Fantasia in for the Season

We put Fantasia in for the season. We got off to a late start this year, due a long, cold, wet rainy season, and to the Captain being in Belize doing archaeology for a few weeks. Getting her launched is becoming routine, although it still takes way too long.

After launching, Fantasia got motored to the dock and tied up. It takes a while to get all the lines adjusted right, and we seem to be short a snubber.


Trip to Blake Island

Sail track for Blake Island trip.

Since buying Fantasia, our Catalina 22, in the summer of 2014, we've spent the majority of our sailing time in the northern part of Lake Washington, close to moorage with the safety and comfort of protected waters. Since we didn't have a functional steaming light, we never stayed out beyond dusk and just focused on having fun close to home and learning how to take care of our boat and operate safely around other craft. This season, many of the upgrades we chose to work on were those that would enable us to be on the water after dark, whether sailing, steaming or anchored, and to begin visiting other nearby locations in Puget Sound.

We went out on our first overnight trip on Fantasia. We chose a relatively close location, Blake Island, as our first destination. There were many firsts on this trip; our first time through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (a.k.a. Ballard Locks), our first sail in Puget Sound, our first overnight stay at a State Park marina, and our first overnight stay on the boat. It was a chance to really test all our new electrical upgrades, both AC and DC. The chart plotter enabled us to accurately determine where we were in relation to shipping and ferry lanes.

We headed out on Saturday morning, pulling away from the dock about 9:40 AM. headed towards the locks under motor. We wanted to get to the locks as early as possible, as we'd heard many stories about how busy the locks get on a nice day and the long the wait to get through them. Although we had been as far as Lake Union twice before, this was our first time continuing beyond it.

Along the way, there are seven bridges that we need to pass under, but given our mast height, we only are concerned about the Fremont Bridge. The clearances on all of the other bridges at the center are well beyond our masthead at 29.1 feet (plus our VHF antenna) above water level. However, the Fremont Bridge, at only 30' is a concern for a Catalina 22 with antenna and anchor light. The water level in the lakes varies up to two feet throughout the summer boating season, so we can pass under this bridge when water levels are exceptionally low. We passed under slowly, but the very tip of our (flexible) VHF whip antenna brushed the bottom of the bridge in one spot. At higher water level, we could not have made it. Due to this low clearance, the Fremont Bridge opens on average of 35 times per day making it one of the most frequently opened bridges in the United States. On the way back, we decided it was better to have the bridge opened for us.

The Fremont and George Washington Memorial bridges after
we motored past them on the way to the locks.

Bridges from East to West. Refer to NOAA chart 18447 for more information on bridge heights and other information.

Montlake Bridge
University Bridge
Ship Canal (I-5) Bridge (fixed)
George Washington Memorial (Aurora) Bridge (fixed)
Fremont Bridge
Ballard Bridge
Burlington Northern RR Bridge

We arrived at the Ballard Locks at 11:40am, behind a half dozen or so other boats jockeying for position to get into the currently loading large lock. There are two continuously operating locks, one large and one small. We decided to get in line for the small lock, which had just closed with a full load of boats heading out, rather than hope to get a spot in the currently loading large lock. We tied up to the waiting area on the north side. The small lock turned out to be the better choice, especially for a first time through the locks.

Tied up waiting to go through the small

With fewer boats to load, tie, untie and unload, the small lock cycles through much quicker than the large lock. In the small lock, the tie down points are on floats that move with the boats and the water level, so tying up and managing lines is much easier in the small lock. Going through the large lock, you must have two 50' lines with eyes and must play out or take in the lines as the water level changes, whereas with the small lock, 25' lines will suffice, and they do not have to be managed while the water level changes.

We had to wait about 35 minutes for one full cycle of the locks in each direction. While waiting for the lock, we were entertained by jumping salmon, which had recently exited the fish ladder, and a very mischievous seal who had also decided it would be fun to travel through the locks along with the boats. Finally it was our turn to load.  It took about 15 minutes to get through the lock, including getting tied up and cycling the lock. Kudos to the locks staff; they gave friendly direction throughout the process making it a relatively stress free experience.

In the small lock, waiting for it to cycle.

We motored the remaining way out of the ship canal. By 12:40 we were away from land and out in beautiful Puget Sound. There is a lot more space on Puget Sound than Lake Washington, so although there are many boats around, they aren't likely to be passing nearly as closely, or nearly as frequently as the do on the lake. There is a lot of room to maneuver, and most of the boaters take advantage of that fact.

One of the most surprising things about being out on Puget Sound was how little we were impacted by wake. In the confines of Lake Washington, on any nice boating day, the surface of the lake gets worked up into a frenzy from all of the power boats and jet skis. This is not the case in Puget Sound. The wakes are few, mainly generated by the occasional ferry or container ship passing and those provided mainly a gentle rolling lift and fall.

