“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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Rum Tank … and new water heater but no one cares about that

The factory 20 gallon water heater was rusting out and leaking.

To remove the tank there were a couple of obstacles. The factory had the aluminum L bracket on the port side of the heater. But the starboard side was in a slot cut in the fiberglass that makes up the shelf the refer compressor sits on. So we started with removing the L bracket and the pressure relief valve. It then took 3 people to move it over to port enough to get the bracket out of the slot. Then I had to cut some of the fiberglass from the opening. We were able to turn the heater and get it out but it took a fair amount of effort.

Once the heater was out it was easy to put the 6-gallon heater in its place. It was shorter and narrower. We used the same L bracket on the port side. Then secured the starboard side down on the platform that was made for the heater.

This left an approximately 10-inch wide area between the back of the water heater and the fiberglass shelf for compressor. We did some searching at a couple of local chandleries and found a 6 gallon water tank that was 8 inches wide and the same height as the water heater. We secured the tank down with padeyes and nylon straps.


I plumbed the tank to a small, 1 gallon per minute, 12 volt pump that I mounted on the shelf next to the compressor.




The fill for the tank is just capped off in the starboard rear laz for now. I have the tank vent and effluent hose from the pump loosely installed for now at the opening of that laz, just above the cockpit shower head. Both are capped when not filling a use bottle, the Angels already got their share they don’t get seconds. The pump is controlled by a momentary switch that is also mounted by the cockpit shower.






Now I will say that I want to install a tap at the sink labeled “RUM”. But my Bride is afraid we will drink more if it’s that easy. Probably rightly so. So instead we have a two plastic 1.75 liter bottles (one Mount Gay and one Captain Morgan. We fill the bottle from the tank and then keep them on the shelf behind the settee.

We left St. Thomas with just under two cases of Cruzan Dark Rum in the tank. It’s our go to rum and in the USVI you can get if for under $8 a liter.

Now if I could only find a deck fill labeled RUM I could really finish the installation.

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My Bride Conducts Her First Big Repair

Last weekend we had to replace our electric pump that drains the shower sump and the refrigerator.  We found it had broke a couple weeks back while working on some spring cleaning.  I had disassembled the old pump to see if it looked like it just needed a new diaphragm but after inspecting it I couldn’t find any obvious signs of problems.  I contemplated trying the rebuild kit but that cost $90.  So instead I decided to give the Flojet Eccotemp pump a shot.  This pump only cost $57 and was Amazon Prime eligible.  This is a non-critical pump for us so it seemed like a good place to test out this pump.  If it proves to work well I will order one as a backup for our water pressurization system.  This pump did have a pressure switch but that is not needed in this application so I simply removed it.

Stacey wanted to learn about wiring and boat plumbing so this was a perfect place for her to start.  Like most boat projects the biggest issue is access.


You can see the pump tucked away behind the water filters.

So the first step was to get access by taking the water filters out so she could access the pump.  The pump was held to the bulkhead with 4 wood screws.  One thing that made this project easier was that the ParMaxx 3 pump and the Flojet Eccotemp both use 1/2-inch snap-in port fittings.  So she didn’t have to take the old fittings off of the hose, just unsnap them from the old pump and snap them into the new pump.

Of course the holes for the mount didn’t match, but she was able to use two of the existing holes and drill two new ones using our cordless drill.

Then she had to tackle the wiring.  My biggest issue with Catalina on this boat is the use of non-heat shrink butt connectors for everything.  So I always take the chance to upgrade when I am doing electrical work.  So instead of using butt connectors, Stacey used heat shrink ring terminals and a terminal block.  I’ve been using BSP heat shrink terminals and connectors for the last couple of years and have been very happy with the quality for the price.  I order them from Defender.

To make the connections Stacey used our Sea-Dog Heat Shrink Terminal Crimper.  I upgraded to this last year from the Harbor Freight version and you can really tell the difference in quality.  This is still a budget tool at $35 but a big upgrade from the $10 Harbor Freight tool.  It’s a ratcheting crimper so you just squeeze until it stops clicking then release and it opens.

