Friday, December 30, 2016

Come Together (Right Now)

When it became apparent that the refit was going to drag on to the point that we wouldn't get back to Myrtle Beach this year, Dawn and I looked for someone here in Charleston to install the electronics we bought in Annapolis to replace those zapped in the lightning storm in August. I asked the boatyard manager for recommendations and without hesitation he said "Call Jeff at Tidal Marine Electronics. He's the best in the area. Good luck getting ahold of him, though - he doesn't really return calls."

Much to my surprise, I got ahold of Jeff the very next day - and he was out at the boat the day after that. He took a look at our current electronics and the boxes in the v-berth containing their replacements and cables and networking equipment, and pronounced it a fairly easy 4-day job. In my excitement over having found someone apparently competent to install the electronics, I forgot to ask Jeff just how soon he could start.

That was in early-mid November. Since then I've been calling Jeff on a weekly basis at least, and until recently never got through to him, and never got a call back. The boatyard manager was certainly right about the communication; I hoped he was equally right about the competency. About half the time I called Tidal Marine I got voicemail, and the other half I got a very nice young lady named Emily (I think she's Jeff's wife), who always regretfully informed me that Jeff wasn't around but she'd ask him to call me back. When I left the message that we needed the electronics installed by Jan 1st, she was eager to reassure me that the job would be complete by then - but there was another big job that needed to be finished before they got to us.

Finally, around Dec 15th or so, Emily said Jeff was there & had been wanting to talk to me, and suddenly he was on the phone saying they were almost ready to start on our boat and would in fact be onboard the very next day. Indeed, the next time I was on the boat I saw a few access covers and pieces of equipment dislodged, which led me to believe that Jeff had been onboard and the installation was imminent. But then, nothing. The boatyard reinstalled the chainplates and stern iron, restepped the mast, and launched the boat, but nothing further was done with the electronics. I began to despair that our southward sail would be further delayed.

I needn't have worried; Jeff was just finishing up his last project and had every intention of getting me done by Jan 1st. This Tuesday, while I was off flying and Dawn was on Windbird, Jeff and his assistant Steve got on the boat and attacked the project head-on, working afternoons and evenings for 4 days straight. Today they finished the entire installation, minus autopilot commissioning which is awaiting one part that will arrive Tuesday. Dawn texted me pics of the new electronics and later took me on a Facetime tour of the installation, and it looks absolutely wonderful. We have a Garmin 7607 chartplotter at the helm, a new Garmin 18xHD radar on the mast (Dawn and I installed that), two GNX-20s and a GMI-20 for sailing instruments, Gwind wireless masthead transducer (we also installed that), Airmar triducer (depth/speed/water temp), GHP Reactor Autopilot, Vesper XB-8000 AIS transponder & Nmea gateway, and an ASUS Transformer tablet for planning, weather gathering, and as a backup chartplotter. It's all networked and integrated with new NMEA 2000, and should work together. I'm really excited to get familiar with the system and use it on our next hop south to Fernadina Beach, FL.


Ahem, about that.... The stem iron still isn't on the boat; the mast is still being held up by two halyards in place of the forestay. The machine shop has apparently had a heck of a time getting this fairly complex part to fit properly, but they think they have it now; if so, it'll be installed Tuesday. Then Dawn and I can put all the running rigging back on and rebend the sails, among many other last-minute projects that'll likely take the better part of a week. But at least the electronics won't be holding us up!

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