Social distancing is our jam

We got back to Meriwether a month ago, just as people started taking this whole virus thing seriously. Since Kerri and I already live on the fringe of society, distancing ourselves from society is not much of a burden on us. We have been practicing social distancing for some time now, virus or not. Combine that with the fact that we no longer own a vehicle anyway, our daily lives have been pretty much on or in the boat with no real contact with anyone else… just the way we like it. A lot can get accomplished when there is little else to distract, and we have been plugging away at our pre-sailing-season to-do list, preparing for our second season on the water.

A recent addition to the list was the engine raw water pump (provides cool sea water to cool the engine). During routine replacement of the impeller in preparation for long days of motoring up the inside passage, I found that the pump’s shaft was flopping about in it’s bearings. Pretty good movement too, which I quickly and expertly determined that it should not be like that. This would have become a major problem one day when our engine overheated and stranded us – almost certainly  in a very bad place – without propulsion. It was a lucky find, so we got straight to replacing it with a fresh pump. I will be watching it carefully in the coming year.

A new alternator has been on the books for a while. With our Lithium battery bank, the old alternator was being used more heavily and longer than it was really designed for. The fear was that during the times it was charging at max capacity for hours and hours, it would overheat and melt down on us. We needed something to “throttle” how hard the alternator was working during these times of super-long charging. That is where our new Balmar alternator and external regulator comes in. Not only is the new alternator designed for marine use (I believe our previous was an automotive part), it can now provide 100 amps of charging power (50% more power!), and the regulator will dynamically adjust that power based on the alternator heat. Winning!

During the alternator install I stumbled onto another lucky find. The wire that provided power from the alternator to the battery was massively under sized and showing signs of imminent death. The fact is, I’m surprised we didn’t have a complete wiring burn out during 2019. We got lucky there, but now a complete engine-wiring overhaul was added to the list. So I set about tackling that job while I was in the engine compartment doing the alternator. Four days later (ugh!), and nearly every wire replaced, the old Perkins was back to doing it’s job so we could escape the virus-apocalypse if needed. Any work in the engine compartment creates a complete disaster inside Meriwether. It’s a whole lot of teak that needs to move out of the way before I can truly access the whole motor, and it still demands a lot of hunched over work which my back has been very unhappy about.

Just as both our fresh water tanks were empty I set about resolving a problem that wreaked havoc on our fire word stores last year; a simple and quite minor drip coming from our water tank valves turned numerous compressed logs into 10 gallons of mushy sawdust. The old valves just needed to be replaced as their seals were just not doing the job anymore. This became one of the easiest jobs I have done on the boat to date – working the first time with zero complications. What a feeling that was!

Kerri has been worried about our bowsprit for some time now. It is a pivotal part of the rigging and would be expensive as all heck to replace if it began to rot. So on a sunny day she got to the task of removing all the hardware, sanding it all down, and finishing it off with some epoxy and sealer. Two days of hard work later and our bowsprit looks almost new.

It was about this time that she began to understand why I only work four to five hours a day on the boat. Lengthy work days means a more sore body , which makes a person even less productive the following days. I learned this back in 2017 on the van rebuild; don’t over work what my old bones can handle and I will get more done. Sore she was, and still is today.

More power! {insert Tim Allen grunt here} That is what we needed – more solar power. Over the winter Kerri found some 200 watt solar panels to replace our 100 watt panels. She found that these three 200 watt panels would take up nearly the same space as our four 100 watt panels. Only a few inches longer (more shade in the cockpit) it would bring our solar array up to 600 watts… a 50% increase. It was an all day process (meaning four to five hours), but we got the old panels removed and the new ones installed the day after they showed up at our broker’s office.

Literally, the day I wrote the last blog post about cruising up into Canada/Alaska, the Canadian border was closed to all non-essential traffic. Our plans to go north are now stuck in limbo, waiting for this whole virus situation to sort itself out. At least we have a long list of things to fix or upgrade on the boat to keep us occupied during these hard times. Bring on the mandatory stay at home order… we can do that too.

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3 Responses

  1. Rob says:

    Good luck guys!

  2. LenSatic says:

    You’re on friggen sailboat, you are rarely without power. 😉

    I came up with an idea to add a t-valve to the engine cooling hot water so we could plug-up the cockpit and flood it with exhaust water to make a hot-tub.

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