Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not Meant to Be

How can something as useful as a radar system on a boat be such a damn pain in the ass? I shake my fist at the sky.

It all started when we bought the system. We put off installing it because we had more pressing issues—like the boat’s annoying habit of randomly filling with water and threatening to sink. She had other annoying habits, like leaking water into the boat from the decks. We've since gotten those issues resolved, and now we’re on to other “nice-to-haves” like a radar system and an anchor windlass.

A few summers ago we decided “this will be the summer of functional radar!” We installed the radar antenna (the dome) on the mizzen mast. We ran the wire down the mast and cut it. We plugged the other end into the back of the display and wired it to the electrical panel.

We spliced the cut wire back together, just like we’d done on every other electrical system on the boat. When you’re running cables on a boat, it’s rare that you’ll run one long-ass cable from point A to point B.   So you cut and splice to make working with the wires easier.  The radar cable has gigantic plugs on either end. To run that cable in its entirety, we’d have to drill gigantic holes into every wall to make the ends fit. To avoid that colossal pain in the neck we decided to slice and splice.

Todd finished the splice then turned on the radar display. It counted down the 60 seconds it takes to warm up, while Todd rubbed his palms in anticipation. The screen, however, remained blank. A call to Raymarine tech support informed us that cutting the wire wouldn’t allow the signal to carry over it anymore. Basically we severed the connection, never to be sliceable again.

We back burnered the radar until this summer. In the mean time, our radar unit had gone straight from discontinued to extinct. Ordering new cables to run down the mast and through the boat proved to be a month long ordeal. We installed the new wires, plugged them into the dome and into the display. We tested the unit while we were still in dry dock and were able to see the other boats around us. We cheered and jumped up and down.

On Friday night we ventured out into the bay for a few moments. We’d been working so hard to get ready for the big trip, we needed a break. The radar happily showed us the boats sharing the bay with us that night. It even showed us the navigational buoys. Then it, inexplicably, stopped working.

And then it wouldn’t, inexplicably, start working again. Todd ran a few diagnostic tests, which revealed nothing. He took time out of work today to go out to the boat and go over the system with Raymarine tech support on the phone. Turns out a circuit board in the dome is no longer functioning, and therefore no longer collecting information about the boats around us.

As I mentioned earlier, the system we purchased brand new just a few years ago has gone into extinction. No replacement domes for this system are to be found. Sending the dome back to Raymarine for repair will take $500 and 15 days.

We don’t have 15 days. We leave for New York City on Friday.  I spent a few hours today trolling the Internet and calling every possible source I could think of.  No dice.

I console myself by saying that Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic without a radar system. Surely we’ll be fine going the length of Long Island Sound without one. But Chris didn’t have to deal with drunken jackholes cruising around in their boats on the 4th of July weekend.

Looks like I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled even wider on my shifts on watch on Friday night.

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Blogger Taoist Biker said...


July 1, 2010 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

Well, all is not lost. While we decided to wait until next year and purchase the creme de la creme Furuno radar next year, Todd couldn't get it out of his head.

We just had a discussion about buying another Raymarine system. I am hesitant about Raymarine b/c I'd heard the company was going through a lot of changes. And then 2 weeks ago they'd been bought by Flir. So, Todd's going radar shopping today. Maybe. Depending on how well he can things like price to work out.

We leave for NYC tomorrow night!!

July 1, 2010 at 8:08 AM  

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