1.  Trailering mast support cradle.

Home-made forward mast support bracket for trailering.I built a small cradle that slides over the bow pulpit to support the forward end of the mast securely (just tying it on to the bow pulpit concerns me on the highway).  It would be nice if the factory included something like this with the boat (to complement the aft mast cradle).  This minimizes the amount of time required to rig and derig the boat.  It also gives me a lot more confidence when I am trailering, knowing that the front of the mast is securely attached to the boat, instead of tied in a haphazard fashion to the bow pulpit.  This cradle is constructed of two pieces of 1/2" exterior grade plywood with 1" thick hardwood spacers.  The edges are grooved naturally (where the 1/2" plywood is separated by a 1" gap), and covered with exterior grade carpeting.  It simply slides over the tubing for the bow pulpit.  The mast rest is also covered with exterior grade carpeting.

2.  Main Halyard winch.

I have found it impossible to obtain sufficient luff tension with the normal halyard arrangement.Mast mounted winch for halyard tension, and aluminum boom for better mainsail shape.Close up of mainsail halyeard winch The boat comes with a block that attaches to the headboard of the sail, giving you 2:1 purchase when pulling up the sail.  A downside to this is that often the block flips over due to the sail luffing while hauling it up, and the metal edges of the block do not work as well as the ball-bearing wheel.  The manual tells you to tension the halyard until the top of the mast bends backwards slightly.  This is very difficult to do without much mechanical advantage.  My solution? Mount a winch on the mast for the main halyard.  The simplicity of sail control seems to lend to bad upwind performance.  Tacking through 120-130 degrees is unacceptable, especially when you are in an area of strong currents (try sailing up river while tacking back and forth... after a while you have to just motor when you are facing 4 knots of current).  The large sag in the luff of the sail was a large part of the problem.

Diagram of winch mounting with two mounting blocksThe block inside the mast allows for strong throughbolting and spreads the load across the surface of the mast.The winch is mounted on a hardwood block which was contoured to match the shape of the mast.  To ensure precise fit, after shaping I spread a layer of epoxy filler over the block, and pressed it up against the mast (covered with aluminum foil) and let it set.  I also shaped a hardwood block to fit inside the mast, and contoured it to fit perfectly in the same way.  This interior block provides a flat surface for the throughbolts, and spreads the load uniformly across the entire mast cross section.  I chose to bolt the winch rather low down, in the section where the interior aluminum tube and the carbon fiber tube are concentric.  The winch had to be mounted on the front or back of the mast, since the manual clearly instructs you not to drill holes through the side of the mast, but only through the 1, 5, 7, and 11 o'clock positions.  I mounted it on the front, so it wouldn't get in the way of the boom vang.
Notice the tywewraps attached to the VHF antenna wire on the inside of the mast. Attaching 3 tyewraps with the tails cut off to about 2-3, arranged so the point at 120 degree angles to each other ensures that there will be no wire or halyard slapping inside the mast. The tyewraps do not interfere with the internal halyards. I believe that this is the best way to do this; fiddling with attaching pipes inside the mast is a PIA, and spray in foam is a disaster (will eventually absorb water, adding alot of weight, interfere with halyards, and make it impossible to add or replace mast wiring in the future)."


3.  Aluminum boom with boom vang and jiffy reefing lines.

Advantage of a 360 degree rotating mast... can completely depower the main with the wind aft...Boom Vang is important for sail shape when running down wind I also got rid of some of that much vaunted simplicity, and replaced the lower fiberglass batten with a conventional aluminum boom.  I did this for 3 reasons:

A. To allow addition of a boom vang for sail control downwind.  This has always been one of of my first modifications to any sailboat I have owned.  It is critical to have a boom vang to keep the main from dumping air when running off the wind.  The stock arrangement had no place to fasten the vang to.  Alot of the boat reviews of the Seaward 23 at Sailnet Boatcheck have mentioned problems with the boom lifting while jibing and tearing the main.  The boom vang is the obvious way to prevent this.

