Sailboat work and prep for cruising

It’s been quite a while since I wrote an entry here, and even longer since I regularly updated. But, given my activities since I bought my sailboat and the upcoming cruising plans, it really is time for an update, and hopefully the start of some somewhat regular updates. I would really like to get into the habit of writing weekly entries or even more often once cruising life has begun.

Since my last entry I’ve done a bunch of sailing, a number of upgrades, lots of maintenance, and have started to solidify the first year of sailing plans. I should say “our” sailing plans, because my partner of over 4 years is fully enmeshed in this project, going through her own training, and has been a huge help with many of the boat projects. Though much newer to this world than I, she’s passionate about learning and quickly became a reliable sailing partner. In the past year her skills have truly blossomed, and we’re both feeling excited and confident about what’s coming next.

Sailing in Puget Sound 2022-2023

To learn the boat and to get comfortable with her, not to mention to have some fun, we’ve done a number of trips in the last year (not including day sailing with friends):

  • A week in the San Juans with a buddy of mine while we both worked remotely from the boat most of the week
  • A week in the San Juans mostly solo, where I picked my dad up from Friday Harbor and then dropped him off in Eastsound two days later
    • I’m quite proud of myself being able to handle–and yes, sail, when I had the wind–a 42ft sailboat on my own
  • A number of overnight/2-night stays in Juanita Bay, Lake Washington, both solo and with my partner, more for fun than sailing experience given the short distance
  • A week in the San Juans with my partner, which was very fun as well as a great learning experience for her
  • Overnight to/from Poulsbo for a fancy dinner in the middle of January, proving to us how wonderful a full enclosure is–on a sunny, 40F January day, I had to go shirtless while we sailed across the Sound simply due to the greenhouse effect!
  • A week in the South Sound (south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge) with my partner. This trip was just a few months after she’d taken her ASA 103 sailing course and it showed–she’s getting comfortable taking the helm while we anchor now, and we’re starting to work on docking, which is no small feat in a 42ft sailboat

It would be great to have had more time to cruise around Puget Sound, but with fulltime jobs and lots of boat work to do to prep for our 2024 cruising plans, we just can’t take the time!

Cruising Plans

So what are those plans? Next spring, at the beginning of May, we untie the lines and start heading up the Inside Passage. The eventual northernmost destination will be Prince Rupert, then across the Hecate Strait to the Haida Gwaii. Some time spent on the east coast the island group, particularly down in the wilds of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, and then we’ll follow weather windows down the wild west coast of Vancouver Island.

Once checked back into the US, we’ll head south along the Pacific coast of the US down to San Diego, before crossing the border to Mexico, checking in at the port in Ensenada, and then continue down the coast until we can take the turn to port into the Sea of Cortez.

From there? Who knows! We’ll have plenty of time to figure it out on the way.

s/v Kestrel

Among all the other things I’ve done on my boat, the first we should get out of the way is that she’s been renamed from Eleven to Kestrel. As for all the other things… well, let’s skip the maintenance stuff (oil changes, filter changes, pump replacements, sail repairs, etc) and just list upgrades/additions:

  • Added a dinghy, a Takacat that I’ve named Shrike, with a 6hp 4-stroke Tohatsu engine and a sick custom-designed death-metal style logo
  • Got a custom-cut Purple Plus mattress for the forward (“owner’s”) cabin. The customization and shipping almost doubled the price but it has been so, so worth it.
  • Had the dodger/bimini replaced with a full custom dodger+bimini+enclosure from Iverson’s Design, with a full set of windowed panels as well as a full set of sunscreen/bugscreen panels for the enclosure, and rails over the bimini for future solar mounting

