While the house was on the market, we turned our attention to the projects that would have to be completed prior to our moving on board. The priorities quickly became apparent….power, heat, refrigeration and water. These are things we can’t live without, right? So the first thing we did was replace the entire water system. The boat had originally been outfitted with grey PEX hose and fittings. Those fittings were now over 13 years old and in need of some work, so we made the decision to pull everything out and convert the entire boat to the “Whale” water system of hard plastic hose and easy-connect fittings. This turned out to be the perfect project to start with as it introduced us to how the boat was organized below floorboards and behind the walls. Three years later, we are still very happy with this system. When we need to make a change, we simply pull the fitting off, make the change and then plug it back it – super slick!
While we were working on the water system, we came to the realization that adding in the DC refrigeration unit we had picked (a water cooled Grunert system, with holding plates in both the freezer and fridge) might be a little more than we could handle [I should note here that Brett and I are firm believers that we need to do as much of our own work as possible because if something breaks at sea, we will have a better understanding of the system and a much higher chance of fixing it]. After looking over the manual, and knowing our own limits, we made the decision to hire the work out.
So what did we learn? GET A QUOTE! In writing with “not to exceed” clauses in place, PRIOR to having the work done! While the quality of the work done was excellent, the job came in at more than TWICE the original (verbal) quote. You can imagine our complete shock considering there was no warning along the way that the quote had been not only exceeded, but left in the dust! Thankfully the owner of the company agreed that the lack of warning wasn’t fair, so we met in the middle and still have a good relationship. But an EXPENSIVE LESSON LEARNED so take heed!!!!
With the refrigeration in hand, Brett was on to the next big project on the list – heat! We knew we’d need a good heat source over our soggy and cold northwest winters, so we trekked over to Sure Marine in Ballard and after much discussion with their excellent and knowledgeable staff, we decided to install a Webasto Thermo 90ST for a wonderful 31,000 BTU’s of glorious heat. After getting a couple of quotes we knew there was no way we could afford to have someone else do the work, plus there was that pesky code of ours to do the work ourselves if at all possible, so Brett set off to learn what would be needed and started working. By the time the project was done, we fully understood why those quotes were so high ($15-$20K, not kidding!). It takes a tremendous amount of time to run hoses through every cabin, cut holes, install fans, run power and hook it all up. Brett estimates it easily took at least 90 hours to do all the work. And that was with some help from his trusty part-time assistant (me) and our good friend Pat (of Pat’s Marine Engines) who did the final exhaust work for the heater install (we really didn’t want to risk dying of carbon monoxide poisoning after all).
When all was said and done, Brett was intimate with every inch of our boat and you would never know a professional didn’t do the work. Have I mentioned how much I love my husband? And how much I’ve loved that heater when it was cold out? Phew!