Sailboat Projects – Gettin’ Up, Down, Dirty & Stinky

Sailboat Projects – Gettin’ Up, Down, Dirty & Stinky

Our shakedown cruise is over and it’s time to bust out the tools again.  The past several weeks have been a welcome respite from the intense learning and boat projects.  But, we do still have a few more boat tasks to knock out before we go disappearing off into the horizon for the Bahamas.

We purposely choose to split up all the work that needed to be done on the boat for two reasons.

  1. Financially we couldn’t afford to do everything at once.
  2. With all the electrical (solar, batteries) and major mods (new dinghy davits, composting toilets) we knew we needed time to test everything properly before losing sight of land.

Our years of being RV test dummies taught us to always have a good shakedown trip after any major mods, and this is especially true when it’s a new-to-you vessel.  At this point we’re practically ambassadors for Murphy’s Law.

Luckily, all our mods held up, but like any worthy shakedown trip we’ve discovered several new gremlin’s to sort out.  So, here we are, back at the Just Catamarans dock and ready to work, even a bit excited to tackle some of the projects ahead.  We’re applying what we learned from our last stint in sailboat service, we’re sticking to our list and we’ll complete as much as possible ourselves before bringing in the hired guns.

Well, we were chugging right along until hurricane Matthew started seriously stirring about.  As if boat projects are not enough of an adventure, we have hurricane Matthew to contend with.  We are putting all projects on hold and switching over to hurricane prep mode.  This will be our first time to ever experience a hurricane, and it seems even scarier now that we live on a boat.  The good news is, we couldn’t be in better company!  Poor Kent, he is going to be soooo ready to watch the back end of our boat head out towards the open ocean.

kent and jason working away

Speaking of Kent…what would we do without that crazy South African!?!  We were simply searching out a good boat broker and we found ourselves the best service company, a lifelong friend and mentor.  You could call it synergy, serendipity, fate or a myriad of other terms.  We say we’re damn thankful!  There have been BBQ’s (or braai as South Africans say), evening sails and many hours of supervised tool usage spent getting to know Kent, his family and their friends over the past eight months.  It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to them all as we move along.  They have become a part of our family and a big part of our life story.

Ok, enough of that or I am going to get all teary-eyed.

Here is a brief run-down of everything we tackled in this video or have a good start on.  I’m sure for some of these tasks you may be asking, “What? and Why?”

sailboat projects
This is what all the cool kids wear.

Sailboat Projects Part 1

New Stackpack and Genoa

sailboat projects

Our surveyor told us we would be fine to do some coastal cruising with our current genoa but due to age and wear we should replace it before any big water sailing.  Once the genoa was down we noticed we had some loose set screws.  A little lock-tite and some quality time up the furler and we were good to go again.

nikki wynn going up the mast

As for our stackpack, it was more of the same.  The zipper was gone and there were several holes that needed patching.  Some items are almost more expensive to repair than they are to replace.

So, we bit the bullet and not only ordered a new stackpack and genoa…we got a spinnaker too (I cannot wait to use and show you that baby)!  We ordered Ullman sails because that is what Leopard uses and they have a good reputation for making quality sails.  That said, I royally kicked myself immediately after placing the order.

As soon as we had written the check and placed the ordered I remembered Sailmaker Says.  During our dreaming, planning, learning phase I had read several fantastic technical articles written by Jamie of Sailing Totem.   He is a fellow cruiser and a sailmaker.  I had filed away in my memory bank to contact Jamie when we needed sails.  I obviously filed it too far back because I completely forgot until after the fact.  (SLAPS PALM to FOREHEAD!)

Most likely Jamie would have saved us a few bucks, we’d have one-of-a-kind custom sails and we could have learned heaps in the process.  I will not make the same mistake when it comes time to replace our mainsail.  Our Ullman sails are great but I would have preferred to support a fellow cruiser and it bums me out that I forgot, sorry Jamie.

new genoa for our catamaran
My best Vanna White impression.


The previous owner had upgraded the mattress in the owner’s cabin but the others are all original.  They are not in bad condition but they are not exactly comfortable either.  We have a slew of family heading our way and once they have all made the rounds…we’re going to open the cabin up for crewing opportunities (yep, that could be you)!  We want everyone to enjoy their stay and that starts with a good night’s rest.

If you want the full scoop on the mattress itself, you will find that info here:


There are a lot of important pieces of equipment on a boat…a beefy anchor is one of the tops. s/v Curiosity came with an old CQR anchor that didn’t fit properly, had a bent shaft, a seized anchor roller and a small swivel.  It wasn’t ideal to say the least.  On top of all of that, it often seems impossible to set and even when it does set, the anchor is lying on its side (which is not good).  As soon as we would back down on it with anything above 1500-2000rpm it would break loose and start to drag.  There are plenty of times it would take 4-6 attempts to finally get a good bite and holding (and there was one night we simply gave up and decided to sleep in shifts).  I know that’s a lot of words just to say, our anchor pretty much sucked!

