Trawler Transformation, Part 4 – The Salon

Continuing with the theme of “a boat should feel like your home,” on the water, the salon was also transformed and “watsonized.” Our 2003 Mariner Orient 38 was in very good condition. Although the woodwork and flooring were in fine shape, the salon needed a “style” makeover. Big time.  Sure, the curtains and the upholstery were serviceable. But do you really want “serviceable” when your husband is pouring his heart and soul into transforming the boat? No! This trawler deserved a new look; a new look designed by us. And besides, I really disliked the beige palm tree motif of the curtains and the nondescript tweed-y salon cushions.

Our first view of the Mariner Orient when we steppe don board almost one year ago.

Our first view of the Mariner Orient when we stepped on board almost one year ago.

In order to reach the final goal, things were pretty grim looking during the working process.

In order to reach the final goal, things were pretty grim looking during the working process.

The old fabrics -  You can almost see the palm tree motif (this is the only picture I have left of those curtains.) And the tweedy nondescript cushions.

The old fabrics –
You can almost see the palm tree motif of the curtains (this is the only picture I have left of those curtains and of the tweedy nondescript cushions.

I decided to sew the curtains myself and sent away for at least 10 fabric samples, all fabrics that would withstand a marine environment. I chose Covington Outdoor Caribbean Seaside with the shell motif for two reasons – I love shells and the design didn’t “scream” shells. I liked that.

Too many choices! Which one will look best?

Too many choices! IT’s obvious that blue is my favorite color, isn’t it? Which one will look best? Going with the shells, of course.

I emailed Annette, the “Seamless Sailor” on Magnolia, with my sewing questions. She is an awesome seamstress and manages to create and sew all manner of things on their boat (a Morgan center cockpit, a sistership to our sweet sailboat.) I learned through experience that the fabric I chose was difficult to work with because of its heavy weight. I also discovered, accidentally, that you cannot press the seams with an iron – it melts! 🙁 The upside of that problem was that the seams could be finished by sealing with a “clicker” flame so they would not fray. The fabric is woven from a blend of polypropylene and polyester making it anti-microbial, water repellant, and meltable.  I removed all of the curtain tape and pins from the old curtains and reused them with the new fabric. It took me all winter, but I made the 13 curtain panels for the salon. Trawlers have a lot of large windows!

My curtains. Although the design is distinctly "shell", it is discreet when finished.

The salon curtains. Although the fabric design is distinctly “shell”, it seems to stay in the background.

syd003-bl06-sydney-delft-by-pindler

Pindler and Pindler Sydney Delft

We hired Nautical Needles to make new salon cushions and spent an afternoon in their shop looking through fabrics. Again, looking for something that can withstand a marine environment. We chose Pindler and Pindler “Sydney Delft”, which is “ultra high UV to resist fading, stain and mildew resistant, water resistant, breathable, bleach cleanable and machine washable, high abrasion resistance.” Sounds indestructible, doesn’t it?

 

I made pillows to add comfort and a splash of fun color. I tend towards quieter and more serene colors and patterns, so I tried to move out of my comfort zone for the pillows.

The pillows are bright and bold.

The pillows are bright and bold, in my favorite colors – blue, green and yellow.

That green marble was in four locations throughout the salon – the galley counter, the little bar counter just above that counter, on top of the refrigeration, and the top of the drawers in the corner. As far as I was concerned, if it is removed from one  location, it has to be removed from all locations. I was only present for the last removal of the counter in the corner. I think Al was glad I finally got to see just how tedious a task this was, for him.

Removing the green marble surface.

Removing the green marble surface.

Choosing new rugs was more of a challenge. Although I loved the designs in so many rugs, I was afraid the salon would be too “busy” or the design would compete with the pillows and curtains. So I played it safe and bought indoor/outdoor blue braided rugs, “blue wave” by Colonial Mills.

Remember how Al ripped out the settee on the starboard side just 4 days after we bought the boat while still traveling home from the Chesapeake to make room for the future IKEA poang chairs (Messing About in Boats)?? He added new teak flooring under the chairs and then created a curious little table to fit between them. We call it the trapezoid table. He made a prototype table first to test if it would work. The lid flips up to reveal two levels. A small upper shelf can tip up to reach more of the storage below. This replaces that liquor cabinet that was repurposed into pantry storage.

Left -  Right -

Left – With the small upper shelf in place.
Right -With the little shelf tipped up to access more bottles.

I am not sure how to describe this next part of the salon transformation. Just like the helm seat on the flybridge, we were not happy with the inside helm seat either, across from the galley on the starboard side. Whenever we needed to steer and navigate from there, we faced the same problem – a single seat with no other comfortable place for the other person to sit. Yes, you could sit right there in the salon, but you cannot help navigate or watch the scenery well from there. I usually ended up wandering about, sitting and standing, and generally being restless.

