Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Acquiring Swing Set and the Improvements Begin

 When we purchased Swing Set in 2004 she was a one owner boat. When purchased new, most of the options desired were included, with the exception of an auto-pilot. Some notable items that Swing Set had from the start were GPS, chart plotter, 75 mile radar, two VHS radios (one on the bridge, and one in the salon), depth finder (single most important item next to eyeballs in my book), mechanical engine synchronizers, dual Racor fuel filters for each engine, and two fresh water pumps, just to name a few. Theses items, along with the two 3116 Caterpillar diesels, 350 gallon fuel tanks, 120 gallon fresh water tank, 40 gallon waste water tank, windlass, dinghy with Weaver tilt-up brackets, dual voltage refrigerator, two reverse cycle A/C units, and Westerbeke diesel generator gave us a pretty good start to extended cruising and long term living aboard.
 At the time, we had no long term plans for Swing Set, so improvements and equipment changes were mainly based on what broke, but some things we wanted to change right away.

 At the start, we had some mixed feelings about the enclosed bridge. We weren't, and still aren't, totally in love with the aesthetics of the enclosed flybridge. But the bridge is the only place to pilot Swing Set, and we have had plenty of experience with the putting up and taking down of canvas and isinglass to know that we didn't want to go through that exercise every time it got chilly or it started to rain. One other big consideration was that there is really no place to store the spare isinglass panels when not in use. The isinglass on the bridge has what is called "smile windows", big u-shaped zippered panels that role up when the panels are open. These panels were rather scratched up, so our first improvement on Swing Set was to have the five roll up panels replaced. Gary Hester, the Canvas Man, replaced the panels and zippers and also lined the straps that hold the panels when rolled up with a soft "car cloth", to minimize scratches in the future.
 The stairs to the bridge and fore deck from the cockpit had snap in carpet that was looking a little seedy. Not knowing what we know now about cockpit carpeting, we had these carpet pieces replaced. More about cockpit carpet later.

 Swing Set has a typical patio door leading from the cockpit into the salon, our major entrance, if not the only one, save the deck hatch. When was the last time you crawled through a deck hatch? The patio door was outfitted with venetian blinds, as was both side salon windows. I am not a fan of venetian blinds, so I had a custom sized vertical shade made for this door. This shade slides closed and keeps out the beating sun when conditions require it.
 So after the initial purchase, documenting fees, insurance, and these minor improvements, we were left pretty much penniless during the first winter of owning this newest boat. In addition, a year earlier, I had booked a surprise cruise in the Caribbean for Rosie and I for February. During our 8 day cruise I could think of little but how we couldn't really afford to be on this cruise and how I'd rather be where we were in our boat rather than with 2500 other passengers on such a big cruise ship.
 We were biting at the bit once our first full season of boating on Swing Set began in the spring of 2005.

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