October 31-November 1, 2017: Oriental to New Bern, NC

Our long summer in Oriental has come to an end, and on October 31 we set sail for New Bern.  We were going to leave Oriental after our work was done in August.  However, once we looked at how little time we’d have up north before we had to turn around to come back, it just didn’t make sense from a fuel cost perspective or a boat stress perspective.  So instead we kicked back, enjoyed ourselves, and took advantage of living at a dock.  We took a couple of weeks to visit my mom, spent time with friends, and enjoyed some free time.  We also did a few more projects (of course) including replacing three of our five hatches.

We treated our trip to New Bern as a shake-down cruise.  Since we replaced essentially our entire drive train, we wanted to make sure that everything worked properly before we head further away.  To our great delight, the boat’s performance was outstanding.  Even at maximum weight (full diesel tanks, full water tanks, jerry jugs, and a couple of months’ worth of food), we were motoring at 5.2 knots at 2300 rpm, which is amazing for us.  In the past we would require 2650 or 2700 rpm to make that speed, and we think the combination of a prop replacement, engine tune, and clean hull resulted in the new efficiency.

I was kind of worried that we would be super rusty at boat handling, but it all came back.  I was unusually nervous before we cast off, but that settled down once we left.  And I cannot express how glorious it was to be back out on the water, chugging along to a new port, with the sun and wind and gulls.  It was quite cold, but we bundled up in multiple layers and were fine.  It makes me laugh when I see sport fishing boats go blazing past us; they are all in the flybridge with the heat on, wearing shorts and t-shirts.  I had three coats, gloves, and a hat sitting in the cockpit.

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Sun, crisp fresh air, and water.  Heaven.

Coming into the New Bern Grand Marina is pretty simple.  The only real barrier is the Cunningham Bridge, which is a bascule.  It opens on demand until rush hour, and we hit it at the right time.  Once past the bridge, the marina is right there in a large turning basin.  We were lucky enough to get a T-head and just eased right in.  I was able to hand the dockhand our lines rather than throw them, which is the hallmark of a truly easy docking experience.

The marina is right next to a DoubleTree Hilton, so the area is very nice.  The marina facilities themselves are excellent, with floating docks in great condition and clean bathrooms.  The only bummer is the wifi, which is awful.  Even with our Wirie wifi booster, we were unable to get a reliable signal.  It doesn’t help that their network is unsecured, so everyone and their brother is using it.

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This railroad bridge runs along one side of the marina.  The freight trains are infrequent enough to be charming rather than annoying.

We had another example of how small a world the boating community really is.  For years a friend had a sailboat docked behind ours at a marina in Oriental.  He lives in the western part of the country, and when he sold his sailboat a couple of years ago, we were sad to think that we’d never see him again.  Fast forward to three days ago, when we ran into him in our storage unit facility in Oriental.  He bought a new boat, M/V The Journey, and is keeping it in New Bern.  Where, you might ask? Well, at the New Bern Grand Marina, of course.  So we had lunch with DH today and got to tour his beautiful new boat.  It was a fun day with a dear friend, and we’re so glad that he’s on the water again.

Our plan is to motor through the ICW to Morehead City, NC, tomorrow.  We’ll stay at the Morehead City Yacht Basin, which is a new marina for us.  On Friday, 11/3, we’ll jump offshore and sail down to Southport, NC, arriving on Saturday, 11/4.  Weather depending, we’ll stay at Southport for a short time and then go offshore again to Georgetown, SC.  Our ultimate destination is the Bahamas, but unlike last year, we don’t have to rush rush rush to get south.  It’s been difficult to get ourselves out of that mindset, but we’re working on it.

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Oriental to New Bern, NC, was 4.5 hours for 23.7 nm.

Posted in Marinas, NC

July 22, 2017: Breaking News: The Stove Is IN!

Mark this day on your calendar:  our brand new, sexy-as-hell Dickinson Mediterranean 3-burner stove is installed! It only took us two days, which was a welcome surprise.

Normally I wouldn’t devote an entire post to one project, but this one is instructive on why boat projects take so long.  In this case, we had a simple-sounding task:  remove the old stove and install the new stove.  This is how it actually went.

Background:  Our old stove was gimballed, meaning that the stove essentially hangs on two metal pegs from the sides.  When the stove is unlocked, it can swing easily when the boat is moving, thus keeping it level.  Our new stove has the same setup.  There is one propane supply hose that runs from the back of the stove, through the salon and galley cabinetry, up through the deck, into the propane locker set into the deck, and attaches to the propane tank.  There is a hose set in the floor of the propane locker that runs through deck, through the salon and galley cabinetry, and out to an exterior through-hull; this hose allows any water or propane gas that gets in the propane locker to run out of the boat.

Step 1:  We detached the propane supply hose from the old stove.  Because our galley is L-shaped and we couldn’t both lift the stove, the Captain had to lift the stove up off of the gimbal mounts by himself.  The stove weighs 80 pounds.  Ugh.  We lifted it up the companionway steps and painstakingly inched it through the newly-finished companionway trim (with no damage!).  We carried it along the deck, and then I got on the dock.  The Captain again lifted the stove by himself and hoisted it to me on the dock.  Then we both took it to the yard’s garage, where it is currently sitting, hopefully to be sold to another boater.

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Here’s where the stove normally goes on the starboard side of the boat.  The propane supply hose is hanging down.  The pantry is to the left, under the microwave; the fridge/freezer is to the right.

Step 2:  While the stove was out, we decided to replace the propane supply hose and propane locker drain hose.  We had no idea how old they were, but they are inexpensive to replace and a critically important couple of parts.  As in most things on a boat, the interior of the boat was built around the “ugly” parts of the boat, and there was no way to access the propane locker drain hose’s exterior through hull.  We needed this access because we’d be removing the cockpit locker drain hose attached to it.  So the Captain cut a hole in the galley cabinetry and installed an inspection port.  This is a round plastic hatch with a removable door.  Now we can access that through hull and area under the cabinetry whenever necessary.

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The new inspection port is 6″ in diameter and gives us plenty of room to see and reach inside the cabinetry.  The black box is a propane sensor and alarm if we have any leaks.

Step 3:  The propane supply hose goes through three sections of salon and galley cabinetry.  The middle section is completely sealed, and there was just a small hole running through each end of that section.  We didn’t want to install yet another inspection port.  So to install the new supply line, the Captain taped a reaving line to the old hose.  I pulled the old hose out through the propane locker end, and we took the old hose off of the tank.  Then we attached the reaving line to the new hose and gently pulled it through all of the cabinetry.

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Inside the salon cabinetry, looking aft toward the pantry.  The green reaving line is coming out of the small hole through which the propane supply hose runs.  The supply hose goes upward, in the same direction as the drain hose pictured above, to the propane locker.  

Step 4:  The cockpit locker drain hose was a pain with a capital P.  It had molded itself into a bunch of curves because it was too long (whoever installed it was apparently too lazy to cut it to the proper length).  Getting the cockpit locker end off is a nightmare as you have to stuff your upper body through a 16” x 10” hole in the salon cabinetry, then work upward about three feet through another small opening.   I am smaller and fit better in the hole, but I didn’t have the strength to get the old, corroded hose off, so the Captain had to do it.  Getting the hull through hull end off was equally awful, and we were ready to set that damn hose on fire once the Captain finally got it off.

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Here is the new cockpit locker drain hose running to an exterior through hull on the starboard side.  As you can see, the inspection port is perfectly located.  The Captain drew lines on the fiberglass with a dry-erase marker; if the hose or through hull are leaking, water will smudge the lines.

Step 5:  Once the drain hose was removed, we removed the cockpit locker through hull.  It was a cheap nylon, and we didn’t trust it.  We bedded a new through hull and then attached the new drain hose, ran it through the various cabinets, and attached it to the exterior through hull.  Propane is heavier than air, so we were careful to ensure that the hose ran smoothly downward to the exterior through hull, with no kinks or areas where a water trap could block the sinking gas.

Step 6:  Finally time to work on the new stove.  We got the new stove out of the garage and got it on the boat using the reverse of the process outlined in step 1.

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The stove sitting in the salon, awaiting installation.

Step 7:  The gimbal pegs on the sides of the stove mount into metal “stirrups” that are screwed to wooden spacer pads; these wooden pads are attached to the cabinetry.  Careful measurement showed that the new stove’s gimbal mounts were in the same location as the old stove’s.  This meant that all we needed to do was remove the old stove’s “stirrups” and mount the new ones to the wooden pads.  Ah, but wait! The old “stirrups” were through-bolted.  This was fine on the left side of the stove, as the nuts were inside the pantry.  On the right side, however, the nuts were unreachably located in the cabinetry that holds the refrigerator.  The Captain cut the heads off of the bolts and trimmed them down flush with the wooden pad, and then we mounted the new metal “stirrups” to the wooden pads.

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On the left above are the bolts that the Captain sheared down.  On the right is the wooden pad inserted onto the bolts and additionally secured with the screws in the new gimbal “stirrup.”

