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Old 11-16-2022, 10:45 PM   #1
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Helmsman Hacks

Hey all you Helmsman owners. I thought I would start a new thread since the "New Start" thread has gotten so long it is a bit hard to find great stuff in it (and there is a ton of great stuff).



In this thread I am asking Helmsman owners to post things they have done that make life aboard simpler or better or both so that the rest of us can learn from and adopt them. I am not suggesting design changes or things for the factory to do in new boats, but rather owner adaptations to their boats. And the simpler/cheaper the better.



I will post a couple to seed the discussion. First will be how to deal with being "height challenged". And also how to light dark places, mount kayaks, put a Starlink dish on the rail, etc.



Stand by.
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Old 11-16-2022, 10:55 PM   #2
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Improving sight lines for short people

I am 5'8" according to my driver's license, which as Mark Twain might say, is a "damnable lie". As good as sight lines from the helm are on our Helmsman 38e--and they are very good for a boat this size--I am too short and would like to see better when docking. So I built the following.



From Home Depot I got a 1' x 8' length of mahogany and made this 2' x 2' 4" tall step. It took about an hour to build it and screw and glue it together then multiple hours to put 5 poly coats on it. I added furniture pads on the base of it so it wouldn't scratch the teak/holly floor. But it is a lifesaver for a short guy like me. I tip it up when I need to get into the cabinet under the helm seat, but otherwise it is very helpful there beneath the helm.



And now--voila--I am 6' tall. According to my driver's license. My wife disagrees.



Jeff
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Old 11-16-2022, 11:24 PM   #3
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mounting a starlink dish on the railing

I mentioned this in the New Start thread, but I thought this a good place to post pictures of the railing mount.

I put the router in the cabinet above the microwave in the salon. In our boat there is a nice panel in the back of this cabinet that allows you to easily fish the dish cable up to just beneath the helm on the flybridge.


I then got this:

https://scotty.com/product/245-1-14-round-rail-mount/

and this:

https://scotty.com/product/no-229-po...with-no-mount/


along with a length of 1.5" PVC. The pvc fits nicely inside the Scotty rod holder. I put screws in the base of the rod holder and through the PVC to keep the dish in place and leave space for the cable.


Some pictures to help visualize this.
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IMG_2449.jpg   IMG_2450.jpg   IMG_2451.jpg  
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Old 11-16-2022, 11:46 PM   #4
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lights in dark places

Finally (again, this is just to seed the thread) when we got the boat we kept running into a problem with the light in the head in the forward stateroom. Well, I did when I would get up at night to use it. A couple of times a night. Never mind.

The light switch is mounted on the outside of the head and next to the hinges on the door. Usually when you enter a head in the dark you grope for a switch inside of it. On our boat you have to go back outside of the head, close the door and turn on the light on a switch opposite the handle on the door. The door, if open, blocks access to the switch.

Then, being a well-lit head with a bright LED light, you blind yourself and your bunkmate, followed by complaints about waking her up and all.

For a few $ we solved this problem easily. We bought battery operated touch puck lights

https://a.co/d/1Ry70tE

and mounted one underneath the medicine cabinet just over the sink. Problem solved. No more groping for a light and no more complaints from my beloved. We added them to several cabinets where lighting is a challenge, especially the cabinet in the galley that is beneath the starboard stairs to the flybridge.

Dumb, obvious, and cheap, but great for domestic tranquility on the boat.

Jeff
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Old 11-17-2022, 09:06 AM   #5
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Thanks for these. Its a good idea to create a spot for such ideas.

My wife is 5 ft tall. I've known its likely some sort of hack will be needed for her, but since I had no good ideas for a customization its just one of those items I knew I needed to address when the boat arrives. Idea tucked now tucked away. Thanks
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Old 11-17-2022, 11:54 AM   #6
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Great ideas. I’m also 5’8” and Patti is even shorter.

Since our 38E hasn’t yet arrived, our hacks are theoretical and unproven. We have spent a lot of time imagining how things will work. When our boat finally completes its wayward journey to Seattle, we will see if they work.

Creating separate sleeping compartments of the salon and pilot house was one we gave a lot of thought to. Putting eye hooks in the beautiful teak and running a taut cable fore and aft in the salon to carry a large privacy curtain was not appealing. Our solution was to separate the salon from the pilot house with a blackout curtain held up with an easily removable spring loaded curtain rods. The whole assembly can be stowed when not needed. It also preserves night vision for the pilothouse occupants if light is needed in the salon.



