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Outfitting For Cruising

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In This Section:

Sailing4.wmf (3046 bytes) Return To Home Page Or click "Cruising Grounds" for Ontario photo album links!
WHEEL1.JPG (903 bytes) Serendipity As Found We could've sailed her as was, but instead...
WHEEL1.JPG (903 bytes) Modifications Done After all this, you'd think we'd be done, right?
WHEEL1.JPG (903 bytes) To Do List Havin' too much fun messing around to stop now!

Serendipity As Found

We purchased Serendipity from the original owners in August of 1996. Fortunately, few previous modifications had been made. The modifications that had been made included a plumbed in porta-potti, keyhole cut-outs to storage space under the quarterberths, and all lines had been led aft.

Though we could have sailed her indefinitely with very little additional modification, we have since changed a few things to increase cruising comfort and safety.  In total we've spent more on these modifications than the original purchase price of the boat, and we've still got a long "To do" list.

Modification List

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1. Lifelines 2. Stern Rail 3. Force 10 Barbecue
4. Lines Led Aft 5. Bulkhead Compass 6. Galley Partition/Medicine Chest
7. Shore Power/Battery Charger 8. Keel Trunk/Compression Post 9. Quarter Berth Locker Doors
10. Stainless Steel Backing Plates 11. Reupholstered  Cushions 12. Bow Anchor Holder
13. Masthead Topping Lift 14. Bulkhead Electronics Holder 15. Stainless Steel Boarding Ladder
16. Cockpit Storage Bag 17. Cockpit Drink Holders 18. Jiffy Reefing
19. Jibe Preventer 20. Keel Lock Down Stud 21. Anchor Light Cable
22. Tiller Lock 23. Boom Tent 24. Cockpit Screen

  Click this logo to view the Serendipity "Modifications" photo album at

1. Lifelines: The first mate insisted! Checked out a Stainless Steel fabrication shop and found we could make them ourselves for about half the price.

Four 1" cast chrome bases @ C$8.95 each
8 feet (for 24" stanchions) of 1" stainless tubing @ C$40.00
4 polished aluminum 1" caps (for stanchion tops) @ C$1 each
About 30 feet of aircraft cable @ C$25.00
1/8" stainless backing plate (2"x3") for lifelines, sternrail, bow pulpit, cleats, and winches (C$25.00 at local machine shop)
8 rubber grommets (where lifelines pass through stanchions)
Miscellaneous hardware and fasteners @ C$30.00

Total cost was about C$160. Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

2. Stern Rail:

We made the stern rail from scratch too. It’s a little higher than most so it can support the mast when unstepped. I also tie the stern mast crutch to it for extra support when trailering. When the mast is supported on the bow and stern pulpits, there’s just enough clearance to open the pop-top. (Also had to have it to hold up the barbecue, stowed fenders, and life ring).

Four 1" cast chrome bases @ C$8.95 each
Two 1" cast chrome Tee's @ C$8.95 each
16 feet of 1" stainless tubing @ C$80.00
(Borrowed conduit bender from work)
Miscellaneous fasteners @ C$15.00

Total cost was C$150. Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

3. Force 10 Propane Barbecue

Had to buy this one. Found it on sale at Keebles in Belleville for $C185. A definite must for cruising. We live off it. Gotta have it for Serendipity Surf and Turf…


4 - 4 oz frozen filet mignon
1 - 300g Caesar Salad in a Bag
1- 8 oz package of frozen crab meat
1 - 8" loaf of garlic bread
1/8 cup butter
2 candles
3 pinches garlic powder
1 - "Serendipity"
10-15 knots from astern, few clouds, 25-30C
1 - 1 Litre bottle of favourite wine


1. Sail to remote location.
2. 1 hour prior to destination, remove meats from cooler and allow to thaw
3. Drop anchor in unoccupied, well protected and picturesque cove, 4 hrs prior to sunset.
4. Sunbathe, swim, snorkel, explore ashore
5. Preheat barbecue on medium while combining salad ingredients.
6. Place Filet Mignon on grill, (4 minutes or until first side seared).
7. Place crabmeat, butter, and garlic in aluminum foil tray, seal top.
8. Flip filet mignon, place crabmeat tray on top, and garlic bread on top of that.
9. Cook 3 minutes, (or until filets are seared both sides, rare in middle).
10. Pour wine, light candles, and serve just prior to sunset.
11. Moonlight swim (optional).

