Sunday, February 9, 2014

Up the Mast...Again

Considering the awful weather conditions that people up north have had to deal with this winter I should feel guilty complaining about what it's been like here in Florida.
But I don't. Sorry, but I did my time up there and I've shoveled my shit load share of snow. Then we moved down here and I was literally blind sided by the searing, suffocating heat of summer. And let me tell you it's more debilitating to me that any snow storm could ever be. So after slogging my sweaty way through this past summer I was looking forward to winter when I could finally feel like a human being again and get started on outside boat projects.
But October remained exceptionally hot even into the beginning of November and then all of a sudden it was cold, rainy, and crappy. Except down here in Florida cold, rainy, and crappy is oddly bone chilling, and that combination, added to living on a boat, isn't pleasant.
One of the projects we really wanted to get out of the way was replacing our anchor light with an LED bulb. We only have a two battery house bank and each non LED bulb we use draws 1 whole amp. An LED bulb barely draws a quarter of an amp.
This meant someone would need to go to the top of the mast to replace it. Hans wanted to hire an electrician but that's not cheap so I told him maybe I should give it a try. You might wonder why Hans didn't volunteer. He did, however I wouldn't let him. Back when he was sixteen years old some of his friends hoisted him up a mast and it broke thus plunging him down to the deck where he broke some ribs and ended up spending a few days in the hospital. He weighs a significant amount more these days than he did back then and I shudder to think of the damage to him or our boat if something were to go wrong.
So up the mast I went. And since I'm terrified of heights it was quite the experience. I remember the first time a couple of years ago when I volunteered to go up the mast but once I'd cleared the boom (which is just a mere few feet from the surface of the boat) I panicked and made Hans lower me back down. It was a huge letdown for me as I'd really wanted to help.
Last year I actually managed to get up as far as our spreaders in order to replace our steaming light. After that experience I told Hans I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to go all the way to the top as I literally hug the mast and couldn't imagine pushing my self away in order to get past the spreaders.
So a couple of weeks ago Hans bought a new anchor light and with clear skies and no wind I allowed myself to be hoisted to the very top of the Knotty Cat. I was pretty much okay until I got to the spreaders and then I had to leverage my body around them in order to go higher. However, once I was clear of the spreaders and well on my way to the top my heart was pounding so hard I almost called the whole thing off. I kept telling myself not to look down and when I actually got to the top I could barely breathe and I was shaking so bad I couldn't let go to reach above me where the anchor light sits. I finally did calm down though and after unscrewing the light cover I then had to deal with swapping the bulbs. I was amazed that the only thing that holds the bulb in place is the pressure created by a thin piece of metal and I nearly dropped the old bulb when it simply fell into my hand when I touched it. Of course the new bulb had to be different and I had to place adapters on each end (not fun with sweaty shaking hands). Needless to say I was pretty disappointed when the damn thing didn't work. I finally sent it down to Hans via a bag attached to a line I took up with me and he tested it where our stern light is. It didn't work there either.
Down I came and I took the bulb straight back to West Marine where I discovered 24V and 12V are two different things!! Honest to god, I have no idea why no one checked the package for voltage. Luckily the weather the next day was also good so up I went again only this time armed with a 12V bulb and let me tell you it was no easier and my heart pounded just as bad this second time around. But it worked!! And this time I took my camera with me (I didn't even bother the first time) and got some nice pictures.
The new LED light. Nice and bright!!!
The entrance to our marina.
The deck of our boat. That's my leg in the lower left corner.
Our neighbor's boat. When he's not at work he's busy sanding.
Wilbur didn't understand where I was, he didn't seem to understand that I was above him.

Hans took this picture from shore. You can just see me at the top.
With the cover in place our anchor light is ready to stay lit all night long without using a lot of energy.

Needless to say, the rest of my projects aren't nearly as exciting as going up the mast.


1 comment:

  1. I'm afraid I'll be sent up the mast someday ... ugh! I think the men are more scared than us!