After making the crimping the connections my Bride used our heat gun to shrink the terminals.  We use marine grade adhesive heat shrink terminals.  That means you can tell when they are adequately heated when you see a bead of adhesive at the base of the terminal.

Image from Compass Marine “How To” Article on Marine Wire Termination

For the terminal block we always use Blue Sea Systems.  For this application we used the 4 circuit 65-amp terminal block.  We used the 4 circuit because we know that at 15 years old our freshwater pump is on borrowed time.  So when that finally gives-up-the-ghost we will use the two open circuits for that pump. The terminal block was installed high on the bulkhead with drip loops and the wires were secured to the bulkhead as well.

After she finished the wiring, she had to put the drinking water filters back in and then try the new pump.  It worked like a charm.

Great repair my Bride!


Weekend in the Life of a Pre-Cruiser and a Celebrity Encounter

Friday Night

Get back from our captain’s class around 9:45PM.  Look at the fridge again.  Yup, not working right.  Definately needs to be defrosted before the small amount of food (mostly condiments) goes bad.  Fall asleep trying to read a Captain Fatty article in Cruising World.


Get up early for a weekend, 6AM.  Go down to Hingham to hit storage to get our coolers so we can defrost the fridge and see if anything else is wrong besides ice build up.  Go to five stores while I am at it to get stuff for other projects.  Plus take the dog for a quick walk around the park.  Of course I forgot something at the Lowe’s in Hingham so I have to stop at the worst Home Depot in South Bay Boston.  Spend 20 minutes looking for two parts because the store is unorganized.  Finally get back to the boat around 2PM.

My Bride takes the coolers and empties the fridge.  Meanwhile I work on finishing up a couple of projects that were partially done: finished main hatch hinge rebedding (short post coming soon); switched from winter water to summer water setup; organized parts and supplies we just bought.

I was ready to get back into the solar panel project when my Bride called me from the galley.  The pump that drains the refer and the shower sump wasn’t working.  Spent about an hour trying to diagnose the problem.  Decided I was going to have to pull the pump and take it apart as the problem seems to be with the double diaphragm pump and not any of the hoses or connections.  At this point its 4PM.  I don’t want to work on this because I have to take apart our fresh water filters to get the pump out.  So we decide to just manually remove the water from the fridge tonight and deal with this tomorrow.

Cleaned that up, organized a little more.  Another walk with the dog.  Now its 6PM or so and motivation starts to wane.  Plus it’s sundowner hour.  Next thing you know I am sitting in the cockpit, sipping on a Downeast Cider, puffing on a cigar and no more work will happen this day.

Dinner, a little Netflix and again I fall asleep trying to read the same Captain Fatty article.


Acoustic Sunrise 🙂

Whenever possible we like to start every Sunday with a pot of coffee, some bacon and listen to Acoustic Sunrise while we eat, do a little light reading and cleanup after breakfast.  This Sunday we slept in until the cannon from the USS Constitution woke us at 8AM.  We went through our typical Sunday morning routine.  Finally got to finish the Captain Fatty article.

By 10AM it was time to get back to work.  Except it’s a beautiful day on the dock.  The first really nice day of the spring and everyone is out on the dock working to get their shrink wrap down and other spring commissioning projects.  Our dockmate Greg introduces us to Richard Trethewey of This Old House.  He’s a very nice guy who invites us for a tour of his beautiful ketch.  We spent some time discussing our upcoming cruise and he gave us some great advice on the Bahamas.

Back to work for real this time. We move everything currently stored on deck or in the cockpit to the dock.  Setup the hose and the got my Bride setup to give Smitty her first good bath of the year.  While she is working on that I am disassembling our freshwater system to access the misbehaving pump.  Once I get the pump out, I go sit in the cockpit and start pulling the pump apart. Once I get the pump apart and clean I can’t find any reasons for the malfunction.  I clean all of the parts, diaphragms and valves and put the pump back together.  I go back down below and reassemble everything and it still doesn’t work.

I look up the rebuild kit on Defender. The service kit is $120 and a new pump is $170.  Ugh, why is it always so close in cost for the rebuild kit?