Using our new chart plotter, we determined our desired heading and raised sail. The wind was blowing from the North-Northeast, perfect for a run South towards Blake Island. Winds were very light, but thankfully the current was with us. We ran southwards wing and wing for a while, then decided to furl the Genoa and raise the asymmetrical spinnaker.  As we made our way south, the Seattle skyline came into view. Ferries bustled back and forth, moving cars and people from the mainland to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton and back. Container ships came and went, as did various tugboats. Three cruise ships could be seen on the Seattle waterfront, preparing to head for Alaska. The winds were light, and we only traveled between two and four knots.

Blake Island to the port, gennaker flying, ferry ahead.

While sailing, we had the VHF radio working for the first time with the new wiring and antenna. We listened in as three separate boats called the Coast Guard for help. One had run out of fuel in Puget Sound somewhere. Two others were also disabled, near Anacortes  and Camino Island. We hope to never need that kind of help.

We arrived at Blake Island simultaneously with two other sailboats at about 4:30 PM. We all dropped sail and jockeyed to get into the dredged passage to the docks, having to make way for the Argosy Good Times II to come out. We got in first and found that they had 30' of dock space left...just enough for one Catalina 22. The boats behind us had to settle for mooring buoys that surround the island, which actually would have been problematic for us since we do not have a dinghy. There is a couple that acts as volunteers running the harbor, helping to tie up, and giving the rundown on how things work.

Moorage at Blake Island is $0.70 a foot, plus $6 for shore power, per day. You pay at a pay station on shore. There are bathrooms with running water. Hot showers are available for $0.50 for three minutes by getting tokens from a machine at the ranger station. The ranger station also has a store that is open for three hours a day for essentials such as sodas and snacks. We checked on the Tillicum Village evening performance, but it was full. (More on this in a bit.) After thinking on it a bit, we decided to see the show on Sunday and leave in the afternoon.

Seattle from Blake Island,
the entrance to the moorage in the foreground.

Blake Island is a 475 acre state park, and the only access is by boat. There are tour boats from Bremerton and Seattle that come out for the Tillicum Village performances, that can also be used as a ferry. Otherwise, the only way to the island is by private boat. It is wooded, with hiking trails. There are three areas to camp on the island. Raccoons abound, and they are aggressive about getting into food. No food must be left accessible on deck or in unprotected areas. If you are moored away from the dock, beware that the raccoons can swim and still get to any unprotected food. There are also deer on the island, but they are not nearly as aggressive.

We settled in for the evening, putting a new 8'x10' tarp over the boom for shade, as well as the pop-top curtain. The curtain (which is actually made of vinyl) encloses the cabin with the pop-top up, giving more head room when docked, as well as gives a zipper opening instead of needing to put in the crib boards when closed up. It also gives shelf space next to the mast below the pop-top, but inside the pop-top that allows repositioning some of the stuff that is not needed.We hooked up to shore power, using our AC wiring. This allowed us to recharge the batteries consumed by the interior lights, recharging devices, VHF, and chart plotter.

Blake Island trail.

We made reservations for the Sunday performance at Tillicum Village, then went for a short walk across the North of the island. There are well tended wide trails, under a Douglass fir canopy. You can see Mount Baker to the North, Seattle to the Northeast, the Olympics to the West. Mount Rainier is to the East of the island. After the walk, we sat in the cabin and played cards until bed time. Taylor decided to sleep in the cockpit, which she later regretted, since it got cold. The wind kicked up during the night, but was still by morning.

During the night, the tide had fallen. Two small power boats that had tied up to the shore were left high and dry on the beach. They eventually were pushed back into the water. We were reminded to keep in mind the tides for future trips, which we do not worry about in the lake.

Fantasia tied up to the left, the family in the center, and note
boats to the right.
The same boat the next morning.

In the morning, we ate breakfast on the boat, and went for a short walk on the East side of the island. There are wonderful views of Seattle and Mount Rainier. We made the boat ready to head home. We paid for another day of moorage (but not power), as check out time is 1 PM, and the Tillicum Village performance concluded about 2 PM.

Tillicum Village is a Native American long house where they cook salmon using traditional techniques around open fires. Meals are from a buffet, with shared tables. After lunch, there was Native American dancing performance on stage. Greg had seen the performance here many years ago, but it has changed since then. The performance now combines live dancing with AV going on a large screen behind the performers. This requires fewer people, but it worked. In 2009, Argosy  acquired the rights to Tillicum Village, so were no longer just providing the transportation to the island. It is a little on the expensive side for what they provide, but it is worth seeing once, especially if you have visitors from outside the Pacific Northwest. The food was good.

U.S.S. John C. Stennis near Bainbridge Island
headed to Bremerton.
This won't fit in my bath tub.

