In the midst of finishing projects and leaving on our trip, we didn’t find the time to write about all of our modifications. Here is a medley to update our blog.
The completed dodger, with an isinglass and sunbrella shield. We are very happy with how this came together and it is working well.
After building and attaching the frame (see previous post), I bolted a sail tape track to the inner forward top of the starboard (see acorn nuts every 3-4 inches).
Then, using a consigned piece of isinglass from Bacon Sails in Annapolis, I measured the pattern. To do this I ran my sail tape through the track. Then, holding the isinglass up to the top I traced the upper curve. I thought this would be a practice piece to use to form a better fit, but it ended up being just the right size. The bottom was already sewed in a straight line on the bottom with white sunbrella.
I cut my curve into the top of the isinglass and sewed on the sail tape, along with a 2-3” trim piece of sunbrella to protect the dacron sail tape that is more vulnerable to sun rot. (Later, I put brass snaps in the trim piece and sewed a cover that can snap on to prevent long-term sun damage.)
The bottom is attached using shock cord. We had seen this on another Vega we met in Bermuda on their way home to Denmark and thought it made a lot of sense given the shape of the Vega’s spray guard. I sewed the shock cord into a sunbrella pocket on the bottom. To hold it onto the boat it runs along the hatch cover lip in the middle, then extends outward on the wood spray guards. I turned the wood spray guard pieces around so that they would give more of a lip for the shock cord to grab onto.
The shock cord is clipped off to our dodger. It is very secure, but I can punch it out. This is good because if a big wave came it wouldn’t strain the dodger, just pop out.
I also sewed together a bug screen for the companionway. We used this really thick and stiff screen material. I think it is normally used under cushions for circulation? Well, it keeps the bugs out really well but was hard to sew and is mildly annoying to crawl in and out of. Apart from that, we really like the overall design and how we attached it to the boat.
On the bottom and sides (where the blue sunbrella is) Grant shaped a metal frame to go into the sliders. This gives it a good seal, secures it in place and makes it easy to put in place. I sewed the sunbrella edges around the frame so that the sides are a sleeve, and the bottom is a velcro attachment. The bottom of the screen also detaches by velcro to allow for a larger opening. On the top of the screen we did old-fashioned velcro along the sides.
Another modification we are loving is the glass window on the forward hatch my Dad put together for us. I never realized how dark the v-berth was until we had the extra light!
He started by tracing out where he was going to cut the hatch on an extra hatch we have from a parted boat. This pattern will hopefully keep the hatch strong and not have weak points. Using 1/4” smoked lexan glass he cut the window shape out. The edges of the lexan were then sanded, building up in grit, to give a smooth rounded edge.
He touched up the hatch and edges with a few coats of the white Perfection paint we had used on the topsides. Using a heavy sealer he bolted the lexan to the hatch and we let is dry for a couple of days and then installed it onto the boat.
Inside the hatch we added a screen/blackout curtain magnetic thing we had seen on another boat and liked. It’s really cool. One side is a screen rolled up, the other is a black out curtain. The magnet in the middle by the handles moves them back and forth. They are absurdly expensive but after patiently waiting one came into Bacon Sails that was in our price range.
Moving on to the galley, we made some major renovations here.
First, we wanted a stove with an oven, but given the original setup the bulkheads did not allow enough space for the typical oven to fit and allow for the oven door to open. So, we moved the bulkhead forward. We found a stainless oven insert about 21” wide to put the oven in. Beneath the oven we installed a door that gives some great storage for pans.
Behind the oven was a big chasm. We thought a long time about how to use this space effectively and came up with this creation that we really like. On the bottom is a shelf to divide the open space between the back and the bottom of the oven. This makes sure anything stowed behind the oven does not travel down. On this shelf I’ve stored dried goods in plastic containers. It is a nice secure place for them where they will not roll around very much. The best part is on the top, where we have hinged a galleyware holder onto the bulkhead. The stainless hinge to the left of the teak holder allows it to swing in and out, providing access to all the storage behind it. We put a little cleat with a string on the other side to keep it in place.
Next to the galley is the navigation panel. Grant spent a lot of time thinking about this area and designing it. It was very important for him to have a chart table and navigation area where we could look at our course and take down plots. (A plot is a mark on the chart with our position.)
On the after shelf of the dinette, Grant mounted the AIS receiver, handheld VHF chargers, SSB receiver, and computer with two 12 volt charge plugins. They are held together on the shelf by a piece of starboard Grant heated and molded to the right shape. Next to the computer is a Ryobi 12 volt charger for our Ryobi One items—a spotlight, hand vac and drill that run and charge off the same battery (would recommend).
In our dinette, we can sit and eat or do chart work. The dinette area is approx. 60 inches from the main bulkhead back. The shelves are approx. 19 1/2 inches (not including trim) and the table is 19 3/4 inches wide and 42” long.
Grant installed a white/red LED chart light above it. The seats are a comfortable 16 inches wide, 16 inches tall and 23 inches long and have latched doors for more storage outboard as well as pull-out hatches under the cushions for storage. I refurbished the table that was found at Bacon Sails. It originally had a door on the side that opened with a key. Very charming but not easy access. The bottom has wood slats across it that provides additional air ventilation.
I added hinges to allow the table to open on one side, giving great access to charts and navigation tools. A real chart table!
It is supported by the large wood dinette piece that is supported by the original lower outboard fiberglass tabbing, and is also bolted to the original upper fiberglass tabbing. On the inboard end of the table we further supported it with a stainless steel bar that attaches to the lower fiberglass tabbing along the sole.
It is one of our best upgrades. We use it all the time and like the higher storage it provides us with.
Okay, only a few more to go. Here are our propane tanks. We like the small size and portability of these tanks. The cylindrical shape fit really well on the stern, lifting them up out of the way of the cleats. Grant welded stainless steel tubing in a curve inside the top of the original stern rail. This is keeping the tanks together, with a small piece of string acting as chafe gear in between them. Then, on the bottom, to a stainless tubing support Grant welded two thinner metal holders and permanently attached them to the stern rail.
The hoses for the tanks are led to a hole in the outer cockpit combing, that is covered with a vent and led forward to the stove. (The solar panel and antenna cords also come in here).
In the aft lazarette Grant molded starboard to create a holder for our liferaft. This way it can easily be accessed by lifting open the doors and it slides out. Nothing is around it to hinder its movement. It is a Winslow in a valise (we bought it used but I think the bag is a custom shape).
We also led some of our halyards and reef lines aft to the cockpit. To make our opening in the splash guard near the cockpit we cut a chunk out and then did some touch-up paint.
We added some solar vents that work really well, except for when it is overcast like today.
The head is our last project for this post. It is still an area of concern (we are not sure if we a loving the head but plan to give it more time). It is a special Vega version of the airhead we got secondhand. It is chopped down and didn’t come with a liquids container or paddle (pee flap). We have been able to resolve these issues even though airhead wanted the unit back and wouldn’t sell us parts. We used a sun shower for the urine bottle and installed the fan and paddle pee flap ourselves. It seems to be working okay.
To mount the head, Grant once again used starboard and molded it with a heat gun. It is attached to a wooden shelf topped with formica. We also made our fire extinguisher holder out of starboard. It is a really fun material to play with!
Behind the head we had only the one upper shelf original to our boat. We were able to get the four shelf unit (common on older Vegas) from the parted Vega. I refinished it and added formica to the shelves. It was a perfect fit, and we mounted it at an angle to A) keep things in and B) because it was the only way it lined up attractively with the shelf with the shelves touching the hull in the back. Having this added storage space has made a huge difference and also added strength to the main bulkhead, which you can never have too much of.