Christmas In Stuart FL

…Radeen enjoying the marina..

We have been enjoying our time “stuck” here in Stuart, FL, at Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage as we test out our new gear and installations. This marina has the number one best customer service and the best marina facilities of ANY place we have ever stayed. We have sailed from Acadia, ME to Key West to Tampa Bay to Georgetown. Exumas, and no place has better customer service than Sunset Bay Marina!

With that kind of service, we find ourselves “stuck” in Stuart, FL. We are not disappointed. Yes, we are frustrated that our plans of sailing over to the Bahamas for Christmas did not work out. We had planned to spend Dec and some of Jan at The Jib Room in Marsh Harbor, but we stayed here working on our refit and using our car to get items for the refit and now we are into a seemingly endless loop. We have always said, “The hardest part is simply leaving!” That is the case here once again. One thing is for sure, Radeen and I are goal driven. When we set goals out in front of us, we write them down and we work toward them. This season we are setting the goal of sailing back into the Exumas and then pushing onward into the Caribbean Sea, where we plan to base for the next 4 to 5 winters. That is our goal, that is why we did the refit and we will push to make it happen.

Sailing on Christmas Day, a dream

Our Christmas was peaceful and calm. On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed the marina party with catered food and professional singers caroling. On Christmas Day, we went sailing in the morning, something we have always wanted to do, and then we enjoyed a cruisers potluck on the marina porch with about 50 cruisers. There are cruisers here from all over the world. Many of them have just sailed in from the Caribbean or Bahamas. Others have completed the Great Loop around the entire Eastern USA and the Mississippi down to the Gulf and around Florida. There are some experienced cruisers here and some that are just starting out. It is fun visiting with everyone.

Sunset on our boat, Christmas Day

Our next task is to move onward in about another week so we can truly test out our new autopilot and radar. We plan to sail outside down the coast to Biscayne Bay because we really love Miami and South Beach and Coconut Grove and the sailing there. This will give us a few more weeks to test out the gear, fix what breaks, and to commission the new watermaker. (It is finished and ready to go, but once it is started, it needs to be flushed every 5 days. So, we have decided to wait until Biscayne Bay.)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and peace to all. Here are a few photos….

The Stuart Riverwalk on our daily 3 mile walks

Our Christmas Day Champagne for Breakfast


Nothing says LOVE like a bilge pump for my Gift 🙂

Our home, an Island Packet 35, 1994

Santa found us

Naughty Santa…

The best deli in Stuart
ahhhh so good

Merry Christams from the boat, our happy place

Sailing Christmas Day

Santa and a Sailfish

The Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage
First floor store, cafe, office
Second Floor Jumbo TV room, computer lounge, hot popcorn machine

Somehow, someway. someday, we will leave this wonderful place called Stuart, FL! Thank you all for following along.

Refit Work Completed, Here is the List

…There it is… 4G RADAR, AIS, B&G Zeus…

What was I thinking?! Refitting our Island Packet 35 while on a mooring ball in Stuart, FL. Really, what WAS I thinking? After one month, we have completed the most extensive project to date on Island Spirit. We wanted to replace our old 1994 and 2002 B&G electronics with new B&G gear and to add a Spectra Ventura 200t watermaker. Plus we installed new head sails from Mack Sails. All of this since we launched the boat 4 weeks ago. To add to the challenges, we did it all while NOT at a dock!

The view of our mooring ball, 2nd one on right

We completed the work while on mooring ball #25 at one of the best marinas we have ever encountered, Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage in Stuart, FL. We are really thinking that Martin County Florida is #1 in Florida. They simply have it figured out. The town is well planned and we find very nice people live here. Top that off with a marina staff whose number one focus is customer service and making the grounds and facilities spectacular, and we have found a perfect place to refit.

Mack Sails for all your refit work

Add the full support and constant encouragement of Colin Mack of Mack Sails along with my fantastic B&G rep Steve Hamber and these are the reasons we have been so successful with our projects. If you have any need for refit, sails, electronics, chain plates, etc, I highly recommend that you contact Colin Mack and give him your list of items. Colin will work with you and he will get you the best price out there. I never knew that they did more than sails, but they do and they can do it all. Mack Sails has become THE place to go for Island Packet Yacht refit work. Thank you Colin for all your support and help. Your company is amazing! Your attitude is wonderful, your team is well respected!

