“Killer” is the name of our dinghy – the little boat we carry around with us on Smartini that we use for all local excursions after we arrive in an anchorage. He figures so prominently in our adventures that I decided to give him his own post.

Typical inflatable dinghy. This is what came with Smartini.

Smartini came with a dinghy – a 10′ long RIB (rigid inflatable boat – a little boat with a fiberglass bottom, and big inflatable tubes forming the sides). At least 9 out of 10 dinghies are RIBs, and if all you’re using one for is going between your big boat and shore, I guess they’re OK. But we didn’t like the one we had, so we sold it to a friend, and bought… another RIB. Doh!!!! <Smack forehead with palm of hand>

This is what we thought we were getting.

This one was a little bigger (11′), had a bigger motor (25 horsepower instead of 10 on the first one), and had seats and a console with a steering wheel. (The first one had what’s called “tiller steering” – you steer by holding onto the tiller of the outboard motor with your left hand, which also operates the twist-grip throttle.) And the first time we had four people in it, we realized we had screwed up. There was no room in it, and it wouldn’t get up on plane (run up on top of the water, rather than ploughing through it). And it had the most significant disadvantate of an inflatable – eventually, they become a DEFLATABLE. The seams start leaking, or you poke a hole in one of the tubes, or general entropy takes over, and they lose air, so you’re constantly having to pump them up again.

But this is what it felt like with four people in it.

After a few months of not liking that dinghy, we decided no more RIBs for us – we were going to get a real boat as our dinghy. (A real little boat, to be sure, but a real boat.) I started researching them, and came across someone’s explanation of their dinghy strategy: “we go long distances slowly in our trawler to get to beautiful places – and when we get there, we want to be able to get around those places quickly.” It made perfect sense to Fran and me, so we started looking for little boats that would get four people and some stuff to places quickly. It didn’t take long for us to decide on a 13′ Boston Whaler.

All we knew about Boston Whalers was that they’re incredibly popular with native Bahamians – we’d seen them in heavy use everywhere we’ve been in the Bahamas. We also knew that one would fit in the available space with almost a whole inch to spare! What we didn’t know is that they have an almost cult-like following. The first Whaler was a 1958 model (same as me!), and it was the 13′ – same as ours. We ended up buying one from a nice guy named Drew, after finding it on Craig’s List. (Interesting tidbit – Drew was a Goodyear blimp pilot for the last many years of his working life!)

Drew had a good friend who bought the boat new in 1979. He used it extensivly in the Chesapeake Bay area, and then he passed away about four years ago. His widow felt like he would want Drew to have it, so she gave it to him. He used it for a few years, then it sat in his garage for a few years, so he decided to sell it. Drew’s nickname for his friend was “Killer”, so he put the name “Killer” on the transom of the boat. We liked the story, and liked the name, so we kept it!

Chillin on the beach

Killer just barely fits in the dinghy space on Smartini’s upper deck. He’s hard to get off the boat with the crane, and even harder to get on. I’m not at all happy with the cradle we had made for him to sit in when he’s on the upper deck. If there’s even a 6″ chop, there’s a good chance you’re going to get a little wet at speed. But we LOVE him! He is exactly what we wanted in a dinghy. Four people, up on plane. With just the two of us, he cruises at 16 knots at 3500 rpm – just loafing. Fran and me and full scuba gear, no problem. We can snorkel, scuba, and fish from him. He’s fun to drive. What more could we ask for in a dinghy? He even has a cool, retro-looking 35 HP outboard motor! Yes, Killer will be a major player in the Adventures of Smartini!

1999 Johnson 35 HP 2-stroke outboard, with a cool retro look
Waiting for us to finish feeding the iguanas on Allan’s Cay

Fran’s Salty Tower Garden

This page is dedicated to documenting the process of beginning, and hopefully maintaing an Aeroponic Tower Garden on the upper deck of MV Smartini. I am certain there will be setbacks, but hope, with a little patience and creativity, we can get some food growing onboard. (Arugula for Sondra being the most important!). The initial planting was done on April Fools Day. Blessing? Curse? We will soon see! To read from the begining, CLICK HERE and read entries from the bottom up. Return to this page anytime to read updates. Dated entries will be organized most recent at the top, and I will add photos along the way. Wish me luck!

