Ahh, winter in the PNW. When we first moved here several people told us the key to making it through winter was to get somewhere sunny and warm for a while. For years we have been going to Mexico, for up to a month.
But we are kinda over that. This year we planned an 8 day trip to Maui. Just before leaving the first week of February, we got some snow in the backyard.
My last trip to the boat I found a fair amount of snow. I had been advised to leave the diesel furnace running. It's a home unit, so in a sense there's no difference than setting the thermostats at home while you are away on a trip. Or is it?
After we arrived on Maui and settled in we began to get reports of heavy snow around Seattle (well, for Seattle that is, heavy can mean a couple of inches!) Our island facebook page began filling with posts about icy driving, the grocery stores being raided, etc.
Using a product called TeamViewer (highly recommended by the way), I can connect to the boat's PC and see our cameras, and other information. I looked the boat over and the first big snow day it was fine.
Using our power utility's phone app, I checked for outages. Just a couple. All of Bainbridge's power comes over a bridge on the north end of the island. Between that point, and where Mahalo is berthed, are a few million trees and miles of above ground power lines. We suffer power losses regularly.
The Maretron monitoring system on the boat notifies me via text when certain conditions occur. You can set up "Alerts" on literally any condition and take whatever kind of action you like, including texts, emails, audible alarms, and so on.
I thought I was all set with the diesel furnace. But then I realized without shore power the blowers won't be running. Also, our expensive AGM batteries can really only keep the boat going for about 8-10 hours before they reach the 50% mark. Draining past this point shortens their lives, eventually ruining them.
Luckily a few weeks prior I was at the boat show, and met Chris from Pacific Yacht Management. He and Jeff Sanson are the owners of Pacific Yacht Management. (http://www.pacificyachtmanagement.com/) They live on Bainbridge, and commute to work right from my dock in a C-Dory.
I had met Jeff on the boat and showed him around, thinking that in the future I'll probably be using them for various kinds of service.
Getting a low battery alarm while 3,000 miles away was a bummer. Now the Seattle news outlets were calling this weather event Snowmageddon!
I called Jeff and he was happy to help out all he could. With the snow and weather, he couldn't get over to Seattle anyway. Power was out I asked him to get to the boat and start the generator. I decided to watch the progress with the cameras. It was kind of eerie. When I saw his boots I thought "help has arrived!"
Using the cameras I could see a fair amount of snow buildup on the tender cover, so I asked him to brush it off. Good man! At this point I'm also getting emails from the system at our house, about the power being off and our home generator starting and stopping. Geez!
Taking a break for nourishment. "Here's to Snowmageddon!"
This is one of many Maretron screens. We have power! Jeff would end up going to the boat several times to start/stop the generator. The last time he went he said "I hope this let's up, the road down the marina is so icy I'm not sure I can make it again."
The batteries and the vacation were definitely saved by technology. Being able to access the boat's cameras and Maretron system, with my phone and computer was great. Note how it takes Wifi to make that happen. Monitoring the power outages with the utility's app was helpful.
10 years ago I couldn't have imagined our boat "texting me," that's for sure.
And of course we still rely on the human element, i.e. Jeff to save the day.
Or do we? I have a little "auto start" project for the generator in the works! Stay tuned.
Thought I'd show you how I typically have the helm set up when underway. We don't even have 100 hours on the boat yet, so I'm sure this will evolve.
The two outside screens are PC monitors being driven by one PC. The inside screens are Garmin 8617 MFD's.
The PC screen at left is running the Maretron monitoring application. It's showing the status of most of the items being monitored, and an engine room camera.
The first MFD is showing the cruising area in a scale that shows the general area.
The second MFD has our chart in one window, in a larger scale, so we can see depths right in front of us. Note the AIS target, our buddy boat Kazuma. The other window is showing our Fantom digital radar. We use this for not only what is ahead, but what is behind as well.
I need to play with the setup and see if I can eliminate one "stack" of the various "numbers" as two are redundant.
The right side PC screen is dedicated to the Axis HD cameras. 99% of the time we have this camera displayed, the view straight out the back.
We have the two VHF's. One is on 16, one on the channel we are using for the buddy boat. You can of course do this with one radio, in dual mode. But it's nice to do it this way.
The CAT screens tell me we are burning 5 gals an hour on each engine, we are making almost 9 knots. Not bad for 2,000 horsepower, combined.
The two small displays under the CAT displays are also Garmins. On the left is one that can display any number of screens, typically we have it showing weather, i.e. windspeed, direction and so on. The one on the right is the autopilot screen. Have to say I'm really liking the autopilot operations.
My android phone sits on a charging pad, acting as a hotspot for the boat's PC and whatever else we want to connect. So we can bring things up on the internet right on either PC screen. We also have important manuals and other resources on the PC so they are just a click away.
I have a secondary charting application, Coastal Explorer, on the PC as well. Haven't really used it yet. The plan is when we get to more tricky waters, say in Alaska, we would view two charts that utilize separate chart datum.
And outside those big windows, is the smoke that bad? No, just how I did the exposure for this shot to show you the helm in proper light.
I have posted previously one shot from the Axis camera system on board. Yesterday I got to use them while driving the boat for my first time! We had a pretty extensive sea trial to accomplish.
I found it quite useful to have a nice large display of what is behind us, while running. Here I'm driving through the Montlake cut. Very cool!
That's Steve D'Antonio (www.stevedmarineconsulting.com). He is conducting one of his reviews on our boat. I'll have more about that in upcoming posts.
The two ER cameras were really helpful doing our various tests. Steve would tell me certain things to do with the boat, and observe in the ER. We had a little signal system. Worked great and saved a lot of time.
Both side decks are monitored as well. Using the Axis software on the PC, these cameras can record basically anything. And you can even set up zones, for example outline the side deck area, and it will record if there is movement there, but not people walking by on the dock.
Ladies and gentleman, yours truly docked Mahalo for the very first time!
(Well, with some expert help from Robert Fiala of HYG.) As I slowly thrustered onto the dock, the port side deck camera was amazingly helpful. We could really see exactly where I needed to be. Most of the time on Hamptons you would do this from the cockpit driving station. But when you are back that far you lose sense of where the bow is.
Perhaps with the camera we can do more docking from the pilothouse.
Although I didn't show it, you can display any of the cameras together on the screen in basically infinite ways.
It was a great first day!