We’ve been doing LOTS of work to get Dawn Treader ready for our BFS this summer. She’s actually starting to look much more like a sea-going vessel!
After taking care of things like swapping all the light fixtures out for LEDs (including the nav lights), adding lazy jacks, installing a new nav system, etc. – it was time for the next round of upgrades.
If you recall, we had inherited a pretty laughable nav pod with the boat.
It was basically an aluminum “project box” attached with a crappy plastic clip to the steering pedestal. It contained the horn (which wasn’t functional) and the AP (which was).
As you can see in the above photo (to the right), I’d bought a Lifedge Case for the iPad, which was seriously tough and waterproof, for about $80…then also the rail mount kit for another $100.
This actually worked very well for a minimalist set-up. But, for longer term offshore cruising I needed something more substantial. It was time to add a proper nav pod.
Time to measure everything…
9-1/2″ for the pedestal and…
…1″ for the tubing. Check. Turns out this is standard – but what did I know?
Next, it was finding the right pod. The first thing I did was hit the Ocean Equipment website. I got lucky and found a close-out unit for less than half the price of a new one. BAM!
The it was time to figure out how to mount the thing. I wanted something similar to the angled mount shown in the image above, but I didn’t want to spend several hundred dollars (and a lot of work) replacing the existing pedestal rail.
So, I decided to go to Grainger and buy stock 1″ SS tubing. The idea was that I’d cut a couple of pieces, then bend them to the correct angle, and through-bolt them to the existing pedestal rail.
I measured everything vertically to determine exactly where I wanted it, then cut the tubing. In the end I wanted the nav pod as low as possible to allow the boys to see over it. The one in the photo above is seriously high. So, I then marked where the bends should be and took it to a local shop for the bending. And…BAM!
All of this was WAY cheaper than the alternative. I then drilled the through-bolt holes and added the SS bolts with lock-nuts. I also bought some black 1″ rubber caps for the top ends of each tube, and ended up with an installation that looked pretty dang good.
Next, I mounted the Lifedge bracket on the pod, along with the AP control. This made for a very nice removable chartplotter setup with the iPad, which tied into the iMux wireless nav system…giving me full Raymarine and AIS instrumentation along with the chartplotter at the helm.
Another consideration was power for the iPad. So I bought a waterproof 12v USB charger and installed it on the underside of the pod…
Overall, I was pretty pleased with the set-up.
The next project was the Xantrex LinkPRO. I’d seen some really good reviews of this thing and found a new on on eBay for a great price.
Now – the first question was – why add a battery monitor in the first place?
Though I did have the old-school battery level meter on the panel (the orange-lit meter on the top left) that was tied into a knob for testing up to 4 batteries…it no longer worked. I didn’t think it was worth the time to troubleshoot and fix it – at least not with the availability of a much more modern and accurate device like the LinkPRO.
I also had the Xantrex TrueCharge 20 and its dedicated readout at the panel.
However, this was only useful when on shorepower or with the generator running.
So, with the addition of the solar panels and a house bank that is, admittedly, a tiny bit undersized (I think), I thought it best to go ahead and add some 24/7 monitoring solution like the LinkPRO. This way I’d be able to have much more information on the state of the house bank – and also have an alarm if things got too low.
With solar, the generator, and the engine – I figured I was in pretty good shape with keeping the bank going…as long as I knew what was happening with the charge.
The first thing was to figure out where to put the thing. It made the most sense to me to put it right above the panel in the Lexan by the VHF. This would give me a nice full view of what was going on with the boat along with all the other instrumentation at the nav table. So, out came the hole-saw and BAM!
Then it was a matter of running the relatively thick cable through the bulkhead, through the aft cabin, and into the battery compartment under the aft bed. This turned out to be pretty simple. I pulled out the stereo and just followed the other wires and cables that ran along the same route.
Then came the wiring of the LinkPRO itself.
The instructions were pretty clear and it wasn’t difficult at all. I first cut away the outer covering, exposing the internal wires – leaving about 1-1/2″ to allow for the spread across the connector.
Then I stripped each wire to the appropriate depth…
And followed the diagram for connecting each colored wire.
After I got everything attached and snug I was ready to mount the thing.
It was just then that I realized the “nut” that threaded onto the LinkPRO to hold it into it’s mounted surface was still on. So it wasn’t going to mount until I pulled that off and got it onto the backside of the Lexan panel. Crap. I seem to always do things like this. Oh well…
So I pulled it all apart again, put the nut on the inside of the panel – and actually remembered to run the cable through it first – the went back through the whole wiring thing.
The end result is pretty clean.
The next step is to wire the battery end. This is a bit more involved in that I’ll have to mount and wire a shunt, etc. So that will be in the next Various Projects write-up. Stay tuned.
One other little problem that needed attention was a broken dog in the portside hatch. As you can see in the photo, the corner had broken off the dog, allowing the hatch to open freely. This ain’t good in stinky seas.
So, I pulled it off and widened the hole on a stainless steel fender washer to fit over the bolt. I then used a Dremel to shape the washer into an oval that would properly fit the existing lock on the hatch.
I then used Gorilla glue to adhere the washer to the dog, and painted the whole thing black to blend in.
I reattached the dog and it works perfectly. Saved A LOT of hassle in ordering a new dog for an old hatch.
It was a pretty good effort at shortening the Pre-Go List.
Coming up next…solar panels and radar fix. Stay tuned!
As I rip really good but used stuff out of our boat, I’ll put some of it up for sale here. You can help support our adventures, and SCORE some sweet gear for a killer price! From our yacht to yours…