After the performance, we headed out. Winds were still light, but a hair stronger than the day before. The winds were still coming from the North, so we had to tack to get back toward the locks. We had to dodge a few ferries cutting between Seattle and Bremerton, and a few cruise ships were in the distance headed off to Alaska. But then Sandi said, "That's an aircraft carrier headed our way." Sandi had been in the Navy for 10 years, so knew an aircraft carrier when she saw one even from a long way off. Sure enough, coming South was a Nimitz class carrier, headed toward its home port in Bremerton.

The U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN 74), a 103,300 ton, nuclear powered supercarrier, was quite a sight as it steamed past us to the West. When you look at at a carrier like this on profile, especially from the stern, it does not look like the thing should be able to float. The tower, perched far out on one side makes it look like it should simply tip over. At one point, we had the aircraft carrier passing to our West, three cruise ships passing us from the East, headed north, and two ferries passing between Seattle and Bainbridge Island.

In the small lock headed in.
Stern view of the Stennis.

We dropped sail and made our way back through the locks without incident. As we approached the Fremont Bridge, we decided that we really need to have the bridge raised and gave the long-short signal with our air horn. The bridge attendant had us wait for a while, before raising the bridge. A terrific sense of power sets in as we mess up all the driver's commutes! We motored home and arrived just after sunset, using our new LED navigation lights for the first time. Waves in the lake were actually pretty heavy, as we had water splashing over our bow.

Raising the Fremont Bridge.

It was about as perfect a weekend as we could have hoped for, and the perfect trial for getting out of the lake and venturing forth. For next season, we will have to plan a more extensive trip in the San Juans.


Cruising to the Schooner Zodiac

We have been working as crew on the Schooner Zodiac, a tall ship with a home port in Bellingham, Washington. For a week, it has been in Seattle at Lake Union, going out for day sails and charters. On Tuesday, we were due to staff the deck tours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. We decided we would take Fantasia down to Zodiac and take some of the crew for a sail on a smaller boat after our shift was done.

We headed out under motor, going through the Montlake Cut, under the Montlake, University, and Ship Canal bridges. We tied up next to Zodiac and headed over to the 160' schooner.

After our shift was done, we took a couple of the Zodiac crew for a short sail on Lake Union. The winds were light to non-existant at the start, but then picked up for a nice sail. We dropped the Zodiac crew, then motored back to our dock.

Sail track for the day.


Sail Tracks Using Garmin Chart Plotter

We went out for an evening sail with a co-worker of Sandi's. After getting under sail, we turned on our new Garmin 54dv chart plotter, which we got on sale online at West Marine. The wind was blowing East across the lake, allowing us to run both up and down the lake. We briefly chased another Catalina 22, sail number 15705, down the lake, but could not catch it.

The Garmin chart plotter recorded the track of where we went. We topped out at about 5 knots toward the end of the sail.

July 19th, 2016 Sail Track

We also tried out the transducer, a sonar emitter that came with the plotter. Greg had made a temporary frame to try it out of a 2x4 and hung over the transom of the boat. This was very cool to watch the lake bottom as we traveled.

We also got the chart plotter talking to the Standard Horizon VHF radio as a test. The VHF radio is able to retrieve the latitude and longitude from the chart plotter and broadcast that to other marine traffic using DSC (Digital Selective Calling). It is also able to retrieve that same information from other marine traffic and show them on the chart plotter. The combination of the chart plotter and the VHF is a safety issue; if the panic button on the VHF is pressed, it not only broadcasts a mayday with the MMSI of the vessel in trouble, but also the location of where the vessel is.

To get the sail track as an image, the track is downloaded onto a mini-SD card. That card is brought home and read into the Garmin Basecamp program. Basecamp then transfers the track to Google Earth. That map is then copied and pasted into Windows Paint, where it can be saved as a jpeg. That image is then uploaded here.


Let There Be Light

We worked toward finishing our DC panel wiring job. The though-deck connector got wired up.

We launched smoothly and motored for a bit down-lake, passing the barges that are carrying the disassembled old 520 bridge North for demolition. Then we raised sail.

As we were under sail, the connectors were put on the ends of the wires and connected to the fuse panel. Turned on the switches, and there was light and it was good! All that is left is to dress the wires so they are not hanging loose, and connect the VHF radio.

The new anchor light, steaming light, and deck light all worked. After docking, we added the navigation lights connection. All worked just like they were supposed to. All of the lights except the navigation lights are LED, so have minimal draw on the battery. We will replace those bulbs at a later point, so that we are all LED.

The sailing went smoothly. We found a few more rigging issues. We had added the spinnaker sheets, but, as usual, they were not rigged outside everything else. We did not raise the spinnaker, but we wanted them in place, if for no other reason than to get them out of the cabin. We got those routed correctly.

Our boat is running very nicely. We pulled in, and docked. Another nice day on the water.


