Winter improvements

I went a little bonkers this winter… again.  The relief at getting a new job and paying off the truck with my severance meant I could get a little spendy so I did.  I bought an Icom m803 radio for long range communication.  It’s nice, it does ham bands too so I can be ultra nerdy while in the boat.  The radio my friend gave me was an older model, very big, and I never found a place it’d fit conveniently but having it solidified the idea that I wanted one so I got one.

I added a red ring locking pushbutton switch to control the strobe mentioned previously, as well as the mute switch for the Vesper XB-8000 and the alarm buzzer.  I removed the old Anderson Power Poles connector now that I won’t be plugging in a ham radio there.

After talking to several people about radar (I know, I know, on this boat, it’s an elevator in an outhouse… but why not?) I knew I wanted one and I also knew I wanted one of the wifi models.  My old chart plotter didn’t have wifi so… new chart plotter.  Along with a Sirius XM receiver so I can get weather as well.  That part is actually pretty useful in the mountains because there’s no internet where the boat is kept and I can never see fronts rolling in.  This will help a lot, plus I love the thematic channels.

You can see output here from the WS320 wind sensor.  It works great where it is now (in the cabin).

I mounted an inverter under the nav station.  It’s only 400w, just enough to charge laptops, run a sewing machine, or maybe a small guitar amp (my wife’s spark amp only draws 140w).  I didn’t want a big complicated system because I don’t have a ton of house bank capacity.

The radar works great.  I only need to get power to it and the wifi does the rest.  Setup was really easy.  If I crank the range all the way up I can get a bounce off the Flatirons 14 miles away.  What you’re seeing here though is buildings and trees around my house.

I couldn’t put it on the mast, well, not easily, so I built a pole mount for the back.  It has a manual gimbal on it so you can adjust it to match the heel of the boat.  Useless here, since we have to tack every minute or so, but fine on the ocean.

In my final bout of craziness I bought a life raft…. and then realized I can’t really mount it anywhere.  It’s huge – and this is the smallest 4 person offshore raft made.

I think I might end up building a proper solar arch to handle the radar, solar panel, and if I do that I may be able to mount the liferaft cradle in there somewhere.  I’m not sure where yet, but it’d solve a lot of problems because right now the back of the boat looks like an erector set with all my mounts.  I’ll have to build something custom though because most of the rear arches I’ve seen look horrible, way too big.  My favorite welder has retired and I don’t have the tooling to bend that much stainless.  We’ll see.


The discussion in the comments below are in response to this:

Added a clutch for the Genoa

I had been leaving the Genoa halyard on the winch and taking it back down to the cleat to the right of the clutch but this was inelegant and left the winch under load and not usable so I added a nice Lewmar clutch to handle that. Attached with stainless rivnuts.

New masthead additions.

Update – it was too ugly, I shortened it.

I made an addition to the masthead box to add a wind sensor.  I hadn’t previously wanted to add a wind sensor to the masthead but through about sailing at night, how would you deal with wind direction and thought it might be handy.  I made the extension rather long to get the big solar box at the base of the sensor below the masthead light (not installed in this pic, it’s hanging from the wiring below).  If after a season I decide that extension off the front is too ugly to live I’ll make a shorter one but it’s gonna stay for now.  The wind sensor is a B&G WS320.  It’s wireless and connects to the boat’s internal NMEA2000 network via bluetooth.  It has great reviews and helps me avoid running more wires through the deck.  I got to play with the milling machine a bit to make this and that was fun.  I’ve always wanted a milling machine and now that I have one I rarely use it.  This was a good project for that.

I also added a masthead strobe.  I know there’s no provision for strobe lights on sailboats but everyone I know who sails offshore says as soon as they’re in a storm the strobe goes on for extra visibility so I figured why not.  It’s a neat little strobe.  You can find out more info here:


2020.  What can I say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said better in a meme by some 13 year old kid on imgur?  It’s sucked.  It was going okay except  for the whole ‘don’t go outside or talk to people’ thing.  We got the boat launched in May but with an old dog at the house we couldn’t really spend the night on it much.  I did a few times, drank some rum, but by yourself it just isn’t as fun.  I got the dodger installed.  It’s the wrong color but one that is the right color is $450 and since I’ll only use it in the ocean I think I can live with it… just a little… perfectionism… I’ll try.

