So it’s mid July already and we’re making a little headway on the project list. Our goal this summer was to get the boat put together enough to take it out on the San Joaquin River.
We started with the ground tackle, and have finally managed to get the bowsprit on, the anchor platform done, the windlass installed, stainless steel bang plates for the anchor, and the new anchor in place. We were going to buy new chain, but decided to put the old, inadequate chain and rode back on for now. It should be fine for sailing in the delta. Rich put the finishing touches on the windlass which included new o-rings, a new chain stripper, filling it with marine grease, making a new gasket for the bottom, screwing on the bottom plate and bolting it to the bowsprit.
Next we realized our navigation lights were going to be an issue. We planned to switch the lights to LED, but we weren’t sure if we were going to get new fixtures or just new bulbs. Since the existing fixtures were yellowed, cracked and really old, we decided to go with all new LED fixtures from Marine Beam. As we dug into this project we found the stern light didn’t work (one of the wires had somehow gotten pulled back through the pulpit), and the bow lights weren’t appropriately rated (they only reached 1 nm). The anchor and combo steaming/deck lights work, but we replaced the steaming/deck light anyway because we could and we thought it would be an easy project. It started out easy because there was plenty of wire in the mast to work with. But once the new steaming/deck light was wired up we couldn’t get it back down the mast. I tried pulling the wire down from the bilge under the compression post, but it wouldn’t budge. There’s an access plate at the foot of the mast and what we found was the wires run down from the top of the mast to the deck where they’re joined in a junction block, then they go to the bottom of the compression post into the bilge to another junction block. From there they go to the breaker panel. So until we unstep the mast, we cannot pull any wires up or down.
We bought a tricolor masthead/anchor light and were going to install it when we found that we couldn’t pull new wires up the mast so we’re going to see if the new LED bulb from the fixture will fit into the existing anchor light as a temporary fix. We’re a little concerned that our batteries will have trouble keeping up with a halogen anchor light running all night long if we decide to anchor out. We already ran new wires for the stern light and Rich is making a metal bracket to hold the light on the stern rail. The bow lights should mount to the brackets already there, but we’ll have to run new wires through the pulpit rail.
I wasn’t sure exactly what we were required to have for safety aboard. I know 1 PFD for each person, and a throwable PFD. After taking inventory I realized we were lacking several things. I bought new flares (ours were expired), a Type IV throwable horseshoe and bracket, and three inflatable PFD rearming kits. Our neighbors, who are in their 80s, were out in their small dinghy last year and were boarded by the Coast Guard. They passed the inspection, but were told they needed whistles on their PFDs. I checked ours and they do not have whistles so I’ll probably have to buy some of those too. I checked our fire extinguishers and they’re all in the green, but the last time they were serviced was 10 years ago. We also need to secure the 4 gallon salt bucket for the Electro Scan to make sure it doesn’t spill everywhere. Oh, and one more small item: we need to put the helm wheel back on. It’s been living in the shed for three years; ever since Rich stripped all the varnish off. It hasn’t been refinished (Rich wants to coat it in epoxy), but we can slap it in place fairly easily.
Remember way back when we bought new engine gauges and Rich did a beautiful job rewiring them into the control panel? Well, they never actually got hooked up to the engine. So we’ll have to do that soon. Also, we sorta know how much diesel is in the tank, but we’re not sure. We need to buy at least one diesel jug to have on hand in case we run low or run out. Plus, we don’t know what kind of schmutz lives on the bottom of the diesel tank and we really don’t want to suck that stuff into the filters.
Our boat has been nameless for about a year. We got documented with the Coast Guard, but we never quite finished everything we were supposed to do. Actually, we didn’t do anything we were supposed to do. We have the name and hailing port lettering, but when we removed the old name there was a big clean spot left behind. We bought cleaning and buffing compounds to polish it up and get it to match the surrounding area, but we never did it. Mostly because it will require tying the dinghy to the back of the boat to stand in while using the buffer. It’s going to be a real pain. Also, Rich was going to hand carve a plaque for the interior, even though I just wanted him to use his router, so that also never got done. Now he’s thinking he might use stick-on numbers/letters in the lazarette and epoxy over them.
So we think that’s all we’ll need to do just to motor out to the river. We have a separate list for the basic things we have to do to be able to sail or anchor over night. That list is a little longer and includes getting the water tanks installed along with a functioning pressure pump, figuring out how we’re going to mount the dinghy motor to the back rail, installing the chart plotter, GPS, depth sounder, installing the jib track cars, and putting the jib back on the boat. The list is daunting but I’m optimistic we’ll get out there this summer…or at least by Christmas.