Four Inexpensive Upgrades

Here are four inexpensive additions and upgrates from experienced cruiser Terry Kotas, who sails Cetus, a Fantasia 35.
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Here are four inexpensive additions and upgrates from experienced cruiser Terry Kotas, who sails Cetus, a Fantasia 35.

Here are four inexpensive additions and upgrates from experienced cruiser Terry Kotas, who sails Cetus, a Fantasia 35.

1. Bilge Pump Alert $25

We don’t always hear the bilge pump when it comes on, so a simple LED light wired to the automatic bilge switch and mounted in a conspicuous location (in our case right between the instruments in the cockpit) solved that problem. Now a red light comes on to alert us when the bilge pump cycles on.


2. Engine Room Light $12

Rummaging through an auto-wrecking yard one Saturday, I came upon a handy trouble light under the hood of a Chevy truck. It throws a bright light, has a 6-foot retractable cord on a reel, and is great for peering around dark nether regions in the engine compartment. 


3. Cooling Coil $40

When we replaced our 15-year-old refrigerator compressor, I noticed a great deal of corrosion caused by an occasional leak from the unit’s seawater cooling plumbing. To eliminate this problem on the new unit I was installing, I fashioned an 8-inch diameter coil from a 10-foot-long piece of copper tubing and installed it into our freshwater tank. I drilled two holes in the inspection plate for the ends of the coil to pass through and connect to the 5/8-inch hose that runs to the refrigerator’s compressor. I then filled the coil with water and hooked it up to the reefer’s circulating pump, and the freshwater tank became the perfect heat sink. There was no more saltwater corrosion, and I was able to eliminate a through-hull. (The cost does not include the circulation pump, which was already installed).


4. Larger Cooling Fan $99

Our refrigerator compressor is located under the galley sink in a closed cabinet, so we have always had a small 12-volt computer fan mounted behind it to increase air flow in the small space. When I put in the new compressor I also installed a new and larger fan that moves a lot more air. We chose a Hella turbo fan for its low power draw. It’s wired to the compressor and switches on whenever the compressor kicks on. During hot summers in the Sea of Cortez the larger fan has helped improve the efficiency of our refrigeration system.


What small but satisfying improvements have you made to your boat? Let us know at



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