From Launched to Soon to be Hauled

From Launched to Soon to be Hauled

Looking back it has been a couple of weeks since I posted.  Seeing as part of my goal is to be able to look back someday and remember what all I was doing while on this cruising sabbatical it seems fit to catch up.

Lets start with the Good:

Our bimini was installed a few days after launch and just in time for the extreme heat of the July long weekend.  The shade was much appreciated and the solar panels fit well.


I wired the solar panels and for the most part the wires are all hidden.  The Solbian solar panels are working great.  According the battery monitor they are putting out a little bit of power at 7am, and on a sunny day the batteries are recharged by about 2pm.  We even get some power on cloudy days.

I pulled out the old shore power charger.  The 25A charger never put out more than 2A.  It is now where ever old elecltronics stuff goes to die.  With the solar working so well, there hasn’t been a pressing need to install the new one yet.  Just waiting to figure out where the extra batteries will go first so I don’t have install the charger twice.

The winter mildew was scrubbed off the deck, looks much better now.

While storing stuff under the V-berth I discovered that our water tank does have a vent line.  Can you see why it wasn’t working resulting in the tank making an awful bang when the vacuum pressure built up inside, usually around the half a tank left mark?


I bleached the hose to kill whatever the black stuff was in the hose, then shortened it 3″ and secured it to ensure that the hose wont sag again.  So far it seems to be working.

Chrissy and I were doing some non boat related work to pay the bills.  I learned a valuable lesson.  When agreeing to teach part of an online course, multiply your expected effort by somewhere between 5 and 10.  Yup, that definitely slowed boat work.  Good experience nonetheless.

While Chrissy was away for a day finishing off with a client, I pulled the navigation station apart to start installing and wiring in electronics.  I probably should have taken some pictures along the way.  The AIS and splitter to share the VHF antenna tucked in neatly, the hole in the nav station from the old battery monitor that refused to calibrate got filled with the VHF radio and the new battery monitor got a place of it’s own.  A fuse block to meet the specs in the Raymarine manuals was wired in place and the networking cables roughed in.  By days end I had a powered up chartplotter at the nav station, but still needed to network to the other instruments on board.

The next day I tied in the instruments to the chartplotter and surprisingly it worked.  With the device powered up and wires run, my job is done, at least for the nav stations repeater.   Wires for the helm station still need to be chased through the boat.  Chrissy seems to enjoy figuring out how to set up everything to get the full capability from the system, even the stuff that Raymarine doesn’t support with our old obsolete but still functioning autopilot computer.

For Canada Day it only felt appropriate to put our new flag on Altera.  Magnus also got some kayak time.  He gets rather excited in the dinghy and wont sit still, so it is taking some practice in the kayak but he is slowly getting more comfortable.


Some new shelves were added under the V-berth to make better space of the storage available.  Now I have space for all my clothes and then some.

Last  weekend we did actually sail and had our first overnight guests.  We took Michael and Mel out to Beckwith Island for the night.  Good sailing to get there, although it was upwind so there was a lot of tacking involved.  We  used our big genoa which was almost never used by the first owner and were pleasantly surprised.  This sail hasn’t stretched and we actually heel less with it than we did with well used smaller one.  Doesn’t look like the smaller one will make it back onto the boat especially once our working jib is finished.  We had quite the breeze overnight, but the anchor held.  Unfortunately the wind forecast for Sunday didn’t materialize so we mostly motored back to port.

IMG_5874 IMG_5937


The propane system is now the closest it has ever been to complying with the north american boat standards.  A few small things still to go, like a gasket on the lid to keep the rain out, but that wont take long.

Chrissy hauled me up the mast and we chased the wire for the new anchor light up the mast.  Nice view from up there.  Rocks back and forth more up there as well when a big power boat goes by in the harbour.  Unfortunately the available holes at the mast head don’t match with the anchor light, so I get to go up again after I make my adapter block.


Yesterday we managed to get the radar installed.  It only took several hours of me standing on the first set of spreaders and Chrissy putting tools in a bag for me that I would pull up when I needed them, each with a lanyard so I couldn’t drop them.  Went surprisingly well and we should be able to test it in the next day or two.


I guess my time in Edmonton working at heights in confined spaces has made me more adept at attempting this type of work.  Much better views here though instead of being 50′ up a 5′ diameter pipe.  Air is much cleaner too.

And now for the not so good, or the bad stuff

Of course boat work is never exactly as planned, so when I pulled off the connector for the radio antenna, I discovered that it was only half of a co-axial connector on the antenna cable and the copper wire had just been rammed through the connector into the radio.  It had been working, but I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of leaving it that way.  Turns out we have a very heavy gauge co-axial antenna cable so I had to trip across town to find a suitable fitting, but 4 shops later I found one.  Not really a big deal, but I definitely wont plan on doing any major installs or upgrades in remote areas as this is far from the first time I’ve had to try 4 shops.  At least I was successful this time.

