We bought our new HF radio, an ICOM 802, online from Singapore before we left Australia and had it shipped out here with all our gear. They’re not the easiest pieces of equipment to install and Bruce did a great job of getting it up and running. The transmission and reception weren’t great, but that’s to be expected when you’re in a marina surrounded by tall masts. Two weeks ago our Pactor Modem arrived (this device connects to the radio and our computer and allows us to send and receive emails and weather data while at sea). But things weren’t connecting properly so we got a local HF radio expert to come and check everything out. The upshot of his visit was the discovery that our radio was a modified, de-powered version made for the Asian market which only puts out 60 watts instead of 150 watts. That’s a big difference when you’re trying to make radio contact thousands of miles from land. Our first port of call was to speak to ICOM and see if we can get some assistance. But here’s the catch – ICOM USA is a completely independent company to ICOM Singapore or ICOM Australia for that matter. So ICOM USA were less than helpful about our plight. In fact, they were so unhelpful that they offered to sell us a reconditioned radio for a thousand bucks more than the new retail price! Umm, no thanks. I think Bruce will be having some words at the ICOM booth at the Annapolis Boat Show this week. Now THAT should be interesting! Our knight in shining armour has been Gary from Dockside Radio (we’ve bought two pactor modems off him – should have bought the radio from him too!). He’s been incredibly helpful and the result is that we should have a new radio next week at a very good price. So with the help of Dick, our HF radio expert, we should be on the airwaves very soon.
On the plus side, the job list is getting shorter as we get to the pointy end of things (at last). Our engines have been serviced, new exhaust elbows and hoses fitted, new exhaust manifold and heat exchanger fitted on the port engine (ouch, that wasn’t in the budget). We also had the rigging checked and all was good except for needing a new main halyard and turning block (which we expected). Because our main halyard is 2:1, it’s tied off at a shackle at the top of the mast, so the only way to change it out is to climb the mast. All 67’ of it. It was also a good opportunity to change out the anchor light for an LED one, so with me winching and Bruce half-climbing we finally got him to the top. What a view!
After attaching the new halyard I lowered Bruce down so we could ‘mouse’ the rest of it through the mast, attached to the old halyard. Easy. Except that halfway through the process the messenger line between the two halyards pulled out of the old, rotten halyard. NOOooooo!! Now we had a halyard piled up inside the mast and no messenger line to the top of the mast. It’s moments like those when you feel like going for a long, long, LONG walk. But… the show must go on, so back up the mast Bruce went and we now have a lovely, new, high-strength halyard and block that should make raising the mainsail a whole lot easier.
My job this week has been servicing the winches, all 8 of them! Bruce gave me a lesson on the first one, and then I was flying solo. It’s messy and fiddly but quite satisfying when you get them back together again without losing any of the parts overboard!
Thankfully, despite all the boat jobs and dramas, our sanity’s been preserved by the wonderful friends we’ve made since we’ve been here, and in case you think it’s all been work, work and work, we have in fact had many fun times too. But more on that in an upcoming blog! For now, we’re getting ready for the boat show this weekend, and then it will be time for provisioning and stowing gear before we finally start our big adventure south!