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New to me-256ssi-Introduction

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Sorry for the duplicate posts, not starting off on the right foot here.

Hello all,

Sorry for the lengthy post. Most is background on our new boat although I do have a head question. Thanks very much for reading and letting me in the club. I have lurked a bit and found some very valuable information here.

In December we purchased a 2005 256 ssi with the Volvo 8.1L GXi, captains call exhaust and arch (270hrs) and have naturally been itching to get on the water. We got lucky here in VA and had some good weather to do a sea trial with a surveyor, Capt. Emory Shover based here in northern VA. Highly recommend him. Also had a certified Volvo mech take a look at the engine and drive. Everything major checked out and the survey was money well spent as there was a bad aux breaker and fresh water pump which the PO paid for out of pocket.

I am in the process of having my canvas guy look at a few tears in the factory cockpit cover to see if he wants to repair or if I need to just bite the bullet and replace entirely. Thanks to you guys, I checked all of my cup holder drain and other drain hoses (front cooler) and found a number of them were disconnected so will get to those before we splash for the season. the boat will be slipped in fresh water in the Potomac from April 1 thru mid October and after much research we are going to have the bottom barrier coated and painted with a multi-year "hard ablative" like Pettit vivid.

Stereo-The boat has an upgraded sound system (but stock HU and remotes which both work). I know the PO installed a JBL amp and MB quart speakers but have not had a chance to fully inventory what all is there, if he wired it correctly and what I will replace, if not this year than next.

VHF- The boat does not have a VHF installed. I plan to flush mount under the steering wheel as I think I have seen one other member's install on this forum. Is there enough depth there? I have not had a chance to pull the breaker panel to check. I'm not on the radio that much so not sure if I'll go for a mic with a display as I know it will be difficult to see the main in this install location. Will likely go for a mic with a speaker or mount an external-when the CG up here in D.C. needs to raise you, its a lot better to answer on the radio to avoid the hassle of a stop. As far as the antenna goes, I plan to mount a 4' Shakespeare Centennial antenna 3/4 of the way up the side of the starboard arch.

Carpet- Factory grey carpet is in OK shape but I am not in love with the color. I had snapincarpet dot com send me samples and I think we will have them make us a new carpet using the desert sand berber they offer. Open to ideas here if anyone recommends a different outfit or carpet choice.

Head- Here comes my main question. I currently have the raw water manual flush Jabsco head and while this is OK I often have female guests on board and I can already see it being a pain to use the manual pump in the rare occasion that the head is even used. #1 only will be the rule, no excuse for anything else-we are always close enough to a marina or other facilities should the need arise. Additionally, as the boat is slipped I would not be 100% comfortable leaving the seacock open and quite frankly it is a bit of a pain to reach down to the bottom of the bilge to open and close, not to mention the horrors I've read about regarding the smell that raw water systems have on the intake side (even with strainers and chlorine tablets).

That being said I am seriously considering replacing the head with a unit called the Raritan Sea Era. I would go for the fresh water version and correctly install the appropriate vacuum breaker, solenoid and loop to prevent any fresh water contamination. Note, this head IS designed for fresh water use, so all the info about not converting a raw water to fresh water head is not a concern, as I understand it. I have spoken ad nauseum to many folks about this but am open to hearing any thoughts from those of you that have experience in this area. I am wondering if anyone has tried anything similar? I know Jebsco makes an electronic raw water unit as does Raritan but would love the fresh water pressurized version that I have listed. Quieter, cleaner, easier, and a little less water which is a big deal with the meek 4gal holding tank on this boat. Should I give this a try or is it not worh the effort for the little use the head will see?

Chartplotter- The PO made a fiberglass mount to cover the compass mounting location and installed a Garmin 178C which will be fine for now. I have an aux compass and appropriate charts.

Oil- What are you guys using in the big block Volvos? Not sure what the PO actually used. I want to go Mobil 1 but know from cars that switching to a full, high viscosity syn later in the game can cause leaks. Thoughts?

Bilge- I will likely be adding a manually switched diaphragm pump with the pickup in the low point of the bilge to get any remaining water out. Being slipped I don't have the luxury of pulling the drain plug to get the last inch or so and I hate not having a dry bilge.

Lighting- Taking the lead of many here and replacing with LEDs as well as adding surface mount LED rounds to the arch.

Trim Tabs- Going to boat this season without them and see how she handles. Likely on the list (no pun intended) for next year.

Batteries- PO had installed two brand new group 27 batteries and they are sitting in my carpeted basement on a digital charger. I am going to remove the factory switch (Off, 1, 2, Both) and install the Blue Seas ACR and switch as we had it on our previous boat and it greatly simplified things, especially for my father who occasionally uses the boat. I want to permanently mount solar panels to the top of the arch and connect them to a charge controller and the batteries for maintenance but I am not sure the best way to do this. If anyone has experience with a similar set up it would be helpful to have some insight.

I will do my best to document all of my projects and include write-ups here on the forum. Not diving into any until mid-march at the earliest.

Thanks very much for reading and any insights.



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Sounds great. Will do on the Mobil 1, just ordered two 5 qt jugs from wally world for pick up. I am envious of the vacuflush set up for sure. This boat had everything else we wanted and that was the only let down. Geeze you are telling me, I am a sucker for blue boats and yours looks great.

