Thursday, September 12, 2013

Under way!

We finally did it -- we left the boatyard, four months and one day after we arrived.  While we did not go far -- in fact, we are just a few hundred feet away, anchored in Jackson Creek -- it feels really, really good to finally be done at the yard and officially under way.

The reason for the short hop, by the way, is that we wanted to test our new ground tackle before getting too far away from the boatyard, so we could just zip back over there if we had a problem or needed an adjustment.  While we are still using our original 50kg genuine Bruce anchor and 400', half-inch high-test chain rode, we did away with the fancy-but-weak stainless swivel in favor of a "hammer lock" connector.  We also did away with our old bridle-style snubber in favor of a straight 3/4" nylon snubber connected directly to our new super-beefy bow eye.  The anchor roller itself got some added gussets, new rollers (actually intended for boat trailers, but all I could find that would fit) , and new bolts on the tilting carriage to expand it a quarter inch or so to accommodate the hammer lock.  We also replaced the retaining pin, and you may remember I completely rewired the windlass, all of which needed a good test before we start making serious headway.

It has, once again, been far too long since I posted here, owing to the very long and grueling days, so I have lots to update.  Now that we are done in the yard and I am no longer in the mode of scrambling to stay one step ahead of them, I will be returning to my "normal" blogging mode of trying to post at least once from every stop, which means probably one post a day or so until we reach Baltimore.

Among the many things the yard finished since last I posted, we had a full corrosion test using a meter and a silver chloride reference electrode.  In part this was motivated by concerns during the mini-haulout that we were seeing evidence of galvanic action on the propeller, but it's always a good idea to carry out such a test, and especially so on a steel boat.  We passed with flying colors, with no stray currents or other problems noted.

The yard also wrapped up work on the black waste system, and Louise and I spent most of a day testing the operation of same using fresh water and food coloring.  We wanted to adjust the heads to a good balance between water usage and, umm, waste-removal (they were previously set to use nearly two gallons per flush), then see how many flushes we'd get on a tank.  Also we wanted to make certain there were no leaks in the system, and we're glad we did -- flushing dozens of times in a row revealed the master head to be leaking, and upon disassembly it was found that the original installers had neglected to put any PVC cement on the waste pipes -- they were simply dry-fit.  We also tested the pump-out ability, in light of the trouble we'd been having pumping out previously.  Happily, changing over to a 1.25" rigid vent, as opposed to the 3/8" vinyl hose originally installed, seems to have cured the difficult pump-out situation completely.

Once all the waste system work was complete, I needed to reconstruct the floors over those bilges from first principles.  I had ripped out a good deal of the supporting framework early on in the project in order to provide access to those bilges in the first place, and some of what little was left had to come out in order to fit the new larger tanks.  It took me essentially two whole days to make new bracing and new floor panels to go over them.  The floor panels have finger holes and can easily be lifted out of the way to provide quick and easy maintenance and inspection access to the bilges.

In addition to reassembling the floors over the bilges, I also need to put the master shower back together -- a good deal of trim had to come out to remove the shower pan for access to the bilge below, and we found some rotted subflooring in there which the yard replaced with HDPE.  Once I had all the trim back together, we put a new floor grate in the shower to replace the high-zoot teak lattice one that was in bad shape (the varnish was chipping off and some of the lattice boards were warping).  Louise managed to find an off-the-shelf unvarnished teak unit, intended as a shower entry mat, that was a drop-in fit, for a good deal less than it would cost us to repair the old one.  We put the old one in the "free stuff" pile in the marina's laundry and it disappeared within minutes.  The new one looks fine, and we find it more comfortable to stand on as well.

