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Jul 28-30: LED lights, boat cleaning, and rigging list

Sara and I stayed over on the boat Friday night, checking out the new interior lights and lanterns she's found and installed. Since the boat is a construction zone, we spent a good amount of time cleaning off a flat surface we could sleep on! Both lanterns smoke, even though we're using non-smoking fuel, and neither work very well. It's fine right now because the 40W 12V lights we found are REALLY bright. I guess the only downside is they suck 3.5A each.

Sleeping on the boat for the first time was cool. We used an inflatable matress and tons of blankets and snuggled up in the V-berth. The matress didn't fit well and slowly deflated over the night, so my side got lower and lower, and I woke up on the wood. Sara's side was still inflated, of course. It'll be so much better when we get the new foam and cushions made and installed.

We were up early and working hard, and were soon joined by Mike, Beth, and Ed. I was winched all the way up to the masthead to install the new anchor light. The top of the mast is really a lot further than the spreaders, which I had been to almost eight times before - mostly by climbing up with the ascenders. I was really happy to have someone winching me this time.

Once at the top, swaying side to side in the breeze, I found a horrible sight: the old 360-degree white anchor light was connected, but only by one wire. I guess that's why it wasn't working. The small, thin, frayed wire came from the light and went inside the mast. Somewhere in there it was connected to the heavier wire that runs up/down the mast in a PVC tube. The hole in the mast is tiny and the PVC tube inside is impossible to access.

We were screwed. If the thin little wire broke, the heavier wire it was connected to would fall down inside the tube inside the mast. It would probably get stuck where the radome cable comes out at the spreaders. It would be difficult just to pull it down to the keel, and it would definitely be impossible to get the wire back up to the masthead. We would probably have to take the mast off the boat to fix it.

With visions of our empty wallets, full schedule, and annoying boatyard owners running through my mind, I gently pulled on the wire. The wire was tiny, like 20- or 22-guage. Really thin. It was frayed in several spots. I could see it visibly stretching. My hands were shaking. I quickly stopped.

I yelled down and asked Sara to go into the cabin, get to the base of the keel-stepped mast, and wiggle the cables as much as she could. She did while I gently tugged the cable, and finally we had a bit of luck. I gently pulled the heavier cable up and out of the hole in the mast. WHEW! I spent a few moments yelling and screaming in joy.

I ziptied that wire and tied it off, then cut the previous anchor light loose, unscrewed it, and prepped the metal for the new installation. From there I drilled holes for the new anchor light, mounted, caulked, and riveted it in place, and finally soldered the wires to the heavier cable running up the mast. I finished the job by heatshrinking and taping the wires, keeping a critical ziptie attached to the solder job just in case anyone ever needed to do this job again.

It doesn't sound like a big deal, but imagine doing the above while wildly swaying back/forth every time someone moved fifty five feet below. Now add in a sprinkling of rain, lots of heavy wind, and the need to carefully hold each tool while working. It took three hours and was mentally exhausting.

I hope I never have to do anything like this while out at sea! I guess that's one thing we can be thankful about: doing things 'right' now means we're not going to need to ever do this again. On this boat, at least.

While I was hanging out, the others were hard at work cleaning the boat, removing black streaks from the gelcoat, removing rust stains from the SS metal, and generally working their butts off. Somewhere in there Ed addressed the entire port hull with the orbital buffer. By the time I came down it looked like a totally different boat.

Mike arrived after a late lunch and worked with Sara to rebed some of the stainless-steel stanchion bases, and fill in and cover over two mounting points we weren't going to use anymore. The stanchions were all removed to build the sturdier brackets around the cockpit for the solar panel mounts, and this was key to getting the new tubing installed. They did an awesome job, the bases are rock solid.

Mike continued to mock up the anchor system. We've had some heated debates regarding the different methods of attaching the stainless steel anchor-holding mount. In the end we're going to end up doing what he wants. I think this is smart, because he's the one doing all the work. We love you Mike!

Ed taped off the old painted-on boat name, "Sea Dragon", in preparation for stripping the paint and applying the new boat stickers. We're going to rename her "Wanderlust", and yes, we're going to do the boat renaming ceremony thing. It's just a bottle of champagne, and who wants to tempt Neptune?

I crawled into the starboard lazarette (read: the cockpit locker on the right side) and got to work on the wiring for the new Raymarine instruments. We previously ran the radar antenna cable from the cockpit to the mid-point of the mast, but the power, network, and depth and sensor cables still needed to be brought up the stainless tubing to the binnacle.

I can be a bit obsessive sometimes, and I guess I got a bit carried away. I was in the tiny little locker when Ed left at 4PM. I was there when the sun went down, and I finally came out when Mike and Sara pulled the salmon off the grill at 10! Half the day up at the top of the mast, half the day crammed into a locker. At least we had finished two key projects.

The salmon was amazing, the company was great, and we put on all the lights and went for a hike to the bathroom before bed. The masthead anchor light is bright, totally awesome, and we went to bed tired, sore, and proud as hell of another great day.

Sunday was a throwaway day. Sara and I went to see our friends Scott and Becky at the San Jose Grand Prix. Scott is a race mechanic for the McDonalds car, with driver Sebastian Bourdais, and they're both great friends. We hung out for a bit, watched Sebastian win (he won last year too), and headed back to Fremont where I had an investors meeting with the Centellax Board of Directors on Monday.

What a weekend,

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