The Big Wind Vane Project

Any project that requires EIGHT holes to be drilled through the hull deserves the term BIG.  And so it was that my good friend Jon Eberly and I spent last Sunday installing the new Monitor Wind Vane on Charisma.I have to say that while the project was a bit intimidating, the instructions provided by Monitor are/were excellent.  The main thing that made this an all day project instead of just a couple hours was the fact that we checked, double-checked, and triple-checked each and every hole to make sure it didn’t go somewhere it shouldn’t.  The total time to hang the vane: about 5 hours.  We started at 9:30, with an hour for lunch, and we finished “hanging” the vane at about 3:30.  Another hour or so the next day putting the wheel adaptor on, leading the steering lines and attaching a double-turning block to lead them to the wheel and it was done.   (OK, it wasn’t quite that easy; I torqued the head off one of the bolts and had to back the stub out of the vane mechanism and put in a new one before we could finish).  Here’s a couple pics of us hanging the mechanism and getting it bolted to the boat.  The first one shows the use of the spinny pole to help hang it while were squaring it to the boat and drilling the holes.  The second shows the final “at the dock” install.                             Hanging the vane   My friend Jon  The Monitor install guide has lots of caveats about giving yourself time to learn how to trim the boat correctly to use the vane.  They say to give yourself a couple weeks or more to learn how to use it, so I was worried that sailing with it wouldn’t be so easy.   However, it worked like a charm first time out.  Aim the boat, set the wind-vane, lock the wheel; that’s it!  If it’s not exactly going where you want, there’s a fine adjustment where you can rotate the vane (see the picture below) to adjust the final wind angle.  Great stuff.                          The fine adjustment    The Wheel Adapter   The logo! At the end of the day, the install was easy.  Monitor is a great company and very helpful with any questions you might have and very supportive.  Best of all; it’s really fun to sail with the vane.  You do have to trim the boat properly, but once you do and you set the vane, you now have a whole new sailing experience ahead of you.  And you don’t have to worry about amp/hours! Many thanks to Geoff Byrne for many of these pics (he took the good ones).  He is an excellent photographer and was gracious enough to let me use his pictures of our first day sailing with the Monitor.  If you like great photography, I encourage you to go see his work at www.  Thanks Geoff!  Just sit and enjoy! 

X-Ray Vision For Charisma

Well, almost.  Can’t quite see through physical objects, but now we CAN see through the fog.  RADAR!   (Specifically, it’s the Furuno 1723 C/NT  Radar  We now have a radar system for Charisma.  Also, as long as we made the fairly significant effort to put in the radar, we added GPS and AIS to the mix (all Furuno).  The bonus is that all three overlay on a single 7 inch chartplotter display.  Very cool to be able to see the GPS depiction of where you are–which we’re all fairly used to at this point–but in addition see an overlay to the chart of where radar says you are along with the “blips” that depict “returns” (boats) moving across the screen.  Again, something that’s been around, but only fairly recently available as an integrated image on the same screen (overlay).  The new addition though is to have the AIS display showing large ships (generally over 100 tons like ferries, tankers, freighters and the like) along with their name, course, speed, MMIS frequency so you can hail them on VHF by name, and much more.   The nice thing about this feature is that it’s broadcast over VHF frequencies, so you can “see” ships 20 or 30 miles away! Furuno Chartplotter  The install was fairly complicated and I’m glad I had it done at a boatyard.  Pulling the radar cable down the mast requires the mast to be unstepped.  This meant the radar cable had to be cut as the plug wouldn’t fit in the mast conduit and then re-wired via a junction box where 12 very tiny wires had to be connected and again the same 12 wires had to be attached to the plug at the chartplotter end.  Not too difficult but tedious and ripe for error.  Then a fluxgate compass had to be integrated into the system so the radar/gps/AIS all had the same heading data to ensure correct orientation on the chartplotter overlay.  The GPS antenna had to be run and finally an extra “add” was a switch that allows us to determine which GPS information to display at the helm (I left in the “old” Garmin 396 for backup/redundancy).  Lastly a VHF splitter so we could run the AIS on the same antenna as the VHF.The tough part of the whole set-up turned out to be the fact that the 7″ Furuno only has three ports.  One was used for the fluxgate compass input.  One for the data out to the B&G system at the helm.  One left to combine the GPS and AIS input. Problem is both of the latter two have different data transfer speeds, so integration is tricky.  In fact, we first tried a non-Furuno AIS because it was less expensive.  Wouldn’t work, so we had to opt for the more expensive Furuno proprietary solution.  As a side-note for the techies who might read this: I think it could have been “forced” to work, but it would have required dropping the baud rate on the AIS from 38,000 to 4,800 to “match” that of the GPS.  A big data transfer penalty.All the work done by KKMI in Richmond, California.  I have to give them huge kudos.  Very responsive.  Highest integrity and great to work with.  Also very proactive.  When a problem arose (the AIS integration issue), they were very quick to identify and solve.  Huge difference over other yards I’ve worked with and I highly recommend them.  They gave a detailed estimate up front and invoicing was comprehensive and accurate. Now I just have to learn how to use the damn thing.   Just look at all the new buttons to learn! 