4/21/2018 – The Tower comes alive!!
The process of finally cleaning the Tower, getting it fully plumbed, and electricity to it, ended up taking a few days due to a few minor set backs. Cleaning out the Tower was a snap, so was installing the pump, and seeing that – YES – the DC pump we purchased to replace the AC one works great! The timer we purchased however, did not, as mentioned in the previous entry. Butch came to the rescue, and built an Arduino to act as the timer and the on/ off for the pump. After a few days of fiddling with the programming to get it just right, it now works like a charm too! Anyone who is actually reading this, is likely curious to see how the Tower goes together, and how it works, so I created a little gallery to show the whole process, enjoy!

Tower construction - extender
The standard Tower comes with 5 rings for 20 growing ports, I got the extention kit that allows for 2 more rings, for 28 grow ports. Go big, or go home!!
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Seedlings, day 14. One lost, and replanted. 5 not yet sprouted.

4/16/2018 – 2 weeks complete.
Two weeks have passed since I started my little seedlings, and 22 out of 28 have sprouted, and seem quite happy. I lost one that I thought would do really well, the snap peas. It was one of the early ones to sprout, and had a really strong stem, but the leaves never opened, and it finally turned to mush. I decided to replant that slot with a second cucumber plant, apparently that gives a better chance I will have both male and female flowers for fertilization. Of the other 5 not sprouted, one is cilantro which should sprout in a week, two are strawberries I should see in 2 weeks, and the other two I fear may not germinate. They are spinach and chard. If I don’t see them in the next 7 days, I will replant with 2 other greens.

I have been doing some more reading on the Tower Garden forums, and the general consensus is to transplant the seedlings into the Tower when you start seeing roots extend out of the growing cubes. We have LOTS of roots! So, Butch and I began getting the Tower ready yesterday morning. I disassembled the entire Tower, and cleaned every nook and crannie. It is unbelievable how dirty that thing got! When we first bought the tower, we decided we needed to change it from using AC power to DC power. That would allow it to consume a lot less energy by not needing to go through our inverter. Butch had already run the DC wiring to the flybridge where the Tower will live. All he needs to do is hook up the pump that sits in the Tower reservoir, and the timer we bought to cycle the water on and off. Simple right? Welllll, the timer I bought doesn’t allow for simple on/ off cycles. It is like the old hose timers that you can set times of day, and only allows for 16 settings. Since we need to start with 15 minutes on/ 15 minutes off, it was too many cycles for that timer to do. Crap.

It turns out, I had no reason to fret. Butch’s most recent obsession… I mean, hobby, is playing with tiny microcontrollers (Arduinos) to automate or monitor random tasks around the boat. It turns out, creating a relay to turn my pump on and off is a fairly simple task for these little goodies. Butch has spent this morning, researching how to make it work, and will build it later today. With any luck, we will have the Tower up and running by tomorrow!! The next entry will be a bunch of photos of how the Tower goes together, and what it looks like with all the little plantings!
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4/9/2018 – Week 1 complete!
We are now 8 days into this grand veggie experiment, and I have 19 of the 28 seedlings spouting, and I am SO proud! I have already begun calling them “the babies”.