First Sail Doctrine

We went out for our first sail of the season. Since we had disconnected all of our rigging to work on the mast, it took a while to get it all straightened out. A sail boat is a complicated machine. If any piece is out of place, it can jam up the works. We found that our jib sheets were not threaded through the blocks. We found halyards that were threaded on the wrong side of the spreaders. We are missing a knob that goes on the sail track stop (temporarily fixed with a nut and some anti-chafing tape). And other miscellaneous problems.

We were also missing the battens for the mainsail. After some running around, they were located. Do not lose your battens, as you cannot sail without them!

After finally getting all the pieces in place, we were ready to test the machine. We untied and launched, motoring out of the dock, dropped keel, and raised sails. Greg turned to Sandi and said, "Now do you remember why we did all this work?" It was magical being under sail for the first time this season.

Everything went smoothly as we sailed out on Lake Washington. We tacked, ran, and jibed very smoothly.

Sandi is having to learn how to read the wind. We have the new windex on the top of the mast, which makes reading the wind direction much easier than the yarn we had before. It does, however, have a disadvantage over the yarn, in that it does not give an indication of the strength of the wind. We had removed the yarn, but may put it back on for that purpose.

During the off-season, we had some work done on the mainsail at North Sails Seattle. They repaired a rip, and serviced the sail. While they were at it, they added new leech and luff tell-tales. Sandi is having to learn how to use them to trim the sail correctly.

After a couple of hours on the lake, at sunset we pulled back in without a problem, docked, tied up. Greg and Sandi worked on a few more things until it got too dark, such as adding the quick release to the back stay. Sandi accidentally tossing a screwdriver in the water. Greg managed to fish it out with a magnet on a line the next day.

Our leak from the volcano is not being a problem. We are getting maybe an ounce a day seeping through the connection. We will just mop up the water each time we are out, and wait until we are pulled out to replace the hardware. We need to do a bunch of work on the keel in the next off-season.

All in all, a great first sail of the season.


In the Water, Volcano Leak, and Cheap Bailer.

We finally got the boat in the water for the season. Well, maybe for the season. We launched, which went pretty smoothly. Since we had the mast off the boat, we had to get all the rigging back connected, which took a little more time than previous launches, but experience from previous launches compensated.

Quick-release toggle pin.

One thing we bought that makes it a little easier are some quick-release toggle pins. Use three of these to replace the pins that go into the chain plates, one for each of the forward shrouds, and one for the forestay (which is at the bottom of our furling jib). This makes it so that you are not fooling with cotter coils, which I hate messing with for anything that is not mostly permanent. They are a little pricey at the Catalina Direct web site, but they do make putting on the shrouds and forestay easier. The other shrouds stay connected to the boat when putting down the mast, unless the mast is removed from the boat.

We do need a technique for keeping the shrouds from getting caught on the snaps on the side of the cabin used for our cabin cover. The shroud gets under the snap, and gets a lot of tension as we raise the mast until we realize it is caught and pull it loose. This has happened each time we have raised the mast. We are considering our options here.

The crew and the mast raising system.

Our mast raising system rocks! We will get a detailed description here for it sometime soon. Greg had made a pretty good checklist for getting the mast raised, which makes sure that we do not forget any important step. (By the way, checklists are a good thing. If you want to learn about the value of checklists, read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.)

After getting in the water, Sandi motored down to our summer moorage. Greg stored the trailer and unloaded all of the stuff like the gin pole and ladder back at the house and met Sandi just at sunset at the dock. Everything on the way down went smoothly, except the water in the bilge!

Captain at the helm.

Yes, after two seasons of a completely dry bilge, there was a little water. It is coming in at a pretty common place on a Catalina 22. There is a cable that extends from the keel winch through a keel cable tube and then through what is called the volcano. The volcano is a fiberglass cone that extends through the bottom of the boat to the keel. The keel cable tube is fitted to the volcano with two hose clamps. The seal between the tube and the volcano is seeping just a little, letting in water, about maybe a cup a day.

Fantasia arriving at the dock at sunset.

We ordered the parts from Catalina Direct to replace all the keel lifting hardware, including the cable and tube. However, you cannot replace the tube while the boat is in the water. The place where the tube meets the volcano is below the water line, and trying to remove it with the boat in the water will sink the boat! So to do this maintenance, we will have to pull the boat out. That should not be terrible as we do not have to put the mast down as we do the work...we just need some space at the boat launch to park for a while before we put it back in.

In the mean time, we will put on some Vaseline and wrap the joint in duct tape. That should slow the leak.

With the thought of having water in the boat, Greg made a hand bailer out of a milk jug.


Marine Adhesives

3M makes a variety of adhesives to be used on a boat. The three main ones are Marine Adhesive/Sealant 4000, 4200, and 5200. The 5200 comes in fast and slow cure. Essentially as the number goes up, the more permanent the adhesive. More permanent is not necessarily better, as you may need to remove that thing that you glued for maintenance some time in the future without stripping off the gelcoat.

