away the remainder of all our goodies from Costco, sew some rips in the mainsail cover, replaced the microwave) and going to a few social events.  Also I ordered some miscellaneous things and the supplies for a big project: a replacement bimini + spray dodger + full enclosure.  In order to know what to order I had to understand what I was going to be doing so I spent about four hours watching Sailrite how to videos on YouTube.  After several more hours of thinking, measuring, and double-checking I placed the order, getting a nice Cyber Monday discount.  Just that small part of the project felt like a huge accomplishment!

I also looked around for a used paddleboard.  A shop nearby had some used models but they seemed a bit fancy.  We ended up buying one from a guy on Facebook Marketplace and he delivered it to the marina.

Anna returned from Minnesota.  She flew to Orlando where her aunt and uncle were at a dog show, and her uncle was nice enough to drive her a couple hours down to Vero Beach.  I think it was two nights later that we left to go to Stuart.

Dirty swim ladder
The swim ladder was really dirty after being in the water there for a week.  Most places it does not grow stuff this fast.

 

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Honda EU2200i rain revival

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 10:39
Honda EU2200i running in companionway

I left our Honda EU2200i generator out in the rain and it wouldn't start.  This wasn't a crazy torrential rain and the outlets were on the leeward side so I thought it would be OK with the extensive plastic shrouding but I guess not and I will try to keep it mostly dry in the future.

To troubleshoot I took of the big side panel (for oil changing and air cleaner access) and things looked pretty dry in there.  I also suspected the kill switch so managed to get my multimeter probes on the contacts there and it made and broke contact appropriately.  A peek in at the spark plug showed it was all dry (didn't actually pull the spark plug).  I pulled off the end panel on the outlet side and there was water pooled on a few components there...probably the problem even though many things are potted.  I blew into all of the various outlets.  Removal of the outlet plate itself showed very minimal water inside of there.

But still it wouldn't start.  Twice it sputtered for one second to taunt me.

Then I tried slamming the whole unit into the floor from 2-3 inches up.  It has pretty good shock absorbing feet so this didn't even jostle the generator that hard, but it fired right up after that!  So I guess a few drops were shorting out something (likely in the kill switch circuit) and the abrupt movement shook them loose.

BTW when we run the generator there the exhaust gasses can swirl around behind the dodger so we keep the companionway fully closed.  And there are some small cracks there but our dorades and the overall suction on the back of the dodger should keep air flowing outwards through those cracks, plus we would not sleep with it running.

Hunter 376 microwave replacement

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Tue, 12/10/2019 - 18:50
New microwave installed

Our presumably stock microwave bit the dust a while back.  I delayed replacing it for a week or two as I was intimidated by the task of doing the job without irreversibly damaging the cabinetry.  I removed a screw that went up into the bottom of the microwave and was able to move the unit around a fair amount, but it looked like the microwave was just a little to big to slide out without more disassembly.  I would later find out that the microwave was screwed to a big board anyways...no way was it coming out!

Eventually I got out the tools and drilled out a few of the screw-hiding plugs on the face plate.  Some hid screws and some didn't.  It turned out that only three screws needed to be removed to pull the face plate off--the one in the middle on the left and two on the right.  I was then just barely able to wedge the face plate out.  It would come out significantly easier if the swing-down cabinet door next to the microwave was removed, but I did not do that.

Then the microwave and the base plate that it was attached to came out easily (I had already removed the screw going through the bottom of the cabinet with its point in the base plate).  I made some measurements and chose to order the BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7 from Amazon.  Many measurement pictures can be found below.

A few days later the new microwave arrived.  I played around with different things for spacers to put it at the correct level so that the door would open through the existing cutout in the face plate.  With the microwave and spaces attached to the base plate (see image captions below for some more details on positioning) I put it in the cabinet.  Then I finagled the face plate back into place...again this would be significantly easier if the nearby cabinet door was removed.  I tried to remove it but did not do it carefully and stripped a screw so did it with the door in place.  They are PH1 screw heads BTW, which yes I was using but still stripped one.  Anyways, a couple pounds with the cordless drill battery and the face plate popped into place.  I screwed it in with the same three screws and attached the bottom reinforcing piece better than before (described in a photo caption below).

