My boat came in two versions, one the inboard diesel, and the other the outboard.   For some reason the outboard version did not come with a main battery switch, so the electrical fuse panel and VHF are always powered, and everything just gets attached directly to the battery terminals.  Since before I bought the boat I’ve planned to install a battery switch, clean up the wiring and just upgrade the electrical in general. It took me quite a while to figure out how I wanted to do this, but this spring I finally decided what I wanted to do. This is part 1 of the electrical system upgrade. Part 2 will be replacing the 5 position fuse panel with a custom made breaker panel from Bass Electric later this summer.

Below is the decided upon design. I purchased 100 amp bus bars for the main power distribution as I think my max non-starting draw with everything on and the VHF transmitting is around 25 amps, but as I don’t know exactly how many amps the engine draws when starting I decided to stay on the safe side and attach the engine cables to the same terminal posts on the bus bar as the power feed cables so the engine starter cables would be directly attached to the  battery feed without drawing through the bus bar.

Click for larger version

 EDIT: see the post about the inverter installation for additions to this system

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Last year at the Defender spring sale I bought a Davis Windex light as I do end up sailing after dark rather frequently, and running the anchor light to see the Windex just goes against everything that I stand for.  I had every intention of hooking up a Windex light to my Nav lights this spring while re-wiring the mast and adding spreader lights, but then I realized that between finding a deck fitting for the extra circuit, and the cost of the wire, it was going to be at least a hundred dollar solution.  So about 3 weeks ago I was in Target and saw they have mini garden / walkway path lights for $2.  I took a look at it in the store and figured for $2 it was worth trying out and worst case, I occupy myself for a few hours and it’ll only cost $2. I opted for the one with what appeared to be a brushed stainless steel housing, although they have black and brown plastic, as well as copper options.  The operation of the lights is already wired to be perfect for the needs of a Windex light as it automatically turns the light on whenever the amount of light hitting the solar panel drops below a certain amount, with the solar panel doubling as a photo-voltaic cell to turn on / off the light.


Small solar panel on top, but how much does it take to charge / power a single LED? Read the rest of this entry »

Just returned this morning from doing a delivery of a brand new Beneteau 40 from the Newport boat show to Huntington NY. The delivery was organized by Hank from Offshore Passage Opportunities.  We left the dock in Newport around 2pm and set sail after motoring out of the harbor. We sailed through the night and arrived in Huntington Harbor around 5am, relaxed for about an hour until the local diner opened for breakfast and got a few cups of fresh hot coffee.

Winds were blowing out of the north west ranging between 15 and 20 knots early on before dying down to about 12 knots throughout the night.

Boat was very nice, configured for easy handling with nearly everything ran back to the cockpit, but I was overall rather displeased with the boat’s performance and handling.  With the winds blowing 18 gusting 21kts  on a near reach we were triple reefed on the main and double reefed on the 130% Genoa, heeled over in excess of 20 degrees, and only able to do about 6kts through the water. My overall impression of the boat was that it needed a significant increase in keel ballast as she was far too tender, especially for a 40ft boat.

Friday 8/20/10 ~11:30pm

Just got to city island for the night. Left Stamford a little before 8pm and had the wind dead astern the whole way. Flew the chute and averaged about 6kts.

We tried to hook up on anchor but it kept dragging, then I noticed a unused mooring ball about a hundred yards away that looked lonely and decided to give it something to do for the night.

Got to get to sleep, have a 8:30am appointment with hell gate…

Saturday 8/21/10 ~12:30pm

Arrived at Pier 40 and picked up a mooring ball about an hour ago.  Had to be carefull about all the kayakers around, a couple of them thought a big boat coming at them was fun to watch, despite me yelling at them that I was heading for the mooring ball they were next to. Also of note is the fact that many of the mooring balls are missing the pendants. I was lucky to find one that had a pendant and didn’t have a dinghy already hanging off of it. Next time I’ll bring a large carabiner or two to attach to the shackle (that is w/o pin) and tie my own pendant to it for the night.

Left City Island around 7:00am after making some coffee and eating breakfast. Motor sailed the whole way, winds were light and shifty, and I didn’t feel it was safe to kill the engine given we were in a narrow commercial channel frequented by tugs and high speed ferry boats.   We got to Hell Gate right at slack tide current so the passage was pretty uneventfull.  Had a seaplane take off  right next to us a little upriver from the williamsburg bridge which was really cool to watch. Went by the statue of liberty for the first time on a non commercial boat, that was pretty cool.

Off to the Intrepid Sea Air & Space museum, then meeting up with friends for dinner and drinks.

