To get Kenutu's motor running, you have to bend over. She's kinky like that. Also, her gauges and ignition switch are in the cockpit wall near the floor. The captain does not take kindly to bowing, so he decided he was going to rig all the gauges and the ignition switch to an electronic box on the binnacle. We saw this set up on another Islander when we were in Holiday Harbor and were insanely jealous.
The first step was templating out the base, which had to sit on top of the existing shelving thing and wrap arrow. Thank god for cardboard, am I right?
Next up was getting the jig saw and some wood and seeing just how talented we are with sharp power tools. The template gave us the rough shape, Mack bought some very expensive oak, and then we sanded and trimmed until we got a perfect fit. I say we, I mean he. Then Mack threw on some varnish and taaaa daaaaa!
When we got Kenutu she didn't have any electronics. No depth finder, no chart plotter, nothing. Now that she had a pedestal it was time to fix that. Plus, Mack loves electronics.
We opted for the Garmin 547XS, mostly because it was one of the few models out there that's compatible with our autopilot. Mack found it on sale for $350. It's small enough to fit on the pedestal perfectly without interfering with the gas, and it spins so if you're sitting on the side instead of at the helm you can watch where you're going.
Things were progressing so nicely Mack moved into making the box that would sit on the pedestal and house the gauges. The end result was a piece of shit that we later lovingly referred to as the prototype.
Luckily Scott came for a visit and, in between Screwdrivers, he helped Mack craft a beautiful box. He pointed out that we don't want the box to leak so we should make the top hang over a smidge. He introduced us to fancy pants woodworking tools, like clamps and saws and drill bits to recede screw heads. We got some triangle metal thing to make out angles right. For someone who was always drinking while doing this project, I gotta say, Scott was meticulous.
After the sides, back, and top were cut out and perfectly aligned, it was time to do the face. This meant planning out where you wanted each gauge and then cutting a circle with another new tool that would make a hole for the gauges. Mack also planned to place an ignition switch on the panel, which meant the helmsman would no longer have to bend over... until it was time to kill the engine.
Part of what made the prototype so crappy was all the exposed, sticking out hardware. Scott taught Mack about this skinny bendy saw and this fancy drill but that would cut out dowels out of your wood. So they made dowels, placed them in (some of them even matching up seamlessly with the grain of the wood), trimmed them off and voila. Amazing.
Mack mounted the box to the pedestal base he'd made and left the screws on the back exposed so that he could wire everything in and access the wires as needed. Then, one day while I was at work, I got this.
Mack had fed the wires up the support pole and connected everything. He even sent me a video of him turning the key and starting the boat! You could almost feel the jealousy lift!
Before moving the gauges to the pedestal there was a bunch of wiring running across the starboard lazarette (aka under seat storage), which we were always worried we were going to break when we pulled out life jackets or other crap from that abyss. Mack cleaned all that old wiring out and now we can go crazy pulling stuff out of there!
Once the box was all rigged, Mack relocated the auto pilot to the pedestal as well. And now, you feel like the captain of an electronics supership when you sit at the helm.
I gotta say, having the ignition and gauges right at eye level is awesome. We have to be a little strategic with our hand holds now, since the electronic box obscures the grab bar on the sides of the pedestal. And we lost our cup storage that used to sit on the back side of the grab bar. But all in all, the box is a major improvement.
Two people dumb enough to think anything is possible and smart enough to bumble their way into discoveries.