Step 7:  Now that the gimbal mounts were in place, the Captain had to hoist the stove onto them by himself again.  The last bit of fabrication was the gimbal lock.  The stove has a small arm that can be shot out into a hole in a wooden pad to keep the stove from rocking in the gimbal.  The new stove needed a thicker pad in a different location.  We took off the old wooden pad and created a new pad from three layers of black starboard, trimmed it down with the band saw, drilled the lock hole with the drill press, and mounted the pad.

Step 8:  We attached the propane supply hose and tested the stove, which ran flawlessly.

Without further ado, I give you . . . stove porn.

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Posted in Boat Work, NC

July 4-16, 2017: Almost there

We are finally back in the water, where we belong.

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We were splashed on July 13 and have been reveling in having a fridge, freezer, and air conditioning.  I had sorely missed feeling the boat rock with the wind and movement of the water, and now it feels like we’re home.

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One of the marks of a good yard: they wrap the slings in garbage bags where the travel lift sling touches the hull.  This prevents any dirt or grit from being transferred to the hull and protects the wax and paint. 

Over the last two weeks the shaft, stuffing box, cutlass bearing, stern tube, prop, and skeg were all installed.  Once we were back in the water, the mechanic made sure the engine was aligned properly and tuned it to where it runs smoothly.  We also had him flush the heat exchanger and confirm that the degree spread between the raw water intake and outflow was proper.  We were continually impressed by the mechanic’s meticulous and thorough job.

We painted the bottom of the boat with two coats of Petit antifouling paint.  We chose black this time to replace the former blue.  Using different colors of paint each time helps in determining how deep scratches have gone next time we haul.

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If it wasn’t hot enough below decks before we painted the bottom, guess how much hotter it got once it was painted black?  Damn you, science.

The Captain painted the bare metal of the skeg, shaft, stern tube, and prop with Petit Barnacle Barrier and then two coats of Hydrocoat Eco.

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Our lovely new drive train (at least part of it), prop, and skeg.  Long may they live.

Because the Hydrocoat is a bright green, he also decided to paint the through hulls with it; this will make them more visible on our black bottom when he is diving on the boat to clean and inspect.

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We applied multiple thin coats of Brightside paint to some gel coat repairs we made to the deck.  As evidence that the universe is occasionally kind, we were able to mix two colors together to arrive at an almost perfect color match.

We were dodging rain showers during all of this painting, of course, and that ended up complicating and slowing down the job.  But it got done, and done properly.

Now that we’re back in the water, we have a few more projects to complete.  We’ll be installing the new stove, installing a side-mounted clutch for our genoa furling line, and a few other construction/installation projects.  I’m doing a “touch everything” inventory to assess what provisions we need to buy before we depart, and we’re tossing around ideas of where to go.  Almost there.

Posted in Boat Work, NC

June 14– July 3, 2017: Time keeps on tickin’

Over the last two+ weeks we’ve reached some large milestones and gotten some huge weather-dependent projects done.  It’s good to be over that hump and to not have to be so freaked out about whether or not it’s going to rain and ruin something important.

First and foremost, our new skeg and stern tube finally arrived from Island Packet.  Halle-fricking-lujah.  The stuffing box, shaft, and stern tube have all been installed; all that’s left is the prop and the skeg.  The yard is improving on how the skeg is attached to the keel and the rudder, so we’re happy about that.

We had a mechanic inspect and adjust the valves on our engine as well as remove and clean the heat exchanger core.  As he was doing that work, he noted that the raw water pump belt, which we had just replaced within the year, looked like it was sitting low in the pulley.  The belt looked perfectly fine from the outside, and we routinely inspect the belts.  Once removed, it was obvious that it had cracked almost all the way through.  And THAT’S why you have an expert inspect the important systems.  No raw water = overheated engine fusing into a big block = you get to buy a new one.

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This is what the belt looks like in the pulley.  Please move along, nothing to see here, ma’am.

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And here’s what it looks like once it was removed.  That’s a disaster waiting to happen right there.

The hull has gotten lots of TLC.  We put three coats of Collinite Fleetwax Paste on the hull, and now it’s mirror-shiny.  Since we hand wax, I feel like my right arm and shoulder muscles are about three sizes bigger than my left.

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Doing our hull took about two and a half cans.

We also repainted the boot stripe with three coats of Brightside paint.  We’ve never painted anything on the hull before, and one of the yard guys whose specialty is fiberglass and hull finishes was so generous in giving us advice.  It made the job a lot less daunting.  The boot stripe isn’t big, but we didn’t want to do a poor job.