In case you are curious as to what exactly I am attempting to grow, here is the list of the 19 that have already sprouted in the Tower (these will be planted from the bottom up):
– Two types of tomatoes
– Small pickling cucumbers
– Small cannonball watermelons (I know, I know, I’m definitely dreaming!)
– Green beans
– Broccoli
– Mint
– Dill
– Snap peas
– Basil
– Two types of arugula
– Three types of leaf lettuce
– Red and green cabages
– Kale
– Bok choy

Here is the list of 9 little guys who haven’t sprouted yet. Never fear, I looked each one up, and we haven’t reached the normal time-frame for germination of each of these, so there is still plenty of hope they will arise!
– Three types of hot peppers. I expect to see these in the next 5-6 days.
– Swiss chard – same story, another 7 days or so.
– Celery – no sprouts expected for another 2 weeks!
– Spinach – these should come in the next 2-3 days, I hope.
– Cilantro – ditto, 2-3 days.
– Two slots for strawberries – these little guys could take as long as 30 days to germinate! I hope it works, I don’t have anymore seeds left for those little beauties.

Stay tuned, I will try to post updates about once per week!

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Plantings 5 days in, more than half have sprouted!

4/6/2018 – Sprouts!!
Holy cow… there are sprouts!! The first three (both arugulas and the kale) were spotted on the 4th, just 3 days after starting them. Today, just 5 days in, I have sprouts for 15 of the 28 plantings. I have the seedling tray in a very sunny warm place inside. I need to keep a close eye on the sprouts to make sure they don’t dislike so much sun. If I see any wilting, I will add a shade net over the top. This will reduce the strength of the sun by about 30%.

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4/1/2018 – Seed Selection
The Tower Garden, with the extension kit, gives me 28 places to grow individual plants. The tower can grow just about anything that is not a root vegetable. Because it is a vertical tower, you need to place smaller things at the top, and the larger bushy items at the bottom. The goal is to allow all plants to get even sunlight, and even watering. The good thing is, you can move them around as they grow to make it all work. I purchased most of my seeds from Johnny’s Seeds, and tried to find all heat-tolerant varieties, since we will have almost constant summer conditions. Since I truly have no idea how this will all work out, my first attempt at plantings is a bit of a “Hail Mary” – a mix of greens (2 kinds of arugula, Sondra!), hot peppers, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, and what the hell… even baby watermelons! This is a soil-less system, so the plantings are made in “rock wool” that holds onto moisure and gives your little seedlings something to start roots into. I made a spreadsheet to keep track of what is what, and to help me know when to replant seedlings if we have success. Time will tell!

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How it all began…
I have a curious habit when it comes to new “things” to try. I generally get super excited about said “thing”, study up and research the best equipment and methods, buy it all in anticipation of starting, then get freaked out that I will fail. The “thing” then sits, collecting dust while I worry daily about starting.

The best example of this was as soon as I was done with dental hygiene school. Suddenly, I had a real income, and no homework or studying to do. What on earth was I going to do with all this new free time? Well, I was going to learn how to play the bass, and be in a rock band, of course! So, I headed to the music store, bought a base and an amp, and then… it sat in a corner of my house untouched for the next 6 months. In this case, my opportunity to finally start, despite my 6 months of worry, came when my then-husband’s bass player moved on, and “Average Joe” was suddenly bass-less. He made me pick up the dusty thing, and with my sweaty hands, he taught me all of the songs for Average Joe, and in about a month, I was onstage rocking out! I had a ball doing this for the next 5 years.

There are numerous examples of this, but the most recent is my Tower Garden. While planning our big island adventure, we realized one of the things that is so hard to get in the more remote islands, is fresh greens and other veggies. Since a big part of our goal is to be as self-sufficient as we can, having an onboard garden makes perfect sense, even if it may be a tad crazy. Commence the research! I found a million websites dedicated to hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics. Build-your-own contraptions, use fish for nutrients, yadda yadda yadda, it was weeks of diving head-first into interweb rabbit holes. Finally, due to space limitations, and our need to keep things as simple as possible, I decided on the aeroponic Tower Garden. It makes the nutrient part of the puzzle a total no-brainer, and easy to carry on-board,  which is what we need. Once I bought it all, I quickly put it together, and on the upper deck, it has stood, collecting more dust than I thought possible, as a great conversation starter, totally void of any plants for a year and a half.

