“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


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Enter Frankengrill

For the last 8 years we have had a Magma kettle grill that we have used on our boats. The size works very well for us since we are typically only cooking for 4 or less. Eight years of hard use and poor maintenance started to take its toll. At the end of last year I noticed some spots were it had rusted through.

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To replace the grill I purchased a second Magma Kettle Grill from Craig’s List for $30. My plan was to use parts from both to create one useable grill. Enter Frankengrill!

Today’s project was to breakdown the two grills. Take all of the usable parts and clean them. Then assemble one grill. My original grill’s exterior was pretty much toast but the burner, grate, venturi tube, regulator and mount were all usable. The exterior of the other grill was tarnished but in good shape. The burner was rusted but the rest wast in good shape.

So I took to all the parts with some wire brushes and 3M pads. The grates cleaned up nice so now I have two. Same for the mounts, regulators and venturi tubes.

For the tarnish on the exterior of the grill I tried a new product, Prism Polish. We found the stuff at the boat show with a polymer polish called Mirage. I didn’t really like the Mirage but that might be due to the low temps (below 60 degrees) when I was trying to apply it. The Prism did a great job on the gelcoat so I thought I would give it a try on stainless steal. I think it did a great job!

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We christened Frankengrill with some good sausage and a grass fed ribeye.


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Battery Upgrade

Last year I completed an upgrade on the electrical distribution and charging system.  What I didn’t realize at the time is I created a ticking time bomb.  Our battery system prior to the upgrade consisted of two 4D Interstate batteries.  One was a year old the other was 4 years old at that time.  They were each on separate banks controlled by the typical 1/2/Both/Off switch.  The 4D’s are spec’d at about 160 amp hours each.  At the end of the upgrade I had the two 4D’s in parallel as the primary bank with a total of 320 amp hours and I was primed to drop in a reserve battery consisting of a Group 24 deep cycle.

Upgraded Battery System in 2013

Upgraded Battery System in 2013

The fatal error I made then was putting two batteries of different age and wear in parallel.  This will cause more stress on the new battery and shorten it’s life.  On top of that I knew that 4Ds were not very good deep cycle batteries despite the manufacture’s claims.  So I did not intend for these batteries to remain when we begin full time cruising.  I wanted to upgrade the batteries to something with better amp hours, that didn’t weigh 140 pounds each and had better true deep cycle performance.  Since I knew I planned to upgrade these I got a little lax in maintenance on them this winter.  Right before we launched I realized they were likely toast due to my neglect.  I confirmed this last week and started planning my upgrade.

Like I do with all things electric, I consulted Maine Sail/Compass Marine.  Based on his research I decided that the best battery bank for us would be to put four 6 volt golf cart batteries in series/parallel.  He had also identified the best bang for your buck 6 volt golf cart batteries as the Duracell ECG2 from Sam’s Club.  These batteries are made by Dekka/East Penn and are the exact same batteries as sold at West Marine for $270 with a different sticker.  The price was much better than West Marine at $112 each plus a $15 core charge each and a $45 Sam’s Club membership.  These batteries set up as two parallel sets of two batteries in series would provide 460 amp hours at 12 volt and be true deep cycle.  Here is a wiring diagram for the new system.

JK WIRING DIAGRAM_6V House

So off I went to Fall River first thing Saturday morning (closest Sam’s Club to me; about a hours drive away).  Purchased my batteries and I was almost ready to start this project.

I stopped at Marine Consignment in Fall River to look for battery boxes.  The existing fiberglass batter box for the 4Ds wasn’t going to work with the new setup.  As luck would have it they had exactly 4 battery boxes that would fit the golf cart batteries.  They were not the same brand but at $4 each as opposed to $10 plus shipping from Defender it was a steal.  I also scored a sweat metal 25mm flare gun I have been looking for at a great price.

Back I went to figure out how to ram 5 batteries into the battery compartment on my boat.  I knew most of the layout work I did last year was going to have to change.  The biggest problem I had was getting the correct battery orientation.  Based on a typically great article from Maine Sail, I found out that batteries are supposed to be situated in a specific direction on sailboats due to heel and exposing the plates.  However, I just could not get all of the batteries in the correct orientation.  In the end, I got 3 of the 4 6 volt batteries in the correct orientation.  Not perfect.