BEFORE - The original  interior helm seat

BEFORE – The original interior helm seat

This was a real challenge, even for Al, but oh my goodness, he created an amazing solution. During those cold winter months, he dismantled the existing helm seat (seems to be the first step in most of his projects) and experimented with a variety of possible solutions. I cannot even begin to show how much engineering this took, only the final outcome.

LEFT - As a single seater RIGHT - It slides out and an extra insert is added, held in place firmly with a latch.

TOP – As a single seater
BOTTOM – It slides out and an extra insert is added, held in place firmly with a latch.

With the cushions in place.  LEFT - single RIGHT - double It works - we can both sit very comfortably here.

With the cushions in place. 
It works – we can both sit very comfortably here.

The boat feels like home now. It feels like ours. The finished salon, all dressed in new clothes —

The port side, looking forward

The port side, looking forward

The starboard side, looking aft.

The starboard side, looking aft.

That leaves the two cabins and the head…….. Let no space be untouched!

Transforming the Trawler, Part 3 – The Galley Makeover

This is my favorite part of the transformation. All of the mechanical and technical modifications are absolutely a priority – safety first! But…… if you are going to spend extended time living on a boat, as in months or years, it needs to feel and function like a home.

There was nothing horrible or old about this galley, especially if you have no intention of cooking much or traveling far. I immediately knew that this galley did not have enough storage space for me, for the type of cruising we do. This is my little kingdom on the boat and I had a lot to say about its transformation. I needed more storage space, but there is a finite of amount of space on a boat, so where do you find more? You repurpose!

The galley on the day we first saw the Mariner Orient.

The galley on the day we first saw the Mariner Orient.

The traditional chart table (for holding all of the paper charts) was in the galley on the port side opposite the inside helm station on starboard side.

When closed, the chart table makes a large surface. When opened, it just held a lot of....  stuff. But no charts??

When closed, the chart table makes a large surface. When opened, it just held a lot of…. stuff. But no charts??

With the use of chartplotters and iPads for navigation, having a dedicated chart table isn’t as necessary. We still use our paper charts and always have them nearby, but other places can be found to store them when not in use. I looked at all of the space inside of the chart table and declared that it would be better suited to dish and utensil storage.

A bit unorthodox, but accessible and spacious. That lid was quite heavy to hold so a gas cylinder arm was added to ease lifting and to hold it in place while open. Works like a charm. :-)

A bit unorthodox, but accessible and spacious. That lid was quite heavy to hold so a gas cylinder arm was added to ease lifting and to hold it in place while open. Works like a charm. 🙂

We were on a hunt for more storage, evaluating every nook and cranny for possibilities. The pull-out cabinet under the interior helm seat was directly across from the galley, and wasting valuable potential galley storage space. Why not pull out the inefficient round-holed racks for the glasses and bottles and use it for pantry items? We can find another place for the wine and beer – that would never hold it all anyway! 😉

 Left pic - the "liquor cabinet" as originally intended. Right pic - Now pantry storage. I am not sure exactly what will end up in here. Just trying out different things, maybe staples, maybe snacks.

Left picture – the “liquor cabinet” as originally intended.
Right picture – Now pantry storage. I am not sure exactly what will end up in here. Just trying out different things, maybe staples, maybe snacks.

Every boat has storage under the salon seating; the challenge is to get at it, easily, when you need it. Lifting up the cushion and then the plywood is not something you want to do repeatedly each day.

The L-shaped salon seating has space under the cushions, but most of it is used for mechanical "stuff."

The L-shaped salon seating has space under the cushions, but most of it is used for mechanical “stuff.”

This is very usable, but not easily accessed space under the salon seating.

This is very usable, but not easily accessed space under the salon seating.

 

Al added a drawer in the side of this part of the salon seating (where his feet are) so that the space could be more conveniently accessed, by me.

 

 

 

 

 

The finished drawer —–

Closed and open drawer. It isn't well organized at the moment.  It is going to take me all summer to figure out what should go where. But what a nice problem!

Closed and open drawer. It isn’t well organized at the moment. It is going to take me all summer to figure out what should go where. But what a nice problem!

There was no place for a trashcan in this galley or salon. If you leave one sitting out, not only is it unsightly, but it will also tip and spill. Hmmmm…… what to do? Al loves his “sawzall” for a reason – it is the solution to so many problems. 😉  He determined that there was quite a lot of space under the sink for storage, and well, a trashcan! Rather than open the door and reach under every time, he sawed out part of the shelf and cut a neat opening in the side of the galley, creating a tilt-out trashcan.

For the more observant folks out there, these photos were taken at different times, therefore the different rug and cushions (we get to those changes later.)

Closed and Open — For the more observant folks out there, these photos were taken at different times, therefore the different rug and cushions (we get to those changes later.)

