Skip navigation

Well, the heat of Summer seems to be abating. The pool’s getting relatively chillier, the house is getting opened up in the evenings to allow the cooler nights back inside, and the boat’s been patiently waiting for her next season on the water.

I’ve been contemplating a visit to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

This will be a big change of venue in a lot of ways. I’ll get to deal with
tides, for example. And there are sharks and whales.
The drive should take about half a day. The roads can have speed bumps from hell, I hear. There are Mexican drivers.

Supposedly, if someone’s behind you, you shouldn’t use your turn signal to turn left, as a left-blinker down there means “C’mon and pass me on the left!”
So you get over to the right, wait for whomever’s behind you to pass, then make your left turn. This is the kind of stuff that’s easily forgotten. Possibly exciting stuff.

But the biggest change will most likely be losing sight of the shoreline. Where I plan to put in is about 75 miles wide, and I would like to cross it. Twice, in fact, weather permitting.

Sure, you’ve got the sun and the stars, but it may be expeditious to have a decent compass mounted on the boat, with lighting.
So this was my most recent boat-related project. I’ve always kept a small hand-held compass aboard, using it to practice ded reckoning. But if you’re only boating on inland waters, it hardly seems necessary, does it?

First, pop off the interior bulkhead upholstery.

Using the template provided, I positioned the opening to take out one of the three holes left by the previous owner, leaving room for the compass cover. The other two small holes will be made watertight by the compass’ rubber gasket.

A little work with the jigsaw, then a final dust-up with the drum sander.

Dry-fit the compass, some final sanding, and then drill the holes for the mounting studs. You’re looking at “The Ritchie Venture SR-2 Bulkhead Sailboat Compass.”

The bulkhead upholstery was then reinstalled in order to trace out the cuts needed to provide some clearance for the backside of the compass.

Marked the back cover silhouette onto the plywood, and chucked up a 1/4 inch spiral bit into the router. A couple of go-arounds later, I had the foam backing in view, and just sliced it away with my pocketknife.
A couple of relief cuts into the fabric cover, and then I was ready to bring the fabric through the hole.

Hot melt glue, rather than steel staples, was used to attach the ears of fabric to the plywood’s backside. I was afraid using steel staples might distort the magnetic readings of the compass. Yes, I burned my fingers in the process.
I wasn’t too happy with how it looked from an upholsterer’s point of view, but then I’ve never claimed to be much of an upholsterer.

After reinstalling the headrest, the final fitting of the compass was done.
The only thing left to do was electrical in nature.
Find some suitable wire in the shed, run a fishtape through to the battery compartment, and install a one-ampere inline fuse. I hooked the compass’ electrical leads to my navigation lighting circuit. Now I’ll just tidy up the wiring.

I decided not to install the inclinometer, as I don’t need any damned number to tell me how freaked out I am when the boat gets to heeling!

I still plan on installing a GPS unit to compliment my new addition, maybe even a back-up hand-held unit for redundancy. It wouldn’t suck to have some charts of the area, also.

Also on the horizon is a solar battery charging system, and a couple types of self-steering mods.
A tiller pilot that eats electricity, and a sheet-to-tiller setup that doesn’t. But I’ll stop short of a windvane.
It’s a trailer-sailor, for pete’s sake.

Of course, jacklines and a PFD/harness, ’cause I don’t want to watch my boat sail away from me.

Maybe one or two more visits to Roosevelt Lake to shake down these improvements will be in order.



  1. HA !! Fess up !!– You’re scared !!! (I don’t blame you a bit) !! :)) nice compass !! but ya- if u want to practice the upholstery thing- work on my chairs out front !! LOL

    • Yes I am. To singlehand in big water is daunting, at least to me!

  2. We’ve been learnin alot out here in SD. We’ll see ya soon and talk techie!

    • Looking forward to the visit! It’s been difficult to get our little responsibilities squared away without undue fear!

  3. Last time I was fishing in a small boat down below LaPaz I looked into the small cabin and saw a large plywood patch held to the boat with bent over nails. It was then I noticed there were no life jackets. I asked the skipper, and in broken english he told me to look out almost to what seemed like the horizon and pointed to a fin, and he said, “You not want to float, drown quick, before shark come.” Seems PFD is for the Coast Guard only. Best thing – stay in the boat!

    We need to get together again.

    • Hi Bob. You’re welcome any time. I’ll be passing your town a couple/few times this winter. Will let you know when. Alternatively, let me know if you need any crew. I’d like to see your boat again!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: