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Karma's Refit 2022-23: It's been a long time coming.

My last post described first half of our trip to the San Juan Islands in summer 2022. I have the blog about the second half nearly complete, but so much has happened since then that I am thinking, why go back? On September 19th, 2022, we hauled our boat out of the water to do a major refit. Karma was already a solid boat, equipped for coastal cruising, though she was built to cross oceans. There are some things that we thought needed to be made safer, including a much-needed re-rig. In this blog post I'm going to go over the fixes and improvements to Karma during the refit. I'll also tell you about the school that I am attending.

Let's get the secret tidbit out there in the open. On October 2nd, I began attending the Marine Systems Certification course at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, WA. No, I am not building wooden boats; that takes a true artist. The Marine Systems course teaches about everything that is found inside the boat. We are currently in our second of three quarters, and have so far covered Marine Electrician I, Plumbing, Outboards, Sticky Stuff, Tools, and next week we will start Diesel Engines. Two weeks ago, I tested for the ABYC Marine Systems certification and passed (93%). Yay! I can now fix your marine toilet and charge for it. I will also get the opportunity to earn certifications for Marine Electrician, Diesel Engines, and possibly Corrosion. The course will conclude on June 16th, when I plan on graduating with all four certifications.

This program has been awesome--very hands-on. I took it for two primary reasons: first I need to have the skills to care for Karma on long passages. I am sure there will be times when emergency fixes need to happen 1000 miles offshore, so I have to be able to rely on my own expertise. Second, when we return to land, I will need a new "career", something to do, and returning to software coding is the last thing on my mind.

Okay, back to the haul out. In the boating world, this is referred to as "being on the hard". You remove the boat from the water, put it in a parking lot with a bunch of other boats and it sits there on its own keel, kept from tipping over by just eight metal jacks. It takes some getting used to for sure. Consider 30,000 pounds sitting on a keel that is 6 inches wide and supported by spindly sticks. Port Townsend was our home from September 19 through February 2. The city is known for wooden boats, Victorian architecture, and wind. Our first windstorm happened just a couple weeks into our stay; 55 knots of wind in sporadic gusts made us very aware of the situation. Not only could we hear the howling of the wind around us, but you could feel it too. The whole boat shuddered when the wind hit. As time passed, we became more comfortable with our situation and relaxed a bit in these storms, as we grew to trust that Karma was not going to move.

We were out of the water on September 19th and Scott from Port Townsend Rigging (PTR) was on deck the following Monday to pull our mast. We chose PTR to do our standing and running rigging, as well as a few other tasks such as a rigid boomvang and adding a rolling furler for the staysail. Upon inspecting the chainplates, we were surprised when cracks were found. The mast is held up by shrouds that are connected to the chainplates, so these eight substantial stainless steel straps are critical to the safety of the boat. Though this wasn't on our initial to-do list, we are glad to know that the chainplates are shipshape now. Scott was our assigned rigger/project manager at PTR and he was awesome! Super friendly and he explained things that we needed to understand. He was open to scope changes when they came up, or even switching things up when we changed our minds. After all, it's a long way up that mast, so it was best to get everything the way we wanted it while it was down. Unfortunately for PTR, Scott plans to cruise to Mexico aboard his own sailboat next fall, too, so PTR will be losing a great rigger, but rest assured: we will be on the lookout for him as we are cruising in the Sea of Cortez. (Scott is the rigger on the left side of the picture below.)

We also hired out some work to Haven Boatworks, fiberglassing over several thru-hulls (think holes) in the bottom of the boat that we don't need any more and doing a repair to the rudder. We wanted the professionals to do the fiberglass work so that we would have the assurance that those holes won't reappear someday.

The other skilled tradespeople we worked with were at the famous Hasse & Company Port Townsend Sails. Luckily for us, the previous owner of Karma outfitted her with a full suit of beautiful Hasse sails. With the addition of a rolling furler for the staysail so that we can control it from the safety of the cockpit, we needed PT Sails to make a few modifications to the staysail and the storm staysail. While they were at it, we had them replace the sacrificial UV covering on the jib and do some mainsail maintenance. The sailmakers at Port Townsend Sails worked in conjunction with PTR to alter the sails as needed. For Rochelle, the highlight of the refit was working with Allison the sailmaker to bend on the sails (that means put them back on the boat) once the sail loft's work was done.

We cannot heap enough praise on the professionals at Port Townsend Rigging, Haven Boatworks, and Port Townsend Sails. Their expertise, experience and craftsmanship is unmatched.

The rest of the work was to be done by myself and Rochelle. As you may recall from Rochelle's post, our first week we pulled the old blackwater system off the boat. Our second weekend on the hard was spent removing the head, all the hoses, and tank associated with this system. Then, after a VERY thorough cleaning, we installed our new OGO composting toilet. What a game changer!

Once the head was removed it was time to close up those thru-hulls. Above the waterline, these are less of a concern, but below they can cause your boat to sink. We had nine holes below the waterline plus the bow thruster (potentially the largest hole of them all). We also had two existing ones replaced with new hardware. Once the old thru-hulls were removed, we called in Haven Boatworks to fiberglass over the holes in the hull and fix some cracks in the rudder.

