It is hard to believe we’ve been (mostly) living on Y-Not for over two years now – wow!
In that time, we’ve tackled some pretty big upgrades and maintenance projects. Some long planned, others scheduled by serendipity.
And in the course of the past two years, we have managed to transform Y-Not into an incredibly comfortable home we love.
In July of 2017 we published a detailed blog post chronicling all the projects we had already tackled in our first four months of ownership, and looking ahead towards all the future projects on our radar (including, ironically, radar).
Now that we’ve reached our second year – it is time to revisit that post and project list to see just how things have turned out:
Looking back – it is eye opening to see the projects that we’ve handled, the ones we still have yet to tackle, and the ones that we had not even considered back then when we were still complete boat newbies.
Here’s an update on all our boat projects – ranging from lithium batteries to solar roofs. From TV lifts to turbo rebuilds. From funky chairs to forward scanning sonar.
Let’s dive in – but first, with pictures from Day 1 of owning Y-Not:
Here’s the video to go along with this post:
We love the look of our Bayliner 4788 – but we have made some changes that make Y-Not even more ours.
Finding a boat with a name that we wouldn’t want to change was actually a major point in Y-Not’s favor when we were boat shopping.
Changing the name of the boat is no small task with both the Coast Guard and King Neptune.
The original boat owner’s name was Tony, so Y-not (the original spelling) is Tony backwards. Y-Not firmly fits into our following serendipity life philosophy, and is a great answer to just about everything.
The original boat logo wasn’t our style, and we wanted something less Tony-backwards and more Y-Not. So rather than rename the boat when we moved aboard, we rebranded her with our own take on the name.
We worked with our graphic designer at Upthentic Creative to come up with our own “Y-Not” logo that incorporates the same curves that are etched into our commitment rings, our Technomadia Logo, and which are on the back of our bus, Zephyr. (It’s back-to-back C and C in a Burning Man shaped symbol – where we first committed to each other.)
We also relocated the boat name to the upper deck, knowing that our plans for a dinghy would block anything on the lower rear transom.
Overall – we love the way this simple change has transformed Y-Not’s look!
Flybridge Canvas & Window Curtains
The bimini canvas that was on Y-Not when we purchased her was already on its last legs.
It provided shade – but water would run right through, and it would seemingly tear a bit every time the wind would blow!
We could have re-waterproofed the fabric, but the fabric was so old that it was torn in multiple spots and was literally falling apart before our eyes.
It desperately needed replacing – but finding a willing canvas maker that wasn’t booked up months in advance was a challenge while being on the move. Despite many attempts it took nearly two years to get this project lined up with one of our extended stops.
We eventually connected with Hunts Upholstery while we were in Sanford this past winter, and they were able to take on the job.
Hunt’s was able to create us vinyl window curtains to go with the new canvas – we had a set with the old canvas, but they had shrunken over the years of being in storage to a point of being unusable.
We’ve been surprised at how much the vinyl enclosure has impacted the look and the feel of the flybridge.
Being able to zip up and easily block the wind completely transforms the experience of cruising on a windy day! And it also makes the upstairs a great hang out area too.
They also replaced the completely worn out cockpit bolster cushions too, which has transformed the feel of our back deck.
New Waterline Stripe & Bottom Paint
Y-Not rode out Hurricane Irma pinned against a dock piling in Marathon, FL – and that dock piling probably saved our boat.
It also did some minor overall damage – and rubbed away the bottom paint in a patch down one side of the boat.
Without us even asking about it, our insurance adjuster authorized us having our bottom sandblasted and repainted while we were hauled out in Miami.
We used this as an opportunity to redo the waterline stripe – getting rid of the tacky gold pinstripe, and using a brilliant blue that really pops!
One final exterior project that we tackled was our boat’s ground tackle – aka, the anchor.
Our original Delta Anchor was undersized for overnight anchoring, and we dragged a few times in our first few outings.
Since anchoring out is something we intend to do a lot of, we really wanted to get an anchor we could trust.