Having a shower curtain in the master shower to protect the door to the stateroom is apparently a much debated Helmsman topic. Our solution is an untypically inexpensive one requiring no holes in the bulkheads. The angled walls were problematic and the brackets we found for that condition were expensive, bulky and made for an unnecessarily heavy 1” rod. We will give this a try.

https://www.amazon.com/Vongfome-Adhe.../dp/B09K514KBQ

Problems not yet solved
1. Stern tie reel (type, location and hand). Looking at hanging it on the starboard staple. Looking at https://www.fisheriessupply.com/shor...pact-stern-tie
2. Bow rail burgee mast (the best we could find for the 1 1/4” rail is over $200.)
3. Stemware rack that will hold wineglasses in rough seas. Looking at under shelf type below projection over door to day head. We might have to modify one of these. https://www.containerstore.com/s/kit...uctId=10000703

Now that we have another two and a half months to get ready, we’ll keep dreaming up ways to make things work for us. Suggestions welcome.
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Old 11-17-2022, 12:16 PM   #7
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More hacks needed

1. Clean way to stow docking pole in the cockpit without drilling holes.
We’re using these at the pilot house.
https://unitedyachting.com/product/p...nchionrailing/
2. Kayak storage on the boat deck. Dinghy’s going on the swim step.
3. Weather protection for bike storage.

Alternative solution to limited stature issue.
https://fixtheheight.com/landing/ind...EaAhuxEALw_wcB
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Old 11-17-2022, 01:17 PM   #8
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I don’t want Doug to go through that insane procedure. Plus, it wouldn’t help me at 5’ 2 1/2 “” see better. Oh yeah, I guess taller Doug would just have to do all the driving. ��
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Old 11-17-2022, 05:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doug_snider View Post

alternative solution to limited stature issue.
https://fixtheheight.com/landing/ind...eaahuxealw_wcb
ouch!
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Old 11-17-2022, 05:39 PM   #10
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One hack that I saw in a picture recently was Fletcher’s. He had a stand built that attached to his arch which supplies a flat area over his radar for instruments. I have reached out to a metal worker to see what it would cost to build one that can be used for the flat Starlink panel. Could also be used for the Starlink RV portable version for those who detach the pole and leave it flat. When Bill sees this topic, perhaps he could post a picture. Pretty cool.
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Old 11-17-2022, 06:50 PM   #11
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ouch!
That’s what we said, too.
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Old 11-17-2022, 08:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Helmsman View Post
One hack that I saw in a picture recently was Fletcher’s. He had a stand built that attached to his arch which supplies a flat area over his radar for instruments. I have reached out to a metal worker to see what it would cost to build one that can be used for the flat Starlink panel. Could also be used for the Starlink RV portable version for those who detach the pole and leave it flat. When Bill sees this topic, perhaps he could post a picture. Pretty cool.
I should explain further. The reason for a platform needed above the radar comes from the way the arch and the pole holding the steaming and anchor light. The light standard measures 8.5” back from the arch. The standard was 16” to the steaming light, and the steaming and anchor light measure 10” from bottom to top. That has since changed to 20” to the bottom of the steaming light, I think.

So, with radars getting bigger, one solution is to order without the shop supplied standard. The hack is a solution if you have the existing standard. The geometry does not lend itself to a Seaview aft leaning mount on the arch. If you want two stacked instruments, then you are height restricted to either 16 or 20”, depending on the standard height. In addition, it is better to allow a little room under the light, for ships passing close by. This works especially well for those instruments affected by the radar beam, of which Starlink is one that is.
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Old 11-18-2022, 07:38 AM   #13
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I had edited the above arch and light standard hack but didn’t hit save and can’t edit it. The issue that it resolves is the geometry of the standard. The standard runs back from the arch 8.5 inches, so an aft leaning mount gets in the way. A dual mount is even tougher. The height of the standard is either 26” or 30” from the arch. That limits what you can “stack” there. Since the Starlinks are radar sensitive, as are other instruments, this is a solution to get two devices in a constrained area. Sorry for the multiple posts!
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Old 11-18-2022, 08:28 AM   #14
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Thank you everyone for starting and contributing to this thread! There's nothing like owner's hacks from those with personal experience to help others.

Once my boat arrives next spring I hope to participate with my own experiences.