B. To allow use of the typical block and tackle arrangement to tension the foot of the sail.  It is difficult to obtain proper foot tension with the velcro pocket used for the lower batten.  It is also impossible to adjust this tension (to make it tighter) when the sail is up and you are sailing.

C. To allow use of conventional jiffy reefing lines.  The stock arrangement has tie down lines which you use to bundle all of the excess sail onto the fiberglass batten.  There is no reefing cringle at the clew of the reefpoint. The problem comes in that it is difficult to tension the foot of the sail after a reef is taken in heavy winds.  You end up with a poorly shaped (although smaller) sail which makes your upwind performance go almost to nothing.  Not a good situation when you need to reef.

Tack and clew aluminum castings allow internal reefing lines and outhaul, and have integrated cam cleats.

Built in cam cleats allow easy reefing and control of the puthaul while keeping lines out of sight inside the boomGoose neck modified by welding to a flat bracket to allow mast to swivel instead of goosneck in the horizontal plane.The boom came from Dwyer spars.  It is the DM375 extrusion, with internal lines for reefing and outhaul.  The tack casting has integrated cam cleats for the reefing lines, which is a pretty clever arrangement.  I had the gooseneck modified by a friend of mine, since with the rotating mast, I only need a gooseneck that pivots in the vertical direction.  The tack bracket (part number DH3051) was simply welded to a flat stainless steel plate (1-1/4" x 6"), which was bolted to the mast in place of the previous gooseneck (using the existing bolt holes).

I had a local sail loft recut my mainsail to get rid of the lower batten pocket, and to install a clew and reefing point cringle.  In addition, I had reinforcements sewn where the reef cringle was added.  I do not have the ability to go back to the stock arrangements, nor would I want to.  Both the winch to tighten the main halyard and the aluminum boom seemed to have added about 15 degrees to my pointing ability..

4.  Harken mainsheet traveler.

Traveler mounted at forward end of cockpitSecure backing plates are important on all sailing hardwre.To improve upwind performance, I mounted a Harken mid-range traveler to the front of the cockpit.  Even though this is a large boat, the large sail area of the main (190 sq ft) requires the larger size traveler.  I used high-beam track, since it must bridge the 30" wide span between the seats.  The seats have an end-grained balsa core, laid over 3/8" plywood.  I drilled 1/2" holes through the seats, and dug out the balsa core in a 1.25" circle using a bent nail chucked into a drill.  I filled the void with west epoxy with a high density filler, and redrilled the 1/4" mounting holes through this plug.  This prevents crushing of the balsa core, and prevents water migration into the balsa or plywood.  The track was through bolted with 8 bolts and a 2" wide aluminum backing plate.  This should provide plenty of strength (since the original mainsheet attachment point didn't even have a backing plate).  When sailing a cat-rigged boat, the main-sail is controlled trimmed somewhat more like a genoa then like a main sail.  This means that the boom is maintained generally pointing at the aft leeward corner of the boat.  The traveler allows the main sheet to be maintained vertical, which eliminates twist in the mainsail, providing a more powerful shape.  This means that the whole width of the traveler is not needed, since the boom isn't pulled up to centerline.  A better choice for installation would have been a 30" long traveler, mounted on the step between the seats instead of on the seats.  It turns out that this would have been just as useful a location and width of traveler, without stealing as much space from the cockpit.  The boat now has decent windward performance, tacking through an angle of 75-80 degrees.  It makes about 100-105 degree tacks according to the GPS, which accounts for leeway.

5. VHF radio.

VHF radio is an important saftey feature aboard small boats.I mounted a Raytheon 45 VHF radio underneath the companionway.  I mounted the antenna on the masthead.  The coax cable runs inside the mast, with 3 tie-wraps spaced every foot.  This eliminates any cable slap inside the mast (it also effectively stops the halyards from slapping inside of the mast as a bonus).  The coax cable has a disconnect at the hinge point, and runs down inside the mast through a hole drilled in the lower mast bearing.  I chose to put in a fixed mount VHF radio instead of getting a handheld for the increased range from a higher antenna.  This means all the coax is out of sight, and that I didn't have to drill a hole in the deck for an electrical feedthrough.

