Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Groove

The Center Harbor approach keeps
me on my toes.
We have been out a bunch of times since I last posted and I've been pleasantly surprised at how few issues have come up.  I got the fuel leak straightened out easily enough and it's literally been smooth sailing ever since.  The biggest challenge has been getting used to handling a 35 foot boat again after so many years, but every day I start to feel more comfortable with how the boat handles (especially with a tiller now).

Another challenge that I never even considered was the fact that Lake Winnipesaukee can be a challenge to navigate.  There are literally hundreds of islands big and small and many ledges and reefs that you really have to pay attention to.  I still don't care for the 'inland navigation' system of black and red 'sticks' that mark rocks and channels.  I find them hard to spot and they seem to be everywhere and not always accurate.  I've been keeping the chart very close by and I just downloaded a Navionics charting app for the tablet that should help out.  At least there are no foul currents to deal with.

One of the double edge swords of sailing here is that the fresh water is crystal clear.  On one hand it's really nice because the swimming is terrific, but it has scared the crap out of me on a number of occasions because even though the depth may be 20 or more feet, it looks like we are about to hit bottom and slam into rocks because the water is so clear.

Aside from those minor challenges, things are good.  We've had a bunch of sails so far that have been really relaxing and everyone is starting to feel comfortable aboard after such a long absence.  It's nice to see the kids kick back and just enjoy being out on the water and have fun on the boat.

Of course the list of things to do will never be complete, but most of the sailing 'to do' items have been crossed off, although a few things came to light that I hadn't fully considered.  The first is a bonehead move on my part.  When I decided to convert back to hank on headsails earlier this year, I bought a used 135% hank on genoa and sold my 135% furling sail.  One of the main reasons I went back to hank on was that the furling 135% genoa was good for most conditions, but if the air was too light or too heavy, it was a headache.  Partially rolling it up when too windy never worked out well because it pretty much killed the shape of the sail and I couldn't sail well to windward.  In super light air it just didn't have enough area to get me moving well.  I figured going back to a hank on system would allow me to change headsails as conditions dictated.

When I originally bought the boat, the previous owner had given me a pile of older headsails in various condition and size.  They had been in storage forever, so when I pulled them out this spring I was happy to find a decent 90% working jib for the heavy stuff and a 160% genoa for the light air.  I cleaned them up and tucked them away for launch day.  The 160% had a furling luff and no hanks, but I must have forgotten about needing to have hanks sewn on because the other day we were in some really light stuff and I had my son rig it (14 year old who are willing to do so are like breathing roller furlers, just hungrier).  He got it up on deck and said "Um, dad, I can't find the hanks".  It's a big sail, so I just thought he was being a space cadet, but as I went forward it dawned on me that I never had it converted.  There was a bit of eye rolling when I told him "Ooops, lets go with the 135 instead".  Anyway, I'll probably wait until the off-season to get that done.

Yes, I see the scallops in the headsail. I'll
blame it on my son :)
The second issue that came up happened late Tuesday afternoon when we went out for our first really windy sail.  The wind was steady at 21 knots and really more than I wanted to sail in this early, but I figured it would be a good shake down.  We went with the 90% jib and full main (I probably should have thrown in a reef in the main), but found that the genoa tracks were mounted too far aft and outboard to effectively pull the leech of the sail down.  The result was too much twist in the sail and a really loose leach that flapped pretty constantly when we were tight on the wind.  It was still better than partially rolling the furling sail because we easily got up over 7 knots when slightly off the wind, but I need to figure out a mounting point further forward for the sheets.  I have some decent Merriman snatch blocks that will do nicely, but I have to find the best spot.  I think I will go with a fixed point mount to simplify things a bit, but in the meantime I may just experiment and run them off one of the chainplates for now.

What's next?  More sailing, Winnipesaukee is stunningly beautiful with the islands and mountains all around.  I'm not thinking about anything else until I pull the boat in the fall.




Saturday, August 2, 2014

First Sail






















I went to work really early on Friday so I could get everything I needed done before taking off at 2 PM.  I drove straight up to the yard and found that Nick had done a great job sorting out the shift linkage and now it is shifting perfectly into forward and reverse.  I had made the assumption that the position of the throw lever on the gearbox mirrored the direction.  In other words, I assumed that when you pushed the gearbox lever forward, it meant you would go forward.  Not so. Fortunately, Nick was able to easily swap the cable from the bottom of the control to the top to reverse the throw.  Now it does the right thing and slips into forward, neutral, and reverse without any hesitation.  Perfect.