 And now for the pièce de résistance! Al saw another Mariner Orient, 40-footer, with a pantry in the galley. What a project this became, but so worth it! Below the chart table, which is now dish storage, there was a blank empty wall. The other side of that wall was in the guest cabin and held a mirror above a small vanity table with a drawer. Why not build a pantry accessible from the galley and bump into the guest cabin, where the mirror hung? Why not indeed?

This is the mirror in the guest cabin. That wall backs on the galley.

This is the mirror in the guest cabin. That wall backs on the galley. (Photo is from our first look at the boat. The transformation of this cabin will come later!)

Al measures and marks his cut lines with masking tape (sawmill again!)

Al measures and marks his cut lines with masking tape (time for the sawzall again!)

The opening -  The left picture is looking from the galley and the right picture is looking out from the guest cabin.

The opening –
The left picture is looking from the galley and the right picture is looking out from the guest cabin.

Building the box that will become the pantry.

Building the box that will become the pantry. Looking from both sides again.

My new pantry! Yes! With the door closed and the door open.

My new pantry! Yes! With the door closed and the door open. Al used the closet door from the guest cabin so that it would more closely match the rest of the salon. He will make a new door later for the closet.

There were other modifications to the galley that required an even greater degree of technical and mechanical skills than storage, beginning with the refrigeration dilemma. The boat has a Norcold upright refrigerator and freezer unit in good working condition. We discussed replacing the upright Norcold with drawers so that the freezer space could be enlarged and be more efficient than an upright. The existing freezer (that narrow door on the left) would not hold enough food for long-term cruising (it’s only a pinch bigger than .75 cubic feet.)

freezer

Freezer

Refrigerator

 

On the Morgan, Al had spoiled me with custom built, highly-insulated, refrigeration and freezer units of 5 cubic feet and 2 cubic feet, respectively. I knew I could manage with 2 cubic feet of freezer space, but ¾ cubic feet???? Nah. After much debate and research, we decided it was more practical, both physically and financially, to keep the existing Norcold unit and add additional freezer space elsewhere. But where??? A new search for hidden unused space began.

In his investigations throughout the boat, Al uncovered a large amount of completely unused but not easily accessible space under the galley counter. He reached it through the salon seating. Here would be the location for a new freezer unit.

Al found unused space below the galley counter.

Without the counter top, the unused space below is visible,  sufficiently large and very empty.

The question — Build a freezer unit himself again or purchase a ready-made one? Al found a drop-in 1.5 cubic foot Engel that would fit perfectly in this “dead space.” He really had enough projects to do without building a custom freezer. This type of major work meant that the green marble (?) counter had to be sacrificed to be removed. I didn’t like it anyway; there was a seam and white stains that wouldn’t come out.

We decided to use a solid surface counter, just as we had on the sailboat. After reviewing and deliberating over the various shades and styles of solid surfaces, we agreed on Corian “Witch Hazel.” The big hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot won’t sell sheets of Corian or any solid surface material to regular folks, so we returned to an online source, SolidSurface.com, the same one we used for the Morgan.

Collage of building the counter and fitting in the freezer unit with insulated lid. The freezer lid required very careful planning and fitting.

Collage of building the counter and fitting in the freezer unit with its insulated lid. The freezer lid required very careful planning and fitting.

ABOVE - The new Corian galley counter with a new faucet, filtered water faucet, and soap dispenser. The existing sink was re-used but mounted underneath. BELOW - The new Engel freezer

ABOVE – The new Corian galley counter with a new faucet, filtered water faucet, and soap dispenser. The existing sink was re-used but mounted underneath.
BELOW – The new Engel freezer

I continued to look for ways to maximize the space in the galley in any way possible. Spices and coffee making supplies take up space. A magnetic tin spice rack seemed like a neat solution and an attractive one. I used chalkboard stick-on circles, cut in half so that you can see the spices, with a chalk permanent marker pen. I know that spices should be kept in the dark and away from heat, but I think it will be ok. There was only space for 12 spices, so some are still in the pantry. There was enough space between the chart table and the window for a wicker basket that could hold coffee supplies.

Cooking utensil storage and coffee making supplies along side of the chart table/dish storage.

Cooking utensil storage, coffee making supplies, and a spice rack. All within easy reach.

The New and Improved Galley!  

A view of the finished galley

hhh

 Next blog – the salon.

Transforming the Trawler, Part 2 – The Exterior

Part 2 of the transformation is about the exterior of the boat. These transformations have to do with comfort and convenience and safety. It’s all about making the boat more liveable. Let’s take a look from the bow to the stern.

On the bow, anchors aweigh!: You may recall how shocked we were to discover that there was only 15 feet of chain plus 100 feet of line. Whoaa! Or not whoa, because that won’t hold the boat in questionable conditions. The Morgan carried 175 feet of 3/8 inch chain for an anchor rode (rode is the name for the line, chain or combination of line and chain that connects the anchor to the boat.) Recreational boats should have a good amount of chain and then line (rope) for their rode. Larger boats that cruise often carry all chain, especially if they have a windlass. We prefer to have all chain so adding an all chain rode was put on our list.