Now there were a few things left for Rochelle and I to do, I think these following images describe it well.

Perhaps the most intensive work was the sanding and painting Karma's hull. Rochelle took on this task. Aside for a full day of sanding on my part, she did all the rest of it. Sanding the hull, Cleaning the hull, Painting three gallons of heavy (73 pounds per gallon) hull paint. Then sanding the bootstripe and repainting it twice. The bootstripe is the small line on the hull that marks where the waterline should be. To finish it off, she polished the propeller to a shine and then coated it with a zinc paint. She did an awesome job!

While we did a lot of work during the four months we were on the hard, we still have a long list of projects that can be done in the water--some of them more safely there. For example, adding new solar cells, seems risky 30 feet off the ground. which are huge and man-handling these big kites 30 feet off the ground, just seemed risky. So, we are opting to put them in on the water, where the fall is less severe.

One of the last projects we started while on the hard was to install the new watermaker, a Schenker Zen50. A watermaker is essentially an onboard desalination plant. We wanted a watermaker that could run solely off DC power, so that its energy would come from our battery bank, which is recharged by our solar cells, wind generator, or diesel engine. The Zen50 is highly efficient with its built-in energy recovery system. We will be able to create 13 gallons of water with just 20 amps of power. Our solar cells will produce a maximum of 640 watts per hour, or 53 amps per hour. If there is no sun, then the wind generator can produce up to 33 amps per hour. If none of that works, then there is always the iron sails (diesel engine) that can produce up to 70 amps at the cost of fuel.

That being said, the watermaker has turned out to be a very complicated install. It is "almost" done. We have all the parts in place, all the hoses connected, the test faucet and tank port installed, the displays and the brine discharge thru-hull installed; but we received an incorrect part called a Total Dissolved Solids Monitor (TDS). It has finally shown up and we should be finishing up the TDS install and wiring it all up this coming weekend.

One of the comfort things we had done before the refit to relax aboard Karma in the evenings was the installation of an 84-inch projector screen to go with the tiny coke-can sized projector called the Nebula Capsule MAX. But one thing was missing in our floating movie theater: comfortable place to hang out and watch movies. We had this nice saloon with a big table in the middle of it. That had to change! We replaced the original bronze table stand with an aluminum one with a gas strut that allows it ti be easily raised and lowered. Then we had a new teak table built so it could fit down into the foot hole, thus creating a flat surface. Rochelle then made a cushion to cover and protect the table. Now we had that comfortable spot for watching movies, aptly known now as the "cuddle puddle".

We made it back to our homeport in Pleasant Harbor on February 5. It is good to be home. Our kanban is filling up again with many tasks to complete in preparation for our month-long passage in late June to Desolation Sound and Princess Louisa Inlet.

I am going to list all we did during this major refit just for history sake, some of which are still being done.

Closed 4 thru-hulls

New Companionway Console

Upgraded Aspenglow CFLs to LED

Hardwire Centrifugal Bilge to Bow

New Head Sink Thru-hull

Built new cup holders

New Rigid Boomvang

Upgrade Arch Solar to 640 Watts

Replace Transducer Thru-hull

New B&G DST810 Transducer

New Staysail Roller Furling

New Wind Generator

Sand Hull

New B&G Wired WS310 Windex

Staysail modifications for Furler

Modify Dodger to be taller

Paint Hull


Replace Sacrificial on Jib

Remove Saltwater Pump

Sand Bootstripe

New RAM4 Remote VHF

Mainsail Maintenance

Eight New Chainplates

Paint Bootstripe

New VHF Antenna

Clean & Tidy Boom

New Clutches for Furlers

Grind & Polish Prop

Improvements to Propane Locker

Clean & Tidy Mast

Ten New Clutches on Cabin Top

Paint Propeller

New Night Lights in Cockpit

New LED Spreader Lights

All Mainsail control Lines to Cockpit


New High Water Alarm

New LED Foredeck Lights

New Traveler Modifications

All lighting switched to LED

New Outdoor Control Panel

New LED Anchor Light

Hooked up InReach to be Permanent Install

Replace Propane Solenoid

New USB port in Quarter Berth

New LED Tricolor Light

Remove Head and Black Tank

Add Engine Auto Fire Extinguisher

New USB port in V-Berth

New Hailing Horn

Add OGO Composting Head

Replace Radar

Replace USB in Salon

New Running Rigging

Add Waterproof Junction Boxes

New Ethernet Switch for Radar

Remove 12v Cigarette Plug

Improvements to Stack Pack

Removed Old Wiring for Diesel Heater

New 12" B&G Zeus3 S

Replace Table in Salon

Replace Main Sink Hose

AC Cover Board on Circuit Panel

New 9" B&G Zeus3 S

Replace Table Stand in Salon

Improvements to Main Sink Seacock

New Life Sling

Upgraded Autopilot Computer

Sew Cuddle Puddle Cushion

Replacement of Shower Sump Hose

Reattached Monitor Windvane

New Autopilot Controller

Clean up old wiring

Replacement of Vented Hose

Removed rest of SSB equipment and wiring

Two New Triton2 Displays

Remove rear antenna

Add Second Diaphragm Bilge Pump

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