“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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Upgraded Battery Selector Switch, Installing an Inverter and a Chart Book Holder

As I have mentioned before, we have been completing a lot of projects as we push towards our departure date.  Here a few that have been banged out in the last couple of weeks.

Upgraded Battery Selector Switch

My go to guru for all things electric, Maine Sail aka Compass Marine, has said on several occasions that all battery switches not made by Blue Sea Systems are essentially crap.  This means that our stock Perko battery selector switch was on the list for an upgrade.

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After checking the measurements I was glad to see that the Blue Sea Systems 9001e Selector Switch would fit exactly in the same spot.  The only down side is that the Perko switch had 5/16″ terminal studs while the Blue Sea Systems switch had 3/8″ terminal studs.  This mean cutting off the old terminals, putting on new ones and new heat shrink.  Using the same hydraulic crimper I had purchased last year (cheapy for Amazon) I made the new terminals.  Luckily there was enough excess wire to do this without too much difficulty.  I also had to add larger terminals to the wires from the analog volt meter and the bilge pump.

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I did have to get longer machine screws to mount the switch to the electric panel.  But the whole size is perfect for a direct change.  This took about an hour and cost about $60 ($40 for the switch plus terminal lugs and heat shrink).

Installing an Inverter

After some back and forth I decided to go with the Xantrex ProWatt SW 2000 true-sin wave inverter.  Our primary uses for this will be running power tools at anchor (i.e. heat gun, drill, jig saw, dremel), using our small 2-hp shop vac, and recharging our cordless tools (i.e. Dyson DC44 cordless vacuum, impact gun, drill, etc.).  Finding a location to mount the inverter was a little bit of a challenge.  According to the manual, Xantrex recommends mounting the panel within 6 feet of the batteries (12 foot total run) and using 0 AWG wire.  However the location of the batteries on a C310 make this a bit difficult.  The only places I could find were the port lazarett or on the bulkhead in the rear berth.  But we want to use that port lazarett for dry food storage and mounting it here would mean that I would have to open the lazarett every time I wanted to use the inverter. The bulkhead in the rear berth is where I think we will install a water-maker, if we choose to get one. While it’s not ideal, I found that with a 10 foot distance (20 foot total run) I could mount the inverter below the navigation table.  This was not perfect but it will do.  To accommodate the extra length I went up one wire gauge size to 2/0 AWG wire. I had already installed the fuse holder in the positive buss bar when I did my last battery system upgrade.  So I ran the wires, put on the end terminals and installed the inverter.  I used a 300 Amp ANL fues from Blue Sea Systems.

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Initially I had thought to tie this into the boats 120 V outlets but after thinking more about it I decided it was fine just to use the two outlets on the inverter instead.  This made the install much easier and cheaper. After the install I ran a couple of tests.  I can run my heat gun on low but not on high, which is sufficient to shrink heat shrink electrical connections.  I had no problem running a drill or jig saw off of the inverter.

Chart Book Holder

We insist on always having paper charts with us and easily available.  Typically this is easily accomplished from one Maptech Chart Book covering a large area.  As we start to head south we will need more and more chart books since our cruising area is expanding.  To keep these charts readily available but out of the way we bought a teak magazine rack from Defender. We mounted this on the bulkhead between the head and the saloon area by a couple of through bolts.  It’s now a convenient area to keep charts, cruising guides and some other items.

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Stopping Leaks with the Magic of Butyl Tape

Ever since we have owned Smitty there has been a pesky leak in the hatch right over our berth.  It wasn’t constant but it would drip a lot anytime it rained.

Front Hatch

The previous owner tried to fix this with lots of crappy silicone caulking around the metal frame of the hatch.  The problem is that one, you should almost never use silicone on boats and two, it wasn’t the frame of the window that was the source of the leak. So on top of having crappy silicone caulking to cleanup I still had to fix the leak.

After a little bit of research and testing I found out that leak was actually coming from the friction hinges.  These hinges are sealed with gaskets at the factory and those gaskets do breakdown and need to be replaced.  With the shrink wrap up this winter it was a perfect time to take care of this nuisance.

When I removed the hinges it was easy to see that the foam gasket had deteriorated to almost nothing.

IMG_3035To fix this I could have ordered new foam gaskets from Lewmar.  But I felt that a better repair was possible.  I went to my boat guru, RC from Compass Marine (aka Maine Sail).  I had previously learned of the wonders of butyl tape from him for bedding hardware.  I felt that butyl tape would make a longer lasting fix for the hinges.  After a quick confirmation with RC that the plastic could handle the butyl tape if I took time to tighten the screws, I decided to use butyl tape for the repair.  I had previously purchased a couple of rolls  Bed-It Butyl Tape from Compass Marine, so I was all set to do the repair.

I removed the old gasket and then cleaned the inside of the plastic hinge connector with soap and water.  I then let the connector dry completely for a couple of days.  This job was made easier by having the shrink wrap up so I didn’t have to worry about more leaks during the repair. I worked the butyl tape to make a layer of the material on the inside of the plastic hinge connector.

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The hinges were then reassembled.  I didn’t tighten the screws too tight. Just enough to start to compress the butyl tape. I then let it sit; it was about 65 degrees under the clear shrink wrap on this cold, sunny day due to the greenhouse effect.   Later in the day I turned the screws a couple more turns to compress the butyl tape a little more.  Over the next couple of weeks, whenever the temperature got above 65 degrees under the shrink wrap I would give the screws a couple of turns.  Eventually it was completely tight and the excess butyl tape had squished out from under the hinge connector.

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I used RC’s technique to cleanup the excess butyl tape.  I used a ball of excess butyl tape from another project and pulled away the butyl tape from the hatch.  I then did a quick wipe with a clean rag with a little mineral spirits.

While I was there I also replaced the O-rings and lubricated the hatch dogs.  I used the Lewmar Drip Stop Hatch Dog Rebuild Kit from Catalina Direct.

Image from Catalina Direct

The hatch dogs weren’t leaking yet but I figured a little preventative maintenance is always a good thing.

The shrink wrap has been off for a little over 2 months now and no sign of any leaks.