The Projects

We took ownership in of Halcyon in March of 2011. She had been loved and cared for, but she was starting to show the signs of age. By the time we moved aboard in May of 2011, we were feeling confident we’d be moving to Bella Bella (see our blog, Strait Sailing for that story) and knew there were some upgrades and changes we’d need to make. We started in right away, and it feels like we’ve never stopped! When we returned to Seattle after 1½ years in BC and Alaska, we turned our sights to a world cruise and stepped up the boat work.

If I may bestow a wish to any future boat buyer, it is that you have previous owners as meticulously organized as John and Kay. We have binders of paperwork documenting equipment bought, measurements taken, and research undergone. It has been immeasurably useful, and I have done my best to keep up.

Because I found endless knowledge and support in other boat owner’s blogs along the way, and because it is actually quite amazing to imagine we have accomplished all of this, here is ….

Loving Halcyon: The Endless Project List

(I have included links to some of the wonderful companies that helped us along the way. I gush about them because they are great. I am not endorsed or sponsored in anyway, I just love them. I am happy to provide more info about our experience with these companies.)


Replaced batteries, added inverter/charger, upped amp hours, replaced major cables

  • We knew we would be power hogs and wanted plenty of juice
  • 6 Dyno 6-volt deep cycle 245 amp batteries plus 1 starter
  • Magnum pure sine wave inverter/charger
  • New reinforced shelf in engine room to house batteries

Modified table, added pedestal and seat

  • The table extended from the mast to the forward bulkhead, and with the placement of the diesel heater, it wasn’t possible to access the port side of the boat.
  • We modified the table length and added a pedestal so it can be raised or lowered to create our “movie lounge”
  • We also added a box seat at the forward end of the table


Added stereo and outdoor speakers

  • The first hole we drilled in the boat was to install the outdoor speakers that came with the boat (still in a box) into the cockpit – that required a big hole!
  • We also replaced the stereo with a Fusion that had an ipod slot (yep, 2011…)

Replaced anchor chain

  • Knowing we were headed north where the anchorages are deep, we replaced our shorter chain with 300 feet of 5/16th high-test anchor chain

Replaced fresh water plumbing

  • New hoses running through entire fresh water system

Replaced all lights with LED

  • So much efficiency!

Replaced propane line and added solenoid

  • There was a connection point in the propane hose and it was looking a bit worn so we replaced the line with a single length of hose
  • Added a solenoid

Replaced VHF antenna and cable

  • We were having trouble transmitting on the VHF so we started at the top and replaced components until it worked…eventually we had a brand new system!


Replaced water tank


Replaced engine mounts, realigned engine

  • We had the boat yard in Bella Bella do this, but it was a bit of a rush job and not well done. For one, they neglected to tighten the dripless shaft seal so when we splashed after the haul out, we had a water fountain in the engine room… Not generally a good thing. Silver lining – our boat didn’t sink and we got a free haul out!

Replaced propane tanks with fiberglass… then aluminum

  • We loved these new fiberglass tanks that you could see through to see how much propane was left
  • Unfortunately, there was a recall a few months after we bought them and the company folded immediately
  • So we bought new ones, again. This time aluminum

Added solar panels

  • 2 Kyocera 140 watt panels from Arizona Wind and Sun
  • We “temporarily” mounted them with PVC tubing over the lifelines
  • Scan down to 2016 when we finally built a “permanent” solution…

Replaced head pump and hoses, added vented loop

  • Raritan PHII head pump – the same that was already there
  • Added a vented loop to stop blackwater from returning to bowl under sail (yep, it was gross)
  • Replaced all hoses


Added brace in Vee berth

  • We had some flex in the foredeck we didn’t love, so added a beautiful wood brace in the vee berth to help fortify that large unsupported area
  • Sands marine engineered the project
  • This required ripping out the headliner and some of the side slats in the Vee

Replaced DC panel and “brain” wiring

  • Installed brand new DC panel, consolidated the 3 subpanels strewn around the boat, replaced wiring at nav station, correctly labeled everything
  • Brought in Fat Cat Marine for this job. And boy does it look pretty



Apparently the rest of 2013 we spent sailing and avoiding boat work… but we made up for it in 2014


Replaced solenoid for stove

  • The solenoid we bought in 2011 failed, so we replaced it

Serviced mast – new conduit wires, paint and hardware

  • We pulled the mast out of the boat and replaced the conduit and wires
  • Sanded and painted it
  • Serviced and replaced hardware

