Having a shocking time!

As I feared in my last entry I’ve been far too busy working on Odyssey to do much else this week and have fallen into a new routine:

0700: Woken by Commander Worf announcing “Captain… incoming message”
0730: Finally drag myself out of bed. No point showering as I’ll be getting filthy soon anyway
0745: Breakfast on the terrace: Raisin Bran (1 bowl), coffee (1 mug), orange juice (1 glass)
0800: Check email
0830: Hop in the car, plug in the iPod, and it’s off to work I go
0900: Open all hatches and portholes in Odyssey and get working
1300: Lunch in the cockpit – Ryvita & brie sandwiches (2), apple (1)
1330: Back to work
1500: If it’s sunny, head to beach for a couple of hours, otherwise carry on
1800: Back to apartment, relax on terrace with orange juice (1 glass) and peanuts (approximately 20)
1830: Shower
1900: Pop down US1 to West Marine for boat parts needed for tomorrow
2000: Check email
2030: Supper of tomatoes (2), celery (3 sticks), baby carrots (12), Ryvita (5) and blue cheese dip
2100: Get on internet researching boat stuff, answering emails, drinking wine (too much)
2330: Retire to bed to read (30 minutes) and consume more wine (1 glass) and peanuts (20)

And that’s been pretty much all that’s happened this week. My project has been to restore some sanity to Odyssey’s 12-volt electrical system which initially resembled an explosion in a wire factory, followed by a downpour of engine oil and sawdust, after which a team of white mice entered the fray and randomly cut wires hither and thither and connected things to random other things.

The final result was that virtually nothing on board worked, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that of the three (huge) batteries on board only one was connected properly. One had only it’s positive terminal connected, and the third wasn’t connected to anything. Presumably it was supposed to use its psychic powers to beam energy into the system. Who knows.

It’s a familiar story to me as Flogg was very similar when I bought her, and indeed I suspect many old boats are as successive owners rip out stuff and add stuff without taking time to analyse the system first. My first morning (Tuesday) was spent following each wire in turn to determine its apparent function (or lack thereof), after which I drew a very messy diagram of it all. After lunch I sat down and drew a new circuit diagram, containing all the bits I wanted to keep, connected together in the most sensible way.

My aim was to move the engine start battery out of the engine room to make more space in there, and put it under the berth in the crew cabin with the other two, then wire them all together sensibly so I can select any combination of the 3 batteries.

Wednesday was spent ripping out miles of old wire which is always great fun. The chart table area had looked awful before with a spaghetti of wires hanging out from the woodwork everywhere, and it gave me great pleasure to track down and eliminate dozens of redundant circuits.

On Thursday I started to implement my new circuit, and finally got it all connected up today. It was a big moment when I turned the first battery selector switch on and waited for the bang… luckily it never came, and all seems to be working well now.

Odyssey is still moored in the marina as the yard is too busy to take me out till next week so I hope they’re right in saying they can get the rig done quickly. They certainly seem to be working hard on the other boats there so I’m hopeful. It’s rather nice still being in the water as I can watch boats go past me on the river, and I guess it’s cooler out here than in the yard.

Yesterday I ordered my Monitor wind-vane which will arrive next week and I can’t wait to fit it. I love the idea of the boat being steered by the wind as well as propelled by it, and have recently re-read Francis Chichester’s wonderful book about his first solo trans-Atlantic race in the early 60’s when he experimented with a very early self-steering system. It worked (sort of) for him, so I hope the modern version will do the job for me. His book (Alone Across The Atlantic) is a great inspiration to me, and I first read it as a child while staying at my grandparents’ house in Beaulieu. It was my grandfather who taught me to sail, and this book probably led to me being here now.

Apart from the Monitor I’ll also have two autopilots. I plan to install a brand-new top of the range below-decks version, fully integrated with all the flashy new navigation stuff I’ll be getting, which will be my main system when there’s no wind for the Monitor. There’s also an existing auto-pilot which didn’t work, but I found that this was due to it not being connected to the power! It’s fine now, but not really powerful enough for use in anything of a blow so I’ll keep it as a backup in case everything else fails.

This weekend I’ll only do half days, or possibly nothing at all on Sunday if I go out tomorrow night, which I jolly well feel like doing after all my labours.

I’m also horribly tempted to fly back to England next weekend for the relaunch of my favourite club (Twist), which has been forced to move to a new venue. It was my regular Sunday morning haunt and I’d love to show my support and check out the new venue so have looked into flights, but can I really justify spending that much on a weekend when I’m pressed for time, and indeed money???

Oooh, I nearly forgot! In case you’re wondering about the shocking bit in the title of today’s entry, I can proudly announce my first zapping with American mains electricity. Deep in the engine room I grabbed an exposed wire, only to find it had a nasty kick to it. Gave me quite a tingle, and also made me realise I haven’t a clue of how the wires here are coded. They’re green, white and black, and I guess I ought to find out what it means before grabbing any more…

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