Which one you should use is actually more complicated than just the adhesive strength, as it depends on what you are trying to adhere (wood to metal, metal to fiberglass, etc.), whether you need it in a color other than white, whether you need to use it below the waterline, etc.

There is a very nice chart of the 3M adhesive/sealants you should use for particular applications. We have a printed copy that we keep with the sealants. The 3M web site also has a similar chart. This article is also a good reference, and lists additional adhesives that may be useful, too, such as SikaFlex 291, 292, 295, and 296.

There is a stuff that will debond 5200. This describes how to use it.

Another terribly useful site when trying to figure out how to connect two items is This-to-That. You enter that you want to glue together glass to Styrofoam or ceramic to rubber, as examples, and it recommends the right glue for the job.


Steaming Light, Anchor Light, VHF Antenna, and Spinnaker Crane Project

One of our goals for this year is to get new wiring and accessories on the mast. The mast currently does not have an anchor light at the top. It's not strictly necessary for a boat our size, but we'd feel better not getting run into in the dark. The steaming light has also never worked, for reasons that we never debugged. The one time we were under power at dusk, Greg stood at the mast with a headlamp on! We also would like a deck light to see what we are doing on the deck at night.

Note: All photos in this article can be clicked to show detail.
Antenna hitting tree branch
New antenna needed!

We had purchased a windex wind indicator to put on the VHF antenna only to realize that our installed antenna was much too thick for it to go on. We debated what to do, but put off changing the antenna or getting a different mounting for the windex. Circumstances solved our problem! We broke the VHF antenna that came with the boat as we took the her out of the water at the end of last season. Right next to the launch was an overhanging branch from a tree. It wasn't there the year before and caught us unaware. The branch does not bother the power boats, but with our mast up as we pulled forward from the ramp, it bent the antenna just far enough to snap it. Thus, a new antenna was in order. The old one was not designed for sail boats, anyway, as sail boat antennas need to work correctly when the boat is heeled over.

Disclaimer: This shows what we did on our mast. However, we cannot guarantee that any of it will work on your boat and will not damage your boat. Follow these directions at your own risk.

We ordered a bunch of parts from Catalina Direct. Our boat is a 1985 Catalina 22, so different parts may be needed for other model years or if you have non-standard gear. You may find some of these items are cheaper from Amazon, through the links at the bottom of this post.

  • D2087 Mast Light Wiring Harness C-22
  • Z2019 Aqua Signal Steaming & Halogen Deck Light 82<->98
  • Z3519 LED Upgrade for Aqua Signal Steaming/ Deck Light Combo
  • D1157 Anchor Light Mast Mount Tube - C-22
  • Z2004 Anchor Navigation Light 82<->98
  • Z3028 LED Upgrade For White Navigation Light
  • Z2022 VHF Masthead Antenna
  • Z1798 Anchor Light Tube Installation Kit
  • D2085 Spinnaker Crane C-22
  • Z2029 Deck Connector 4 Pin Black Plastic
  • Z1805 Windex 15 antenna mount

We also bought some additional items from Fisheries Supply:

  • 45' RG-8x Marine Grade Coax
  • 12' 14/4 Marine Grade flat wire
  • Rubber grommets for 1/2" holes

Additional supplies came from our local hardware store, or were on hand:

  • 3 10' Lengths of 3/4" Schedule 40 Plumbing PVC
  • 2 PVC connectors
  • Can of PVC Cement
  • 50 3/16"x1/4" pop rivets (also called blind rivets)
    Pop Rivets
    Pop Rivets
  • Spool of 14 gauge bare solid copper wire
  • Roll of blue or green painter's tape
  • Plastic cable tie

Tools used on this project:

  • Hacksaw
  • Screw drivers
  • Side cutters
  • Wire stripper
  • Flashlight
  • Round file
  • Pop rivet tool
  • 50' Wire fish tape
  • Vise Grips
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Electric drill
  • 3/16" drill bit for metal and PVC
  • 1/2" drill bit for metal and PVC
  • Tapping tool handle
  • Center punch
  • Hammer
  • 30' Tape measure
  • Eye protection
  • Dry erase marker
  • Heat source (lighter or heat gun) for heat shrink

We bought the D2087 wiring harness for the lighting. It isn't strictly necessary, as you can buy the wiring separately. However, the harness is pre-cut to the right lengths, and has the heat-shrink already around the bottom joining the two runs together. It also comes with the grommets that goes into the mast to protect the wiring. In the harness, there is a 14AWG two wire run that goes to the anchor light at the top of the mast, and a 14AWG three wire run that goes to the steaming and deck light just above the spreader bars. We also bought 45 feet of marine grade RG-8x coax for new antenna wire. Marine grade wire is tinned to reduce corrosion.

