I loved getting rocked to sleep by the motion of the water, but now I hope to God nothing starts rocking the boat, supported by jackstands, while I’m sleeping. I’ll be “on the hard” for potentially a couple of months while I do some work on my vessel, getting her ready for my long cruise.
The first big project is the wheel-to-tiller conversion. This is one thing that had to be done out of water because I need to remove the rudder. Doing this will also require relocating my propane tank, engine controls, and sailing instrumentation. I’ll be covering this conversion in a dedicated post, but since most people think I’ve lost my mind for converting to a tiller, I’ll explain my reasons for converting to a tiller now.
A wheel is a complex system. I’m a caveman. It requires maintenance of a variety of pulleys and cables that convert wheel motion into rudder motion, and those systems aren’t bulletproof. If they ever fail, it’s probably going to be at the most inopportune time. I don’t want to be fumbling around with my emergency tiller in a crowded marina or intense seas. A tiller is simple. It’s a handle connected to the rudder stock.
The cockpit on my boat is pretty small…and the wheel takes up half of it. My available cockpit space is divided in half where the wheel sits, leaving no open space. I can fold up the tiller handle when not in use and have my entire cockpit available for…sleeping under the stars as one idea. Holding wild parties with eight of my closest friends is another idea.
Manning the helm with a wheel can leave me exposed to the elements. With a tiller, I can stand forward and steer from the protection of my dodger.
If my wind vane steering system ever failed, I can rig a sail-sheet steering system to a tiller more easily than to a wheel.
I feel more “in tune” with the boat and the ocean with a tiller. You can feel the resistance of the water. You can make small adjustments to the tiller and immediately see a response in the boat. You can look at the tiller and immediately know which position the rudder is in, instead of interpolating your wheel.
The second big project will be pulling my mast down. The electrical wiring inside is loose, and whenever the boat rolls slightly, it produces a loud slapping noise for everyone at the dock to hear. I don’t sleep in stormy conditions because the noise is right above my head and quite loud. So I’ll be securing the wiring inside my mast, and while the mast is down I’ll also do the following: replace lighting with energy-saving LEDs; compound & polish spars; install “lazy jacks”; inspect all hardware; and replace standing rigging of unknown age & condition (the wires that hold the mast up).
- Refinish bowsprit platform and install new anchor roller
- Compound, polish, and wax topsides & deck
- Rebed portlights, manufacture new portlight screens, replace portlight lenses, polish interior side of portlights
- Refinish remaining exterior teak
- Refinish cabin sole
- Inspect & service all seacocks and hoses
- Replace interior cushions
- Replace engine belts & hoses
- Install solar panels, replace batteries
- Install wind vane steering system
- Rebuild head & sanitary system (what I’m looking forward to the most)
Expect details and photos of most of the projects to follow in the coming months! And anything else I care to share about living in a “boat treehouse”!