So after some research, we upgraded to an Ultra Anchor – and we even went a size larger than recommended.
So far – we have loved it. With the Ultra deployed, it feels like we are stapled to the bottom. It has really given us a lot of confidence to anchor in tight quarters as we’ve cruised the St. John’s river.
Here is a video sharing more about our anchor upgrade:
Dinghy & Davits
One of the most critical projects we had to tackle when we moved aboard was figuring out a dinghy, and a way to store it – since unlike most Bayliner 4788’s our boat did not have a davit crane and a setup to store the dinghy on the rear of the flybridge.
For the dinghy – Achilles hooked us up with their HB310-AX that has so far served us very well. The dinghy actually took a pounding (but is still completely functional to this day) in Hurricane Irma. And by acting as our rear fender it probably spared Y-Not some serious damage.
We initially had a Suzuki 15HP engine, but it succumbed to bad fuel and worse customer support (read the story here) so we now have a Yamaha 9.9HP engine which is just strong enough to scoot us around up on plane, and which looks better too.
The one downside of the Yamaha is that it takes a lot more effort to pull-start, so we’ll be looking to add an electric starter to it someday soon.
For the davit system, after much research we purchased and installed a Dinghy Caddy and have so far been very happy with it.
The Dinghy Caddy makes it SUPER easy to launch our dinghy, an important consideration in case we ever need to evacuate in an emergency. And even when the dinghy is up, we can still walk across the swim platform with ease.
The transformation inside Y-Not has been even more dramatic than the transformation outside, particularly in the salon.
Corner Desk & Entertainment Center
The biggest change to the salon was ripping out the shallow and mostly useless port side storage cabinet, and crafting a new design that incorporates a 49″ Samsung 4K TV hidden on a pop-up lift, and a fabulous corner office desk.
When the TV is down, Cherie has unobstructed dramatic office views.
But with the touch of the button the room transforms, and we can watch movies on a big beautiful screen.
We actually gained storage space too – the space behind the TV hides a bookshelf and a place for an X-Box (which doubles as our Blue-Ray player), as well as plenty of other storage we were able to design in under the desk.
As part of the cabinetry project, we turned the old tube TV cabinet into a wine rack using stackable wine storage containers.
This video shows off the project well:
Window Shades & Interior Decorating
We also have been decorating too.
New Window Shades – The old cellular honeycomb salon shades were worn and stained, so when we saw Sanford Verticals exhibiting at a street festival and found out they would take a job on a boat, we jumped at having them redo our blinds.
We went with a darker color, but kept the same cellular shade style with up/down opening for privacy options.
We also changed the dividing lines to give us solid backgrounds behind the couch for our video work. We used small magnet strips at the bottom to secure them in place when down – as our salon walls are slanted a bit (hey, it’s a boat!).
New Cabinet Hardware – We replaced all the old bronze cabinet locking latches in the salon, pilot house, and kitchen with satin nickel latches – a subtle change that really works.
New Chair & Rug – The redecorating highlight is a one-of-a-kind Balinese chair made out of re-used boat wood we found at a combination furniture store / cocktail bar in Sanford.
We then miraculously found a new area rug that perfectly matches it, and accented with cushions and drapes to complete the look.
Still No Engine Room Hatch!
The one major project we mentioned in that first update that we have not tackled – cutting a new hatch into the salon floor to make it easier to access the engine room.
We just haven’t found the right circumstances to do this yet.
Perhaps we’ll save this for when we someday redo the carpets, which would avoid needing to leave visible carpet scars behind.
The upgrades to the kitchen have been pretty substantial as well:
- Convection Microwave – We replaced the basic white conventional microwave with a stainless steel GE Profile Convection Microwave, a huge upgrade in both looks and functionality.
- Inset Dual Burner Induction Cooktop – We have a True Induction MD-2B Mini Duo double burner induction cooktop, and we were able to inset it into the countertop as part of our big cabinetry project – adding a storage cabinet underneath where the old Princess Oven used to be.
