Projects & Plans (in North Beach, MD)

“Plans” is really a misnomer, since we really only have some vague intentions for the year (sail south being at the top of the list, but even that wavers a little when I look at the calendar and do the math and determine that at our often-slower-than-planned-speeds we’ll probably arrive around the same time the 90*F weather does… but hey, north for the winter and south for the summer does seem to be right in line with how we tend to end up doing things! Bucking the trend, I say).

Cockpit views on our Sabre 42 liveaboard sailboat

I digress 🙂

After a nice long Christmas visit to BC, we’ve been back on Brio II for just over a week, and we’ve been making pretty good progress on the project front!

New alternator for our Sabre 42 sailboat

A new alternator is in, complete with new wiring. It started as a simple swap-out, but as Jon traced wires and dug into connections, the right way to do things stood out. Of course the right way also required removing cabinetry and generally disassembling the boat, so if it were up to me we’d never do things the right way, just the fast way — but that’s why not all decisions are up to me 🙂

Boys working on a Westerbeke 46 Diesel Engine in a Sabre 42 Sailboat

Along with the alternator, we bought a Bomar battery charger and are delighted to be able to accurately measure our power usage (and the output from the alternator!). One funny little perk that you might not appreciate unless you’ve spent days staring at a battery monitor is that the Bomar has an extra-large display, so you can actually read it from across the room.

A new Bomar battery monitor letting us know the alternator is working on our Sabre 42 sailboat!

We’ve been playing the “how much does this draw” game and were intrigued / disgusted to discover that the ugly reading lights the boat came with draw 2 freaking amps each. Ugly AND inefficient, my favorite combination! They’re on the chopping block. Unfortunately new reading lights are a pricy and not-exactly-critical improvement, so they’ll have to wait a little.

We also bought and loaded 250′ of new 5/16″ G4 chain. The anchor setup on this boat was laughable, and we already had our beloved big-mama Spade (purchased before we even found “the next boat”, as a sort of engagement-ring boat-jewelry promise to ourselves that this would be the year we’d absolutely find a bigger boat to call home!). Jon marked and loaded all 250′, so that’s another big job off the list.

250' of 5/16" G4 chain

As a random aside, just in case anyone happens to be Googling the same questions I did, we discovered that 5/16″ G4 chain will very happily fit in the gypsy of a 3/8″ BBB anchor windlass.

Loading the anchor chain onto Brio II

We have a manual windlass on Brio II and while one day we’d love to upgrade to an electric one, we couldn’t quite justify it off the bat. But we also didn’t want to buy 3/8″ chain, when 5/16″ is more than enough for this size of boat (and weighs substantially less, a consideration when you think about where all that weight lives).

After hemming and hawing, I found a Cruisers Forum post that referenced anchor windlass gypsies actually accommodating a slight range of sizes, so we decided to buy 4′ to try it out for ourselves. Our 4′ test confirmed the forum folks, and we committed.

We’ll have to actually use the anchor a few times before I call it a 100% success, but for now I’m pretty excited about the idea of having a windlass of any sort!

Jon was the “manual windlass” on baby-Brio, which meant I almost always ran the helm side of things. In general we like to both be able to do all the tasks on the boat, so this was a bit of a needle in my side. Anyways, long story short, I think we’ll both be able to drop and pull anchor on Brio II which I’m quite happy about!

What else? We reglued the oarlocks on the dinghy (gotta love those old dinks), and have a port replacement in progress. We’ve also got an autopilot (with a REMOTE!) sitting in a box with our names on it to replace the dead display and brain on ours. Fingers crossed the hydraulic ram will continue to work 🙂

But lest you think it’s been all sunshine and roses, the big disappointment of the week was that our beloved Webasto stopped working. Zephyr and I were playing Legos in the vberth, enjoying the steady breeze of warm air blowing out the vent, when it suddenly just… stopped. The unit always goes through a cool down cycle, so I figured maybe we’d run out of fuel… but nope.

Looking forward from the aft cabin of our Sabre 42 sailboat - toddler feeding himself breakfast!

Still troubleshooting this one, but at only 150 hours of use it’s not the most wonderful development. Especially when it’s become my most favorite piece of equipment on the boat! (Have I mentioned I like to be warm and dry? It shouldn’t be that big of a thing, but really it turns out those are the two conditions required for Leah to be happy 🙂 ).

Anyways, all this to say we have been working away on our list of projects, keeping half an eye on the weather forecasts (lows in the 20s = “must have a working heater to even consider going anywhere”) and slowly musing about what the months to come might hold.

It’s a funny life, but it’s a good one.


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