I repaired the cove stripe where it had gotten dinged; the cove stripe is the gold stripe that runs along the hull underneath the cap rail.  It’s essentially a roll of gold tape, so I cut out the marred sections and replaced them with new.

We completed putting Cetol on the caprail; we now have three coats of tint and two coats of gloss.  I did the same number of coats of Cetol on the companionway, which has been on my to-do list for oh, about five years now.  There’s never a good time to do it because we’re constantly going in and out, so we just gritted our teeth and have been as careful as we can.

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Here’s what happens when you AREN’T careful.  See those three footprints? That’s where I stepped on Cetol Gloss that apparently hadn’t fully cured.  Sigh.  I had to scuff it out and then reapply Cetol over a larger area to fix that screw up. 

The Captain completed the servicing and reassembly of the windlass.  That was one job that fought him every step of the way, from disassembly all the way through reassembly.  Sometimes a job is a slog from start to finish, and this was one of those.  It runs well, and we used it to reel all of our chain back into the chain locker.

The rigging, both standing and running, has been inspected, and the Captain inspected and lubricated all blocks.  We installed a new mainsail halyard, topping lift, and lazy jacks.  The Captain installed some eye straps and cleats on the boom to help with routing and securing various lines.

The Captain also installed what we call an exhaust flapper on the exhaust pipe.  It allows water to flow out of the engine unimpeded but will be forced shut if water (like following seas) hits the stern and tries to flow up the exhaust pipe.

At night and on rainy days we worked on splicing and sewing projects.  The Captain whipped and spliced lines and created Dyneema soft shackles.  I sewed Phifertex bags for spare lines, storm lines, chafe protection, and other miscellaneous items.  Although I put a label on each bag, we developed a color coding system for our bags that I think will work very well.  All of our lines are stored in the lazarette, and there are quite a few of them in what inevitably ends up as a big jumble.  Any way we can quickly differentiate between them is a help.  We decided to use tan for our everyday lines, yellow for our specialty lines, and red for our emergency lines.

We hope to be back in the water soon.  The weather has been, shall we say, uncomfortably warm.  But we’re getting there, and the jobs list is down to one page.  We are routinely mistaken for yard staff now by customers, and I take that as a compliment.

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Some people have Tibetan prayer flags; we have Cruiser Prayer Rags.  They send out good will to other owners in the boatyard like, “The rain will hold off until your teak finish has cured,” and “You will find the screw that dropped down into the gravel,” and “There will be a Sharpie within reaching distance,” and “You will have the correct size drill bit,” and “Don’t worry, the milk in the cooler will still be good.”

Posted in Boat Work, NC

June 5-13, 2017: Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug

And I’m proud to say that over the last eight days, we have most assuredly been the windshield.  We have been kicking some serious butt on the exterior of the boat:  hull, boot stripe, caprail, and bottom.

First we dealt with removing the existing finish from the caprail.  Since all of the junk I washed off and the harsh-ish chemicals would be coursing down the hull, we wanted to get that out of the way first. I scrubbed all of the Semco off of the caprail and bowsprit using boat soap and a 3M green scrub pad.  (As an aside, whoever invented those deserves a medal; they are the handiest, most versatile thing.)  Anyway, then I cleaned and brightened the caprail and bowsprit using Starbrite Teak Cleaner and Starbrite Teak Brightener.  Once the caprail and bowsprit dried, I sanded them using 220 grit sandpaper and my brand new 5 inch random orbital sander.  Christmas came early on Kestrel for the First Mate, and I looooove my new sander.  I’m trying to figure out how to paint flames on it.

We gave the caprail a rest and moved on to cleaning the hull of all of the grime and crud that it attracts.  We applied FSR to the entire hull using a wide chip brush, and it did a great job of cutting through the grunge.  It also got any rust that had accumulated in screw heads.

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Grime along the boot stripe on the right, FSR on the left (before being rinsed off).

Now that the hull was squeaky clean, the Captain began applying Finesse-It to the hull with the buffer.  Finesse-It is a polish, so it’s less aggressive than compound; having just compounded a few years ago, we didn’t want to put the gel coat through that level of grinding again.  However, the surface started looking cloudy as the Finesse-It was applied.  The yard guys that specialize in hull work came to our rescue and recommended 3M Marine Restorer and Wax due to the oxidation on the hull.  It worked great! It cut through the chalkiness and left a nice, shiny hull behind.  I am not normally a fan of “all in one” products, but this one did what it said it would.

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The buffer hasn’t gotten any lighter, unfortunately.