People have been asking us what have we added? So here is the list:

B&G Gear:

  • 2 Triton2 Data Displays
  • 4G Radar on the mast
  • Zeus2, 9″ Multifunction Display
  • DST, Depth Speed Temperature sensor in a new 2″ thru hull
  • 508 Digital Anemometer on the mast head
  • NAC-3 Digital autopilot computer
  • Rudder Reference
  • Compass 9
  • Autopilot control head at the helm
  • GPS on the bimini frame
NMEA 2000
  • New backbone run from mast head to nav desk, to qtr berth, to sail locker, to helm NavPod
  • 2 end terminal resisters
  • 11 tees 
  • 50 feet of Simrad/B&G shielded Ethernet cable
  • New SailPod with Zeus2 cut to the right
  • Autopilot control cut to the left
  • New RAM Mic added to the pod
  • 2 USB ports
  • 1 12 volt port
  • 1 RAM Mic port
  • 1 LED table light
  • New Standard Horizon Explorer VHF with built in GPS
  • New RAM Mic wired to the helm
  • AIS antenna upgrade
  • AIS wiring new 8x coax end fittings for best signal
  • VHF GPS output wired into ICOM 802 SSB for position feed
  • Spectra Ventura 200t, 8.3 gallons per hour at 8-9 amps 12 volt DC
  • New dedicated 3/4″ thru hull in the galley floor for watermaker saltwater feed pump
  • New plywood epoxy platform built to mount the 35 lb Clark pump
  • Feed pump and filters mounted up high on outboard side of cockpit seat ice box
  • 1/4″ product water hose teed into sink hand pump
  • 1/4″ sample water hose coils into cockpit ledge, pulls out to flow into cockpit drain
  • Product/sample valve just under cockpit sail locker lid ledge
  • Gauge mounted next to valve
  • Brine discharge teed into cockpit ice box drain

So, now it is time for us to prepare this boat for sea trials to shake down all the new gear. We may do that as we sail out, but we really think we need to make some offshore runs testing the pilot install and the ability to sail to wind via autopilot. We do that frequently and we want to make sure this boat sails as well as before on autopilot. We also need to work out the new reefing system yet to be installed. We have the new sails on, but we have not even opened them up to see them and test them. Refitting is nearly complete, now it is onto prep for departure.

Here are some photos…

Running the old RL70C from a 12 volt plug
to download our 900 waypoints….oops, we forgot!

Success, we downloaded them and my B&G rep converted them to B&G waypoints.
Then we uploaded them into the new system.

While doing refit, we are working with our friend and customer
who is buying an IP 38. Sea trial is next, very exciting!

Our sunset views from the porch where locals and cruisers share wine and snacks.

Our beautiful porch and comfortable teak furniture

Rewiring the underside of the helm with
new RAM Mic and new Radar control wires.

Every day, it seems, we go to West Marine. This one is in Ft. Lauderdale the mega store.
(Bob and Nina of Moondance, where are you??  We ran into you unexpectedly the last two times we were here!)

Diversion to Ft. Lauderdale downton to see Team SVDelos

The Ft. Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade was a pleasant surprise!

The last water hose needed, 1/2″ to connect fresh water to the watermaker flush.

Back to Stuart West Marine

Here is the white 1/4″ sample product water outflow hose.
I spent about a week working the sail locker.

Connecting the 1/4″ product water into the hand pump hose.

We added a shut off valve to keep the hand pump usable in an emergency.
Thanks for the good advice from our plumber in Pennsylvania, Fred!

This was the last job of the refit.

We are now labeling all items.

The product valve. Sample water to measure salinity, then
product water plumbed into the water tank.

10 AWG wire with a 15 amp breaker powers the watermaker.
This is wired directly to the battery charger, which is connected to the battery bank.

The direct power feed, 15 amp breaker, 5 micron filter and pressure cylinder,
all mounted on the back side of the cockpit ice box.

We are so relieved to be finished! Overall, when you look at this work, one month for two people is not too bad, especially when out in the harbor. We can now return to our regular program of routine maintenance, provisioning, sailing and traveling. Again, our goal is to sail into the Bahamas and then onward to the Caribbean Sea where we will base for the next 3 to 4 seasons. These are exciting times. Thank you for sailing along.

Fla West Coast Tour

…Sharon and Greg drove to visit Island Spirit…

What a welcome break from boat work! A few days of seeing friends and relaxing together gave us a real mental boost and a physical rest…much needed!

First of all, Greg and Sharon IP40 Dream Catcher visited Island Spirit to see our boat projects and to discuss future plans. We shared a really delicious dinner at The Sailor’s Return next to the Sunset Bay Marina here in Stuart. Thanks for coming!

