Refit Part 1 – Designing the Radar Arch

When Saga was building the 43, a radar arch was an available option.  The design was well integrated with the boat and a few owners chose this option.  Today, many more 43s have arches thanks to Klacko Marine.  Klacko built all the stainless parts on the Saga built in St Catharines and many other boats.  Klacko is a survivor, few of the boat businesses that started in the boom times of the Ontario fibreglass yachts in the 70s.  Klacko’s success is due in no small part to the quality of the work they have done over the years.  Doug Gierula started working for Martin Klacko in 1995 and later he bought the business and now operates as a successful shop serving the local boat builders, dealers and the Saga community.

I first worked with Doug on the install for Kinship’s adjustable backstay.  Doug made a extension to lift the tang for the pump clear of the cockpit coaming.  This simple part was a work of art, beautiful to look at.  I had email Doug with the request, we agreed a very reasonable price.  A couple of days later Doug contacted me with a question about the length of the extension, he had found 2 versions in his records.  We worked out that the later boats had the longer version and that is what we agreed.  It all went together well and the pump handle clears the coaming.

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When we bought Kinship, we discussed the option of putting an arch on for purely cosmetic reasons, I am not even sure we had it in our “to do” list initially.    The stern is full of equipment that had been added a bit at a time and although less than attractive, it was totally business.

After a few months sailing Kinship we started to struggle with some of the ergonomic issues with the cockpit.  The two towers on the transom have diagonal bracing and on the starboard side, this makes sitting on the cockpit coaming at the wheel impossible. The bimini frame is mounted on the coaming, also removing key sitting positions.  Kinship’s past life was a voyager and it was really well set up for this role.  Though we plan to sail long distances, our needs are different, we are cruisers and we plan to live aboard.  Comfort becomes an important factor and comfort underway more so.

By the middle of the summer we moved the arch on to the budget and started to plan.  The research was fun as there are lots of Saga’s with arches and they are all different.  Step one is really to take a look at the boat to see what the else would be impacted.  Close inspection of our canvas (dodger, bimini and bridge) showed that it was within a year or at most two of needing replacement.

With the canvas in play, the arch project made sense as a “now” thing.  We talked to Doug and we got quotes for the new canvas and we were off, next stop coming up with the design.  The brief was simple, open up the coamings, a folding bimini and tidy up the stern.  This put the solar panels on the arch and the bimini mounts out on the rails.

Kinship is very well equipped and we wanted to preserve most of the setup we have today.  The one exception was the fact that we have 2 sat phones, an iSatPhone and TracPhone 150.  Though they operate differently, they are both on the Inmarsat network.  We looked at the costs of running the Tracphone and quickly realised that the data service though fairly fast was very expensive.  Data at sea is a nice to have, weather forecasts and email are the main applications for keeping out of trouble and keeping in touch.  Paul and Sheryl Shard were loaned an Iridium Go unit that seemed to offer the right sort of service at a reasonable price.  The Iridium Go provides voice, SMS and slow data that is fine for weather and email and it offers an unlimited data plan.  The downside is that it is not connected to the GMDSS – the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System .  GMDSS is a bit like 911, a way to summon help in an emergency.  The Inmarsat phones can be used to call for help when the boat is peril and the Iridium Go cannot.  We can get a pay as you go plan for the iSatphone that we can get just when we will be out of VHF range from shore.  The upshot of this process is that we have a Tracphone 150 system for sale and a spot on the arch for the Iridium Go antenna.


We worked out we need 6 antennas on the arch and we planned 7 for expansion in the future. Doug designed a “boomerang” to sit above the radar with 4 spots, plus a spot for a VHF antenna.  Another 3 spots are on the arch.  Doug delivered the arch last weekend and we could not be happier with the results.


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Doug’s wife came along for the ride and helped us unload.



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The arch ready to go onto the boat, we will need to measure for the side rails when we have it mounted.


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You can see the supports for the solar panels and the dinghy swing arm.  Last year we did not use the dinghy as it was too much trouble to unpack, inflate and launch just to take a tour around the anchorage.  We will be able to keep the dinghy on the arch most of the time, stowing it only on passages.

Lots of work to do over the winter, we are really looking forward to finishing the project and getting Kinship back in the water.


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