Category Archives: Boat Details

Sugar Shack is back on the water in good company with 2 other Catanas

Lightning Strike: The Highs and Lows

Originally, there were a dozen posts documenting our lightning strike catastrophe and the claims process.  But after 6+ months of living the hell, we decided not to publish any of those posts. Instead, we will publish one post and focus on the highlights and the benefits rather than all the negativity surrounding this journey.

If you are a cruiser, please contact us for your copy of “Prevention and Preparing for a Claim” which outlines key measures to take prior to claim.  We created this document with the sole purpose of helping others avoid issues and is based on our experience with our insurance carrier and being in the Pacific.

Despite all the setbacks, Sugar Shack is back on the water and we are a lot more knowledgeable of all the boat’s systems and parts.

HIGHLIGHTS:

A lighting strike can give you the blues.  However, we were elated each time new parts arrived.  It was exciting and surprising to see what arrived each time.  There was no rhyme or reason as to what arrived or when.  Some parts ordered way after others arrived first and parts ordered first arrived last.

Arrival of boat parts

Arrival of boat parts

Waiting Game

While we waited for parts to arrive, we did everything we could to prep the boat for installation.  The most time consuming project was rewiring the boat.  As you can imagine, a lightning strike can do some damage to wiring/cables.  Old cables in lower left image.

Out with the old, in with the new: Cables

Out with the old, in with the new: Cables

The Team:

We had a good team working on electronics, mechanical, and refrigeration.  Of course, Matt was extremely hands on, supervised all the work, and jumped in to ensure it all was properly executed.

AG Marine Descends on Sugar Shack

AG Marine Descends on Sugar Shack

Flaco, the tallest AG Marine worker contorted into the smallest places:

AG Marine get's into Tight Spaces

AG Marine get’s into Tight Spaces

Navigation System

All the equipment at our navigation station had to be replaced.  It was a bit of a disaster for many months as we awaited for parts to come in.  Diego had to build a new face panel to accommodate the new parts, but the end product came out really nice giving us a much cleaner, less cluttered space.

Navigation Station & Equipment Rebuilt

Navigation Station & Equipment Rebuilt

Solar Panels:

Our solar panels were fried and had to be replaced.  The new panels had different specifications, so we had to modify our existing rails to accommodate them. 

New Solar Panels Providing Energy

New Solar Panels Providing Energy

DC DIGITAL SWITCHING: POWER

The last to arrive, even though it was the first to be ordered, was our main digital switching or AC/DC control system.  Of course it had to be built, programmed, and calibrated before being sent to us.  Catana built their boats with cartes which are no longer being manufactured.  So, we replaced the system with a C-Zone system.

C-ZONE AC/DC Main Control System

C-ZONE AC/DC Main Control System

The old Digital Switching Control Panel (lower left photo) was completely destroyed by the lightning strike and is no longer available. C-Zone replaced it, which is a complicated beast, but gives us much better monitoring and access to everything remotely.  We can now control systems from this main control panel, a sub-control panel in the master suite, through B&G, and on an iPad.

DC Digital Switching Panel

DC Digital Switching Panel

BEAUTIFICATION:

We also took care of standard maintenance including wash, wax, bottom job, and prop speed.  I love the mid-way photo of the wash wax below (middle photo).

Sugar Shack get's a bath and a new wax

Sugar Shack get’s a bath and a new wax

The last color of our skirt was red and they sanded it down, painted a light blue which we didn’t like and changed it to a dark blue, which we love.

Sugar Shack get's a new skirt

Sugar Shack get’s a new skirt

Prop speed is used by a lot of fishing and speed boats.  We have never applied it to our props because it’s very expensive.  But, Bristol Marine included it for free with the cost of our bottom job.  Prop Speed prevents marine growth from bonding to metal surfaces below the waterline.

Prop Speed on our props - it's a first for us.

Prop Speed on our props – it’s a first for us.

Stepping the Mast:

Stepping the mast requires a village.  We had a rigging crew (3), yard assistants (3), AG Marine (5), painters (2), crane driver, lift drivers (3), launch slip helpers (4), a diver, and of course Matt and I.

