Rambling 2017 update

Two three ENTIRE sailing seasons have passed since I last made an entry. That is not good blogging. And most of those memories are probably lost forever, sadly. But I will try and recap a little.

The fuel tank project was completed. I had a couple inches lopped off the bottom and it was re-welded. The boat smells much sweeter now.

The cabin table was removed. There was no easy way to cleanly remove it without pulling the mast, so I just took a multi-tool and cut it out. The interior feels much more spacious. I occasionally miss the utility of having the table; but mostly I am happy with how much easier it is to move around below. I think I may eventually add a Lugun Table or something similar.

Madre sewing up the new cushion covers

Madre sewing up the new cushion covers

New Starboard double cushion

New Starboard double cushion

I made the Starboard settee into a permanent double berth. Once I permanently screwed down the new extension (somewhat larger than than the pull out extension that came with the boat), I was able to add a couple drawers under it. Extra stowage is always desirable. The new bunk also got brand new five inch foam and upholstery (all cut and stitched at home) which is wonderfully comfortable to sleep on. Since it is permanently a bunk, now, I removed the folding seat back and trimmed the little ledge flush with the cabinet in order to make sleep against the hull a little less claustrophobic.

This is the forward locker area. You can see the chain up forward of the temporary plywood wall, and you can see the trial fit of the new floor. This will make the locker much larger, although the sloping hull sides will need some thought as to the best way to handle the space. The hose on the right is the vent from the air head going up to the deck anchor locker.

I am slowly putting together the pieces to make the forward locker (head) quite a bit larger. Since I went composting there is no longer a holding tank up forward, and I see little reason I can’t push the little removable wall forward closer to the anchor locker. This should be a great upgrade when I eventually get it done.

I installed a television. Yeah, I know. But I spend a fair amount of time just lounging aboard at dock at all times of the year. Sometimes it is just nice to sit back and watch a movie. And, frankly, small LCD TVs are so cheap now-a-days, that it really didn’t cost that much. Although I did install a new AC outlet for neatness sake.

Mama duck sitting on her eggs

Mama duck sitting on her eggs. For pretty much the entire summer.

I lost almost an entire sailing season (2016) to a duck who had moved aboard to raise little ducklings. Mama duck laid her eggs under the dodger and just sat on them. For months. One day one little chick hatched. No idea what happened to it as mama kept sitting on the rest of the eggs. Eventually, after waiting more than twice as long as the typical month or so for eggs to hatch, I had to evict her. Actually, I think she sat on those eggs for about three months. She was quite insistent and I didn’t want to bother her, hoping that she’d give up on her own. She didn’t.

Getting ready to take off on a weekend sail this past season, we had cast off the lines, and I pushed the throttle forward to be horribly surprised when the boat surged backwards into the dock. The engine control had pretty much given up the ghost. I ordered a new one, plus two new control cables (throttle and shifter) as I figured they were getting long in the tooth as well and got it installed. It works great; but the throttle control just doesn’t feel as sturdy. I’m not sure if I will get the same thirty five years out of the new one that I got out of the old. Ah, well. Progress.

I think I finally figured how to quickly and cleanly assemble and launch the Porta-bote. The key is to use a halyard to raise the bow of the Porta-bote while assembling in order to not have pressure on the bottom. It works much better. Also, once the middle seat is in, that same halyard can be tied around that seat and used to lift the boat. Then pushing it over the side is not a problem. Once the Porta-bote is in the water, climb in and install the bow and stern seats.

This year I sailed a bunch. I started in April, and had my last sail I think December 2nd or 3rd. I just finally winterized the motor yesterday while the snow was coming down.

This winter I hope to get some work done on the Port settee. I would like to extend it by a little, and install new foam cushions. I hope to also keep working on the forward locker. And if I’m really productive, I have some thoughts regarding rebuilding the galley and extending the port quarter berth aft a bit.

Whew…OK that was a bunch of stuff. And it is really only what came to mind as I was furiously typing at my dining room table. I’m certain there is much, much more that I missed. I am going to try to get some photos here and there to try to colorize this madness of a post, and I’m going to try hard to get back into blogging. I’ve been feeling the need to write, of late, so perhaps I can get myself back into the habit.


Oh, while it is not directly related to the boat, I can’t believe I almost forgot to report the biggest personal news story of the past three years…We got married! Last July. I never thought I’d make that step again; but sometimes things just seem to come together.


Item 1: My new Bayfield has a propane cooking system. It used to have a propane water heater, too; but I didn’t find it worth the trouble and removed it (eBay, soon). Propane works, it is convenient, it is already installed, it is staying (for anyone thinking about talking me into kerosene or alcohol). The tank lives outboard on the stern pulpit.