Measuring the anchor lines – REALLY???? Only 15 feet of chain??

 

 Off we went to Defenders Marine Sale in late March, Al’s favorite way to spend his birthday.

A happy birthday boy in the checkout at Defenders Marine.

The 150 feet of chain weighed 247 pounds. With two helpers and one very strong Defenders dude, the anchor chain was loaded into the back of our little Subaru Impreza. Naturally, there were no Defender dudes around when we arrived back home. 

2Loading and unloading chain

Defenders dudes load the chain into our car, but only Al is around to get it out of the car at home.

When anchoring, to avoid guessing and yelling about how many feet of chain you have let out, it’s a real good idea to mark the chain in specific lengths. You can buy special markers, make your own markers (we tried that for a few years) or paint your chain different colors at specific lengths. Some people tie a different number of small lines or wire tires at intervals, but we found they can tangle in the chain or hold dirt. Others use a specific color scheme and paint the links. I read about an interesting color sequence – every 25 feet change colors, red, yellow, blue, white, orange, and remember it with “Rub Your Body With Oil.” Really? Anyway, about ten years ago we settled on a system that has worked for us without any problems. We paint the chain at intervals of red, white, and blue, in that order, changing color every 25 feet. We use good, bright paint which is easily visible without confusion and it lasts for years. The bonus is that we never forget the order of red, white, and blue. Easy-peasy, as the first graders say.

Stretching the chain out in the driveway to measure and mark it in 25 foot intervals.

Stretching the chain out in the driveway to measure and mark it in 25 foot intervals.

Let's hear it for the Good Old Red, White and Blue. A sequence that cannot be forgotten.

Let’s hear it for the Good Old Red, White and Blue. A sequence that cannot be forgotten.

Loading the chain back into the car again and then onto the boat.

Loading the chain back into the car again and then onto the boat. Al is standing under our bow – that swim platform is on the boat stored in front of ours all winter.

 To prepare for the new 150 feet of chain, Al rebuilt the anchor locker which is behind the little doors just beyond our heads where we sleep ( in the bow, but not in our bed!) He added a tube so that the chain follows down in and under the v-berth, forming a pathway to send chain from the old anchor locker down into the space under the bed. The old locker was not large enough to hold both 150 feet of chain and additional line. It will now also accommodate a second anchor set-up.

The anchor locker BEFORE

The anchor locker BEFORE

At the top are the open doors to the main anchor locker with chain visible.Below those doors is a small shelf that is actually part of the head of our bed (that’s where he added the USB port and a 12 volt plug). Below the raw wood, which is well beneath our mattress, you can see the tube for the chain, and then all the chain spilled out into the space. We have tested it out and it works!

The Anchor locker AFTER – At the top are the open doors to the main anchor locker with chain visible. Below those doors is a small shelf that is actually part of the head of our bed (that’s where he added the USB port and a 12 volt plug). Below the raw wood, which is well beneath our mattress, you can see the tube for the chain, and then all the chain spilled out into the space. We have tested it out and it works!

Terrific! Now we can sleep at night while at anchor, at least most of the time. But a new problem arose (remember that Law of Boat Projects?) The windlass on the Mariner was not impressive, only a 900-watt Simpson. Al worried that it would not be strong enough to haul all of the chain and Rocna. With patience and determination he searched eBay and Craig’s List, and acquired a Lofrans like our Morgan’s, but a little bigger. And a good deal.

The Lofrans windlass. Comfortingly familiar and able to haul

The Lofrans windlass. Comfortingly familiar and able to haul 320 pounds up and over the bow.

Up, Up on the Flybridge: A flybridge is a new experience for a sailor, and we will readily admit that it is an awesome place! Great views, nice air, and a lot of space. But this flybridge needed some work.

The bimini was in poor shape, thinning and ripped, and had no side curtains. We had an incredible hardtop and enclosure on our Morgan, which allowed us to use the cockpit as living space as well as comfortably navigate underway in lousy weather. We needed a good bimini on this boat! Our first discussion was “what color?” We didn’t really agree at first. Left on my own, I might have gone with yellow canvas. 😉  Think of it this way — you need to give someone directions to your boat in a harbor filled with many boats that pretty much all look alike except for the distinguishing mark of a mast, or no mast. What do you say? “The white boat with the blue canvas?” Sure, that distinguishes it. I thought yellow was a great solution to a common problem, but the captain did not agree. Fortunately, blue is my favorite color, and blue it would be. But what blue? I did not want a navy that looked like black and Al did not want a blue that would be too bright. We decided on classic navy. Ahhh, problem solved? Not yet! There are many shades of blue and quite a few variations of navy…………

50 (no, just 5) Shades of Blue.  We settled on the little piece on the left. The original is the every dark navy underneath the swatches.