I ran the engine for about an hour and the temperature maxed out at about 175, which is about what it used to do, so no overheating issues. With the engine running nicely, it was time to shove off.  I was a bit apprehensive because I had driven the boat in many years and the last time I did, it was wheel steered, now it's a tiller.  Most importantly, the space I had to maneuver out of was very tight, and I didn't want to start playing bumper boats quite so soon. Luckily, there was no wind so it was just a matter of taking it slow.  I motored through the docks and picked up the mooring on the first shot even though I misjudged the momentum a bit and had to manhandle the pendant onto the cleat.  I closed things up and took the launch back in and called it a day.  

This morning I got the family going as early as I could and we drove up to the boat with the plan of sailing over to Center Harbor where our mooring is located.  It's only about a 15 mile trip, but I had never been there before by water and there are several tight channels to navigate through.  

We started out by hanking on the main, but when I hooked on the halyard I realized that it was on the forward side of the spreader.  I grabbed a big wrench and attached it to the shackle thinking that I would raise the halyard up to the spreader and then the weight of the wrench would be sufficient to allow the halyard to lower on it's own on the aft side of the spreader.  My son told me it wasn't enough weight, but I didn't listen. Sure enough when I got the halyard above the spreader and tried to lower it, the weight of the wrench wasn't enough and it just stayed there, swinging around. My son gave me the 'I told you so' look that only a 14 year old teenager can deliver and I decided that now was a good time to eat crow.  

Once he was satisfied, I volunteered to send him up the mast to retrieve the halyard.  He was only too happy to go aloft since he is always climbing trees and scaring his mom and I with his fearless antics in high places.  I hoisted him up and he quickly retrieved the halyard and put it on the correct side of the spreader.  

With that done, we hoisted the main, fired up the engine and dropped the mooring pendant.  We motor sailed out of the harbor as there wasn't much wind, but a light breeze filled in once out in the open lake.  We raised the 135% genoa and shut the engine down and ghosted along in the light breeze for the first time in a long, long while.  Everything was going fine; we had some leftover pizza for lunch and I finally started to relax knowing that it had finally all come together.  

The wind died out after we rounded a point out into the main lake and I decided to fire up the engine.  It started right up and we chugged along for a few minutes before I started to smell diesel. I looked into the engine compartment and saw that the secondary fuel filter was leaking fuel all over the place.  Crap...  I shut the engine down and unscrewed the filter bowl to see what the problem was.  I finally figured out that the fuel filter retaining ring was cross threaded onto the filter.  I couldn't get it to re-thread properly and I think that the retaining ring might be screwed up.  I am going to order a new ring first thing Monday morning.  

I decided that it would be best to turn back to Fay's just in case I needed a mechanic.  I spread a bunch of gasket sealer on the threads of the fuel filter in the hope that it would stop most of the leak when we needed to fire up the engine where the channel to get into Fay's narrows to about 100 feet and the wind is usually zero.  

We turned around and slowly sailed back to the harbor and made it almost all of the way through the narrow channel before the wind got too squirrely to continue without the engine.  The kids did a great job working the foredeck and making sure the genoa didn't hang up in the light air and when it came time to dump it, they worked as a team and got it down without dropping it in the water. I fired it up and eased it into gear to give us some headway while Steph held a cup underneath the filter bowl to keep the mess to a minimum.  Apparently the gasket sealer worked, because no fuel leaked for the few minutes we had the engine running before picking up the mooring again.  

So we didn't make our final destination today, but it was great to get back out sailing again and other than the fuel leak, we had a great time.  I knew there would be 'bugs' once I got back on the water, and today's trials reassured me that keeping the boat close this first year back in the water was the right decision.  





Thursday, July 31, 2014

It Floats

It's been a long day, but I'm happy to say that Magic is back in the water and floating.   The past few days have been a blur of working until 9 or 10 PM and culminated last night when I pulled the end of the boat shed off so the truck could get the boat.  It was strange being able to see the boat from outside the shed, but it reminded me of a cocoon opening up and spitting out a moth.  I called it a day at dark and went back to the house to compile a final list of things I needed to do before the truck came to pick up the boat at 10:30 the next morning.

I got going at 5:00 AM because I still had a ton to do to get everything ready for hauling.  I won't go into too many details, but I had way too many tools lying around and way too much crap laying on the floor of the boat shed, so I spent the first two hours getting everything organized and cleaned up.

