A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Leaving Muskegon

As you can see, we have been here quite some time - mainly waiting for the parts from Amazon, which took much longer to arrive than expected. In the meantime, we had shopped around getting switches, wiring, and terminals from West Marine (where I was able to use their crimping tool for larger cables),  and a couple of Deep Cycle batteries from Sam's Club to replace the staring batteries in the "house" system. We also got a new folding bike for Carolyn:
The first day of work was on the AC system rectifying some of the issues created in Kenosha. Firstly the wiring to the main AC bus bars had to be swapped as the incoming "line 1" actaully went to the line 2 bus and vice versa. I also had to replace several of the wires between the AC panel and the transfer switch with longer ones so that you could access both panels at the same time. The wiring to the voltmeters was changed so that they read the voltage at the bus bars instead of the incoming mains and I rewired the ammeters so that they worked after they had been disconnected in Kenosha. Both meters now read from both the shore and inverter power. Finally, I rectified the wiring so that transfer switch isolates the water heater and charger/converter when it is in "inverter" mode so they don't work from the inverter - just like it was designed to do. This last job epitomised how little the electricians understood how the system should work. For those interested in actualities, here is a pic of the way the water heater "isolator" was wired (the water heater terminal is the one with 3 wires gong to it):
The big red wire goes to the transfer switch. One of the black wires comes from the switch and the other black wire goes to the water heater. As you can see, they are all joined together and are still connected to the live feed from the bus bar through the circuit breaker. This means that the water heater is energised regardless of the position of the transfer switch!

 The next day I attacked the DC part of the system, putting in 2 house isolators and swapping the downstream 12V wiring for the boat to these. As we were still living aboard, it was necessary to keep the existing system intact until all the modifications were completed. One good thing about the installation of the inverter was that they had mounted the battery isolators for it in the main DC panel so I could use the feeds to these to supply the house system, instead of running new cables. This all made the main DC panel very "busy", but I managed to get it all to fit. It looks kind of different from the original, though.
This took us up till Thursday, at which time the parts had still not arrived and the weather had turned mucky with strong winds and thunderstorms. Also the temperature had dropped signifcantly and  we haven't had to use the airconditioning much at all.

All this time we had retained the rental car so we could get about. While we had the car, we thought it best to get stuff that would otherwise be hard to fetch and carry (like bikes and batteries). The marina at Muskegon is right downtown, but downtown Muskegon has no retail shopping, just a couple of reataurants and bars. There is a trolley that takes you on a cicuit for sightseeing ($1.25 or 60c for seniors!) and you can get on and off it all day, but it doesn't go near the shopping areas. The closest of these, and where West Marine is, is around 2 miles away and the nearest supermarket another  half mile from that. There is another area with Walmart, Lowes etc about 5 miles to the east and a large Mall about 6 miles south (where the bike shop was), but you really need transport for them. We have noticed in our travels that Michigan seems to have been very hard hit by the recession and Muskegon is not only no exception, but is the worst we have encountered so far. There are large numbers of empty buildings and shops, even amongst the big retail areas and many unfinished commercial developments. It is really quite sad to see the effect that the economy has had on what was obviously once a thriving, expanding community.

On friday we went to the marina's pumpout dock. It was a little windy and getting alongside was quite tricky. As I monoeuvred from about 20 ft out to do so I noticed a tosspot fisherman on the dock beside us with his line still in the water who suddenly realised that with 40 ft of line out in 12 ft of water a boat drawing 4ft coming past just might have an effect on his fishing. He bagan to reel in but....too late and "you,ve got me", he called out. With no room to move I finished docking while the marina dockhands cut his line. The brainless fisho then told me that I had probably picked up around 25 ft of line with some "pretty heavy weights" on them. He then skulked off and climbed in to his car and went away - real quick! While the marina guys pumped us out, I got out the boat hook and fished around under both props and rudders, but could not feel anything dangling off them. Whe we left the dock to return, there was no clattering of  "pretty heavy weights" smacking against the hull so I figured that 480HP possibly just chopped it off, although I suspect some of it remains wrapped around the shaft. Hopefully it won't get into the cutlass bearing and cause any mischief, but time will tell, I guess.

Friday afternoon the isolators arrived and were duly mounted. They are now ready for wiring, but here we have a problem. It appears that the connection between the alternator on the engines and the battery is via the starter motor connection. This is not a problem on Pete (whom I have nicknamed the Port engine) beacuse the starter motor is readily accessible, but is a real issue on Stan (Starboard engine), as the starter motor is on the other side of the engine with only a small gap between it and the fuel tank. Also I do not have the necessary crimping tool to finish the job, so I will be looking for a skinny, agile electrician with a crimping tool for 8 guage wire, who knows what he is doing, to come and do that wee job for me. And then we are set to go.

Yesterday we decided to stay one more day as the weather was still boisterous and the "Moosefest" was on in the park. More music, but quieter and betterstuff than the Christian Unity lot last week and it finished at 7.20pm as well. In the afternoon  Loopers in JET STREAM, a Carver 466, pulled in to the slip next door and said that they had had a bouncy ride down from Ludington.

However the weather looks good for today so go we probably will.

Till next time

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