Saturday Night 8/21/10 ~1:30am

Got back to the boat a few minutes ago, got hasselled by NYC Parks Dept as they close access to the dinghy dock at 1am, and we got back at 1:07am. Explained I was going to my boat, showed them the boat keys (big float, kill switch lanyard etc) in my pocket and eventually convinced them to let me in, but not until after showing them some ID (which they copied down my info) they finally unlocked the gate and let me get back to the dinghy dock.

Sunday 8/22/10

Woke up to overcast skys and a little bit of rain mixed in with some drizzle that didn’t end until we were within sight of our home port of Stamford.  Originaly I planned to spent sunday morning in the city and catch the 3:30 current change up the east river and through Hell Gate, but I woke up at 6:20 and realized the weather was crappy and would rather get home durring daylight, and we since still had 3 hours of flood current left to push us up the east river, I started the engine and threw off the mooring line while Jen started to make coffee.

I Entered the east river with 2kts of current pushing us along, building as the river narrowed until we hit speeds of nearly 8.5kts under the engine alone. Raised the sails once the river turned north and in the breif periods that the wind actually blew in any constant direction, we were doing over 9kts motor sailing. Hell Gate was interesting in the fact there were numerous eddys and small standing waves visible, I tried to avoid them as best as possible. 

Cleared the Throgs Neck around 9:30 and shutoff the engine. We were on a broad reach with 10kts of wind sailing under the main and the 110% genoa doing 5.5 – 6.5kts until somewhere around Mamaroneck the wind picked up to about 15kts and I took down the Genoa, was deciding if I should reef the main when the wind picked up to 20kts and I promptly reefed the main.  Good thing too, I recorded wind speeds of up to 24kts shortly after that.

 We continued sailing along very comfortably without any excessive heel doing about 6kts under just the reefed main in the 20-24kts of wind for about 45 minutes until it started to die back down to 15kts, at which time I shook out the reef and sailed under just the main for about 20 minutes until the wind calmed back down to the ~10kts it had been doing all day and I raised the genoa again, followed shortly after by a little bit of sunshine which helped to try the sails out so I didn’t have to put them away wet :).

Sailed into Stamford Harbor at 12:30pm on the same tack we were on when rounding the Maritime college under the Throgs Neck, having never dropped below 5kts for more than a few minutes since entering the east river at 6:45am. By 2pm the boat was cleaned up and we were back home and ready for a hot shower!

Pictures are below.

 Sailed to Port Jeff for the L&A raftup this past weekend. Singlehanded the boat from Stamford to Port Jeff. I left on Saturday around 11:30am. Had every intention of leaving earlier, but underestimated the time getting provisions / stowing them and getting the boat ready without any assistance would take.

Wasn’t able to bring the dinghy as it and the engine were on Dan’s boat as a result of our (successful) fishing trip a few days prior.

Nearly turned back around 1pm as the winds were straight out of the east (10 deg from where I was trying to get to), current was againt me, and the chop was building. I decided to motor through it for a while knowing that the return trip would be quick and easy if I did decide to go home, but the winds shifted around 3pm in conjunction with the tide change, so I ended up sailing the last few hours and making good time.

Rigged up a tiller system to help hold the helm steady, and managed to trim out the sails just right so that the last 10 nm of the trip she sailed herself without any helm input from me. Good thing as whomever last used the head told me it was getting full, but didn’t tell me it was because they didn’t flush! It ended up dumping all over, but luckily it stayed contained inside the shower basin in the head and since the boat was on a starboard tack, it didn’t even drain into the bilge (shower drain goes into the bilge). I was able to soak it up / clean everything with papertowels and dispose of them into a seperate trash back which got tied to the stern sitting on the swim platform and stayed there until I got back to the dock.

Arrived at Port Jeff around 6pm, and as soon as the anchor was set, I changed into my swimsuit and dove in to wash any remaining smell of head sanitizer from myself, and swim over to meet my neighbors.

Caught a ride from my neighbor Heinz to the beach for a little cookout / party and we all had a great time! It reminded me of sitting at the bars on the beach in the BVI around new years, where everyone else came by boat, and just wants to relax chat with people and have a good time.

I woke up for the ~4am anchor drag alarm symphony courtesy of no wind, and aimless drifting. Bill & Maureen were already on deck trying not to play bumper boats, and aside from my alarm I clearly heard 2 other alarms going off, and thought I heard a 3rd. I stayed on deck for a few minutes until I felt the wind start to pick back up and blow us all back to where we started. I knew I didn’t drag, so it was back to bed for me… Ended up leaving a few minutes after 9am after cleaning up the cabin and getting some breakfast.