In my defense, there are a million reasons why it has stood unused, all the same reasons that it took us so long to get the adventure started. But, along with all of those totally valid set-backs, I have also worried almost daily about starting it. What will I plant? What if it doesn’t work? What if they grow, then I kill them all? Am I dreaming?

Anyone who knows me, understands that as soon as there is a naysayer about a goal of mine, then I want to set forth, and succeed even more. Enter the Tower Garden “Guru” on the help forum. He has declared that it will not work on a boat. Period. And, he gave a list of reasons why he believes that. HA! “Watch me!” is what I have been defiantly yelling in my head for the past year, as I found ways to address his problem list. Of course, this adds to my worry of starting. What if he is right? Screw that – let the plantings begin!

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Work, Work, Work…

Faithful readers will know that Smartini recently completed yet another longer-than-anticipated haul out (when the boat is out of the water for various repairs, which either can’t, or can’t easily, be done while IN the water). “Why does it always take you guys so long?”, you might ask. “Shut the hell up!!”, I might reply. But no, that would be rude. So lemme ‘splain. No, there is too much – lemme sum up.

This post is a list of pretty much everything we and three vendors did to Smartini from December 4 to February 22. I didn’t try to make it funny, and it’s long, so unless you’re really interested in what it’s like to own and maintain a boat like Smartini, it probably won’t be all that thrilling.

I should point out that a lot of these things didn’t NEED to be done. In fact, all of the  biggest projects were discretionary, and so were a lot of the small ones. We just like to torture ourselves. If you’ve ever done a home remodel project that started with new faucet handles and ended up costing $30,000 for a whole new kitchen, you’ll understand a lot of the psychology that was involved.

Where all the hydraulic magic happens

1. Replace all the hydraulic hoses with new ones. We could have waited until a hose burst, but since that would disable every hydraulic item on the boat (anchor windlass, bow thruster, stern thruster, dinghy crane, and stabilizers), and would have made a helluva mess, and would likely have been difficult to have repaired wherever we happened to be when it burst – we decided to do this maintenance item preventively.  Almost everything in these two pictures was replaced, relocated, or is brand new. Plus at least 300 feet of hydraulic hoses that run between these points, and from them to all over the boat.

Genset hydraulic PTO
New hydraulic motor for stern thruster. It’s about the size of a pack of hotdog buns, and replaces an electric motor that weighed about 70 lbs, and was powered by two 8D batteries weighing 160 lbs. each. Hydraulics are pretty cool!

2. Switch the stern thruster from an electric motor to hydraulic power. We could have left it electric forever, although we would have had to change out the two giant batteries that power it – they were rapidly dying. But the hydraulic motor is stronger, and it can be run non-stop for as long as you need it. An electric motor will overheat if run too long, and we didn’t ever want to really need that thruster, and have it overheat and shut down just when we needed it most. Besides – with those two giant batteries gone, we have a LOT more storage space back there – and I’ve used every bit of it. (See item 17).

One section of Irma damage to the caprail
New rubrail, and new handrail mounting, now that the wood is gone

3. Remove the mahogany caprail from all the way around the boat, and then add a stainless steel rubrail to replace the one that was on the mahogany. Hurricane Irma knocked two sections of the caprail loose, and we could have repaired them. However, we knew that there was some rust forming on the metal lip that the caprail is fastened to, and as long-time readers will remember, Rust Never Sleeps on a steel boat. If we didn’t get rid of the wood eventually, we’d have a lot of rust to deal with one day, and we hate rust! So we decided to bite the bullet and get rid of the wood now, rather than some day later. Fortunately for us, the painters volunteered to remove the caprail, thinking it would be a trivial project. Two men, two days, two big hammers and chisels, and one Sawz-All later, they had it off. After they got it off, and primed and painted it, Fran, Kelly*, and I had to remount the stainless steel handrail, which involved drilling 117 holes, and tapping about 20 of them. (*Kelly is the nephew of Romeo, the man who owns the painting company we used. His help with this project was invaluable – thanks, Kelly!!!)

