Electrical Project Part III

Moving Batteries

Inch by inch we’re getting closer to installing some new batteries.  This past weekend we moved the old batteries from under the quarter berth to the engine room.  They now temporarily sit where the old water heater was located.  Over the next few weekends we plan to tear out the old battery box and redesign it to fit our new batteries.  We’re hoping to make it big enough to fit more than just the three we now have.

Here’s the next video installment of our progress.

April Boat Show

In April Rich is going to the Pacific Sail and Power Boat show in Richmond where he’s taking a boat electrical systems class from Nigel Calder.

Here’s the description of the class found on the Pacific Sail and Power Boat show website:

The number one source of problems on boats large enough to have an electrical system, both power and sail, lies in these electrical systems. Tech guru Nigel Calder, author of the best-selling ‘Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual’ (now in its 4th edition, with over 300,000 copies sold) takes participants through the core design and installation requirements necessary to head off electrical systems problems, and then delves into step-by-step troubleshooting techniques, including using a multimeter, that will rapidly identify most problems should they arise. Not only will you leave class with a far better understanding of your electrical systems and knowing how to fix common problems, but you will also likely save the price of admission by not having to make service calls or swap out perfectly good parts in search of solutions. No previous experience is required.

Rich has compiled a list of questions about batteries and chargers, inverters, and isolators to ask Calder.  He’s especially interested to hear what he has to say about the Firefly batteries we’re hoping to get.  One of the reasons we’re excited about these batteries is because Calder has given them high praise.

In preliminary testing I worked the Firefly batteries hard in a real-world (onboard, while cruising off the west coast of Scotland) partial state of charge operation. The goal was to minimize engine run times and optimize electrical system performance in an ‘off-the-grid’ situation with limited recharging opportunities. The kind of operating regime I followed spells death for most lead-acid batteries. In contrast, after two months of intensive cycling, the Firefly batteries tested out with 100% of the capacity with which they started. These are encouraging results which, if substantiated over longer periods of time, represent a ‘game changer’ in terms of lead-acid technology and boat electrical systems design. I look forward to collecting more data. –Nigel Calder

Projects on Deck (literally)

We’re really trying to get the battery project done so our summer is free to finally install the chainplates and finish faring and painting the deck.  We’ll keep everyone posted and post more videos of course.

Isotemp water heater

Another Project Bites the Dust

We had a good weekend knocking out another project.  We installed the new water heater and removed the old one from the boat.  I think this is one of the few projects we were able to complete in ONE DAY.  Surprising too, since it not only involved plumbing, but electrical and some structural engineering for mounting it to the bulkhead. (more…)

Electrical Power Lugs

Electrical Project Part II

Electrical Project Part II

We uploaded part 2 of the electrical project.  In this video we install the new breaker panel and briefly talk about upcoming projects.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date with our boat projects. (more…)

AC Wiring

AC Wiring Done Right

We haven’t been doing many website posts lately, but we HAVE been uploading recent project videos (and some old videos too) to YouTube.  So if you’ve wondered where we went, head over to our YouTube channel or you can watch videos on our website as well. (more…)

changes ahead

Changes for the New Year

I think when you have a huge, multi-year project you’re working on (like we do), it makes it easier on family when they ask you what you want for Christmas. We have a huge list of boat projects that all cost money, so we’re never at a loss for things we need. Amazon, West Marine gift cards and good old cash have been the staple for gifts for the past few years. But this year, Rich and I really couldn’t think of anything we needed for the boat. Yes, we still have a shit-load of projects, but asking family to buy you a battery for your boat is not what they want to hear.

Rich is terrible at thinking of gift ideas for himself (mainly because he gives it no effort). I, however, have no trouble coming up with things I need or want. Throughout the year I routinely see or hear about things I would like.  I find them on Amazon and add them to a wish list. Then before Christmas I move some of those items to a Christmas wish list I share with family. So far it’s worked out great and if I get a gift card or cash, then I can always buy the stuff off my wish list.