Stepping the mast includes: carefully positioning the mast, connecting all the cables, securing the standing rigging (and tuning it), and putting the lazy jacks, sail bag, main sail, jib, and reefing lines all back on.  Then they touch up the bottom job where the blocks were located, move the crane, bring in the lift and slowly lower us into the water.

Stepping the Mast Takes a Village

Stepping the Mast Takes a Village

And she floats!  Thank God!  We had several issues once she was in the water, but we worked through them.  Both engines wouldn’t start, but after 20 minutes they were purring like kittens.

Sugar Shack is back on the water in good company with 2 other Catanas

Sugar Shack is back on the water in good company with 2 other Catanas

Outstanding Items After Splash (since repaired):

  • The radar doesn’t work (we have to exchange it for another new one),
  • Autopilot smart controller LCD screen is still funky (we are going to live with what we have)
  • The new starter battery was dead (charged her up)
  • Frigeration is on the fritz (spent 4 days working on it).

The lightning strike slowed us down and beat us up, but we are in the water and one step closer to continuing our adventures on sv Sugar Shack.

MPV Celebrating Our Departure

MPV Celebrating Our Departure

Any lightning strike is tough as you never know what it will impact. Some parts work at first, then fail, or fail, then work.  Unfortunately, there is no proven way to prevent lightning strikes.  All you can do is try your best to stay out of bad weather or zones that are prone to lightning strikes.

Love my varnished entryway

Spa Time to Beat the Boatyard Blues

Boatyard blues effect Matt and I as well as our boat.  I think it’s a necessary evil, but it takes its toll.  While we are waiting for repairs to be completed, we decided to beautify Sugar Shack.

Five years ago, we painted our dinghy davits that were showing some wear and tear.  Then 2 years ago, we painted the mast, boom, and bow sprit while we were in St. Maarten.  We have wanted to paint our bimini support poles for some time now, but thought that the best way to do it was to remove our bimini which was just too big of a job for the two of us to tackle on our own.

BIMINI SUPPORTS

The support poles get a lot of rubbing from our jib sheets and the paint has just worn down over the last 18 years.  So, since she is on the hard and the bimini is raised to thread the solar panels wires, we decided to get the job done.  We hired Bristol Marine to do several projects for us.

They masked off all areas, sanded and removed all flaking paint and glue residue, prepared metal with acid wash Alumiprep 33, rolled/brushed Zinchromate Yellow, Primer, applied Epoxy Primer White, sanded, and then painted by brush, 2 coats of Stark White AwlGrip (should have been cloud white, but they are close enough).

Bimini Supports Getting Some Love

Before photos of Bimini Supports

Photos below below show bimini supports with primer (lovely green), the cockpit table is gone (being sanded) and the entryway is being varnished.

Bimini Supports with Primer

Bimini Supports with Primer

We had to have the team redo some pieces because they were not done to our satisfaction.  But to Ben’s credit, they re-sanded and re-painted until we were happy.

Here are some shots where there was paint drip, low paint coverage, yellow primer on the bimini track, and bubbles in the varnish.  Matt even got in on the action to show them how it he wanted it done (and they call me the “perfectionist”)

Few places to fix on the bimini supports

Few places to fix on the bimini supports

And now it is simply smooth and lovely:

Bimini Supports Completed

Bimini Supports Completed

ENTRYWAY

Back in 2013, we had “Vision” varnish our entryway in St. Lucia.  It has had many a feet stomp across wearing it down and it was time to refresh it.  After all it is the first thing you see as you enter our dwelling.

This process requires a lot of masking as the old varnish is stripped way with a heat gun and scraper.  Haner, our worker said that it is a bit more difficult as we have a thin layer of varnish.  He has to be very gentle as not to overheat or burn the natural wood while removing the varnish.  If there was a thick coat, he could make better use of the heat gun.

The photo on the right shows where he removed some varnish and then shows the depleted varnish.

Repairing the Varnish on the Entryway

Repairing the Varnish on the Entryway

Once all of the old varnish was removed, they block sanded it, cleaned, applied yellow primer AwlWood and 10 coats of gloss (while sanding in between coats).

Entryway Completed and looking marvelous.

Entryway Half Way Mark

Entryway Half Way Mark

COCKPIT TABLE

Our cockpit table is protected with a wood stain, but it tends to need updating every other month.  The sun fades the stain and exposes the wood which could cause damage.  We decided to have the team sand the table and apply Semco Oil Natural Color to see if this will last a bit longer.