We got LED replacement bulbs for the anchor light, steaming light, and deck light, as these consume much less power. The battery will last much longer with LED bulbs. We plan on using LED lights everywhere when we are done.

You will need at least two people to do the job. Frequently one is working at the end of the mast, while the other is in the middle. At times, a third person will be handy but not required.

When drilling holes in the mast, use the center punch and hammer to create a starting point, then drill slowly. The aluminum is easy to drill. Always use eye protection while drilling. After drilling use the round file to smooth any hole that will have wires run through it. We're assuming that this is done throughout the directions below.

Aluminum pop rivet are great for attaching items to the mast that will not be subjected to a lot of stress. If you make a mistake or do not like how the item fits, just simply drill them out and try again.

The description below shows what we think will work best, given the hind sight of finishing this project. Some pictures may show tasks completed in a slightly different order than the description.

Prep Work

Mast on sawhorses
before removing furling jib

Coiled up standing rigging
  • Decide where you are going to store all the parts that will be removed that will need to go back on later.
  • Place the mast on sawhorses in a protected area. We used two sawhorses, plus a chair at times, because that's what we had, but later acquired a third sawhorse, as the mast flexed as we were working on it without center support.
  • Remove the furling jib by pulling the cotter pin at the head of the mast and set it aside.
  • Coil up the standing rigging and tape them out of the way with  painter's tape. Stepping on the rigging is a good way to put a hard kink into the cable, and you will be moving around the mast constantly. Best to get all that rigging safely stowed out of the way.
  • Remove the bolt holding the mast head in place and set the bolt, nut, and mast head aside.
  • Disconnect and pull the existing steaming light and VHF wiring. Set aside all old wiring to go to a metal recycling center, as copper is valuable.

The Conduit

When wires run up the mast, they should not be loose inside it. The existing antenna wiring had sponges placed around it every six feet or so to keep it from flopping around. We, instead, followed the recommendation to install conduit into the mast to run the wires through. The conduit runs on the inside front of the mast and is held in place by pop rivets. The PVC is about 6" shorter than the mast on both ends. The trick is getting the PVC conduit into the right place and riveting it. The instructions that came with the wiring harness recommend using a J shaped wire to hold the PVC to the front of the mast through one hole while pop-riveting another. After trying it, we discarded that idea as it did not really work. Instead we used 14 gauge bare solid copper wire as it had the right strength and flexibility.

Mark where you will
drill holes 2" apart
  • Construct a 24' run of PVC (for a 25' Catalina 22 mast) by gluing the PVC together with the connectors, then cutting it to length with the hacksaw. 
  • Mark spots in pairs approximately every four feet down the front of the mast with the dry erase marker, adjusting for hardware already on the mast. The pairs of holes are 2" apart.
  • Drill 3/16" holes where you have marked.
  • Cut six lengths of copper wire, each about two feet long.
  • Fold them in half, then push the V of the fold through the lower hole of each pair in the mast. When it hits the other side, it expands.
    Copper wire pushed
    through hole
  • Wrap the remainder around the outside of the mast and twist it together to keep it from getting knocked loose.
  • Run the PVC down the mast through the loops in the copper wire.
  • Make sure the PVC went through the loops at each copper wire by tugging on the wires, and viewing down the mast with the flashlight. The PVC should end about 6" from each end of the mast.
  • Pull all the copper wires tight and re-fasten them around the mast. This pulls the PVC to the front of the mast. You should see the PVC next to the holes all along the mast.

    PVC pulled up next to the hole,
    ready for drilling
    Copper wire wrapped
    around the mast
  • Working down the mast for each pair of holes:
    • Drill through the top hole of the pair through the side of the PVC.
      Drill the upper hole of the
    • Use the 3/16" x 1/4" pop rivet through the hole you just drilled to secure the PVC to the front of the mast.
      Putting the pop rivet in the
      upper hole of the pair
    • Use the side cutters to cut one side of the copper wire as close to the hole as possible.
    • With Vise Grips, pull the other side of the copper wire from the hole. In a few cases, the copper wire broke, but that will eventually come loose and shake down the mast.
    • Through the lower hole, drill a hole through the PVC
    • Pop-rivet the bottom hole to the mast.
    Note: Make absolutely sure that you have the first pop-rivet securing the PVC before cutting the copper wire at the other hole! We missed once and recovering took more than an hour of brain-storming, coat hangers, things being shoved down the mast to lever the PVC up, and other techniques that the copper wire avoided.