Separately, another vendor fabricated and installed 3/8″ stainless steel flat stock around almost the entire boat (not the transom – we can’t run into anything back there because of the swim platform), and then reattached the heavy stainless rubrail, which had been attached to the wooden caprail, to this new flat stock. It took two men the better part of two weeks to do this, with all the trial fitting, drilling, and tapping, but they did a great job, as you can tell from the picture.

Custom trim piece on top of tackle center.

Finally, the wood caprail made up the top edge of the dive equipment storage bench and tackle center that Pratt Plastics custom made for us in 2016. Without the wood, there was a nice, big gap for water to get inside, which would eventually have caused rust. Besides, it was kinda ugly. With Richard Pratt’s help on a Saturday, we now have trim pieces to cover those gaps, and they look like they were made that way from the start. Thanks, Richard!

This was a huge project, considering all the aspects of it, but it was something we knew we’d eventually have to do, and now it’s done. We’re very pleased with the result, and as a bonus, we’ll never have to clean and seal the wood again!

Killer – it came with that name, and we like it!

4. We didn’t have to get a different dinghy, but we really didn’t like the last one we had, and visitors DeDeAnn, Heather, and Katie will probably cheer this decision the next time they’re onboard. Of course, a new dinghy meant a new way to store it on the upper deck, so a ridiculously expensive stainless steel cradle was made – which I’m still not happy with (more on that later). But we sure are happy with Killer, our new-to-us 1979 13′ Boston Whaler Sport! (It came with that name, which came with a good story, so we’re going to keep it.)

5. Replace stabilizer fin shaft seals and bearings. Smartini has two big fins that move back and forth under the water to reduce the amount of rolling (side to side movement) we experience, adding greatly to the comfort of a long trip in not-so-calm seas. These fins are hydraulically activated, and I had dealt with the hydraulic actuators last summer when one of them started leaking. But since their shafts go through the hull, there are seals to keep the water out, and bearings to make them move smoothly. We could have waited until we started to see some leakage, but at that point, it would have required a haul out. Doing it now means we don’t have to do it again for at least three, probably four years.

Looking aft along the port bulwarks

6. We could have limited the painting to only those areas that were scratched during Irma, but we had a bunch of little scratches and rust spots developing all around the bulwarks*, so we decided to have all of that fixed and painted, all the way around the boat. (*Bulwarks are the part of the hull that extends upwards above the deck; the part that keeps you from falling overboard as you walk around on the main deck.)

The above items took 95% of the time of all the work done, and maybe even a higher percentage of the cost of all the work done. But as you can see, every one of them either made Smartini better in some way, or addressed a potential problem before it could become a problem. We kept telling ourselves “When we leave the yard this time, we don’t want there to be a single major project that we know needs to be done. We want to go enjoy Smartini for a long time before we have to do a major haul out again.” I sincerely hope we’ve accomplished that!

The list below is in the order that things were completed, simply because that’s how we were using our To Do List – when something was done, we moved it to the bottom of the “DONE” list. (If it were in order of Frustration Level, or Cost, or Value of End Result, it would be sorted very differently.) Here goes!

7. Replace the transducer. This is the device that sends and receives sonar signals from the boat to the bottom and calculates the depth, so you can see it on your various displays. Since Smartini is made of steel, we can’t use the kind that can transmit and receive through the hull, so ours actually pokes through a hole in the hull. That’s why we HAD to haul out – almost everything else COULD have been done in the water, but many of those things would have been much, much more difficult. The transducer we had to replace was new in December 2016 – and they’re supposed to last forever! Why did this one fail after less than a year? No idea.

Air conditioner circuit board. We let all the blue smoke out, so it had to be replaced.

8. Replace the circuit board in the Master Stateroom air conditioning unit. We had the board in the Salon (aka “living room”) unit replaced last summer when it blew. Not long after, the Master unit stopped working, and I suspected its board. I bought a new one (plus a spare – we still have one more unit that hasn’t failed!), and decided to tackle the replacement myself. I wasn’t sure I’d know how to recognize a bad board – but look at the picture!