6. Autohelm ST-1000 Tillerpilot.

Everyone says this is the best addition to their boat. Since I often single-hand this boat, I felt it was necessary.  In a boat this small, shifting your weight around will cause the boat to change directions.  Going up to the mast to raise or lower the sail, and then having to rush back to the cockpit to readjust the position I locked the tiller in was getting old.  Additional parts are needed to mount the body.  On the Fox, the cantilever mount, cut so it is about 2" long is the best solution.  It is mounted on the back of the port cockpit seat.  The autopilot has a small 3/16" diameter pin that just inserts into a hole on the top of the bracket.  The pushrod on the tillerpilot needs a 6" extension so it reaches all the way from the tiller to the edge of the boat.   A small 1/4" diameter pin is epoxied into a hole in the tiller, and is gripped by the end of the autopilot's pushrod.  The tillerpilot interfaces with my LMS-160 gps to give additional toys for me to play with underway.

7. Lowrance LMS-160 fishfinder, GPS, chartplotter.

The LMS-160 is mounted on a swing-away arm inside the cabin.This is the only electronic gadget you will every need on your boat.Wow!  Now this is a nice little unit. I could have used this when I was making landfall based on dead reckoning, and using an AM radio in a cooking pot as a crude RDF (yeas, that works).  This unit has it all: charting, GPS, fish finder, knotmeter.  The screen is 100% configurable; you can display any piece of data anywhere you want it.  All of those boxes you see on the screen can display anything you want, and you can change the size of the boxes if you want. This ensures that only the info you consider vital is shown on the screen.  It uses a IMS CD-ROM to load maps and nav-aids for the location of interest.  You can also use some shareware software to create your own maps.  Navionics charts on floppy disk are available, but the unit only has 2 MB of memory (the chart of the Charleston Harbor I have is 1.03 MB... unfortunately, that means it occupies BOTH 1 MB memory partitions, so I  can't have another map loaded at the same time).  I felt this unit was more cost-efficient than buying a sailboat depthfinder and knotmeter separately. It is incredibly useful.  I normally sail on Lake Moultrie, and unfortunately the best (free) launch ramp in the area is at the end of a 3/4 nm unmarked channel.  The first time through I was running into tree stumps. Now I have charted the channel on GPS, so it is easy to find my way back in.  Plus, the  fishfinder provides you with immediate indication of when you drift out of the channel.  Much more useful than just a numerical depthfinder, since it shows you the trend of water depth.  I have it mounted on a swing-out bracket inside the boat.  The only problem with this might be trying to use it during inclement weather, but I have not had to deal with this yet.  While this is an expensive addition, I felt it was worth it.  If you don't feel like springing quite so much cash, I would recommend getting a GPS/fishfinder combo.  Since you can add a speed sensing transducer to these units, they end up to be comparably priced to buying sailboat depth/speed instruments. I attached the transducer by liberally gooping it with silicone adhesive, and attaching it to the inside of the hull underneath the vee-berth. There are alot of theories about this, with people swearing that you need to fiberglass tubes to the inside of the hull filled with oil to float the transducer, or carefully epoxy the transducer to the hull. Not necessary; it is much simplier just to use silicone adhesive, and it work great.

8.  Cabin lighting.

More cabin lighting is needed on this boat.I spent eight months once on a small sailboat using only a small Dietz kerosene lantern ($6.99 K-Mart special) for lighting.  While this works, I prefer not to have to deal with the soot accumulation on the ceiling caused by improperly trimmed wicks, and the eye strain brought from insufficient lighting.  The Fox came with a small reading lamp installed in the starboard quarterberth.  I added to this by installing a Guest dual fixture (red/white) fluorescent lamp on the overhead.  This provides an acceptable level of ambient light in the cabin.  If I had to do this again, I would have chose the dual bulb whit fixture instead, so I have the option of doubling the interior lighting when desired. I will probably also install another reading lamp for the port quarterberth.  I have purchased a rechargeable handheld 500k CP spotlight, and a Davis portable mega-light to use as an anchor light.  The latter is quite a useful device.  It has a 15' cord, and I can use it as a trouble-light for looking around all the dark spaces in the boat.