Added tri-data unit

  • We previously didn’t have a wind measurement or speed through the water so bought a Garmin GMI 20 tri-data unit
  • Added the wind transducer to the mast and replaced the depth tranducer

Replaced spreader lights

  • While the mast was down, we upgraded spreader lights to VERY bright LED’s
  • It’s like daylight out there now

Replaced standing rigging

  • We hemmed and hawed on replacing the standing rigging. We finally decided to do it… after we put the mast back up
  • So we took the stays down two at a time and took them to Fisheries Marine Supply to cut and swage the top
  • We used Sta-lock swages on the bottom, which we did once the rigging came back from Fisheries
  • It was actually a fairly painless job, just some time in the bosun’s chair every week or two

Serviced compass

Removed heater

  • Our Dickinson arctic heater kept us cozy warm when we lived in Bella Bella over the winter, but it was overkill in Seattle and certainly unnecessary in the tropics where we were headed.
  • We pulled it out and glassed in the hole through the cabintop before painting the decks

Repaired foredeck core

  • There was some rot in the core of the foredeck, so we ripped up two strips (and a couple of squares) of fiberglass, dug out the rotten core, replaced it with foam and re-fiberglassed

Painted decks

  • The core repair led us to repaint the whole topsides, which needed to be done anyway

Rebed stanchions

  • This is something we started in 2014, but has easily bled into 2015, 2016 and 2017. By the time we (very slowly) make our way around the boat, it will certainly be time to do them again

Rebed portlights

  • The portlights in the main cabin were the first to be rebed. The forward two still need to be done as of January of 2017…

Rebed chainplates

  • Took apart, inspected, re-gooped and rebed the chainplates
  • One had a bit of corrosion, so we had Ballard Sheet Metal weld a new one
  • This project first required ripping out the headliner above the sea berths

Added fresh water foot pump in galley

  • We have a salt water foot pump, but wanted a fresh water one as well. Plumbed it to use the existing faucet with a Y-valve separating foot pump from electrical pump

Replaced aft lazarette

  • Halcyon had an embedded wooden propane locker in the very back of the cockpit that was starting to rot. So we ripped that out in 2011 (which also gave us much-needed access to the steering system and a huge amount of lazarette space)
  • The lid of the locker was raised about 3 inches. It was difficult to open and the plexiglass had cracked. So we pulled that out and made a hinged flush fiberglass lid


Rebed thru hulls

  • At the beginning of the year, we hauled out for new bottom paint and work at CSR Marine
  • We rebed all of the thru hulls, some of which were in desperate need of this

Straighten shaft

Modified boom, traveler and mainsail

  • The mast on Valiants is very far aft, which means the boom sticks out past the wheel and the traveler is in the very back of the cockpit. This is a problem for several reasons – it causes weather helm, it’s hard to manage the traveler during a tack or jibe, and the boom is a danger to anyone in the cockpit
  • After consulting with Bob Perry and Ballard Sails, we decided to shorten the boom, cut down the mainsail and move the traveler to the cabintop
  • It required a new (used) boom because ours wasn’t designed for mid-boom sheeting, which we then cut down and painted
  • Ballard Sails engineered the project, found the boom, installed the Harkin traveler and cut our mainsail down
  • It was a big expensive project, but was probably the best one we did on the boat. She sails better, easier and safer than ever
  • Shout out to Joe at Ballard Sails for being persistent and convincing us to do this project!

Replaced clutches, rearranged winches

  • While we were rearranging how we sailed the boat, we also took out the old alligator clutches, put in a nice clean row of Spinlock XTS rope clutches, took out some winches on the cabintop and cleaned up the lines.

Replaced headliner

  • The headliner along both sides of the boat was destroyed when we rebed stanchions and chainplates, but headliner replacement kept dropping to the bottom of the list. I finally prioritized it, very tired of looking at the underside of the deck.
  • We used a simple durable MDF hardboard from home depot that we cut to size (a much easier task in the areas where we had the original to use as a template!) and used screws instead of glue and nails as originally built. This way it’s removable in the future – for the next round of rebedding

Added wind vane

  • We bought a barely-used Monitor windvane with a wheel attachment from a neighbor boat with a very similar stern shape, so modifications were minimal

Added Rocna anchor

  • The reviews were all there – Rocna seemed to be the best anchor on the market
  • Knowing a trusted anchor was one of the best gifts we could give ourselves, we splurged and bought the 25kg Rocna
  • And I will add to the reviews – that anchor digs into anything on the first try and holds. Anchoring is a dream!

