Yet another weekend of upgrades and mods…

SealsStella and I had another great weekend in Anacortes this past Friday thru Sunday.  It’s such an awesome little town!  We had breakfast Saturday at Dad’s Diner on the main drag.  It was excellent!  We also did a bit more exploring around a few more of the docks than just our own. It’s always fun to look at all the other boats.  Many are beautiful, some, not so much.  And a few with so much dirt and grime we’re not even sure there was a real boat beneath! We had one very pleasant surprise when we ran across some harbor seals sunning themselves on the kayak platforms near Q dock.  Two pairs – each with a mother and cub. The pair shown in the picture was definitely keeping their eyes on us.  Another pair on the next slip over tried to slip into the water and come up on the dock with these two, but this mother wouldn’t put up with it.  She started barking like crazy whenever they got close.  She definitely did take up some space, but as you can see, there was plenty to spare. Dad was nearby out in the water, clearly keeping his distance and not wanting to get into any argument with the two ladies!

original galleyBack in our slip, we continued getting Southern Star ready for some travelling by replacing the cabinet door on the front of the galley. The original galley looked like what you see to the right.  On top it has a fiberglass sink with a VERY small drain and a one-burner butane stove.  The space below them is accessible through the door on the front right side. As you can see, the left side is much more difficult to access, with no door – just a couple of small inset shelves.  I totally removed this front panel and repurposed the two small shelves by taking that portion of the front, cutting it down to size and then moving it to the left side of the unit.  Then I finished the front with latching doors attached to roll out wire drawer units (each is about 11″ wide).  I mounted them onto a 1/2 that glued and screwed along the front edge and also about 15″ back.  That raised them just enough to clear the lower lip of the opening. The drawers had an accessory kit that attaches to the front of each for easy mounting of the door directly to the drawer. The alternative was to hinge the doors on the side and then have to pull out the drawer. The Admiral preferred this technique.  WP_20140712_19_55_45_ProWhile the left hand drawer does have some constraints to avoid the plumbing underneath, it gives dramatically better access to the space below the sink.I also replaced the sink with a stainless steel one of (approximately) the same size. I Just cut out the original (using the template supplies with the new one), and dropped the new one in its place. I also replaced the faucet with a much nicer one attached to my water pump and 25 gallon tank under the rear berth.   If you’re curious, the red tape on the left faucet handle “locks” it in the off position. This is for connection to a future hot water supply, but currently is not connected to anything. So if you accidentally open it, water can freely pour out the bottom when you turn on the cold water. Not good. I do need to cap that off!

Then came what I think will be a really big improvement.  I replaced the tank under our Dometic Sealand porta-potty with a tank that had built-in MSD hose fittings. This enabled me to attach it to hoses which lead to deck fittings that enable me to use the WP_20140712_19_56_36_Propump-out facilities at any marina. I no longer have to carry the (very heavy when full) tank to some dump facility to empty it.  That had to be one of the worst tasks on the planet. Doing a pump-out isn’t particularly fun, but it’s a lot better than the alternative!  I plan on moving the air line filter much closer to the back so it is more in the back, though neither hose is in the way.  I’ll also be trying to cover over those hoses so they’re not quite so “in your face” and industrial in appearance. A cover with some carpeting like covers the hull walls might be the ticket there.

The last thing on our plate (for now) is to put a latching cover over the large opening I cut below the galley to make that space accessible to us again, since our galley is essentially fixed in place.  I bought the wood, and I’ll be attaching it to the opening with hinges at the bottom and a latch (identical to the ones on the galley doors) at the top.  That will open up several more cubic feet of storage space that is out of reach to us right now. And in a small boat like this, every cubit foot counts!

Till next time!


Categories: Anacortes, Cap Sante Marina, Modifications | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The 2014 MacGregor/Tattoo Owner’s Rendezvous at Anacortes

Southern Star at the 2015 MacGregor RendezvousWhat a fun weekend!  All of the folks who have bought boats from Blue Water Yachts over the years (well, a bunch of them anyway) get together every summer at the MacGregor/Tattoo Rendezvous.  I think this year’s was one of the best yet!  So I want to begin by telling Todd and Cheryl how much we appreciated all they did to arrange the rendezvous.  I know it’s not a trivial thing to get this many people together and keep them entertained and fed for three days!  So THANK YOU!!!