Once I was satisfied that the truck would be able to get into the shed to retrieve the boat, I rigged and labeled all the standing rigging and put the jib and auxillary halyard on.  I wrapped everything up with foam wrap and duct tape so everything would stay together for the trip.  I pulled the stanchions off because there was so little clearance between the top of the stanchions and the boat shed roof.  We got the boom aboard and secured just as the truck from Miles Marine showed up right on time.

I'm always amazed watching boat haulers do their thing because it just seems like such a bad idea to remove all but three jackstands and have the entire boat teetering there while they slide the wishbone trailer around the keel and under the boat.  It took about an hour to get the boat loaded because of the tight quarters in the boat shed, but once on the trailer they slowly eased it out of the shed without issue.  Next we loaded the mast onto the mast rack and I jumped on board to put the stanchions back on and that was it... They were off.

I went back to the house and had lunch and then drove up to Fay's Boatyard where I hoped the boat would be.  On the way up I half expected to see a fiery crash with Magic crushed on the side of the road. Fortunately, all was well and when I pulled into the boatyard, they already had Magic off the truck and hanging from a big fork truck ready to go in.  They don't have a travel lift here and side launch all boats with their big fork truck (some are in the 45' range).

Two minutes after I got there, they simply rolled forward toward the water and set it in; no drama.
I hopped on board and checked to make sure water wasn't pouring in and found that the stuffing box was trickling pretty good.  It turns out that it wasn't the gland itself but the clamps around the stuffing box hose weren't tight enough. I snugged them up and stopped the inflow.  Another minor issue was that the scupper seacocks were dripping a little bit (one drop every ten seconds or so).  Nick and Wayne (They handle all the sailboats in the harbor) didn't seem concerned and said they would get it taken care of. I'm also having them adjust the Teleflex engine control because I couldn't quite get the shifting working properly.  It's one of those linkage issues where everything has to be lined up just right or it won't sync up with the gearbox properly.

One of the many things I was worried about was stepping the mast.  Since I had never made up my own standing rigging before a few weeks ago (here), I wasn't sure that it would all work, but the new rigging actually went on much better than the lower shrouds that I didn't replace.  It was perfect; PHEWWW!

All in all I'm really happy the way things turned out and the boat looks sooooo much better out of the shed and into real sunlight and water.  Tomorrow I'll be heading over to get the sails bent on and make sure the engine is happy before we hopefully move the boat over to Center Harbor on Saturday for the rest of the season.







Monday, July 28, 2014

So The Beast Demanded a Rematch

This has been a tough week for boat work given my Lyme Disease diagnosis and a family reunion in Keene that kept me away for four days.  The good news is that I'm feeling much better after a few days of antibiotics.  The bad news is that the engine decided it wanted a rematch.

The first 'leg' of the family reunion was at our house when a bunch of family members flew into town.  I didn't even go over to the boat shed for 24 hours and when I stopped in to check on my list of stuff to do, I noticed a bit of antifreeze on one of the hoses.  At first I just thought it was an errant drop, but on further inspection, I found about a pint in the bilge. Crap.  I got a really bright light to trace where it was leaking from and found that several of the gaskets on the exhaust manifold were leaking, and one of them was leaking badly.  Crap again... 

After I finished sobbing I realized I had two choices. Wait until the boat was hauled to the marina, have them pull the manifold and fix the gaskets while my wallet bled gobs of money or do it myself.  With that said, I really didn't have a choice because there just aren't any more gobs of money in my wallet, so I called Hansen Marine and ordered a new suit of gaskets (4 on the wet side and 4 on the exhaust side).  They came the next day in the mail (kudos to Hansen for rushing this) and got up really early the next morning before the rest of the family had gotten up and drained the coolant, pulled all the new hoses I had just installed, and unbolted the thing from the motor and the rest of the exhaust.  To say it sucked was an understatement, because getting the three exhaust ports unbolted from the underside of the manifold with the starter, solenoid, water pump and who knows what else in the way was just unbelievably difficult.  

Amazingly though, after two hours of craning my neck, scratching my head, and yelling at the beast, I managed to get it off without losing any fasteners to the bilge or destroying something else in the process.  I brought it back to the shop and stripped it down, pulling the end caps and the other wet side gaskets.  Then I scrubbed the thing down with soap and water and got all the grease off.   I figured that since I had it out, I might as well paint it (I have a can of Westerbeke Red spray paint).  I shot 2 coats on, letting it dry a few hours in between (all while doing family things in between) and then put it all back together with the new gaskets and high temp gasket cement for good measure.

