Spring has sprung

Last weekend was my 42nd birthday so I decided not to work on the boat and instead went fishing.  I got a shitload of bass from one of our local ponds here in Folsom, and had a really nice sushi dinner.  No, I didn’t eat those pond bass raw; we got the sushi at a restaurant later that night.  I released all the fish that I caught.  All in all, not a bad birthday weekend…..  So now the projects have started to stack up.  Well, not that they’ve started to stack up.  They’ve always been there.  It’s just that the more I dig into this boat, the more problems I find.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love her.


Went down again on Friday morning and decided to tear out the Wolter Instant Hot Water Heater.  In concept, this little device is a great thing.  Propane fired, and it only heats water when you use it.  How cool is that on a sailboat?  Not cool at all, that’s how cool.  Problem is that where, and how it was installed is EXACTLY what the manufacturer tells you not to do in the detailed instructions that we found tucked away in one of the drawers on the boat.  Things like

combustion air supply and chimney flue length are mentioned, but whom ever installed this thing paid no mind to minor details such as INSTRUCTION MANUALS.  Also, multiple flare fittings in the propane line contained within the engine room is a big no-no.  So now it’s torn out, and I’m left with a nice 4-inch hole in the cockpit just aft of the propane locker lid where once was a chimney cap.  No matter.  Cockpit teak is on that long list of thing to be replaced.

LED strip lights

Next order of business was to finish installing the rest of the LED strip lights we received from marine beam.com.  Great little things to replace all the crappy fluorescents we ripped out, but the USB connections at each end are a bitch to wire into a boat.  I ordered male and female USB ends from some geek supply online and soldered up my own cables with marine-grade wire to connect them all together (photos here).  I pulled new wire from the existing panel (soon to be replaced and re-located) over to the junction block at the Nav Station, and then back around to the port side.  Yay, everything looks great, and cooking in the galley will now have plenty of task lighting.  I also installed the 3 strip lights above the port side dinette.

LED strip lights

The next task to check off the list was re-wiring the forward reading lights in the v-berth.  We ordered some nice halogen fixtures from downwindmarine.com and replaced the bulbs with LED’s from….. yep, you guessed it: marinebeam.com.  For some reason though, the boat builder decided to make a separate run of wires all the way forward from the breaker panel, under the floorboards, inside the bilge and up the forward bulkhead on the same switch that controls the forward overhead lighting that I just replaced a few weeks ago.  Not any more.  I needed a wire drop for the vanity strip lights in the head anyway, so I continued the circuit from the dome light down through the medicine cabinets, through the forward bulkhead, and into the port side v-berth locker to intercept the existing reading lights.  Done deal, and I was able to pull out a bunch more of that crappy old automotive grade wiring that has been so problematic.

I added up the total amps (and Watts @ 12 volts) from the new LED lighting on each circuit that we ran, and the most that we’re pulling is on the port side strip lights at 4 amps (50 Watts).  Most of the other new circuits come in at about 2.5-3.5 amps (30-40 Watts).  That’s a whole lot of light for very little drain on the battery bank compared to the old incandescent fixtures pulling 1.5 amps each (18 Watts @ 12 volts).  Total lighting load with every single light on at the same time is 10.54 amps.  With the new Blue Seas panel we’re installing, I could have ran ALL the lighting on one 15 amp breaker.  To err on the side of conservative, I decided to run 4 separate circuits, but maybe I’ll split them up into two breakers when we get the new panel; overhead & strips.

breaker panel

Oh yeah, and another thing that came up during my misadventures inside the breaker panel…Rewind back to the late-November pre-purchase survey.  It was noted that the freshwater pressure pump “functioned intermittently”.  When you swing the door open and the pump switch is on, sometimes it would kick in and start pumping water from the freshwater tank.  Close the door, and it would not.  The damn thing worked fine for the last 4 months.  Well, this weekend when I was [literally] up to my armpits inside the breaker panel I guess I jiggled that wire loose and it finally broke contact from the switch (crappy Taiwan solder job with even crappier wire).  I went to make dinner Saturday night and noticed the pressure pump was not kicking on as water barely dribbled out the galley faucet.  As I dropped the panel to investigate the problem it was easy to see the sparks arcing between the corroded contacts as I wiggled the breaker panel up and down.  Long story short: soldered a new wire to the switch and spliced it into the pressure pump.  It works for now, and it’ll be taken care of permanently when I finally get that new Blue Seas breaker panel installed in the Nav Station.

Making Some Head-way
Headliner Update