Yesterday I managed to get down to Spellbinder, now safely moored back in Dolphin Pool, Fort Blockhouse, to inspect the final re-fit work.
I started planning the re-fit back in June. There were three main parts: the hull blasting and Coppercoating (covered in a previous blog), bending on a new fully-battened mainsail and furling genoa from Jeckells, and a series of improvements to Spellbinder’s energy, navigation and communications systems. It was this latter part which was the last to be completed.
On the energy front, the new batteries are now fully supported by 4 separate solar panels, which can be increased to 5 when the bimini is up. I no longer require shore power to keep the batteries topped up although may use it over the winter to help de-humidify and warm the yacht in the colder months. Two new 50w panels have been fitted over the old ones behind the traveller:
On the sprayhood, a solar panel now zips in and connects to a plug inside the cockpit, in a recess by the shore power input.
On the bimini, two zips have been sewn in to allow for two panels. The final panel is a 90w one permanently mounted ahead of the mast:
The total power of the solar panels is more than 300w, which I hope will be enough to run the yacht’s systems for most of the time, particularly when used in conjunction with the wind generator and the towed generator on passage. Each panel has its own charging controller, to maximise output.
On the communications front, the installation of the Icom M802 SSB and Red Box and Wi-fi Bat system is now complete. The former is designed to give Spellbinder long range radio voice and data communications. It consists of the radio itself, an AT 141 automatic tuner, and an SCS P4dragon DR-7400 Pactor modem.
The radio is mounted at the chart table – above is a picture of it tuned to Radio 4 (I dream of listening to the cricket, or BBC World while crossing the Atlantic). The primary voice and data communications take place on HF. The modem allows the unit to be linked to a laptop, and using specialist software by SailMail (Airmail 3) I should be able to send and receive basic text emails from anywhere around the world.
The unit is linked to a long antenna which runs up the backstay:
I intend to do the Long Range Radio Certificate course early next year to improve by ability to use the SSB (it is also a legal requirement if you want to transmit). I will also have an Iridium and Sat C systems by way of a back up.
The final piece of communications equipment installed is a Red Box and Wi-fi Bat. The former is a router, which takes various inputs (satellite, WiFi, 3/4G etc) and fires the signal around the yacht. I will probably most normally use it for capturing Wi-Fi at distance – typically anchored of beaches etc, you can link into the WiFi provided by bars and hotels. To do this I now have a Wi-fi Bat long range antenna, which should capture the signals, and route them via the Red Box, all controlled by a laptop. Pictures of the two systems are shown below:
So, the major re-fit is complete. Work over the winter includes getting to know the engine better (although I am quite handy I will pay for an expert to show me round, and service the engine for the first time – and to check I have the necessary spares), getting to know the new systems better, including commissioning the Water Maker in the Spring, and procuring the necessary charts (paper and electronic) for whatever adventure awaits! To those reading the blog, please expect an email early in the New Year inviting you to participate in my plans.