I hugged the long island coast shifting between a broad reach and a reach a few times heading west at about 5.5 kts for about 3 hours (i did use the pole for a little extra speed on the broad reach), and the last hour after a small wind shift (forecasted, which was why I hugged the coast for the first few hours) I was close hauled, and doing 6-7 kts until I was back in Stamford having made the 24nm return trip from anchor to dock in 4 hours and 20 minutes, it was just starting to rain as I pulled into my driveway so the timing couldn’t have been better.

At Anchor in Port Jeff

At Anchor in Port Jeff

Whenever I had the companionway open, I was always been struggleing with what to do with the slats when they were not in use. I had been stowing them between the companionway ladder and the bulkhead 5 inches to it’s port, but they sometimes fall out and crash to the floor, and put dents into the cabin sole when that happens. Additionally, you have to carry all 4 slats up / down the ladder at once, while not difficult, it is a pain in the stern section.


Companionway -Before refinishing the slats

Last fall at the Annapollis boat show I checked out the new Tartans and saw that some of them have a rack to the side of the companionway that all the slats fit in. I liked the idea so much I decided to try and duplicate it.


Not having the carpentry tools to make the parts myself, or space to put them if I bought them, I had a local carpenter / fellow boater make the parts up for me.  I don’t have enough space to duplicate the same design Tartan used as it would be in the way when walking down the companionway ladder so we had to come up with a few other ideas before we got it right.

After various concepts we came up with this for the final design;

Slat Holder (back)

Slat Holder (back)

Slat Holder (front)

Slat Holder (front)

The holders are teak, and I used a mixture of one part Dalys SeaFin Teak Oil to two parts Dalys ProFin Gloss to varnish them. The mixture was reccomended to me by an engineer at Dalys who formulated the products, and worked with Hunter back in the 90’s on blending them for their boats.


I mounted the holders on the bulkhead seperating the head from the cabin to the port side as you go down the ladder. I didn’t want to take a chance of cracking the wood, and had to be carefull about the depth I pre-drilled the holes.  So I measured my bit and carefully wrapped about 15 wraps of electricial tape around the bit at the correct depth.

Drill bit with depth limit

Drill bit with depth limit

I also had to trim the screws down with a pair of good quality wire cutters as they were slightly too long, and would punch out the other side of the bulkhead into the head. Below is a picture of the cut down screw, next to a full length screw.

cut down screw

cut down screw

Final Product

At the time of writing this I have 3 of the 4 holders installed, the 4th is pending a modification of a small compartment below the companionway ladder (you can see the corner of the compartment in the picture below with the slats in the holder) that holds things like 2-cycle engine oil, boat soap, etc. that would be blocked from opening until I move the hinge from the forward side, to the port side so it doesn’t swing up and into the holders, and instead swings open from the side.

Slat Holders Installed

Slat Holders Installed

Companionway slats in holders

Companionway slats in holders

I’ve been using this for a month plus now and found the holders to be very solid and sturdy, the slats do not rattle, and they are easy to get to, while staying out of the way. The system works quite well, I can’t wait to get the hatch below it modified so I can install the final holder.


Update:  Here is how everything looks after refinishing and varnishing everything.

Slats Installed - Varnished

Slats Installed - Varnished

Slats Installed - Varnished

Slats Installed - Varnished

I decided to replace my cabin lights with newer, brighter, and more energy efficient LED lighting, and I wanted to add the option for red lights for night as I do go out at night a fair amount, and really hate when someone turns on the white cabin lights and I am at the helm as I go blind from all the light.

My old cabin lights were these Guest 5 3/4″ lights, I replaced 2 of the 3, leaving the one in the head alone (the one pictured below) as it doesn’t get used much, nor does it need the red light option.

I did quite a bit of research on what LED lights out there were the best, and I finally decided to take Maine Sail’s very good test results and purchase the white and red Sensi Bulbs G4 replacment LED despite the fact that they are pretty much the most expensive solution I found. Once I decided on the Sensi Bulb I had to locate a housing to put them in, and I finally decided on the ABI 7″ stainless steel dual bulb dome light Unfortunatly Defender shipped me the high/low model instead of the white / red model, so I had to do a little re-wireing of the switch so it didn’t turn both bulbs on at the same time, that fix only took me about 15 minutes in total for both lights so it wasn’t a big deal.

Installation was pretty straight forward, I removed the old lights, cut the wires, and put them aside. Then I filled the center of my butt connectors with DiElectric grease, and cripmed the connector on the exposed ends of the wires, pre-drilled the mounting holes and screwed the lights into the cabin top. Installed the bulbs (everything was pre-installation tested) and flipped the cabin light breaker and tested them out. 

I’m glad I went with Maine Sail’s reccomendation, the lights are very bright at night and they really light up the cabin well, and the red option is great for when I’m underway and don’t want to kill my night vision.  Plus being that they are low power consumption LEDs, I don’t have to worry about the cabin lights draining the batteries while we sit at anchor.