Replaced VHF (again)

  • Our VHF started going on the fritz, so we replaced it with an upgraded Standard Horizon Matrix with AIS and GPS capability

Replaced stereo (again)

  • Likewise, the Fusion stereo we put in when we first bought the boat died. One day it just didn’t turn on anymore. This is a very important piece of gear on the boat for us!
  • We replaced it with the upgraded Fusion MSIP-600 with Bluetooth

Added refrigeration

  • The boat has an enormous icebox. When we first bought her, we would use block ice. But that nasty slimy cooler-water is a pet peeve of mine. So we quickly stopped using ice at all and simply stored food at “boat temperature”
  • But knowing we were moving to the tropics, I knew “boat temperature” was going to cut it. Plus – cold beer. So I caved.
  • We dropped 4” of foam in the middle of the ice box, cutting the space in half because it was that huge (10 cubic feet- the same size as a household fridge. We didn’t want to cool a space that big). We added a Vitrifrigo holding plate and a Danfoss BD-50 Compressor
  • Now we have cold beer!


Replaced Garmin chartplotter with Ipad at binnacle and added NMEA 2000 backbone

  • An iPad, complete with Navionics, seemed an obvious choice for our primary chartplotter. It is cheaper both in initial investment and in chart purchasing, the charts are updated with more frequency, and it’s multi-purposed. We pulled our Garmin 019C3 from the binnacle and installed an iPad mount.
  • Then we added a NMEA 2000 backbone so all of our boat’s data could interact with the iPad (except the Raymarine radar, that’s still separate because Raymarine is the Apple of the chartplotter world)

Added Vesper XB-8000

  • Then we discovered the Vesper, which made many of our integrations simpler. It is a simple little blue box that acts as an AIS receiver and transmitter, a GPS, AND broadcasts our NMEA 2000 data over wifi, so we can pick it up on any device.
  • We did not set out to transmit AIS, but it is one of the best things we got. It’s comforting to know those big ships can see us. It’s also convenient being able to hail a ship by name instead of calling out generalities on ch. 16

Added Sat Phone

  • Thinking we wouldn’t get an SSB, we got a sat phone as our main form of communication, we got an Iridium 9555 handheld with a 600-minute 12-month plan.
  • We also got a sailmail subscription and use the sat phone + sailmail for GRIB downloads and emailing onboard.

Added SSB

  • But then we got talked into getting an SSB, and what a pain in the rear it has been!
  • We bought a used ICOM 700-Pro SSB off craigslist, which was damaged in shipping then fixed by ICOM but didn’t work right.
  • We added the KISS counterpoise and GAM antenna
  • We had a “specialist” look at it in San Diego, who broke it further. We shipped it to ICOM again, they fixed it again, and shipped it back.
  • Finally, after 4 months of tinkering and researching and cursing and spending money, the radio works.
  • If you are having SSB troubles and want the full story, reach out – we have a lot of knowledge to share

Rip out starboard water tank

  • Having replaced our port watertank with an intergral fiberglass tank that holds 135 gallons in 2012, we didn’t need more water so just left the pitted out starboard aluminum tank in place.
  • In 2016, we got around to ripping it out, cleaning up the space, painting it and now we have ALL THE STORAGE. It fits our drogue, a spinnaker, 2 jerry cans and every tool we own. It’s marvelous.


Removed auto pilot

  • We still had the original 1976 Wood Freeman autopilot on board – this thing is an antique. The control “remote” was a wooden box with 3 buttons and wasn’t “remote” at all. It hadn’t worked since we owned the boat, and while it pained us to get rid of such a treasure….it freed up an enormous amount of space and lifted about 130 pounds out of the starboard lazarette!
  • We haven’t replaced it with anything…so when we motor, we hand steer. I know, it’s a sin. It’s just that modern autopilots are so darn expensive!


Cleaned out fuel tank

  • This was a fun job…we ran the fuel down pretty low, then sucked the remaining diesel out with our worth-its-weight-in-gold bilge sucker.
  • Then I stuck my arm into the view port and scooped out gallons of sludge the consistency of black stringy pudding
  • We didn’t scrub too hard though, in case the aluminum diesel tank decided to go the way of the water tanks…

Reinforced lifelines

  • Remember that “temporary” solar panel set up with a PVC tube over wire lifelines we put in back in 2012? It was definitely time for a permanent solution.
  • We changed the wire lifelines to stainless steel tubing and mounted the solar panels with adjustable clasps. The panels are adjustable by use of a string looped around the bottom lifeline. It seems simple, but it took us 3 years to engineer…

Replace almost all halyards and sheets

  • This we did over time, but with the exception of the jib sheets and main halyard, which are due to be replaced in 2017, every line on the boat is new.