50 (no, just 5) Shades of Blue.
We settled on the little piece on the left. The original is the very, very dark navy underneath the swatches.

We chose Nautical Needles in Westbrook, CT to make the bimini with side curtains for protection. They had done the work on the Morgan and we were happy with it.

Tempting the bimini with large sheets of plastic to make a the pattern. Very precise work, or at least it should be!

Templating the bimini with large sheets of plastic to make the pattern. Very precise work, or at least it should be!

The finished bimini! Excellent workmanship - we are quite pleased with it.

The finished bimini! Excellent workmanship – we are quite pleased with it. 🙂

On the 7-day trip from Annapolis to Connecticut last summer, we struggled with the seating on the flybridge. The helm seat was for a single person with two cushioned benches on each side that sat lower. While underway, the person not steering had to sit on a side bench.

Al testing the steering during the survey, sitting on the single helm seat on the bridge.

Al testing the steering during the survey, sitting on the single helm seat on the bridge. One of the side benches is visible just past him.

We usually navigate together and both look out, but the side bench seating wasn’t really comfortable for that and did not give me (or anyone else) good visibility for navigating. I tried a folding chair looking forward, but I still couldn’t see over the helm and be of any use. All winter long, Al pondered this dilemma. What to do? Replace the single helm seat with two helm seats? Would they fit side by side? Look for a bench seat? Once again, he continually searched eBay and Craig’s List for possible options. Finally, a two-person helm seat appeared that looked suitable for our needs, used, but in good condition. Another deal!! Al made a base from starboard to cover the old indention for the single pedestal and then secured the double pedestal to the floor.

The "new" double pedestal, two-person helm seat.

The “new” double pedestal, two-person helm seat.

As you can see, we fit quite comfortably together on this seat.

As you can see, we fit quite comfortably together on this seat.

The cushions on the side benches - bottom one is before and the top one is after Al repaired it.

The cushions on the side benches – bottom one is before and the top one is after Al repaired the zipper.. Good as new!

A major addition to the flybridge was the solar panels, a project “completed” last summer shortly after we brought the boat home. We love solar panels and the free energy they provide. To see that project, please refer to Messing About in Boats for the details, including the wiring diagram.

Solar installed on the flybridge - plenty of room!

Solar installed on the flybridge – plenty of room!

If you look carefully at the pictures of the solar panels above, you will notice that there are no handrails to grasp when you climb up the ladder to the flybridge. We thought this was a serious and potentially dangerous issue. Sooooooo…….. Al found a welder to make handrails to his specifications. It is hard to believe there is something he cannot do, but Al has not learned to weld yet.

There is a new short handrail to the left as you climb up the ladder, and anther longer one attached tot he mast on your right. Both are so easy to grab, and so necessary. An added bonus - finally have a spot to hang the grill.

There is a new short handrail to the left as you climb up the ladder, and another longer one attached to the mast on your right. Both are so easy to grab, and so necessary. Al added a gas cylinder arm to make it easier to lift the hatch up over your head. A bonus with the rails – we finally have a spot to hang the grill (under the blue cover by the mast.) I was surprised how challenging it was to find a location for it.

Let’s head down that ladder and see what’s below.

Looking down looks much worse than it really is.

Looking down looks much worse than it really is.

When we were searching for a boat, one of Al’s main concerns was the steepness of the ladder to the flybridge. He worries about my lymphedema, a condition, thanks to cancer surgery, that has left my right leg less flexible and permanently swollen. As luck would have it, any boat that had a nice gradual set of steps to the flybridge, or at least a shorter ladder, also had other features that were less desirable. As you know, you can’t always get what you want, at least not everything. Yes, this is a ladder, but so far I can manage it ok. Naturally, Al can’t let well enough alone, so he built a “prototype” of a modified ladder in wood:

Left - The prototype ladder set in against the stainless ladder. Right - The prototype ladder stepped out for using.

Left – The prototype ladder set in against the stainless ladder and out of the way.
Right – The prototype ladder stepped out for using.  
We will have to wait and see if this prototype leads to anything permanent.

We specifically searched for a style of trawler called sedan or Europa. This design gives us one level of main living space, inside and out, when you combine the salon and the aft area. As you can see above, we step right out from the salon door onto the covered deck. There is a locker in each corner that provides storage and more seating.

Al reinforced the lockers' lids for strength.

Al reinforced the lockers’ lids for additional strength.

We had custom C Cushions  (closed cell foam) made for each one.

We had custom C Cushions (closed cell foam) made for each aft locker. A little cushioning is a nice comfort.

A winch was added to the davits for hauling the dinghy up and down. The engine is pretty heavy so this eases the load. Al made the winch block out of leftover starboard .

A winch block made of starboard

A winch block made of starboard

Take a look at the picture below and see if you can guess what its purpose might be. Hint – It has something to do with this part of the boat.

