Monday, March 25, 2013

Boat Projects

Our little tug does have a tv in it, but we have not used it for a couple of reasons.  One, our antenna for over the air reception does not work very well.  In the San Juans, the only station it will pick up is a low power station on Orcas Island that only broadcasts black and white reruns of "I Love Lucy" and similar vintage shows.  The other reason is that the boat is small and we do not have a comfortable place for both of us to sit and be able to see a tv at the same time.  For two summers now we have not felt the need to have a tv, we have occupied our end of the day time in other ways mostly by reading.  We read books on our iPads, we get our news from our laptops, keep up with our friends on email and go to bed early most nights.

This winter I (not Willie) decided that I would like to have television on our boat.  After looking at various alternatives, I decided on the Intellian i2.  The i2 has a 13" dish which is a bit larger than the KVH M1 which has marginal reception in the Northwest.  We also added a Samsung 19 inch HD receiver to the berth area.  I am not much for watching tv in bed, but in a R27 you do not have much choice.  An undercounter mount for the tv allowed placement at a great viewing angle for both of us.  Jake does not care.  I fabricated a bracket from stainless angle and flat bar.  A local speciality welding shop stainless welded the bracket for me at no charge.  A very interesting local craftsman that lives in our neighborhood.  Placement of the interior boxes and routing of the cables took a lot of thought and time.  We have two GPS antennas, one for the Chartplotter and one for the AIS.  I relocated them to the grab bars one on each side of the boat behind the navigation lights.  This cleared the mast for better satellite visibility.

A trial of the setup in the choppy bay and 4 foot swells offshore gave solid reception thoughout.  We never expect to have the system running while underway, but it is designed for such use and we wanted to see how it performed.

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More pictures of this job and other modifications can be found in our R27 Modifications photo album here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Date Night

We did a bit of puttering around the bay and ship channel in our Ranger Tug today.  We have been working on a couple of projects to get Willie's Tug ready to travel back to the San Juan Islands in May and we wanted to check out our work.

We had a two day window of winds lower than normal for this time year here on the Gulf Coast of South Texas.  We decided to anchor out at favorite boat watching spot off the ship channel called Barracuda Cove.  We tucked as far in as possible and tried to settle down for the late afternoon and evening.  After about an hour, between the swells and the chop from the winds, we decided that we would find a more sheltered spot to spend the night.  After checking out a spot near Pirate's Landing, we made our way to the Port of Port Isabel's turning basin.  I had seen a US Coast Guard ship anchored out here on occasion.  We eased in as close to a barge and drill ship as we thought prudent and set our anchor in about 35 foot of water.  This was a bit deeper than the 7 foot of water in Barracuda Cove, but the Rocna held firm.  The wind was still blowing, but we were a bit more protected from it here and gently bobbed tethered to our anchor.  A perfect rhythm for a great nights sleep.

We are early risers, so about 5 AM we were up and checking email on our iPads, when out of darkness appears a large vessel very close to us.  It appears we were in a favorite spot for the local shrimpers to drag their nets.
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As daylight came, the fog settled down giving visibility of about 200 feet.  Did that stop the shrimpers?  No, even without radar they continued to circle us with their nets.  We turned the radar on and watched them coming.  We were tracking as many as 6 in our range at one time.  With our radar, we could tell their distance from us.

By mid morning as the fog thinned to about 8 or 900 foot visibility, we headed back to our home.  As we passed through the swing bridge, the fog settled back down around us closing the visibility back to around 200 feet.  We continued motoring in the ICW until we passed under the causeway not seeing it until it was directly overhead.

Leaving the ICW at this point, we took up a course for the entrance to the "Fingers" and our home.  Before going too far, the fog lifted a bit and we docked at our dock.  A short trip, but a good Date Night for Willie and I.

Walldog, Willie and Jake stayed home.