  • Fully replaced and updated the house bank and other power systems:
    • What was formerly a bank of 6, 6v 240Ah lead-acid batteries is now 3, 12v 330Ah Victron SmartLithium batteries, for a nearly 12.6kWh usable capacity
    • The lead-acid battery in the bow that powers the windlass and bow thruster is now a spiral cell AGM battery. Instead of being directly connected to the house bank, it’s instead kept charged by a Victron DC-DC charger.
    • The two lead-acid batteries in the cabin sole that power the stern thruster have been updated to a pair of AGM batteries, with the old 12v-24v DC-DC charger swapped for a Victron.
    • The engine starter battery, which previously was lead-acid, is now a spiral-cell AGM, and is kept charged by a Victron DC-DC charger.
    • The old (stock) 80A Hitachi alternator has been replaced by a 170A Balmar, controlled by a Wakespeed WS500, which charges the lithium house bank.
    • The system backbone is entirely Victron: a Lynx smartBMS, Lynx Distributors, a 3000VA Multiplus charger/inverter, and a Victron Smart BatteryProtect, with a Cerbo GX and 5 inch touchscreen to control the whole thing.
    • I designed the system myself from examples on the Victron website, and after it was fully together and installed had a professional marine electrician check my work–he said I’d done a good job.
  • Lots of small quality-of-life upgrades around the boat, such as:
    • Double-strength magnetic knife mount
    • Liquid soap pumps from simplehuman at the sinks in the heads as well as in the shower
    • Fusion Marine MS-210 audio unit replaced the old car stereo head unit
    • Added a Magma Catalina grill to the back
    • Added a BougeRV air conditioning unit, with a custom-built shelf as well as a custom through-porthole mount for the intake/exhaust hoses

Obviously, there’s still plenty to do, but here’s the main tasks remaining for us to get done (and their status as of this writing) before we leave:

  • Finish getting the liferaft (Viking RescYou Pro) ordered and mount it on a railing near the stern
  • Get the solar array mounted and hooked up
    • We have 4, 415W SunPower MAXEON panels sitting in storage at the moment
    • A local fabricator is about to start work on the mounting system
    • Two panels will always be exposed, the other two will slide out from under the others for when we’re at anchor
  • Order new sails:
    • Storm trys’l
    • Storm stays’l
    • Mainsail (cruising laminate)
    • Maybe order a 130 genoa, but budget constraints may force us to stick with the old one (which is in good condition)
  • Get new standing rigging
    • Scheduled for mid-October
  • Install new Raymarine navigation gear. Our current stuff is original to the boat, 2007-era gear. I’ve already purchased a full set of new Raymarine nav electronics, including an Axiom Pro 2 9S chart plotter and a Quantum 2 radar.
    • Radar and wind sensors will be installed while the mast is down while the standing rigging is being made.
    • Depth/speed/temp sensor is ready to be installed, the new bronze through-hull was installed recently when I had fresh bottom paint/antifouling (in this case, blue CuKote) applied.
    • Everything else will get installed after the mast is back in the boat, late October/early November
  • I also purchased a new set of engine dials to replace the old ones when I replace the electronics in the helm station. The old ones are still mostly working, but some of the backlights are fading, some of the dials get fogged up in some weather, and the tachometer’s fine-adjustment dial is broken (and it and the wakespeed both need to be calibrated a bit better)
  • Along with the sails and standing rigging, we also need to get a new set of running rigging, since as best as I can tell all the lines on the boat are original.
  • A watermaker. If we’re going to be comfortable offgrid, we need water for more than just drinking. We need to be able to shower, do laundry, and wash dishes, too! We’re looking at a Schenker Zen 50, and I’ve just recently reached out to a dealer. I even think I know the perfect place to put it.
  • Offshore communication. For this I’m looking at a package from PredictWind, which is their DataHub along with an IridiumGO! Exec. Why not Starlink? Well, I really don’t like Elon Musk. That’s honestly the main reason.
  • Upgrade the unpowered icebox to a freezer. We’ve already got a smallish fridge with a tiny freezer, but a large freezer will really help us with being offgrid longer-term.
  • Buy a longer length of anchor chain. At the moment we’ve got 150′, but about 250′ is going to do us better for some of the deep anchorages in the Inside Passage, and more scope is always better for weathering storms!
  • See if we’re able to get insurance for the places we’re going to. This one might be tough.


Now for the non-sailboat stuff! As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been making knives as a hobby for several years now. For the most part I give the things I make to friends and family, and keep some for myself. Here’s a few I’ve made in the past year!