One first for us was spending Christmas morning in the virtual world of our son’s living room, celebrating their Christmas morning with them in Richmond and us in Rochester via Skype and a webcam. In a surreal twist, we had Dave’s sister from Bethlehem PA on another computer, making it a 3-way call. It was a great way to bring the family together.
Here are some highlights from the trip:
The call came about a week before we were due to head north for the holidays. Sue, our friend who is watching over Orion back in Hampton, smelled smoke and quickly unplugged her heater and disconnected from shore power. When we arrived a week later, we were to meet a local marine electrician to have an official diagnosis. However, Dave was quickly taking things apart and doing his own analysis. It didn’t take long to see the core of the problem. The wires leading into the GFI (a feature of Beneteau’s French wiring plan) showed damage from heat. Dave had a simple solution in mind: bypass the damaged GFI in favor of a newer US-standard GFCI that Dave installed a couple of years earlier.
When the electrician arrived, he reviewed the damage and explained that, although our boat's wiring was in excellent condition for the boat’s age, it was still inevitable in a marine environment that time would increase the resistance in the original wires, causing them to perform below their rated capacity. Since the load the wires could carry when new was so close to the fuse rating, any degradation could make them vulnerable to overheating when a heavy load, such as a space heater, was placed on them. The solution was threefold: 1) upgrade the wiring capacity to exceed the fuse rating, 2) as Dave suggested, put the new GFCI first in line for the AC outlets to protect them, and 3) run any heater on a lower setting.
Dave agreed with the recommendation and arranged to have Don return and do the re-wiring on his next trip. In the interim, Dave installed the heavier duty GFCI and we pulled the wires through the channel from the outlet to the back of the breaker panel. With that done, the job to finish the re-wiring would be much easier.
About to get going again
With a little time to get things ready on Orion Jr, we plan to head out again shortly after the new year. Our plan is to travel south to Stuart and then take a right turn through the Okeechobee Waterway to the West Coast. We’ll keep you posted.