2022-07-25

Installing the Raspberry Pi and Using Saillogger

A new addition to our boat is the ability to log all of our travels. To do so, we added a Raspberry Pi powered by the boat's 12V system, connected to the NMEA 2000 backbone, and running a program called Saillogger. See our article on boat networking.

We started by buying a Raspberry Pi. This is a single-board small computer. It has most of the functionality of a large desktop on a tiny board. The specs: 1.5 GHz 64-bit quad core ARM Cortex-A72 processor, on-board 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, full gigabit Ethernet (throughput not limited), two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, 8 GB of RAM, and dual-monitor support via a pair of micro HDMI (HDMI Type D) ports for up to 4K resolution. It runs a version of Linux.

Raspberry Pi 4 B

The Raspberry Pi then has added the PICAN-M hat board. This plugs into it and provides NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 connections, as well as providing power from the NMEA 2000 connection. It takes in 12V and steps it down to 5V.

PICAN-M hat board that plugs into the Pi

This entire setup is then enclosed into a nifty little case. It is about the same size and somewhat thicker than a pack of playing cards.

Case for the Pi, plus the PICAN-M

You can test the whole setup by using a micro HDMI cable, monitor, USB keyboard, USB mouse, and either a wired or wireless Ethernet connection. The Pi will need a micro SD card. If you want to power the board at home for testing purposes, you will need a 120V to 12V converter to power the NMEA 2000 backbone. You may also need a USB adapter for your computer to transfer the operating system onto the card. We did all our initial setup at home, then moved to the boat where we remotely log in using a laptop via WiFi with both devices connected to a phone hotspot.

Our setup required that we pull a NMEA 2000 backbone cable from the "garage" lazerette where our existing backbone was located to the panel to the right of where the AC/DC distribution is located in the cabin of the Catalina 320. The boat's existing cables feed above and behind the cabinets in the galley. We unscrewed the wood panel on the rightmost cabinet, then easily used an electrical fish wire to pull it from the garage. (Make sure to disconnect from shore power before doing this as there is live AC back there.) This is then fed down behind the AC/DC panel. Power is provided by the 12V on the NMEA 2000. We already have a Garmin 17X GPS antenna on the boat hooked to the backbone to feed GPS info to the chart plotter. We put a "T" on the backbone and installed the terminator. Then we attached a drop cable to the PICAN-M NMEA 2000 socket. This kit will provide all the basic NMEA 2000 hardware.

We installed the Debian and SignalK software onto the Pi. We found this page provided really excellent instructions on the install. If you are not familiar with Linux, you may need a friend to help you. We then installed Saillogger.

Sailogger is a program written by a friend of ours. It consists of two parts: a program installed on the Raspberry Pi through SignalK and a web site to which it uploads the information. It automatically records every time you leave a marina and where you have gone, pulling the info from the GPS (and other devices) on the NMEA 2000 network. The next time the Pi gets an internet connection either through a marina wifi or a phone hotspot, it uploads it to the Saillogger web site. There is very little configuration necessary and virtually no information that needs to be added to the logs. You don't need to remember to start something or end it...it is all automatic as long as the NMEA 2000 backbone is powered.

After installing it, we went out for a day sail on Lake Washington.

One image from the Sailogger upload

Detail of performing Man-Overboard drills

2022-07-19

Cutting Board for Stove Top

We found a perfect cutting board to go onto the stove top of the Seaward Hillerange Model 2172 stove that came with our 1994 Catalina 320. It is a Bisetti Walnut cutting board. If the front bracket wasn't on the stove top, this would drop right in. However, we needed to pry the Bisetti logo off the front (it is a friction fit into two holes, so comes right off), then sand it down where the bracket and screws on the side goes. Then we applied some food grade mineral oil. It is a beautiful addition to the galley. The board has two sides, one with a groove, and either side can be up.

Cutting board
Corner that had to be sanded down

2022-07-15

ASA Certification on a Bavaria 41

Most places that you charter a boat, you need to get a certification to show that you are qualified. The two organizations that provide the the most widely recognized certification organizations in the United States are US Sailing and American Sailing Association (ASA). Our plan was to get our certifications so we could fly somewhere else, such as the Caribbean, and charter a boat there.

Just before Covid hit, we were on our way to getting certifications with US Sailing, having completed our Basic Keelboat certification. Covid put a hold on completing the certifications. When we decided to upgrade our own boat, we were initially looking at larger boats, but we chose to go somewhat smaller at 32 feet to leave budget to charter boats elsewhere (and budget for upgrades, as well). As we revisited certifications this year, we found an ASA course that met our needs. We booked a week-long trip through San Juan Sailing that covered ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing, ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising, and ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising. This allows us to charter monohull boats up to 45 feet anywhere in the world.

San Juan Sailing has a fleet of about 60 boats mostly sailing out of Bellingham, Washington. We got booked onto a three-cabin, two head, Bavaria 41, Fresh Aire. The cruise had five crew: Sandi and Greg, Mark and Jessica, and the instructor, Bob. Bob has been sailing for 30 years and knows his stuff. Mark and Jessica have been power boaters on lakes and rivers, but are new to sailing.

The Bavaria 41, Fresh Air Mediterranean docked at Stuart Island.
The course ran from Saturday, July 9 to Friday, July 15, 2022. We checked in by 11 a.m. and brought our stuff down to the boat. The first test was finding all of the safety equipment on the boat. We drew straws for cabins, and got the starboard aft cabin. This cabin has the feet at the aft of the boat, which turns out requires more gymnastics than the aft cabin on the Catalina 320 that has the feet pointed at the port side.
San Juan Islands
(by Pfly, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Saturday, July 9: We got lunch ashore, then prepared to leave dock. Our first stop was Sucia Island, on the north side of the San Juan Islands. We left the marina in Bellingham and raised sail, headed north of Lummi Island. At Sucia, we tied up to a linear mooring system in Echo Bay and spent the night.

Sunday, July 10: We sailed to Stuart Island and Mediterranean docked. We hiked to the T-shirt place.

Monday, July 11: In the morning, we did docking training against the line linear docks at Stuart. We sailed to Roche Harbor and docked at the marina.

Tuesday, July 12: We sailed all the way around the south end of San Juan Island, up the east side of Shaw Island, and anchored in Blind Bay. The seas in Harro Strait were four feet. Winds in San Juan Channel were 29 kts sustained, gusting to 32 kts. Sailed very reefed in using the furling mainsail and genoa.

Wednesday, July 13: We sailed to Rosario Resort on Orcas Island and docked at the marina.

Thursday, July 14: We sailed back to Bellingham and docked at the marina. We refueled and pumped out, performing docking training.

Friday, July 15: We did some docking practice in the marina in the morning.

All in all, a successful week. We learned some new techniques and got much better at sail trim. We got a lot of docking practice in. We did lots of man-overboard drills. These drills are not just good for emergencies, but practice in handling the boat.

Sandi at the wheel