Flybridge Chest Freezer – While technically not IN the kitchen, Dometic sent us their CFX 100W chest freezer for our flybridge to replace the old huge and power hungry Frigibar that came with our boat. The freezer has been a great addition allowing us to provision when away from grocery stores. It’s much less power hungry (runs off 12v, 24v or 110) and super quiet. The Wi-Fi option on it is pretty silly however. It’s also portable – we’re able to carry it off the boat if needed, which we did during our Hurricane Irma evacuation. We recently purchased the insulating cover to go along with it.
Someday we’ll go further and replace the kitchen fridge too with a DC model that can run directly off of 24V power too, but overall we are VERY happy with the kitchen aboard our boat.
There have been some major improvements that impact our day-to-day living aboard.
Washer / Dryer Replacement
The original combo washer / dryer that came on our boat didn’t dry at all, but it worked well as a washer.
The lack of a dryer wasn’t a problem, we just used the very latest in wind & solar technology to dry our cloths (umm.. that means we hung our laundry out to dry outside on the flybridge.)
Until one day late last year the bottom rusted out and it started leaking into the hallway.
Chris’s parents offered to gift us a Splendide WDC7100XC ventless combo unit as our holiday gift.
It was a challenge swapping appliances in a hallway that only allows for less than an inch of clearance to work, but we managed – and have gotten used to the Splendide’s quirks and have been putting it to great use.
When we’re not at a marina with frequent bird fly overs, we still dry outdoors.
When we moved aboard Y-Not, the master stateroom mattress was a Select-Comfort with two selections to choose from – uncomfortable and even more uncomfortable.
So we urgently set out looking for something better – and what we initially bought to be a quick, cheap, temporary fix has turned into our favorite mattress of all time.
Yep – a bargain Zeopedic memory foam mattress from Big Lots won the day – we just had to hack it with a knife to fit in the shaped front V-berth.
More on our mattress quest:
We absolutely love spending time at anchor – but getting exercise can be tricky if we aren’t near a place we can dinghy ashore for a long walk or run.
We’ve really enjoyed our Nixy Yoga iSUP – paddle boarding has been a great way to get some exercise, and we’ve also found we don’t mind only having one SUP on board.
When one of us goes paddling, it is a great chance for some alone time.
But conditions have to be right for SUPing, and when the weather is bad it is still easy to get a little stir crazy without some activity.
So our latest addition is a “As Seen on TV” Slim Cycle that we found at Bed Bath & Beyond (also available on Amazon).
This indoor cycle has exceeded our expectations!
We love being able to get our thirty minutes of cardio every day regardless of the weather – and the Slim Cycle actually works great to hold an iPad or even a laptop so we can read, work, or binge watch shows while we ride.
On shore – we also still have our folding e-Joe Epik SE electric bikes on board, which we purchased in 2015 for our bus.
They have been really practical for both exercise and errand running when we are at marinas and lacking access to a car, but they have aged badly stored outside in our cockpit.
Perhaps someday we will move them back to the bus, and will seek out something a bit more marine-optimized to keep on the boat.
Pilothouse Workshop / Office
We had originally imagined that the pilothouse would become a primary office space, and we had big plans to build in a desk setup to make it so.
But the room was often too hot during the day, and too dark at night.
Instead of an office – it has become a utility room.
When we are working on projects – the pilothouse is our workshop that often looks like a West Marine Store exploded everywhere.
When the chaos is packed away, occasionally we use a fold up standing desk to work up in the front.
But overall Kiki is the one who uses the pilothouse the most. This room is where we keep her litter box and robotic feeder, and the front window is one of her favorite perches to sit and watch the world go by.
What About That Big Recaro Chair?!?
When we talked about our plans to replace the bolted-down Recaro helm chair in the pilothouse with something more basic (and moveable), we always seem to upset some people who are Recaro fans.