At that point we left for Keene for a few days so I had to wait until yesterday afternoon when to get the manifold back on.  The reverse process wasn't nearly as bad, but there were still a few moments when I just couldn't seat one of the bolts and almost dropped it into the abyss.  I refilled the antifreeze but I won't have another chance to start the motor until the boat is back in the water so I've got my fingers crossed.  I'm reasonably confident that it will be ok, but we'll see...

Back together with fresh paint and a new suit of gaskets.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TICK Tock

Time is running very short now and I am seriously under the gun to finish up.  The boat will be trucked up to Winnipesaukee on either the 29th or the 30th and I need to be done. To make matters more difficult, this past Friday I stared feeling crappy.  Not just average crappy, but really crappy. I took my temperature when I got home and it was 101.  Too make a long story short, the fever continued until Sunday and I felt progressively worse every day.  We were eating lunch and my sun noticed a "bullseye" rash on my shoulder where I had a tick bite a few weeks earlier. Crap, Lyme Disease.  I went down to urgent care and the doctor pretty much confirmed Lyme Disease.  All the symptoms and the bullseye rash make it pretty clear cut.  A big, long dose of anitbiotics and I should be feeling better soon.  Yesterday, I was a mess, but I felt quite a bit better today.

Finally, a long planned family reunion is starting tomorrow and will continue until Sunday so my time will be severely limited.  So the clock is seriously ticking and time is not on my side. The good news is that I did manage to get a lot of things wrapped up since the last time I wrote even though I had to take it slow because I was feeling pretty poor.


I finished up 6 coats of varnish on the winch blocks and decided I'd better get them on.  More varnish would have to wait.  I had previously tapped the winch bolt holes in the blocks so it was just a matter of placing them where I wanted them and drilling the deck with a long bit.  That whole section of the deck is solid glass (I planned ahead), so there was no need to over-drill to protect the core.  Then I laid down a thick bead of mahogany colored Sikaflex 291 around the bolt holes, and along the edge where the blocks meet the coaming.  As it turned out it was a bit too thick and I'm not really happy with the way it came out, but I'll have to live with it for the time being.  Eventually, I'll get in there with a razor and trim the big blobs away.

I also got the cockpit Kiwigrip'd.  Same story as the previous four or five times I've done various sections.  I spent the vast majority of time taping and sanding the edges, followed by a vacuum and a wipe down with acetone before cracking open the can.  I had just enough.  I had ordered another quart just in case, and I needed every drop.  I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out although my taping was a little bit sloppy in spots.  I am blaming the Lyme disease.





Friday, July 18, 2014

Shafted

When I got home from work yesterday, there were a few unexpected packages on my doorstep.  I had planned on them showing up later in the week or early next week, but the fact that they were there changed my plans for the day.

The parts in question were my GFO Gore packing material for the stuffing box and four Trident stainless steel t-clamps to affix the stuffing box to the shaft log.  These two items were holding up the shaft install; I had gone down to Roses Marine a few weeks back to have my shaft balanced and a new Buck Algonquin split coupling fitted and faced to the shaft.

I was originally going to go with a P.S.S. Shaft Seal to go dripless, but as costs kept mounting I came to terms with the fact that while my old stuffing box was a corroded mess, it didn't take too much work to clean it up and reuse.  So $30 in clamps, $18 for a new stuffing box hose, and $10 for new packing material I was still saving ~$150.

With my new bits in hand, I got started by cutting the packing material based on the article  Repacking Stuffing Box by Maine Sail on PBase/Compass Marine site.  I've used him as a resource for countless problems I've run into over the years and I'm amazed he can spend so much time helping out others.

I used an old shaft I had to wrap the packing material around and cut at a 45 degree angle.  Then I trimmed each of the three pieces a little bit (they end up being a tiny bit long with this method) and neatly packed them into the hollow nut on the stuffing box.  In hindsight, it might have made more sense to wait on the packing material until the shaft is in the boat so you can use it to form the material.  I put it in first and had to push the shaft through the packing and it was a really tight fit.  If I hear any feedback that this was the wrong way to do it, I'll take it out and do it over.

Next, I fitted the fancy new t-clamp hose clamps to the stuffing box hose and the stuffing box and brought the whole assembly over to the boat.  The hose I ordered was specifically designed for packing boxes and is not standard fuel or water hose, it is BEEFY, and almost twice the wall diameter thickness.

