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Getting Ready to Get Underway

Alongside, Portsmouth, VA
Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tomorrow (Monday) we will be getting underway bound for Annapolis and a partnership of education and fund raising events with the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Today the crew continue to work on bending on sail and making sure running rigging (sheets, halyards, etc.) are properly rigged. Meanwhile, we Captains are attending to the myriad of organizational details such as making sure the 2012 dry-dock file is up to date and refining the actual voyage plan based on weather updates and crew progress on sailing gear set-up, with an eye to the actual arrival.  Arrival is set for Wednesday, April 11 at 5 PM, and is to be a show-off sail-into-port with cannons blaring occasion.

A very distracting aspect of this process of achieving ship readiness has been in the engineering department. One of the major maintenance events over the winter involved lifting the engines off their mounts, one at a time, and making repairs to the secondary oil containment system. Re-mounting the engines involves a lot of wiring to sensors supplying data to instruments for engine speed (RPM), temperature, pressure etc. With double instrumentation, one set in the engine room and a second set in a box on deck…and some 24 years of age…it became evident we had to replace the deck mounted instruments. Not such an easy thing to do because of wiring harness age realities. Only today, actually this morning, has the engineer Abigail Iverson been able to have success with the new instruments. For the last three days running she has spent the whole of each day tracing problems with the wiring for new tachometer, temperature and pressure gauges.

Imagine for a moment, hiring an outside professional technician to do what Abi has been doing. At whatever hourly rate of pay, the cost would be significant. Admittedly Abi is not an expert in the area of engine instrumentation. But she educated herself diligently via the internet and phone calls. This project actually began almost as soon as Abi came aboard at the end of February. First it was locating instruments to replace the old instruments, which needed to match senders on the engines so that the instruments could actually “understand” the information coming from the senders on the engines. Then came replacing some senders due to problems followed by actual connecting to new instruments. Then came figuring out why nothing…or almost nothing worked. Which meant identifying voltage coming from senders and following them up to the on-deck instrument box. Then figuring out why the instruments still did not read the data. Verify the compatibility of the senders with the instruments. Change out some senders yet again. This went on and on and on since late February, most intently over the last three days.

The final frontier of challenge related to “the ground”. Engine instruments depend on a “clean” ground. Two engines means a ground system for one engine does not mess up the other engine’s instruments. More than two decades of previous maintenance plus a conversion from 12 volts to 24 volts probably had a mischief making roll in the overall process of upgrading as well. Today it seems, Abi, through her attention to detail, diligent self study and tireless trouble shooting, has achieved the goal of functioning engine instruments on deck. WaHoo! Good on you Abi!

But I digress. I must return us two Captains responsibility of reassessing ship readiness to get underway tomorrow…probably just before daylight. There are only another 8 hours of daylight left today.

Jan C. Miles, a Captain of Pride of Baltimore II