Friday, June 12, 2009

M/V Istaboa — The refit — Again

As I've been indicating in recent posts, Istaboa 3.0 is better than ever.
But we'll start with...

In the beginning:

Istaboa was built in 2002 by Nordhavn in their Taiwanese yard. One of the last few Nordhavns built there before moving operations to China. She was the 26th of the 40 that were built. Shipped to Dana Point, California to be commissioned, then handed over to her previous owner, Roger Mumford. She was originally christened "Teralani".
Roger took her down the west coast and through the Panama Canal, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, then up to New Jersey. After that she cruised back down to FL and over to the Bahamas several times.
As Teralani she became a true long range passagemaker; as Istaboa she has a led a somewhat different life.

Becoming Istaboa:

We happened on her for sale in Palm Beach Gardens, Fl and quickly realized, we found our boat. A 57 Nordhavn was always at the top of my list of great boats and it didn't take much poking around to see she was loaded with the right stuff as well as in good shape. We worked out our deal, took her out into 10' seas for a sea trial, took a night to think about it, and the rest is history. We now own a 57 Nordhavn.
The previous owner kept a captain and mate busy on board and she was already in turn key mechanical condition. So without much fuss we loaded her up with fuel and made a run for the Abacos; then the Berrys, Eleuthera, and Cat. She ran flawlessly. After a few months of island cruising, we ran her around the Keys, across the Gulf of Mexico, and up the Tenn-Tom Waterway to Tennessee.

In the fresh clean waters of the Tennessee River we started the process of returning her to almost new condition. Lots of polish brought her back to a new boat shine. We removed the very beefy stainless steel rub rails and had the scratches removed and polished. New Canvas. The small teak stern cap rail was refinished then topped with 10 coats of Awlbrite; giving the wood a near mirror finish that will last for years.

A little gelcoat work and the new Istaboa —externally— was looking almost new, yet with nicely weathered patina. While in Tennessee she was always berthed under a covered slip in fresh water which kept her looking good while we went to work on the interior.
The next year or so, business kept us close to home and unable to make the run back to the islands, but cruising the Tennessee River is a great consolation prize. The Tennessee is, no doubt—hands down—one of the most beautiful cruising rivers in the world; especially in the Fall. So this time was also enjoyed, not to mention the boat loves fresh water. We did get a few comments like, "Nordhavn's a bit of an overkill on the river isn't it?"
Actually it's a great river boat. She clips along at an average of 9.5 knots upstream, and even faster down, and uses less than 7GPH of fuel. Wind doesn't bother her much and docking in the smaller marinas is easy with bow and stern thrusters with wing stations on both sides of the Portuguese bridge and the cockpit. Per Nordhavn's design, the bulbous bow keeps our wake to a minimum while maintaining cruising speed.
I remember when we were still on the river and approaching small fishing boats; the fishermen would wave their arms hoping to slow us down (most big boats don't) so we wouldn't wake them. Then they would flip us off as we passed by without pulling back, but glancing back we would see a look of bewilderment on their faces as our small wake hit and they weren't swamped. At 9.5 knots it makes the wake of a bass boat.

The inside story/The Redux
Next we went about changing the interior and electronics on Istaboa. Yes, 57 Nordhavns are very strong and seaworthy boats, but there is more to life than just function. We also enjoy our creature comforts and Istaboa is a very comfortable boat.

Starting with entertainment, the first thing to go was the TV. Out with the old and in with a new HD Panasonic. We also upgraded our KVH Sat dish to receive HD and we did enjoy that for a year or so until Directv decided to kill off the old birds and use new satellites that we can't receive... unless we do a $13,000.00 USD upgrade. So... no more HD, unless we can pic it up locally off air. All receivers were replaced with the newer DVRs. Our latest addition for entertainment is a Mac Mini that we use to download Netflix, Amazon, Comcast Xfinity, and anything else that the available internet will allow. Of course, there are times that there is no internet and I just use it as an extra chartplotter that's hooked up on Istaboa's network.
She already had a nice Bose surround system, so we've maxed out the inputs and let that be.

Version 2.0 that's still in service: Wine Cooler, Commercial Grade Propane Thermador cook top, SubZero fridge, and Subzero freezer were all serviced and declared in fine shape. (Version 3.0: they've been serviced again and still working well.)
We like to cook and the galley is a cook's galley. Gas cook top and plenty of room on the bar for prepping makes it easy; everything is conveniently within reach, plus lots of places for pots, pans utensils, and spices. The double sink with a heavy duty garbage disposal is nice for chopping and cleanup also. Next to the Asko, separate, washer and dryer is a large pantry with room for booze and drinking glasses.

So then we moved up to the Pilot House.

I have been in the Marine Electronics business for years and I still believe, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  So we left the old Raymarine RL80's with 12kw 6' array alone, but added redundant computer systems with Nobeltec's V9 and the new Max Pro loaded. I liked the old Samsung portrait style computer display, so we left that but added a Raymarine daybrite display on the Fly Bridge.
Well, It broke and we replaced all that with new Raymarine E120s and a Raymarine G series 17" display.

2 new redundant laptops attached to the G series display and all new software. I've found that, after many different computer configurations, laptops are the most reliable computer systems. They are small, don't get hot, good ones are very reliable, and no need for an elaborate redundancy hookup. If one goes down, just grab the other and plug it in. This has worked for me several times.

