Happy Mark

Another month flips past in what feels like days.  The List is long, but projects are getting crossed off at pace now.  

Mark is very efficient with projects once they get started.  Usually, he’s researched the thing to death and visualized it many times over… perhaps even with a mock-up… before diving in.  

June was a productive month!


Finishing up from the electrical overhaul, the panel in the saloon was a good place to locate the remote modules for electrical monitoring.  We like to keep track of daily power use, as well as specific power accumulation and appliance consumption where possible.   

Remote panel

The power service that we use dockside needed a complete replacement.  The original was highly modified from two 30A service to a 50A and 30A service that was questionably wired.  We installed a Smart Plug with a 50A service. Mark added a galvanic isolator to the shore power input and optimized the AC safety ground on the boat.

Smart Plug for 50A service

Electrical projects:

  • Installed remote electrical panels

    • Morningstar solar remote

    • Victron inverter/charger remote 

    • Balmar SG 200 battery monitor

  • Rewired runs for autopilot drive motor to 8 AWG

  • Replaced and rewired 2 outlets with 20A circuits

  • Installed 50A Smart Plug & new inlet ~ rewired plug and breaker

  • Installed galvanic isolator for 50A service

  • Installed 50A shore power RCD (residual current device) ground fault interrupt

  • Moved AC safety ground for the boat to single bus bar


We installed our favorite makes of navigation gear, based on our research and experience from previous refits. The NMEA 2000 backbone makes it possible to mix and match vendors’ gear in any combination desired.

New navigation suite

Delivering the boat from Antigua to the States with other gear only reinforced our preferences.  All equipment being replaced are being sold in forums and on eBay, easing the pain of our huge Defender order just a little bit.

One advantage of our new autopilot installation is that we are keeping a Raymarine autopilot controller and head installed as a spare.  We’d always planned to have autopilot redundancy for our future cruising plans farther afield.

Navigation projects:

  • Installed Standard Horizon VHF radio head and remote microphone

  • Installed Icom 802 SSB radio head

  • Installed new Navigation Suite in cockpit:

    • NMEA 2000 powered backbone

    • Simrad AP44 control head

    • Simrad NAC3 autopilot controller

    • Simrad RF25 rudder reference unit

    • B&G Triton2 x3 multifunction displays

    • Furuno TZT Touch2 chartplotter

    • Airmar depth sounder

    • Raymarine ST70 spare autopilot control head

  • Wired Fusion stereo into NMEA 2000 network for remote control



Our port engine is one year older than the starboard one…  Apparently, the original owner forgot to winterize the boat the first year it was in NYC and the starboard engine block was damaged, so it was replaced.  Whatever the reason, the port engine was in need of some extra maintenance at this point.

Both engines are located in the sterns and pushed far forward, making access of the front of the engine very challenging (especially when hot!), making it hard to access oil, coolant, impeller or alternator.  Here is an example of working on a warm engine to tighten an alternator belt…

Bunk core

We planned to cut access in both bunks to improve engine access, and started with the port side since we sleep on the other side. One surprise was that the bunk was made up of a light, flaky styrofoam material with wood stringers. This made for some extra work after the hole was cut to fill the sides of the new panel and cutout with pine battens for a clean finish. We also reinforced the underside of the framed cutout with press-fit pine stringers.

Engine access hatch

Engine projects:

  • Adjusted throttle cables port engine

  • Adjusted saildrive clutch port engine

  • Replaced port alternator belt

  • Replaced port anti-siphon valve

  • Replaced port & starboard blowers

  • Cut engine access in port bunk

  • Frame raw edges and reinforce cutout with pine battens underneath

  • Add gas struts to bunk cutout


New faucet


One of Mark’s favorite jobs (sarcasm)!!  He always tells me that this used to be Tom’s job.  Tom is Mark’s first sailing partner on their Columbia 26, which he is still sailing in Lake Huron!  Perhaps plumbing should be something I need to take over… (crickets…)


New faucet and fresh water foot pump

Plumbing projects:

  • Installed, re-plumbed and rewired starboard Raritan head

  • Replaced fresh water pump

  • Replaced faucets in galley and 2 heads

  • Installed new fresh water foot pump 



The hose was cracked on the hydraulic steering system and needed replacing. Upon further inspection, the T-fitting on the bypass valve was also broken. The bad news is that this fitting didn’t resemble anything that we’d seen before, nor had any hydraulic shops in the Brunswick-Jacksonville radius!

In the end, Mark made a new T-fitting out of available parts and a hydraulic shop cut off the old ends and welded them onto more common hose ends, so that we could replace the hose.

Steering projects:

  • Re-plumbed steering hydraulic system 

  • Drained, flushed and bled hydraulic steering system ~ refilled with new oil



Isotherm freezer/fridge

The Isotherm refrigerator and freezer came with the boat newly installed.  They are nice and spacious.  The space is broken up differently, and I do find it is nice to have a front-opening door.  However, they are definitely not as efficient with power consumption as our former, top-loading and heavily insulated fridge/freezer.  


Side galley

Fortunately, there was plenty of room to add 4” of insulation to most of these units.  The only weak spot at this point is the 1.5” doors that we’ve seen condensation on in hot/humid conditions.  

Fridge/Freezer projects:

  • Installed 4” insulation to sides, top and back of Isotherm fridge & freezer

  • Rewired runs to fridge and freezer

  • Installed fan for air circulation



In between all of the above, we’ve squeezed in a few quality of life projects too.  These are quick wins that make us both happy.  

I even learned something new about Mark after all of these years… who knew he was a stereo gear-head in the 1970’s‽  Well, no surprise there.  We now have an AWESOME sounding stereo with sub-woofer!

Household projects:

  • Hung half-hull and pictures on wall

  • Installed new dimmer light switches

  • Replaced cabinet push knobs

  • Replaced latches and locks for 2 engine and cockpit lockers

  • Added a gas strut and bracket for cockpit locker

  • Installed two new stereo amplifiers for saloon and cockpit speakers (JBL, Rockville)

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