Mar 20, 2022

Moonray, the journey to become a dive boat

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Moonray, a 35′ ProCharter P3, previously called ‘Madeline May’, started off as a recreational/sports fishing boat. Madeline May had a bit of a chequered life, with it not being properly looked after. It was fitted with twin alternators, 12v and 24v, hauler, deck wash, live bait tank and a lot of rod holders. Recently it had a new gearbox fitted and the engine had relatively low hours. We could see the potential, so we bought it. Not wanting to be reminded of it’s shark fishing background, we mixed the names of our other boats, Moonshadow and Stingray, and called it Moonray.

As Madeline May

We had the boat name changed officially when we registered it into our business name. It was put through it mid-term MCA inspection at the same time as the change of ownership documentation was done. We needed to purchase several items, to meet the MCA coding, as expected. During it’s first season under our ownership, Moonray was only used a couple of times, as a support vessel and for a wildlife watching trip. We were so busy taking divers out on Moonshadow, we didn’t have the time to do any work on it. During October, it was taken out of the water, ready to be converted to a dive boat.

As Moonray mk1

Front Cabin

The first thing was to sort out the electrics. The 12v system never worked properly, basically it never charged the battery. So the decision was made, to remove the 12v alternator and associated wiring. This included a split charging diode, a relay and wires to the excite terminal of the alternator. The general wiring all worked but there was so much of it. We removed the deck wash pump, all electronics apart from the radar and the stereo. To get to where the bulk of the wiring was, in the bow section, was a bit of a task. Moonray has a toilet, which was accessed from the deck. All ProCharters are fitted with a toilet cubicle in the bow cabin, Moonray had the toilet cubicle without the toilet, which ended up as a dumping ground. We took down the side walls, then the roof was reinforced. The whole area was made level, which included a removable panel, so we could lay full length inside. Now we could access the wiring without bashing our heads.

Firstly, we fitted a new stereo, we need some background music to work to, this one has a small screen and plays music and video media files. The front 12v battery selector switch was replaced with a newer version. Although it doesn’t switch on the battery, it supplies power to the DC converters. We fitted two DC converters, one powers everything except the lights and stereo, the other powers the lights and stereo. This will allow us to turn everything off except the lights and stereo at night time, if we decide to stay aboard. We fitted LED lights, a 12v TV monitor connected to the stereo, as well as a pair of speakers. Our little home from home. The whole area was colour resin coated, called Flowcoat or Topcoat. The helm was tidied up, unused switches were removed, the non working trim tab controls, wiring and the tabs were removed. The holes from years or changing electronics all over the helm, were filled, sanded and colour matched.

Main Cabin

In the main cabin we fitted new LED lights, new speakers, new sink and tap, water tank with pump, hot water heater and inverter. The hauler wiring, which ran through the cabin and up the galley area, was removed. The water goes through a diverter valve, so it can fill the hot water tank or out through the tap. The roof lining was taken down and the roof was covered in an insulating coating, Mascoat DTM. Several layers were applied, this not only insulates but stops condensation. While the roof lining was down, a lot of the wires were replaced, a new horn was fitted and any wires that went through the roof were re-routed through proper waterproof glands.

Toilet

The toilet was painted, a new seat fitted, the floor was Topcoated, the ceiling was covered in the insulating coating and a new LED light was fitted.

Main Deck

The main deck was where the big jobs were. The old deck light was replaced and the wiring that hung down was removed and re-routed, they were the only small jobs. We cut a hole in the transom to fit a lift. Side cheeks were fibreglassed in and the lift was fitted. At each side of the lift, a single seat was fitted. The port side rear seat was trimmed to allow a davit to be easily fitted/removed. We had custom benches made, designed to pivot away from the engine hatch, allowing the hatch cover to be easily opened. The side door cheeks were fitted, notched, so they would take the ladder. The hauler base was replaced, rewired, a floor switch was added and the wires were routed out of sight.

The ladder comes apart into two pieces. These are stored in the hatch that was the live bait tank. Inside the hatch, the old water inlet was removed, as was the old transducer. The new transducer was fitted and the old holes filled/repaired.

Engineering

The low hours 5.9L Cummins 355hp engine runs smoothly and was serviced. When the 12v alternator was removed, all the brackets and wiring were removed as well. The main 24v battery switch is under the engine hatch. We fitted an electronic remote switch, which meant a small switch near the DC converters, could turn on the engine start batteries on/off remotely. An electronic split charger was fitted. Due to the heavy load of the water heater, we fitted a 60A battery equaliser. This allows 12v to be taken from one of the batteries of the 24v battery bank, the current draw is balanced between the two batteries. This effectively means the batteries are in series and parallel at the same time.

The Hull

A new propeller was fitted, the hull was sanded and smoothed out, then anti-fouled. The blue gel coated hull was polished, any nicks in the fibreglass were filled, several old skin fittings were removed filled and blended in with the blue hull.

A lot of work but it has been worth it. This is a reduced list of things we have done to Moonray, lots of small changes and improvements have been made, it would be enough to fill a small book. Five months of work by us, plus hours by Jake Powell of Fal Fibres, who did all the GRP work. Tom Stovell of Lugo Marine made the benches (bench tops by Fal Fibres), lift brackets and the ladder. Alex Brinnen of ABC Vinyl Works added the stripes and signage.

We now have a very usable boat, that we will run from Mylor with the options of re-locating to other ports. Having enough space in the front cabin, so we could comfortably spend the night, it will give us more options to run from.



It will also be a very good all round dive boat.