The current state of the interior.  The trim ring on the forward hatch fell off from heat making the Gorilla tape let go.  I have a new trim ring that features a screen that I’m going to try to attach this winter.  We’ll see.  I will probably take the screen off and use it rarely since I pop my head out of it when using the head.  The screen would cramp my style.

You can see aft on the starboard side there’s now a powered cooler/fridge thing.  It fits in there pretty snug and I can have cold drinks.  It eats up a lot of valuable space but since there’s no other way to refrigerate things on this boat it’ll have to do.  I could always do the old time sailor thing of no cold items.  We’ll see.  I might try to see if I can stow it up front somewhere since I never use the v-berth either.

This summer all of Colorado caught on fire.  That’s ash in my cockpit.  It’s on everything.  I’d go up, rinse the boat off, but couldn’t really sleep on it because the smoke was so bad.  Trips to the boat became short, 1-2 hours, so I didn’t wreck my lungs.  Then I got laid off in August.  Sort of a cap on the awesomeness that is 2020.  Really I was on Garden Leave till October and you’d think oh wow Marcus you can spend all that time on your boat except for the smoke and ash… so I didn’t.  I spent most of the time looking for jobs.

We did have a couple of really great wind days where we were able to use the self-steering.  It worked a treat even in the fluky mountain winds.

In September a friend of mine said, “Hey Marcus do you want a SSB radio” and of course I said yes because I’m a giant nerd and love playing with this stuff so he sent it to me and I’m trying to figure out where I can stuff it in a boat already pretty stuffed.  Thanks, Patrick!

A couple of weeks ago I ran up and stripped the boat in preparation for hauling it out.  It’s always good to get everything off so there is not a lot to do.

I always hate this view.  Leaving my boat.  She must get lonely.  I’m terribly soft-hearted about her.

When we hauled it out we had a tough time getting it on the trailer as it was windy and we needed the trailer closer to the dock.  Ended up scratching the bottom paint up pretty good but other than that it went off without a hitch.  She’s back home in her spot and I have a nice list of things to address over the winter.  One of which is making covers for all the exposed woodwork.  Anything I can do to avoid varnishing every year.

A few days later the smoke went BONKERS and it was apocalyptic outside.  The East Troublesome fire blew up and really made it hazy.  Couldn’t be outside at all.

This is the view of the Callwood fire from my house.  That’s about 7 or 8 miles as the crow flies.  It was concerning but there’s a lot of not-very-combustible farm land between my house and there so we weren’t very worried.  I was worried about my friends who live right where that was going on.  So far they’ve all still got homes and the fire is contained.

Parking spot

My lovely and determined wife ordered the wrong size gravel for her sitting area so she made a parking spot for the boat.  It’s level and really nice.

An old clock to replace my new clock.

Last year I had purchased a Weems & Plath Endurance 125 Time and Tide clock for the cabin.  It looked great, very nautical.  About 5 months after I got it it stopped working properly.  The second hand would sit and bounce around 10 and the minute and hour hands were slow.  W&P has a lifetime guarantee but you have to send the clock back to them on your dime to get it fixed.  Reading reviews of the clock on Amazon this is clearly a very common problem, so common that W&P’s repair form has a checkbox for it.  People have indicated that the repaired clock started doing the same thing soon after getting it back so I didn’t have high hopes.  I contacted W&P and indicated I wanted a return shipping label for this since it malfunctioned so soon after getting it.  The nice lady told me she would look into it.  5 days later I contacted her again as I hadn’t heard anything.  She said she needed nothing else from me and would let me know.  Well it’s been 12 days and I haven’t heard a peep out of them.  I am pretty sad about this.  From everything I see online W&P is a respected name, and I guess they used to be, but Mr. Weems and Mr. Plath are probably rolling in their graves seeing the cheap crap the company is churning out these days.  The movement in this clock can be replaced for $12.  10% of what I paid to buy it and less than it’d cost to ship it back.