The next day, we had a casual cookout with locals and guests including Terri IP38 Sailbatical, Trish and Bill IP 40 Island Bound and their friends Kurt and Sharon aboard Byrd Ketcher and Matt and Nonnie of Sophia Jean. The evening was capped off with music by Bill, which everyone enjoyed around the fire pit. We hope to see you all again soon!

The Sunset Bay Marina fire pit is FUN FUN FUN

Next, it was a real thrill to see Tom and Lesa aboard their boat IP35 Panacea. One year ago, Hayden was their broker as they shopped for an Island Packet. She is a real beauty now! We loved seeing the many substantial upgrades they have carefully planned and accomplished, while enjoying wine, cheese and the breeze together. Someday, we will share an anchorage!

Hayden, Radeen, Lesa and Tom, IP35 Panacea

That night, it was our pleasure to meet our friend, Nicholas and his girlfriend, Caitlin for a delightful dinner. Believe it or not, they are not IP owners! He is a Ph.D. student at USF and she is a nurse at a children’s hospital. Then, onto Craig (former IP 440 Charmed) and Liana’s for their customary kind and comfortable hospitality and many laughs. (Sorry! no photos of the fun we had together shopping and at the Fish Camp restaurant.)

Doc Junior Nicholas and Caitlyn

After a visit to our Florida dentist (who is a Temple grad), we drove to IP420 Flatlander’s beautiful new house for lunch. Alan and Kathy took a break from the condo they are renovating – their winter tenants will be delighted with the results! Alan grilled burgers and baked for us and then they gave us a lively neighborhood tour.

Bahamas Buddies IP 420 Flatlander, the Kansas Kids

The fun was not yet over! Onward to see John and Nancy, formerly IP40 Larking About, now IP420 Adventuress. After a lovely evening of delicious dining and dancing to excellent live music, we spent the next day touring their complex by bike, swimming, talking about sailing, and enjoying a sunset buffet meal. Ever the perfect hosts, John provided the cigars for a golf cart tour with Hayden, while Nancy and Radeen enjoyed visiting.

Gruet Champagne when we visit, Thank you!

On the way back, we stopped to see Jim and Loretta of IP380 Plan Sea. They made a yummy lunch for us of grilled mahi by their pool. We discussed our Bahamas plans and are talking to them about tagging along with us as we push into the Caribbean Sea. We hope they continue south with us.

We always have so much fun with Team “Plan Sea”

We arrived back in Stuart at dusk and borrowed a dinghy from a happy couple celebrating their completion of the Great Loop, which is a voyage along the East Coast, through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Our fast and fun “vacation” concluded with a visit from former IP 38 Oceana owner, Kathy, who just returned from an amazing Habitat for Humanity trip to interior Guatemala, where her team built latrines, ovens and friendships!

World Traveler Kathy stopped by for a visit, thank you!

Here are more photos of the fun time…….

A hand made angel brought to us from Haiti by Hayden’s cousin, Sherry, is mounted at our nav desk

Alan is a great baker and chef, and he made this carrot cake. We hope to be together to celebrate Alan and Radeen’s
March birthdays once again, but Alan made the cake now, just in case that doesn’t happen.

The carrot cake was 4 layers thick. WOW….delicious!
John and Nancy taking a break from the dance floor 

Our room’s lanai, overlooking the golf course

Biking where the speed limit is 20 mph makes Radeen happy!

Nancy and Radeen always take a great photo.

Bad Boys will smoke cigars….

Bad Boys will drink too much scotch….


Our new Delorme InReach tracking system tested on land. This was our route.

We are indeed fortunate to have so many wonderful friends who live in such interesting places and who do the most fascinating things. Thank you for making us feel incredibly welcome! Our apologies to those we did not see…we had to hurry back to show an Island Packet for sale near Daytona. We hope to see ALL of you somewhere wonderful in 2017!

Spectra Watermaker Gauge Mount

…Radeen’s gift, a custom mount…

Happy Thanksgiving! We are enjoying the day at Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage. Again, we have to say that this marina has the best focus on customer service, much more than any place we have ever stayed. The management staff is amazing. This is a dream location and it will be very difficult to leave here!

Today we designed and built a simple aluminum mounting bracket to hold the Spectra pressure gauge and water flow meter next to the feed pump in the sail locker. We used aluminum bar stock and with wrenches, bent the shape needed, then drilled holes and mounted the bracket. It was designed to slope upwards so we can see it from above when looking down into the locker. It worked out well. Into this gauge, the product water is plumbed and it will show the pressure in the feed pump and show the gallons per hour of production. With this information, we can tell the state of the 5 micron filter and if the system is running well. If not, it usually means the filter is getting clogged and needs cleaned or changed. Over all, this system is simple. We are glad to know the design and installation so well. We expect this watermaker to give us many years of production.