I began hand waxing behind the Captain as he buffed; I was using my favorite Collinite Fleetwax Paste.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea because it’s a paste wax and time-consuming to apply, but I believe the protection that it offers cannot be beaten.   The plan is to put three coats on the hull.  That will happen over the next couple of weeks, depending on weather and the status of other projects.

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I know I get excited about weird stuff, but would you look at that reflection? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!

I applied one maintenance coat of Cetol Marine Gloss to the handrails, eyebrows, and cockpit combings.  They are looking fine, although someday soon I’d love to strip the cockpit combings and refinish those.  In the meantime, however, those areas needed refreshing and protection.

The Captain put bottom paint over the barrier coat that he had previously applied to some gouges and dings in the bottom.  He also painted the rudder and the middle “spine” of the keel.  His plan is to have multiple coats of bottom paint on the areas of the bottom that take the most abuse.

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Barrier coat-ed patches to the left, bottom coat-ed patches to the right.  The dings aren’t that big, but each patch gets larger and larger . . .

While the Captain was painting, over three days I applied three successive coats of Cetol Marine Natural Teak to the caprail and bowsprit.  I am so in love with how it looks!

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Here’s a comparison of the Cetol on the bowsprit against the bare teak of the starboard caprail. The color is rich and deep and lets the grain of the wood show through, which I love.

The Captain helped by applying the Cetol under the rubrail, and between the two of us, we can get the entire caprail and bowsprit done in about 2.5 hours.  We have some rainy weather coming, so we are going to let the Cetol cure until that’s done; then I will apply two coats of gloss over the tint.

I’ve also been stripping and refinishing removable teak items such as the helm seat, hatch boards, and swim ladder steps.  They are all in different stages but will have three coats of tint and three coats of gloss once everything is said and done.

Today we began painting the boot stripe.  We had previously sanded it, and today we taped off and applied our first coat of paint.  We will apply three coats total over three days.

The Captain spliced eyes in our new main halyard, topping lift, and lazy jack lines.  We replaced the halyard for a number of reasons including age and how slippery it was.  The topping lift and lazy jack lines were ancient and stiff and had seen better days.  I’ll be excited to get those new lines installed.

Our (okay, really my) new Dickinson Mediterranean stove was delivered, and I am absolutely giddy with excitement.  We have it stored in the yard’s garage now as we can’t install it until we get back into the water.  Getting the old stove out and putting the new stove in is best done at ground level.  I got to see it when we inspected it on delivery, and it looks so awesome.  I just can’t wait to have a stove that heats reliably and consistently.  I don’t mean to insult my existing stove, but hey, just calling it like I see it.  Between the stove and the random orbital sander, I am living high on the hog.

We have some rainy days coming up, so I see a lot of waxing in our future.  That’s a great rainy day project because it can easily be started and stopped.  There’s also rigging inspection, installing the new running rigging, and lubing blocks.

Island Packet reports that one item should be done by the end of this week, and the other one should be done next week.  We’ll see.

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Posted in Boat Work, NC

May 23-June 4, 2017: And the work just keeps on coming

Week four (two thousand and four?) on the hard, and the jobs are slowly getting whittled away.  We’re down from four pages to two pages, but unfortunately the things that are left are either really massive, really complicated, really time-consuming, really backbreaking, or some combination of the above.

The last couple of weeks has felt like two steps forward, one step back, but we’re bouncing back (and even with that math, we’re still a step ahead).  Our FoodSaver vacuum sealer went belly-up in the middle of packaging a party-sized Stouffer’s lasagna for the freezer, so we had to replace it.  We use the vacuum sealer not just for food but also for medications, supplies, and boat parts, and it is not an optional piece of equipment for us.  Shortly thereafter, the Captain’s Fein oscillating tool died.  He uses it for tons of jobs around the boat, so we replaced it as well.  Amazon came to the rescue for both items.

We had quite a bit of trouble disassembling the windlass for servicing.  We ended up having to use yard mechanics (or, more accurately, mechanics and their specialized tools) to convince some of the parts to finally separate.  The Captain reports that the windlass hadn’t been recently serviced, if it had ever been serviced, and it showed.  We cleaned all of the parts, and the Captain removed rust from the windlass motor and repainted it.  We ended up having to order some replacement parts from Imtra, so the windlass servicing has been on hold while we wait for those parts to arrive.  Imtra was great to work with and was super helpful.