I call these "the funny round things." Al made a plastic prototype and had two made by the welder.

I call these “the funny round things.” Al made a plastic prototype and then had two stainless ones made by the welder.

Al attached one on each side of the swim platform to keep the dinghy from sliding under when waves or wakes bounce it up and down. The rings also provide a nice handle to grab as you bring the dinghy up to the boat. They may seem a little odd or unusual, but I definitely see the purpose now.

Funny round things in use on the transom.

Funny round things in use on the swim platform. They really are useful!

That brings us to the end of the exterior transformations, to date. The only other change was to use green bottom paint instead of the old red.

Part 3 of the Trawler Transformation will be the interiors changes. ….. Come back and visit.  🙂 They are my favorite part!

 

Transforming the Trawler – Part 1, The Systems

I have been procrastinating about these “trawler transformation” blog posts, especially this first one on the mechanical renovations.

 Disclaimer – Although I enjoy the final outcomes in terms of safety, efficiency, and convenience, I’m not very knowledgeable about these boat projects. I listen as the captain describes each step, each stumbling block, each success; but I don’t really understand much of it. I try, I really do try. Therefore, if you are interested in more details, you will just have to email Captain Al. If you aren’t interested in these mechanical projects at all, wait for the next blog post!

The Captain having his morning coffee while checking on the boat's systems.

The Captain having his morning coffee while checking on the boat’s systems.

So, let’s begin with these technical, somewhat unseen, yet very necessary, changes in the various systems.

Engines and Things — Back in September, we had that “little” problem with the line caught in the prop, resulting in an injured transmission. We limped up to Portland at 1100 rpm for her winter storage.

Al removed the transmission and loaded it in his truck for a trip to Gloucester, Massachusetts. FYI - the rust is from a leaking hose that Al replaced.

Al removed the transmission and loaded it in his truck for a trip to Gloucester, Massachusetts. FYI – the rust is from a leaking hose that Al replaced.

There sits our transmission in the shop ready for the expert to cure it.

There sits our transmission, front and center,  in the shop ready for the expert to cure it.

Several months later, she comes home all shiny and new.

Several months later, she comes home all shiny and new.

 It turned out that the engine issue was not caused by the transmission at all. The transmission was declared to be like new inside. The problem was a loose and worn cutlass bearing that Al had to cut out. The transmission guy pressed it into its housing because Al could only get it halfway. Al carefully photographed the engine and transmission as he removed it so that he had a reference when he put it all back together.

On the left is the cutlass bearing after removal. On the right is a picture of it on the boat at the time of the survey.

On the left is the cutlass bearing after removal. On the right is a picture of its location on the shaft at the time of the survey, outlined by the yellow square.

Engines are complicated machines (it seems to me), but Al is very comfortable with diesel engines after working on our last three boats. They are real workhorses and will run for a long time. This diesel engine is by far the largest, a Cummins 220 hp compared to the Morgan’s Yanmar 44 hp and the Catalina’s Westerbeke 25 hp. One of the positives about the Mariner Orient was the low engine hours at the time of purchase. Any engine requires constant maintenance. Al keeps asking me if I want to learn to change the oil, but I can live a full and happy life without doing that.

When Al readied the engine for launching this spring, he changed the impeller in its water pump as part of his regular spring routine. Noticing that two blades were missing, he went on a search to find the blades in the water hoses of the cooling system.  Those missing blades could block the water flow and cause the engine to overheat.
Look what he found —

Al found, not just those two missing water blades, but a total of ten blades from older impellers. Unbelievable that the engine had never overheated, and that no one ever looked for them before this!!

Al found, not just those two missing impeller  blades, but many blades from older impellers lodged in the end of the hose.  Unbelievable that the engine had never overheated, and that no one ever looked for them before this!!

Power! When I think of batteries and what they provide, I think of a song written by Eileen Quinn, a singer/songwriter/cruiser who writes “Music for Sailors and Normal People.” She and her husband, David, are entertaining and talented. If you are a sailor, her music will strike a chord with you and you can truly appreciate the lyrics. The lyrics to her song “Power” are a good way to begin this blog post about our batteries:

You need me more than you think.
I am with you always,
Hour by precious amp hour.
You might as well admit it,
You know I’ve got the power over you.

Baby, I’m your wind, I’m your sun,
I’m the battery bank that makes you hum –
I’ve got the power over you

I crank up your engine.
I make your water pump.
I light up the night and everything you’ve got.
I’ve got you plugged into me,
I’ve got you electrified.
You couldn’t live without me now even if you tried
I got the power over you.

The existing “house” battery on the boat was too old and breathed its final gasp. Batteries are VERY important. They provide the power to start the engine and the generator, run the boat’s electronics, eg. chartplotter, depthfinder, autopilot, windlass, bowthruster, refrigeration, lights, and charge the assorted personal electronics such as phones, iPad and laptop. Bottom line – the batteries are critical to living comfortably onboard.