The next challenge is to figure out some arrangements to provide interior lighting inside my cockpit tent.  I will probably use two spot-light type halogen lamps attached to the middle bimini support bow.

9. Electrical system

A quality circuit breaker panel is an impotant addition to your electrical system.
The boat came with a 4 switch sea-dog fused panel.  It is a pretty cheap panel (two of the fuse holders keep popping out), and I soon had multiple components wired off of each switch.  It was located at floor level underneath the stbd quarterberth.  The electrical connections were at risk if any water gets into the bilge.  Originally, I intended to replace this panel with two 3-circuit breaker panels mounted side by side.  Unfortunately, due to a strip of structural reinforcement inside the quarterberth which I was hesitant to cut through, there was not room for this.  The only viable mounting location to keep the connections out of the bilge, keep it away from where it can get accidentally kicked, and to have sufficient room to mount all the electrical panels that I needed (since I like gadgets) was horizontally underneath the hinged panel on the port side of the boat (where a stove is supposed to be mounted).

Plwood box to protect the back of the electrical panelPanel box installed in boat with 3M 5200I installed  blue sea 8 breaker and 3 breaker DC panels and a 3 breaker AC panel.  I built a plywood backing box to protect the back of the panels from any water that might splash from the bilge, and to completely enclose all the 120V buswork.  It is important to protect the exposed buswork from moisture which can cause corrosion, and to protect people from exposed 120V buswork. The box has 3 separate compartments (the DC panels are linked by a large hole between them).  ABYC standards require that the AC buswork/panel be physically separated from the DC, so the box  completely encloses the back of the AC panel with a separate compartment.  The box is constructed of 1/4" plywood, that is taped together with epoxy and fiberglass tape on the seams.  There are 3/4x3/4 square dowels at the corners of each compartment to bolt the panels to the box.  This provides a very sturdy box, and ensures that it is splashproof.  The box provides support for the fiberglass that the panels are mounted on, since the removal of the fiberglass caused a slight bow in the remaining fiberglass in this area. I chose to build the box instead of install the ready made plastic boxes because this box will provide the rigidity required.  Both a bead of 3M 5200 along the entire top lip of the box and the 12 panel mounting screws hold it in place.  All of the wiring is lead through carefully sized holes to minimize any unnecessary openings in the box.  I ensured I planned for future gadgets by wiring up my two currently unused breakers to a sufficient length of ancor duplex 14 gage wire, and tie wrapping it out of site below the quarterberth (it would be very difficult to drill holes and feed wires through the backing box now that it is glued in place).

I chose to use two group 24 batteries, in battery boxes installed to port and starboard of where the portapotty is located.  I made the mistake of using a group 27 on my last boat... the group 24's at 55# are manageable, but the group 27 at 70# is just over the edge and can be a killer to wrestle around.  The group 24's fit through the supplied access ports into the veeberth, while the group 27 is too large.

I installed a statpower True-charge 10 amp battery charger to port outboard of where the electrical panel is (The statpower chargers got excellent reviews in Practical Sailor).  This means that I won't have to tote around my "ship and shore" battery charger when cruising, or go through the pain of rooting around underneath the vee-berth to attach the battery clips.  This will eliminate one more thing to clutter the cabin while cruising.  Since the vee berth and quarterberths form one big compartment, the batteries and charger are located in the same compartment.   I installed stainless steel vents for both the battery and the battery charger (I am considering putting a small 2" muffin fan on each of the battery vents to provide forced ventilation, which will operate only when the battery charger is energized).  The batteries have 6 gauge cables connecting the positive leads to a power post, and 6 gauge wire connecting the negative leads to a Heart Link 10 battery shunt.  The battery charger is connected directly to the power post, and the load side of the shunt.  10 gauge duplex wire runs from the power post and load side of the shunt to the electrical panel.

