Pacific Seacraft Orion

Born in: 1900
0 Feet
0.5 ft Beam
0 ft Draft
0 lb Displacement
  • Sail Plan
  • Port Elevation
  • Starboard Elevation
  • Deck Arrangement

Projects and Upgrades

I bought Arcturus from Deaton Yacht Sales in May of 2010. I tried to do as few of upgrades as I could before I actually did some sailing trips. I wanted to determine what upgrades I wanted on board based on experience, not just book and other sailor recommendations. After my first trip down to the Keys and back and then a four and a half month trip to the Bahamas and back, I was able to finally start figuring out what additions and upgrades I wanted before heading out for good. This list could probably go on forever. Even as I look at it now, there are dozens of tiny projects that took place that would probably be really boring to read about but still took a lot of time and thought. Anyhow, this is a pretty decent sampling of some of the projects that happened on board Arcturus during the two year refit of 2013-2015. Click on any of the projects for a little more information and photos.

I have my Mom and sister to thank for my new cushions on board. I made of list of everything I would want to do on board and prioritized it. New cushions were needed but not critical to safety and operation of the boat. They viewed them as a very high priority and went in together to buy them for my trip. Definitely nice to have a more modern looking cushion on board!Cushions
Most of my instruments on board were from the 1995 line of electronics. Still working but definitely out of date by the time I bought the boat. When it was time to rewire the mast, I decided to replace everything from the base up. I went with the Garmin bundle that included wind, speed and depth instruments. They look great and I have been very pleased with them.
Garmin Bundle
Chainplates are one of those every 20 year type of projects. Chainplates are the link between the boat and the rigging that holds up the mast. If one of them breaks, there is a good change the mast is coming down. Since I intend to take the boat out and into/around the world I decided to replace the chainplates along with all the rigging. And the bowsprit. Basically anything that might break and bring the mast down. Pacific Seacraft did the chainplates for me and we decided to beef them up a bit since we could. We thickened the plates and increased the bolt size for a stronger hold. Here is a ~$5000 photo of my chainplates and rigging. It’s just money, right:)Chainplates I sold my car and immediately turned around and bought these. Ooph!
It's just money
I actually had very little to do with this. My mast was down and off the boat while Deaton Yachts was working on repairing my mast step. Wag the Magician was the one who rewired the mast for me. Since we were doing the project, I decided to put on new spreader lights, wind instrument, tricolor, VHF antenna, you name it. Nice to have all new stuff with the mast that I hopefully will not have to worry about for a while.
I sailed for a few years without doing many upgrades to the boat. I wanted to see what I needed before just going out and buying lots of things I did not need. I sailed for a couple of seasons with the stock alternator on board. It did not crank out enough juice to properly charge my battery bank and it definitely would not do with my fancy new battery bank I was installing. So I purchased a Balmar 100 amp high output alternator. Pretty simple bolt on install but it has made a huge difference. Big thumbs up!
This one deserves about eight boxes to itself. Quite the undertaking. I was installing lots of new bits and pieces on board and we decided it would be best to just go ahead and rewire everything while we were in there. John Teple was a huge, huge help in this whole process. He spent countless hours on board helping me complete this and about every other project on board. I spent quite a bit of time studying up and coming up with a new power plan on board. I am very happy with the result. I realized I took almost no photos of this process but here are a few I dug up.
Boats, man... Rewire Rewire
My VHF radio, which is pretty much my main form of communication with other boats, started becoming unreliable on my last run to the Bahamas. I ended up running new wires during the Big Rewire as well as buying a new unit (ICOM and antenna. Much better!
I use a manual foot pump most of the time to get my fresh water out of the tanks. It is right below the sink in galley. This saves power and keeps water from being wasted if the tap is left on. I started having trouble with my electric water pump as well as my manual and I started having trouble getting any water out of my tanks. No good! So during the Big Refit, I installed a new foot pump and electric water pump.
Foot Pump Water Pump
This was a crucial project that turned into a major time investment. John Teple was integral to the whole process. I had a few portlights that were leaking consistently and needed to be fixed. We needed to replace the glass but that required taking out lots of tiny screws from the back of the portlight. Most of the heads snapped off from 30 years of corrosion when we tried to loosen them. We finally got the screws all out and went by our local old time hardware store that carries brass screws. Greg, their primary wizard, took a look at the screws and said “Hmm…odd…these look like #5 screws but they haven’t made those in 25 years…” I told him my boat was 30 years old and he said “Well, they are #5 screws. They don’t exist anymore.” We ended up retapping all of the screw holes and “upgrading” to #6 size screws. We put in new auto safety glass and also polishing all of them up while we were at it. Very nice to have new glass and not leaky portlights.
Portlights Portlights
After a particularly scary offshore passage, I decided to replace everything related to mast support. That included replacing all of the standing rigging on the boat. Pacific Seacraft did some of the rigging and my buddy Ted Hale did the other half. Here is a photo with some of the rigging and my new chain plates.