In the meantime, I'll second the ouch! comment by @Helmsman on this -

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug_Snider View Post
1.
Alternative solution to limited stature issue.
https://fixtheheight.com/landing/ind...EaAhuxEALw_wcB
I think I'd rather stay the height I am than go through this. Seems little different from the 'rack' of medieval torture times...
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Old 11-18-2022, 11:20 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmsman View Post
One hack that I saw in a picture recently was Fletcher’s. He had a stand built that attached to his arch which supplies a flat area over his radar for instruments. I have reached out to a metal worker to see what it would cost to build one that can be used for the flat Starlink panel. Could also be used for the Starlink RV portable version for those who detach the pole and leave it flat. When Bill sees this topic, perhaps he could post a picture. Pretty cool.
Photos attached showing the secondary arch support. It was fabricated by a local welding shop in our area. I am going to remove the Hailer and temporarily set the Starlink Flat/HP up there to verify it will work ok with the domes (obstructions) before I permanently connect it. I should be able to keep the WiFi booster in the same spot.
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Old 11-21-2022, 03:26 PM   #16
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Hi and welcome. Good choice in boats. We have done many upgrades and changes to suit our personal needs. Here are 3 easy ones.
We installed a roller blind on the aft sliding patio door for privacy when docked stern in. Home Depot.
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/lum...nen/1001655812
We carry our kayaks on the port and starboard upper railing. Installed with SS hose clamps. Keeps upper deck clear and doesn't interfere with docking or going through locks. Amazon. Cheap.

Also installed a double roller to take the pressure off the winch when hauling up anchor.

There are many many more. Enjoy your boat.
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The six stages of life: Toyboat, Sailboat, Motorboat, Motor Home, Nursing Home, Funeral Home.
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Old 11-21-2022, 03:49 PM   #17
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Blackwater Tank: Trust but Verify

Great hacks you all. Here is another poco nada we have done on our boat. When we got the boat, the gauge on the blackwater tank was clearly stuck. Following the advice of Scott we let the tank get pretty full (a guess) and added a cup of Tide then went out and got beat up by a wind-against-tide day to shake things up. Clearly it broke the sending device loose, but we really can't say how full the tank is at any time based on the gauge. And based on a pretty awful experience of a stuck sending device on our Ranger Tug, we are hyper-cautious.

Here is our "calibration" technique. We bought two of these digital counters:
https://a.co/d/793RkXs
and mounted them with double sided tape right next to the flush control panel. Each flush, you add a count.

On our boat we have the Dometic Masterflush and leave it on the lower volume "dry flush" setting in both heads. This puts .45 gallons plus your additions into the 45 gallon waste tank. So conceptually, that is 100 flushes from empty to full, with a subtraction for whatever volume you have added. Conceptually. And testing that would be a disaster. So we just assume .66 gallons per flush and count them up. Then using the classic rule of thirds applied to fuel tanks, when we get to 30 gallons (roughly 45 flushes) combined it is time to pump out with room to spare.

And what we have found so far is the tank gage is non-linear and is not to be fully trusted until you measure it with the counter. And then, keeping track of flushes is useful to see if it is stuck again.

Scott has pointed out that cleaning the sending device is easy if unpleasant, so that is certainly an option. Not ready for that one just yet.

More hacks! Would love to hear rule of thumb relationships on differences between port side and starboard side fuel levels to level the boat (ours has a small list to starboard due to weight on that side of the boat) and how much to trust the fuel gauges.



Jeff
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Old 11-21-2022, 04:38 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hydraulicjump View Post
The light switch is mounted on the outside of the head and next to the hinges on the door. Usually when you enter a head in the dark you grope for a switch inside of it. On our boat you have to go back outside of the head, close the door and turn on the light on a switch opposite the handle on the door. The door, if open, blocks access to the switch.
Not sure what they were thinking with that forward head light switch. I also manage to need a few trips each night. My solution is the toilet bowl light. The unit has an LED at the end of a bendable arm that hangs on the rim. Outboard is the battery pack and motion sensor. The inboard end is watertight and, well, resistant to organic liquids. I set mine to red to help with night vision. Provides plenty of illumination to get the job done!

https://www.amazon.com/Changing-Toli...s%2C104&sr=8-8

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Old 11-21-2022, 11:25 PM   #19
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We have had good luck with these mounts. We put the kayaks onboard when going into a tight berth but leave them in the racks the rest of the time.
https://www.amazon.com/Magma-Product...a-456360559599
Sorry about the length of the link!
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Old 11-22-2022, 12:47 AM   #20
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We have had good luck with these mounts. We put the kayaks onboard when going into a tight berth but leave them in the racks the rest of the time.

Ric
We had those on our old boat. They worked great but I was always nervous about hitting them on a dock piling. It just occurred to me that they could be hung on the aft rail of the boat deck and the kayaks carried transversely. Our dinghy is going on the swim step so the kayak racks would not conflict with launching. The inboard kayak would just be set on the deck and strapped to the rail.
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