We turned to the internet, read a bunch of articles comparing anchors, watched a slew of YouTube videos and chatted with our fellow cruisers.  The conclusion:  Sailors are a heavily opinionated bunch. Mantus, Manson, Rocna and Spade all have their own cult following.  Any of these choices would be better than what we have but the Mantus homegrown testing videos and rave reviews from fellow boaters won us over.  Plus, Mantus is a small company that is owned and operated by a couple of fellow cruisers (and they’re Texan like us).

Our old anchor wasn’t a perfect fit for our boat and neither is this one…I have no idea what anchor Leopard was thinking would fit when they designed our anchor roller system.  So…we have some modifications to figure out.  Mantus customer service (aka Phillip and Greg) have been super awesome at helping us work through it all.  Stay tuned for more on this debacle as we try to sort it all out.

sailboat projects


This was one of the fastest, no drama, no hold up mods Jason has ever done.  He was so fast I didn’t even have time to film it (a very different experience from this How Not To install an RV faucet video)!  The original faucet was rusting and leaking.  Here is the faucet we swapped it out with:

Water Pump

The water pump we had was a 2.7gpm that wasn’t quite powerful enough.  It was fine and dandy for the sinks but by the time the water reached the shower heads it was a slow trickle.  With the new 4gpm Aqua King…we are indeed showering like Kings!  Side note, we also installed our trusty water saving aerators that help conserve water and increase water pressure.  For some reason the aerators didn’t work with the original pump but they work great with the new one.


From what we have been told, windows last about 5-7 years.  The previous owner tried his hand at re-bedding the windows but missed the very important step of applying the activator.  Because of this, our windows are delaminating far earlier than they should.

We are doing the grunt work ourselves to save money, gain the experience and we will take notes from the pros on how to properly seal them back up.  At this time we’ve redone 3 of the 4 side windows, so it’s only a matter of time before the 4th one removes itself from the fiberglass and begins to leak.

rebedding sailboat windows

Mast Work

We removed the baby stay because it was in the way, it wasn’t structural (we confirmed with riggers) and causes extra wear and tear on the genoa while changing course.

We removed the whisker poll and track for many reasons as well.  It’s dangerous to use, lots of potential to hurt the boat and us (our sailing instructor didn’t like it either).  It’s not as practical on a catamaran as it is on a monohull (especially now that we have a spinnaker), it was cluttering up our mast and it wasn’t installed properly so it was held onto the mast with a bungee in a jerry-rigged sort of way.

working on the sailboat mast

The steaming light burnt out during our shakedown trip…at night…in a rainstorm (of course).  We’ve been loading up on LED replacement bulbs for just these occasions.  LED’s are so much more efficient than traditional halogen bulbs.  More on where we source our LED’s here:

Radar Connection

While up at the top of the mast, Jason checked out our radar.  It has been randomly cutting out on us at times.  We were hoping that it was a loose wire…and I hate to say this but, I think it is slowly dying on us.  Radars, electronics and navigation…it is all super expensive and extremely important stuff.  Sadly, this is one of those things we are going to have to hold off on for now.  Our system may crash often, but it’s not dead yet and we are not financially or mentally prepared to go there at this point in our relationship with our new boat.  Replacing a radar means replacing all the gear because the new stuff doesn’t “talk” with the old stuff that we have on our boat now.  We’re considering all the options Garmin, B&W and Raymarine, but in the meantime, we’ve purchased the iPad and Garmin Bluecharts as a solid backup.

Head Issues

We have three toilets (heads) on board and we swapped out two of them for our beloved composting toilets.  We kept the one macerator toilet.  We’ve had issues with the head since the purchase of the boat.  The owner told us it was just a clogged vent which we fixed during our last service stint…now we thought it was a failing macerator which we fixed in this video…but sadly, the clogged toilet saga is still unsolved.  More on this stinky drama next time.

I would have swapped them all out for composting toilets but Jason wants to keep one sea water/marine toilet on board.  He is concerned with the availability of composting medium as we travel about the world (fair enough).  Also, he is thinking for ocean crossings, the typical marine toilet makes sense.  I do understand his thinking here but my votes are still for composting, it’s been our only toilet for years in the RV.  But, I am fine to let him keep cursing his way through the stinky head troubleshooting process.

Another side note, we will shoot a video about our sailboat composting toilet installs and how they are working out soon:  All things composting toilet related can always be found here:

Thanks so much for following along and being a part of our crazy journey.  Having all of you along to share these experiences with makes it all so much more dynamic for us.  Your comments, jokes, encouragement and tips have kept us chugging along.  So thanks for that!

Update:  I have gotten a lot of questions about the lantern we put out to help with the bugs and forgot to mention what it was.  It is a Thermacell and while it is NOT all natural, it does work well when the natural stuff just wont cut it: