Posts Tagged With: modifications

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!


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…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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The Admiral wanted running water, so we have running water…

Hey, friends!  I wanted to share some about the project I worked on all Labor day weekend. Running water.  The standard MacGregor 26M comes with a 5 gallon flexible water can under the sink that can be pumped to the sink by pulling back and forth on the little handle.  Not fun or convenient.  So we decided we would put in a pressurized running water system.  I bought a Plastimo 26 gallon tank and installed it under the rear berth.

26 Gallon Plastimo tank under the rear berthThe tank empties by a 1/2″ hose through a filter, then supplies a Shurflo Aqua-King 3.0 12v on-demand pump.  The pump then outputs pressurized water to the faucet.  As soon as the faucet is opened, the pump starts, and as soon as the faucet closes, the pump stops.  I mounted the pump under the port side seat.  It’s right next to rear berth with the tank, and only about 3 foot away from the galley.

Jabsco water pump waiting for the flow to beginWe fill the tank by a deck fitting that is on the starboard gunwale.  At any marina where they have a tap, we simply connect our hose to it and stick the other end into our fitting and fill ‘er up.

Finding a good spot to install the deck fitting was one of the harder jobs.  It has to be in an appropriate place on the outside of the boat – somewhere not likely to be stepped (and slipped) on, easy to reach with the hose from the dock, and not too far from the tank.  The location also had to be accessible from below – I had to be able to attach a 1-1/2″ hose to the underside of the fitting and run it down to the tank under the rear berth. That’s a pretty good sized hose, and it wasn’t easy getting it run in so that it was hidden.  There is one foot of it visible inside the cabin and we covered that with a piece of tan cloth that matches the boat’s inside color so you don’t notice it.

The completed faucet with running waterAfter removing the old faucet and then installing a new faucet in the sink, we were just about ready to go. Since it was a standard faucet from Lowes, we had to put a brass fitting on the threaded end of the faucet that enabled me to connect the hose from the pump to it. The challenge (as always) with plumbing, was ensuring that there were no leaks.  Several of the connections leaked on the first attempt, but after tightening, adding sealant, etc., we’re now leak free.

And more importantly, we’re able to go for much longer times between stops to fill up for water. That is, if we conserve.  Now that we have more water, it’s easy to think we can be more wasteful of it, and end up having to stop even more frequently.  NOT the result we’d be hoping for!

You may be wondering what’s connected to the left side of the faucet.  Right now, nothing.  Someday, however, it will supply hot water from a propane-fueled on-demand hot water heater.  But that is a project for another weekend!

Now if only we could find a way to go that long between stops for Stella to use a ladies’ room!  Just kidding…Southern Star does have a “head” (a marine toilet for you landlubbers) on board.

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Making the cabin of Southern Star a true Home Away from Home

Closed curtains over the galleyThis is Stella.  With lots of help from my mom Katie, I’ve been working on the decorating the interior of Southern Star to make her as livable aesthetically as Dave is making her functionally.  We now have nautical-themed curtains up, and lots of throw pillows to make the interior homey and cozy.

Open curtains over the dining areaMom even embroidered the boat’s name into a pillow. We also have a new blanket that matches the curtains, and lots of storage baskets around the galley and dining areas to store all the utensils, plates and dishes, pens and pencils, charting tools, books, and so on.

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Next up: Adding Shore Power

Shore power connectorThe next upgrade we’ve taken on is to add shore power.  Until now, we’ve had to drag a marine power cable down into the cabin and use an adapter to provide standard 120v power to anything we wanted to use below – charging our cell phones, using a laptop computer, and so on.  With the upgrade, we added a socket to the outside of the hull to which we just plug in the cable – the other end connects to the power plug in our marina slip.

The socket provides power to the circuit breaker panel and master switch in the cabin. The panel provides two outlets in the cabin, and also has a pair on the backside (in the storage area into which it is installed) where the battery charger is permanently connected.  Finally, one additional cable from the inside of the panel connects to one remote outlet in the berth area where we can plug in a laptop or dvd player if we want to watch a movie before crashing at night.

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