To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Labor Day Party Circuit

Labor Day means—what?—end of summer? Party? Labor? We did some labor. But that's not what's important.

On the party front, Red Ranger's crew is still in recovery mode. Saturday night it was beer, wine and snackies on Fawkes. Sunday afternoon it was Bloody Mary's at The White Dog Inn (in Matthews.) Sunday night it was gin, tonic and snackies on Liquid Therapy. As the junior-most boat-owners, we're feeling good that our experiences are following in the footsteps of our neighbors who are far, far saltier.

We're far enough south that Labor Day means the end of summer's insane heat and the resumption of a cooler boating season. It's the start of the winter migration. More and more transients are stopping by on their way south.

We helped Monday Morning get started for a trip up the bay(s) to Philly. Monday Morning has been in Deltaville for almost 10 months. Through the winter. Through the Tornado. Lots of advice and experience.

Dinghy Tank

The labor-day labors included putting a proper quick-disconnect fuel line together for our dinghy fuel tank. The previous fuel line was 12' of ¼" hose that was a more-or-less permanent part of the gasoline tank. The new fuel line is 7' of ⅜" hose with proper Moeller fuel tank disconnect fittings so that the hose can be taken off one fuel tank and moved to another. It's a Nissan/Tohatsu two-stroke; the fuel line parts are readily available. It was a fun project where everything fit right the very first time.

The new-fangled tank fittings don't leak when the hose is removed. This is a great joy for storage because it prevents gasoline spillage. It allows us to trivially swap an empty tank for a full tank, allowing is much more flexible longer-distance dinghy operations. For instance, when anchoring out in Lewes. We can store two tanks without worries.


Another labor-day labor involved removing an older Vetus passive vent and replacing it with a new Nicro Day/Night Plus solar-powered vent with a fan.

How do you cut a 3¾" hole centered on the old 3" hole?

  • Buy a 3¾" hole saw. Not a bad plan, really. But it's Sunday, and the nearest hardware store is an hour away. Sigh. And you still have to center this up cleverly.

  • Jigsaw. Except, I only have wide "chainsaw" blades. Fiberglass (and the tight radius) indicate a better choice of blade. From a hardware store. An hour away. Sigh.

  • Dremel™. I have some bits that can eat through fiberglass. Slowly. Until they wear out. But. At least I can get started on the job rather than dawdle.

It was a big job. There's about ¾" of plastic filler, ¾" of end-core balsa and another ⅜" of proper fiberglass, plus the top layer fiberglass skin and some gelcoat at each end, too. I will need more Dremel bits that can eat through fiberglass.

CA was stuck holding the vacuum cleaner to collect the vast amounts of fiberglass dust and debris.

But, when we left on Monday, the new vent was humming away. It's very, very quiet (a plus) and can either pull air in or push air out. Since this is in the head, pushing air out seems the most useful option. Just sayin'.

This has been a low-priority item up until we spent the night on the boat with Irene. With all the hatches battened down hard, it was stuffy. A self-powered active vent could complement our array of passive vents.


The question in "Broken" arises here. We can't really figure out our electrical load because our panel's analog gauges aren't really appropriate. During our circumnavigation, we tried our macerator pump to empty our holding tank. That was the only time I've ever seen the ammeter needle move. It jumped to 80 amps just before the circuit breaker tripped. [That usually means that the motor is jammed with poop; it probably hadn't been used in a decades.]

The analog ammeter isn't "broken" in one sense: it does work. But it only measures loads so huge that they would cripple the battery in 3 hours. (80 amps × 3 hours = 240 amp hours, over 50% of our house capacity.) We need to measure much smaller numbers with more precision. [And fix the macerator.]

When running the boat at night, we may have a 6-8 amp load. But we need to know exactly what we're using. We know that a 9.3 amp load is the maximum we can sustain over 24 hours; beyond that, we would discharge the batteries to a level from which they would sustain damage. A persistent 15 amp load would be fatal because I don't think we can produce enough power from our alternator to recharge the batteries at all. But I don't know the real alternator output.

I've installed the Blue Sea Systems 8255 DC Digital Ammeter Shunt in the engine room. Which means rearranging the battery cables so that all negative returns go through the shunt.

Once upon a time, we had a bird's nest of grounding on a single engine stud. We fixed that to use a proper ground bus ("Befores and Afters"). The ground bus still had two battery negative returns, one to each battery. The ammeter shunt needs to be between the ground bus and the batteries.

I used one of the existing battery cables as the ground bus to shunt connection. I cut the other battery cable into pieces to make two shunt-to-battery connections. Note. This is 2/0 wire. It's ½" in diameter. I cut the wire with a hacksaw. The lug crimper requires a ball-peen hammer.

Note. Battery negatives are supposed to use a 5/16" stud; the connector on your battery cable should be exactly this diameter. The shunt, however, is ⅜". You've been warned.

Good. The battery cable I cut apart had a ⅜" connector at the former ground bus end; I had some 5/16" stud connectors in my electrical parts box. The first cable was a walk in the park.

Bad. The sacrificial battery cable had a proper 5/16" connector at the former battery end. Sadly, the 5/16" connector in my parts box wasn't particularly useful for the shunt connection. Worse, I learned this after installation. So I had to run to West Marine for proper ⅜" lug connector, hacksaw the too-small connector off, and crimp another one on.

After the jog out to WM, the basic electrical system is still working. On another weekend—perhaps a weekend with fewer parties—I can finally install the actual ammeter.