Running the Wires and Installing the Steaming Light

  • With the PVC in place, drill a 1/2" hole in the PVC where the steaming light was located, though the existing hole in the mast.
  • Run the fish tape down the PVC from the top of the mast
  • Tape the anchor light wire from the harness and the RG-8x coax to the fish tape.
    Wires attached to the fish tape
  • Put one wrap of painter's tape to hold the steaming light wire, which is shorter, to the other wires.
  • At the end of the steaming light wire, create a little pull of tape, which is easier to grab with the needle nose pliers than the wire itself.
  • Pull the wires up to the where the end of the steaming light wire is next to the hole and pull it out.
  • Place a rubber grommet into the wiring hole at the bottom of the mast.
  • Pull the end of the wiring harness though the hole.
  • Slip the heat shrink over the wires.
  • Strip the wires and fasten to Z2029 Deck Connector.
  • Make a diagram of which color wire is connected to each pin on the deck connector...you will need that later. This should go into your permanent records about your boat.
  • Carefully subject the heat shrink to heat until it is tight around the wires.
    Wiring harness routed
    at bottom of mast
  • At the steaming light, strip the outer wire insulation from the three wires back to the steaming light hole.
    Removing the outer insulation
    for the steaming/deck light
  • Put a rubber grommet into the hole.
    Wires routed for the
    steaming/deck light
    Inserting the grommet
  • Remove the gasket on the back of the steaming light, as there is not room to fit the wires through the hole otherwise.
  • Slip the three wires through hole at the back of the steaming light.
  • Drill two 3/16" holes in the side of the mast
  • Pop-riveted the steaming light into place.
    Pop rivet the steaming/deck light
    into place
  • Strip the wires.
  • Screw the wires to the screw posts for the steaming light, deck light, and ground. 
    Wires for the steaming light, deck
    light, and ground connected
  • Put the cover on the light.

Strain Relief

Now move to the top of the mast. There needs to be strain relief on the cables. This holds the cables on the top of the mast, so that the weight of the wires or a tug on the cable at the bottom of the mast does not pull the wires from their connections. There seems to be as many opinions on how to perform strain relief on wires as there are people making posts about it on the Internet. We decided to go with a cable tie that has a hole for a screw.

Cable tie with screw hole
Cable tie strain relief.
  • Drill a 3/16" hole in the side of the mast.
  • Bend the hole for the cable tie at 90 degrees.
  • Pop rivet the cable tie to the inside of the mast.
  • Put the cable tie around the wires and pull tight.
  • Cut the excess cable tie.

Spinnaker Crane

Last season we used the jib halyard for raising the spinnaker and gennaker. This worked, but ideally the spinnaker flies forward of the forestay, and can slide in response to the wind. When using the jib halyard, the top of the spinnaker chafes against the forestay. Adding a spinnaker crane, block, and halyard will put the spinnaker in the right place.

  • Pull the cotter pins for the rigging on the fore side of the mast head and discard.
  • Remove the clevis pins from the mast head.
  • Put the spinnaker crane in place.
  • Put the clevis pins that came with the spinnaker crane through the mast head.
  • Put the cotter coils for those pins in place.
  • Attach a block to the crane.
  • Run at least 50' of 1/4" or 3/8" line through the block

VHF Antenna

Our VHF antenna is mounted on the starboard side of the mast. We did a little work to make it fit on the side the mast, outside the shroud lines.

  • Drill a hole through the bracket for the antenna, which will accommodate the bolt that holds the mast head.
  • Drill two additional holes in the bottom of the bracket.
  • Drill two holes for the bracket for the antenna into the side of the mast.
  • Pop-rivet the two lower holes in bracket for the antenna to the side of the mast.
  • Drill a 1/2" hole in the mast for the wire to come through.
  • Place a grommet into the hole.
  • Attach the coax connector to the wire


The windex that we bought previously now went on the antenna. This is the scheme that worked.

  • Bend the reference angle for the windex to the right shape (about 60 degrees).
  • Slide the large washer on the antenna base.
  • Put the reference angle on the antenna base..
  • Mount the antenna on the antenna bracket.
  • Put the locking nut on the bottom of the antenna base.
  • Put a wrap of rigging tape around the antenna just above the anchor light.
  • Remove the end cap of the antenna.
  • Slide a Teflon washer over the antenna down to the rigging tape.
  • Slide the windex over the antenna.
  • Slide another Teflon washer over the antenna.
  • Put another wind of rigging tape around the antenna above the washer.

Anchor Light

The anchor light is mounted to the mast head with a tube. The light is then mounted to the top.

Tube properly mounted.
Tapping holes into the mast head.
  • Drill two holes through the anchor light tube at locations that will allow it to be secured to the mast head.
  • Drill two corresponding holes on the mast head.
  • Using the tapping tool, cut threads in the holes.
  • Screw the anchor light tube to the mast head.


The 2015-2016 Off Season Overview

We were particularly unproductive throughout the winter on the various maintenance that we had intended on Fantasia. Greg's father decided that having a quadruple bypass was more important. After they fixed that, there was rehab, and many doctors appointments. This kind of interfered with our boat maintenance schedule! Greg's father is doing fine now.

