We’re went to the marina on Sunday, January 24th to do our first boat project of 2016, and I thought I’d try to look into our crystal ball and see what we hope to accomplish with the boat this year. We are on quite a roll and hope to keep moving forward with all of our projects. When we left the boat in the fall, we removed the salon overhead hatch and brought it home with us leaving just a piece of plywood in its place. A few weeks ago I cut a 4 inch hole in it and mounted a new solar vent. We tried to install it back on the boat on January 2nd, but it was too windy and bitter cold and we thought better of trying to open up the cover in the howling wind. Sunday the 24th was much better and we were able to get that back in and secured. We plugged in the boat for a few hours to get a charge on the batteries and check on her condition. All was right with the boat but we did retie a couple of the cover ties and make her secure for the next few months.
Planning our projects for the spring is already in progress. The biggest and main project will be to install a new B&G 4G Radar on our mast along with a new wind speed and direction system. You will remember that we pulled the mast down in the fall to get ready for these projects so we can dive into them early this spring. We will be installing a new anchor light with a photo-diode so that it will automatically go off in the mornings. Other parts of the mast puzzle include a hailing horn and foredeck light to be mounted below the radar, a masthead steaming light for motoring at night, replacing all of the sheaves at the head and foot of the mast, and running all new wiring and cabling within the mast for everything. I think I am going to install a mount and wiring as well for a long range Internet WiFi antenna at the masthead. Open WiFi connections are increasingly rare, but in the cases where they can be found, I think it will be beneficial to have that added level of communication when we’re cruising and communication is scarce. We will also need to have all of the proper connections at the foot of the mast and within the boat to connect everything and run new wires for the radar and Internet antenna. In short, the mast rework will be our main focus this spring and it will be a momentous occasion when we can finally restep the mast and get all of the new systems online and working.
In addition to the mast projects, we have new B&G Triton instrument displays to install and connect, and a new speed, depth and temperature thru-hull sensor to install. That will require us to remove two old thru-hull sensors. My plan is to just replace one with the new sensor and to replace the other one with a new thru-hull fitting and a blank-out plug in case I decide to install the forward looking sonar in the future or if I ever needed to replace the other one quickly while the boat is in the water. I think this will be much easier than permanently plugging the unused hole with just the minor risk of a thru-hull. Since it has been there for the past 23 years, it should be okay for the next 23 years also I figure. The old ones have wood backing plates that leak when the boat is first launched and I really want to get that old wood out of there and replaced with new Marelon thru-hull fittings.
After all the mast projects are completed, I’m planning on getting a rigid boom vang from Garhauer installed. Then I’m thinking about tackling the installation of a windlass. The design I am coming to grips with will have the windlass mounted inside of the anchor locker on a strongly welded stainless steel plate structure at a height that will allow the maximum chain fall and correct chain alignment with the anchor roller while in use. This height will mean that I will probably need to cut a hole into the anchor locker door to closely match the shape of the windlass, and you will see it there at the bow when the anchor locker door is closed. In operation I imagine opening the anchor locker door, releasing the anchor securing mechanism, lowering the anchor and snubbing the line. Upon raising the anchor I would need to secure the chain keeper mechanism and then back off the windlass to create a catenary in the chain to allow the anchor locker door to close. I think I have it all figured out, but if any of this seems off to anyone, let me know.
Our To-Do list of boat projects also includes:
- Removing the front gear cover on our engine and replacing the main gasket as it has a slow leak that we cannot stop any other way.
- Replacing our fuel filters before launch this year.
- A new starboard marine plastic cockpit table and drink holders.
- Splicing new lazy jacks for our sail cover. We should do this before we restep the mast so we can easily mount them.
- New LED light bulbs for our navigation light fixtures.
- A new Victron Energy Battery Meter mounted at our Nav-station to give us a better idea of our battery state and energy usage.
- A pressure water tank installed so our fresh-water pump can cycle less and be more efficient.
- New Starboard marine plastic rail seats to replace the aging teak and starboard ones we have now.
- A new 50 foot electrical power cord. Having two of them will give us the ability to reach outlets that are further away from any port berths we find along the way.
- I need to clean and grease our two main jib sheet winches. I did the two on the cabin top last year. It was easy to do, but each one took me about 4 hours to complete.
- And we may begin a task of rebuilding and re-insulating our refrigerator box.
Then we need to get our butts in the water and go sailing! We hope to make our first trip a crossing to Knife River again this year. We had fun doing that last year and it was good to get a few miles under the keel right off the bat. The Tall Ships are coming to Duluth again this year and we are going to try to sail in with them if we can arrange that. And we are looking at doing a trip to the U.P. of Michigan and possibly a trip to Isle Royale if we can get all of that planned and figured out. We got 440 miles put on last year, a few short of what I had hoped for, but I am setting my goal for this year at 600 miles. We’ll see if we can do it!
If we get all those projects done this year, I may dive into the beginning of what will eventually become our solar panel and davit mounting structure at the stern. I feel like I need to get that portion of the equation heading in the right direction before we have a new Bimini and Dodger created for us most likely in 2017.
Does all of this sound daunting? We are going to try to do it all and also to document it on video so others can see. We won’t mind if you imagine us wearing superhero capes, we feel that way most of the time anyway!