Batteries are very heavy. Adam helped Al move the genes battery from the engine room to the back cockpit storage area so that there was more space in which to work around the engine.

Batteries are very heavy. Adam helped Al move the genset battery from the engine room to the back cockpit storage area so that there was more space in which to work around the engine.

We replaced the old “house” battery with two golf cart batteries and then added a new second house battery of 4 golf cart batteries under the bunk in the guest cabin. House batteries are designed to provide a steady amount of current over a long period, such as  running the refrigeration and lights while at anchor .

New battery storage space was found under the bunk in the guest cabin. There was nothing there, so why not put it to good use?

New battery storage space was found under the bunk in the guest cabin. There was nothing there, so why not put it to good use?

The four golf cart batteries are all nestled snug in their new bed.

The four golf cart batteries are nestled snug in their new bed.

With new batteries and solar panels in place, we should have sufficient electrical power for most of our needs. The solar panels have been able to keep up with our needs quite nicely so far. We have been using about 30-34 amp hours overnight for running the main refrigerator/freezer with some lighting. By noon, on a sunny day, we are fully charged at 100% again. Hey – Why can’t I have a blowdryer and curling iron on the boat??

Remember when Al moved the inverter from the engine room (very hard to access quickly and easily) and moved it into one of the steps near the galley? That inverter is what converts 12 volt power into 110 power which is what we use in houses. That would be what I plug my blowdryer and curling iron into. Just saying………..

The inventor at work converting 12 volt power into 110 power.

The inverter at work,  converting 12 volt power into 110 power.

Al had already installed one xantrex meter to monitor the batteries. Now that we have two house banks he added a second xantrex meter. We can check their status at a finger’s touch and know how much is going in and how much is going out.

The two circular xantrex meters on the helm dashboard.

The two circular xantrex meters on the helm dashboard. Notice in the close-up picture that they are reading 100%. Sometimes it evens flashes “FULL” .

The electrical panel has many switches, knobs and controls. All those switches turn the power on and off for anything that requires electricity. This is one of the first things we do when we get on boat and the last thing we check when we leave.

The electrical panel behind its glass door.

The electrical panel behind its glass door.

  • The red light above the panel indicates that the batteries are charging through the solar panels.
  • The white light below the panel is to remind Al that he left the engine room lights on down below. He decided that was a necessary feature after forgetting more than once.
"Battery Control Central"

“Battery Control Central” down in the engine room – switches and wires!

Speaking of electricity, Al also installed USB outlets for charging the ipad and cell phones. Behind the head of our bed in the master cabin and up on the flybridge for the ipad when using it for navigation.

IPhone charing in the new usb port.

IPhone charing in the new usb port. Notice my screen saver? That is a real bottle that washed up by my feet on a Bahama beach last year. No message inside.

Navigation  The Garmin chart plotter is now permanently installed at the lower interior helm. Al found one just like our old one, only newer and in excellent condition, on eBay. There are newer , fancier models but the 5212 has worked well for us and there won’t be a learning curve. With two helms (one up and one down), we needed navigational electronics in both locations. To date, we have been using an iPad for navigation when up on the flybridge, like many people now do. Al is searching for a second bracket (on eBay) to mount on the flybridge in case we choose to move the Garmin up there when necessary. It is just too costly to add a second full chart plotter. Just for the record – I do understand the navigation equipment and do just as much plotting and navigating as the Captain. Sometimes more.

Garmin 5012 shows us on our mooring just off of Avery Point in Groton.

Garmin 5212 shows us on our mooring just off of Avery Point in Groton. It is hard to see the little boat icon in the picture – directly above the blue minus &  plus buttons at the bottom center  of the screen.

We kept our AIS (Automatic Identification System is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites) system from the sailboat and then learned that we could not reprogram it ourselves (sad news for do-it-yourselfers.) We had to send it back to England to Digital Yachts, the manufacturer. After they reconfigured it to the trawler’s specifications, we still had to get into its software and add a few more details before it would function properly.

We connected the AIS to my MacAir laptop to runt he CD that configures the AIS to the specifications  of our boat.

We connected the AIS to my MacBook Air laptop to run the CD that configures the AIS to the specifications of our boat. After a couple of dialog boxes like the above and several experimental tests, we were transmitting.  Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class confirmed that they could “see” us on their AIS.

When AIS is connected to the chart plotter, it allows us to see other boats that have AIS; very useful when traveling among commercial vessels. The other ships show as little green triangles. You can then touch the triangle and and a new screen appears with that vessel’s pertinent information such as name, MMSI #, type, bearing, speed.

Other ships with AIS appear as green triangles with a directional line.

Other ships with AIS appear as green triangles. The vessel’s information can be accessed right on the chart plotter.

When another  vessel poses a danger to your ship, the green triangle becomes red.