Thanks for the advice and warm welcome.


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I wish...she is under cover for the winter. Crazy weather, high 50's today and they are calling for another hard freeze this weekend. Hope to see you out too, shoot me a PM sometime and let me know where you typically boat. We do all the D.C. stuff: Cantina Marina, Old Town, Georgetown occasionally, Three Sisters and north of Three Sisters to the rope swing :) . Occasionally we'll head down to Tims or the Occoquan and once in a blue moon to National Harbor. Hoping the folks developing the SW waterfront get their act together sooner than later so we can dock there for Nats games. Right now there are commercial docks (for the water taxi and other charters) and kaykak docks...

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Boat looks great! I can't help you too much with you questions. I would recommend if you go with additional LED's, get the RGB's. Sooo many color options in the same string as only one color.

Also, if Wingnut says to do X about anything mechanical, he is right. Just stop asking after he posts.

If Shepherd says you need prop X to reach your goal, he is right. Just stop asking after he posts.

There are a lot of very smart guys on here. Use the resource :beer-7687-1:



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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the tip. My quote was significantly less than yours on the carpet so the savings on this would be about 100 deer, need to do some more research to see if it would be worth it. Looks like my first projects will be the VHF install, steering wheel replacement and blue seas ACR w/switch. I think I am going to hold on the head replacement for now, leave the sea cock shut and just use fresh water from the sink for the time being. If it becomes a pain and the ladies want the upgrade I'll tackle it then.

Painters have me on the schedule for 1st nice day from here out so I am happy about that. Targeting a splash of March 30 and cannot wait.

Canvas is being reparied for <100 deer in liue of a 1200 deer repalcement cost... I am just going to wash and re-treat with 303.

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Welcome, and glad to have another Chap out and about with us on the upper Potomac! Where are you planning to keep her? An alternative for you, radio wise, is to go with a good handheld. We have a 327 SSX, and believe it or not a marine radio wasn't a standard item or even an option to add. So had gone back and forth on mounting a fixed one, or using a handheld. Given that we are usually boating between national airport, Georgetown, three sisters area, and in easy sight of land; having the hand held has worked really well so far. We can pick up traffic as far south as Occoquan. So it might be worth considering, and sinking hard earned deer into other needed essentials. +2 on anything that Wingnut or Sheppard advise you of, you can never go wrong with their input.

Again welcome, and look forward to seeing you cruising around, do give us a shout if you see a shiny blue 327 go screaming by

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DC Biker- We're at Columbia Island so spend a lot of our time between Old Town and Three Sisters as well. Have had our 19 foot Maxum there for the last couple of seasons and finally got back into a larger boat :) Where are you guys? Will absolutely keep an eye out for you guys on the water, was on a 327 at the Annapolis boat show and loved it so looking forward to seeing yours in neighborhood.

On the VHF, I hear you loud and clear. Have done both handheld and fixed mount before in previous boats. Find it more convenient to have the fixed mount for a number of reasons even though I don't really need the additional range. Not going to kill too many deer in the process although it does all add up :Twocents:

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Scott, you will find us often times between 14th street bridge and memorial bridge, when we are out tubing and knee boarding. Otherwise we are up at Georgetown and three sisters. We are docked at James Creek, and spend a fair amount of time out and about on the weekends. So certainly do swing on by if you see us on the hook, or even slinging around folks on the tube!

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We did the snapincarpets sand berber carpet last year to replace our original Chap carpet. The folks there did a great job, and it looks great installled. They were easy to work with, and very quick to get us the new carpet. We sprayed it with 303 protectant when we installed it for protection, and it held up great the first year. We will be pulling it out to clean and protect for year 2, probably this weekend.

Honestly, I don't think you can go wrong with any of their carpets (snapincarpets). They are the supplier for Sea Ray, as well as some of the other larger boat manufacturers. Our Sea Ray's carpet is in the garage with the Chaps right now. Its on season 15, and still looks great. The original Chap carpet just fell apart...

I know you're fixed on the VHF, but was going to throw in another vote for the handheld. We have both (fixed on the cruiser, handheld on the bow rider), and the handheld has been really helpful in the past. Also, it floats and is waterproof, which has actually been helpful if someone has had to swim to shore for some reason.

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Thanks for the glowing review of snapincarpet. Was still kind of on the fence about this until you posted. I too, am leaning towards the sand instead of the desert sand. Any chance you have any pictures of it installed that you can share? Lots of handheld fans! I have an older handheld that we'll keep around.

Thanks again for the advice on the carpet.

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I don't have a picture of the carpet installed. Got tons of pictures from last year, but none with the carpet in it.

Assuming our weather stays decent, we should have the boat put together and in summer mode here in the next month. I will take some pictures and post then. From a distance (10'), it looks like the factory carpet, but the backing is 1000% more sturdy than the factory carpet.

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Sounds like a great find, congrats. Still a couple months from pulling ours out of storage here, got 12" snow last week and more on the way this week, we're still snowmobiling & ice fishing across the lakes we boat on all summer long, but still find myself thinking about warm days and what changes we'd like to make to our boat this year- envious of those that are close to splashing down for the summer already!

BTW- anyone ever figure out the cure for 2-foot-itis? Picked up a bad case of it this winter....

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