The Projects

We took ownership 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. We left to go cruising in August of 2016, but of course the work never stopped. 

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, not because they paid me to. In fact, I usually paid them…)

2018

Purchased and installed a new engine

  • This project should really take up more space on the page. In March, we made the decision and started doing research. In June, we ordered a new Beta 50 from the UK. In November, it arrived at Vista Mar Marina in Panama. In December (and January), we installed it. 

Removed the old engine

  • In anticipation of the new engine’s arrival, we pulled the old Westerbeke 4107 out of the boat using halyards rigged off the boom.

Scrubbed and painted the engine room

  • We took advantage of an empty engine room and scrubbed 40 years’ worth of oil off the floors and walls, then applied a fresh coat of paint. So clean and shiny!

Replaced batteries

  • Our batteries were not that old (see “2017” below), but they were damaged in the off season. We suspect a lightning strike through the shore power.

Replaced charge control board and then battery monitor kit

  • Our Magnum inverter/charger also died in the off season. After troubleshooting with Magnum, we purchased and replaced the control board, but it did not fix the issue. So then we purchased and replaced the battery monitor kit.

Added a wind generator and outboard crane

  • When we were in Mexico, another cruiser gave us a wind generator for free, but a new pole and mounting system can cost over $1,000! So, we held onto it and waited for the right thing to come along. In March, we found a 316 stainless steel pipe that was just the right size – for free. We mounted it and had some welding done in Costa Rica to add a crane to help us lift the outboard.

Replaced radar

  • Our radar worked intermittently, which was not good enough. John found a good deal on a newer (used) unit when we were in the states.

Fixed Honda 2000 Generator

  • Our generator stopped working in Chiapas in January. The local mechanic tried to fix it but told us it was dead. We did not believe him (an un-fixable motor in Mexico? Impossible). An expat in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua was able to fix it using just some oil, a screwdriver, some patience and a splooge of gasket maker.

Replaced windlass gypsy

  • The gypsy was starting to wear down and allowed the chain to jump the track too often. We bought a replacement in the states.

Replaced anchor swivel

  • We have vacillated on the best chain-to-anchor connection, from two shackles to a swivel and back. We settled (for good, I hope) on a heavy duty Mantus swivel.

Replaced anchor light

  • At some point, our anchor light took on a decidedly blue color. In his research, John determined this is sometimes what old LED lights do right before they die. We already owned an upgraded spare (a photovoltaic anchor light, tri-light and strobe all in one)

Adhered new name graphics

  • When we painted the hull, we had to scrape off the name graphics. I ordered new (identical) graphics from Prism Graphics in Seattle and affixed them from the dinghy.

Removed water maker

  • The small water maker that we got for a “great deal” never worked right and leaked salt water all over our lazarette. The 1-gallon an hour it gave us (sometimes) was not worth the hassle, so we ripped it out for good.

Reinstalled engine room bilge pump

  • We have a separate bilge pump in the engine room. In Seattle, we disconnected it so that our oily bilge water wouldn’t pump overboard. Instead, we manually sucked up and disposed of it. We no longer have the facilities to dispose of it. Plus, with the new engine, the bilge is not nearly so oily (we hope!).
2017

Painted the hull

  • While we were stuck on the hard in Chiapas, we stripped down and repainted the entire hull with the help of a local painter. It was an enormous job that took six weeks and every ounce of energy we could muster.

Added four scuppers

  • The only drains in the deck of Halcyon were small and poorly placed. Since we were repainting the hull anyway, we drilled out four big scuppers along the gunnel so water exits much faster.

Rebuilt transmission

  • Our Paragon transmission gave out on the way into Zihuatanejo, so we ordered a rebuild kit from the states, found a mechanic, and had it rebuilt.

Did endless engine work

  • Our engine was giving us trouble. We replaced the fuel lines, added a pressure guage, plumbed in an electric pump, and performed a “poor man’s” fuel polish. We removed and cleaned out the heat exchanger, tested and repaired injector line, and replaced the gasket in the exhaust elbow.

Replaced transmission oil cooler

  • Very luckily, we noticed a leak in the oil cooler while the boat was out of the water and ordered a new one.

Replaced batteries

  • We upgraded the battery bank when we bought the boat in 2011, and they were wearing out. All new LTH batteries from Mexico.

Mounted spinnaker pole on mast

  • We added 4 feet of track to the front of the mast, ground off the current turning block, made and mounted a new turning block, and mounted the spinnaker pole on the mast to get it off the deck and make it easier to deploy. Go go gadget Hammock holder!

Sewed covers for everything

  • Sew much Sewing. I made covers for our jerry cans, propane tanks, outboard, outboard gas tank, and autopilot. I also sewed cushions for the cockpit and breathable sides for the bimini.

Bought and rebuilt (thrice) a used watermaker, then installed it

  • We bought a small and old Katadyn 1.2 gal/hour watermaker that didn’t work. We eventually got it working and installed.

Stripped, sanded, cleaned, primed and varnished outside teak

  • We found great help in San Blas, Mexico to help us brighten up and protect the teak. We used Awlwood, and are very happy with the results.

Rebuilt all winches and windlass

  • They were well overdo for a rebuild. Disassembled, cleaned, greased and oiled, and finally reassembled.

Rebed portlights

  • Rebed the two forward portlights because they were leaking.

Inspected and repaired sails

  • Spread out each sail and inspected it, patching and repairing as needed

Mapped bonding system

  • Traced all bonding wires, cleaned connections, added head thru hull to system (it had been disconnected for some reason)

Repaired fiberglass crack on the bottom of the rudder

  • We noticed a superficial crack along the bottom of the rudder, so had it ground down and re-fiberglassed.

Performed other haul out maintenance

  • Repainted bottom, replaced zincs, greased max prop, cleaned and greased thru hulls, etc.

Installed autopilot

  • We had the windvane, but no auto steering when we were motoring. We bought a raymarine tiller pilot and fit it to the wind vane so it will steer us in a straight(ish) line.

Replaced foam mattress

  • We bought the foam in Puerto Vallarta and drove it to Barra de Navidad. Cut it to shape, shoved it in the cover, and voila – a new bed!

Inspected radar

  • Radar wasn’t work as well as we thought it should, so we disassembled it, cleaned and CorrosionX’ed all the moving parts and electrical connections.

Caulked gunnel to hull seam

  • Added a bead of lifecaulk to the seam between gunnel and hull to protect from water intrusion

Replaced wind arrow for Garmin unit

  • For the third time – this time a bird carried it off. We added a dab of epoxy so hopefully it stays put now.

Fixed stairs

  • We had old carpet down as nonskid, we removed that, sanded down the steps, oiled them and added strips of nonskid.
2016

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.
2015

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!
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
2013

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.

2012

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
2011

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!
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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