The first project is one I started in December. I would really like to replace the fabric bimini top on the boat with a hard top. There are a number of advantages to having a hard top. First, I won't need to deal with replacing the fabric on a semi-regular basis as the sun takes its toll on fabric and sewing of the top. More importantly, it provides a wide and stable platform for working with the main sail boom, something I consider to be a safety enhancement. It will also be a nice platform for mounting solar panels. And there is no point in creating a new set of dodgers for my current top if I intend to replace it. So, I've been talking with a guy in town about options for creating a simple hard top and looking at other designs for ideas on getting one made for a reasonable cost.
Speaking of solar, that is also on the list of upgrades I would like to make soon. Currently, the only ways I have to keep the batteries charged on the boat are to run the engines, run the diesel generator, or plug it into shore power. Since I would like to spend more time out of marinas and on anchor (and not have to burn lots of diesel), I need a greener way to keep the batteries topped off and solar power seems like the best option. Having a catamaran, and particularly one with a hard top bimini, provides a lot of space to install solar. Recently Kyocera came out with some solar panels that produce up to 325 watts of power at 40 volts DC and they are reasonably priced. With the right maximum power point tracking (MPPT) controller, two of these panels could produce somewhere in the neighborhood of 240 Amp Hours of juice a day. So, I've been looking at solar packages similar to this one to add to the boat. I also performed a power inventory to see how much power I think I will need in a day. Of course, a lot of this is still guess work as I don't have really good numbers for how we will be using power. Things like the refrigerator (one of the big power hogs) is easy, but other lifestyle uses are still somewhat unknown.
I also need rebed both of the large salon side windows on the boat. It seems that Leopard didn't have a good process or didn't use the best materials when they were originally installed. The result is a failure rate on the seals on the windows on most of their older boats is near 100%. The windows have no mechanical fasteners and are only held in by sealant. So, I've spent a lot of time looking through all the questions and pictures on the Leopard owners group on Yahoo. It sounds like a bit of a tedious and messy process, but I think I have a handle on it. Guess I'll find out soon as the sealant needed should arrive later today. Then I just need a couple warm dry days to do the work.
One other task has popped up that I wasn't planning on. When I was showing a fellow Leopard 3800 owner at the marina my new Mantus anchor, we noticed that the fiberglass structure that the anchor roller is mounted to has started to crack. The roller and bail now move some when they shouldn't move at all. Since this area takes a lot of load while anchoring, it will need to be repaired. So, with my very limited knowledge about fiberglass repair, I've been researching that as well. Looking at the other Leopard, his boat has a significantly thicker fiberglass structure than mine, so I guess someone might have figured out an issue with the boat in between when mine was built and when his was. In any case, looks like I'll be doing some pretty serious fiberglass layup work in the near future.
So, filling my head with boat fixing knowledge, hopefully I can execute some of it well.