Disgusted I started looking for a ships clock with bells on ebay.  I found a Seth Thomas Corsair for about what I paid for the W&P clock and bought it.  I know it’s a crap shoot with these clocks since they’re old and the movements aren’t expected to last that long but I figured what the heck.  I received a nice clock that keeps very good time and features ships bells.  It’s a German Hermle movement built in March of 1969 and still runs great.  A similar almost identical clock from W&P costs $1224.  I know you can buy the movement for $440 so I guess you’re paying almost $800 for a brass case?  I’m really disgusted by W&P’s customer service and quality and probably won’t buy anything from them ever again.  If I can find the case from another Seth Thomas Corsair I’ll probably put a comfort meter movement in it to replace the W&P to the right of my nice clock so I can have matching items.  The W&P comfort meter hanging there isn’t even put together right.  The mount is perfectly square with the boat and the face inside leans to the right several degrees.  Poor workmanship all around.  Anyone want to buy some janky W&P stuff?

Update – I’ve since emailed W&P twice more about this, one time linking this blog post, and have been ignored.  I won’t ever buy any of their stuff ever again.

Spray hood frame done (finally)

I finally got the frames for my sprayhood built.  I ordered this hood when I first got the boat from Goran Helmer, the guy who designed the 261 when he worked at Marieholm.  He sent along full size drawings of the frames but I hadn’t gotten around to building them.  Originally I was going to build them from stainless, and that definitely would be stronger but I don’t have the tools to bend stainless tubing properly so I made them from aluminum.  I may have someone fabricate a proper frame when I’m on the coast though.  Last picture is the company that makes sprayhoods for Marieholm 261, 26, and IF, if you’re in the market for one.  They’re about $450 shipped to the US.  I used a conduit bender on the frames and just went real slow.  The first tube I filled with sand, second I did without,  I didn’t notice a difference.  No crimping but there’s a million little dimples along the surface for each tiny bend I made.


April 11 update.

I decided to quit calling every post “more progress” even though that is what it is.

I finally named the boat.  I wanted to buy an AIS and I needed a name to get an MMSI from the FCC so I picked Vesper.  It’s got sibilance, it’s classy.  My German friend Yngmar pointed out that it is a cool evening meal in Germany.

Only took 3 years.

Wind vane is finally mounted too.  I’m sure it’s going to be super useful here in Colorado.  Really it’s for the Bahamas so once I get it figured out I’ll probably leave it off here in CO and just put it on for the bigger trips.

Some metalworking today

The exhaust on this boat was originally just a through hull and so when I put the new engine in I just used another through hull. It works fine but the transom ends up covered with soot and it looks like ass. So I made an extension from stainless exhaust pipe.

I hope it keeps the transom a little cleaner.

And I started on a mount for the steering vane.

Many updates!

The boat spent the season in the water. I learned a lot about how to sail it and how it reacts to certain things. We were on the water during an 80kt gusty storm and had someone drag their mooring down on us. Here are some pictures.

This was after we’d gotten her in the water the first day. I was afraid to drive away and leave her alone. She’d been in my backyard the last 2 years.

Weather up in the mountains can get a bit crazy at times.  This went right over us but missed us entirely only to dump on the valley to the east.

I took this picture on July 15.  This was the result of a hailstorm in the mountains.  I don’t think any hail actually hit the boat even though this is only a mile from my mooring.

Sleeping on the boat at night.  I put red lights in to preserve night vision and it really helps.  The green light on the bilge pump panel is not really helping though.

One of our friends on the lake was kind enough to take some photos of the boat while we were out messing about one day.

Once the lake level started to drop, towards the end of the season.

A couple of pictures right before we hauled out.

Once I got her home I built a pvc frame for the tarp to keep grime off the boat and so I could work on it.  It’s been so cold the times I could actually work have been few but I’m glad to keep the snow off.

IMG_6075  IMG_6073   That second video is the area where we are moored normally.

That’s a video of the wind at the lake on a bad day.  We had wind like this a couple of weeks before we hauled out with gusts to 80 kts and another boat dragged their mooring down onto me.  Minor damage.

While the boat was in the water this summer I took the opportunity to replace the wheel bearings and put new electric brakes on the trailer.  It helped towing A LOT.


That video (you need sound) is before I changed the bearings.  I can’t believe we towed it back from missouri like that.