What was funny to Stella and I was that this year’s Rendezvous was held at the Cap Sante Marina, where we now keep Southern Star.  So, while many folks had to trailer or motor, or gasp! even sail their boats to Anacortes, we basically moved from one slip to another.  So when people asked us where we came from, we just pointed over towards the K dock and said “oh, about 200 yards that-a-way.”

Crew of the TootSeaOf course, the best thing about an event like this is just catching up on friendships that were established in previous years. It’s unfortunate that we see so few of you in between these annual get-togethers, but a few of you we’re starting to see more often around the Sound. So here is to our growing list of friends on such awesomely named boats like TootSea and Dawn Treader. We sure hope to see you out-and-about! It was also great to make completely new acquaintances with owners of brand new boats – which reminds me – welcome to the family, Tattoo!  Roger MacGregor retired and his kids picked up the business, renaming the boats “Tattoo”.  They’re basically identical to the most recent MacGregor 26Ms, but have a fresher interior design aesthetic.  Sgt SchultzWe even got to participate in the naming ceremony for one of the Tattoos that joined our group this year – Knorke (kan-or’-ka), which means “cool” or “awesome” in a Berlin specific German slang, from what I understand.  Of course, the bulk of my understanding of German comes from Sgt. Schultz, so don’t take my word for it!

Another highlight every year are the seminars where we learn more about our boats and boating from Todd and Cheryl and other guests.  The two standouts this year (in my mind) were, first of all, the session that began with someone standing up and saying “My name is ‘Jim’, and I’m a MacGregor owner”, like he was joining a 12-step addiction recovery program.  Of course, few of us disagreed with his assessment that he didn’t know how to drink until we got a Mac!  The second was the Crabbing/Shrimping seminar by one of the managers of the local West Marine store. If I remember correctly, his name was Mike. Mike’s tale of suspense and intrigue where he caught the crab poacher with 328 stolen crabs, including those from Mike’s traps that were still onboard the poacher’s boat, was hilarious! He knocked the poacher out with (he claimed) one punch, called up 911 and told the operator that the culprit was ‘resting comfortably.’ He likely wasn’t so comfortable during his three year incarceration and very hefty fines!  Of course, what Mike did was unbelievably reckless as the poacher could have been armed.  But we’re all young and stupid once, and Mike at least came out of his young-and-stupid phase with a great story to tell!

Entrance to the Farmer's MarketStella and I also enjoy going over to the Farmer’s Market whenever we’re in Anacortes on the right days. It’s a nice one, with a bit more crafts and prepared foods than real farm produce for sale, but it’s always an enjoyable visit. It was also our first chance to try out the automatic parallel parking feature on our new Ford Fusion.  It’s amazing – you just pull along side the car in front of the spot you want, and push a button.  Then the car basically parks itself!  You control the speed, basically by putting it in reverse and controlling the brake, but the car does all the rest.  It did a perfect job!  Absolutely amazing!

We had some great meals!  One evening we had a good pot-luck dinner.  Apparently, there was a run on Safeway’s salad section that afternoon!  We also had an excellent barbeque the final evening with burgers and dogs.

For me, of course, if you’ve read my blog at all, the real highlight was visiting all the other boats to find out what kinds of ideas I could get for improving Southern Star and making her a real home-away-from-home.  A bunch of folks stopped by Southern Star to see my modifications, and it was very gratifying to hear so many comments on how great they thought the pulleys were that I added to the dagger board and to the rudder lift lines – cutting the effort in half. Especially from the wives!  Of course, the guys thought my berth mounted HD TV and entertainment system was pretty cool.  As to new ideas, I got a few this time around, but not so many as in past years.  Maybe I’m getting to the point where I’ve done so much, there’s not much left to do…  nah, what am I saying?!?   This year I walked away with the following plans:

