Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Launch and Shakedown

We got the boat in the water without incident on the last weekend in April, along with everybody else in the club. I took time lapse video of the whole process for your amusement. For best viewing use the little gear icon to see it in full screen and 1080p resolution instead of the 560x315 view that fits when embedded into the blog.



Always a little nerve wracking
Then we spent the usual couple of weeks fiddling with things, and finally got out for a sail today. Light SW winds and a trip to the Brothers and back. Tested all the systems and bits, and everything seems to work.

Standard Horizon DSC/AIS VHF
with Garmin GPS76 data feed
This year's coolest upgrade is the new VHF radio with AIS, a technology that listens to the transmissions from all of the large ships and provides tracking information on who is out there, where they are relative to you, and how fast they're going in which direction. Being able to see shipping and call them by name is a huge safety plus in the middle of the lake.

The radio includes a remote mic installed at the helm station that provides all the same display information on the mic that shows up on the main radio down below, including all the AIS stuff. The mic includes a speaker so you can hear, which means there's a small magnet in it. Interesting things happen to the steering if you put it down next to the autohelm control box (the one with the electronic compass in it). Picking the right mounting point for the mic hanger may be a bit of a challenge ;-)

New main tack fitting kind of
overwhelms the gooseneck, but
it does make the sail line up right...
The AIS radio needs a data feed from a GPS system to know where it is relative to the rest of the world. I found it amusing to splice in the feed from my ancient Garmin handheld and it is working very well. The Garmin has been the backup GPS on Dragon III since it was replaced by a Navman chartplotter in 2006. It does an awesome job on anchor watch and still carries a bunch of waypoints from Georgian Bay in 2005.

The other cool upgrade was a new set of speakers for the cockpit, mounted on the companionway bulkheads facing aft. Great sound and the helmsman can now here conversation in the cockpit. Another fix that finally got made this year was installation of a proper tack fitting on the boom to replace the webbing straps that have been holding the main tack in place for so many years. I cut and shaped the aluminum cheeks for the fitting with an angle grinder, my general purpose machine tool of choice ;-)