Serves two. Cannot be doubled or halved without significant loss of ambience.
Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

4. All Lines Led Aft

The previous owner had mounted snatch blocks to pad eyes on deck, leading lines through mast base blocks, deck blocks, and back to horn cleats mounted on deck at step from deck to cockpit. (Footing was treacherous). We lowered the mast base blocks (to prevent jib sheet hang up during tacks) and replaced the deck mounted blocks with 3 sheave Spinlock deck organizers (these were expensive). All lines are now led parallel and very close to pop-top back to cockpit and secured by clam cleats. (Cheaper than cam cleats and require less lateral deck space). Now the running rigging is neat as a pin and we have ample footing when going on decks. (Note: we also hang to mesh dunk backs on either side of companion way to store halyard and down haul bitter ends while underway to prevent jib sheet tangles).

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

5. Exterior Bulk Head Mounted Compass

This is a lighted Saturn model (tied into cabin light fuse panel switch, cabin light can be independently switched off). We mounted it on the port side anticipating all electronics and metal gadgets would be mounted on the starboard side interior bulkhead surface.

If I had it to do over again, I’d mount it somewhere else (though where I’m not sure) as on a port tack, the First Mate is always sitting right in front it.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

6. V-Berth/Salon Partition

This was the first mates idea and despite lengthy resistance I finally gave in. Made a cardboard template after many measurements, and then cut a 1/4 plywood wall framed with 1x3 cedar, cut frame with jig saw to template curves, routered the inside edge and then fastened to galley fiddle on bottom and roof liner via "L" brackets on top. Mounted a teak medicine cabinet with stainless bolts through plywood. While it closes in the interior space and obstructs lighting a bit, I guess it does give us a place to put our tooth brushes (and wedding rings when under way).

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

7. Shore Power/Charger Connection

In progress. Connector is mounted but not wired yet. Intend to run to permanently mounted battery charger (under V-berth) and to GFI receptacle at galley. Have a single burner range I’ll put on board when wiring is complete. As our shore power requirements are minimal we opted to install a less expensive charger connection, as compared to a 30 Amp shore power connection. Should our power requirements increase beyond anticipated, it can be easily replaced later.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

8. Keel Trunk Compression Post Stiffener

Wasn’t happy with the original design, and the piece of fibreglass from the top of the keel trunk to the galley (to stiffen trunk from flexing when changing tacks) broke loose.

I put a 4 x4 inside the galley under the compression post, pounded in two overlapping wedges to fill in the gap, (like when mounting a window in a roughed frame) and then wrapped it all with fibreglass, while beefing up the glass that secures the keel trunk to the galley.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

9. Mounted Doors on Lockers Under Quarter Berths

The original owner had cut keyhole access ports under the quarter berths so that stuff inside could be retrieved while people (or other stuff) was still sitting on top. Great idea, however stowed stuff kept flying out the keyholes in rough weather. So I cut the keyhole ports out rectangular, and then mounted doors with latches over the holes. Now you can get at stuff when you want (without clearing off the quarter berth and accessing from the top) yet stuff doesn’t come flying out when you least want it to.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

10. Stainless Steel Backing Plates

Mounted Stainless Steel backing plates behind all on-deck load bearing fittings. Had a local shop cut a bunch of 3" x 2" x 1/8" pieces, and then drilled them to use as backing plates under everything that came through the deck. Rebedded all deck fixtures at the same time. Cool! No Leaks!

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

11. Re-upholstered Interior Cushions

The quarter berths had been previously done but the V-berth fabric was rough. We unstitched the fabric from the vinyl, used the original fabric as a pattern, and then sewed the new fabric to the old vinyl. Gave our sewing machine a work out but it looks great. Then we made slip covers for the quarter berths so they matched.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

12. Bow Pulpit Anchor Holder

You can by one, but we made one by wrapping 1/4" nylon braid around the bow pulpit, looping in two thimbles on either side just large enough to insert the danforth cross bar (stock) through. We attached a fender hanger to the center of the pulpit to hold our coiled chain and rode. Lastly, the rode bitter end is permanently attached to the bow cleat.

Once we ran out of gas in high winds in the middle of a narrow and busy channel. We deployed the anchor within 15 seconds.

Our danforth is a little over-sized (15 lbs) and we have 6 ft of 3/8" galvanized chain on 100’ of 3/8" twisted nylon rode. After anchoring over 200 times, we've never dragged overnight. (Partly due to Ondine's skill at dropping and setting the anchor, and partly due to oversizing). 