Recaro may be the gold-standard in race car seats – but the helm chair in our pilothouse is bolted down in a position so that you can not easily reach the throttles or steering wheel while seated. Not practical at all.
And it just isn’t in good condition.
We’d still love to replace it with a more functional chair that can be easily bolted or unbolted from the floor, and positioned to use it as an office chair, or just out of the way.
Magma Grill & Bistro Table
We have a Magma propane grill in our cockpit, and we use it regularly. Despite being less than two years old, the stainless steel has stained a bit and the electric start has died.
We use it often however for grilling fish or chicken or burgers.
The other original outdoor dining upgrade was a wooden bistro table set that has unfortunately aged poorly, and the hinges and screws are rusting away.
We do love having it for outdoor dining though, so we are going to be looking for something better soon.
I sure wish more companies took durability into account with their designs – an especially critical factor when living on the water!
Electrical System Upgrades
We have a long history of electrical geekery with all our prior mobile homes, so of course Y-Not would be getting some upgrades.
Our Bayliner 4788 came originally equipped with a hefty Westerbeke 12.5KW diesel generator that was too big for our needs, and which had grown increasingly unreliable.
Last spring the generator really did need to go, so we replaced it with a brand new 6KW Northern Lights M673L3 that has served us fabulously ever since.
Not only is it better sized for our needs, it is also much quieter, more fuel efficient, and it takes up half the space – opening up a lot of (currently unused) storage in our lazarette.
For more on our generator swap, see this blog post and this video:
Lithium Batteries & Big Inverter
We have been talking about the advantages of lithium batteries for years – having first installed a large lithium house battery system in our bus way back in 2011.
So of course – we’ve been eager to go lithium on our boat ever since we moved in.
As part of the upgrade, we wanted to install an inverter large enough to run everything on board (though not necessarily all at once) off of the batteries, and we transitioned from a 12V to a 24V system to make everything more efficient and to simplify the wiring needs.
Here is the system we installed:
- Batteries & BMS: 6 x 100Ah Battle Born GC2 wired up for 300Ah at 24V.
- Inverter/Charger: Victron Quattro 24/5000
- System Control: Victron Venux GX
- Battery Monitor: Victron BMV712 Smart (Bluetooth!)
- Solar Controller: Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 (Bluetooth!)
- 24V to 12V Converter: Victron Orion 70A 24v to 12v Converter
Most of these components are installed under the sofa in the salon – opening up yet more storage in the lazarette where the old lead house battery bank used to be.
We left room to double the size of the house battery bank, and we still need to install a 24V alternator for charging off the engines while underway.
We’ll write more about this full system in a future post once we’ve had more miles logged using it.
Further Reading: All our past posts about our lithium battery projects.
1,440 Watt Solar Bimini
We tackled the inverter and battery project while we were stopped in Jacksonville last September – but we couldn’t tackle the solar system until we had found someone to redo our bimini canvas.
But while spending the winter in Sanford, when we found a canvas shop that could help with our bimini but not with solar – we decided that we’d only do canvas forward of the radar arch.
From the radar arch aft – we’d actually use solar panels as our flybridge roof!
We tracked down a local fabricator who was excited about the project, and we jointly came up with a clever design that would use four large residential 320w solar panels mounted in a metal frame with a skylight running down the middle for light, rain protection, and which could open up to allow easy access for cleaning.
With a design locked in and a fabricator hired, we ordered the 4x 360W Solaria solar panels and tackled the electrical side of the project.
Unfortunately, the person we hired stalled right up until the last minute, then caught us by surprise showing up on the final install day to return our panels without a frame to mount them in fully built.
He told us he had “bit off more than he could handle” and he wouldn’t be able to finish the job at all.
Fortunately – he has given us a full refund of our deposit, and he is eating the cost for all the materials he had already purchased.
But he left us scrambling with four big solar panels, and a boat we had been hard at work re-wiring for the installation.
