This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Lunch with Jorge, Electronic Systems Checked Out
After clearing the cockpit and cabin and cleaning the boat for my guest I went to the market early today and purchased the main ingredients of the lunch, such as sliced ham, salami, cheddar cheese, and fresh bread and vegetables. At the pastry shop I purchased some goodies for desert. I expected Jorge anytime after noon, so I occupied my time doing useful things such as setting up the jack lines on deck (I had stowed them below to protect them from the weather and UV radiation.) and doing preliminary work on setting up the electronic navigation and communications systems.
Jorge showed up at about 1 PM and brought with him a Suter Privado Brut white wine. Jorge had said that it would be good and he was not wrong – it was perfect for the lunch. Jorge helped me set out the food and here some of the cultural differences showed up. He liked olive oil over his fresh tomatoes and I liked mustard on my bread. We both had healthy helpings from a jar of olives that I had brought from Mexico. He agreed with my comment that it was a very Mediterranean lunch, what with the bread, cheese, olives, wine, etc. We had a nice and slow lunch enjoying the fresh food, crisp wine, and the conversation.
Afterward I presented the pastry for desert and he smiled, pointing out another cultural difference. What I call pastry the Argentinians call “factura” that is for either breakfast or with coffee in the afternoon. We both had a laugh about that but each enjoyed a fresh Danish, as it is called in Australia.
At 3.30 PM it was time for Jorge to leave, but I could look forward the plan for the coming weekend for Jorge, his wife, and their friend Marta to take me for a “goodbye” drive around Mar Del Plata. Also, Jorge plans to visit Angra dos Reis in August, so I am hoping to see him there before I fly off to the U.S.
I walked out with Jorge so that he could ask Luis at the office why there had not been water on this jetty for 3 days. Luis knew nothing about it but his brother Salvador nodded that yes, there was a minor problem of some sort. As we walked away I asked Jorge if I had understood correctly that it was a coupling problem. Yes, it was a minor connection problem. 'But Luis the boss didn't know about it!' I exclaimed. Jorge shrugged his shoulders and replied “That's Argentina.” No statement was made about when I could expect water, but now that Luis the boss knows about the problem I hope that it won't be too long. … After all, I am paying $30 USD per day for my slip and last week I got a visit from the owner of a nearby 3-spreader boat about the size of Pachuca who pays only $80 per month. The Gringo Discount is alive and well in Argentina.
In the evening I resumed my work with the navigation and communication system and I must say that I was very pleased with the result. I set up the Toshiba laptop on the navigation table. The laptop has only 2 USB port so I connected the 6-port USB hub to one port and the cable from the Pactor modem to the other. To the hub I plugged in the mouse and the BU-353 GPS antenna. The tricky part is figuring out what dynamic name the system will give to the ports, but after some fiddling I had the OpenCPN software showing the position of the boat with uncanny accuracy. But I was not able to share the GPS data assigned to OpenCPN with Marine Plotter, the system that shows me Google satellite images as well as charts. So I found my backup BU-353 (I'm a maniac for spares) and plugged it into the USB hub. After more fiddling I had both OpenCPN and MP, each with a dedicated GPS antenna, showing the boat's position.
While the navigation software was running I turned on the HF radio and Pactor III modem and before long was able to send a test message via Sailmail (Airmail 3) through a Chile station.
This might seem like ho-hum stuff, but to me it was important. When electronic systems are left dormant for a long time there is always the danger that just before sailing you discover that something is not working. Fortunately at this point Pachuca's electronic navigation and communications systems are working and ready for sea.
… And let's think about what we have here …. We've got a low-end laptop connected to two GPS antennas and one Pactor modem handling all of the boat's navigation and text communications. The navigation software also has AIS capability. There are two backup computers ready for duty in case of failure.
In my opinion the days of the expensive proprietary chart plotter are over. If radar is an issue, I can envision radars that put out generic data such as NMEA, which can be directed directly to a laptop via a USB port. Such radars may exist already, for all I know. And with that would go the centralized proprietary local networks. I can't help recalling how what turned out to be an Autopilot controller problem at the binnacle of Pachuca brought down the boat's entire Seatalk network, blinding me to wind, depth, and other data. I like the idea of a system where every component (e.g. GPS, AIS, Radar) communicates to a laptop independently via USB, and if the laptop fails, no problem: swap in the spare. … And why would anyone pay $400 USD for a proprietary cartridge containing all of the charts of South America when they can download all of the Google images that they will require and in the case of Brazil, download every electronic chart for free?
Maybe there is a future for proprietary chart plotters. As they say in Missouri, Show Me.
- Departure Date (maybe)
- On The Mend
- Another Delay
- Electronics Fixed, Painting Rutland Tail
- Internet Problem, Mini Tour, Blunder of the Year
- Electronics and LPG
- Glitch and Probable Delay
- Connected Again
- More Preparation
- More Preparation and Internet Problems
- The New Me
- Tristan de Cunha and Cable Repair
- Test Message
- HF Radio Work and Victualing Started
- Lunch with Jorge, Electronic Systems Checked Out
- Anchors Ready, Fuel Tapped
- Fuelling, Boat Orientation, Laptops
- Staysail Deck Fittings
- Mainsail Ready
- Headsail Commissioned and Other Progress
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