We really liked the look of the entryway at the half way mark and asked Bristol what the cost would be to do the same treatment to the cockpit table.  Unfortunately, it was way out of our budget at $2500 so we opted to go back to the Semco Oil Natural Color.

This is a photo of the table using StarBrite Stain. It actually is not really bad now, with the exception of the center edge where the flaps leave exposed surface.

Before Photo: Cockpit Table StarBrite Stain

Before Photo: Cockpit Table StarBrite Stain

The cockpit table all sanded and ready for Simco Oil

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All ready to host dinner parties:  Super pretty!

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TEAK ENGINE HATCH COVERS

Both the Port and Starboard Engine Teak is coming up off the cover.  We decided to remove them so we could properly glue them down.  It was so bad that when it rained it leaked a little bit into the engine room – and we can’t have a wet engine room.

Photo shows corner teak coming up and 2nd photo is Matt stepping on it and you can see the water seeping out.

Engine Teak Coming Up on Cover

Engine Teak Coming Up on Cover

Bristol sanded both hatches, so now we need to sand down the other teak steps on each sugar scoop before sealing with Star Brite.

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The boatyard blues are always made better when your home looks good. It’s a slow process, but soon Sugar Shack will shake off her boatyard blues and be back in the water.  Who said that the boatyard blues can’t be productive?

BEFORE AND AFTER SHOTS:

Here are some before and after shots of the interior cabin during work and after the boat has been put back together.

Before and After forward cabin and main salon

Before and After forward cabin and main salon

Main or master cabin

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Master cabin head (bathroom)

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Aft cabin / office:

After cabin office before and after.

After cabin office before and after.

 

Marina Pez Vela

Sweetie Gets A Clean Bottom-Boat Chores

The yard at Marina Pez Vela is really nice.  However, as with most things that sit outside for an extended period of time, the boat gets really, really dirty.  So, in between managing our insurance claim, we have been busy working on lots boat chores.

Marina Pez Vela

Marina Pez Vela

Everything had to be removed from under our settees to enable the workers access to our house batteries, inverter/charger, COIs, and switches.  So, all of those items were moved to our master head.  In addition, the beds had to be opened up to get to the carts and bilge pumps, and cabinets had to be emptied to get to the fridge and freezer pumps.  All of that “stuff” plus our settee cushions that are normally stowed are now stuffed in other places.

It’s heartbreaking to see your home in such disarray.  So, we do what we can to keep it clean and organized as much as possible.

Before and After Photos

The salon photo below was taken “before” we put some nice artwork up behind the settees, but you get the general idea of how clean we keep our boat on a daily basis.  The bottom photo has all cushions removed, and our two sails (main and jib) in the salon.

Salon before and after photos

Salon before and after photos

The master cabin before photo was again taken before we put up our beautiful artwork.  The after shot has the bed folded up for easy access to equipment underneath.

Master cabin before and after

Master cabin before and after

I love our starboard master head because it is roomy, white, and breezy. Sometimes it is the coolest place inside the boat.  We keep it spotless because that is just how we are, but now it is stacked with stuff.

Master Head (Bathroom) before and after

Master Head (Bathroom) before and after

The port aft cabin is a office / cabin.  Typically we use this room as our “work room” so we may have some tools and our sewing projects out if we don’t have guests.  Now it is a bit of a disaster with stuff coming out of all areas.

Office / Cabin Before and After

Office / Cabin Before and After

The port forward cabin is full of our salon settee cushions

Port Forward Cabin After

Port Forward Cabin After

A few of the boat projects we have completed while on the hard….waiting.  Most of these chores or projects have been done two or three times due to the mold and constant mess from various workers.

All this work, on top of managing the insurance claim, three vendors, large budget, shipment of parts, visa renewals, extended cruising permit, Galapagos permit, and long stay visa for French Polynesia – good thing I’m a project manager.

Interior Chores:

  • Wiped down all surfaces to remove dirt, dust, mold
  • Cleaned all interior wood work and apply Howard Feed & Wax BeesWax
  • Removed mold with bleach and apply Concrobium Mold Control
  • Aired out all closets, cupboards, drawers
  • Removed silicone from ceiling panels and ceiling (access solar cables)
  • Cleaned and wipe down all bilges
  • Cleaned all areas of debris after workers left, daily

Mold grows within weeks of being clean as it rains every day here creating a great breeding environment.  So, you have to stay on top of it.