Our Thanksgiving table with boat buddies

Our Thanksgiving was a very nice celebration with boat buddies Bill and Trish s/v Island Bound and their buddies Kurt and Sharon of s/v Byrd Ketcher and Matt and Nonnie s/v Sophia Jean and IP owners Nate and Melba s/v Travelin’ Light. Our host, Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage, provided an amazing meal catered by TooJay’s Restaurant. The cruisers and local boaters brought side dishes and plenty of desserts. The buffet line went across the 30 foot porch and around the corner.

Radeen and Terri at Sunset Bay Marina

Our local friend, Terri, who lives here aboard IP38 Sailbatical, was also our host and she did a great job helping out the Marina staff with all the set up and table centerpieces.  The meal was fantastic and sharing with boat buddies was very fun. This cruising traveling lifestyle is so wonderful and, as every one always says, it is the people that you meet along the way that make it so very interesting and fun.

Happy Thanksgiving to all…..

The catered buffet line in set up mode overlooking the docks

Propane ovens to keep all the food hot

Our custom water gauge mount in the design phase

This is meant to be cut into a panel, we surface mounted it

The water gauge installed next to the feed pump

The overview, which will allow us to see it from above in the cockpit

Off to Thanksgiving at 1500, Radeen made a carrot cake

Matt, the marina dockmaster, setting up the buffet

Radeen on Thanksgiving day 2016

The 30 foot long pot luck table

The catered hot meal afterwards….turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green beans, carrots, gravy, etc

The buffet overlooking the marina

Must have a food photo on Thanksgiving…

The view from our table at sunset

Heading home, our boat is in the mooring field to the right

Our watermaker job has about one or two more days of work and then it will be finished. We need to run the power feed and install a breaker, and run the product water hose into the water tank. That is it. We are very happy with the install, it took us 4-5 days total. Fun fun fun!

Spectra Watermaker Day 3

…High Pressure Pump bolted down…

This is Day 3 of installing our new Spectra Ventura 200t watermaker and we are moving along well. Today we mounted the high pressure pump on the new platform and thru bolted it, making sure this 30 lb object will NOT go flying around when bashing into waves offshore. Once bolted down, we ran and connected the saltwater line from the new thru hull in the galley floor to the feed pump. From there, the saltwater line ran into the high pressure pump and back out to the overboard thru hull. These 3/4″ water hoses were far easier to run than expected. To get back into the galley floor thru hull, we followed the same path as our stern sea water wash down line. That line we never used, so we removed it and that gave us a chase to pull the new hose right behind the old hose as we pulled it out. Lucky for us, it already ran right past the new watermaker thru hull.

New watermaker thru hull and sea strainer in the galley floor.

There we connected the saltwater line to a new sea strainer and our seawater feed was completed. Back in the sail locker, we ran the feed into the 5 micron filter and then into the 60 PSI pressure cylinder and finally into the Clark high pressure pump. Once this seawater goes into the high pressure pump, it is amplified to 800 psig where it is pushed through the reverse osmosis cylinder separating the salts and impurities into a brine discharge and diverting a small amount of fresh, safe water into our 90 gallon water tank.

The product water outflow is rated at 8.3 gallons per hour while drawing only 8-9 amps of 12 volt DC power. If this is so, then we plan to run this system between noon and 1400 hours when we have extra 12 volt solar power and wind power. When the wind is blowing 15+ knots, we always have extra power, so is the reason we bought this system. Spectra is the most efficient watermaker made, hands down. If there is no solar or wind, then we can run our engine and power the watermaker from our 100 amp alternator. Our engine burns about 1/4 of a gallon per hour when charging. So, one quart of diesel will make 8 gallons of water for about 50 cents a gallom. Interesting.

The 3/4″ brine discharges to an existing above water thru hull

Back to the plumbing….The brine must be routed to an overboard discharge. Lucky for us, we had a thru hull that is above the waterline that was used to drain a cockpit ice box. No one uses this as an ice box. We all use this to store cleaning supplies. The good aspect is that this ice box has a drain hose to a thru hull. So, we replaced this 1994 hose with a new hose and a tee allowing us to reconnect the ice box drain. The watermaker brine will discharge out this thru hull and the ice box will still drain if ever needed. Over all, this all worked out well.