I still need to read up on how to put the teak plugs in, otherwise it is complete and working well!

Width
Width of the microwave: 18 1/16"
Depth
Depth of the main body of the microwave: 11 1/2"

 

Cabinet depth at top left
Microwave depth including cord stopper: 13 1/4"
Height
Height of the microwave including the board it was screwed to; 11 1/16"
Height 2
Height of the microwave itself: 10 1/2"
Cabinet depth
Cabinet depth on right-hand side
Cabinet depth
Fabine depth on left side
Cabinet depth on top
Cabinet depth on top right
Board dimension
Board depth on left side
Board dimensions
Board depth on right side
Board width
Board width
Base board
The base board with holes drilled for the old microwave feet to sit in
Spaces undernearth the new microwave
One piece of Starboard and two small washers used as a spacer.  Also visible are the pieces of tape I put on the base board to mark where the Starboard sits when the microwave is aligned correctly.  So then I could take the microwave and base board out and screw them together in the correct position.
New microwave in place
Microwave in place with no faceplate.  I positioned it to be lightly pressed up against the cord plugged into the outlet on the right hand side, thinking that we might be able to store things like cutting boards in the gap on the left side.  Blue tape strips mark the position of the Starboard spacer on the base plate.
New microwave in place with faceplate installed
New microwave in place with faceplate installed.  The door takes up most of the gap on the left side when it is opened so it is important to position the microwave towards the right side of the opening.
Reinforcement piece for bottom strip of face plate
Reinforcement piece for bottom strip of face plate (I rotated it after taking this picture so that the countersink-drilled holes were facing up).  I put the face plate in first and wasn't going to bother with this piece, but then I realized that it could be put in with the microwave and faceplate already screwed into position.  This little strip had been screwed into the back of the face plate but the screws did not hold well.  So I drilled out the teak plugs that were in the faceplate and screwed this piece in from the front, which I guess is how they originally intended it to be done since all of the holes lined up perfectly.  And then I put screws through the piece into the bottom of the cabinet.

 

Victron MultiPlus inverter won't turn on using Color Control GX

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 08:58
Color Control GX installed at our nav station

On our boat we have a Color Control GX that is mounted at the nav station.  And we have a MultiPlus inverter/charger that is under the couch.  We used to reach under the couch to turn the inverter on and off.  This is a minor hassle, and the switch feels sort of flimsy.  So it was exciting when I discovered one day that we could turn the inverter on and off using the CCGX.  So now we leave the physical switch On and control it using the CCGX.

That works great, except about once a month it does nothing when we choose On on the CCGX.  Troubleshooting the first few times this happened involved rebooting things, updating firmware, unplugging and replugging communications cables, and then finally just letting it sit.  And after a while it would eventually turn on.

Now I have discovered an easy workaround.  On the CCGX I choose Charger Only (which is a third setting in addition to On and Off) and that immediately takes effect.  Then I choose On and that immediately takes effect.

My best guess is that some part of the system thinks it is already on so does not accept the command to actually turn on.  But also I think it happens more often if I have a large AC load switched on, such as the electric kettle in the morning.

Overnight trip and long days to Cocoa, FL

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Sat, 11/30/2019 - 17:40
Louise on a buoy

Overall the overnight trip was not an enjoyable experience.  As the sunset of that day faded and I slowly motored on, I experienced a profound sadness and strong desire to not be there (some tears even!).  I was too tired from not sleeping well the previous night, which I'm sure amplified those emotions.