Exterior Chores:

  • Scrubbed teak hatches, sugar scoops, and swim ladder steps.  Then apply Star brite Teak Oil.
  • Restored all stainless steel by cleaning with ospho
  • Removed and replaced silicone around front & back bimini rails and around bimini port, back, starboard wood accents.
  • Cleaned up both props using muradic acid (smelly job) see photo below
Cleaning props with muradic acid

Cleaning props with muradic acid

  • Scrub both sides of all three sunshades that were covered in dirt and muck after a few months on the hard in the yard.  Had to do this twice due to the excessive dirt.
Cleaning the Sunshades

Chores: Cleaning the Sunshades

Scrubbed, sanded, and applied Star Brite Teak Oil on all exterior wood accents.

Wood accents chores

Wood accents chores

The bottom of the dinghy is always a challenge to clean.  Most cruisers will take her to a beach, flip her over and clean with sand and soapy water.  However, our outboard is so big and heavy that we cannot taker it off/on easily, so we cannot flip “Sweetie” over.

With the boat on the hard and the outboard on the stanchion, we could easily flip her over so I could clean her bottom.  This was not nearly as bad as many other dinghies we’ve seen, but this was bad for “Sweetie.”  Using a lot of elbow grease, soapy water, scrub brush and “On Off” on the fiberglass hull she came clean after 6 hours of hard labor.

Sweetie's Bottom job

Sweetie’s Bottom job

We left our helm seat cushions out for a comfortable place to sit and within a few weeks we had mold.  It rains here every day, for hours.  So, they had to be scrubbed clean before being stowed inside.  No more cushions outside.

Helm cushions moldy from rain.

Helm cushions moldy from rain.

Matt has been extremely busy as well.

  • Cleaning both engine rooms
  • Re-welded Starboard engine mount that holds alternator
  • Repaired leak in dinghy pontoon using Inland Marine’s Sealant Kit
  • Removed several ceiling panels to access solar panel wiring
  • Replaced big and small zincs on both props
  • Scrubbed down the topsides (over and over and over again)
  • Cleaned and lubed both props
  • Used ospho on stainless on the mast (since it is down and easy to reach and clean)
  • Cleaned out all storage areas.
  • Repaired two drain fittings that were leaking

Check out these clean props, freshly lubed and sporting new small and large zincs!

New Zincs on Both Props

New Zincs on Both Props

We removed our SSB plates to clean them.

Keel Coolers and SSB Plates Maintenance

Keel Coolers and SSB Plates Maintenance

Since we have been waiting to finish up this claim, we have had 5 months to do chores.  Since, I first wrote this post, we have completed more boat chores … at least we will be busy while we wait:

  • Created pattern to replace damaged ceiling panel in master state room
  • Cleaned and prepped ceiling area for new ceiling panels (three panels in master and 1 panel in office)
  • Applied VHB tape to ceiling panels and put them back up (4 months later)
  • Sewing projects: repaired wench covers, dinghy fuel tank cover, sail bag, hat.
  • Sewing project: created new sunbrella cockpit covers to keep the rain out
  • Cleaned wench handle holders
  • Repeated all projects above for Christine on Interior and Exterior before launch

New Boat Cards and Stickers

On the plus side, we did manage to create new boat cards and stickers.  We often trade boat cards with other cruisers so we can stay in touch as we travel.  These are much cleaner, with more information, and has a fabulous photo of us.

Sugar Shack Boat Cards

Sugar Shack Boat Cards

Matt created two designs for our boat stickers.  We ended up going with the top graphic with images.  Lots of places let you put your sticker up at their establishment which is fun to represent Texas.

Sugar Shack Stickers

Sugar Shack Stickers

Sugar Shack on the Hard in Marina Pez Vela.  Her boom lies across her bow, her mast is on the ground behind her and all her sails, rigging, sail bag, spreaders, etc…are down.   She desperately needs a new bottom job (even though her current one is less than 18 months young)…the elements will do that to your ablative paint.

Sugar Shack on the Hard MPV

Sugar Shack on the Hard MPV