On one of my recent trips between Santa Cruz and Año Nuevo, my mast-mounted tri-color navigation lights failed due to saltwater intrusion that corroded the above-deck junction. The bow bi-color light signal cable connection was also damaged twice by minor rubbing against dock boxes. It was time to protect Grace’s electrical system from various vulnerabilities to saltwater and collision.
I eliminated the above-deck disconnect junctions by running a new RG8X coaxial cable from my VHF radio to the antenna and new wiring from a waterproof below-deck junction box through the mast to the steaming light and the mast-mounted anchor and tri-color light. I used better heat-shrink step-down butt joints to make water resistent junctions to the lights. The rigger who had wired the mast previously just used electrical tape. The wires pass through a new cable clam that will keep the water out better than my previous setup.
I protected the Victron shunt in a waterproof junction box. It is located below the v-berth in an area decently protected from water. However, since it is not a waterproof piece of equipment, having it unprotected seemed like a vulnerability for my entire DC electrical system. I also connected the wires to my battery charger in a more waterproof junction box.
Lastly, to fix the vulnerability of the signal cable connection to the bi-color light. The light was repaired by Weems & Plath. I brought the bow pulpit to a local metalworker who fabricated a guard using some spare pieces of metal he had lying around the shop. It turned out looking very nice. Hopefully, this will prevent future damage to the signal cable.
Painting the bottom
I have been using Pettit Hydrocoat ECO ablative bottom pain on my boat for the past four years. Although I love how easy it is to apply this water-based paint, I am starting to doubt whether it is a better ecological option than copper-based hard paints. Plus, on the Central Coast, it only lasts about a year and a half before needing to be replaced. I may look into other options in the future. I also buffed and waxed the topsides.
Fixing hairline cracks
Hairline cracks were present near the deck holes for the shroud eye bolts. Small amounts of water were penetrating through the deck, which over time could have led to corrosion of the eye bolts. Using a Dremel tool, I drilled about a quarter inch of fiberglass below each eye bolt. I then filled those spaces in with a structural epoxy. The eye bolts will completely cover the epoxied areas, so there was no need to protect the epoxy from UV exposure with paint or gelcoat. One eye bolt had been bent too much to reuse, but the other three eye bolts were still straight enough. Since rebedding and the four eye bolts with butyl tape, I have not noticed any leakage.
Reattaching cabinet hinge
One of the brass screws for the cabinet hinge snapped. I shifted the location of the hinge slightly to install a new screw. It was an easy fix, and the cabinet door works perfectly.
Winslow raft and velcro straps
Given the amount of coastal cruising I do, I decided to invest in a Winslow life raft. It was the best option in terms of weight and performance. The raft is now stowed in the v-berth, which seemed like the dryest place for it. I removed the cushions from the v-berth and tried to keep it uncluttered when cruising to make sure that in an emergency, I would be able to retrieve the life raft quickly. To keep items from moving about, I added heavy-duty velcro straps that attach to the v-berth with adhesive. Using the v-berth for storage of sails, line, and the life raft seems to keep the boat well balanced. I may eventually decide to move the life raft to the lazarette for easier access, but this would not be as dry a location, and it also may be too much weight in the aft.
Regular service and maintenance
I kept up with the typical maintenance, including the annual outboard service, bottom cleaning, and greasing the winches.