Out with the old Raymarine VHF and in with a new ICOM 604. Topped off with new antennas also.
Later we added Furuno's FA-150 AIS and interfaced that into Nobeltec's charting software. (It works wonders in the rivers, though it did puzzle the tow boat Captains as they are not used to seeing a pleasure boat on AIS.)
Also XM weatherworx and an Airmar weather transducer were added. That's a lot of info for a windows based system to sort out, so we added an Actisense NMEA Multiplexer to narrow down the connections.
We utilize two completely separated and independent navigation systems that in no way share anything other than electricity. Each has 2 GPS tranducers, each has it's own weather system, each has it's independent depth tranducers and displays.
Another nice addition we made was the communication/internet gear.
This not only gave us faster wireless internet, but voice communication also from Skype—at 2 cents a minute—in the Bahamas. As time went on and high speed internet bandwidth became more available, (especially in the Exumas where our company has installed it.) we've added VOIP phones that act as an extension of my office system. Yep, you can call me at the office and I can answer in the islands. Pretty cool.
Version 3.0 communication/internet gear:
Keeping up with technology, we've change out pretty much all the old gear and brought on new and faster equipment. We now employee a Rogue Wave Pro
to reach out and find an available internet hotspot. We attach that to a new Cradlepoint MBR-1400 router that's better and more stable than the old Cradlepoint router. Same methodology, just newer technology that gives us 4G-LTE capability from Verizon when we can't find a hotspot signal using the Rogue Wave Pro.

With all that done it was time for the softer things in life that Melonie was more interested in.
Version 3.0 that's recently been changed or added:
We've never really cared for the colors used on the settee and stools so we changed all that to a combination of beige and sage.

Some of you who've read this blog before will remember our run-in with Florida Yacht Interiors and the really-really bad job they did on our settee cushions. If not, read here in case you're thinking about using their services. Florida Yacht Interiors.

Finally we found a company that does what they say and we have new cushions for the settees, both in the salon and pilothouse. C2Shore in Palm Beach did an excellent job. The large fixed table in the salon has been replaced by a custom teak hi-lo table that was done by Scott Boyle in Stuart, FL. This gave us a lot more space and was more practical than the fixed table. The stools have sage seats with beige backrests. Mel thought this brought out the green granite counter tops nicely so we added barrel chairs with the same color scheme. The barrel chairs also gave us space under the seats for storage... and, they're very comfortable.

With all this done, our 57, was reborn. She's still Istaboa, but she has a new look.
The picture below are from the Teralani days. When we return, we'll take and post new pics of the interior. It looks really good.

As you can see, Istaboa at the time she was built, the previous owner opted for the high gloss finish on the interior teak. While this is beautiful and a $15,000 upgrade... it does require a bit more maintenance, but Mel has become an artist at keeping it very shiny.

 Notice the mirror image of our little stowaway

After cruising for a while in the islands we realized a new and longer dingy would be a nice addition. So we traded the old 11' for a 14'. The difference in the ride was amazing. We looked at other options, such as Boston Whalers and other hard sided boats, but decided the softer ride of an inflatable best suited our lifestyle... not to mention bashing a hard boat into the side of Istaboa while lifting with a davit could be a problem.

Down below in the engine room, pretty much everything was in very good condition. The previous owner always kept a captain on board and maintenance was done on a regular schedule.
The John Deere 6125 and a John Deere wing are a nice combination. The big 6125 chugs along quietly and almost vibration free. Keel cooled and dry stacked exhaust makes for a nice and simple main engine. The wing engine provides power for the bow and stern hydraulic thrusters, the hydraluic winch, that lifts the 175 pound stainless steel CQR anchor, and acts as a get home engine in case all else fails. It will actually push the boat at about 5 knots.

The engine room is quite large, giving a 6' person the ability to stand up and easily do maintenance.
With plenty of storage and a workbench with running water and a sink this all makes for a convenient workspace and being white gives it an always clean appearance.

 Notice that little pod in the upper left hand corner of the above pic? That's a pan/tilt/zoom camera with a monitor in the pilothouse. It works great for zooming in and checking on fuel filter pressure gauges. It will actually zoom in close enough to read the gauges. Not to mention quick engine room checks. Not as good as eyeballing it personally, but good for a quick scan.

Storage... there is so much storage aboard this boat that we maintain an inventory program on the ships computer just to keep up with what spare part is where.We keep a lot of spares.

Version 3.0:
We've spent the winter of 12/13 in the Palm Beach area in order to take advantage of James Knight and Yacht Tech. Revamping everything from the electronics to the hydraulics.
  • Davit serviced and certified in good shape  (James took this one on himself)
  • Stainless steel cable removed and replaced with Amsteel Blue Graphite Line
  • New Dishwasher
  • All fluids changed. Hydraulics, engine oil, transmission fluid, Keel Cooler cleaned and coolant refreshed. 
  • New hydraulic inspection shunts installed and gauges removed making the system more reliable.
  • Complete hydraulic inspection done. (I have a fear of losing hydraulically operated components)
  • New alternator on wing engine.
  • Engine room detailed, rust removed and repainted.
  • New GPS tranducers and new Raymarine G Series Daylight Bright Monitor installed. New laptops with all new Nav software... Nobletec and Coastal Explorer by Rose Point.
  • Fixed aft brow cover fabricated over the cockpit.
  • Teak caprail refinished with 8 coats of Awlbrite
  • Exterior buffed and polished.
We were about to re-carpet the whole interior, but decided to do another cruise with the new puppy before that (wish we would have had it done... Muddy's done well with training). We'll save that for next winter.

I could go on and on about the systems, storage, and spare parts we carry.
If you ever see us around the many marinas we visit, stop by, we will give a real tour. We are very proud of Istaboa and like to show her off.

Till then,