The next task will be to run the 1/4″ product water hose from the high pressure pump to the diverter valve for salinity testing and from the diverted valve to our water tank. Once that is finished, we will run the power line (a 6 AWG or 8 AWG) a very short distance (3 feet) from our nearby battery charger/inverter to the feed pump. We will add a breaker and then run to the pump. We understand that the system is very sensitive to voltage drops, so we will have it wired with heavy gauge wire and very short runs. Very soon, we will fire it up and test it out.  (NOTE: Thanks goes out to Tom and Joyce of IP 40 BAREFOOT for the alert on the need for large power feed wires. We are following your advice.)

So, Day 3 of the Spectra Watermaker installation is finished. Here are more photos…..

The feed pump bolted to the cockpit ice box.
Notice the 5 micron filter and pressure tank on the back of ice box.

This is up high, out of the way in what was all wasted space, We lost zero storage
on this installation. It is the perfect place to mount this gear on an IP35.

We added a dedicated thru hull in the galley floor aft of the engine intake.

Looking up under the cockpit seat ice box to see the drain on the left.
We replaced this 1994 drain hose and added a tee for the brine.

This is an overview photo, looking forward, with the ice box drain on top left.
The existing thru hull is at the bottom righ,t with the new tee cut in.

The brine will flow directly down this hose and overboard via the original thru hull fitting,
which is just above the waterline in the boot stripe.

The sea water feed is on the bottom and the brine discharge is on the top of the Clark pump.
Amazingly, this reverse osmosis pump has no power connected to it, working solely on hydraulics.

The sea water feed pump (black) on the left, plumbed to the 5 micron filter (also black) around the corner on the right.

There it is, the Spectra plumbed in and ready for product water hoses.
Note: the copper strips are part of the grounding system for our Single Side Band Radio.

Off to Flanigan’s for a fun happy hour with Bill and Trisha, IP40/Island Bound and their team, Sophia Jean and Byrd Ketcher.

Again, this Spectra Watermaker install is still a difficulty level of a 2 out of 10. It is really simple. The hardest part is planning the placement of the parts and then making a secure platform to bolt the machine down. Though a pain in the neck, the plumbing is simple because it is just hose runs. We hope to have this finished in one or two more days. That is exciting considering we are doing this all on a mooring ball in Stuart Florida. It can be done….Thank you for following along. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Spectra Watermaker Install Day 1 Day 2

…Spectra Ventura 200t…

Now that our new B&G gear is all installed and running, it is time to focus on the new Spectra Ventura 200t watermaker installation. We are on a mooring ball in Stuart, Florida. That makes it a bit more challenging but we are pushing hard to get this new gear installed so we can test it and shake it all down. Stuart has turned out to a new dream location for us. We LOVE IT HERE! We are working with Mack Sails Company who is supporting our efforts as we work through our own refit #3 program. Thank you again goes out to Colin Mack who has been the best person to work. We ordered all this new gear through him and leaned on him and his team for all the help and support we needed. What a fantastic company. If you need anything…sails, electronics, chain plates, tanks, etc, you need to run it by Mack Sails first. Colin and Travis Mack will serve you well.

The feed pump up high on the side of the cockpit cooler box

On Day One of this Spectra Watermaker Challenge, we installed the feed pump and the product water diverter valve and we prebuilt all the plumbing parts. Day Two we installed the Clark pump platform over our B&G autopilot ram. This shelf needs to hold the 30 lb pump and pressure cylinders while bashing into  serious ocean waves. We think we designed and built a very solid platform. I pre-built the pieces while still at home and final cut everything onboard using my Dremel tool with a saw blade. I must say, having a Dremel with all the blades is a good idea on a boat. All I had to do was fit them into place and then epoxy the battens onto the bulkhead and the fiberglass stern. Next, I mounted the custom fit 14″ x 24″ 3/4″ plywood platform. I used JB Weld and 5200 adhesive and screws to assemble the platform. It worked out well. At the end of Day Two, we have the platform installed and painted, top and bottom. and the watermaker will be bolted in tomorrow. 

Overall this watermaker install is a difficulty level of a 2 out of 10 as Spectra has made it their mission to design this for owner installation. It is very, very straightforward. We are glad we are doing this ourselves again, because this way, we will really know the system. It is very important to us that we know every wire, every system, every hose, and how all systems work on our boat. That way, when we are remote, we can usually fix items if we have a break down or if a system is not working correctly. We like this about our Team Island Spirit program, it has worked well for us over the past 15 years!
Here are some photos of Day 1 and 2 of the Spectra Watermaker Challenge. 
This is the entire system being loaded into the dinghy.
One bag of hoses. one bag of parts and one 20″ pressure cylinder.
This is an 8.3 gallons per hour watermaker that uses only 8-9 amps 12 volt!