More Maintenance

The Fall (’08) maintenance schedule included replacing the two hatches, rehabilitating the hatch screens and keeping up with the brightwork.                              First the brightwork:  The teak on Charisma is finished with Cetol, a semi-transparent coating similar to varnish.  It’s more durable than varnish and easier to work with, but still needs maintenance.  I’m finding out the hard way that when it goes, it goes fast.  A fair amount suddenly started to peel this Summer.  I got behind on it (preferring sailing to working) and now I’m having to strip some areas and completely refinish.  The “eyebrow” trim on the cabin, all four dorade boxes, the companionway hatch cover, boom gallows and the forward hatch covers all needed the full treatment.  This meant; tape the area off, strip (I used paint remover; oops.  More on that below), sand, scrub with teak cleaner and then four coats of new Cetol.  I used Te-Ka, a two part teak cleaner.  Amazing stuff, but scary.  Part one will stain anything including fiberglass.  Part two is used to deactivate the agent in part one and lifts the dirt.  Make sure everything is very wet when you use it and follow instructions carefully.  I was able to Cetol the cockpit in time before it got too bad as well as the rails, but the Port side is suffering somewhat more (it faces the sun) and won’t look as good.  I don’t want to refinish that until we’re in the boat yard at some future point since it’s awkward to reach while Charisma’s in the water.  The good news is that if you get to the Cetol finish in time, it only needs one coat for maintenance and not sanding involved.  Just dull it a bit with a scrubbing pad, wipe with Acetone and brush on a new outside coat.  The bad news is; don’t ever, ever, use regular paint remover anywhere near fiberglass.  It melts the gel coat off.  Fortunately, I had taped off all the areas I was working on in case of mishaps, but there are a few small areas where the stripper went through the tape.  Gel coat repair is going to be the next thing I’m going to be learning how to do (very minor, but I notice it).  The one boo-boo was trying to sneak a last series of touch up coats of Cetol when I knew the fog was going to come in.  I was hoping that it would dry enough before the fog actually made it to the boat.  But when I came down the next day, I saw that the Cetol had “bubbled” where dew had gathered and sat on the deck.  Given a week with better weather, the bubbles have gone away, but the area is “dull”, so I’m going to have to scrub it and give it a final gloss coat when it’s warm enough.                                                                                          Cockpit                                                                                                                                                                                            The new hatches.  Shana and I gave each other a hatch cover for Christmas presents last year because the hatches leak when it rains.  The originals are twenty years old and Lewmar no longer makes replacement parts for them, so new ones it was.  Really nice “Ocean” series hatches.  It’s so nice to be able to see through them now, but like everything else, it’s a time-consuming job.  First remove.  I thought that would be the hard part, but the old ones actually came off pretty easily.  Then clean.  A lot of old adhesive to clean up.  Then tape, strip and sand and refinish the teak coaming that the hatches mount onto.  Four coats of Cetol with 24 hours in between each coat means that this is automatically a week long job.  Putting the hatch on means adding caulk (3M, 4000) which always makes a huge mess even with adhesive cleaner and the aforementioned tape on everything.  But it sure is nice to hatches that; don’t leak, stay open where you put them and I like the new feature that lets you lock them open one inch, to help with ventilation.                                       Prepping the forward hatch   Refinished companionway and new main hatch                                               The Tedious Stuff.  As long as I was putting in the new hatches, Shana felt it was time to rehab the hatch screens which were torn, old and their frames were suffering from the hatch leaks (I was trying to ignore them knowing they would be a pain to fix).  This meant taking them home, prying off the quarter round trim (which broke) and then stripping, sanding, etc the two frames that hold the screen (each is 2’x1′).  Then off to the boat store for new screen, brass tacks and new teak quarter round.  I was going to use brass screen, but ended up getting a fiberglass screen.  It looks just like the old screen and is easy to work with.  I just finished putting them back together and they look pretty good (picture below).   As long as I was working on the screens, I figured this would be a good time to refinish the dorades.  They were peeling pretty badly and I figured that it would be easiest and best to just bring them home and completely redo them.  So, stripping, sanding…you know the drill, but I have to say they are going to look good. So, that’s certainly one thing about boats: they make you learn lots of new skills as well as how to work with toxic chemicals!                                                                               Dorades and Screen frame   New screen ready for finish

Yikes, March 25th And Still On The Hard!