Our motivation for choosing Raymarine equipment was that we could easily tie in all of our otherwise obsolete (in electronics years anyway) gauges and instruments.  So, Raymarine stuff as advertised can do wonders.  What they don’t tell you is you need like 10 proprietary cables to connect it all together, and that proprietary cable means the cables are far more expensive then they should be.   And to think, someone once told me that marine electronics were cheap….  Maybe times have changed, but I sure could have had a nice scotch collection in place of a bunch of ethernet cables with fancy ends.  Maybe I’ll start making the cables on the boat as a new business venture.  Even at half the price, the profit margins would be huge.

When we put up the main sail for our first sail, we discovered that I had forgotten to connect the tack shackle.  Probably because the night I put it up was a pleasant one until I got the job started the mosquitos came out with enough force to carry me away.  Anyway, no big deal, we eased the halyard hooked it up and carried on.  If we can’t deal with something as simple as that we shouldn’t be heading anywhere.

When we made it home from our first weekend of sailing and several hours of motoring, I felt it would be a good idea to check the oil in the transmission.  Hmmm, white milky oil instead of the yellow stuff I had put in there.  I guess something didn’t seal on the transmission and water is getting in.  Unfortunately this means we have to haul the boat out so I can spend a couple days fixing where I went wrong the first time.  On the bright side, as long as I get it right by the third time, it will still be cheaper to have done it myself.  I suspect one of the gaskets didn’t seal on one of the mating faces where some minor corrosion existed.  A strong argement for not having replaced the seals that weren’t leaking in the first place.  It should also be pointed out that Volvo could have easily designed a hull seal that could be replaced without disassembling the transmission.  Presumably they don’t make enough money on parts that way.  When you can charge $30 for a $0.30 part why not make it part of a recommended service interval.

Today I installed the GPS for the AIS system.  Go figure that Raymarine can’t use the GPS signal from on of the other two Raymarine GPS units on board.  Supposedly this GPS antenna is far more accurate.  Oh yeah, and it probably can’t be linked into the chartplotters.  I could buy another one if I wanted that level of accuracy on the chartplotter too.  Makes me wonder what the hell the maze of networking cables are doing tying everything together.  Hopefully I’m wrong.  Oh well, charts aren’t that accurate anyway, so displaying my position to within a couple feet probably  isn’t that valuable if the rock I’m trying to avoid could be off by 50 or so feet on the chart anyway.

And of course the one gasket I need for the transmission is on backorder….  Hopefully here Wednesday.  If all goes well we will be hauled this week, and launched by Friday so we can make our planned trip to Parry Sound leaving on Saturday.



This article has 8 comments

  1. Hello Jeff,
    we are glad that you are happy with Solbian panels. Would you mind if we share your post on our Facebook/Twitter page? 
    Let us know.
    Best regards

  2. Jeff, my setup is very similar to your, it worked great for the first two years but then the transparent film layer of both my Solbian panels started to detach from the sub­strate wa­fer in the middle area of the panels causing a much lower performance.
    Be sure to stiffen the panels on the bimini.
    I contacted Solbian about this and they never answered.. probably because the panels are just out of warranty?

    • Thanks for the advice Adam.  I will be looking at ways to stiffen the install a bit to hopefully prevent them from delaminating.  Part of the reason I went with Solbian over the much cheaper Chinese panels that are rebranded all over the place was that I had read that Solbian had decent support and a 5 year warranty.  I hope that turns out to be the case.

    • Dear Adam, 

      Please send us a mail to about the problems with the panels and Solbian technical department will contact you immediately.

      Thanks for your collaboration.

  3. Thank you karin but you are just too late, I contacted you several months ago and you never replied, not what I call a good customer support.
    You just answered now because the post was shared on your facebook page… very professional.
    I already replaced your panels with the Chinese ones, they are so cheap I can but them again 6 times before match the price of yours and for my experience quality can’t be worse, actually I’m getting a better output compared to last year.

    • Dear Adam,
      we are sorry if you did not received a prompt answer but we would like to check why this happened. We are quite proud of our customer service and we would like to improve it even more. Could you please be so kind to resend your old inquiry allowing us to dig out what happened.  As you know our panels have a 5 years warranty on power production, thus you could have had yours replaced.

      Thanks for your collaboration.

  4. I hope this is a joke, you can’t even find my emails??
    I’ll not contact you AGAIN.
    Your panels went in the recycle bin weeks ago and now I have perfectly working panels from China.
    I’ll share my experience every time I can.
    Learn to answer to your customers.

    PS my original message was removed for unknown reason, I hope this one will not be deleted.
    Thank you Jeff!

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