Radeen reading up on how to install this watermaker.

We took a wonderful Sunday morning off and visited good friend Jim Austin
of sv/Salty Paws in Vero Beach, FL. Jim is my photography mentor.

My photo of mentor Jim getting an interesting shot of the flag on Memorial Island at Riverside Park.
We also took pictures of the antique bells and wagon wheels at the historic Driftwood Inn.

Back on Team Island Spirit, with the sun setting beautifully.

We love the curves of Island Spirit, nearly perfect.

Day One, we drilled into the cockpit “ice box” to see where we would end up.
Guess what? It is 4″ thick with foam. We eventually drilled through.

Hayden inside the sail locker on his back drilling holes overhead.
(Jeff Gabor, where are you??)

Next we started to assemble the parts and the fittings.
This is just standard plumbing, nothing mysterious.

Radeen in her Black and White Spectra outfit, what a great helper.

Day 2 returning from Home Dept with plywood and parts.

It takes more time to gather the parts than it does to do the job.

Day 2 began with a plan for the platform over the pilot ram.

We used a carbide scraper to remove the latex paint, then sanded and roughed up the surface.
I curfed battens in the back to make them curve to the shape of the hull and the inside of the sail locker.

The platform with one support leg glued and screwed in place.

The painted platform, we painted the bottom and leg before installing.

After living in the sail locker all day, I finally used 5200 adhesive and then screwed the platform in place.

The finished watermaker platform on the aft wall of the sail locker. This was Jay Aker’s idea from sv/MINX.

With the platform built, installed and painted, we are ready to install the watermaker tomorrow and then pull the plumbing hoses and connect to the new thru hull in the galley floor. We also need to run heavy 10 AWG wire from the battery bank to this unit for power. If all goes well, this should be completed by the end of the week. Thank you for following along, we love to hear from you…..

B&G Zeus2 Completed

…the new B&G Zeus2 sailing screen…

After two days of working with the wonderful B&G tech support team, we have solved all our new network install challenges. The solutions were all simple and were a result of missed wires or disconnected wires during the clean up. Now, we have a fully running B&G Zeus2 Multi-function Display MDF and an NAC-3 autopilot computer, GPS, rudder reference, compass 9, DST, 4G radar and 508 wind anemometer with two Triton2 displays, one in the cockpit and one at the nav desk.

The NAC-3 Autopilot computer

This has gone more smoothly than first expected, but then again, we just jumped in and did it! We ripped out all our old gear on Nov 1, then pulled out all the old wires, and on Nov 2 or Nov 3 we started this install. Here we are on Nov 18 and everything is installed and running. All that is needed now is to configure the autopilot on a sea trial. Radeen and I are very proud and excited to have done 99% of the work ourselves while on a mooring ball. Imagine that!

Notice the plug was pulled out and was pushed over the board

So, what actually went wrong? This gear was just released on Oct 27. It is so new, in fact, the B&G staff does not have an NAC-3 pilot installed at the tech support center, so we are on our own out here testing, documenting and learning along with the consistently polite and helpful B&G staff. It is exciting, but also makes it even more challenging and we need to try to solve our own problems. In doing so, we jump back in and look at our installs, we get out the 50+ page installation manuals and re-read them for a ninety-ninth time. Yes, there are errors because they are new, version 1.0. Then we call tech support and they tell us that they are not sure, but go check all your connections and wires. While doing this in the sail locker, we discovered that the NMEA 2000 drop cable from the NAC-3 autopilot was pulled out of the circuit board. WHAT? How could this happen? Well it happened because B&G has no wire clamp or other fitting to keep the plug in the circuit board. So, if you happen to pull on this wire, it unplugs from inside the box (while still looking fine on the outside) Then the NAC-3 pilot is offline and cannot be found on the network. There it is, simply a wiring issue. It took a several phone calls and installing new updated software and rebooting until we found this easy wiring issue. Once it was solved, the gear configured itself and found the autopilot computer. Perfect!

Navico provides a 6 foot ethernet wire with their own end fittings.
I need this to be 50+ feet to reach the helm.

