Friday, May 8, 2015

Busy with boat projects

This seems like a good place for some random baby marina ducks

Well we've managed a few weekend trips to the boat recently and have knocked out a ton of projects that have been on the list since bringing the boat back.

First, I installed a set of new companionway doors.  We where a bit tired of having to mess with the hatch boards all the time.  They're great for offshore work, but once you're back in the marina having to either pull 3 boards out, or climb over them when going in and a bit of a drag.  So after some reading we got in touch with the folks from Zarcor and ordered a pair of new doors.  I spent a surprising amount of time measuring and remeasuring one weekend to ensure I got it right the first time.  For some reason I was ultra paranoid about the fit and probably over did it but hey it all turned out great.  The folks at Zarcor purposely fabricate the doors to be a tight fit and warn you that you'll probably be doing some sanding to get the final fit, which honestly is a great thing in my book, since it allowed me to really dial in the fit.  It took close to two months for them to show up but the finished product is great.  They have a set of inserts that will take either a smoked plexiglass panel, solid star board or a set of screens which is great for airflow.  We also opted for a stainless steel security bar that attached to the inside.  Once you close the companionway slider and lock the doors it makes the door much more secure.  I'm sure they could still be bashed in, but you'd have to be pretty damn determined.

Measuring for the new doors
Measuring the lip for more detail

I was pretty sure the top side of the boards was a straight 90 degree angle but needed to be sure

And the finished product, with smoked inserts.  The hinges are great, you can just lift the doors right off and insert the hatch boards.  Pretty slick setup and much easier going in and out now.

We're really liking the added view.  You can see how with the screens in this would add a good bit of ventilation.  We'll try it once it cools down or we spend a night anchored out.

The next project we knocked out was the dock steps...see The Unplanned Swim for why that one got bumped up on the list.  I just couldn't bring myself to spend the $250+ that places like West Marine get for a crappy set of plastic dock steps, so we built a set at home and took them up to the boat.

We also had air conditioning installed.  I know that's not a decision everyone likes, but for us the only way we could possibly consider spending weekends on the boat through a Houston summer...was to have AC.  So we had a local yacht services company install it.  We really like doing our own work when it makes sense, but for something this involved, we needed it to be super clean and to match the rest of the beautiful interior, so we asked around and after a few solid recommendations for the same company we gave them a call and got it done.  The negative is, we had to add another through-hull for the AC, but the good news is it's in a place we'll be able to tap into the same one for the water maker, when the time comes.  We went with a cruiseair 1600BTU unit.  We wanted something that would be enough to cool the interior a bit during the day and enough to sleep at night but didn't want to have to give up too much storage space in the process.  To really cool down the boat in the heat of the day we would have needed a 1600 and an 8000 BTU unit, but we didn't want the cost or to dedicate that much space.  With a single 16k unit we only lost space  under one cushion of the settee and a small space behind it, there's actually still a several open storage spaces behind it, so we're happy with the compramise.  Oh and it's nice and cool in the boat these days.  Unfortunately I don't have any pics yet but I'll take a few the next time we're there and I'll update this then.

Last weekend I re-wired the propane solenoid that we had to put in as a band aid fix on for out first offshore trip after we bought her.  I've been putting that project off for quit a while and even though I wasn't looking forward to it, it was time to get it done the right way.  So I removed the old sealant around the wiring in the propane locker and removed the pigtail from the dead solenoid.  So the new one could be wired directly to the boat wiring.  It took some doing, but with a little whipping line I was able to pull the wiring through to the inside.  Once I wormed my way into the access hatch under the electrical panel I was able to completely remove the old pigtail and connect the new one with fresh marine crimp connections and heat shrink them to make them waterproof...just in case.  So now the new solenoid is in done correctly and I'm hoping that means we're good for many years to come.

To wrap up a weekend completely dedicated to boat projects, I also went ahead and climbed the mast for the first time last weekend.  OK, so I actually climbed a little over half way...for the first time.  During our survey we discovered our foredeck light was burned out.  Since we didn't have the time then and didn't know for sure what bulb type it took we just decided to wait until we got her home.  It was a bit of a nuisance a few times in the Bahamas and we wished we had it coming up the Houston ship channel, in the dark.  I know, not technically a legit navigation combo, but when surrounded by huge ships and tugs...anything you can do to increase visibility is appreciated.

We had picked up a Mast Climber and a harness a few months back and this was my chance to use them both.  The mast climber really is a great piece of gear but I wasn't crazy about the idea of using it with a typical bosuns chair, since it would be fairly easy to fall out of if things got out of whack on my climb and I really like the idea of either Kara or I being able to go up the mast solo if required.  That being said, for my first climb I really wanted a spotter and I was glad to have Kara there.  We attached the spinnaker halyard to the harness via the 316 stainless climbing rated carabiner that came with the mast climber and then for good measure also attached another spare halyard directly to the harness.  I was able to climb the spinnaker halyard solo and Kara was there to spot me with the spare halyard by keeping it relatively tight as I inch-wormed my way up.  The climbing works great, essentially the two ascenders consist of a rope channel and a toothed lever.  We you put even a little bit of weight on the end of the lever the teeth lock onto the rope allowing you to comfortably hang in place.  One ascender is connected directly to the harness and placed above the other.   The second is connected to a pair of straps that you stick your feet through and can stand one.  By alternating where your weight is, either standing on the lower strap or hanging from the harness, you're easily able to take all weight of the other and simply slide it up the rope.  It's a decent workout but honestly not as tough as it sounds.  So I was able to get up to the lights, just above the spreaders and pulled the dead foredeck light, and while I was in the neighborhood, also pulled the steaming light.  We ordered a set of new LED bulbs to replace them, along with some spares and next time we're down in Houston. we'll replace them both and if all goes according to plan should finally be able to light the foredeck.

View from above

My beautiful wife from above

How many wanna be sailors does it take to change a light bulb?

In between all the projects we even got out to do a little day sailing in the bay.  So I'll leave off this marathon post with a little of the good stuff.  Thanks for stopping by - Erin

Hey look...a staysail

For some reason, this view always make s me smile

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