This has been a really hard offseason for me. It’s typically difficult in that I hate winter with a white-hot passion and I hate not being on the boat, but this one has definitely been the worst. Jeff came really close to dying during the holidays (and ended up with a heart failure diagnosis which has been life changing for both of us), I sank into a depression (which I tried to white-knuckle for a few months before finally listening to my friends and therapist and starting Lexapro), and then my father (who inspired me to start the blog and commented on virtually all of my blog posts) passed away a few weeks ago after being diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer last summer. Less important, but still a significant factor for me, is that winter rolled in with a vengeance in January, was slow to go away, and we’ve had cloudy, rainy, and below normal temperatures for several months now. Needless to say (and obviously based on the lack of posts), the blog has taken a back seat.
But this post isn’t all gloom and doom. At this point Pegu Club is finally in the water. She still needs her mast stepped and a sea trial on the engine, but I’m keeping every finger crossed that next weekend we’ll be taking her back to Shenny to finally, FINALLY, start our season. I’m still struggling with everything that’s been happening so after next week I’m taking a leave of absence from work for a month (maybe longer) to try to clear my head. Boat therapy is definitely in order so expect much more activity on the blog from this point forward.
So despite everything, what did we manage to accomplish over the past several months? Well, we put new wires in the mast (although we still have to finish the terminals) and installed the new B&G wind instrument; installed the new B&G transducer; finished hooking up the new electric panel which included new heat shrink terminals at the end of all of the wires and running cables to the battery selector switch; reinstalled the galley cabinet that was removed to install the engine; ran new bilge hoses for the electric and manual bilge; finally installed a new backing plate for the electric bilge so it won’t fall over anymore; and we put two coats of bottom paint on to get Pegu Club ready for the season. Jeff also started varnishing the hatch boards and I started making a new mainsail cover (which has stalled until the mast is stepped).
It doesn’t sound like much, but it wasn’t until the last month or so that Jeff has been able to spend more than a few hours working on the boat (and climbing the ladder), so we actually did pretty well under the circumstances. Here’s hoping that things will start looking up and we’ll have a great season – once we can finally get it started!
One of the items I started sewing before Christmas was a bosun’s chair. A bosun’s chair is one of the less-expensive ways to get to the top of the mast. Basically you sit in a seat, attach it to a halyard (and a backup line for safety), and someone uses a winch to hoist you to the top. We figured that I would generally be the one going up because I’m lighter, making it easier for Jeff to hoist me vs. my hoisting him. However, we needed to keep open the possibility that he might have to go up there.
Looking at the most common suppliers, we discovered that hoisting Jeff along with some tools would put him uncomfortably close to the weight limit of the chair. Fortunately Sailrite had a kit that was not only cheaper, but also had the highest weight capacity of the options we’d seen. After convincing Jeff that I felt comfortable enough in my sewing skills to make one by hand, I ordered it up.
Saturday we drove down to Dutch Wharf to say hello to Pegu Club and check out the engine progress. As avid DIY’ers it felt very strange to see that things are being completed without having to do anything but write a check. I think we could get used to it, but alas, the bank account won’t let us! Sam at Dutch Wharf has been doing a great job keeping us up to date, but it was still fun to see everything in real life.
Our Firefly batteries arrived just after Jeff got out of the hospital. Given their weight we knew there was no way we could install them ourselves, so that was our first non-engine outsourced task. We knew they wouldn’t fit in the existing battery box, so the guys removed it and did a new install that looks like it’s always been there.
While the engine was out Sam called and said the 40 year old fuel tank looked a bit suspect and the fuel tank hoses weren’t looking too good either. We had planned on pulling the tank out to inspect it prior to Jeff getting sick, and we had bought an extra five gallon diesel jerry jug in anticipation of the task. After briefly debating whether I could just pull it out myself, we ultimately decided to have the guys do it – our second non-engine outsourced task. A pressure test confirmed that it was time to get a new one. Cross that off the to-do list.
Since we were getting a new engine and shaft, we figured we might as well have the cutlass bearing taken care of and a new PSS shaft seal installed. We’ll consider that an engine-related task! Although we had replaced the packing in the stuffing box last winter, we were tired of the water in the bilge that resulted from the drip-drip-drip. We had heard good things about the PSS and checked it out while were at the Annapolis show in October. Now seemed like the logical time to install it. This is the marine version of buying a new dishwasher which leads to an entire kitchen remodel! Continue reading “Hello, boat!”→
I’m not a big Don Henley fan, but I’ve always liked a few of his songs: Boys of Summer, Dirty Laundry, Sunset Grill, New York Minute. “In a New York Minute, everything can change. In a New York Minute, things can get a little strange.”
Prior to 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, our plan was to cut the dock lines on August 4th. I was waiting to put it on the blog until it was more widely known at my job, but I had let my boss know and we were entering the home stretch. We had seven months and eleven days to go. Now we’re going to need to wait a bit longer.
One of the many things that I find appealing about cutting the dock lines is the challenge of living off the grid. Pegu Club will be our full-time floating home, and since we’re planning on being at anchor 99% of the time we needed to figure out what to do about electricity.
While the simplicity of not having any electrics on the boat is appealing, even I can’t go that far. We’ll want to recharge the iPad and the music player. We prefer a chartplotter with paper charts as a backup vs. paper charts and a sextant. The Nature’s Head works best with a small computer fan for venting. Clearly, we need and want electricity, but how much is enough and how should we get it?