I had probably 15-20 naps of 15-20 minutes each through the night.  My alarm would go off, I would throw on insulated pants, a jacket, and a lifejacket, go upstairs, attach the tether, and then spend a minute or two examining the surroundings and the chartplotter display.  Then back below for another 20 minutes of rest.  At the 5.5 knot pace I would progress almost 2 miles between each of these appearances.  Louise stayed below the whole night.  There were basically no waves which was nice.

There were many inlets along the way that had buoys marking them and I intentionally planned my route to pass a mile or so out to sea from these buoys.  They were maybe every 10-15 miles so I could usually see one in front and one behind me.  Every few times that I checked on things I would be able to celebrate the small progress of passing another inlet.  For the bigger inlets that could possibly have ship traffic I would stay awake and watching while I crossed the channel.  There were five cargo ships that went in/out of the Savannah inlet while I was within 5 miles but that was during daylight so not too bad.  It was a little embarrassing that one of the cargo ship captains felt it necessary to ask me to wait to cross the channel until they passed.  I would have passed at least a mile ahead of them (I was getting very good data on the electronics) but in hindsight they made the right call there.  At the ship's 15 knot speed that would only be 4 minutes to get out of the way in case of trouble.

I reached the St. Mary's inlet at first light as planned and the trip ended successfully at about 7:30am as I dropped anchor near Cumberland Island.  Then I slept for 3 hours and took Louise for a walk on the island.  We went to the beach and she chased the ball for a while.  Then we walked south on the beach and went inland to the Dungeness ruins, and then back to Sea Dock and back to the boat.

The next day was Thanksgiving.  I had sort of planned to check out the "Cruisers Thanksgiving" in St. Mary's where the town hosts a big potluck for boaters but decided not to.  So I motored 60 miles to St. Augustine.  The weather was beautiful with the powerful Florida sun doing its best to try to sunburn me.  St. Augustine was pretty busy with boats so I had to look for fifteen minutes before deciding on a sort of crappy spot close to a couple boats and some docks.  But I was able to drop the anchor right where I planned to so it was good enough for the night.  30 minutes later a dinghy came by with our friends from SV Walkabout who we met in the Great Dismal Swamp.  They were on the second closest boat to where I anchored.  They have their boat name prominently lettered on their transom but I just hadn't remembered that I know them.  That evening I did laundry and picked up a couple great books at the book exchange: The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov (been wanting to read it for a while) and a collection of limericks (the sauciest little poems).

The next morning I went through the 8:30 bridge opening (in St. Augustine right next to the anchorage) with Walkabout.  Then a mile or two down the way I was starting to pull away from them at my normal cruising speed, but also eavesdropped on their conversation (a great VHF radio tradition) with another boat named Fruit Bat.  They were slowing down to hoist their dinghy up instead of towing it.  I decided I would hang back with them and really enjoyed traveling with them that day.  We anchored together Daytona Beach and I went over to meet Fruit Bat after taking Louise for a little walk.  Louise really liked when they invited her onto their boat so she could walk all over.

Today we left at 7:45am and made it 55 miles, almost to Cocoa.  We anchored about 20 minutes after sunset.  A little after dark Nate from Walkabout texted to say that there was some pretty good bioluminescence.  So I splashed a stick around in the water and yes, it was very cool!  The next obvious move was to take the dinghy out--also very cool!  The propeller shoots an illuminated plume about 6 feet back under water at low speeds, and luminescence streams off of the tubes.  At higher speeds the entire wake about 8 feet wide and 30+ feet back lights up brightly.  Back on the boat a school of minnows was darting around leaving little strokes of light.  I probably should go swimming in it but it is a little cold (water temp has gotten up into the mid-70s now though!) and better to do not alone.

Tomorrow Walkabout and Fruit Bat plan to leave at 6:30am as they have 60+ miles to go to make it to Fort Pierce.  I'm planning to go about 50 miles to Vero Beach but will probably leave with them since the wind tomorrow may be good for sailing and it could be fun to sail with a couple other boats.  Also a little exciting to sail in the ICW channel but should be fine.  In Vero Beach on Monday they have a weekly Seven Seas Cruising Association meetup that I have often thought would be fun so I will check that out.

