Friday, August 3, 2012

Six weeks until we cruise...

I have come to the realization that we are going to have to compromise on some things if we are going to leave in six weeks. If we try to wait until every thing is perfect we will be delayed. I know that you can never prepare for everything, and we really do not want to be north when winter arrives. We will prepare as best as we can in the next six weeks, and try to get south before the bad weather begins.
I have decided on the following upgrades to the boat, and when they are completed we are going to cruise. All of these either have been done or will be done this month. We have been very fortunate so far that the upgrades to Serenity have been few, and other than the new radar, we were aware of and incorporated them into the boat budget.  I have read articles and posts by people who bought boats and then had to spend an unbelievable amount of money on repairs that should have been obvious before or even during the marine survey. I think that a lot of research, and some knowledge about boat systems will help prevent these issues. I can not overstate the importance of a complete and comprehensive survey. There is nothing inexpensive about having work done on your boat, and I am fortunate to be able to do much of it myself, and grateful that Serenity's previous owners took great care of her. So far  we have had no major issues. Never the less a used boat is worth only what someone is willing to pay. If you are in the market for a boat, set that limit before you fall in love with the boat. It makes it easier to walk away if your offer is not accepted. Do not spend your entire budget on the purchase. Make sure that there is some room left to make improvements...there will be some.

List of things to do:
1. Updated radar: the existing  radar was a unit that was installed in 1996. It is functional. Since then advances in this technology have  improved radar systems somewhat, although not as much as you would think.The problem with the existing radar is that you have to leave the helm and go below to see the screen. This may work for an experienced sailor...but since we are newbies, I am not thrilled about leaving the helm to look at a radar screen. Honestly, if we are sailing at night you may not be able to pry my hands off the wheel. The screen also takes up a lot of room at the nav station. It is gigantic. The newer radar systems display information on your chart plotter at the helm. I am having the Garmin 18HD installed on the existing radar mast. The radar information will then show up on the Garmin chart plotter I have purchased for the helm, as well as at the nav station chart plotter, which was already on the boat. It has a great display, now I just need to figure out what I am looking at. Will be done by August 31.

2. I have also ordered a Garmin AIS 600 Automatic Identification System Transceiver. This will be connected to the chart plotter on a NMEA 2000 network and give us information on vessels that are near us. (size of vessel, course, speed) I consider this a real safety feature especially for night sailing, or sailing when there is poor visability, or if we are just sailing in shipping lanes. For peace of mind it will provide it is worth the money. I will post more information on these systems when we are actually using them. All commercial vessels are required to have AIS transmitters on board, so we should be aware of larger ships that could possibly be on a collision course with us. Will be done by August 31
3. Chart plotter at the helm...part of the NMEA 2000 network. The mount and wires were already there, so it is just a matter of hooking it up. I did find out through Mark at Parker Marine that there was an upgrade to the existing chart plotter at the nav station. I downloaded the update from the Garmin web site to an HD SanDisk and will install the update this Sunday. The chart plotter will help keep us on course, and let us know when we get off course. Done
4. Safety jackets with harnesses...jack lines...and tethers, as well as foul weather jackets. Done
5. A solar panel has been added to match the existing panel on the frame above dinghy davits. We want to be as energy independent as possible. Done
6. Chart books and cruising guides for the areas we intend to go. (Have some and will need to purchase more) I feel that paper charts are necessary in case the electronics fail. It is always good to have a plan B when the ocean is involved. Shirl is going to download a navigation app to her iPad as well. So we will have a plan B and C. Also Shirl will get navigation experience using the app... she is a gadget girl. Partially complete will be done by August 31
7. Serenity has some spares...filters...belts...gaskets and such. I will need to inventory these and purchase what we feel we will need.
8. New filter for the Seagull IV drinking water purification system... I am ordering that next week after getting the serial number off of the old filter. We are fortunate this came with the boat since we will be filling our water tank in some remote areas, and it is expensive to purchase. We do not have a water maker and have no plans at this time to buy one. Will be done by August 31
9. This is a biggie. We will need to purchase a hypalon dinghy with a fiberglass hull as well as a 9 HP outboard motor. When you are cruising this is your car, and tends to be used a lot. I hope to find a used one in good condition. Serenity already has dinghy davits, (our garage) to secure the dinghy while we are underway. Working on this, but if we do not find one we will leave without it add price them on the east coast.
10. I am still debating on a Honda 2000 generator to charge the batteries when there is not a lot of sun...may stay undecided until we are cruising. Probably will not get done before we leave.
11. Purchase an EPIRB...another safety item...more on this later. Done
12. Purchase a two inch memory foam mattress topper.  It will be trimmed to fit over the cushions in the V berth. I am not sure why, but the cushions on our boat are very in very uncomfortable. They are brand new... hopefully they will soften some. Done

This Saturday we are going to Michigan and attend Rachel (Shirl's daughter) and David's wedding. Sunday we will be on Serenity and sailing Monday through Thursday if the weather permits. Next Saturday is Cash's(my youngest grandson) first birthday party. Then more sailing. We are getting excited about our trip.

Any one want to buy a functional older radar system very inexpensively? Email me at

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