Our new prop, shaft, and stuffing box are here and ready to be installed.  We have been waiting for the skeg and stern tube to be fabricated by Island Packet, and they told us it would take two weeks.  Then we found out last week that Island Packet had to order a special tube from another state, so the turnaround grew by another two weeks.  Sigh. It wouldn’t be a big deal except that all of these projects impact each other and therefore have an order.  This threw off our whole game plan, and the Captain, as Project Manager, is tearing his hair out trying to reorder the projects.

Job one was to start doing the projects that we were going to do after the drive train repairs; there is no sense waiting on those.  We’re hoping to get back in the water ASAP after the drive train installations are completed.  The Captain repaired small cracks and dings in the hull and deck with gel coat and/or epoxy.  We sanded the gel coat repairs with 220, 400, 600, 800, 1000, and 1200 grit sandpaper, and they look great.

The Captain also rebuilt the area under our dolphin striker with epoxy.  This area takes abuse from our mooring lines and needed some TLC.  Now it’s stronger than new.

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I finally finished polishing all of the exterior stainless, a job that I horribly underestimated.  Never again will I think that it can be done in a day! I went through an entire bottle of Collinite Metal Polish and at least half a bottle of Spotless Stainless.

We need to repaint our boot stripe, which is the stripe of paint that divides the bottom paint from the gel coat; it is positioned a few inches above the waterline.  There were at least two coats of paint on our existing boot stripe, and the top one was starting to flake.  So the Captain used the random orbital sander to sand the boot stripe down with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper.  We finished it with hand sanding, and now it’s ready for repainting once we finish some other tasks.

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The Captain started off sanding the boot stripe with the (new) Fein tool but soon went to the random orbital sander.  We’ve both got such work-roughened hands that the fingerprint reader on our phone won’t reliably recognize us.  I believe that is the very definition of “first world problems.”

While still crippled from sanding the boot stripe the day before, the Captain undertook the horrible job of sanding areas on the hull bottom.  There are two types of antifouling paint used on boat bottoms, ablative and hard.  Ablative is very soft and is made to slough off along with any attached growth; hard is just that—really hard with additives that make the paint “taste” nasty to growth, thus preventing it.  We have the hard paint, and it is very resistant to sanding.  The Captain had to wear a Tyvek suit while sanding in the 90-something degree heat and while holding the random orbital sander at shoulder height, pressing hard to remove the paint.  Talk about torture.

I’ve started teakapalooza.  I detached the swim ladder from the boat; it is made of stainless steel tubing with teak steps.  I removed the teak steps and stripped the ancient Cetol from them using Citristrip.  I am in the process of refinishing them with three coats of Cetol Marine Natural Teak and two coats of Cetol Marine Gloss.  I’ve also started the same process with our three hatch boards.

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Here I am painting Citristrip onto our ladder steps to strip off a hundred years’ worth of built-up Cetol.

After much discussion of pros and cons, we have decided to change our finishing technique on the caprail.  For years we have been using Semco, but we have both been pretty disappointed in its longevity and durability.  We decided to go back to Cetol, so I scrubbed all of the Semco off of the caprail with Simple Green and 3M green scrub pads.  I will begin finishing the caprail with Cetol once we do some polishing and waxing of the hull.  I found my cheapie knee pads in storage, and that made my day of scrubbing a lot better.

I was thrilled to see that we only had six small spots on the handrails and four small spots on the eyebrows that need some Cetol touch ups.  That’s pretty amazing given how much abuse that wood takes, how many things are tied or strapped to the handrail, and how many times something like the boathook (or my knees and ankles) has banged against them.

We lubricated all of our through-hulls with Mare Lube and Boeshield T-9.  Keeping the action smooth and fluid makes them easier to operate and also may prevent them from leaking or freezing.  Definitely a plus since they are all beneath the waterline.

We replaced our existing Kyocera 135 solar panel with a Kyocera 150 solar panel that we ordered from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun (great company, by the way—excellent customer service and technical support).  The solar panel is mounted on a frame that is mounted on our davits.  Because the boat is 30 feet in the air, we decided to play it safe and pay the yard to help us get the old panel down and the new panel up rather than try to wrestle them down and up two tall ladders.  That had disaster written all over it.

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Driving the man-lift over to Kestrel to begin lowering the old solar panel.

Yard staff used a man lift to quickly and easily get us up to the panel to remove it.  Once the old panel was down, the Captain mounted the new panel on the existing frame and then bench tested the new panel to make sure that it was working properly.  We then used the man lift again to get the new panel up and installed.

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The Captain attaching the new solar panel, with frame, to our davits while on the man-lift.