Too bad our first attempt at a splice didn’t come out this nice

9. Remove the anchor chain, take it to a chain and rope store, and have them add 100 feet of rope. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but we currently have 175 feet of ⅜” stainless steel chain, all of which had to be lowered to the ground (into the trunk of the car), and then hoisted back up onto the boat after the additional rope had been added – about 20 feet off the ground. It was a workout! And then, because the loop that the rope store had spliced into the bitter end of the rope (that’s the end that fastens to the boat, down inside the chain locker) wouldn’t fit through the hole into the chain locker, we had to cut off his very nice splice, and watch about a dozen YouTube videos to find one that showed us how to do it ourselves. This picture is of the SECOND one we did (just for practice). The FIRST one (on the anchor rope) wasn’t nearly as pretty! Guess we should have done the practice one first.

Whatever you do, do NOT push the red button!

10. Install a “Total fuel used” reset button on our fuel flow meter. For some reason, such a button had never been installed, so if you wanted to reset the total (like when you fill the fuel tanks), you had to actually cut off the main batteries to the whole boat for a few seconds. I installed this little red button that lets us reset it to zero whenever we want.

New hull zinc

11. Whenever you have different metals in an electrolyte (salt water is an electrolyte), you create a battery of sorts. So a steel hull, a bronze propeller, a stainless steel propeller shaft, bronze through-hull fittings – all of these things are part of Smartini’s submerged parts, and collectively, they create a very large (although very low voltage) battery. Over time, as electrons flow through the electrolyte from one metal to another, they corrode the “least noble” (think “softest”) metal. You don’t want any of the parts of the boat to corrode, so you add one more part to the mix – some zinc. Zinc is less noble (softer) than all the other parts of the boat, so the zinc is the metal that corrodes. Every so often, you replace the hunks of zinc, so the new ones will corrode, rather than any other part of the boat. Smartini has eight such zincs on her hull, each one weighing about five pounds when new. I removed all of them, cleaned the stainless steel studs that they attach to, and reattached them with new washers and nuts. (They don’t work unless the attach points are clean.) Except one, which was pretty corroded – I replaced that one with a new one.

12. Drill out the mounting tabs for all the new hull zincs we bought. They come with no holes, because every boat’s mounting studs are a different distance apart. Now we have a full set of zincs, drilled and ready to mount, for when the existing ones corrode too much. We can easily do this in the water with scuba gear and a single wrench, whenever needed.

Cabinet doors modified to allow tool drawers to open, while still protecting the eight batteries below

13. Smartini has two three-drawer tool chests mounted under the workbench in the engine room, which is awesome. Under them are the eight “house” batteries (the batteries that run all the lights, the refrigerator/freezers, the pumps, and most of the rest of the electric things on the boat). To keep tools from falling onto the batteries (resulting in a massive shower of sparks and probably a ruined tool, maybe a ruined battery, maybe even an explosion!), the tool chests and batteries are behind some cabinet doors. Which means that every time I needed to get into one of the tool chests, I had to open two cabinet doors, which then kept me from moving fore and aft in the engine room. Doesn’t seem like a big problem, but I tell you, I was constantly cussing this design. Not anymore! I removed the doors, took them to a cabinet shop and had them cut them down to my specs, and then I reinstalled them. I had to relocate the latches, too. But it was sure worth it! Now I can get into my tool chests without opening a cabinet, and my batteries are still protected. The drawers lock in the closed position when underway.

14. We have a really bright handheld spotlight that’s very nice as a backup to our permanently mounted spotlight. (Which I had to repair when we were in Key West.) On our oh-so-bumpy voyage from Key West at the end of November, the handheld light fell from its perch at the flybridge helm station onto the floor with a great THUD, and stopped working. Fortunately, it was only the lightbulb, which is a common automotive halogen headlight bulb. Unfortunately, you have to completely disassemble the whole spotlight to replace the bulb. Which I did.