In fact we have so much faith in our anchor, we've used our Danforth with two lines ashore (in a 3 point hitch arrangement) in a protected cove at the cottage, to moor Serendipity for weeks at a time.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

13. Mast Head Topping Lift

"Serendipity" came with a pigtail clasp off the backstay. The first we had the main reefed and had to spill a gust I knew that arrangement had to go. (It also explained why the backstay was so stretched that with the turnbuckle tightened all the way in, there was still visible slack). The masthead back stay slot has just enough room to insert a stainless steel carbiner alongside the backstay eye terminal. We used a 1/4 nylon braid from the carbiner down to a brass clasp that hooks into the butterfly flange on the back of the boom. With the limited roach of the mainsail, the new topping lift can remain attached at all times.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

14. Interior Bulkhead Electronics Holder (starboard)

We picked up a teak electronics organizer from Keebles in Belleville. Before we could mount it we had to glue 4 wooden blocks to the interior of the fibreglass companionway bulkhead. After the "Automotive Goop" set, we screwed the organizer to the blocks. We use the organizer to hold our Magellan Pioneer GPS, handheld VHF, 12" parallel rules, compact binoculars, hand bearing compass, and cell phone.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

15. Stainless Steel Boarding Ladder

We used to have a portable boarding ladder we hooked over the cockpit coaming. This was a bugger to stow and a safety concern if someone inadvertenly fell overboard. We've since purchased a permanently mounted model from Dean Marine in Cobourg. We mounted it on the starboard side of the transom. It has two clips to hold it in place while under way, that can easily be reached from in the water (should someone inadvertently fall overboard). When boarding, small folks can duck under the stern rail, while bigger folks may find it easier to swing one leg after the other over the stern rail.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

16. Propane Storage Bag and Cockpit Catchall

We found a Sunbrella bag at Keebles that matched our sail cover. We attach it from the sternrail uprights so it just hangs inside the transom. We use this to store propane canisters for the barbecue and campstove (we make coffee and cook breakfast on this in the cockpit), as well as the air horn, a large supply of bungees, a bottle of sunblock, a long nosed lighter for propane appliances, and everything else you want handy access to from the cockpit.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

17. Cockpit Drink Holders

We drink a lot of Diet Coke, a case of which can normally be found in the locker under the V-berth. Anyway, shortly after we started cruising we realized that a can of pop won't remain stationary on the cockpit seat during tack changes. To compensate, we mounted gimballed drink holders under the companionway winch mount/step, to reduce the incidence of high velocity cola.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

18. Jiffy Reefing

Our first experience with the Ensenada 20 mainsail boom roller reefing was a disaster. We were in a steadily increasing breeze and decided to reef. (Previously, we had always reefed at the dock before going out simply looping ties through the reef points around the boom). After 15 minutes and drifting "ahull" some distance we finally got the main roller reefed and back underway. The sail shape was so poor we could hardly make headway, having an awful time pointing higher than a beam reach and going terribly slow.

Since then, I attached to nylon padeyes on either side of the boom end. We tie one end of a 1/4" nylon braid to one pad eye, run the line up to the aft reef cringle and down the other side to (and through) the opposite padeye. Then we run the line up to and loop around the mast halyard cleat up to the front mainsail reef cringle and back down the other side to the opposite mast halyard cleat.

When it’s time to reef, we loosen the knot tied on the rear padeye, remove the mast slot slug stopper, and uncleat the main halyard while maintaining tension. Then we pull the jiffy reef line to pull the main reef points down to the boom and recleat the main halyard. As long as the front reef cringle is pulled down to the boom and toward the mast, and the aft reef cringle is pulled down to the boom and back toward the butterfly, reasonable "new" foot tension is maintained, providing reasonable sail shape as long as the main isn't too old and baggy.

While it may sound complicated, now we can reef in about 1 minute, and point almost as high as under full sail.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

19. Jibe Preventer

When on a broad reach to a run, we use a 1/4" nylon braid from one of the padeyes on the boom end and run it to the appropriate side stern cleat. We put enough tension on it to pull the main off the shrouds (vanged). When not in use, we coil it up tight and tie the bitter end off to the same padeye on the boom end.

Underway, in the event of an accidental jibe (the wind crosses the stern attempting to slam the boom to the opposite tack), the boom is prevented from crossing the cockpit centreline. We may get a bump on the noggin' but probably wouldn't be knocked overboard. In severe conditions, where an accidental jibe could damage the rig, we run the preventer line up to a midship cleat. While this prevents boom encroachment into the cockpit, we lose some vang tensioning properties. Oh well, under those conditions we're rarely worried about more speed.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

20. Keel Lock Down Stud Stop Leak

Some Ensenada 20’s were equipped with a keel lock down stud that comes through a hole in the keel trunk and is fastened by a wing nut. This always leaked a bit, however after a grounding the wingnut was pulled through (enlarging) the keel trunk hole increasing the water that came through in rougher seas requiring repair.

We formed a Stainless Steel plate around the trunk where the keel lockdown stud comes through. When the keel is retracted, we use a 3/4" expanding scupper plug to prevent water ingress. When the keel is extended, we insert a scupper plug with the centre drilled out to friction fit over the lock down stud. If we are in a shoal area, and there's little risk of unexpected foul weather, we leave the lockdown wing nut off. If there is little risk of grounding, and hte wind's above 10 knots, we put the lock down wing nut on.

