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!