Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Oct 2019: A Couple More Boat Projects

Updated Port Side Fly Bridge Seating
Chelle didn’t want to be left out of all the recent “boat business” fun so in parallel with the whole throttle replacement spend fest she embarked on a couple of new projects…as if we weren’t already spending enough B.O.A.T. units.  There is probably a cure for us out there somewhere, but for now at least we are slow learners in that particular area of fiscal responsibility.  The "Sea Notes" continue to flow.

The first of these projects involved updating the vinyl cushions for Ghost Rider's fly bridge seating areas.  We had the helm seat rebuilt and recovered two years ago, but now all the other seat cushions were looking pretty ratty, too. And lately they had been absorbing and retaining more rain water than their covers were repelling.  We bought the new foam filling and marine vinyl from our own sources – with the material and color matching what was used for the helm seat do-over (Sea Oyster vinyl) – and then engaged Cape Canvas & Cushion (LINK) in nearby Cape Coral for the handiwork.
The Updated Fly Bridge Cushions Now Match the Helm Chair

They aren’t particularly fancy, but they are functional, much more water resistant than the old ones, and no longer pockmarked by mildew stains.  We treated with 303 Aerospace Protectant which should help with long term survivability.

Four Sliding Shelves Make The Pantry
Area Much More Accessible
The next project was aimed at upgrading the galley pantry.  Ghost Rider has two tall, narrow and very deep cabinets just to the right of the fridge/freezer.  Each has multiple shelf levels and they can hold a lot of stuff, but they require you employ a ladder and a flashlight and have telescoping arms to reach all of the spaces.  It was a fine place to store food related things that you didn't care a great deal about ever seeing again.

The solution was to install some slide-out shelves.  Having seen Rick’s carpentry skills before – essentially he has none – Chelle hired Dave Purcell for the job, who is something of a maritime handyman with good credentials in this area (as well as a USCG 500 GT licensed delivery captain.) She ordered the shelving units from Slide-a-Shelf (LINK) who custom built them to our measurements.  (Note that discounts are sometimes available by ordering through Costco or Amazon.)  And then Dave went to work on fitment, finishing and installation.  He is a bit of a perfectionist so he even crafted a fascia for each sliding shelf and stained them to match the boat’s interior teak woodwork.  They look good and definitely improve accessibility.

With the Stainless Steel Button Latches
Added to Prevent Movement When Underway
To prevent them from sliding forward and banging against the cabinet doors during lumpy seas we used the same stainless steel "button latches" that we had employed on the fridge and freezer doors.  We just need to remember to engage the latches....which is not a given.

On the lowest shelf in the bottom cabinet we chose to forgo the sliding shelf option and instead went with a false bottom on furniture sliders; that preserved the deeper storage area at the base for larger items.

Amidst these boat projects we also had to tend to some routine maintenance activities.  The first of those was refreshing a few Racor fuel filters.  While we had not reached an engine hour trigger, there is always some concern about filter effectiveness with the passage of time.  Does a filter element not being used much but still soaking in diesel fuel eventually undergo a change in filtering properties?  At some point the answer is likely yes, but exactly when can really only be determined when the vacuum gauge rises above seven inches HG.  Rick would rather not deal with that while underway, so we change ours after a year if we haven’t yet hit the magic 500 hour mark. That’s overly conservative, but at $10 apiece it’s cheap insurance and peace of mind.  So both main engine Racor 900 filters got changed as did the Racor 500 for the genset.
The Dual Racor 900 Units for the Main Engine.  After Installing the New Filter Elements We Label Them with Both Date
and Engine Hours.  Same Goes for the Smaller Racor 500's on the Generator and Wing Engine.
Next up was the six month windlass service.  Our hydraulically powered Maxwell 3500 will probably outlive us, but the above-deck components still require periodic attention – basically dismantling down to the lower clutch cone and crank collar, liberally lubing all accessible parts with a good lithium grease, and then shooting a grease gun into the main bearing’s zerk fitting.  Upon disassembly we found the unit clean and still well lubricated, not too surprising given its limited use and exposure this year.  But we know its ready to go and hoping for some use in the next couple of months.  After reassembly and checking for leftover parts (none, yay!) we exercised the unit to confirm smooth operation.
Disassembling the Windlass Deck Components....Not a Difficult Task But It's a Messy, Greasy One When Rick Does It
Another rather mundane item that our Wheelhouse software reminds us of on an annual basis is checking the integrity of the DC and AC electrical panel connections.  While inspecting for chafing is a part of that, it's mainly verifying that all attachment points are still tight -- and there are a LOT of them.  But with a couple of different screw drivers and plenty of patience it only takes about an hour.  Before checking the AC power side it's highly recommended that you turn off the shore power 240V/50A circuit breaker first.  It doesn't take much of a slip to turn the rear of that panel into a rogue defibrillator; don't ask Rick how he knows this.

To wrap it all up we sortied Ghost Rider a short distance upriver to the Fort Myers Yacht Basin to take on 400 gallons of diesel fuel.  That brings our current tankage up to around 1100 gallons in total, which will get us through the foreseeable future and avoid the (much) higher rates down in the Keys.

Next up:  We'll be heading inland up to Missouri and Illinois for a much anticipated visit with family and friends, plus our favorite annual charity event.  Packing will be interesting as it much cooler there - it's still damned hot here in southern Florida.  But it will still be great fun in the Midwest.  When we return we hope to get Ghost Rider underway again and head down to the Keys for a spell.  More on that later.
Looking Behind the DC Electrical Panel....Lots of Wire Attachments
That Require Integrity Checks Once a Year.
Looking Inside the AC Electrical Panel....More Attachment Points to Check,
and Most of Them Pack Quite a Punch.  It's No Fun to Become a Human Fuse,
So Disconnecting Power is Highly Recommended.
When We Returned from Our Short Sortie to Take on Fuel, We Parked Ghost Rider Nose In at the Request of Our
Fiberglass Repair Tech.  That Gives Him Easier Access to Patch the Scratches on the Starboard Bow Section.


  1. Kudos on the bridge cushions: They look great and will be a go-to place for us when I have my next Goombay.
    Enjoy your run North. From this read there shouldn't be much left to do maintenance-wise upon your return but go thru your pre-flight checklists and aim the Pointy End in a Southerly direction.

    1. Will keep y'all posted on the Keys itinerary. Goombay Ghosts are on the menu.