When another vessel poses a danger to your ship, the green triangle becomes red. A warning will also appear on the chart plotter, “AIS alarm: A dangerous target was detected.” Then a red line from that ship appears to show you how and when it will cross your path, or hit you if one of you does not change direction. Even the information panel declares  “Dangerous” in red.

As thorough as we were when the boat was surveyed, somehow we missed the fact that there was no autopilot. We have had autopilot on the previous two sailboats. It is a very, very nice thing to have in your navigational electronics package. Autopilot can usually steer the boat straighter than human arms during long stretches of travel.  Do not be concerned – we do not turn it on and go take a nap. We continually watch and make adjustments to the course, but our arms do not get so tired on a long trip. Installing the autopilot was Al’s biggest challenge because he had never worked on any hydraulic system before this. After many hours of research and trial and error, he was successful. The only task left was to calibrate the system out on the water.

Calibrating the autopilot required that we steer the boat in a 360 degree circle, three times.

Calibrating the autopilot required that we steer the boat in a 360 degree circle, three times. Since it was nice day, we were using the iPad for navigation up on the flybridge.

Tanks and Plumbing —  Having fresh water on a boat is another critical need. Based on my past experiences while watching power boats at the gas and water docks, there is an inverse relationship between power and sail – power boats carry more fuel than water, while sailboats carry more water than fuel. This trawler can carry 300 gallons of diesel fuel and 140 gallons of water, or so the specs read.) Our Morgan sailboat had a single 50 gallon fuel tank and carried 180 gallons of water.

We suspected that the water tanks needed a thorough cleaning, so one of Al’s first tasks, after the boat was hauled, was to tackle this job and remove any residual yucky sediment still remaining in the bottom. Al’s long arms fit through the inspection port so that he could get inside the stainless steel tanks and scrub them out. Lots of fun!

The stainless water tanks are now shiny and clean.

The stainless water tanks are now shiny and clean. 

While working on the water tanks, Al pondered their size. Seemed to him that they might be larger than the stated 140 gallons. Ah Ha! A math problem! He took careful measurements of one tank, which was naturally not a simple rectangular prism, but rather a composite prism – rectangular prism and right triangular prism. After converting the total cubic inches (29,400) by 231 cubic inches per gallon………….. One tank would hold 127 gallons. Which means that two tanks carry 252 gallons of water. WooHoo! That’s a lot more than the stated 140 gallons. He also added a water filtration system in the galley so that we could have pure drinking and cooking water.

Another very important tank is the holding tank. For those of you who are not familiar with boats, the holding tank is the tank that “holds” the waste water from the toilet, sometimes called “black water” although it is really more brown than black. In his deep investigations into the netherworld of the enormous engine room below the salon floor, Al traced the toilet hose – 20 feet of unnecessary hose that ran from the toilet to the back of the boat and then forward again to the holding tank. Since the hosing needed to be replaced anyway, he removed the old and replaced it with a length of shorter new marine waste hose. No smells at all!

Nasty old toilet hoses

Nasty old toilet hoses

The toilet on this boat is an electric flush that works with the push of a button – that red button. Much fancier than our other boats with their manual pump flush. Also means that more can go wrong. Al installed a “liquid level monitor” next to the flush button so that we can monitor the holding tank and know when we need a pump-out. (I never really thought that I would be writing about holding tanks and toilets on this blog, but they are part of boating.

A new gauge next to the flush button.

A new gauge next to the flush button.

Finding storage spaces – While working with all these mechanical systems below the salon floor, Al also cleaned and painted the “basement” area. There is a huge space below the aft cockpit (the covered deck area at the rear of the boat.) Great storage for the larger things you want to carry with you such as a folding table and chairs, beach chairs, tools, and stuff.

Just like in a house - you can never have too much storage.

Just like in a house – you can never have too much storage.

Wifi Connecting – The ability to connect to wifi from a boat presents some challenges unless you can afford to pay for mucho gigabytes of cellular data. As members of SYC we have free secured internet, but it can be hard to access out on our mooring.  We have been using a marine wifi system from IslandTime called the Ubiquit Bullet, a booster, coupled to a marine antenna and a Netgear router, and secured with a password. This booster can find wifi signals within a specified range and amplify them.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to find free wifi signals while traveling, but we occasionally do; and when we choose to pay for wifi, this helps us get a stronger signal. That was really important in the Bahamas when we were using OII (Out Island Internet). In today’s world, very few of us are willing to go without our internet and email fix.

The weatherproof marine Bullet antenna hangs from our little mast not eh flybridge. The Netgear router is inside but needs a permanent home.

The weatherproof marine Bullet antenna hangs from our little mast on the flybridge. The Netgear router is inside but needs a permanent location.

Well, I am now exhausted from writing about all of these technical boat projects. Imagine how Al must feel after doing all of them??? In less than a year!

And there is more to come……………..