Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Posted by Scot

The culprit!
Despite the recent success Canada had at the Olympics, that is not the victory to which I am referring.  Nope.  I am talking about us finally conquering some boat problems that have been bugging us since before we left the Bahamas.

From our recent blog posts, you might have gotten the impression that the last couple of weeks in the Caymans has been one long party, with dive trips, kite boarding trips, and dinners out with friends.  While it is true that we have been enjoying everything the Caymans have to offer, we also had another reason for our relatively extended stay here.  Given it’s proximity to the States, and it’s relatively affluent population, there are lots of boats here.  And where there are boats, there are boat parts, and expertise in fixing boats.  So, we arrived with an agenda, filled with items we wanted to fix while we were here.  And we have been pretty successful.

As soon as we arrived in the marina, we sat down with Jane, the manager of Scott’s Marine, and gave her our list of things we wanted to get done.  At the top of the list was the electrical issue that has been plaguing us since Georgetown in the Bahamas.  We were still seeing a voltage loss under AC power when we were running high loads, and despite lots of investigating, we hadn’t been able to pin down the cause.

Another item on the list was replacing our wifi antenna, which gave up the ghost back in Jamaica.  I know this might sound like a luxury item, but since I am still doing some work via the internet, it is a huge benefit to be able to have solid access, even when we are not right next to the signal.

View from the top.  The new wifi antenna in place (the white thing on the left of the picture).
We also wanted to finally get our outboard fully serviced.  We hadn’t used it much in Cuba or Jamaica, but when we put it in the water here, it seemed to be doing some funny things, even though I had fixed the cooling water issue we were having with another fresh water flush back in Jamaica.

Anyway, as per usual, at least half of the job of getting anything fixed on a boat is waiting for parts to arrive.

The first issue came with the wifi antenna.  It was easy enough to order it online, and by ponying up the cash, we were able to get it shipped so that it arrived from the States two days after we ordered it (this essentially doubled the cost of the part, but we wanted to make sure we got it in time to install it). Unfortunately, after it arrived, it fell into the hands of Customs.  It turns out that anything being installed on a boat “in transit” in the Caymans can be brought in duty free.  But what that means is that it gets delivered to the Customs office, and not to us.  So, even though it only took two days to get here, it took us another week to track it down at the Customs office.  Even then, the officer didn’t really want to let us have it, since he was supposed to bring it out to the boat himself.  But when he realized that by giving it directly to us, it would save him a trip to the marina, he relented, making us promise we were really installing it on our boat, and not leaving it in the Caymans.

Once we had it, after another windy trip up our 65 foot mast, it was installed, and now we once again can pull in a strong internet signal right on the boat (assuming there is one within a couple of miles).

The requisite picture from the top.  This time, I really had to steel myself to hang around and snap this, since it was pretty windy up there.
The most gratifying fix we have made was with our power issue.  Since we finally have good shore power here, we were able to repeat a complete testing of our AC system.  Initially we thought we were losing voltage regardless of the AC power source, but being able to test with good AC shore power coming in showed us this wasn’t the case.  It turned out our problem was localized to the generator.

This led me to retest all the connections on the generator, and I finally found the one that was causing the problem.  In fact, the connections were all OK, but I noticed that one half of the integrated dual pole breaker on the genset was getting hot while we were running it.  After a couple of days driving around town talking to electrical suppliers, we eventually got in touch with Geoff at Marine Power (who later took us out on his boat to see Stingray City).  He ordered us a new breaker from Florida, and hand delivered it to our boat two days later.  This time, we were wise enough to just pay the duty, so we didn’t have to wait another week to get it through customs.  Again, this all cost more than double what it would have to get the part in Florida, but I guess that is one of the costs of travelling.

2014-02-18 11.20.09
Out with the old breaker...
Once we had the breaker in hand, it didn’t take long for us to switch it out with the old one and bingo!  We now have full juice from our generator again.

2014-02-22 10.21.52
... and in with the new one.

In addition to all that, we have also managed to replace one of the fans in the salon, reseal some hatches, and give the boat a good cleaning, top to bottom.  So it hasn’t all been beer and hockey games!  We have also provisioned the boat for our next leg, including getting some new British sea sickness pills and accupressure bracelets, so we are feeling pretty ready to head back out to sea.  Now it is time to go, before the high cost of hanging out in the Caymans shortens the rest of our trip.

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