Thursday, February 27, 2014

Radar in Seattle

As I mentioned last week, one of my purchases in the US this trip was a new-to-us Garmin radome.  Its actually about 3 years old but appears in good condition.  And it works. 

I had to wait until the 3210 chartplotter that I also bought on eBay arrived.  I bought it as a 3010 chartplotter but when it arrived it turned out to be a model 3210.  There’s not much difference but the 3210 does have extensive charts embedded in the firmware so one more potential expense averted.  The big expense aversion came when I started the installation. 

Gray Hawk had 2 “mushroom” GPS antennas installed when we bought her.  There’s a JRC antenna up on the spreaders, near the top of the mast and there was a small Garmin antenna on the port side, in a really stupidly inconvenient location mounted to the SS rail on the flybridge.  Despite my frequent attempts to coax life out of each of the antennas, both had remained stubbornly silent until a few days ago.  I almost cut the Garmin cable last spring when Marilyn bought the kayaks.  The antenna was in such an ignorant location and it was interfering with our plans to hang the kayaks in brackets on the outside of the flybridge.  When I was installing the brackets I had to do something with the Garmin antenna and I almost cut the cable and did a buoyancy test on it.  Fortunately I just unscrewed it and laid it down on the nearby bench to deal with later. 

The new chartplotter needed  some source for GPS position information.  That could have come from our existing chartplotter setup and that was my initial intent.  At the same time I couldn’t help thinking that a completely standalone system was better in terms of the system redundancy that it provides.  As you may recall, I have been justifying the not inconsiderable expense of this upgrade by telling myself that we are gaining significant redundancy in our systems.  The radar is completely redundant but as it turns out I was able to get us redundancy in our navigation system as well.

I’ve made several return trips to 2nd Wave but they didn’t have any Garmin GPS antennas so I took another look at the one I already had.  And it turned out that it is exactly the model recommended for my new chartplotter.  Further, the chartplotter installation instructions contained the missing link for getting my existing antenna to finally turn itself on.  It turns out that just providing it power and waiting for it to start talking is not enough.  In order for it to work it needs power & ground – no surprises there.  It needs  a (+) and (-) NMEA connection – again, no surprises.  But it also needs its yellow wire connected to ground to tell its miserable stubborn little brain to turn on.  A few days ago I jury rigged everything up to test it and, wonder of wonders, got a GPS fix out of the Garmin antenna.

It wasn’t quite that simple but I won’t bore you with all those details except to say that the guy who sold me the chartplotter evidently owns some kind of a marine electronics store.  He clearly got my power cable confused with someone else’s cable because while my cable fit the connector on the back of the display the colour code on the wires bore no resemblance whatsoever to what Garmin said the colours should be and the tag on the cable made no mention of Garmin.  Of course I blithely hooked everything up according to Garmin’s code, jury rigged some power connections, pushed the ON button and saw absolutely nothing happen.  Two hours later after I had ohmed out the 18 pinouts on the cable and cross referenced the real colours to what the installation manual referred to I tried it again and this time everything worked.  Then there were a few further incidents involving Cat 5 cable and bad crimps but today its all good and we have 2 functioning radars plus 2 fully capable navigation systems.  I haven’t tried connecting the Garmin nav system to the autopilot and I don’t intend to do that immediately.  In theory there’s no reason why they couldn’t both be hooked up but if I happened to activate a route on both systems its hard to say what the nav computer might think – it would kind of be like driving with your wife and mother-in-law both giving directions.

George – Gray Hawk’s previous owner – has been by for a couple of visits.  The last time he was here he came dashing back, very excited, to tell me that there is another Defever 43 on A-dock about 2 slips further in from where we are on B-dock.  I went over and had a look at it one day.  I can’t tell if its the same 43 that we looked at in Anacortes prior to buying Gray Hawk but I think it may be.  I took some pictures of that boat at the time but I think I’ve since deleted them.  My feeling at the time was that if someone gave that boat to us we might be able to get it back in the water for about the same money that we would have to spend to buy Gray Hawk, if we wanted it to be in comparable condition to Gray Hawk. 


There’s a little crane on the flybridge that appeals to me.  We’ve got one that George built but it doesn’t work worth a damn.  This one looks like it might actually be usable.  I’ve also considered a vertical mast with some kind of a boom that could be swung over the aft deck.  I need to do something with the one we’ve got – either take it out and sell it for scrap stainless or fix it so it is usable.


The main feature that I found interesting on this boat is the fact that someone has had passive stabilizers on her at some point.  They are not presently installed but there’s a bracket under the flybridge and another one on the rubrail that could only have been used for stabilizers.  I doubt I’ll ever put them on Gray Hawk but I have thought about it. so it was interesting to see how someone has dealt with that on our hull.


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