The Change

All this leads into a couple of changes Rich and I are going to try. We’re both a little burned out on writing blog posts.  I’m also burned out on nagging Rich to write something (which is obvious by the lack of posts since November). So this year, Rich and I have decided to try making more videos of our boat projects. I know we have some, but they’re not edited very well (or at all) and really don’t give a lot of useful information.

The Platform

We’re also going to switch from Vimeo to YouTube. I really like the Vimeo platform, but I’m not super stoked about paying for it, and the free version isn’t great. I’ve never really watched anything on YouTube other than the occasional funny cat video and for the past month or so I’ve been vegging out watching researching YouTube videos that I think are well done. I’ve even started a YouTube channel with a couple of old videos that I spruced up a little.

Why Our Old Videos Suck

One of the reasons we never did much with video was our computer situation. My old 2009 MacBook Pro could barely handle basic functions like checking email and so that meant Rich would have to edit any videos on his computer and he’s not very motivated to do that too busy working on projects for that. Now that I’ve upgraded my computer I can do the editing. Also, Rich was using the GoPro editing software which he found difficult and frustrating to use.

So while I’ve been “researching” on YouTube, I’ve also been trying to find video editing software I like. I never really liked iMovie and I didn’t even want to attempt the GoPro software. What I finally settled on is Filmora by Wondershare. It has a lot of functions; it comes loaded with a lot of free elements (like music, transitions, bottom thirds, etc.) plus other ones you can buy; it’s really easy to use and it just seems to work without any glitches.

I also started using Canva.  It’s an online graphic design app that’s really easy to use.  It has a drag-and-drop interface and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts.  It’s also used for both web and print media design and graphics.  It’s one of my new favorite websites.


My Sony a6000 camera takes great video and one of the things I received from my Christmas wish list was a Sony zoom microphone. It attaches to the hot shoe and picks up sound a lot better than the built-in mic. I will eventually buy a “Dead Cat” wind muff, but now I don’t think I need it. We’ll also still use the GoPro and our cell phones.Sony zoom mic


I also got Sony Bluetooth headphones. They’re really comfortable and one charge lasts about 20 hours.  Plus Rich won’t have to listen to me fumble around editing the video (that’s pretty annoying).

Sony Bluetooth headphonesWith an Amazon gift card I bought myself a laptop desk. Rich’s computer is at the nav table and mine is relegated to the salon table. Unfortunately, the cushions in the seating area are god-awfully uncomfortable for anything longer than about 2 minutes. I get a terrible back ache every time I sit at my laptop so now I sit on the settee with my new laptop desk. Side note: We’re hoping to get new cushions and upholstery eventually, but might wait until we head to Mexico where we’ve heard it’s a lot less expensive.

laptop deskWe also have a variety of tripods, selfie sticks, a chest harness and other miscellaneous gear that we’ve had for a while. I may have to get a wireless mic for times when we have to shoot too far from the camera for the mic to pick up the dialog.  I was thinking about getting a basic LED light that fits into the hot shoe as well.  Lighting conditions in the boat, especially in the winter, is pretty low so an LED light might do the trick. Side note: Buying a drone is probably in our near future. We’ve seen some amazing drone video footage from some of the YouTube channels we’ve been watching.

We also got some cash for our anniversary and Christmas so we splurged on a new Froli system for our mattress. We had been using Hypervent which worked fine for keeping the moisture under the mattress at bay. But lately Rich and I both wake up feeling terrible with achy backs and sometimes waking in the night with sore hips and shoulders. I don’t know if our mattress is just breaking down (it’s about 3 years old and should last about 10), or if we’re just getting old. Anyway, I thought I would give Froli a try since there’s a 30-day money back guarantee.