I installed a minimal shore power system.  The blue sea three breaker AC panel  (master plus one breaker) provides power to the battery charger and one electrical outlet.  The shorepower receptacle is mounted inside the anchor chain pipe.  This chain pipe was kind of useless, since it doesn't actually fall straight down into a locker, but goes forward about 3", and then down the front of the boat.  This boat is too small to need anchor chain on the anchor, and I normally keep the anchor line looped in a bundle tied to the bow pulpit when sailing.  I installed a plug made out of plastic the size of the chain pipe to completely block it, and mounted the electrical shorepower socket on the plastic.

I installed the Heart Interface Link 10 battery monitor.  This provides the ability to precisely determine amp hours expended from the battery, and time remaining on the battery at current discharge rate.  Kind of expensive, but the ability to closely monitor the "fuel" remaining in the battery is important to me on a boat where I don't have a means to charge the battery except when tied to the dock. The ammeter mode allows you to track what current battery load is, which sensitizes you to maintaining a minimum of equipment running.  The amp-hour mode counts up toward when you should perform a battery charge to protect your batteries (recommended that you charge them when they are 50% discharged... with a 160 amp hour bank like mine, I should charge them when I get down to 80 amp-hours.  There is also a time remaining on the battery function, which estimates time until the battery drops below a minimum voltage (11 V) based on current discharge rates.  When I was sailing on my extended cruise, one night after dark on the Lake St Luc (St Lawrence Seaway) our battery went dead (the outboard alternator wire had broken during the day).  No lights, no depth sounder in a busy shipping channel (fortunately, we had backup kerosene running lights, but have you ever tried to read channel marker numbers by the light of a dietz storm lantern?).  With the Link 10, I would have known of this problem immediately.

I installed a row of 5 rocker switches on the vertical section next to the Link 10.  These include 2 momentary-ON switches for manual operation of my two bilge pumps, and 3 switches to provide control of navigation lights (bow bicolor light, stern/anchor light, foredeck light).  I installed two combo foredeck/masthead lights about 10' up to serve as a 360 degree steaming light (allowed combo masthead light and stern light for small boats under power) and an anchor light.  The stern/anchor light rocker switch allows me to select sailing navigation lights (red/green/stern) or motoring nav lights (red/green/all around masthead light).  I am not fond of anchor lights 35' off the water, since the drunk boater at midnight doesn't notice them, and ends up ramming you.  I also installed a 12V outlet next to the 120V outlet.  I am not a big fan of the typical 12V "cigarette lighter" outlets, but I have too many 12V gadgets and it would be too expensive to convert them all over to little 12V plugs (and then they wouldn't work in my truck).

I have a 30 Watt Unisolar flexible battery charger, which I attach to the top of my bimini while cruising.  This is attached to a Morning Star Sun-light charge controller, to provide regulated charging voltage to the batteries to prevent cooking them.  The solar panel provided about 10 amp-hours of charging each day during my recent cruise of the North Channel of Lake Huron.  This was more then sufficient to make up for power used for depth sounder, cabin lights, anchor lights, pumps, etc.  Even when shore power was available when I am cruising, I don't bother to plug in to use my battery charger, as the batteries are always topped off.  Guess I will need to find some more gizmos to consume all the extra power I am generating.  A side benefit of the sunlight controller is it turns my anchor light on at dusk and off at dawn, conserving a few extra amps.

The solar panel was a very convenient arrangement; for the most part, I forgot it was even there.  We usually cruise all the time with the bimini up, and with it mounted out of sight on top, it usually had a pretty good shot at not being shaded.  The alternative to the Unisolar was a conventional non-flexible panel, which is about 1/3 the size for the same power rating.  The downside of the rigid panels is where to mount them.  The only available space was on the sliding hatch.  This not a real good choice, since it is a location which is usually shaded.  A conventional rigid solar panel only provides 15% of the rated power when only 10% of the panel is shaded.  The Unisolar has "triple junction" construction, which provide about 85% of rated power when shaded.  This would be a better choice to mount on the hatch,  but due to it's much larger size, just wouldn't fit.  The flexible solar panel on the bimini cover is definitely the best of all worlds.