Of course access to the shaft log is less than fun, and the only reasonable way to get to it is to lie on top of the engine.  I have nice fuel injector bruises on my chest this morning as a result.  Once in position though, it was just a matter of slipping the assembly onto the shaft log and evenly tightening down the 7/16" nylon locking nuts on the clamps.  These clamps, like the hose are not your run of the mill hose clamp.  First of all they are not perforated as most are and from what I'm told this creates a more even distribution of forces when they are clamped and they don't tend to cut the hose material as well.  Also, the band is 3/4" wide to aid in spreading the load.  Nice clamps...

I should have painted in there, but I'm
going to wait until I pull the engine next year
From there I got off the boat and pushed the shaft through the cutlass bearing and into the shaft log/stuffing box.  As I mentioned before, it was a tight fit, and I took a lot of care to not make a mess of the packing material.  Once it slid home though, it was just a matter of taking the new split coupling and lining it up with the keyway on the shaft, slipping the key in and then tightening down the set screw bolt on the side of the coupling.  Rose's Marine put a nice corresponding spot mark on the shaft so that there was no question as to where it should seat.

Unlike a standard solid coupling, the split coupling allows makes for easier removal when the time comes (or so I'm told).  I've had a number of fun times attempting to remove shafts from solid couplers; it often results in me cutting the shaft to get it out and starting all over.  This should be a better solution.

Before I torqued down the split coupler bolts, I attached it to the transmission so it would spin and I could easily rotate the shaft while evenly torquing both bolts.  All in all it wasn't so bad, certainly better than pulling the nasty corroded mess out in the first place.  Unlike my previous history of stuffing box/transmission coupler neglect, I'm going to try and keep on top of this with regular greasings to cut down on corrosion in the future.




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Black is the New Blue

My to-do list is still enormous, but I knocked off a couple of items over the past few days that I would have saved for last because they are sort of 'fluff' projects.  They got bumped up because I'm waiting for a few things to arrive that are preventing me from finishing some of the more 'meaty' tasks.

The other day I was in the cabin scrubbing and just got fed up with the smell of bleach and cleaners so I took a break and while I was down on the ground started picking at some flaking bottom paint.  I picked up my carbide scraper and started going to town on the paint.  It was pretty satisfying at first; seeing the chips fly off, revealing a painter's archaeological dig, with years of different colors revealing themselves as I went.  I had planned to 100% strip the hull, but I ended up just scraping it and removing all the loose crap.  I've done a full hull take down before and it is not a pleasant job and to be honest, I'm about done with non-pleasant jobs for the time being.  I'll consider doing that next year, but for now... screw it.

So after three hours of scraping I decided that I had done enough and the surface was good enough for me. I was still doing well on time for the day so I taped up the hull at the boot stripe and broke out the bottom paint.  I changed the color to blue because I never liked red, but to be honest I wanted to paint it green, but the super cheap bottom paint I bought (JamesTown Distributors Underdog) only came in red, blue, or black. Normally I wouldn't cheap out on bottom paint, but since the boat is going into freshwater for the first season, the $79 price tag was justifiable.  All I am really doing is making it pretty, there is nothing to foul in Lake Winnipeaukee (No zebra mussels yet).

Anyway, I got everything painted except for the area under a few of the jack stands.  There are two jack stands that I am a little worried about moving.  I have 9 of them that I regularly jockey around, but there are two that are chained together on opposite sides and the chain is drum tight, which leads me to believe that they want to slip.  I need to position a few more on either side of them before I move them.  I don't want to risk dropping the boat for something as stupid as cheap bottom paint.  It would pretty much ruin my day.

Yesterday, because I am notoriosly bad at taping straight lines, I lured my wife over to tape the top and bottom of the bootstripe which I wanted to change to black to contrast the blue bottom paint.  She is very anal about proper straight lines and true to form, she taped the bootstripe much better than I could have. Painting the bootstripe is really satisfying with a 2" foam roller, it only takes about 30 minutes to do the whole thing and the way the new 'hot dog' foam rollers lay down paint is amazing.  I'm sure they have been around for a while, but as a teenager, I only remember doing Dad's boat with a brush which isn't nearly as satisfying.

With some of the 'fluff' projects completed, I will now have to focus on my six (maybe seven) remaining 'real' tasks:

  1. Kiwigrip cockpit
  2. Install propeller shaft and new coupler
  3. Install and mount winch coaming blocks and winches
  4. Install genoa track
  5. Build composting toilet
  6. Measure and build up forestay
  7. I found a small antifreeze leak when running the engine around the exhaust manifold.  I ordered all new gaskets for the manifold, but I need to id the leak.
Of course there are a million little things but these are the ones that will take time.