New Year, New Projects!
Our last blog post brought you up to date with the goals and projects that we achieved in 2020. This year has already begun with many exciting projects for us onboard SV Gemini. Just after the holiday season we installed a brand new Schaefer Marine roller furler, which was one of the big ticket items we knew we wanted from day one of boat ownership. Of course, once we installed the roller furler, none of our existing sails fit the new system. We now sit patiently waiting for Hogin Sails (our favorite family-run sail loft in the Bay Area) to build us a bulletproof 115% cruising jib, which we hope will last us for years to come. Feeling stuck at the dock is our least favorite feeling, so as desperate sailors we rigged up a hank-to-furler temporary conversion to make do in the meantime. We found a way to attach the hanks to the furler using a bunch of Dyneema soft-shackles we spliced ourselves. I’m not sure if we would rely on this method for higher winds, but it did the trick for a low-key afternoon sail from Emeryville to Alameda to our anchorage for the night.
Our next big project was installing an Atlantic Towers solar arch, complete with dinghy davits. This company sells a variety of sizes and designs, all built to be semi-customizable to fit your specific needs. After all, no boat is the same and things are never symmetrical. As marine technicians, we had a client who wanted one installed to hold two big 410 Watt Sun Powered Yachts solar panels, so naturally we couldn’t help but order an arch for our own boat at the same time with the excuse of saving on shipping costs. When the arches arrived, butterflies fluttered in our stomachs, both from excitement but also from seeing the huge, awkward shape of our delivery. Now we had to figure out how to wrangle it onto the top of our small work van. After quite a bit of shuffling and many sailor knots, we found a way to strap each arch down and we were able to deliver one to our client’s boat and the other to Gemini. We were eager to begin installing our arch, although we knew we had to complete client work first before we could spend time upgrading our own boat. As luck would have it, the weather forecast had other plans.
For the next week or so, the Bay Area experienced some of the highest winds of the year and it dumped rain for days on end. We hunkered down onboard, watching our instruments read upwards of 45kts. Being onboard in weather like this makes us very grateful to have a dry, cozy boat with an amazing diesel heater to keep us warm. We spent the rainy days working on client quotes, updating our website and cooking warm wintery foods like cornbread and chili. Finally getting a break in the rain and winds, we got right to work on our client’s install. It took the better half of a week to complete, but boy we were happy with the results! The client expressed his gratitude and excitement to be able to keep his batteries topped up while venturing off the dock for some coastal cruising. The project yielded such great results that we are partnering with Atlantic Towers as approved installers and we hope to install more of these for future customers. This new partnership is perfect since we’ve already been working with Sun Powered for the past 6 months, now being able to offer the full arch and solar package to our clients. If you have a boat of your own and have desires to go solar, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about the install, we would be happy to help in any way we can. If you are determined to do the project your self, consider using our Sun Powered Yachts code: “SPIRITMARINE” to get a 10% discount. This is one small way of supporting us bootstrap sailors, as we receive a small kick-back for each purchase that uses our code.
Here are a couple of photos of our client install:
Next up, was diving into our own arch install. Gemini is a Passport 42, which unlike the well-known Passport 40 is a canoe stern design. This made for a lot more planning and test fitting to find the perfect mounting spot for the arch legs. We determined the best fit would be the forward arms being mounted on the deck, while the stern arms would fit best on the hull. Overall, the arch design was easy to cut and modify to our needs and it came with almost all the fasteners we needed to complete the job. Besides being easily customizable, this arch was easy to lift and test fit since it is built out of 2” aircraft grade anodized aluminum which is much lighter than stainless. Once we got the arch mounted, we transferred our two existing solar panels (2x170Watt Flex panels) onto the arch, getting them off of our bimini, which was another huge plus. We hope to eventually upgrade our solar wattage to increase power production but for now, our 340W do just fine. By moving the panels up and aft, we have already notices an increase in our solar power production, as they are further away from potential shading from our backstay and mast.
We also installed dinghy davit arms so we have the option to hoist up our new-to-us Achilles dinghy when we don’t want to put it up on deck. This will eliminate the problem of having growth on the bottom of our dinghy from leaving it in the water too long. We anchor out 3 days out of the week and use our dinghy as a commuter vessel to get from anchorages to client’s boats, so having easy access is going to be a huge upgrade to our nomadic liveaboard lifestyle. This upgrade will not only make our daily activities easier and more efficient, but also extend the lifespan of our most essential equipment - our commuter vessel! Now, we are working on all the little things: completing wiring for a bright flood light mounted underneath the arch, finalizing a proper hoisting purchase system, among others. After completing countless DIY boat projects, we know that the last 10% always takes the longest. Jack keeps swearing he will get a tattoo that reads “5 minute job” because when it comes to boats, even tiny, simple tasks are liable to take all day.
Overall, we are super impressed with the ease of install of the arch. The design allows for enough modifications that even with our canoe stern we were able to make a perfect fit. We never dreamt that we would be upgrading our boat with an arch (at least not until we were somewhere in Mexico where stainless fabrication is more affordable) so to have found this alternative DIY option was a huge unexpected perk! Every project we knock off the list gets us closer to untying the lines for good. When Gemini became ours almost 4 year ago, she was bare bones with very few upgraded features. This was a blessing in disguise, since we were able to purchase her at a lower cost and also choose exactly what to upgrade and how. With our DIY endeavors we have completed countless projects onboard without breaking the bank, refitting her into our ideal cruising boat. Within the next year or so, we will have all our debts payed off and we hope to set sail cruising by Summer of 2022. Wow, sounds unreal to say that. Cruising feels so close we can taste it and our drive to save and be ready to leave is greater than ever. Stay tuned in the next couple months for more updates as we prepare to head off into the horizon!
Until next time!