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Mast appeal

At what I estimate is about 220 kilos, this is always a group effort to remove from the mast rack.
As we continue to actually install things in preparation to cast off next year, there are a number of alterations, modifications and fabrications to do or to prepare to do. The mast is getting a few upgrades, for instance, including the replacement of fairly worn-out, if still functional, RG-58 VHF coax for more rugged and less signal-lossy LMR-400-UF coax; this was on the learned advice of fellow sailor Ken Goodings of S/V Silverheels III. The coax will run to a mast-top Metz antenna and also to my new Vesper AIS antenna on a separate run to our new XB-8000 AIS Class B unit. For a nice change, I'm not a total newbie at radio comms; I had a CB radio and SW receiver hobby as a teenager and that's how I learned to solder. I'm sticking with the familiar crimp and solder PL-259 connectors, which I will "skin" with heat shrink tubing at the antenna ends.
It's raining today, so Mrs. Alchemy and I will do the stays and shrouds and untangling tomorrow
So I will have to "fish" the new cable carefully and then solder in the yard. Just out of shot is a light stand with two outlets; once again, my 12 ga. "contractor grade" extension cords will earn their keep as I solder and heat shrink out of doors. In addition to those tasks, I will be tapping threaded holes for the new gimballed radar GPS mount, plus, of course, making a hole in the mast large enough (and smooth enough) to take the radome's cable. There's sufficient slots in the mast base to accommodate all these new cable runs, but it will complicate putting the stick in when that happens.
I was gratified to realize this was a near-perfect fit.
Like many local sailors, I have a few examples of the well-built Blue Performance cockpit and bulkhead storage bags aboard. They've stood the test of time (perhaps because we've kept them essentially below decks) and they are very useful for keeping various bits of equipment in place. The bag pictured above spent a few seasons (well, since it was put in) on the back of the pilothouse helm seat, but this prevented the seat from rotating 360 degrees. So it struck me yesterday that the companionway hatch might work. Did it ever. With a series of drill bits, the torquey Makita, and some cutting oil, I made two holes, tapped them and put in two 1/4" hex head 3/4" bolts in the SS "lip" behind the hinge in the companionway hatch's top flap. I like the fit and I can stow a VHF, a couple of winch handles, sunscreen and maybe a pair of binoculars to hand. Most of the time at sea, this hatch will be secured in the open position; in following seas or moderate rain, the top flap will be open. Only in heavy seas or driving rain will it be fully closed, so this small change will allow us to retrieve a small list of items without leaving the "sailing deck". Nice.

Port side, reporting! (That rust is from grinding, not deck corrosion...). The whole boat needs a good wash after winter.

Speaking of nice, the new transverse exhaust installation is, to my deep satisfaction, working properly (and the boat isn't filling up with stinky water, either). The exhaust "note" has changed slightly, which I'm guessing is a function of the reduced back pressure. I am thinking of putting in an exhaust gas temperature unit with an alarm to warn me if I'm seeing the higher exhaust gas temperatures that would suggest, indirectly and without actually peering over the side, reduced cooling water flow (or that I've sucked a plastic bag into the circuit or thrown a couple of vanes from the impeller). Such a device can also provide data about how hard the engine is working with a given prop pitch, which, having a VariProp, I can remedy in the water.  But for now, I am content with the winter's labours.

Motoring on a heel will tell me more, of course, but for that, I'll need the mast in. Watch this space.
...and the starboard exhaust is exhausting nicely, too.

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