Now, the final wire to run is a new ethernet wire from the base of the mast to the helm. WHAT? WHY? We thought we were finished! We were told we needed only one special Simrad/Simnet $50 1 foot long drop cable from the radar interface box into the NMEA 2000 backbone. So we ordered this, waited a day, it came in, we plugged it in and then, foolishly, I spent lots of time making connections at the base of the mast look really nice. I secured all the wires and screwed all the wire ties down and made sure nothing will move when bashing into waves offshore. And then, it did not work. That is when we learned that we ALSO need Navico’s proprietary ethernet wire that will run from the mast to the helm Zeus2 display. WHAT? This did not show in the manual! It showed that we could connect it to the NMEA 2000 bus and it would feed to the helm. NO, that will not work, we need the special Navico Ethernet wire. It is part # blah blah blah and it is 50 feet long and it costs $110. Errrrrrrrrrr. Well, I am a Microsoft MCSE Certified Systems Engineer. I have run a lot of ethernet. I will make my own. I must use their proprietary end fittings, but for the 50 feet between the two, I will splice on cat 6 ethernet wire.  So THAT is the last wire I need to run. When that is added, then we will have radar control at the helm on the Zeus2. I can now write my own support manual on how to set up all this gear. Maybe I will!

Here are some photos:

While I worked on the network, Radeen did laundry. Thank you!

Look what I found behind the door, a disconnected NMEA 2000 plug!

The fix, plug it make in and add a wire tie at the bottom to prevent pulling this out ever again.

There it is, the NAC-3 Autopilot displayed on the Zeus2 9 inch screen at the helm,

Dockside configuration complete. The rudder reference needs to know where the stops are.

Notice the rudder reference at the top right.

We finally enjoyed a sunset and a bottle of wine tonite.

Life is good on a cruising sailboat!
We had a great dinner and a nice break from boat work with Drew and Deb of IP380 Shawnee
before they headed home to New England for the holidays.
Sadly, we have no photo of our delightful lunch with John and Honey, the original owners of our IP27, Cinnamon. We have been Spring Cove, Rock Hall, MD, friends since 1991!
It was fun getting to know Mo and George of IP35 Passages
before they also left to go home to New England for the holidays.
(Jim and Laurie of IP350 Kismet were only a few miles away,
but the wind was blowing and so they kept going!)

We are now winding down this B&G network install after 18 days. Today we picked up our Spectra Ventura 200 watermaker. It is time to start that project next. We also received our boom back from Mack Sails with new sheaves for an upgraded reefing design. Radeen and I reinstalled the boom tonight before just sunset. Island Spirit refit #3 is progressing very well. Thank you for following along and thank you for the emails and comments. We do hear from many of you and that is very fun.

New NavPod and B&G Zeus9

…Our NEw NavPod install….

Today, we installed our new NavPod at the helm and cut in the new Autopilot control head. We also added new USB ports and a 12 volt port along with a new LED cockpit light for the dinner table. All of this design is similar to the old NavPod we removed last week, so we did not have to reinvent the ideas, all we had to do was execute the design. This new NavPod came in with the cutout already there for the Zeus2-9.” We needed to cut in the new autoheld controller and mount the RAM mic.

12 Volt to port…USB to stb, bottom of NavPod

The new USB ports are by Blue Seas and the new LED light is bright and made by West Marine. Over all we are thrilled with the new gear and the install. The last task on this electronics refit is to run 12 volt power feed to mast base from the radar switch and to also connect the 12 volt to the Zeus9. Once we do that, the entire new B&G electronics upgrade will be completed. All that will be left is to commission the pilot and test out the compass and rudder references.

In one week we installed this B&G gear….

  • GPS antenna to support network
  • Compass 9 for autopilot
  • Rudder reference connected to the 8″ rudder arm and NAC-3
  • ACP-3 Autopilot computer
  • Triton2 in the cockpit for crew
  • Triton2 at the Nav Desk below decks
  • 4G Radar on the mast at the spreader
  • 508 Wind anemometer atop the mast
  • Zeus2 9″ chartplotter screen at the helm
  • Autopilot controller at the helm
  • New 2″ Thru Hull 
  • New DST 800 depth, speed, temp sensor
  • New NavPod
  • Ran all new NMEA 2000 backbone and tees
  • Removed all old electronics and sold it all on ebay, gone!
  • Pulled out all wires for old electronics
  • New LED steaming light
  • New LED running lights, stern light and mast head
  • New Standard Horizon GPS Explorer VHF with RAM mic
  • Replaced the AIS MillTech Camino radio
Set up boat to live on….
  • Installed all the canvas, sails and enclosure
  • Provisioned, launched and moved to Sunset Bay Marina
It has been a fun busy week, here are the photos of the Nav Pod install…
The navPod as it shipped

12 volt and USB and LED gear to be added

Mounted and wired up with the 12v plug, USB plug and Ram Mic

Layout work

First drill the corner holes

Next cut the area with a Dremel tool

Happy Hayden, we are doing this

Use the Dremel to sand the edges

Screw down the gear using the galley as the workshop

There it is, the back of the chartplotter and the autohelm controller

This equipment is wired into the NMEA 2000 backbone via tees

Bolt it down

USB to starboard on the bottom

LED light for the table at night

12 volt to port

The workshop! Now, clean this up so we can make dinner, which we did!