Replaced hatch plexiglass

  • We had Kolga Marine (Kolga doesn’t have a website because word travels fast when you’re that good. Reach out if you want his info) replace the plexiglass in all of our hatches, which was an incredible upgrade! Matt does an amazing job and – get this – we can see through our leak-less hatches now!

Started re-varnishing the brightwork

  • While the hatches were off, we restarted the never-ending brightwork varnishing job there. Now the rest of the varnish looks pretty terrible…
  • We are using Awlwood (the yellow-tinted stuff) and it looks amazing once it’s done. Jury’s still out on how long it will last

Replaced jib and cutter

  • Time for a sail inventory inspection! With our main recently cut down, it keeps its shape much better. We have a heavy symmetrical spinnaker and a light asymmetrical spinnaker that we love. We ditched a 3rd kite that came with the boat we never used. Our jib was bagged out and too small, and our staysail was original.
  • After lots of research and quotes, we got a new Rolly Tasker 125% jib and heavy duty staysail. We love them. They fit great and trim beautiful and make us go oh-so-fast.


Replaced dodger

  • After 15 years of faithful service, the dodger on Halcyon started disintegrating. We sailed a summer in the PNW without one, which was glorious, until a particularly wet upwind bash home. Then we remembered why we love dodgers J
  • Breezy Canvas made ours. We got on the books in March, knowing it would be July before he could start. Despite it being his crazy-busy season, he got it done in the nick of time, adding the last details 3 days before we left!
  • Our previous owners, John and Kay, stopped by while Shaun was working away and we made the connection that Breezy had re-upholstered all of the cushions for John and Kay 15 years ago!

Added a bimini

  • Shaun kindly sewed in zippers to the edge of the dodger so I could fabricate a simple after-market bimini. Next step: sides that roll down to give us more sun protection.

Replaced sniffer for stove

  • Somewhere off of Oregon in 12-foot seas and 35 knots of wind, our propane system went on the fritz and never fully recovered.
  • It turns out the culprit was a malfunctioning propane sniffer (an alarm that is supposed to sound when there is a leak and turn the stove off) that went off every 8-12 seconds for eternity.
  • We couldn’t find a replacement, but luckily a fellow cruiser had a spare! Shout out to Wolff on Del Sur… a lifesaver for sure.


This was our first full year out cruising, and apparently Halcyon took a bit of a beating! Get comfy…this list is long.

Pretty stairs

  • When we first bought the boat, we threw down some carpet strips so the dog wouldn’t slip and slide on the way down. It stayed that way….way too long. We finally ripped off the old carpet, sanded and oiled the stairs and added some pretty blue nonskid pads

In San Blas, Mexico, we found some new friends and great workers to help us prettify Halcyon.

  • Over three days, the four of us stripped/sanded/cleaned/primed/varnished the rest of the teak with Awlwood, polished all of the stainless steel and waxed the hull. It was a marathon, but Halcyon had never looked better!

New bed

  • Our old “mattress” was pretty bagged out. So we bought new foam in Puerto Vallarta, transported it by (very small) car to Barra de Navidad, cut it using the old one as a template, and stuffed it in the cover. Voile!

New autopilot

  • We lived and sailed the boat for 6 years before installing our first autopilot. I know, we’re nuts. But we finally got a tiller pilot, and modified it to work on our boat (which has a wheel, not a tiller). It can steer if we are sailing or motoring, and only uses a tiny bit of power to do it.

Sew much sewing

  • I got a little crazy when I borrowed our friend’s sewing machine for a few weeks. I made covers for our jerry cans, propane tanks (and line and solenoid), outboard, gas tank and autopilot. I made cushions for outside. I made sides for our bimini. It was alot of sewing.

New batteries

  • The batteries we installed when we first bought Halcyon treated us well, but they were not holding a charge like they used to. So we replaced them with LTH’s (the best thing you can find in Mexico).
  • We kept the same setup of 6 6-volts in series and then parallel.