  • Add a PVC pipe to bow attached to the pulpit stanchion to hold the anchor. That will get it off the too-small anchor roller and stop the scratching of the bow when the anchor shifts around.
  • Add hatches to storage areas below the seats, especially where the seats are replaced by other things that are not easily moved – like the sink/stove, refrigerator, etc.  That will really open up access to more useful storage space.
  • A motor mount in the back for our dinghy motor so we don’t have to store it below.
  • Replacing the current porta-potty that has to be dumped with one that supports a pump-out fitting on the deck.  Hopefully, I’ve dumped my very last porta-potty tank!  That has got to be the most disgusting job ever.
  • A small portable ice-maker.  Granted, it will only work when we’re on shore power, but we want to use the dual-voltage cooler as primarily a refrigerator, and not a freezer.  And of course, we must have ice!

So all in all, it was a GREAT rendezvous! Thanks again to Todd and Cheryl for putting it on.  We really hope to see many of our fellow MacGregor and Tattoo owners out on the water this summer!

Categories: Anacortes, Cap Sante Marina, Modifications, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The boating weekend that did not happen

Well, we intended to go up to visit Southern Star last weekend for a long Memorial Day weekend, but it didn’t happen.  We simply didn’t have the heart to go, because only the day before we lost our canine companion of 13 years.  Belka was an awesome dog that we’ll never forget.  She did have a very long life (for her breed), but a cancerous tumor in her leg just got too far along, and we didn’t want her to suffer one bit. The vet we took her to was awesome, and made the process as easy as was possible.  They even sent us flowers the next day and a very nice card arrived exactly one week later.  I would HIGHLY recommend the VCA Redmond Animal Hospital for any of you in the Redmond area.  They’ve always taken great care of our pets and the way they handled this final visit was just extraordinary.  So please give them your veterinary business, and let them know Belka sent you!

Belka never got to ride on Southern Star – she was just too big for such a small boat, but we wanted to share a few pictures of her anyway.  We’ll be back on board Southern Star in a weekend coming up, and our normal narrative will resume then.

Belka was named after the second dog in space.  The dog we had before her was named Laika. You guessed it – the first dog in space.

The first picture is Belka stretched out in the sun, followed by her and Stella at the Redmond off-leash dog park, and finally sitting up in a chair like she’s People. 🙂

Belka stretching in the sunAt the Redmond Off-leash Dog ParkThinking she's People

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Opening Day of Boating 2014

TraileringWell, it finally arrived! Opening day of boating season for 2014! We’re up at Anacortes, at the Cap Sante Boat Haven Marina, putting Southern Star into her new slip. We towed her up yesterday (Friday) morning, taking about an hour and a half to get there. It’s always interesting looking into the rear view mirror to see a large boat tailgating us!  Once in Anacortes, we dropped her off at a marine service center and got her outboard serviced for the season, with an oil change, new spark plugs, etc.

We explored the town for a while until the boat was ready. There’s a Safeway right next to the marina, so plenty of food options.  Around 2:30PM we got the call that Southern Star was ready, so we picked her up, then took her over to the sling hoist at Cap Sante Marina to be splashed into Puget Sound.On the sling
The first real adventure of the weekend came as I was motoring her over to her slip while Stella drove the truck and trailer over to the parking lot near our dock.  All went well at first, but then halfway down the C dock her engine just up and quit. Fortunately, the wind was behind me, and no one else was in the lane, so I had room to drift and try to get her restarted. No joy. So I put her into the last slip, and called Stella. While she walked over to join me, I called the service center that had jut worked on the motor. They sent a guy over who thought (at first) that it was the ignition switch.  Then he suspected the new fuel filter.  He went back to his shop to get my original one, since it at least worked. But while he was gone, I kept thinking that it didn’t appear that fuel was even getting TO the filter.Motor finally running again So I stepped on the squeeze bulb on the fuel line and something gave.  There must have been a clog in the fuel line itself that gave way, because all of a sudden the fuel filter filled up with gas!  I quickly reconnected everything and tried starting her again, and she roared to life! Once the tech got back, he help button everything up again, and we finished the brief trip over to our slip.  We spent a while getting the ‘permanent’ lines in place. We like to leave a set of dock lines at the slip all tied to the correct lengths so that all we have to do to come and go is to hook them over the boat’s cleats. We have another set of lines that we take with us for “foreign” marinas.