The new LED light at night, looks great
Thank you all for following along. We are having 500+ visitors a day to this blog. It is great to see the interest once again. Thank you.

IP35 Boom Refit to Single Line Reefing

…Radeen taking the boom to shore…

We have been dealing with the Island Packet internal boom shuttle cars for over 15 years. Guess what? They really do not work well. Just ask any two digit IP owner and they will tell you that they have a terrible time with the reefing system. Well enough is enough with this system. We have decided to remove this poorly designed system and replace it with the standard and simple single line reefing system like on most yachts. You see, the designer of IPs, Bob Johnson, never really went cruising and he never even spent a few weeks out on anchor living on his yachts,

The boom shuttle cars

He also never went sailing on them out in the ocean in 20-25+ knots making a passage to the Bahamas and then try his own reefing system. If he would have, then Island Packet yachts would even be far better then they are . But, since the designer was not an ocean sailor, we the IP owners need to make these yachts better based on our own sailing and cruising experiences, and that is what we are doing. This project we are calling “shuttle cars be gone” because inside the Island Packet boom there are two shuttle car blocks with pulleys. These shuttle cars are there to provide a purchasing power to the reefing system. Well guess what? They jam up, they twist, they knot up, they do not run freely, so we will toss them overboard and give up on living with Bob’s system.

A simple single line reefing sketch

Our solution is to run traditional single line reefing system where the reefing line starts in the cockpit, runs to the mast base, then turns up to the sail reefing point, then down into the boom around the pulley heading back to the end of the boom where it exits and goes up to the aft reef point and then down to the boom where it ties off. Notice, there is no block or shuttle car inside the boom, nothing but a straight line from front to back. To reef, we will simply lower the halyard to a market point just a bit lower than the reef, we will then take up the reef line on a winch making it tight, and then we will raise the halyard and be reefed. To take out a reef we will simply toss off the reef line and raise the sail. No need for a crew member to go onto the deck and pull like a wild man on the “Bob” reefing lines that are jammed up inside the boom. Simply raise the halyard and shake out the reef. Simple!

We really did drive it to Mack Sails

Thanks to Mack Sails, we took off the boom on the mooring ball and took it to shore via the dinghy. Then like crazy sailors, we drove this 14 foot boom to Mack Sails via our car with it hanging out the trunk about 5 feet. It was a crazy idea, but we “got er done!” Tomorrow Mack Sails will deliver the boom back at 8am and we will reinstall the boom. New sheaves will be installed, plus the casting needed to be drilled out and the sheaves needed to be thru bolted so they will not lift UP when reefing. The shuttle car system pulls down but the single line reefing will pull up. So, project  shuttle cars be gone will be a simplified reefing system. We think this will work very well. We will find out soon.

Here are some photos of today….

The IP 35 Gooseneck, a solid design

These front sheaves need thru bolted

Taking apart the gooseneck, we lifted the boom with a halyard

The Island Packet 35 boom is a NB32 casting

These front sheaves will be thru bolted allowing us to pull UP on them

Look at the size of the gooseneck pin!
Nice shape for 33,000 nautical miles

Radeen with the boom on deck, she is such a great helper

Boom be gone, this may work when we take off the mast for the French Canals?

Radeen and the 14 foot boom in the dinghy heading to shore

Yup, it fits onto the car, really????

We had to stop off and mail out our B&G grear via US Post

YAHOO….our new NavPod arrives and it fits

Our boat is starting to look like home as we keep working on it

We are loving Stuart Florida, we just booked into here for a month, why not?

Our new home as we work on the refit with Mack Sails

Radeen is making great meals: Kale salad and chicken
The fire pit at the clubhouse, what a great place

So, our refit is going well, we are soon turning the corner hopefully tomorrow as we will reinstall the boom and then focus on the NavPod at the helm. There we will install the new Zeus2 and the Autopilot control plus the new Ram Mic. Once that is installed, the electronics upgrade is complete. Exciting times, thank you for following along, we enjoy all your comments and emails.