Water tanks and pedestal lights

by Glen

Sat 29 May, HHN day 46: Check water tanks and finish gas locker. Then remove my gas-engineer hat and replace with electrician’s, to work on pedestal lights and USB socket. Back to winter in Maryland…brrrr!

Raining and seriously cold for the end of May. But for me it’s a great time to work inside the tent where temperatures are back to tolerable for a while. First though it’s a domestic trip to the supermarket in the pouring rain, with Ray. And at the same time take back to UPS some useless Chinese electrical rubbish return to Amazon.

Mid-morning and jobs start inside the saloon, where I want to get into the bilge to re-check what I have down there, and also to inspect the water tanks.
After a fight with the new genoa and mainsail, which needed to be moved a couple of metres, carpet goes back and the biggest of all our floor boards removed. This reveals the port water tank (500 litres) and the central bilge where I keep all spare liquids – like engine oil, boracol, Rydlime and 4 x 25Ltr jerry cans (empty at the moment), some spare hoses and my stash of various pieces of teak wood.

The last time we looked in the water tanks was in 2016, when we had just purchased Cloudy Bay. We got inside both tanks and cleaned out a fair amount of orange silt. 5 years later I am hoping not to find the same, and happily they look almost like we cleaned them yesterday.
This is the benefit of mostly making our own RO water (Reverse Osmosis water, produced from seawater by our watermaker). That was an easy job ticked. I really didn’t fancy cleaning them again. It’s a tricky job with all the baffles inside the tanks.

While I have the floor up, I also inspect the area under the mast. I want to construct a lightning conductor, with a small air gap, that links the base of the mast support to the forward keel bolt.
Currently our mast is not grounded in any way. Which is good because we don’t attract lightning that way. But bad if we ever do get struck, because the lightning bolt would want to jump to ground via the hull, rudder, water tanks, engine… whatever path it can find. Possibly even down a shroud and blow a hole in the hull as it tries to reach the water. Our biggest fear is being struck by lightning.

Anyhow, I find the base of the mast support sitting on a huge lateral bulkhead and decide to see how easy it is to loosen one of the securing bolts – in fact, the only bolt I can get to. You can imagine my surprise when not only does the bold spin freely, but also I can pull it up a full 25mm (1 inch) with just 2 fingers!
Now, while it doesn’t look like the mast support has been moving on the bulkhead stringer, a loose bolt like that is just not right! I’ll contact Hallberg-Rassy and see if they can tell me what it’s supposed to be screwed into. I assume a nut inside the bulkhead which has simply fallen off. Or… no one put a nut on in the first place! Hmmm.

With the flooring back down I move outside to complete the gas locker. Basically finishing cleaning it after my work there yesterday. I should give it a coat of paint really, but that can wait for another day. I’m currently in the “discipline” mode, refusing myself to do any job or be side-tracked to anything that is not on my to-do list.

The other job on deck (inside the greenhouse) that I’ve been putting off for weather like this, is the steering pedestal. Most of the LEDs in the buttons have stopped working and I now have replacements to fix that. Plus, I also purchased a dimmer system so the lights can be dimmed when night sailing. Otherwise they are far too bright.
And lastly, I want to install a USB socket for my iPad. Whenever we are navigating in close quarters, I have the iPad (with Navionics) at the helm and usually, if not always, the damned battery is almost out just at the crucial point!

I have already dismantled the pedestal panel last year when we were locked down in Cayman. That’s when I decided what parts I needed. So dismantling a second time is much easier.
Before replacing LEDs though, I decide to have an experiment with the dimmer that Hallberg-Rassy Parts sent me, without instructions. Inside the cabin, I manage to set it up and get one LED dimming and brightening nicely. But outside, on the pedestal with all the lights connected, the dimmer operation is terrible.
Each 15 LEDs seem to dim at a slightly different rate to the others. So at some point a few are completely off while some others are still at their full brightness. Well, that’s useless isn’t it! Maybe I have the dimmer wired wrong, but I don’t think so. I’ve gotten my wires crossed many a time, but I have never knowingly wired anything wrong 😊

So maybe we won’t have a dimmer after all. Maybe just an on/off switch for the LEDs would be fine. I will consult with the Commodore tomorrow, because Oana is usually the one pressing the buttons not me (She’s very good at pressing buttons, especially my buttons! As for pressing Oana’s buttons, I tried it once. Certainly not to be repeated – that’s why she is the Commodore and I’m merely the Captain.)

It’s 8pm by the time I realise it’s dark already and I’m cold in the cockpit. I dive back inside to warm up. Looks like it will be back to full duvet and cozy PJs tonight. Wow, this weather is incredible. It was only last week I could not get to sleep because of the heat!

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