We did it!

This is where we started.

So, just to let you know, this is going to be mostly pictures of the work we’ve been doing.  As soon as the weather warmed up enough that we could hope the epoxy would dry, we turned our combined attention to the aft deck, or fantail, if you prefer.

We’ve been fiending to get the Monitor wind vane (pictured above, with me) on this boat since we first saw it at the Marine Consignment of Wickford, months ago.  It works like this: a vane is pointed thin side to the wind.  The boat changes course and the wind angle changes, so the wind pushes the vane over to the side.  This turns a servo-rudder in the water and the water pressure pushes the rudder to one side.  That pulls a line through a bunch of blocks and attached to the tiller, steering the boat so that the wind vane is again straight up and down, thin side into the wind.  Strangely, wonderfully, it takes less than a moment for this to happen.  This is what steered us for 20 days between San Francisco and Hawaii.

First, we needed to prep the fantail, including the taftrail.

A big part of painting is prep.

Which includes filling the holes for all the random hardware we removed, filling and fairing, and sanding.  That’s where we are above.  Below, we’ve coated that new surface with neat epoxy.

And more sanding.

We wanted to install the Monitor and the Rutland 913 wind generator we already had, but they both needed bases.  We got these on before painting so that the 610 – thickened epoxy that, unlike regular epoxy, doesn’t overheat when used thickly – would bond chemically as well as mechanically to the fresh epoxy on the deck.  It was just a little too cold for it to cure in one day, so this phase stuck around longer than we wanted.

Finally, though, we primed.

And painted.  Then we took several deep breaths each and drilled a bunch of new holes in the deck we just fixed.

James says, “Whew.”

And then it was on with the deck hardware.

Now, that picture shows the wind generator pole in the upper left corner.  Now, we’re going back in time just a tiny bit.

Putting the wind generator back together was a task that covered everything from electrical wiring, pvc pipe fittings to piece together the different pole sizes, through manhandling the heavy thing into place and all the way to bolting it down with serious butyl tape.

Starting with…

Then moving to wiring…

A closeup of the rectifiers.

The whole thing went together pretty well after that.

Another step closer…

Once again – I’m not the only person who works on these things.  James, as the photographer, gets a visual bad rap, but is right there with me when not photographing me.

Then we were ready to put the thing on the pole and mount it.

And then up we went!

And guess what?  We started making power with it.


And on to the next project.   Cause we’ve been working feverishly like that.

Monitor – here we come!

We took the old mounting tubes and hardware off, drilled holes in the new tubes (feels strange to make such a short story of such an epic, cuss-word laden event), and bolted them into place.

Once again, this is the second time we’ve done this job.  More often than not, that’s not the case.  So this one did go straightforwardly into place.

You have to know, through out this entire fantail project Dena spent most of the time in the aft lazarette which, as you can see, has a vertical opening hatch that is just big enough for Dena…

There are a total of 16 through-bolts with 1/4 inch backing plates holding this machine on our boat, it’s not going anywhere that we don’t!

A thing of beauty!

…And this is how it drives the boat.

It really is that simple and it’s so much fun to watch.

We finished just in time for a really nice weather window so we’re going to go out into the world and test this rig, starting tomorrow.

Yes, we did it!

…With kitty!



  1. Oh my! This one gave me a happy sigh. How totally satisfying. Now I get the purpose of that spinny thing! It’s fascinating to watch the breakdown of how you attach something heavy, permenently. The wind vane is like an architectural element of your boat, basically, right? DAAAAMN.
    As a crafter I like to hear about the materials you choose to deal with all the factors of your specialized environment. You’re dealing with movement in any possible direction, storm conditions, salt corrosion, sun exposure, a bunch of stuff I don’t know enough to think of. You know your shit, I bet you were both great at advising WM customers. I only follow so much but I can see it takes a sophisticated level of technical knowledge to make this process sound perfectly logical and ordinary. Astounded by how far you take your DIY life/style. Way to make your world exactingly what you want it to be.
    So happy for you that you’re underway! It’s gotta be extra sweet because you sweat so much to earn it.

    PS Are you keeping that cat?

    1. Tom, yes you caught me with my rectifier just dangling in the wind but it didn’t stay that way for long the wind generator looks and works great. We think we will have to make some improvements on it in the near future because it’s not performing as well as we think it should.
      Also, I’m really happy you understand the level of difficulty behind building a large, delicate piece of equipment on a moving target with a great deal of precision… It takes a colorful vocabulary and a steady addiction…
      Kate, yes the kitty stays! And after a full day of sailing in rough seas we have come to the conclusion that he’ll be just fine.

  2. Wow, cool .Things are looking really SWEET. That my friends is one helluva big ass rear bumper…Hahaha Waiting to see the railing ,but I must commend you both on the shear power it took to place the “spinny thing” and how planning and perfect dock height got the Monitor in position. I can see that thing is not light and bulky to maneuver, not to mention that one part of that project (the boat)is moving. And above all else,I got to see your Full Bridge Rectifier. Great job,well done. That one was a big one to scratch from the list. Bottom’s up and Aloha

  3. Yeah, Tom, I thought that too! The skeleton-like cagey structure (mounting tubes. Could always just scroll up and find the correct words, Kate, duh.) looked to me like it adds a lot of clearance on the back of the boat. Seems vulnerable to smashing into the dock or whatever else you might back up to. No?

  4. WOW, just WOW. The two of you are amazing and I am so thankful that your blog gives me a window into your lives. Your days are so incredibly different than mine and I find your willingness and ability to tackle any project that comes your way to be so refreshing and inspiring. I hope your sailing time was wonderful – let’s hear it for beautiful Spring days.

    And I agree – such a cute cat!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.