Friday, February 7, 2020

If it ain't ain't a boat

Work on boat projects continue.  Spending a bit of time on the boat, we've run across a number of items that were, after two years of sitting alone, were need of repair or replacement.

Things like interior lights and the stereo are not really mission critical systems, but enhance the utility and enjoyment of the boat so they are getting replaced.  The water heater, also not critical, was leaking our fresh water supply so it obviously needed to be repaired or bypassed. The sump pumps are a bit more critical, so they too required attention. The dinghy, aka the family car, is a must have as basic transportation.
The installed new water heater

New USB/Bluetooth stereo
Something I seem to have forgotten but have definitely been reminded of is that it always takes longer to do a task on a boat.  Cramped spaces, a rocking platform, limited tools and supplies, the "creative" solutions of prior owners or maintenance people and the weather all play a part in slowing down what would be an easy task on land.  On Youtube there are many helpful videos on maintenance, but the videos are usually shot in a nice studio with plenty of lighting and the part in question (usually a brand new example of the part) sitting neatly on a bench.  I would love to see a video where the demonstrator was busting their knuckles on bulkheads and other sharp objects trying to access the part...then I'm sure the videos would be much longer with a lot of "colorful metaphors" being beeped out in post production.  They would also be more of an accurate representation of how the process goes.  Oh well, at least there is some instruction available. about you demonstrate on mine...
...and I consider this pretty accessible. The mounting
screws are right behind the big waste hose.
One critical system that was questionable was the standing rigging.  The wires that hold the mast up and make this a sailboat are pretty critical as you definitely don't want it to come crashing down while on passage.   Weather had been playing a part in delaying the inspection as one doesn't want to be freezing and flapping around in the wind while attached by a rope to the top of the mast.  About a week ago, I was finally able to go up and do an inspection.  Unfortunately, what I found only confirmed my fears of what I thought I had observed via binoculars from the dock.  There was some surface corrosion (which in itself isn't necessarily bad), but there was also some rust lines that follow the strands of the wire (called candy caning as it looks like the twisted stripe of one), a small amount of pitting, and a few small bulges in the thickness of the wire.  The latter are indications of corrosion taking place in the inner strands of the wire.  So, it looks like replacement is necessary for safety.

Yeah, gotta replace those wires.
Trying to measure the rigging so I can order replacements is also not the easiest of tasks.  Ideally, the mast is unstepped and the rigging cables can all be taken to a shop, measured, and replacements constructed.  Since there is no place nearby where I can get a crane near the boat in order to take down the mast, we will be doing it once piece at a time while the mast remains standing.  This means ordering the cables with special fittings on one end so the cables can be cut to the final length and the fitting installed at the dock.  Doug, the crew member that graciously offered to come down to help, and I took turns going up the mast in order to get the measurements.  Thanks to the weather and some technical challenges in measuring wire paths while dangling nearly 60 feet up in the air, it took two tries over three days to get the measurements done.  But we did get them and were now armed with enough information to order replacements.

Inspecting the rigging on a less than ideal weather day

Doug took a selfie up the mast on a nicer day.
Previously, primarily as an overabundance of caution, I had looked into replacing the rigging.  What I had found was that some riggers were unable to even source some of the parts required and others were unable or unwilling to work with the special cable used to rig the boat (swaging fittings on compact strand wire is more difficult due to the "compactness" of the cable).Being the DIY type of person (if you aren't DIY, you had better be rich to own a boat) who wants to cut the rigging to exact length and install boat-side, I am also looking for swageless terminals to avoid the swaging issues.  Looking into sources for rigging, I quickly ran into similar problems.  I currently have a call in to the original manufacturers of the rig and it sounds like I may be able to get the parts directly from South Africa.  I've been told, if they have the parts the turn-around time on an order should be under a I just need to figure out what it will take to get it half way around the world.  Unfortunately, communications have been slow with them.

While I await answers on the rigging, a number of things are getting done.  The two manual emergency bilge pumps were disassembled, cleaned, reconditioned, and are now effectively pumping water.  All the winches have been serviced.  The dead stereo has been replaced with one that now supports bluetooth streaming as well as USB thumb drives for music sources. A newly discovered glitch in the refrigerator was researched and "repaired" by simply exercising the thermostat control.

Not everything is repair.  I finally came up with a design for a simple replacement dodger that deals with the issue of strange angle of the mounting of the main sheet winches.  I was even able to get a good deal on the Sunbrella material needed to make the dodger and get other items ordered.  There is one other project in the works, but I'll save that for another post.  It is something I had planned to do a while ago and I think it will be of great benefit for the trip.

So, the work continues...but hopefully I'm seeing a light and the end of the tunnel and am really looking forward to some relaxing time in the Bahamas.


  1. I love reading your stories Mike!!!

    1. Thanks buddy! I just wish I had more adventurous stories right now than digging apart boat systems and making them work again.

  2. we did our rigging Mike. Bought 2011, did the job 2012. Got it from Rigging Only. Boat are the gift that keep on giving ;-)
    liz & Chris

    1. If I can only get the right stuff, I don't think it will be that hard. The issue seems to be the fittings I can find that work with the compact strand wire. And yeah, they keep giving...issues to be fixed. ;-)