Tweaking Tweaks

We are tweaking our boat with lots of little items. None are essential, but most are further refining our live-a-board experience. Others are fixing mistakes made in hopes not to make them again! :-)

We’ve not finalized our future plans just yet, but have a fairly good idea (plenty of back and forth) what we are doing beginning in December. Let’s just say it involves remote locations, no marinas or chandleries and limited access to most western ‘things’. This anticipation is driving our craze to get things done and tweak the boat ‘while we can’.

I’ve broken up our tweaks in categories, with a brief explanation.

Electrical


The boat is wired beautifully. It’s easy to slam in wires. Antares has taken great care in making most of the wiring easy to follow and it is well labeled and organized.

Wiring panel organization

Anchor Light


We added a sunlight sensor to the anchor light so it will turn ‘on’ automatically at dusk – when the anchor light is turned on at the helm panel. There have been a number of times we forget to turn it off in the AM or on before we leave in the afternoon.

Sunset at our anchorage - St. Georges Grenada - time for anchor lights!

Red Lights


Experimenting with courtesy lights!....
We like to sail at night. Having good red lights is important for passage making. Currently we use red LED headlamps. We rewired our LED courtesy lights (floor lighting) into two categories. 1) The lights inside the cabin and on the steps into the cockpit will be red, and on their own switch. 2) The aft transom steps are bright white LEDs on a separate switch. This is much more practical as we use the transom lights in the evening. The inside floor lights are too bright to be really useful unless they are red and used for passage making.

In addition we’ve setup the lights in the cockpit and the cabin with red filters that we install prior to a passage. This way most of the cabin lights are red, and on dimmers. It works GREAT.

LED Deck Light


Our current deck lighting is halogen. We replaced this with very powerful LED lights that draw 1/10th the power and are brighter. This allows us to use the deck light more often (evenings when kids are over to play) and not burn lots of power while using deck lights when changing or tweaking sails at night.

Solar Panels Upgrade


We’ve upgraded our arch panels from two 80 watt to two 215 watt panels. We moved the two 80 watt panels to the top of our bimini. This increased our overall solar from 360 to 800 watts. Taking into account the voltage differences after rewiring the panels we have an effective 700 watts – a 95% increase!

Side note: Elizabeth is the one who gave me the brilliant idea of moving the two 80 watts to the bimini. I was going to essentially give them away, and she said “Daddy, why don’t you use them on top of the bimini vs. throwing them away?”. Duh! She is a Silverstein afterall! J

Why more panels? Because we have the space, and we like (in order of priority) our icemaker, laptops, wifi, kindles, music, etc. to run on solar….. ;-) On a sunny, windy day we’ll pump in well over 900 watts - maybe enough to run our microwave and do laundry on the inverter (just joking – sort of).

Our new solar farm! :)

12V Fans


All of our 12V fans were on one panel switch. We placed all cabin fans on one switch and galley/salon fans on a separate switch.

Why? The Hella Turbo fans have a limited life span of about 5,000 hours. Initially that sounds like a lot of hours. However, if you are on the boat full time, and like us, run most of your fans 24/7, you will find the fans burning out in 12 – 18 months. All of our Hella fans have died save one.

So, our plan is to keep the bedroom fans on during the night only, and our salon/galley during the day. Keeping them separate on the panel allows us to easily shut the fans on and off in blocks vs. individually remembering to individually turn off/on the fans.

Finally, we are moving to black vs. white fans.  Main reason is keeping them clean.  The white ones look better if they are very clean, but they get dusty very quickly and can be hard to clean...so we've got black.  So far so good.

SSB DSC


We’ve added Digital Selective Calling (DSC) to our Icom M802 SSB. This involved adding a new antenna and fixing the GPS so our SSB will have DSC. An important safety feature while far offshore.

We also added additional ferrite chokes as recommended by Dockside Radio, including an inline filter. I’m happy to report that this seemed to work beautifully, and our signal tests this week proved a significant improvement in clarity.