Item 2: I’ve been so frustrated with a phantom drain of amps in the boat, I decided to redo the entire electrical system. It is now much improved (and almost done). I’ve used modern, properly sized boat wire everyplace. I’ve broken circuits out into a couple different panels. I have a battery monitor. I’m happy. Or at least I was…

The problem: I finally got around to hooking up the xintrex S-2 (preëxisting) propane sniffer/solenoid control to house power this past weekend. As expected, the solenoid burns about one amp, which is totally acceptable. What is less acceptable is the propane sniffers (one in the bilge, one in the cabinet directly under the stove) burn around .5 or .6 amps. Now, given that you’d think that the sniffers should be turned on whenever the boat is occupied (and maybe always, depending on your philosophy), I find that the 12 amp-hrs or more a day, just for monitoring, to be an overly serious drain on my limited battery (and charging) capacity. THIS is clearly a big contributor to my phantom battery drain.

The solution: As far as I know, sniffers are not required equipment. However, they do seem rather prudent. I’m thinking of wiring the Xintrex control/sniffer system up to a spare switch on the circuit breaker panel. I figure a decent compromise might be to throw the switch whenever the valve on the tank is on. When I’m well done with whatever cooking I’m doing, I could close the manual valve, and kill the Xintrex at the panel. This has the advantage of saving some electrons and giving me a third place to kill the propane if necessary (at the xintrex control panel, at the tank, and now at the electrical panel). It has the disadvantage of losing full-time monitoring.

I think with the tank at the rail, the solenoid at the tank, and the new propane line entering the hull through a vapor tight-fitting, that I’m covering the important safety bases. Am I missing something?

Spring update

I can be the worst sort of blogger: a blogger who doesn’t blog. Dammit! Time got away from me. Again.

In any case, things have been happening over the winter, although far slower than I would like. In an effort to write something, anything, here is a quick somewhat long-winded run down of this winter’s boat refit projects:

I am in the process of redoing the entire electrical system. Entirely. AC and DC. Everything is coming out and being replaced. I am unhappy with the existing DC system, especially with a mystery current draw when everything is supposed to be powered off, so this seems like a good time to take care of the system. The small panel next to the galley is being replaced with a larger panel next to the nav station (where it really belongs). Wire is being properly sized (the wash down pump, all the way in the bow, was wired with 16 AWG, as was the pressure water system…now, with 12 AWG wire, the lights don’t dim), as are all the breakers. I’m trying very hard to do everything according to modern standards. I installed a battery monitor which is really cool. I’m installing lots of twelve volt outlets (I hate not having a convenient outlet when I need it). A new stereo and a new VHF with built-in AIS reception is also going into the panel. A CO detector is now installed. A bilge water alarm is being installed (insurance company insists) as is a second electric bilge pump in the little sump area behind the engine if I can find a way to shoehorn it in. New batteries will be going in, wired together with an Automatic Charge Relay so I don’t have to worry about juggling the battery on/off/both switch during charging. In fact, I am installing one new switch for house power and one for engine. I purchased four 20 watt solar panels that will be mounted on the dodger. A couple new LED dome lights have been installed. Incandescent interior bulbs have been replaced with LED and I hope to do the same with my NAV lights. There is a lot more, I’m sure. It’s coming along, slowly. Here is a general (although far from comprehensive and not quite up to date) diagram for how things are wired up…I think this will work pretty well.

DC System, version 1

I did pull out the not-really-functioning air-conditioner and was going to install a brand new one; but I decided to order a new dinghy (porta-bote) instead as my old home-built dinghy went with my Seafarer (sadly wrecked by the new owner ) when I sold her. I may regret that should I move aboard this summer. If so, I am keeping the thru-hulls in place, and I have strung new 120v AC wiring so that I can install a new unit reasonably painlessly without having to haul the boat. In theory anyhow.

The old holding tank is out-a-there, as is the old Grocco toilet and nearly all the associated plumbing. I am just about ready to install the Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet. Unfortunately, the extra height of the new toilet is interfering with the doors of the cabinet behind it. More work <sigh>.

Mom came down for a few days a couple of weeks ago to help me with the hull prep. Lots of sanding and scraping but it is more or less ready for new bottom paint. The previous owners raised the waterline over the bootstripe. I guess I’ll leave it that way for this year. We’ll see how she sits. Mom also helped with the teak which is great, although there is an awful lot left to do. The old name is gone and the boat is ready to receive her new identity. I can’t wait as I was never really happy with the old name.

The new anchor system will hopefully be installed in the next week or two. A Rocna 10 (22 pounds), with 90 feet of ¼” high tensile chain and ½” 8-plait line on a big roller. I bought a second, matching, roller that should be here in a couple of days that will allow me to keep two anchors on the bow, although I haven’t decided on the second set yet.

There is a lot more to do (always); but hopefully I’ll be able to launch by the end of May. I had intended on trying to sail to Martha’s Vineyard for the Father’s Day party that many of my friends have there that weekend; but that no longer looks realistic as I will be lucky to get Seeker launched at that point, and I am not anxious to try everything out the first time on a big (relatively speaking…it’s not exactly crossing the Atlantic; but it would be my biggest passage as skipper) trip. Instead I think I may try for the Newport Folk Festival at the end of July. That plan would allow Lauren to accompany me as I attempt to get her to fall in love with the whole idea of travel by sea. Unfortunately, work may mess up my plans.