Refitting Salty Tails

Before casting off in November for our current cruising season, we spent four months at our marina in Punta Gorda refitting the boat. Four months of nonstop work, from sunup to sundown. We loved every minute of it. Blood, sweat, and tears were shed, but there’s something hugely rewarding in spending our waking hours getting in to the bones of our boat. After this summer, she feels more our home now and we feel that we know every inch of her!

We began the summer with a few cosmetic projects in the cabin. We relished working in the cool AC…the heat of the Florida summer is brutal. Within the first few weeks, we…

-Replaced the cabin sole (floor)
We decided to use a vinyl wood plank floor from Home Depot. Since we wanted something very durable, waterproof, and relatively inexpensive, this served our purpose and looks great.

-Removed all carpet and old wallpaper
We ripped out old carpet that lined the hull sides in storage spaces and painted with a clean white epoxy paint. In the head, vanity, and quarter berth, we updated the wallpaper to something bright and modern.

-Revarnished/painted interior wood
To lighten the interior, nearly every piece of wood was stripped of the old dark varnish. We chose to either varnish with a clear satin finish or paint with gray exterior latex paint.

Projects outside of the boat were done in between daily thunderstorms with lots of breaks for water. Outside, we…

-Waxed hull sides
Troy used the dinghy as a floating dock to maneuver his way around the boat within our slip. This was a pretty quick and easy task, only taking him a day or so.

-Repainted the decks, toe rail, and hatches
This was our most extensive exterior project, taking careful planning and patience with the daily rainstorms. Prep was the most time-consuming part of this project. All 37 feet of the deck, cabin top, and cockpit needed to be sanded and meticulously cleaned before any primer and paint could be rolled on. We must have used 10 rolls of blue painter’s tape taping off corners and edges, separating the white topside paint and blue nonskid Kiwi grip. We painted the aluminum toe rail with a durable, UV resistant bedliner paint. At the end, Troy had paint on every piece of clothing he owns, and I had gotten plenty in my hair, but the boat looked fantastic.

-Replaced all masthead electronics
Because of the lightning strike, everything on top of the mast needed to be replaced. Troy and I took turns being hauled up the mast to work. The VHF antenna, VHF cable (ran down through mast), wind transducer (and rewiring), and LED anchor light all were replaced.

A ton of time during our summer refit was spent working on wiring and electronics. Projects included…

-Installing new sailing/cruising electronics
We added new Raymarine electronics, including Raymarine Axiom 7 chart plotter, Raymarine Quantum radar, Raymarine i60 wind speed/direction, Raymarine i40 depth display, and Standard Horizon VHF radio (with GPS and cockpit RAM mic)

-Installing a new battery monitor
Ours simply failed, so we swapped it out with an updated version (Victron BMV 700). This allows us to monitor our house battery status (intake, state of charge, volts, amp hours remaining)

-Installed LED lighting
We replaced any standard lights with LED bulbs inside the cabin. In the cockpit, Troy installed four LED courtesy lights and added LED lighting to the dinghy davits.

-Overhauled 12V and 120V wiring
Removed 40 years of stray and abandoned wiring. Troy also improved wiring and connections throughout the boat including completely reorganizing wiring behind the main distribution panel and in the engine room. We also replaced our house battery bank with four new 6V house batteries.

Some of our final projects included an overhaul of the diesel cooling system and regular maintenance
-Troy replaced all parts of the cooling system for the diesel: mixing elbow, heat exchanger, fresh water pump, raw water pump, thermostat, and cooling system hoses. We saved a ton of money here when Troy discovered that our Westerbeke diesel is related to a Mitsubishi tractor motor and share many components. He was able to source parts much more affordably this way, rather than having to order directly from Westerbeke. After the cooling system was complete, he cleaned and painted the engine which helps prevent corrosion.

We chose to add a watermaker for this cruising season. We ordered our watermaker from Sea Water Pro. It is a 120V system that produces about 20 gallons per hour. We use a Predator generator to run the watermaker (after doing some math, we figured that we can make 100 gallons of water with one gallon of gas).

Last but not least, we decided on a new dinghy…a Zodiac aluminum hull RIB.