Fortunately (and with the help of dear friends) we were was able to rig up a temporary mounting solutions for two of the four panels using the old canvas bimini frame, some clamps, ratchet straps, and pool noodles.
And for our cruise down the river the past couple of weeks, it has been working great!
Hopefully we’ll be able to find the fabrication help we need at a future stop soon to finish the project properly and get our full 1,440W installed.
Further Reading: All our past posts about our RV solar projects.
Marine Air Conditioning Upgrades
Our boat has three Marine Air AC units – one 16,000btu for the salon, one 16,000btu for the pilothouse, and one 12,000btu for the staterooms.
When we tackled the inverter project, we also replaced the control board for the salon AC with a retrofit design from Micro-Air that included an EasyStart soft-start capability so that there is less surge current on the generator or inverter when the compressor kicks on.
We also replaced the salon thermostat with an EasyTouch touch screen control that can also be accessed over Wi-Fi.
Installing this upgrade was more complicated that we expected, but now that it is working we are liking the system – and only wish that it could integrate with smart home controls like Apple’s HomeKit.
We’ll probably eventually upgrade the other two AC units too, if we don’t end up replacing them entirely.
The other big AC project we tackled in Sanford – replacing all the duct work.
Our AC ducting was a bit of a chaotic mess, and particularly under the pilothouse dash a lot of the cooling power seemed to be going to waste.
When we met a marine AC guy in Sanford who was affordable and competent, it made sense to hire him for a few days to redo things the right way.
Hopefully when summer rolls around we will notice a substantial difference!
One final electrical project of note – we took advantage of our time on the hard in Miami to install three simple blue underwater lights under our swim platform.
The marine electronics setup on our boat was in pretty sad shape when we moved aboard – so we took advantage of our time stuck in Miami last year to tackle a full upgrade, hiring Langer Krell Marine Electronics for the installation.
We did a bunch of research, and decided to go with a fully Garmin system because of Garmin’s reputation for having an easy to use user interface, and because Garmin had purchased Active Captain (our favorite way to scope out anchorages) and Navionics (our favorite charting apps) so we hoped for some good future integration possibilities.
Here is what we installed:
- Garmin GPSMap 7612 MFD – 12″ chart plotter, and our primary display. We set this up to be portable so that we can move it between the pilothouse and fly bridge.
- Garmin GPSMap 742XS MFD – A smaller 7″ chart plotter that also controls the default sonar transducer. This is permanently mounted in the pilothouse.
- Garmin GMR Fantom 24 Radar – Includes doppler functionality so that we can see objects moving toward or away from us highlighted in red or green. This will be invaluable if we ever find ourselves trying to navigate in fog.
- Garmin Panoptix PS51 Forward Looking Sonar – This gives us a look forward underwater to see upcoming shallow spots. We still aren’t sure this was worthwhile – but when it is working properly it is really neat to see the anchor break free from the bottom, or the approaching echo of channel edges.
- Garmin AIS600 Transponder – This lets other AIS equipped boats see us on their charts, and allows us to see them. This will be very important for navigating with commercial traffic on rivers.
- Garmin 210 VHF Radio – A new primary VHF radio. Our old radio was moved from the flybridge to the pilothouse, and has a remote handset so we can now work two channels at once.
- Fusion RA70iN Stereo System – Music! With bluetooth too!
- Garmin Heading Sensor – This sensor lets the marine electronics know which way the boat is facing, and this lets us overlay the radar onto our charts.
- Garmin Ethernet Hub – Behind the scenes Garmin actually uses their own private ethernet network to tie a lot of this gear together. This hub makes it possible.
All of this gear is networked together, and can actually be remotely controlled via our iPads over Wi-Fi too.
This is all a very run-of-the-mill Garmin system install so far, but we have plans to geek things out further by playing with Signal-K to bring some of the marine instruments onto other devices.
Maybe someday we will be able to control the autopilot from an Apple Watch!
Maintenance & Unscheduled Repairs
A boat requires constant maintenance, most of it routine – but over time some bigger items just become due.