We had intended on performing keel maintenance, so have decided to defer that to the fall. Instead, we have decided to concentrate on three main activities:

  1. Thoroughly clean and fix problems on the hull and rudder
  2. Run all the lines back to the cockpit [Note: didn't happen]
  3. Perform upgrades on the things attached to the mast

To clean the hull, we started with a thorough pressure washing of the hull and cockpit. We also pressure washed the teak. While pressure washing, we discovered that there are a number of small holes in the gel coat just above the water line. We have ordered the gel coat repair stuff, Spectrum Gel Coat Patch Paste Repair, and will be repairing it after it comes in. The paste is considered hazardous, and thus can only be shipped by UPS Ground, so be prepared for long lead times. You may think it would be a good idea to keep the paste on hand, but it has a limited shelf life, so order it before you need it, but not long before you need it.

After pressure washing, there were still stains, particularly just above the water line. We got some Davis Fiberglass Stain Remover. This stuff is just great. You just rub it on, with very little elbow grease, let it sit for a few minutes and wash it off. Use gloves, as it is an skin irritant.

Before and after of using Davis Fiberglass Stain Remover.
Also shows the holes in the gel coat.

To run the lines back to the cockpit, we purchased a Spinlock triple rope clutch. This will be mounted on the port side of the pop top. To make room, we are shortening the handrail on that side.

On the mast, we are:

  1. Replacing the VHF antenna
  2. Running new coax for the VHF antenna
  3. Adding a windex to the antenna
  4. Adding an anchor light
  5. Running a new wiring harness for the anchor light, steaming light, and deck light
  6. Adding a new deck light and steaming light
  7. Adding a new spinnaker crane

We will be posting additional articles with details of these projects.


The Schooner Zodiac

We went out for a sail. It was another beautiful day for sailing, with about 12 knot winds and waves just starting to whitecap. The sun was out, but not blazing hot. There were far more sailboats out than power boats, with a few kayaks and kiteboarders out too. Our normal crew had the children replaced by a co-worker of Sandi's.

While tacking up the lake, we saw down by the 520 bridge a very large schooner, with two masts and four sails. We decided to go check it out, so started running down the lake, wing and wing, trying to catch it. It sailed over toward Kirkland, tacked, and then headed back toward the 520 bridge, we guessed back to Lake Union. It was going about twice as fast as us, so we gave up trying to catch it.

After getting home, we figured out what we were looking at. It was the schooner Zodiac, which has her home port in Bellingham. This is a 160 foot sailing ship, built in 1924 for the Johnson and Johnson brothers, of Band Aid fame. They sold it just before the stock market crashed. It eventually wound up as a pilot ship in San Francisco until 1972, ferrying the pilots for San Francisco bay out to the large ships. By 1974, it moved to Washington State.


Blue Angels at Seafair

Blue Angels in formation.
All six F/18s of the Blue Angels.

Every year since 1972, with a couple of exceptions, the Blue Angels have performed at Seafair. Seafair is a Seattle event, that includes parades, hydroplane races, marathons, and other activities. The most popular part of it, though, is the air show. The air show includes lots of different performances, but what everyone comes to see are the Blue Angels.

With the smoke on.

The Blue Angels are the U.S. Navy's flight demonstration squadron. They are a highly visible way of demonstrating Navy aircraft, their pilots and capabilities. The Navy considers them one of their primary recruiting tools. Considering how many people they reach and entertain, their $37 million annual budget does not seem excessive.

Since 1986, the Blue Angels have flown F-18/A/B/C/D Hornet aircraft. These are highly maneuverable, twin tailed fighter jets. The most modern jets in that class are F-18E/F Super Hornets. These are larger, but most of the reason for the upgrades are better avionics, weapon carrying capacity and fuel capacity, which would not help in an air show. The main difference between the air show aircraft and the military aircraft is a different flight stick, and the nose cannon has been replaced by the smoke generator. The Navy claims they can turn the Blue Angels F-18s into combat ready aircraft within 72 hours.

Blue Angels completing a loop
and about to be attacked by a giant dragonfly.

For Seafair, they come out and practice, then hold shows on Saturday and Sunday. They have to close the I-90 bridge for a couple of hours during the show. Also boat traffic is restricted from I-90 south.

All of them looping at once.

There are six aircraft in the show. Four aircraft fly together most of the time, while the two most experienced pilots fly more difficult maneuvers separately most of the time.

We went out for a sail to see them. We never got south of the 520 bridge, so most of the time they were quite a ways away. However, for a few maneuvers, they come pretty far north.

Kiteboarder on Lake Washington.
Sandi and Taylor.

Right after the show, there were about 100 powerboats all headed right for us. They had all been south of the 520 bridge and came through the eastern high-rise passage.

We stopped at Carilon Point in Kirkland for a break, then proceeded to tack back up the lake, watching the kite boarders. A very nice day of sailing.