Port McNeill

The part for the generator is not scheduled to arrive until the 3:30pm bus. So this morning’s project is to see if we can get any kind of depth reading at the lower helm station while we're waiting. It's not much fun (or prudent) to cruise the Pacific Northwest without a depth indicator in the nice and toasty warm pilothouse. As I had tried all the obvious troubleshooting steps to no avail, it was time to bring in the experts. Luckily, Stryker Marine is located in Port Hardy, only a half hour north of our location. Again, Steve Jackman came to the rescue and arranged with Stryker to have a technician come to the boat.

At the appointed time, Paul arrived. I briefed him on the steps I had taken and then opened all the access panels to the electronics so he would have a clear shot at accomplishing his diagnostics. The conclusion was that either the Raymarine depth transducer or the sounder module had gone on vacation and a field repair was not a practical option. Next is where Paul’s talents really shined.

We had an operating depth sounder on the bridge, a newly installed Furuno unit. Paul concluded that we could tap into the output side of that unit and bring a signal down to the lower helm. He did not have the needed cable to hook up to the Raymanine plotter, but he did have what it would take to bring the signal to the laptop that was running Nobeltec. On that screen we would display the depth information sent from the Furuno unit. No more jerry rigging power supply so Bob's laptop could help us navigate with good charts from the flybridge!

Paul set to work, snaking this slender frame under the flybrige helm, connecting the “white and blue” wire to a serial cable he had with him. From there we feed the cable into the open bays behind the lower helm's eyebrow panels were a number of electronic instruments live. Next, we connected a serial to a USB cord and existing the finger hole for the eyebrow hatch, dropped the USB cord direct to the laptop.

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Paul Sorts out the Electronic Spaghetti

So far so good, but we need to install a number of drivers so the laptop would recognize the signal from the Furuno. As fate would have it, the laptop on board would not allow us access at the administration level, which is what you need to install a new driver. Therefore, we installed the drivers on my laptop, which is also running Nobeltec and sure enough, up came our depth on the Nobeltec screen. An added bonus: water temperature.

Paul left me to complete the install on the boat’s computer once I secured the administrator’s password from Northwest Explorations. After a few hours of detective work, Brian from Northwest called with the codes and I was able to configure Arctic Star’s laptop to display the depth and water temperature. The only way you would know there had been a change to the boat was the cable that hung from the eyebrow to the laptop. This was a small aesthetic price to pay in order to display the critical depth under the keel.

A note on Port McNeill; they are in the process on extending the south breakwater 300 feet. Scheduled to be complete in mid-October, this extension should provide additional protection from winter storms and also reduce the occasion swell that sneaks into the harbour from the ferry or other passing large vessels and storms.

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The New Extension to the Breakwater at Port McNeill

We spent the afternoon waiting for Graham to arrive after we picked up the new circuit breaker at the bus station. Boy does time drag when you're stuck in port waiting for a repair. Having already spent a great deal of time in Port McNeill, we struggled to entertain ourselves knowing that our vacation was slipping away.

To pass the time, we ran a bunch of errands while griping that we were stuck in port on what was an amazingly sunny day. The best "find" was the A Frame Church Bookstore. All the books it has are for sale for just $1 (hardback or paperback), and the shelves are full. Karen was in heaven!

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Karen Maintains a Lookout for Graham and the New Parts

Grahan finally did arrive in the late afternoon, circuit breaker in hand. Back down into the engine room crawled Graham, uttering a few choice words for the engine room designer who had little appreciation of what it is like to work on a boat after it is built.

The breaker was not a perfect fit when it came to the mounting studs, but given that the amperage was correct, Graham proceeded to wire it up so we could determine the exact cause of the generator's problem. Once everything was in place, I fired up the generator and turned the AC selector switch to GENERATOR. Yeah! We had power, 125 volts of AC power. We continued to add load to the generator by turning on every AC device we could think of and it handled it all without missing a beat.

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The Replacement Breaker Taped in Place for Its First Test

Based on our testing, Graham proclaimed that the only problem was the circuit breaker itself and this one would work if we could not get anything else.

However, he strongly recommended we wait until Friday, when Lugger's care package was to arrive at Port Hardy via plane. Sadly reconciled to spending another unplanned night at Port McNeill we ran into Captain Dave and his crew, who invited us to go bear hunting with them at sunset, using their dinghy. It was so great to be back on the water, and the best part was that we saw two black bears foraging on the beaches not far south of Port McNeill.

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Foraging at Low Tide in the Port McNeill Suburbs

We also saw a lovely Crewed Charter Yacht, Northern Song, come into Port McNeill late in the day, and spent some time chatting with Captain Mike Miles and his wife/chef, Caroline. It was almost 9pm by the time we headed to Sportsman's for pizza and beer.