Our mattress is so thick (6 inches total) I didn’t think we would be able to tell the difference, but I noticed it almost immediately. When I installed the Froli system I set everything to the middle setting.  There are three settings and Froli recommends the middle one for average-sized people. We slept on that for a few days and did feel better; however, I like a softer bed.  I adjusted my side to the widest setting and added a couple more of the softer (light blue) springs and it’s made all the difference. The mattress is so much more comfortable now. If anyone is wondering the Froli Travel V-berth Large Kit with one 12-pack expansion kit fits our V-berth with just a couple of pieces left over.

Froli Delivered
Laying out the Froli grid
Height of the Froli
Froli installed

Finally, not really a Christmas present to us, but we recently bought a Honda 2000 watt generator. We were always going to get a generator and northern California has finally been getting the rain it desperately needs. We’ve lost power a few times, but never for very long.  We live in a rural, flood-prone area (it’s all islands and levees in the Delta).  So we figured it’s a good idea to just get it now. Of course, since we bought it we haven’t lost power once.Honda generator

Speaking of power, I should have a video of Rich’s rewiring of the AC on the starboard side. He also cut open some dead space and made new storage areas under the nav station.  There might be an upcoming written post about that. Up next he’s FINALLY going to tackle the breaker panel (Yay!)

Sink drain that's clogged

Drain Bamage

A month or so ago I decided to clean out the kitchen and bathroom sink drains with vinegar.  I’ve done this one time before and it worked great.  Because there is no p-trap the sinks can get a little stinky and cleaning them with vinegar makes them nice and fresh again.  The process is simple.  (more…)

Jib Track

Jib Track – Done! (almost…)

We tackled the jib track project this weekend.  It’s been either raining or we’ve been too busy socially to get anything done lately.  Finally, the weather cooperated this weekend and we installed the port jib track…almost. (more…)


Intergrip(ping) the Cabin Top

Hatches and cabin top projects – Week 3

No, we didn’t finish painting the cabin top with Interlux Intergrip last weekend.  I washed the boat Friday in preparation for painting on Saturday.  The plan was for both of us to start early Saturday masking, get the first coat of Intergrip on and maybe the second (and final) coat on in one day because it was supposed to rain on Sunday.  What happened was Rich spent Saturday morning fixing the forward hatch that I broke on Friday (oops).   (more…)

Bomar hatches

Glazed Over with Projects

Hatches & Cabin Top Projects – Week 2

In typical boat-project fashion, refurbishing the two overhead hatches has taken way longer than expected.  Rich managed to get both Bomar metal hatch frames off the boat without bending them too much.  He removed the old glazing, scraped out the weather-stripping, and attempted to remove the old paint with mechanical means, but it was just too tough.   (more…)

jib track

Unintended Project – Jib Tracks

We never planned to install new jib tracks, but as often happens on a sailboat, this became one of several unintended projects.  For those who don’t know, jib tracks are metal bars typically mounted on the outside edge of a boat.  The jib sheets (the lines that control the jib when sailing) run through blocks on the jib track.   (more…)

Forward hatch

No Rest for the Wicked

Rich is off work for the next TWO weeks, so there is no rest for the wicked – it’s project time again.  I briefly mentioned to him a few months ago that it would be nice to get the final paint and non-skid on the cabin top before winter.  That way next summer we can finally finish the side decks.  I guess that stuck in Rich’s head, because he decided to tackle this project before starting his new job. (more…)

To Helm with It

The Helm

In keeping with getting this beast ready to take out for a spin, we finally put the steering wheel (the boaty term is the helm) back on the boat.  Way back in early 2013 we took a bunch of stuff off the boat, the wheel included, and it’s been in storage ever since.  Some previous owner coated it with lovely Cetol over and over and water had gotten under the Cetol and it was peeling.   (more…)

Officially Named!

It’s official – Ramble On is finally officially Ramble On!  This weekend Rich and I put the vinyl stickers on the hull…finally!  We took the old name, Mary Morris, off a couple of years ago and had every intention of putting the new name on, but never did.   (more…)