Boat Projects: Prepping for Winter Cruise

Sunday , 20, November 2016 5 Comments


We’ve been tied up at the Lady’s Island Marina in Beaufort since October 27th and I’ll admit that returning to our hometown after only 4 months of cruising was not part of the original plan.  Of course, Beaufort lies directly on the ICW and, after touring parts of North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland this summer, we were going to be travelling back through one way or the other anyway.  But stopping here for a slightly more extended stay has been beneficial for a lot of reasons.  We were able to host Papa and Gramma Julia for about a week so they could see the girls.  I was able to travel with friends to see a Clemson football game in Tallahassee.  Avery and Leslie were invited back to their old school to tell stories of our travels, play with their old friends, and see their teachers.  Laura was contacted by an old boss to do a couple weeks worth of contract work at a school district in the Upstate which turned out to be incredibly inspiring and fulfilling for her.  We even got our very first set of professional family photos taken EVER.  But primarily, we’ve used these final few weeks of hurricane season to work on boat projects.  Fixing things that once worked and then broke and other things that had never worked at all.  Several projects involved adding completely new systems to the boat.  Even more tasks were of the routine maintenance variety.  As an attempt to provide a little perspective about the work involved in maintaining a cruising sailboat, here is a brief summary of SOME of the tasks we’ve taken on.  What’s most impressive to me is that our list seems longer now than it was when we started three weeks ago.

New House Batteries

The set of house batteries that were on board at the time of purchase last year have done OK for our small power demands, but there have been numerous signs that it was time to change them out.  A local golf cart service and sales center sold us 4 brand new 6 volt Trojan T105s and after Laura placed them and wired them up, we now have a strong 12 volt house bank of 450 amp hours at our disposal.


Sink Drain Replacement

You’ve got to conserve water on board a small cruising sailboat.  For us, there’s been a big learning curve with regard to doing the dishes in a way that doesn’t use too much water.  Without going into too much detail, we needed a sink drain with a stopper and the little food-catching colander-style top on it.  After an online order for a new drain and 4 trips to the hardware store figuring out the correct plumbing fixtures, we’ve got a sink basin that will hold water and, hopefully, dishes that will get cleaned sooner.  Stay tuned for an exciting update on our even newer and improved system of dish cleaning and hand-washing that uses only spray bottles. (sarcasm)  I can’t believe I just wrote 118 words about a sink drain.  Now 130.  Crap.


Cabin cushions

Our girls have trashed the cushions in the salon.  Small tears became gaping wounds in the fabric.  Stains started getting stains on them.  They needed work.  Our old neighbors are excellent seamstresses and they have done a great job stitching the tears and creating slip-covers for all the cushions for easy washing.  Thanks Vivian and Hope!


New Nav Lights

Our portside navigation light and its mount were casualties of a bad docking experience in Oriental, North Carolina.  Since then, it’s been taped up and rigged up and it just needs to be replaced.  The previous owners of All In did a good job of transitioning all of the interior lighting to LED, but all of the nav lights and mast lights are old-school and they use more than their share of amperage.  My new LED nav lights are brighter and use a fraction of the power.  I employed a welder to make some new mounts for the lights.

New Techniques for Weighing Anchor

Because I herniated a disc in my back at some point in the last 4 months, we’ve had to get creative about ways to get the anchor back on the boat.  Adding an electric windlass doesn’t seem to be possible on our bow and the work involved to make it possible doesn’t appeal to me at all.  Instead, we’ve come up with several options that we’re eager to try.  For now, I’ve rigged up a pulley on the mast that allows me to raise about 12 feet of chain at a time from a standing position.  A possible future article may be written about the other options I’ve considered if this one doesn’t work out.  And by the way, if you are reading this and have some ideas about adding an electric windlass to a Hunter Legend 37.5 OR about alternative methods of raising the anchor, please message me or comment below.


Mast Gate

I retapped the mast to fit a new fastener on the mast gate.  I also dry-lubed all the mainsail slides.  If you don’t know what this stuff is, it’s gone be aaight.  



Our next passage will be offshore, through the night, so we’ve ordered harnesses for the girls.  The basic idea here is a system that keeps the girls on the boat while we’re underway.  The adults will wear harnesses as well, but the boat already had a few on board at the time of purchase.


Acronyms.  I’m particularly excited about our new AIS system, which will allow us to see boats that are big enough to kill us and also for those boats to be able to see us and, hopefully, avoid a possible collision.  I also replaced an old VHF in the cabin with a new one.  OpenCPN will become our primary navigation software.