On the two batteries I couldn’t get in perfect orientation I made some adjustments that I hope will be OK in the end.  For the 6 volt, I positioned it so it was on the centerline of the boat.  There should be less affect due to heeling in this location.  On the Group 24, I chose one that has the fills in the center rather than offset and also positioning it as close to the centerline as possible.  Again, this should hopefully partially mitigate the issue.  Also, the Group 24 will not be in use while sailing.  So that should hopefully help as well.  In addition, I plan to add a battery watering system, something like Flow-Rite system.  This will make maintaining the batteries easier and should help reduce the potential for spillage during heel.

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I again followed Maine Sail’s lead and used pad eyes and nylon straps to secure the batteries.

Another minor flaw in my system is the length between the terminal and the fuse.  According to ABYC standards, this should be 7 inches.  For the primary bank the distance is 8 inches.  Not too much to worry about.  On the reserve bank, the distance is close to 16 inches.  I could fix this by adding an on terminal fuse and I might do that in the future.

To make all of the terminal connections I used Anchor terminal lugs.  I purchased a cheap battery cable crimper from Amazon for $33.  I have to say that I am very impressed with the crimper.  I had previously borrowed a friends FTZ 94284 crimper to make my terminals for the last project but that was not available for this project.  Plus I wanted a way to be able to make terminals on the boat incase I need to sometime in the future.  The cheap crimper worked very well.  I tugged and twisted on the crimped lugs and I couldn’t get them to move.  This crimper is a great addition to my cruising tool set.  I used two different types of marine grade heat shrink on the project.  One was Anchor brand and the other was from Harbor Freight.  To be honest, I could see no difference other than the price.  The Anchor brand was twice as much.  Both were the same thickness (checked with calipers) and both had adhesive.  They shrunk up well and didn’t require excessive heat.

This upgrade ran about $650 including the cost of the crimper.


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Big Weekend And Now We Are Officially Liveaboards

Saturday we held a yard sale to complete our downsizing.  We had already put a good dent into the amount of “stuff” we have by our previous efforts on Craig’s List and eBay.  Plus we had made around 5 donation runs to the local Goodwill.  On top of that we had thrown out way too much crap that we had been storing in our house for years.

Yard sale people are crazy!  We advertised the yard sale on Craig’s List and put up some signs in the neighborhood the night before.  Everything said it would start at 8AM.  We even had to get a permit from the town and one of the requirements was that it couldn’t start at until 8AM.  But people started showing up at 7AM while we were putting out stuff. They were rude, pushy and cheap!  We were only asking small amounts of money for stuff, 100 shot classes for $5, 50 beer mugs for $5, $10 for a working electric yard trimmer, etc. and they would still offer less.  One lady would only offer $1 for what ever she picked up and wanted to go through our house to see if there was anything else she wanted to buy.  My Bride said no but the crazy lady tried to follow her in the house anyway.  And people stole stuff!  A crowbar, caulking gun, Red Sox shot glass.  We were only asking a $1 for each of these!

By 9:30AM all of my tools were gone, most of the good stuff was gone and we had a few picked over piles of stuff.  We called it quits at 1:00PM.  We loaded up what ever was left and brought it down to Goodwill.  By 3:00PM we were having a couple of celebratory cocktails/beers with some friends.

In the end it looks like our grand total for selling about 95% of what we own will buy us a year of cruising.  This includes the house, my Jeep, and all kinds of crap we can easily live without.  Now that we will have less expenses we hope to add significantly to this amount by saving money.  The goal is to have enough money to cruise for 3-5 years.  We shall see.

Sunday we had Easter Breakfast with our family.  We sent to my sister’s house and their were lots of kids.  It was fun to watch them run around collecting the hidden plastic eggs.  The best part is that we got out of there by 1PM.

Sunday was also our 12th wedding anniversary.  How did we celebrate it?  Big fancy dinner? Drinking champagne and eating caviar?  Nope, we moved.  We moved almost all of our remaining clothes, most of the galley stuff and other items needed to live to the boat.  We are now officially liveabords.

