Keeping busy…

Hi all, it’s me, Magnus! Yes, that guy that promised to write more often. Didn’t fly as I was hoping, but I will continue to try and update you on my endeavors so that you can follow along!

So, what has happened in a month? Well.. My computer gave up (one reason why I haven’t written anything, but to be honest it wasn’t required to do updates as I have my iPad and even my phone for quick updates). I have been practicing my welding, and I have a good grasp of how to make my solar arch.

Currently I have my 3D printer making some bushings to isolate the panels and their aluminium frame from the stainless to avoid galvanic corrosion. The first test was not successful, as the bushing cracked when I tightened the u-bolt down. So now I’m switching from ABS to PETG for material to see if that is less prone to cracking. I’ve been worried that the u-bolt would crack it, as the bushing is printed layer by layer. But the irony is that it cracked through the layers, so it was the material itself that cracked and the layer adhesion seems to be fine. Oh, well… I’ll figure it out hopefully. Otherwise I have to go with a different plan.

So many things that I’m learning at the moment I’m getting all exhausted! But it moves me forward and that’s great.

I started welding the swim platform, unfortunately the deliveries are, as always, acting up and a pipe that I need to be able to start welding the hinges is still missing. I might need to source it in a different way… Apart from that all the pieces are cut and ready to be welded. So that’s progress.

So while waiting for the pipe to arrive, I started to prepare the boat for the solar arch. The aft stanchions has been removed, and I have measured everything up to be able to add the first pieces for the arch. I even welded two plates to attach the pipes to the deck, one was decent, the other warped like crazy. But it is my fault as I got a bit eager after the first went so well. So I need to do one more.

But this can’t be all I’ve been doing for a week, right? No. I’ve been wrestling with orders. I ordered solar panels from Lithuania, paid and expected them to arrive in a week or so. After two weeks I emailed them. I got a cryptic answer that since it was Spain that they were to deliver them to I needed to pay extra for freight. Hello? I already did that, €24 per panel to be more precise, for transportation in Europe. So after yet another week I called them. Had a conversation and they agreed to send them anyway. On Thursday. One Thursday passed, then two. I called them. They denied my call. For days. After about another week out of the blue they refunded the money. No comments, nothing. Well, I was guessing that this was going to happen, so in the mean time I researched more places that was selling them. Found a Rumanian site that sold them. Placed an order and I got an email saying that they would get in touch with me for payment. That was three weeks ago. Yeah.

The thing is that most online shops requires a minimum order of four panels and I need three. As the panels are quite pricy (LG NeON 2 Bifacial 415W) I don’t want to buy four just to discard one. That’s one reason to why it has been a pain to find a shop to order from. Add to that that they are reasonably new, so there aren’t many that stock them yet. But every time I search for the model number online I tend to find some new shops that stocks them. Germany has a lot of online shops specifically for solar power, but almost all of them delivers only within Germany. But I found one shop that sold three as a minimum and to not say no to myself I sent them an email asking if they could deliver to Spain.

– Sure, they replied, just send me the address and we can send you a quote for the fright.

Great success! I replied with the address and… nothing. I emailed them a couple of times more asking them of a status, but they just didn’t reply.

On a side note, I’ve been exploring to replace my standing rigging (the wires holding the mast up) to dyneema and found a company in Sweden that sold 10mm dyneema on a 200m roll, which is pretty much what I need, and asked them too if they could send to Spain. That shouldn’t be an issue they replied. So I replied that I also was interested in other dimensions on a roll, if they had, as I saw that they had them by the meter. Silence. Tumbleweed. Cue curtain.

Why are businesses so incapable of selling their wares? Sure, I undertand that I’m not their ordinary customer and I’m probably not their main audience. But still, how about being honest about it? Ghosting your customers is BAD PRACTICE!

So, yeah, it’s been a month of frustration.

Anyway, moving on. I went to Bricomart here in the region, a DIY hardware store, bought three 450W solar panels for half the price. There. Done. Simple. They even delivered them. To the boat. They arrived the next day and it was like €30. See? Not that hard to make a customer happy. Will the panels survive the harsh life on a boat? Probably. Will they deliver the power I need? Most likely.

All this has taken a lot of energy from me, energy that is scarce and needs to be portioned with care. At the same time I need to move forward, see progress and an end to all the projects I’m working with.

So, better done than perfect.

I will print four bushings, use them and hope for the best. They are not integral to the integrity of the panel mounting per se, but it would be nice if they could stay together a little longer than the first test. Meanwhile the weather here is adding to the mix, as it is way more windy than normal which makes welding… challenging. But I will continue with the arch and hopefully I can start assembling it and mounting it soon.

On a side note my tender has left New Zealand and is on a ship here, with a preliminary arrival date of May 23rd. The comment was though that I should expect delays. So…

A note on delays by the way, the customs here in Spain has held my Sailrite that I ordered 6 weeks ago. It took just about a week to get it to Spain, from there it has been – you guessed it – total silence. I have asked DHL what is happening, they answered twice telling me to send more information for them to process the customs. I did. Twice. But it seems as if it is moving on, as I got an email from the marina that they called them yesterday and wanted me to call them. I got a number and that I should choose 6 as I called. Well, the phone service is all in Spanish, and I don’t have a clue what they are talking about and as it is automated there is no way to ask questions or to get it in English. So, yes. Great times.

I will try to handle the customs for the tender before it arrives as I don’t want to spend another month just waiting for the customs to do… nothing.

So, what else is happening? I finally removed the temporary heater on the boat, as the temp doesn’t drop below 20 degrees Celsius in the boat any longer, which is nice. The only thing is is that I’ve become accustomed to the warmer weather so it is a little chilly, haha! Friends are leaving the marina, which is understandable as the sailing season is here. Nunky left this weekend for the UK and they will not be back, but I hope that we will meet again some day, somewhere, as they are a really great couple and I have appreciated their company. My friends on SY Bionic went back to Scotland as well this weekend, to get their vaccine inoculations against Covid, but hopefully they will be back at the end of May, depending how the world will look then. Nothing is certain and everything is up in the air.

To be continued…

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