We did take one day off on Memorial Day.  We went to Jacksonville to go shopping at big stores like Lowes and Home Depot.  We also had Mexican food and got an entire dozen donuts at Krispy Kreme, many of which we ate in the car on the way back.  Screw the doctor, we earned it.

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This is our Haul Survival Kit.  We consume copious quantities of all, sometimes with relish and sometimes with desperation.

Posted in Boat Work, NC

May 13-22, 2017: Hotter than the Devil’s armpit

Many of our projects, particularly the larger ones, require long stretches of rain-free weather.  We were lucky enough to have one of those this past nine days.  That meant really putting the pedal to the metal and working very long days.  Our routine was to work until 7 or 8 PM, grab some dinner, take a shower, and collapse.  Our biggest battle was with the heat, which wasn’t doing us any favors.

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Mid 90’s outside, 101 degrees in the cockpit, and 95 degrees below.  But hey, it was DOWN from 104 earlier! Yay, I guess.

One of the most important jobs on this haul was rebedding chain plates.  The mast on our boat is keel stepped, meaning that the mast travels through deck, through the cabin, and down into the keel, where it is secured.  There are eight thick metal wires that go from the mast to the deck called shrouds; these provide stability for the mast and allow the mast to be positioned correctly.  The shrouds are anchored to metal tangs that are fiberglassed into the boat’s hull.  Those tangs are called chain plates.  The chain plate comes out through the deck along our teak caprail, and it’s critically important to make sure that no water can get to that chain plate and make it rust.  A failed chain plate can cause the entire rig to collapse and is a very, very, very expensive fix.  It goes without saying that losing the mast while we’re on the water means no sailing, and it could also hole the boat.  Bad day.

So the Captain undertook the backbreaking work of going to each chain plate and picking out the caulk that surrounds the chain plate in its teak well and then inspecting the chain plate to make sure it had not rusted at all.  This is some seriously fiddly work involving picking tools as small as dental picks.  All of the old caulking must be removed so that the new caulking will adhere properly, and of course it means being hunched over in various contorted positions that I euphemistically call “boat yoga.”

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The existing caulk has been picked out, and the chain plate is ready to be rebedded.

But the upside is that the inspection showed no signs of rust, and the chain plates have been successfully rebedded with Silpruf.  We purchased new cotter pins for all of the shroud turnbuckles and cotter pins.  Knowing that the chain plates looked good was a huge relief for both of us.

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After:  newly bedded and looking good.

Our other huge, multi-day job was addressing our rub rail.  Our teak caprail runs around the perimeter of the boat, and on its outside edge is a one-inch wide stainless steel metal strip called a rubrail.  It protects the teak from things that could, well, rub against it.  The rubrail is comprised of nine sections, all screwed on in about one-foot intervals.

We removed all ten thousand screws and took down the rubrail.  I spent days scraping and scrubbing 28 years’ worth of rust, caulk, epoxy, sealant, Cetol, varnish, Semco, and goodness knows what else off of the metal and then polished it all up.

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You can’t hear them mocking me, but they were.  “Gee, the sun has been shining on us all day.  Hope you have gloves on, because we are insanely hot! Oh, do those gloves make your hands sweaty? What a shame.”

While I did that, the Captain went around the caprail and dealt with any less-than-perfect teak that was exposed when we took off the rubrail.

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You can see the darker stripe along the teak caprail; this is where the rubrail was mounted.

He sanded, applied two coats of MAS penetrating epoxy, and then one coat of West Systems Six10 thickened epoxy to the teak that is covered by the rub rail.  He sanded down the epoxy once it had cured, and then we reattached the rubrail.  Once the rubrail was reattached, it was caulked with LifeCaulk where it doesn’t sit flush against the teak.

The caprail is now at a point where I can refinish the teak, but that is a job for another day.

In between the huge jobs, we knocked off a bunch of other projects.  I have been polishing all of the stainless on the exterior of the boat, which is taking an astoundingly long time.  I thought it would take about a day; clearly I was high.  There is still more to go, but I’m in the home stretch.

We lowered the anchor and all of our chain rode to the ground and repainted the chain marks in 25 foot intervals.  Since we anchor out so often, the paint had really taken a beating since the last time we painted.  We changed our color scheme to make it easier to identify how many feet of chain have flown by when we’re dropping anchor:  25’ is red, 50’ is white, 75’ is blue, 100’ is yellow, 125’ is red, 150’ is white, 175’ is blue, 200’ is yellow, 225’ is red, 250’ is white, and the end is orange.