15. Update the firmware on all of our electronics.

16. Update the charts on our electronic chartplotters. In this case, we actually switched from one provider (C-MAP) to another (Navionics), so Fran had some fun with that! (Not.)

Lots of organized storage, in place of two 8D batteries and a simple shelf.

17. Remove two giant batteries and all the wiring and other wiring and other gizmos for the now-removed electric stern thruster motor from the lazarette, then create a storage area for spares. (You can’t believe how many spare parts we have onboard – and they all have to go somewhere!)

Pretty new hoses everywhere!

18. Replace all main engine coolant hoses. Smartini’s engine, an 838 cubic inch Izuzu Industrial diesel, has fouteen hoses for keeping things cool. Half of them move anti-freeze throughout the engine and between the engine and the keel cooler (our “radiator”, which is on the outside of hull), and the other half move seawater through various heat exchangers (to cool the transmission fluid and the hydraulic fluid), then inject it into the engine’s exhaust, to cool the exhaust and to get rid of the seawater. All in all, it’s about thirty-five feet of hose, involving almost thirty hose clamps, and lots of “chafe guard” to keep holes from getting rubbed into the hoses. It hadn’t been done since the boat was built, so it was way past time. And yes, I did this one all by my lonesome.

New intake selector valve and plumbing, and relocated seawater strainer
Pump relay bypass switch – my first time working with 220V. Hope I did it right.

19. Modify the air conditioners’ seawater cooling system to allow it to be flushed periodically, to clean it out. This was a lot trickier than I thought it was going to be, mainly because I had very little room to add the 2-way selector valve I needed. (See picture.) Also, I had to add a manual switch to engage the seawater pump, so that I can do the flushing without having to fire up one of the air conditioners. (The pump comes on when any one of the A/C units comes on, but there wasn’t a way to run only the pump, for my flushing circuit.) Now, I can run a mild muriatic acid solution through our air conditioners’ cooling lines to get rid of the crud that inevitably builds up inside of them, and don’t have to run the A/C units to do it. I’m actually pretty pleased with myself on this project!

Relocated watermaker sea strainer. The hole you are looking through used to be a wall!

20. Replace all the low pressure hoses that supply water to the watermaker. This also involved relocating the sea strainer (a filter that keeps out big stuff – there’s one in every seawater intake: main engine, generator, air conditioners, water maker), and that was the challenge. It had originally been mounted in a very weird spot that was practically impossible to get to for inspection and cleaning. I cut out a big section of wood to make an opening into a hard-to-reach spot, and remounted the strainer where I can now easily inspect and clean it.

New cradle for new dinghy

21. Create a cradle for our new dinghy, Killer. This was, I believe, the most annoying thing done during the haul out, because the vendor took it upon himself to modify the design from what we had originally agreed on. When I first saw it, still in “rough” condition, I should have yelled “Stop! That’s not what you were supposed to make!” – but I didn’t. I let myself be talked into this new design – and each subsequent modification that was necessary because of the deficiencies of the new design. Well, it’s not what I wanted, but it sure was expensive! However, it works, and that’s what matters, I guess. It just won’t ever be what it was supposed to be. Grrrr….

Four new tie-downs for the dinghy. In boat lingo, they are called “pad eyes”.

22. Add four new tie-downs to the upper deck to make sure we never again have a loose dinghy while underway. Each one involved drilling and tapping three holes in the deck.

23. Remove the hatch lid from the aft deck to the upper deck, take it to have the Plexiglass replaced, and remount it.

It faces the other way now!

24. Remove the hatch on the foredeck that opens into the VIP Cabin and flip it 180 degrees. Because for some strange reason, it was mounted backwards when the boat was built. In other words, when you opened it, the opening faced aft – so almost no air came in through it when at anchor. Future guests – you’re welcome!

L to R: fuel polishing filter, main engine fuel filter, generator fuel filter

25. Replace all three main engine fuel filters, and both generator fuel filters. Add a vacuum gauge to each of the primary filter housings to indicate when it’s time to change the filter cartridge.