And of course – things break too, and require repair.
Here’s the big projects we’ve had to tackle…
Strut & Shaft Damage
We thought we had made it through Hurricane Irma with miraculously little damage, but months later when we cruised away from the Keys we encountered a submerged channel marker that had been destroyed by the storm and not yet charted.
It ripped one of the struts off the bottom of our boat, bent the propeller shaft, and damaged our prop.
While on the hard, we did tons of additional maintenance including replacing the cutlass bearings, shaft seals and thru-hulls.
And of course, the aforementioned bottom paint.
It took five weeks on the hard in Miami to get Y-Not back to being seaworthy.
When we swapped out the generator, we checked in with the mechanic we were working with about some oil dripping around the main engine turbos – and he investigated and discovered that the seals and bushings were going bad and should be replaced.
It wasn’t urgent – but he strongly recommended we handle it within a year.
So while in Sanford over the winter we found a local mechanic to help us – and we sent both turbos off for rebuild.
Rebuilding them was the easy part.
Removing and reinstalling them – that was VERY challenging.
Projects on a boat are never done.
Something is always bound to break when you least expect it – or as we prefer to think of it, it jumps to the top of the upgrade list.
Here are some of the projects we still have on our radar:
- Finishing Solar & Bigger Batteries – Hopefully we’ll have the rest of the solar panels installed soon. As for the batteries – once we are used to how our solar system is working out, we’ll decide just how much more storage capacity we want to have on board.
- Door Screens – We have no way to effectively keep bugs out and the cat in if we want to leave our salon or pilot house doors open. We would love to find someone who can help us make custom magnet screens that are strong enough to keep a cat from bursting through.
- 24V DC Fridge Upgrade – Right now we need to keep our inverter on 24/7 because the residential fridge requires AC power. If we were to install a DC marine fridge, it would be more energy efficient overall and would allow us to put the inverter to sleep overnight too, saving even more power.
- New Helm Chairs – Both the flybridge and pilot house helm chairs need to be replaced.
- Cockpit Hatch – We are still looking to add a plexiglass hatch to cover the opening from the cockpit to the flybridge, letting us keep the cockpit dryer in the rain.
- Weather Station – Speaking of rain, we’d like to add a weather station that will let us track the wind speeds and direction.
- Engine Room Access & New Carpet – As mentioned above, an engine room hatch will make future engine work a LOT easier.
- Engine Instrumentation – Our engine gauges don’t work particularly well, and the flybridge and pilot house gauges only sometimes agree with each other. We’d love to upgrade to using a NMEA bridge so that the gauges can be displayed on any connected screen.
- Dinghy Upgrades – We crave electric start, and maybe eventually a center console on the boat itself. We do find we might be getting a touch too old for sitting on the side of the tubes for long.
- Tank Monitoring – Our fresh water tank’s monitor seems to work well, but it’d be nice to know the level of our waste tank. We’ll eventually add an ultrasonic sensor to improve this situation.
- Water Maker – We don’t have a water maker onboard, but if we decide to do any extended trips to the Bahamas this would be quite handy.
- New Waste Hoses – Our waste hoses are nearing end of their life, and need to all be replaced. Not an pleasant job, made extra difficult considering Bayliner zip tied the hoses in with other wiring.
- Interior Lighting / Smart Home Systems – The prior owner already converted most lighting to LED, but it’s very mismatched. We’d also like something on home automation system and that is dimmable.
- Flying Boat Capability – Hey, we ultimately want an airship after all!
As you can see, work on a boat is never done – and we have plenty of pending projects to keep us busy in the years ahead!
But we feel we’ve reached a major milestone and Y-Not is VERY livable right now.
Still Loving Our Bayliner 4788
We absolutely love Y-Not, and see many more years ahead together.
But with every boat or RV, there are compromises.
After two years of boat ownership, we’ll be soon recapping the downsides of a Bayliner 4788. Look for our top ten list of negatives of this particular boat model in an upcoming post.