Previously I covered the installation of the 1″ T track on the mast for the pole ring. The next step of the installation was to install a deck organizer block under the companionway hood to route the halyard back to the cockpit. Since I can forsee no reason that I would ever need to run another line back to the cockpit I opted to save a little expense and install a Schaefer Series 3 cheek block instead of a regular 2 or 3 line organizer block.  At the cockpit I installed a Spinlock XAS rope clutch to control the halyard with.

Cheek Block Installation

To install the cheek block I had to remove the 9 wood screws that hold the hood on, and then break the solid bead of 3M 4200 that hunter originally used all the way around the hood. To do this I ran a small knife through the bead cutting through it as best as I could, and then pulled the hood up.

Once the hood was off, and the old 4200 scraped and removed, I cleaned the underside of the hood with Tilex Mold and Mildew remover as the fiberglass had alot of dark mildew spots from years of damp sea air and perpetually being in the shade. To clean it, I simply sprayed it on, let everything sit for about 5 minutes, and then hosed it off, it looks brand new again.

To install the cheek block I positioned the block so the halyard would run straight back to where the rope clutch was to be installed, marked my 4 holes, and then drilled them. I first tried using stainless tapping sheet metal screws from West Marine as Hunter had the foresight to install at the factory a aluminum backing plate under the mounting pad, but the screws ended up snapping off under the simple leverage of a screw driver leaving me a useless set of holes with screws embedded in them that I was unable to remove. After re-drilling new mounting holes about 3/8″ outboard of the original holes I opted to tap the holes for a #10 machine screw, bedded the back of the block and holes with 3M 5200, then screwed it down tight, and cleaned up the excess 5200 with an acetone soaked paper towel. I have no expectation that this block will ever be removed for the life of the boat, otherwise I would have used 4200 or lifecaulk.

Cheek Block

Cheek block installed under companionway hood

Rope Clutch Installation

The installation of the rope clutch was pretty quick and easy. I ligned up the clutch on the factory designated installation / mounting pad and marked my holes, then removed the clutch and pre-drilled the holes for the #14 tapping screws, and then cranked the screws into the holes by hand with a large screw driver (this time the screws didn’t break off). I chose the tapping screws with the large sheetmetal style thhreads as they have more holding power than a machine screw because the threads are so much wider and cut much deeper into the metal. Once everything was ready to do the final installation, and the surface of the deck was cleaned with a acetone wipe down, I applied 3M 5200 into and around the holes, then screwed the rope clutch down tight, and cleaned up any excess 5200 that leaked out with a acetone soaked paper towel.


All that was left after this was to re-install the companionway hood, and reseal the edges with 4200.

Halyard Installation

Once everything else was complete, it was time to go up the mast and install the halyard. This was pretty straight forward, I went up the mast in a climbing harness and fed the bitter end of the halyard through the already existing spinnaker halyard exit directly above the forestay, and let gravity feed the line down the inside of the mast. When the halyard was visible from the exit gate at the base of the mast I used a hook shaped piece of wire and pulled the halyard to the exit, and then used a screw driver inserted past the main halyard on it’s exit gate which was opposite of the spinnaker halyard exit to push the line through.  Here is the Finished product. You can clearly see the V cleats for the lazy jacks that sit on either side of the T track.

I just had a new bimini added to the boat by Seafarer Canvas out of Norwalk. I stopped by their booth at the Norwalk boat show last fall. I had been looking into the various biminis available from online sources, and was considering an aluminum framed bimini from that had received good reviews, but Seafarer quoted me a stainless steel framed bimini, custom fit and installed, for only $50 more than I was looking at for the self installed aluminum framed bimini online, it was a no brainier and I ordered it on the spot. Read the rest of this entry »

Installed the track and car for the spinnaker pole and whisker pole padeye on the mast today. I went with the 1″ T track to ensure the car fits between the 2 V cleats mounted on the front of the mast for securing of the lazy jacks. The car slides between them with just a perfect amount of clearance on either side. Luckily for me the padeye car from ABI is just the right size for my little 14″ twist lock whisker pole that I picked up for a steal at west marine last season. It also sticks out far enough forward that I am able to rotate the whisker pole and use it as far aft as the drifter should ever need, so that also solves my previous described problem of having to use the shrouds to attach the whisker pole to when using the drifter.

I still need to install the padeye up the mast that I will use to hold the end of the pole upright for storage, and pick up a couple more screws for the top 2 holes of the track as between the screw bins at west marine and the deck of the boat, I somehow came up 2 short. Additionally I think I will need a Mast Mounted Pole Chock or two to hold the pole in place so it doesn’t rattle around when underway.

1 inch Mast T-Track with ABI padeye car

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