I am tired of dealing with poorly built and run electrical panels on my last two boats, and intend to ensure this one will be problem free (all ancor duplex wire, good quality ring type terminals only and quality circuit breaker panels).  I spent time on my 8 month cruise rewiring the electrical system with a kerosene lantern and a butane soldering iron when 50 miles offshore in six foot waves.  I made this electrical system a bit more bulletproof, and a little less spaghetti like.

10.  Freshwater system.

Shurflo pump and accumulator and strainer all screws together into a compact package.The hand sprayer for showering, cleaning dishes, and filling mugs.  It is all-purpose.The cabin on this boat is small, and once you load it up with gear for two people for a week, it gets even smaller.  The water jug is always in the way or buried underneath gear. My wife also wasn't a big fan of using a jug of water to rinse off with.  I mounted a plastimo 13.2 gallon flexible water tank underneath the vee-berth, and a Shurflo 1.6 gpm three chambered diaphragm pump under the stbd side of the vee-berth.  The accumulator tank and inline strainer screw directly onto the pump, making it easy to mount.  Since all the water usage occurs in the cockpit (cooking or washing inside a boat this small just doesn't work), I mounted a small recessed hand sprayer (with a 6' hose) in the cockpit underneath the stbd seat. I am considering a small capacity pump (1 gpm), with a tap in the cockpit underneath the stbd seat.  The shurflo pump works off a pressure switch, so as soon as you depress the valve in the hand sprayer, the pump starts.  This is definitely a big convenience.

I also added a  saltwater washdown pump with a through hull and a faucet in the cockpit.  I carry a hose with a hand sprayer to screw into this. This allows for unlimited water use for saltwater showers (or freshwater when sailing in a lake), as well as add a convenient way to wash dishes, hose down the anchor, etc.  This was one luxury item my wife insisted on, since she could not stand going for days on end while cruising remote locations without a shower.

11.  Bilge Pumps.

Diapragm type bilge pump is more relaible and can pump the bilge almost dry.Rule 2000 pump provides decent emergency dewatering capability.
Bilge pumps are important for both comfort and safety.  The comfort comes from keeping the bilge dry: a small amount of water can make the bilge start smelling, and raise the humidity in the boat. I installed a electrical diaphragm type bilge pump (Whale gulper 220) to solve this problem.  The bilge is very round, and the typical centrifugal pump does not work well for this application.  The centrifugal pump impeller must be underwater to pump, so it cannot pump the last 3/4" or so out of the bilge.  In a flat bilge, this can be alot of water.  The diaphragm type pump will vacuum up all but the last 1/4" or so.  I mounted the pump upside down underneath the front of the vee-berth.  Another advantage of the diaphragm pump is it is self priming and can be (must be) mounted outside of the bilge, which avoids having any electrical connections in the bilge. During my last trip, I had a small amount of water (2 gallons/day) which seemed to be coming from my forward keel bolt. This collected in the forward end of the boat underneath the mast.  I quickly got tired of bailing it out with a sponge and a bucket twice a day.. The Whale gulper isn't a very high Access hatch in the bow simplified installation.  2 bilge pump overboard discharges, potable water fill line, and shore power cable are visible in this picture.A plastic can holder made a convenient mounting bracketcapacity pump (220 gph), so I also installed a Rule 2000 centrifugal pump with a float switch for emergency dewatering.  This is mounted under one side of the vee-berth.  I used a plastic can holder mount to allow it to be bolted onto the bulkhead (since I would never screw something straight onto the hull, and the only mounting holes for the pump are on the bottom).  I mounted both overboard discharge through hulls at the bow of the boat, about 18" above the waterline.  The hull seemed to have a 1/16" thick balsa core, which I scribed out as much as I could with a nail, then sealed the edges of the hole with 3M Blister and Repair filler (this is great stuff... it is a vinylester resin with a high density filler... by far the easiest solution when mounting hardware through a cored deck). Each pump has it's own discharge, on opposite sides of the hull.  The bilge pump hoses make an upward loop to avoid getting water inside if the bow plunges down due to wave action.  The cabin liner leaves about a 10" by 8" empty space along the stem of the boat, with a handy 8"x10" access cover, which simplified installation.