Once tied down, we got to work stepping the mast and rerigging all the lines.  We haven’t done that often, and it showed, because we had to partway raise and re-lower and re-raise the mast at least three times until we had all the lines run correctly. Of course, a shackle fell in the water that we had to run to West Marine to replace.  Thank goodness one of those is very close by!  We were exhausted by the time the evening wound to a close, and we settled down to an evening of watching the Hobbit on our new (slightly bigger) TV with much improved speakers.

The PiratesOn Saturday, we attended the Opening Day ceremonies at the marina.  What a blast.  Some pirates fired off a cannon, some local dignitaries talked about how important the marina was to the community, and the editor of Waggoner’s Cruising Guide talked a bit.  Turn’s out that this is his home port. Some “wandering minstrels” sang some sea shanties, and we enjoyed some bowls of really good clam chowder.

So now the mast is up, the canvas cockpit enclosure is all set and zippered and snapped in place, and the cabin is all organized and ready to be or weekend getaway home.  Next time we’re here we might actually get to go out into the Sound in Southern Star!The Marina


Categories: Anacortes, Cap Sante Marina, San Juan Islands | 2 Comments

…and the major construction for this season is now done.

The Raymarine autopilot is now complete.  I had to build a little shelf and mount it near the rudder post for the rudder transducer, and that is now done.  The transducer measures the angle of the rudder and ensures that the course computer doesn’t try to drive the rudder past its limits in either direction.

Rudder Lift Pulley SystemThe next project I took on was to replace the lines that lift and lower the rudders.  The existing rope was a single continuous loop that attached to the top of the rudder, went up over the aft gunwale thru a cleat, and down thru a hole to come out again on the underside of the rudder.  When you pull the rope in one direction, it pulls the rudder down tight and ensures that it is deep in the water for good steering control.  When you pull in the opposite direction, it raises the rudder clear of the water. When you motor a Mac26M faster than about 7 knots though, you have to lift the dagger board and rudders and steer with just the outboard motor.  I described in my last post how I added a pulley to the dagger board lift line to make it 50% easier to raise the board.  I wanted to do the same with the rudders, and this was the result.

I started by removing the old lines. Before yanking them out though, I taped the new line to the end so that when I pulled it out it also threaded the new line properly.   I used new 5/16″ line for this. Then I attached a new lift line to the top of the rudder that was only a couple of feet long.  At the end of the line I tied on a pulley.  Then I took the line from the bottom of the rudder that comes up through the boat and cleat and ran it down through the new pulley and back up to a support rod for the seat. I intend to make a more permanent attachment point to the underside of the seat, similar to how the original turning block that handles the line running down from the cleat.  But the support rod should be plenty strong enough to hold the weight of the rudder.  When I trailer I put in the rudder lift bolts anyway.  The picture to the upper-right shows the final result.

The final project was an unexpected one.  I discovered that sometime during the first construction weekend I must’ve dropped something sharp on the water tank under the rear berth and punctured it.  It must’ve been heavy, because it went the whole way through and punctured the bottom side as well. I used a Plastimo flexible tank, which worked great here, but it is obviously vulnerable to sharp objects.  Instead of patching with adhesives that might contact our potable water supply, I decided to just replace it.  I took advantage of the opportunity to get a larger tank than I originally had.  New tank installed, and no leaks now.  Woohoo!

So it’s been an extremely busy, but very fulfilling three weekends. I upgraded the electric system, doubling the 12v circuit capacity, then immediately took advantage of it by installing a dual-voltage refrigerator, and autopilot, and revamping the power wiring to the TV and media player.  The Raymarine Evolution autopilot system with the SportDrive should make the cruising along the Pacific Northwest coast and the Salish Sea much more enjoyable. Finally, the Admiral should have a  much easier time pulling on any of the lines when she needs to because of the addition of all the new pulley systems.

This coming Friday we take Southern Star up to Anacortes and put her into her new home slip and spend the weekend commissioning and testing the new autopilot.  We’ll be staying on board and enjoying food preserved without having to buy a new block of ice every day.  Let Boating Season Begin!!!

Categories: Modifications | Tags: , | 5 Comments

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