26. Paint the bottom of the new dinghy with two coats of primer and one coat of bottom paint.

27. Speaking of bottom paint: apply two more coats of bottom paint to Smartini. Yes, after applying five coats of primer and three coats of bottom paint at the last haul out, we had to put more bottom paint on this time! It turns out that the bottom paint we chose, once it goes in the water, can’t be OUT of the water for more than 72 hours before it needs to be scuffed and re-coated. We were obviously out a lot longer than 72 hours, so we paid our painters to scuff the entire hull, then Fran and I put the bottom paint on. And since we tend to overdo things, we did two coats.

Slide-out trash can in galley

28. Install a pull-out trash can in the galley. Seems like a small thing, but it’s so much nicer than having to drag the trash can out of the cupboard and stuff it back in every time.

29. Disassemble, service, and reassemble the crane that lifts the dinghy on and off the upper deck. This was not a job for amateurs – we farmed it out. And after watching them do it, I’m sure glad we did! Definitely above my pay grade.

Removable section replacing fixed section

30. There’s a stainless steel safety rail running all around the back half of the upper deck. Some of it is fixed, but the aft-most portions are removable so that the dinghy can go on and off. For some reason, they made the section where the crane goes when hoisting or lowering the dinghy a fixed section. Sure enough, the very first time we put the dinghy in the water after we bought Smartini, we lowered the boom of the crane too low, and bent that section of the railing. So we had that section converted from fixed to removable. (That involved cutting and welding stainless, so we didn’t do that job.) Now we can lower the boom as low as it goes and not hurt anything.

New upper deck downspout – one on each side

31. Another bit of Irma damage was to one of our downspouts that drains water from the upper deck. (We added these at the last haul out.) It rubbed (and rubbed, and rubbed, and rubbed!) against the dock piling in Key West, and while it mostly chewed up the piling, it also got pretty bent out of shape in the process. So we had it cut out, and a new one welded in. And because we weren’t thrilled with the ones that were put in originally (not long enough, not enough downward slope), we had the other side done, too.

New boarding gate hinges

32. One of our three side boarding gates banged against a piling during Irma, and bent the heck out of the hinges. So we bought some new, heavier duty hinges, had them drilled to match the old ones (the new ones came with no holes), and re-hung the gate. If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see that we couldn’t get all of the bolts started in the bottom hinge – a project for another day.

33. Another of our boarding gates has always rubbed the deck in one bottom corner, and it takes the paint off, then it rusts. We couldn’t mount the gate any higher, so we decided to have ¾” cut off the bottom. We removed the gate, had someone cut the bottom off and weld a new bottom on, then the painters faired and painted, and we re-installed.

Wow! I’m exhausted just writing about all of that work! Vendors did a lot of it, but still – whew! However, this wasn’t all we had to accomplish during our almost-three months in the yard. In addition, we also had to:

Get the car to the body shop to fix the scratch that they didn’t fix the first time.
Sell the old dinghy.
Register the new dinghy.
Get rid of the trailer that came with the new dinghy.
Buy about 100 things that we’d need for spares, or for future projects, or whatever. Maybe it was 200 things.
Provision for the Bahamas. Fran spent about two days on this alone.
Investigate, choose, then switch us to a service that can handle all of our physical mail, no matter where we are in the world. It’s called St. Brendan’s Isle – a weird name for a very cool service!
Investigate, choose, purchase and set up a satellite phone. Then deal with the police report, and buy another one, when that one was stolen from our galley!
Sell our old underwater camera setup.
Investigate, choose, and purchase a new underwater camera setup.

Side trip to Brooklyn, to deliver Bennett to Pratt

Somewhere in the middle, we flew to Indianapolis, then drove to Brooklyn, NY to deliver Bennett to Pratt Institute, his new venue of higher education.

Can we please, pretty please, pretty please with sugar on top, not have to haul Smartini out of the water for at least two years? Please??????