12. Cockpit Enclosure.

This is definitely one of the most important modifications I have made.  I had my local sailmaker sew a cockpit tent, which consists of 4 pieces which zipper onto the bimini top.  This allows this 17' boat to provide as much interior room as a 25' boat at anchor.  The cockpit has standing headroom underneath the bimini.  I built plywood boards to bridge the cockpit footwell, turning the cockpit into a large bed for sleeping at night.  The enclosure has 3 windows screened windows, with covers that zip down to provide privacy at night.  This enclosure also provides privacy while showering in the cockpit, using the washdown pump and nozzle I installed.   Since the mainsheet must have about 5-10# of pressure on it to keep the mast slightly bent, the sailmaker sewed a reinforced patch with webbing loops inside and out.  When installing the front section of the enclosure, the mainsheet is attahced to the loop inside the enclosure, and a small line from the outside loop is run to the boom.  This avoides having any un-necessary penetrations in the enclosure.  The cockpit tent snaps onto snaps screwed into the from of the sliding hatch, and 3 snaps mounted on either side of the cabin.  The remaining snaps are all mounted using existing bolts in the rub rail.

Interior is very roomy.

13.  Miscellaneous modifications.

Boarding ladder is a good idea even on a small boat.  The exhaust port to the left of the ladder is for my heater.This telescoping ladder folds up neatly out of the way.Boarding ladder mounted on the stern. I chose not to order one installed at the factory, and I am sorry I did not.  The biggest advantage of a boarding ladder would be to allow easy access onto the boat in the parking lot while rigging it, as well as making climbing on the boat easier while swimming.  The ladder I chose is a three step telescoping ladder.  It fits neatly on the stern, and folds up out of the way.

Replaced mast drain through-hull fitting.  The builder created a through-hull (right at the waterline) for the mast drain by screwing a 1/2" NPT-nipple into a hole in the hull and gooping on some 3M-5200.  I am of the opinion that through-hulls are one of those things you should do properly, and every through-hull should be backed by a seacock.  The old fitting popped out by just tugging on it.  I replaced it with a 1/2" marlon through-hull and a marlon sea-cock.

Compass is mounted where someone will not sit in front of it.Installed a bulkhead compass.  While the GPS is incredibly useful, sometimes you just need a magnetic compass. This provides backup navigation information if the GPS malfunctions.  The heading information provided by the GPS is only worthwhile if the boat is making headway.  On light wind, little movement days it is impossible to get heading data from the GPS that is useful for helming.  I installed a plastimo mini contest compass on the vertical riser of the step at the forward end of the cockpit.  The traditional location on the aft cabin bulkhead is usually inconvenient to the helmsman, since half the time someone is leaning against it, blocking it from his view.

Secured the lower mast extrusion in place.  The only thing which prevented pulling out the lower mast extrusion was a single hose clamp.  This made me somewhat nervous, because if this hose clamp slipped about 1", the lower mast extrusion could jump out of it's lower bearing, which would place an incredible amount of torque on the remaining bearing at deck level, and probably tear it out.  I solved this by placing 5 bolts with plastic spacers uniformly tapped uniformly around the extrusion just underneath the upper bearing.  This ensures the lower extrusion cannot move upward at all.

Add backing plates to all hardware.  None of the cleats, stantions, motor mount, or rudder gudgeons have backing plates.  This seems to invite serious problems, so I will add backing plates in all these places.

It won't take much of a heater to make this little cabin toasty.Heater.  During my 8 month live-aboard cruising trip, I lived in an unheated sailboat with temperatures outside down to 10-15 degrees in Montreal.  I was younger then, and unmarried (my wife definitely wouldn't put up with that). While I do live currently in a quite temperate climate (South Carolina), it does get cold at night in the winter.  Since I am using this boat for overnight trips, the heater will allow me to extend my cruising season and still keep my wife happy.  I am installing a very small forced air kerosene heater onboard.  I chose this heater because there was no room in the boat to install a pot-type heater, and I wanted to stay away from installing any propane system in the boat.

This should be enough to keep me busy for the rest of the year (or longer if my wife cuts up my credit card after all the money I spent getting the boat outfitted for basic cruising).

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