Chain plates and rigging
So we got back from a pretty nasty encounter with the ocean and discovered that the bowsprit was rotting out on the underside. Here’s what it looked like when we took it off. Gah!!
Broken bowsprit Pacific Seacraft made the new bowsprit and Sampson posts for me. The Pacific Seacraft factory happened to only be an hour down the road and it was so nice to be able to have the original manufacturer make these new pieces for Arcturus. Here is a photo of the first coats of epoxy.
Bowsprit Getting the bowsprit and especially the Sampson posts to fit was a major project. Here are a few photos of the first phases of getting the new bowsprit in position.
Bowsprit I need to dig up a couple of photos of the finished product but we ended up painting it white to protect the epoxy from UV damage.
So, Wag at Deaton Yacht Services was one of the main guys working on my boat. He rewired my mast for me and helped with lots of other projects. I asked him if he had any advice on which spreader lights to get for me boat. He flashed a smile and said “Get the best ones you can afford because you do not want to have to deal with rewiring them ever again!” So I bought the Kevin X4 Spreader Lights by Dr. LED. They are shrimp boat bright at 1380 lumens a piece and only draw 1.5 amps each. They have been crucial in some of our offshore runs when we need to go up on deck at night.
Check out “An Offshore Experience” for the entire crazy story about what sparked this project. Basically came back from an offshore run and discovered a crack around the entire mast step (the fiberglass base that the mast rest on). Deaton Yacht Services took care of the repair and Gary said I now have the strongest mast step out there. They did an awesome job with the repair work.
Mast Step Mast Step
John Teple helped in an infinite number of ways during my two year refit in Oriental. One major project was rewiring the boat and installing a new battery/electrical system on board. I spent an amazing amount of time reading Nigel Calder’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual. With John’s help, I was able to come up with a new plan for Arcturus. The battery bank was a major part of that. I ended up putting in a starter battery and four 6 volt deep cycle batteries. I increased my bank from 105 amp hours to 420 am hours. Unfortunately, I did a terrible job of documenting this. Here are a couple of photos I took while in the Dominican Republic. I had to take the batteries off the boat to recharge (that’s a long story!) and had to try to recreate what I had done two years prior. The little battery drawing was so that I could actually put everything back together like I had it!
Battery Row Battery Diagram Battery Bank
First off, I love AIS. It stands for Automatic Identification System. All commercial vessels are required to have AIS on board to display their boat name, course, destination, etc. One of the biggest fears for offshore sailors is getting run over by a massive cargo ship. With an AIS receiver, I am able to see which direction those those tiny lights on the horizon are heading. With a transponder, those ships are actually able to see me as well and we can adjust course appropriately. A fantastic stress reliever for sailors. Some models overlay AIS information onto your chartplotter but I chose to use a stand alone unit. Chartplotters can be a major power suck and do not need to always be on when you are sailing out of sight of land. The Vesper Marine Watchmate 850 only draws .25 amps per hour and can also display your GPS coordinates. Really nice unit. It is also nice to have a second GPS antenna in case something happens to my chartplotter. Big thumbs up to this product!
AIS This is what my new navigation panel looked like. That blank spot is where my AIS ended up.
Nav Panel
My Dad was able to find a good deal on a used ICOM M-802 SSB radio for me. An SSB radio is essentially a ham radio for sailboats that lets me communicate with anyone in the world. VHF radio is usually limited to about 24 miles, so it is really nice to have a way to communicate beyond that. SSB radios can also receive weather information as well as send and receive emails.
SSB installs can be fairly tricky but we decided to go with the easiest (and I think best option) since we were doing it ourselves. We picked the ICOM M-802 as the transceiver, the KISS-SSB grounding system and the Gam Split Lead Backstay Antenna. I still need to get more proficient with the SSB but it all works well!
ICOM M-802 KISS Grounding System