Blue Underwater Lights


Well, never really thought we would add some underwater bling bling, but we are adding blue Seablaze X underwater LED transom lights. Yep, taking the plunge. Our kids LOVE to fish, and look at fish underwater. Adding blue lights will accent our boat and attract fish in the evening. With our underwater cameras, we can turn our TV into and virtual aquarium…. J







Canvas & Upholstery


Cockpit Cushions


Our white cockpit cushions have been prone to stains. For whatever reason, we’ve had bad luck with some shopping bags that were placed on the seats. The ink bled and has permanently stained our white cushions. ARG. So, we are getting them replaced and going to have slip on covers to protect them in the future.

Vinyl Cockpit Windows


Our port and starboard zip on plastic/Sunbrella windows have turned yellow and cracked. We are upgrading these to a thick clear vinyl that will not yellow or crack in the UV light. Expensive, but a much-needed upgrade.

Trampoline


Similar but ours will be forward only
We’ve had some challenges with our trampoline. The threads and vinyl around the mesh has disintegrated in the UV causing significant rips. We had this temporarily fixed last December in the Bahamas. This is a safety item as we don’t want to splash in the water while at sea. This is being upgraded to gortex thread and a highly durable marine grade material that per our sailmaker here in Grenada will last 8-10 years vs. < = 1 year.

Sunbrella Deck Cover


Well, we decided to take the plunge and go with a deck cover. We’ll use this when at anchor for more than a couple of days to keep the sun off the deck and create another space we can use on the boat in most weather conditions. It will also serve as additional shade to the salon and kids cabin. We’ll post pics once complete. Sarah is very exicted!

Miscellaneous


Shower Fixtures


Yup. I made a big mistake. We were cleaning out our drains with some Muratic acid. Something we do every 6 months to clean out the pipes and dissolve any hair, etc. Well, I left the acid too long in the shower and the fumes etched ALL of our stainless fixtures causing rust. So, I ‘ve ordered replacement fixtures to repair everything. We will be using a less corrosive alternative in the future!

Rain Catcher



We’ve rigged up a rain catcher, with inline filter to bring water from our bimini deck into our tanks for emergency/backup situations. This is not something we will use very often, but want a way to quickly gather water just in case we need to top off and our watermaker is on the blink.

Raindance
Generally we don’t put any water in the tanks other than from our watermaker. I don’t want chemicals, chlorine or other ‘stuff’ from marinas in our tanks if we have the option to make our own water. We’re rather obsessive about this. Rainwater has its own list of potential issues, one being it is more prone to go ‘sour’ unless you add a little chlorine to the batch due to the organisms that float off the surface into your tanks. Pre-filters will help, but nothing is 100%.

Sheet clutches & winches


We are looking into adding either a second set of sheet winches or clutches. At this point we are not sure what direction we are going, but we have to do something as the current setup is not the best.

We’ve found that in addition to wanting both sheets and guys to a winch for the Parasailor, we also like to fly our screecher with 1/3 – 1/2 of our genoa unfurled. This setup also calls for another winch or at a min a clutch. Running the sheet back to the aft winch works, but is not the best.

Downwind sailing with Escapade and our Parasailor
Whew. So, as you can see we are going full bore working on our boat. In addition to these items we are very busy cleaning, organizing and getting ready to haul out mid September at Grenada Marine. We’ll be neighbors to Neil and Shaun on Escapade for a while as both our vessels will be on the hard in the same marina.

Comments

  1. Awesome updates!! Sounds like you are more than busy!
    Best line ever... "and she said “Daddy, why don’t you use them on top of the bimini vs. throwing them away?”. Duh! She is a Silverstein afterall! J "

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  2. I may be as excited as you are about your upgrades and especially since you are doing them to go to some remote places. I love adventure so you are talking my language. I look forward to hearing about your upcoming adventures. If I every get a catamaran I want an Antares 44i. You have sold me on it. I'm ready for a field trip!

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  3. This is a great post! Gave us some ideas for projects and some tips for the boat shopping experience. Thanks!

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