Who’d a thought we’d be out of the water for so long?  Turned out the yard got busy and Charisma sat for over two weeks without any work getting done.  So now, I go down to boat every day for an hour to supervise and make sure the yard knows I’m watching.  They are finally getting things done.  They are doing nice work too.A bonus I just found out is that we’re going to be able to hard wire the “portable” Garmin gps  such that it will “talk” with the new instrument displays at the helm.  We put in two Brooks and Gatehouse Graphical Displays at the helm in the hopes that eventually we’d be able to get gps data when we get a chartplotter (hopefully next year?).  But in the mean time found out the Garmin will send the data just fine.  So we’re adding a permanent gps antenna and wiring the garmin to a data unit that will send the info to the displays and to the new panel.  Then we’ll be able to configure one display for speed and depth and the other display to show gps course and distance.  In the center of the nav pod we also put an analog wind speed/direction gauge.  We also put a “repeater” display over the nav table to we’ll have the same data down below.  The “new” prop and prop shaft also went in today.  Turns out the prop was probably too big, but the pitch was OK, so the shop ground it down to a smaller diameter.  They took about 2 inches off, so now it’s a 16 inch diameter prop.  Looks much better.  I hope it performs as well as it looks.  Also they said the shaft was “toast” (their words), so we’ve a brand new one.  One final bit of good news is while digging in the storage compartments to run new wire, the electrician solved another boat mystery.  He uncovered a strange looking pvc tube with numerous rope loops on it.  Aha!  The spreader bar for the sunshade!  We have a sunshade with lots of attachments but no visible means with which to stretch it.  I’ve been trying to figure out how in the world it worked.  Mystery solved.  Here’s a picture of the new prop versus the old prop.  Not sure if you can see the difference in these photos, but now the blades have a better shape.                                                             old-prop.jpg     new-prop.jpg 

The Big One-Cont’d

Well, it’s March 10 and Charisma is still on the hard.  I dropped by today (after a couple weeks of traveling) to see what progress has been made.  They’ve had the boat for about three weeks now and the bottom paint is done, the head intake was fixed (an uncooperative clam had set up home and clogged the water intake).  There’s a new diesel fill line (the old one was not rated for fuel), the inside is torn up as they’ve started with the new instruments, but just barely.  I don’t think they have yet tackled putting in a new line to the holding tank. That will be a lot of work and I decided it better to leave that to the yard than to tackle it myself.  The binnacle’s off in the metal shop being altered to accept the new instrument pod since-you guessed it-the new instruments wouldn’t fit in the old one.  Also the prop’s off and the shaft was deemed “toast” so a new shaft will be part of the overhaul (extensive corrosion pitting likely due to the previous owner not sailing her enough).  They have not yet started work on the new circuit panel.  The old one had no more space for electrical “stuff”, so I’m having a new one put in to make additions easier.  It will also begin the development of a real nav station in the quarter-berth as it will allow for installation of a new data repeater that will show speed, depth and wind and future adds likely to include GPS, Radar and SSB Radio. Lastly, the new rigging is not started yet since that’s not done until the boat is put back in the water.  All in all, looks like at least another two weeks at the least.  Probably just as well, since the garden needs attention anyway.   🙂                        charisma-on-the-hard     a-very-thick-keel 


Yep, if we thought previous work was expensive, today I scheduled the big one.  The haul out.  Actually part of the purchase of Charisma included budgeting for some of what is to come.  

  • New standing rigging including a roller furling headstay and SSB backstay antenna
  • New lifelines
  • Running backstays (as a cutter rig, the staysail needs a bit of extra support.  You can see the mast pump in a lot of wind.  When we’re on the ocean pounding into 15 foot waves, I don’t want to have to worry about the mast!)
  • New halyards
  • New electrical wiring in the mast
  • New masthead Tri-color
  • New wind, depth and speed instruments
  • Bottom sanded and painted
  • New prop (mentioned in previous post)

And a bunch of other misc stuff.  I’m going to do some work on the boat while she’s on the hard as well.  The fun one should be installing the new gasket kit for the head.  Ahhh, boat ownership is sooo glamorous! February 19 is the big day, but when we’re done, we’ll have solid new rigging to go with our overhauled diesel.  The combination gives us the confidence that we’ve replaced “the big stuff”.  Even though Charisma’s actually in great shape, she is after all, 20 years old and we want to make sure that her rig and systems are solid and ready for the next 20. 

We’ve Gone Dinghy!

Sure, but y’all already knew that . . .We bought a dinghy for Charisma! – an Achillles LSI-10. We wanted something stowable but functional. It takes about 15 minutes to pump it up – but with practice, maybe we can speed it up a bit.Specs:Beam 5′ 2″Weight 77 LbsCapacity: 4 Persons or 1250 LbsTube Diameter 17″ (Separate Air Chambers 3 + Floor + Air Keel)Stowed Dimensions 3′ 9″ x 1′ 11″ x 1′ 4. It is a 10’4″We have yet to test out the dinghy motor that is flying off the stern of Charisma. Should be fun? I am thinking that Heather needs to be involved with all things dinghy. 🙂                                                          Dingy                                                                                                                                                              UPDATE: FROM CHANNEL ISLANDS VOYAGE, MAY, 2008.  The dinghy was awesome.  Check it out.  We used it to explore sea caves, go ashore, set the stern anchor and it towed fantastically, even with the engine on.                                                                                                The Dinghy