Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sleeping in Seattle

There’s not much happening here.  Marilyn is still wrapping up the AITC project and I’m doing boat housekeeping.  Yesterday I changed all the oil – both engines, both injector pumps and the Onan.  Elliott Bay has a waste oil recycling facility right in the marina so all we do is tell the harbourmaster that we need to dispose of some oil and a few minutes later here comes a dockboy carrying two empty pails. 

I spent most of today installing a time delay relay to run the fog horn.  A long time ago I bought a DIY electronics kit from somewhere online.  When we got back to the boat it had already been so long since I bought it that I had completely forgotten why I bought it – fortunately I eventually remembered.  I’ve always been half-assed fascinated by soldering electronics stuff together, not that I’ve actually ever done much of it.  So it was kind of fun to build the kit and, for a wonder, it actually worked when I got it finished.  I jury rigged a test light to set the on/off timers because I didn’t think blaring the foghorn for an hour would be a great idea.  Now we just need some real fog to test it out. 

I’ve also been trying to figure out a backup radar system but I just can’t get my head around the price of a new system.  It turns out that the open source charting software we use – OpenCPN – is capable of displaying a radar signal overlaid on the chart.  If I could make that work then all I’d need to add a backup radar system is the radome – the part that goes outside to transmit and receive the signals.  That’s pretty appealing because the radomes run about $1,000 while the display units run from $1,200 to well north of $5,000 depending on how big you want them to be.  Now that we’re used to using the big computer for navigation the little 8” display that you get for $1,200 looks pretty tiny.

The problem with using the OCPN plug-in is that the software to display the radar information is definitely bleeding edge.  I’m already running Beta software for our primary charting system.  After our excitement 2 weeks ago I’ve been running the stable version simultaneously on a second computer but our primary charting software is the Beta version (and therefore prone to crashing).  From the reading I’ve done it sounds like the radar plug-in is even more prone to crashes and probably not very feature rich either.  On the other hand though it would provide the backup we’re looking for at a fraction of the cost of a complete second system.  The ability to overlay the radar information on the charts would make both the chart and the radar information more useful.

Seattle has been pretty worked up over some football game last weekend.  I showed up in town wearing a Bronco’s bunnyhug that I bought years ago in Wallyworld.  It didn’t seem to matter that it was the Boise State Broncos not Denver so I stopped wearing it.  I expect I could go back to wearing it now – maybe I’d even get some sympathy.  We didn’t actually watch the game but it sounds like the opening play would have made Smilin’ Hank feel right at home.

On Friday we’ve got Gray Hawk’s past owner coming for supper.  Whenever it warms up a bit we’ll likely go across the sound to Bremerton.  The Bremerton marina was handing out free passes to spend two nights on their dock at the boat show.  It seemed like too good a bargain to pass up.  Right now we’re just waiting for it to warm up.

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