The rebedding continues

  • Another stanchion rebed. It seems about the time we’ve done them all, the first one starts to leak. At least we’ve got the process down now (um – but this is not it->).

New watermaker

  • We bought an old used small functional watermaker from a fellow cruiser, then John rebuilt it three times. But then it worked!
  • It is a katadyn (or Pur) 40. It only makes 1.2 gallons per hour, but it also only draws about 4 amps. So our solar panels can keep up with it.

Transmission rebuild

    • Our transmission kicked the bucket on the way into Zihuatanejo. So we found a mechanic, got parts shipped in, and had it rebuilt.

Endless engine work

  • Our leaky mess of a Westerbeke 4107 really started acting up this year (not good timing, Westie!)
  • In hunting down the issues, we did a “poor man’s fuel polish” (in which we pumped the fuel through filters several times and cleaned out the tank, then put it back in), replaced all of the fuel lines, added a pressure gauge and plumped in an electric pump (still mounted from our old diesel heater)

That damn wind arrow

  • Replaced the wind arrow on our garmin unit – for the third time – after a bird carried it off

Winch rebuilds

  • We took apart every winch on the boat and serviced, cleaned and greased all the innards

More engine work

  • Removed and cleaned out heat exchanger
  • Replaced the transmission oil cooler (we were VERY lucky to notice this compromised piece before it filled with salt water and seized our newly rebuilt transmission
  • Replaced hoses going to/from the transmission oil cooler
  • Removed and repaired the injector line, replaced injector washers, fixed a leak in the first injector
  • Replaced gasket in the exhaust elbow

A big ole’ HAUL OUT

    • In Chiapas, Mexico, we hauled out for the season and tackled ALOT of projects. Here’s the short list.

More rebedding

  • the two forward portlights were due for a rebed

Hull painting

  • We painted the topside of the hull (from waterline to deck). This project should really take up more than a single line…it took 6 weeks and every ounce of energy we could muster. And that was with help.

New spinnaker pole home

  • This is a project we’d wanted to do for a long time. We started by grinding off the block at the top of the spinnaker pole track on the front of the mast, then added more track to double the length. Next we made a new block and finally mounted the spinnaker pole permanently on the mast.
  • Now it deploys easily with one person using one line! Go-go-gadget HAMMOCK DEPLOY

New scuppers

  • Valiants have undersized drains in the side decks. One leaf skillfully placed over the grate andour side decks would fill with water.
  • Since we were repainting anyway, we took the opportunity to drill some big new holes in the side of the boat. No more puddles of water!

Windlass service

  • We rebuilt, cleaned, greased and painted the windlass

Lead keel inspection

  • There is always a crack in the paint where the fiberglass hull meets the exposed lead section. We sanded down all of the bottom paint in that area to make sure the cracking was just in the paint (good news – it was!)

Painted bottom

  • Of course! We used ABC-4, the only red bottom paint in all of Mexico, apparently.

Fixed rudder crack

  • Late in the haul out, we discovered a sizable crack on the underside of the rudder. We ground it down, filled it in with epoxy and layered it up with fiberglass.
  • Likely soon we will need to drop the rudder and do a “proper fix”, but this is plenty stout for now

Regular haul out maintenance

  • Replaced zincs, greased max prop, inspected, cleaned and greased thru hulls

Radar troubleshooting

  • Our radar hasn’t been working up to snuff. We took it apart, cleaned it and sprayed lots of CorrosionX inside. And it helped!

More varnishing

  • Everything got a light sand and another coat of Awlwood – we are now over 1 year in and it’s still looking great

Sail patching

  • I took advantage of the big grassy knoll by the yard and spread out all of our sails, patching and repairing any spots that needed it

Bonding system head-scratching

  • Something is eating up our zincs too fast, and we can’t blame the marina anymore
  • We spent time going through our bonding system, chasing wires and trying to understand what’s going on. We found 2 thru hulls that weren’t bonded, so plugged them into the system

Gunnel calking

  • Calked the seam between the gunnel and the hull

So yeah, it was quite a haul out.

You know – there’s a joke that cruising is just doing boatwork in foreign locations. I’m not so sure it’s a joke!

John and Becca Guillote

John is the photographer. He portrays the layers of history, emotion, spirit and culture in each moment through his application of light, perspective, and detail. He also takes pictures.

Becca is the writer. She tells vivid stories of authentic moments, highlighting the beautiful, dangerous, dramatic and hilarious with grammatically correct sentences and her tongue held firmly by her cheek.


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