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Sailing solo

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Tue, 11/26/2019 - 17:38

On Sunday Anna flew back to Minnesota to visit family and do wedding planning things. On the way back to the boat I stopped by to say hi to the catamaran Sobad which had left Wrightsville Beach at the same time as us. The wife actually graduated from Bismarck High School about 30 years before me! Small world.

That afternoon I motored about 20 miles down the ICW. I had planned to go about five miles farther but the current was against me and would be favorable in the morning. About 20 minutes after I anchored a power catamaran anchored nearby and I recognized it as someone we had met in Maine. So I took the dinghy and chatted with him for about 5 minutes.

The next day I went 42 miles to Beaufort, SC. There were a couple really shallow spots but I squeaked through. I anchored south of town about a mile and then took Louise for a walk. Then I dropped Louise off at the boat and went back for a couple beers and wings on special.

Today I tightened the steering cables before leaving. They were getting pretty loose and the autopilot would go back and forth, back and forth...very annoying. Then I rode the current for about 20 miles out through the inlet to the ocean. My destination is St. Mary's inlet on the FL/GA border, a trip of 120 miles. I plan to arrive at the inlet buoys just as the sky starts to brighten at 6:00am. That only requires an average speed of 5 knots and the water is calm with no wind or waves, so it is pretty relaxing out here. I have 80 miles to go as I write this.

I had planned to maybe just stay up as long as possible but I slept terribly last night so have already taken a couple 15 minute naps. I set a timer each time so that I can get up and check things out and then set the timer again.

By doing this long night I will travel 120 miles instead of winding 180 miles in the waterway. That would normally take four days of 45 miles each, 3 days if I pushed hard from sunrise to sunset. The Georgia ICW has big 8 foot tides, some shallow spots, lots of current, and right now low tides are in the middle of the afternoon. So I would be spending most of each day traveling near low tide, and that requires a lot of attention even with autopilot.

Hopefully this night will go well and that will all be past!

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Shady Turo experience--did I get scammed?

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Sat, 11/23/2019 - 19:35

A week or two ago I read this article about AirBnB scammers and it was pretty interesting.  This week we used a Turo car for a day and I can't help but wonder if I was part of some scam.

  1. The listing was for a Fusion, but said in the description that it was actually a Fiesta and for some weird reason they weren't able to update the listing.  Probably they previously had a Fusion listing and wanted to keep the same reviews or something instead of creating a new car listing.  Anna used my phone to make the reservation so I hadn't read the description, so I was more frustrated by this vehicle change initially, then realized that it was partly my fault.  But still...the car model should be correct.
  2. The car still had dealer plates on it.  The dealer paperwork in the glovebox showed that the car was purchased four months prior, so they should definitely have the plates by now.  When I later read the reviews, one said they walked away from the car over this issue.
  3. The host asked that I text them a picture of my driver's license with the odometer.  I'm not sure why including this photo in the Turo app wouldn't be good enough.  Probably Turo has a policy saying that the host can't ask for that sort of personal info.  Anyways, I idiotically did text them the photo so now they have my phone number and DL info.  Not smart.

A few hours into the car rental I started to figure out how sketchy all of this was.  I submitted a support ticket with Turo but still haven't heard anything back two days later.  Hopefully I don't get my identity stolen and hopefully that host gets shut down!  I haven't been able to figure out exactly what the host would be gaining so maybe there is no scam.

Next time we will probably look into a regular car rental.  I don't think it is much more expensive.  And while car rental companies can sometimes be frustrating, at least you know it is almost certainly innocent incompetence and not malicious activity.  So there is a balance: more personal dealings (Turo, AirBnB, Couchsurfing, etc.) which may be cheaper, more convenient, and/or more personal, versus real businesses where you may pay more and get a bland experience that you know is going to be the same every time.

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