Friday, September 9, 2011

Still in HHN

After the props were tuned, 4 gallons of bottom paint was applied, and hurricane Irene passed, MOTIVATOR was splashed.  The only item we are waiting on is the rebuilt dinghy cradle for the rear deck.  We thought we had bought too heavy of a dinghy, but it turns out the existing cradle was experiencing some structural failure in addition to design issues.
Old cradle

In the mean time, we have attended to our annual doctor appointments and other housekeeping duties such as replacing the discolored sight tubes that we use to measure the amount of fuel and water in the tanks.

In addition to the usual maintenance, I completed an upgrade of MOTIVATOR’s navigation system.  She came equipped with a FURUNO NAVnet system.  Unfortunately, it was Version 1 that was introduced in 2000, not the Version 2 that was introduced in 2005, the year the boat was built.  We found the graphics to be lacking and the charts (NAVIONICS Classic) for the system are no longer in production.  Outdated chart chips are available on the Internet for about $240.00 per chip, and the chips cover only a very small area.
Set of NAVIONICS Classics for the Great Loop

We decided the way to go was upgrade to FURUNO NAVnet vx2.  The single chip for vx2 that covers the entire East Coast and Bahamas is $199.00.  The first step was to replace the black box with a vx2 unit.  But, FURUNO advised that because they had introduced a new system, NAVnet 3D, and were phasing out vx2, the US Coast Guard had bought every vx2 BB available.  Jim at Navigator’s Electronics in Ft. Lauderdale came through for me finding a used unit at a substantial savings.

The screen on the fly bridge also had to be replaced.  Here, I was not so lucky and had to go with a new unit.

Now the FURUNO system is complete and the chart plotter, sounder and radar display work and talk to the other equipment both in the pilot house and fly bridge.
Auto Pilot Control

Depth, sea temperature, and speed indicator

The FURUNO system is good, but we have gotten used to having a backup navigation system, and we like using Nobeltec software.  Evidently the previous owner also liked having a second navigation system, or he too found FURUNO vx1 to be lacking, because he had installed a Tough Shelf to hold a laptop on the fly bridge.

We found that my laptop struggled to keep up with the demands of the Nobeltec software, was very difficult to see in bright sunlight, and required running the inverter while we are motoring.  Besides, it was rather cumbersome to use.  So, MOTIVATOR received a dedicated computer and fly bridge screen from Argonaut Computer.  A minicomputer was mounted on the inside of the fly bridge console where it is easy to access.

A 15” daylight viewable, weather tight screen replaced the cumbersome laptop and articulating arm.

In addition to the Nobeltec VNS navigation suit, we have XM WxWorx satellite weather running on the system.
Some of the thunderstorms that recently drenched the East Coast
The XM weather can also be overlaid on the Nobeltec chart plotter display.

Another system we got used to using on Serenity was AIS, so an ACR AIS receiver was incorporated into the system.

The pilothouse received a redundant display in the form of an off the shelf Samsung 20” LED computer monitor.  The Samsung LED display as well as all of the other equipment operates on 12 volts DC, thus eliminating the need to run the inverter while motoring.
Of course the system required an increase to the black box farm under the fly bridge console, and a couple of days or tweaking to get everyone playing nice in the sandbox.
While I was installing all of the above, Pollie has been raising caterpillars on her parsley.
Soon we will have our own butterfly pavilion

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