This one is pretty boring but pretty darn important. Halyards are how your raise the sails and they are fed through blocks at the top of the mast. If one of these halyards breaks, your sail will drop (probably in the water) and you’ve got a real mess going up the mast and sorting it all out again. Best to keep them nice and fresh!
OK. So I kind of have a love/hate relationship with my compost head. Currently mostly hate but we are getting back on good terms. There is an eight page blog story (An Offshore Passage) that tells about the time my compost head tried to sink my boat on the wrong side of the Gulf Stream. Still, it is better than having a holding tank on board that can overflow or dealing with a smelly head. This is a self contained unit that vents to the outside to reduce nasty smells on board. I went with the Nature’s Head unit and it is very nice. Almost everyone I have met out sailing is very happy with the conversion to a compost head. I’m still working on it:)
Compost Head
Holy smokes, this was a project. We decided that I should go ahead and replace the Sampson Posts while I was doing my bowsprit replacement. The Sampson posts are two posts that are at the bow of the boat. I attach my anchor chain and docklines to the Sampson posts, so they are critical to me staying in one place. They sit in fiberglass wells in the deck and are bolted through each side to the hull and bowsprit. Very sturdy but also ridiculously hard to remove. Pacific Seacraft made the bowsprit and Sampson posts for me and did an awesome job.
Sampson Posts Removing the Sampson posts Sampson Posts Bowsprit
I had to haul out my fuel tank to do some bilge work and discovered some pitting in the tank that could lead to leaks in the future. I ended up having an identical tank made by The Grill Man in New Bern. He did an amazing job.
Fuel Tank
The Tricolor/Anchor light is at the top of the mast on sailboats and is used while underway and at anchor. The old school, pre-LED lights draw about 3 amps per hour and can be one of the major power draws while underway offshore. An LED light is brighter, requires less maintenance long term and only draws .3 amps per hour. Incredible. I ended up putting an OGM LED Tricolor up top and it has been great.
My wind vane was one of the best deals I found for my boat. Wind vanes are mechanical self steering devices that mount to the back of the boat and use the force of the wind and the water to steer the boat. They are perfect for long ocean passages where the power draw of an electric autopilot could be hard to keep up with. I was able to find a used version of the exact wind vane I was looking for at Hurricane Jack’s in New Bern. It had been very lightly used and had been caught up in a nasty divorce where everything was being sold off of the boat. It is a Flemming 301 Global Minor. I walked in and saw it and asked the price. $2200 versus the $5000 new price. I went and sold my car and came back to buy it. Honestly still trying to figure it out but that gives me something to do on long passages!
Windvane Flemming
The battery charger that came with my boat became unreliable and was under powered for my new battery system. I decided to go with a Charles HQ Series 55 Amp Battery Charger. It is industrial grade and has a five year warranty. Good upgrade!
Battery Charger
One of the very first purchases I made for the boat in 2010 was a new Garmin 540 Chartplotter. It has been rock solid and reliable the entire time I’ve had it. I actually decided to go with all Garmin instruments when I did my Big Refit because it has been such a good unit.
This was a major project but has made life on board so much better. I had significant problems with my stove during the first three years of sailing. I ended up using a camp stove most of the time. We ended up replacing the fuel lines, having a new tank made and rebuilding all of the burners. Now it works like a charm. It is a Taylor 30L kerosene stove and oven. It is gimballed, meaning that it hangs freely and keeps itself balanced while offshore. Kerosene is not explosive and is extremely efficient. Here are a few photos of the process.
Taylor Stove Taylor Stove Taylor Stove Taylor Stove Taylor Stove
John Teple was a huge help with everything on board. He spent countless hours working on various projects on board. His engine knowledge probably saved me thousands of dollars and helped me get the engine in good shape to take off long term. We took most of the pieces off of the engine and repainted them in his shop. We put on a new exhaust elbow, installed a new alternator, new thermostat, engine gaskets, you name it. It was also great to work with someone who is comfortable with engines so that I could learn the skills I need to maintain the image moving forward. Thanks John!
Engine parts