One project I had been dreading was the installation of the new scooter mount chocks and pad-eyes on the boat deck.  I have been content thus far to allow the yard to cut all the new holes in the boat, on the theory that they have more experience, and the means to repair any goofs.  Their quote to make scooter mounts was more than we wanted to spend, though, so we had purchased some off-the-shelf stainless chocks and pad-eyes, along with stainless bolts, nuts, and fender washers to through-bolt them to the boat deck.  That meant drilling a dozen 5/16" holes through the deck and into the saloon, after first removing the ceiling treatment and insulation there.  As nervous as I was, it all went fine and doesn't look half bad, even though my sealant-application skills are lacking and the squeeze-out looks a bit amateur on close inspection.  The scooters have been up there through three sea trials in the Chesapeake now, and they are rock solid.

We had Line-X come out and spray the inside of the anchor locker with a rubber-like coating to protect the metal from the chain as it comes in and pays out.  We also had the yard put a fiberglass lattice on the floor so the chain will not be sitting in any water while it drains out the new scuppers.  All of that had to be done before we could load the anchor and chain, more or less the last thing we did before final sea trials.

I jury-rigged a small sump under the new shaft stuffing box, then put a bilge pump and float switch in it that I had salvaged from one of the old shower sumps.  I plumbed this overboard through the sea chest vent, since I already had to replace the badly corroded vent valve and all the old galvanized pipe above it anyway, and I simply added a tee and hose barb to the line-up of 1" schedule 80 PVC fittings I used to replace the pipe.  By the time I got to this project, though, we already had four gallons of seawater in the bilge.  More distubingly, it was covered with a layer of dirty engine oil, precluding me from just pumping it into the new sump.

I suspected that the oil was coming from a long-standing drip where the oil change hose attaches to the engine oil pan.  That hose was also very nearly chafed through in a spot where it was lying against a stringer, and so the whole attachment and hose needed to be replaced.  We had the yard do an engine oil change so that they could get the whole contraption out when the pan was empty, but they wanted to buy all the parts from Northern Lights, even though they were conventional SAE fittings.

Instead we borrowed one of the yard's trucks and I found everything we needed at a hose shop in Yorktown, plus a brass shutoff valve from Home Depot in Gloucester on the way back.  The tab at the hose shop was under $45, including the custom-made hose, and the valve cost me $9.  I'm sure the Lugger parts would have been well over $200.  No more leak, plus now we have a shutoff valve below the pan, so if the hose does somehow get damaged, we won't lose all our engine oil into the bilge.

As long as we were in Gloucester for Home Depot, we stopped at Walmart to stock up on provisions.  As usual I checked the TV aisle to see if I could find one that might fit, and, lo and behold, the 40" Hisense model was a perfect fit for our space and also had the required headphone jack.  We did not want to schlep the TV through the store or the boatyard, so I ordered it online with free delivery when we got home.  I wasn't really planning to add another major project to my plate -- it took me the better part of two days to get it completely installed -- but it's in and working and it looks and works great.

Lots of other little things also got done, too numerous to list.  Also we are coming up on departure time and I need to wrap up here.  In my next post I will write about why we had not one but three more sea trials, thus delaying our departure, and last night and this morning's great generator adventure, as well as the disposition of Odyssey and watching a moon launch from right here in Virginia.  Tonight I expect we will be anchored somewhere off the Great Wicomico River.


  1. Hurray! Glad to hear that your yard adventure is over and your back to cruising at will!

    I too know the stress and anxiety of having a unit out of service for 4 months and 1 day as that is exactly how long one of our coaches recently sat on the yard while waiting on repairs.

    ;D BK ;D

  2. WooHoo Under Way! The adventure begins!

  3. If you find your way to the Yeocomico River, Olverson's Lodge Creek Marina is lovely, and bearing west into Mill Creek (a popular "hurricane hole"), you'll be directly across from our dock & boathouse. (Can't see our MH from the river, but the house sits atop the grassy knoll) Many boaters anchor there as the land on Mundy Pt to the north is in conservation, with a treed shoreline, deep water and a nice, private protected cove. Glad to see you are underway...enjoy the Bay!


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