Reorganization/refreshing of the cabins and cabinets

Laura has done a great job cleaning and recreating our sleeping quarters on All In.  All of the cabinets were emptied out and reassigned using the knowledge we gained over the first four months of cruising.

Restring lifeline netting

Our double lifelines with netting give us a greater sense of security as the girls move around the boat, but some of fastener string had become frayed, so it was time to replace it.  Side note:  We had a scary learning experience involving the lifelines that resulted in our three year old, who can’t swim yet, falling overboard at the dock.  I might make a quick post sometime soon sharing that story.


Registered the EPIRB

Our boat has an EPIRB onboard (a device that initiates a rescue at sea in life-threatening sitations) and I had to get it registered with the federal government with our information.  Coincidentally, the current battery expired THIS WEEK so we’ll get it serviced ASAP as well.

Repaired a cracked cabinet door

Another bit of damage caused by those sweet, precious, wonderful darlings of ours who used the cabinet door as a swing.  Aren’t they just adorable?


Electrical Panel repair

Patted myself on the back on this one.  Replaced the broken mounts of a bus bar in the electrical panel.  At first glance, didn’t think I could pull it off.  Our wiring is still a mess, but it’s on the list as a project in the near future.


Replaced broken DC outlet

This outlet powers our fans on warm days and our pocket inverter for charging laptops and phones while underway.  The old one cracked and stopped working.


Macerator pump repair

As long as we’re in the US, pumpouts are pretty regularly available.  What’s a pumpout?  Oh, just a vacuum tube that is hooked up to the boat and sucks out all of your bodily waste being held in a tank.  Neat, huh?  Anyway, when you’re offshore several miles, you’re legally allowed to pump this waste overboard.  Hence, macerator pump.  It’s like the disposal under your household sink.  Except for pooh.  It’s got blades for chopping and everything.  Well, ours needed some attention to get it working right.  Now it does.

Replacing the blades on the wind generator

Our wind generator suffered a broken blade before we even left Beaufort back in June, so it’s been unusable so far.  We ordered new blades and have them on board, but this is a project to be continued.  We’ll install the new blades and wire up the system as we go.


Fitting the emergency tiller to our new rudder

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you might remember that we ran aground in July, got towed off the shoal, bent the rudder in the process, and had to get hauled out for three weeks while a new rudder was built and installed.  Well, the new rudder post turned out to not be a perfect match with our emergency tiller.  If you ever lose steering while underway, you’re supposed to be able to deploy the emergency tiller and still maintain control of the boat.  I attempted to perform a practice run of this emergency situation, only to find that the new rudder post was filled with rock-hard foam.  After chiseling and drilling it away for about an hour, I had cleared enough foam to insert the emergency tiller.  Unfortunately, the tiller was slightly larger than the rudder post, so I spent the rest of the day on the bench grinder trying to reduce it’s circumference and make it fit.  Eventually, I worked it down enough to where I could insert the tiller into the rudder post and hit it with a rubber mallet to get it in place.


I’m really not exaggerating when I say that our “To Do” list still has more items remaining than items checked off.  It’s incredible the amount of work (and money) that it takes to keep a boat running smooth.  I don’t know if you ever finish them all, but at some point, you just have to get off the dock and get going again.  That day for us looks to be Monday the 21st.  Our plan is to sail offshore, overnight to St. Mary’s, GA for a Cruisers Thanksgiving.  Wish us luck!

5 thoughts on “ : Boat Projects: Prepping for Winter Cruise”
  • Chris and Bill Burry says:

    Sounds like all is going well. No,you never finish all the projects so get out sailing! We know 3 boats at least who will be at St Mary’s. Southern Cross, SEA Tramp and Second Wind. Fair winds for your offshore passage. Chris and Bill

    • Laura says:

      So good to hear from you. Yes, our project list continues to expand!! The cruisers Thanksgiving in St. Mary’s was fabulous!

  • scott h. says:

    by now you are underway!!!!! well maybe, hmmmph.
    stay vigilant…you can never escape the four levels of learning.
    a. unconsciously incompetent
    b. consciously incompetent
    c. consciously competent
    d. unconsciously competent

    blessings to you and yours,

  • Lucy says:

    You’ll love the AIS and Open CPN. I don’t want to contemplate life without a windlass- I’m hoping your updates will alleviate the workload. We find snacks and audiobooks keep us going through night watches- and it’s usually not as scary as we think! Fair winds.

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