Boat upgrade projects while in La Paz

Hi everyone, Charlie here. Today is my turn to take the floor. Just wanted to give an update on our current boat projects – you know, those things that are supposed to take two weeks and end up taking two months. We are living up to the old adage that “cruising is really just boat maintenance in exotic places!”

Below are the key projects we intend to complete while here in La Paz, where service providers and parts are more readily available than other areas in Mexico. Some of these are done, some are still ongoing.

1. Repair inflatable dinghy floor: Our old 10’ Avon inflatable dinghy had numerous leaks around the seam of the inflatable floor. We successfully patched several of the larger leaks, but new leaks kept popping up, making us feel like we were playing a game of whack-a-mole. Other than that, the dinghy is in great shape. Consequently, we decided to take it to a professional dinghy repair shop and have them replace the inflatable floor with a rigid floor made of wood and aluminum panels cobbled together from other dinghies. This repair will be finished next week and then we’ll have some custom canvas chaps made to help protect the dinghy from the harsh tropical sun.

Bubba gets a dinghy ride

2. Stern arch: We added a custom stainless steel stern arch with dinghy davits, outboard engine hoist, large solar panel, navigation electronics antenna mounts, and stainless lifeline tubes from stern to midship gates. This was our most expensive and invasive project. It required cutting the original stern pulpit, welding in new larger diameter tubing, and drilling holes in the boat! The work was performed by the best stainless fabricator in La Paz and works well (he was trained in the US and managed the polishing of the Chicago bean sculpture). All we need to do is wire up the solar panel and lights… and this should be done by next week. We can’t wait to take advantage of the additional 365 watt solar panel which will bring us up to 885 watts of solar. 

New stern arch
New stern arch

3. Install watermaker: We’re installing a new CruiseRO 30 gallons per hour AC powered reverse osmosis desalinator/ watermaker.  We bought the equipment in San Diego and brought it with us in boxes for installation in La Paz. We removed the 25 gallon forward upper port water tank to make room for the two long membranes and high pressure pump. This leaves us with four other water tanks totaling 180 gallons… which is still more than most boats our size. It also opened up a few cubic feet of prime storage space in the saloon. The watermaker components and electrical wiring have been installed. Next week we will connect all of the hoses and commission the system.

Watermaker control panel
Membranes and high pressure pump

4. Toilet plumbing: Our marine toilet plumbing clogged a few times on our way to La Paz. We think the toilet plumbing is longer and more complicated than it needs to be. There are also some high spots in the hose that runs from the vented loop to the overboard discharge thru hull valve. This is suboptimal since it can cause calcium deposits which restrict flow and promote blockages.  Once the watermaker installation is complete, we’ll simplify and reroute the hoses to help minimize the chance of blockages.

Convoluted plumbing!

5. Inspect steering cables and rudder packing gland: The steering system seems to be rubbing on the throttle cable inside the steering pedestal. Once the electrical wiring is complete for the stern arch, we need to empty the starboard lazarette and see what is causing the rubbing and fix if it’s an issue. While we’re down in that area of the boat we’ll check the rudder shaft packing gland and ensure that it is not leaking or too tight.

Steering/rudder packing gland

6. Install code zero/ spinnaker roller furling: We have a new light weight code zero / asymmetrical spinnaker sail that we purchased for those light wind days common here in Mexico. This will allow us to sail rather when motor when the wind is between 4-10 knots and from 60-120 degrees off the bow. We will install this on a continuous line furler for short handed deployment. We had a new stainless steel tang welded to the bow pulpit that will position the furler drum slightly forward and below the jib furler. We’ll compete this installation on a calm day after the other projects are done. 

Shiny new stainless attachment point for spinnaker roller furling

7. Refrigerator: Our refrigerator does not cycle off as it should causing it to consume excessive electricity. We think that this is just due to the thermal sensing bulb not being securely clamped to the holding plate output tube. This should be a quick and simple fix. It’s been a low priority since we just manually cycle it on and off via the breaker switch. We also may need to replace the gaskets around the doors to reduce the frosting in the freezer. There’s a good fridge service guy here in La Paz that we’ll call once the other major projects are completed.

Thermal sensing bulb

8. Re-seal deck prisms: We have two deck prisms, which are solid glass fixtures mounted in the deck that allow light to come through, similar to a sky light. Both of them have minor leaks which we should be able to seal by removing, cleaning and re-bedding them with silicone sealant.

Deck prism

9. Modify the boarding ladder: We’d purchased a new boarding ladder at the Richmond boat show earlier this year, but it needed some modifications. We shortened it so it won’t bump into the dock, and added some round bar stock to smooth out the sharp edges on the bottom. We also modified the attachment point to the boat so it can swing up for easy storage when underway.

Newly modified boarding ladder

10. Bookcase re-stain: Prior to leaving Channel Islands, we had a new bookcase built for the gaping holes left in our Nav station after removing some old electronics. It came out beautiful and fit perfectly, but the stain color wasn’t quite right. We hired someone here to re-stain it to more closely match the rest of the interior teak.

Before – color is too light
After – color is just right!

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