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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A Beautiful Saturday at Alderbrook

WP_20130720_001We started late this morning after sleeping in a lot longer than we expected. After a quick breakfast, we hit the water again. Only there wasn’t a lot of water to hit. The entrance to Pleasant Harbor is not particularly deep, and we were leaving at low tide. It was VERY low. At one point we only had about a foot of clearance beneath our keel. We made it out without grounding though, and started our trip further south in Hood Canal. Just a bit later, we found ourselves in another minefield of crab trap buoys, and I heard Stella say something very unexpected in the Pacific Northwest: “Flamingo at 11 o’clock”. Sure enough, one clever crab trapper had a unique way to distinguish and find his traps from all the others. I’m sure he has no problem finding his own!

WP_20130720_002It was a couple hour trip to Alderbrook, and even though we were in a canal with no turnings that takes us straight south to the resort, Stella was dutifully checking the charts. With her navigating so faithfully, of course we found it with no problems.

When we arrived, we discovered that the reputation of the Alderbrook resort is deserved. It is a tremendous place.  Gorgeous view of the Olympic mountains to the west, forest all around, and a wonderfully built-to-complement-nature lodge building and cabins.  They have a very ingenious system for keeping the young ones from running wild, as you can see in the next picture.WP_20130720_007

There were five different weddings going on all over the resort property, so you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a bride or a groom.  We enjoyed several great meals.  Dave had an excellent massage while Stella walked around the property and after getting back together we enjoyed the pool and hot tub for a while.WP_20130720_009 Tomorrow we’ll head out of Hood Canal and head towards Kingston. No, not Jamaica, we only have one more night, so the one a short ways south of the entrance to the canal will have to do. That will ensure that we only have a few hours remaining on Monday for the last leg of this trip back to our home port.
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Through the Locks and on to Pleasant Harbor

After finishing the installation of the TV mount and all the equipment for our on-board home theater, we pulled out of Newport Yacht Basin this morning and headed through the locks. WP_20130719_001We were in the small lock today, but they packed it full! Everyone got in and out intact despite being packed like a can of sardines. Being right up front gave quite an interesting view of the intimidating doors as they opened up.WP_20130719_005 We headed north and after a couple of hours, we entered Hood Canal and turned back south. We passed by the Naval Submarine facility on the way south, but steered wide, since the gunboats patrolling the restricted area have the authority to (literally) blow you out of the water!
A little further south we made the turn to the entrance to Pleasant Harbor, and BOY is it well named! Beautiful place, with a nice new pool and hot tub. Very refreshing at the end of a long hot afternoon. The restaurant had a fine pizza and salad. idyllically quiet waters. Smooth as glass. It will be a fine evening. After the sun sets we’ll head back and watch a movie. Probably finish up the Hobbit that we started last evening.WIN_20130719_184725

Categories: Hood Canal, West Puget Sound | Leave a comment

Heading off to Hood Canal for a long weekend

HoodCanal MapThis weekend, Stella and I are off again on another trip to a part of the Salish Sea that we have not yet visited.  This time around, it’s Hood Canal.  After spending the night in either our own marina or at Shilshole, we’ll be head up north towards Port Ludlow, but this time we’ll be turning south into Hood Canal.  We plan on spending Friday night in Pleasant Harbor, about 1/2 way down the canal.  Saturday, we’ll head the rest of the way south, to spend the night at the marina at Alderbrook.  It’s supposed to be gorgeous at both places, and we’re really looking forward to the trip.  Depending on what we find, we’ll decide where to spend Sunday night. As soon as I get off work today, we’re off!  I have some installation work to do on the boat before we leave.  I’m mounting our TV, our streaming media player and USB drive in the berth area so we have movies to watch before we go to bed.  The upgrades never end!

Categories: Hood Canal, Itinerary, West Puget Sound | 2 Comments

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