We still have some minor items at the house we have to deal with like my tux, some shoes, some spices.  etc.  But for the most part the house is empty.  Our closing got pushed back to May 15th so we have some time to deal with these last few items and clean the house before the closing.  It feels like a major milestone for us.  A lot of the stress of getting rid of stuff is gone and now we are onto the next stage.  Get the boat situated as a liveaboard.  There are some system changes to come, replacing the house batteries I cooked this winter, figuring out the best heating solution for next winter, etc.  But we both slept great last night and can’t wait for the next 17 months to pass.

Fair winds,

Jesse


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We made the “Awesome Outposters” today!

While I was trying to figure out how to change address to our new PO Box, I sent Cruising Outpost a couple of photos earlier this week and they put two of them in the “Awesome Outposters” page today.

We were outdone by Kim, Jereme and Oliver of Laho Wind who had three photos in the post.  But they are out cruising while we are still trying to get there.

Fair winds,

Jesse


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Tools: when do you have too much?

Since we are in the process of moving aboard I have been working on paring down my tools to a manageable amount to keep on board.  Since we are going with a smaller boat I am starting to worry about how much of my weight budget I am giving to tools.

Let’s start with the hand tools.  The majority of these tools are in a mechanic’s backpack I purchased on eBay.  It’s a great soft case with lots of compartments that makes keeping the tools organized very easy.  It’s also handy to take when I am helping someone else work on a project.  Here is a link to the backpack since a couple people liked the idea.

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Here is the inventory of tools I have in this pack:

Item Quantity
Box Wrenches – Metric Various Sizes Set 1
Box Wrenches – English Various Sizes Set 1
Adjustable Wrenches – Various Sizes 4
Channel Locks – Various Sizes 3
Ball Pin Hammer 1
Large Hack Saw 1
Small Hack Saw 1
Spare Blades for Hack Saws 6
Chisel 2
Large Flat Head Screw Driver 1
Large Phillips Screw Driver 1
Multiple Head Screw Drivers 3
Scrapers – Various Sizes 3
Brushes – Brass, SS, Nylon 3
Feeler Gauges 1
Nut Splitter 1
Electric Multimeter 2
Needle Nose Pliers 1
Lineman Pliers 1
Dike Pliers 1
Wire Stripers 1
Basic Crimpers 1
Ratcheting Die Crimpers 1
Utility Knife with Spare Blades 2
Tape Measure 2
Vice Grips 1
Needle Nose Vice Grips 1
Picks – Various Size & Shapes 8
Allen Wrench Sets – English & Metric 3
Small Bolt Cutters 1
Infrared Thermometer 1
Inspection Mirror 1
Impact-Driver Set 1
Oil Filter Wrench 2
Rubber Mallet 1
3M Cleaning Pads – Green & Red 10
Various size sand paper 5
Files – various size and shapes 4

The whole pack weighs about 50 pounds.  Maybe 60.

The next group is loose, larger tools that are wedged where ever I can find a convenient space to fit them.  Here is that list:

Item Quantity
Spanner Wrench 1
Pipe Wrench 2
Large Channel Locks 1
Large Crimper 0
Ratchet Set with Metric & English with extensions various sizes 2
Large Bolt Cutters 1
Clamps – Various Sizes 8
Shovel/Ax/Sledge Hammer Tool 1
Drill Pump 1
Tap & Die Set 1
Torch Set 1
Electrician’s Snake 20 feet 1
Loos Tension Gauge – Pro PT-2 & PT-3 2
Torque Wrench 1
3/8″ & 1/2″ Breaker Bars 2

FYI, if the item has a “0” next to it that is a tool I don’t currently have but plan to add before we cut the lines.

The last group of tools are power tools.  This is where I have cut the most items out of my inventory.  Obvious items like table saws, compound miter saws, routers, biscuit joiners, etc. have all gone.  Same with redundant tools like multiple drills, saws, etc.  So here is the list of power tools I plan to take with us:

Item Quantity
Corded Drill 1
Cordless Drill & Various Size Bits 1
Cordless Impact Gun 1
Dremel with Extension & Various Bits 1
Heat Gun 1
Orbital Sander 1
Angle Grinder 1
Small Soldering Iron Kit 0
Jig Saw 1
Wet/Dry Vacuum 1
Honda Generator – eu2000i Companion 0

OK, let’s here it.  Am I crazy and planning to bring too many tools that I will never use?