Monthly Archives: April 2014

…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!!!

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Categories: Modifications | Tags: , | 5 Comments

And the construction continues…

Well, another weekend spent working on Southern Star.  And as frustrating as last weekend was, with so much started and so little completed, this weekend was much better – so many things got done!

I finished the addition of the new electrical panel to give us the upgraded circuit capacity, we now have 6 more individually switched circuits available, though I’m tying up three of them right away.

The new electrical panel to the right of its older brother.

The original panel and the battery monitor I installed last year, along side the new panel on the right.

First was the “galley extension”.   We installed a Dometic refrigerator that runs on both 110VAC for when we’re tied up to a dock with shore power, and also automatically switches to 12VDC when we pull away from our slip.  Next to it is the “pantry”, which is several plastic storage drawers all stacked and connected together, and then permanently fixed in place. I also added a bungee cord strap to ensure the drawers stay closed under way. Can’t have all our goodies spilling all over the place when we hit a swell!

The new dual-voltage refrigerator and the "pantry" with it's bungee cord stay-close.

The new dual-voltage refrigerator and the “pantry” with it’s bungee cord stay-close.

The next modification was a relatively easy one to do, but one that will benefit us tremendously every time we go out!  I replaced the dagger board lift line with a brand new line that includes a pulley. Now we can raise the board using half the effort that it used to take. To do this, I lifted the top of the board clear of the hull so that I could access the line’s fastening to the top of the board.  The line goes in a small hole on the top edge of the board. Then, about 2 inches down, there is a 1 inch hole cut in the side of the board that intersects with the vertical whole.

The upgraded line that enables raising the dagger board with half the effort that it used to!

The upgraded line that enables raising the dagger board with half the effort that it used to!

The rope was knotted in this hole and then a cap sealed it all up.  I popped the cap, untied the know, removed the old line, and threaded a brand new (and slightly more colorful) line through. Putting the board back into its regular spot, I then ran the line through its normal path.  But instead of coming the whole way back to its clutch, I terminated it with a pulley.  I ensured that when the board is in the full up position, that the pulley is very close to clutch. I then ran a second line from a nearby cleat through the pulley and then back to through the original clutch. It gives a 50% pull advantage – you have to draw in twice as much rope, but it takes 50% less effort than it used to.

Finally, I also mostly finished up the really big project – the Raymarine EV-1 Autopilot.

The Raymarine EV-200 course computer, with all the cables now run neatly behind the bulkheads.

The Raymarine EV-200 course computer, with all the cables now run neatly behind the bulkheads.

The course computer is mounted down below in the cabin in the little “cubbyhole” over the starboard side rear berth. Lots of cables had to be run to it, beginning with power from its circuit on the new power panel. In addition, three lines had to be routed to the steering pedestal and fished up through a 2″ hole in the ceiling of the berth area into the base of the pedestal, and up through the myriad wires and steering cables that were already there.  What fun THAT was!  I also had to make some modifications to the face of the pedestal, moving the existing AM/FM radio remote control (to the port side of the pedestal), installing the new P70R control panel, adding the SportDrive motor to the steering shaft under the wheel, and then pulling a cable through the top that connects my Garmin GPS unit to the system, and sealing it all back up again. The new P70R control panel for the Autopilot. Finally, I had to install the EV-1 sensor unit with all the gyros that sense the boat’s movement on the boat’s centerline.  I put it right under the stairs above the rear berths.  Nicely out of the way

. It was a real thrill when I finally had all the cables run and neatly hidden wherever possible to throw the power switch and not see anything blow up or burst into flames!  Even better was when I went up to the cockpit, push the “Auto” button, and then turned the knob and saw the wheel turn!  Woohoo!   The last step, which I haven’t gotten to yet, is the installation of a sensor that lets the computer know the current position of the rudder.  That one’s a bit tricky, since it requires me to build a small shelf near the rudder control arms in the equipment area at the far aft of the cabin area where I can install the sensor and tie it into the rudder system.

The EV-1 is mounted under and behind the ladder from the cockpit down into the cabin.

The EV-1 is mounted under and behind the ladder from the cockpit down into the cabin.

In just less than two weeks is opening day.  We have an appointment at a service shop near our marina early that morning to get the outboard motor serviced and made all ready for the season.  Then we’ll be putting her into the water at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes and staying on board over the weekend to get her stocked and provisioned for the season.  I can’t wait to take her out on the water to test out all her new equipment!   Come on, May 2nd!

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Getting ready for Boating Season 2014

Well, boating season is almost here and we have to get Southern Star ready.  She’s going to have a new home at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes this year, where the facilities look awesome and the monthly costs are much less than what we were paying in Lake Washington.  The fact that we can drive to Anacortes and be 5 minutes from the San Juan Islands in just an hour and a half is another huge plus – it took over 2 hours to get from our Lake Washington slip all the way out to Puget Sound, and that’s if there wasn’t much of a line at the Hiram Chittenden Locks.  And then there was the several hour motoring through the Sound to get to the San Juans.   So this should save a ton of time and gas!

In terms of getting Southern Star ready, we had her in front of the house all weekend working on her.  So far, we added:

  • A second 12V switch panel to handle power distribution to the new equipment below and for future additions.
  • A dual-voltage refrigerator that auto switches between 110v shore power and 12v battery power.  This should eliminate all trips to get a block of ice!  Now all we’ll need ice for is our evening libations!  I’m still not quite convinced that an ice maker would take up too much space to be worth it!  They only come in 110v form (that I can find) but we’re usually in marinas with shore power.
  • I ran a dedicated power line from the switch panel back to where the TV and video player were mounted.  Up until now, I had a loose cord running from a 12V outlet across the bed and up to the TV.  No more ugly!
  • I rigged a pulley on the center board haul-up line that makes it much easier to raise the board. I’m still waiting for the line splicer devices to finish off the lines in place of the big ugly knots that I have there now.  Should make it much easier for the Admiral to haul it up when we’re getting ready to motor.
  • I installed a spring loaded hatch arm to the bow hatch to make it easier to keep it open for airflow on a hot summer day.  Last year we propped it up with water bottles.  Very attractive!  Now to figure out a fan to help out.
  • The BIG thing was installing the Raymarine Evolution autopilot system.  Still not done, but I’ve mounted the main course computer and the EV-1 sensor unit and ran  the power line.  I still have to mount the control panel and drive motor on the steering pedestal and run all the cables from there back to the computer.  That’s not going to be fun, because it’s almost impossible to get inside the pedestal.  I think that I’m going to have to fish the lines from the cabin below the pedestal, up through the opening in the deck at it’s base.  I have to run three wires through there, one for the drive motor, one for the control panel, and one to connect the GPS to the autopilot. Lots of fun still ahead of me. I did hook all the components up though, and when I turned it on nothing blew up, I let out a big sigh of relief.  And it rated a big cheer when I turned the knob on the control panel and the motor started to turn.  Woohoo!  It works!

Once all this work is done, I’m really looking forward to the summer life of cruising through the islands in our little Home Away From Home!  We want to get her in the water the first weekend in May – that’s the beginning of boating season, and we want to be there for it!

I wanted to give a big shout-out to the guys at West Marine in Bellevue.  Especially Troy the BoatCanDo Guy – he came by for an hour last week and helped me plan out a good bit of this work, letting me bounce ideas off him and providing me with options that I hadn’t thought of.  His advice was invaluable and his fees were very reasonable.  If you’re looking for great advice on making upgrades to your boat – Troy is your man!

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