Click "Ensenada 20" and proceed to "Design Review - Con's" for details.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

21. Anchor Light Cable/Mast Slap Reduction

We unscrewed the mast step hinge, and found the half inch plumbing pipe insulation we had bought was difficult to slip over the cable, so I just stuffed 8 three foot lengths up the mast end to end. Now everyone sleeps soundly aboard "Serendipity".

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22. Tiller Lock

We used to use a tent pole guy (loop around stern cleat, two wraps around tiller, scured on opposite side stern cleat). It worked pretty good, but untensioning and retensioning for each course adjustment was a little tricky.

After hearing a number of claims of Davis Tiller Lock failures, we opted to purchase a "Windpilot" tiller lock from Windjammer Sails in Kingston Ont. This device is very robust being constructed solely of stainless steel and brass and incorporating a simple cam mechanism for tensioning and locking the tiller.

We've since found that wiht sails balanced properly and the main backwinded ever so slightly, we can set a close hauled course and the Ensenada 20 will self steer indefinitely on a close hauled tack, as long as crew doesn't move around to much. You can set a course with amazing accuracy, with the continuous "heading up" and "falling off" averaging out. We recently plotted a course for a marker beyond the horizon (about 4 miles away) set the tiller lock, adjusted based on the real bearing provided by the GPS, and 4 miles later had to turn off so we didn't hit the marker. It's not a tiller pilot, but for C$35, it's the next best thing, even if you only get a few moments hands-free operation on a reach, run, or under power.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

23. Boom Tent

We used to use a 6 x 8 foot blue poly tarp, but this was extremely noisy if there was any wind at all. A few years ago we found a 9 x 9 foot sunbrella tarp (in Serendipity's Sunflower Yellow canvas colour) at the Port Credit marine flea market. This works really great in and anchorage. We drape the "tent" over the boom, and tie the front center grommet to the mast, drape the sides over the lifelines at the front and sternrail at the back. The four tarp corners are then bungeed to handrails forward and stern cleats aft. The small space between the boom end and transom is still open to the elements, however this allows the barbecue to be operated with the tent up.

In a busy anchorage, we have total privacy in the cockpit when we hang to beach towels off the stern rail.

Click "Modification List" to return to chart.

24. Cockpit Screen

If you sail a small boat anywhere near wildeness, this is an absolute must. Otherwise, from sundown to sunrise you'll be confined to the cabin, to avoid hords of blood sucking mosquitios. (I'ts not quite tha bad in the latter part of the season). Any we purchased a simple picnic table screen from a camping store. By sliding the front over the pop-top (raised) and using bungees to hold it up to the boom and out to the lifelines, we can sit in the foward few feet of the cockpit all night long, leaving a PIC coil going to fend off the few that get in through the cracks. All in all, and excellent $20 investment.

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Serendipity To Do List

Combining these modifications with the addition of safety gear (PFD's, paddles, inflatable dinghy, horn, flashlight, first aid kit, flares, fire extinguisher, etc), and instrumentation (hand held compass, VHF, GPS) and navigation gear (two pair binoculars, parallel rules, dividers, charts) we've already spent more on stuff than we originally paid for the boat. (However when your working on a shoestring budget, this is the only way to go).

So after all this, we're pretty well done, right? WWWRONG! We're not done yet by a long shot!

Things we still want to do include:


Cruising Spinnaker (C$500 + C$400 for winch upgrades, genoa tracks and cars)
Storm Jib (C$250)
Furling 135% Genoa (C$500 for furler and another $500 for new UV protected sail)


Mount a spare tire
Mount a storage box (for rudder, wheel chocks, lines, etc.)
Mount a screen walkway (for safely walking tongue extension when launch/retrieving
Move lights to light bar mounted on boat stern


Combined Fishfinder (depth sounder) with speed knot log.
Tiller Pilot


Bow anchor roller
Increased sanitation tankage (currently 3 gallons that will last 2 adults about 4 days, dry bowl)
Rewire (move electrical panel from portside settee bottom that always gets kicked).
Companionway Backrests (serving double duty as electronics, halyard and sheet holders)
Full Dodger, Bimini, and screened cockpit enclosure.
Chain (Hause) Pipe (for storing anchor rode below deck).

By the time we're done (if ever), we'll probably have spent 4 times what we paid for her in upgrades and mods, but we'll always own Serendipity outright, she'll be exactly the way we want her, and most of the "stuff" will be new. (However, if I didn't have such an aversion to financing "luxury items", we probably could have purchased a boat, pretty well outfitted the way we wanted a lot cheaper and with less work.

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