Perhaps the biggest “must do” task on our list before we left was making our bimini and installing solar panels.While our 50 watt solar panel has kept up well over the past few years, we knew we would be demanding more from our electrical system when we cut the docklines.We have minimal power requirements and weight is always a concern given Pegu Club’s size, so we decided to go with flexible solar panels.While they aren’t as efficient or durable as hard panels, the weight savings alone (8 pounds for two that could be mounted directly on the bimini vs. 33 pounds plus a stainless frame for two hard panels) made it worth it to us.
We had ordered a bimini kit from Sailrite several months ago, and now it was time to get to work.The kit came with the stainless steel tubes already bent, so all we needed to do was figure out what size we wanted the bimini to be, then cut them to the proper length.Don’t let the simple description fool you into thinking that this was a quick process.It most definitely wasn’t.However, by the time we were finished cutting we had a bimini frame that Jeff could stand underneath, which made for a happy Jeff.
Installing the windlass itself was only half of the job.Now we needed to wire it.It looked to be a daunting task based on the wiring schematic and our electrical skills, but fortunately we had friends at Shenny we could bounce things off of when we were stuck.
Some people install a separate battery in the bow of the boat to use exclusively for the windlass, but we didn’t want to add even more weight up there. We figured the 38 gallon water tank, a 33 pound Rocna, and 125’ of 5/16” G4 chain plus 175’ of 8 plait rode was already enough. That left us with running the wires back to our battery bank in the quarter berth. Before we could do that, however, we needed to find homes for the up/down control switch, the reversing solenoid, a manually resettable breaker, and a breaker/isolator switch.
When Jeff was diagnosed with congestive heart failure we knew we would have to stray from our “keep it simple” principles when it came to our anchor setup.Pre-CHF we planned to have a manual windlass (i.e. not powered by electricity) or perhaps go without one altogether.After all, it wouldn’t be that difficult to raise a 22 pound Rocna anchor plus some chain by hand.
With his diagnosis came lifting restrictions, so going without a windlass wasn’t going to cut it anymore.I suppose if I had started seriously working on my pushups I could have raised the anchor by hand, but at 49 years old and aging every day, we decided that might not be the way to go.The manual windlass also wasn’t ideal in case I was incapacitated and Jeff needed to use it by himself.An electric windlass was clearly going to need to be installed.But how to do it?
Searching the internet, we couldn’t find any examples of Bristol 29.9’s with electric windlasses.This may be because boats this size don’t typically need one, or it could have been that the relatively shallow anchor locker for the 29.9 wasn’t optimally designed for one.No time like the present to give it a shot!
We were hoping to spend a lot of time sailing during my month off, but alas it was not to be.Despite having four weeks off, between a delay in getting Pegu Club to Shenny, a trip to L.A. for my dad’s memorial service, multiple doctor appointments and cardiac rehab for Jeff, and a bad cold that I likely picked up on the flight back from L.A., we weren’t able to sail. At. All.
So if we weren’t sailing, what the heck did we do?Well, we did bring Pegu Club back to Shenny on Tuesday, June 5th.Pegu Club had been splashed the week before, but her sea trial revealed that the new propeller needed to be repitched.Sam at Dutch Wharf did yeoman’s work getting the propeller back to us as quickly as possible, so at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 5th we were at Dutch Wharf and ready to go.It was an ungodly hour, but we wanted to take advantage of afavorable current, and hopefully get to Groton before the forecasted rain and thunderstorms.It was a nice sunny morning without a speck of wind.What better way to break in the engine??
One of the items we purchased this offseason was a new VHF radio. Pegu Club had an old working radio (plus we have two handheld VHFs), but technology has greatly improved since it was installed an unknown number of years ago. We decided to purchase a Standard Horizon GX2200 primarily because we’ve been pleased with our Standard Horizon handhelds, and this model has a built-in AIS receiver along with DSC and GPS.
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?
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.
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.”→
Our goal this past weekend was to install the last cleat and the bow and stern pulpits. Since this would officially mark the end of this off-season’s rebedding project, we were excited to get to it.
We thought that the bow pulpit would be a challenge because it “sprang” out when we removed it, but fortunately the whole project went fairly smoothly. Rebedding the stern pulpit and the cleat meant that I had to climb back into “The Pit of Despair” (yes, it’s a Princess Bride reference), aka the rear lazarette, but it was a price I was glad to pay to finally finish rebedding for the season. A few quick hours later, we were done. Hooray!
With the rebedding finished for this year, we were able to enthusiastically turn our attention to new projects. Tracing and removing abandoned wiring sounded good, so Jeff got started removing most of the wiring for the shore power.