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We emptied our water tank and inspected it for crystals.  We have an aluminum water tank, and if chlorine is in our water, it reacts with the metal tank and creates crystals that clog up our hoses and filters (as well as doing damage to the tank itself).  For that reason, we pre-filter all water that comes into the boat using two filters.  But you never know, so we drained the tank so that we could clean out any crystals.  To our delight, there were none of note to be found, so we refilled the water tank and called that one good.

We recently purchased a wifi booster called The Wirie but had not yet installed it.  There are a number of “marine” wifi boosters out there, but what drew us to The Wirie was the fact that it is easily taken down and put up.  We don’t want to leave it up all the time as we don’t have access to internet all that often; but when we do, we need the booster.  Also, in the future it is upgradeable to allow for insertion of a SIM card so that the unit can be used as essentially a cellular booster as well.

So the Captain attached a DC cigarette plug onto The Wirie’s power cable, and now we can just plug it into the binnacle in the cockpit.  When we put it up, we just attach it to our antenna mast on the stern.  We’ve been using it here in the yard and see a noticeable increase in speed.

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The Wirie is the red box with the attached white antenna.  We had one spot left on our Scanstrut antenna pole, so it works out great.  The white power wire simply runs into the cockpit, where it is plugged into the binnacle.

We also changed out the AC power outlet for our main shore power cable. We are switching to a newer type of power cable called the SmartPlug.  The traditional power cable that plugs into a boat doesn’t sit very tightly and involves twisting and screwing the cable on.  The SmartPlug doesn’t use the twist and screw model and instead locks securely into the outlet.  It is much safer, in our opinion, and certainly is easier.  So the Captain removed the old-style power outlet in the cockpit and replaced it with the new SmartPlug outlet.  We plugged in our new SmartPlug cord, and so far it’s working flawlessly.

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The metal arms on each side of the plug lock into the outlet, and the outlet’s metal cover locks into the plug.  Sweet.

When we took off the rubrail, we removed the dinghy engine from its mount on the stern rail and gave it some TLC.  We rinsed it internally with Salt Away, gave it a fresh water bath, and liberally coated the engine components with CRC 6-56, a lubricant and protectant.  Deaton’s was kind enough to let us store the outboard in their garage, so it’s protected while we’re doing work.

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Flushing the dinghy outboard with Salt Away.

In the evenings we continue to work on indoor projects.  The Captain whipped markings on our new mooring lines so that we quickly know where to cleat them on the bow cleats.  I have been sewing some small projects:  sewing buckles onto our sail ties (I hate trying to tie them while the wind snatches them away and I am holding onto the deck for dear life); making a Phifertex bag for our preventer lines; making a leak-proof Shelter Rite bag for a pump we use for oils; and sewing our new registration sticker into the dinghy chaps.

Getting the sewing machine off of the boat involved quite a bit of planning.  The Sailrite LSZ-1 could easily be used as a spare anchor and must weigh north of 50 pounds.  There was no way either of us could carry it down the ladder.  So I suggested putting it in our bosun’s chair, which is used to hold people hoisted up the mast to do work.  The Captain secured the machine in the chair and then lowered it down to me using a spare dockline.  Success! But needless to say, I won’t be putting it back on the boat until we’re in the water and can just walk it down the dock.

We had a Groco hull strainer installed over our engine raw water intake through hull.  While we assiduously try to avoid grass in the water, it’s amazing how much of it still creeps into the boat via the raw water intake.  Cleaning it out of the engine strainer is no big deal, but twice we’ve had packed wads in the raw water hose that we had to pick out, which is a huge job.  By installing the exterior strainer, we’re hoping to cut down on the grass intake.  The strainer has a hinge and can be swung open so that we can clean out any growth.

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We’ll be painting the hull black this time, so the strainer was painted once it was installed.  The silver pin slides out, and the strainer “lid” opens down to allow for cleaning.

In progress right now is the disassembly of our Lofrans Tigres windlass, which is the powered winch that is mounted on the bowsprit and is used to raise the anchor rode and anchor.  We noticed a small oil leak from it on this last journey, so we purchased a rebuild kit.  The windlass is disassembled, and the Captain is cleaning the various parts now before reassembly.

Phew.  In between these jobs we’ve been handling our various health appointments and seeing friends.  I’m not going to lie; it’s been a brutal week, but we’ve accomplished a lot.  Now it’s raining (oh darn!), so we get some enforced time away from the sun.  Many of our drive train parts have come in, and we’re waiting on Island Packet to fabricate the skeg and stern tube.

Upcoming projects will be replacing our existing solar panel with a new one, replacing our hatches with new ones, and a variety of other exciting upgrades.  We’re psyched!

 

Posted in Boat Work, NC