Our Catalina 30 boat-yard neighbor (who is also getting a new engine this winter) gave us yet another good idea for saving a bit of money on the engine installation. Thanks to his suggestions we had disconnected all of the wiring and hoses before the engine was removed (saving several hundred dollars in labor costs already), and we will be reinstalling the sink ourselves. Talking to him a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he had recently installed his new engine control panel. Of course! Why didn’t we think of it? So last weekend saw us down at Dutch Wharf doing exactly that.
The timing was actually pretty good for this small project because a few weeks ago I fell on my way to work, bruising my ribs. This seriously limited the boat projects we could do because I couldn’t climb down into the main cabin. The sink has been removed for the engine installation so the stairs are not in place (they don’t have the same lateral support with the sink out). That means getting into the main cabin involves stepping onto the edge of the quarter berth which is a LONG way down for me. At 5’3″, I don’t exactly have the leg length of a supermodel. Until the steps are back in place, climbing down (and back up) involves a lot of upper body work which I was definitely not in any condition to do. Keeping Jeff company while he completed a relatively easy task that didn’t involve going down below? That I could do.
One of the projects we’ve wanted to tackle this off-season is the wiring on Pegu Club. The plan was to replace all the wiring and upgrade the original panel which had fuses, to a breaker panel. We were originally going to do this before we went on vacation in September, but then thought better of it and decided to wait until we weren’t pressed for time. Smart choice.
Electrical work is our achilles heel – well, that and engine work. We don’t know much about it, and although we have plenty of reference materials they never seem to answer the exact question that we have. If there was a book called “12 volt Electrical Work for Dummies” it would be too complicated for us. With Pegu Club out of the water, however, there was no time like the present.
The first thing we did (after disconnecting the batteries of course – we may not know much, but we have some common sense) was to remove the old panel and cut the wires off of it. We labeled them as we cut them (see, there’s that common sense thing again), and noticed that we had more positive wires than negatives which didn’t make any sense to us. We weren’t surprised, however, given the comment Mike (one of our Shenny friends) had when he saw how Pegu Club was wired. Mike knows all things electric inside and out. When we showed him the back of our old panel and asked for some tips, his first comment was, “Oh my god.” Yes, this was going to go well. We decided to worry about the positive and negative wire count later, and pressed on.
When we decided to remove our furler and switch to a hank-on jib we knew that one of the things we would need to do is get a foredeck bag. The foredeck bag is attached to the headstay and allows you to keep the sail hanked on when not in use. When you’re finished sailing, simply drop the headsail, place it in the bag, and zip it up. You can use the jib halyard to raise the bag off of the deck, and there the sail sits waiting until you need it again.
We could have purchased one, but as is typical with canvas work it was much cheaper to order a kit from Sailrite, saving us at least $40 compared to a pre-made bag. Using their handy-dandy YouTube video along with the written instructions that came with the kit, this actually turned out to be a very easy project.
With the exception of our weekend in Annapolis we’ve been heading down to Branford each weekend hoping to take care of some projects before the really cold weather sets in. Things are going well, giving me hope that we may be able to avoid working on Pegu Club in January and February. Dare to dream!
So far we’ve been able to glass in another thruhull and we’ve also been diligently working on our electrics. Because we like to keep things simple, working on the electrics hasn’t been too bad (well, except for the fact that we don’t know much about electrical work). Pegu Club is a strictly 12 volt system, and with the exception of engine-related items, the only other wiring she has is for running lights, interior lights, mast lights, instruments, a cigarette lighter charter, our Nature’s Head fan, the bilge pump, and the VHF.
The plan was to remove the old wiring and replace it with new, and also get rid of our circa 1977 fuse panel so we could install a new 12V breaker panel. The cigarette lighter looked like a fire hazard, and we are replacing our VHF with one that has an AIS receiver, so it was easy enough to pull out that wiring. Our old instruments also went because we’ve upgraded to the B&G all-in-one display. So far so good. Now it was time to pull out the wires for the interior lights and the running lights. Hold on there, skippy. Not so much. Continue reading “Chipping away at projects.”→
After a stressful week at work, I was more than excited to be heading off to the Annapolis Boat Show. This was our second go-around. The first time was five years ago after we took our sailing lessons but before we bought Little Bristol. During that visit we had fun wandering on the different boats and browsing in the vendor tents, so with some big purchases on tap for this offseason it wasn’t a hard decision to go check it out once again.
Honestly, we had fun the first time we went but nothing like this trip. As we have become more involved in the sailing community over the past five years, we have met many people (both in real life through Shenny and the Seven Seas Cruising Association, and on-line through Women Who Sail), we’ve read a lot of books, and we regularly follow several blogs and vlogs. Even with all of that, we didn’t realize what a small community it truly was until this show. Every few hours we ran into someone we knew, or had followed online. It. was. so. much. fun.
We flew down early Friday morning, dropped our bags off at the Air BnB we had rented (only a 7 minute walk from the show), and we hit the vendor tents hard. The plan was to decide on a windvane and a watermaker, along with some other purchases, and we had lots of questions so there was no time to waste. Continue reading “The Annapolis sailboat show – a three day party!”→