While I was trying to make a decision about what to do, Greg and Richard came by and asked for a hand moving Richard’s boat out to an outer dock.  So we jumped on for a little ride and helped get the boat tied up out near the USS Constitution.  It was so nice and none of us were too interested in getting back to work.  We stood around chatting for a while.

Finally we headed back to our boat.  Worked to finish cleaning the boat and filled the water tank.  At this point it was 5PM, 70 and sunny.  It was just too nice to think about starting another project.  Instead we invited Greg over for some Dark N’ Stormies and talked about his cruise through the Caribbean in his Bristol 35.5.  Around 7PM the sun went down and with it the temperature.  We made some dinner and got ready for the next work week.

So we feel like we spent most of the weekend working but in the end only crossed a couple of minor projects off the list and added another.

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Adding Drinking Water Filters

For a 31 foot sailboat, we have decent water holding capacity.  We have a 35-gallon poly tank under our forward berth and a 20 gallon water heater for a total of 55 gallons.  We can generally go about 5-8 days cruising on that without trying to conserve water too much.

But we aren’t drinking that water.  We have been getting by with gallon bottles of water we purchase at the store.  Between lugging those down to the boat, storing them until we use them and then lugging the empty bottles back up, it’s a lot of work and extra space.  Not to mention all of the first use plastic that we could avoid.

So my plan to stop this cycle of bottled water was to put a good filtration system on the boat so we could start drinking the water in our tank.  At first I was looking at the Seagull and Watts Premium water filtration systems.  However, after some more research it appears that these units are fine when cruising in the states but when you get to the islands, the replacement filters and parts are harder to obtain.  So instead I started to look at units that had the more universal style 10-inch filter cartridges.  These seem to be readily available at most home stores including in the Islands.  Watts makes an RV/Boat unit that comes as a one-piece two-stage filter set up.  But it cost about $100.  I liked the setup of the unit, especially the aluminum bracket on the top that would make mounting easier and I wouldn’t have to fabricate anything.

Watts also sells a filter pack of two-stage filters designed with a particulate filter for anything above 5-microns in size and a carbon filter.  With this combination it will remove any chlorine smell and taste, dirt and sediment, plus more nasty contaminants like lead and other heavy metals, parasitic cysts, and most volatile organic compounds, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides.  It won’t remove bacteria or other biological contaminants.  Only UV is really effective at removing that on boats.  These filters have a decent estimated life at 600 gallons, which is a little less than the Seagull’s estimated 1,000 gallons.

I decided that to prolong the filters, I would add a dedicated tap for the drinking water.  I don’t see as great of a need to filter the water we use to wash dishes or even shower.  Really the focus of this upgrade was to make the water in the tank drinkable.

With a little more searching I found a Watts under the counter system that came with all of the parts and dedicated tape for under $80 (the price has gone up some since I purchased it).

From the dimensions listed online, it appeared this system would fit under the galley sink.

IMG_2088 IMG_2089I had to reroute some of the plumbing in this area.  The hardest part was drilling the holes in the correct spot for the bracket.  I wanted the filters as close as possible to the bottom of the sink so it didn’t interfere with the garbage can.  The “add-a-valve” kit that came with the filter fit the boat’s exiting plumbing perfectly.  I did have to separate the hot and cold supply lines to the faucet and bend the metal pipes very carefully.  All I had to buy in addition to the system was some 1/4-inch bolts with finish washers, nuts and lock washers.

IMG_2090 IMG_2091

I tested changing out the filters and it will be easy.  Kill the pump at the panel or turn the new valve, remove the trash and then remove the filter.  The filter wrench is a little difficult to get in there but my strap wrench I use for oil and fuel filters works fine.

I installed the dedicated tap at the galley sink.

IMG_2093So far we are pleased with the outcome.  We still have some of those gallon jugs to get through.  But after that our plan is to fill up a gallon jug and keep it in the fridge.  This should open up space in the fridge (we usually keep 2 gallons in there but might go down to one) as well as other storage space.