Thursday, October 23, 2014

Odyssey update, and polishing my shaft

We are "on the hard" at the Deltaville Boatyard in Deltaville, Virginia (map), a very familiar stop for us.  We are even in our old spot, closest to the shop buildings.  It's been a long and busy couple of weeks, with nary a moment to blog, but I am at an impasse now on the project front, so I can catch up.

When last I posted here, we had just dropped anchor in the Piankatank River, just outside the Jackson Creek entrance.  With high winds forecast for the coming two days, we decided to make a run for it first thing the next morning, before the winds got too fierce.  As it was, we had a good ten to fifteen knots as we made the channel, which made for some excitement as I made the sharp left turn where I normally use the bow thruster to help turn the boat more aggressively.  Once we made the turn we had the wind on the nose and it was easy going from there to the basin.

We ended up spending three nights at anchor, as the yard was not quite ready to haul us out on Monday.  Too bad, because Monday was flat calm, whereas on Tuesday we had high winds again.  I ended up having to bring her into the lift ways in 20 knots, and even station-keeping in the anchorage while they jockeyed some other boats around was a challenge.  Fortunately, the sheds over the marina's D-dock blocked some of the wind on the last hundred feet or so to the slip, and they had all hands on the ways to take our lines and fend us off, so we made it into the lift without any contact.

We spent most of the time at anchor getting the boat ready for the haulout, organizing our projects, and getting last-minute parts orders placed for delivery while we're here.  However, we did get to meet Bradley and Kathy from the Nordhavn 72 Shear Madness, who dropped by in their tender and invited us to dinner.  I've followed their blog for a while and it was a pleasure to meet them and spend some time with them, and of course we traded boat tours.  We'd been given a heads-up to watch for their arrival by Steph and Martin, who had dinner with them the preceding week in Portsmouth.

Once we were blocked on the hard, the yard got started on cleaning the bottom and prepping it for new paint.  We're doing a full bottom job here, changing from an ablative type of paint, which has not worked well for us, to a hard paint with a higher copper load.  On a metal boat that means making sure there is a good insulating layer of epoxy barrier coating before the paint goes on, and between the scraping, sanding, barrier coating, and painting we are spending a small fortune on it.

The yard has already remediated an extremely small/slow leak in our sewage macerator system, which necessitated me clearing out the engine room vestibule which serves as my workshop.  After the leak was resolved the epoxy hull paint needed to be touched up in that area, and my tools and supplies spent several days stacked in the engine room, keeping me from making any progress on the raw water pump or valve adjustment projects.

On the weekend we took advantage of Enterprise's $10/day weekend special, rented a car, and drove to our super-secret storage location to check on our bus, Odyssey.  It has been almost exactly a year since our last visit, when we laid it up for the winter, and it was in surprisingly good shape.  The biggest problem was that all 11 batteries were almost completely dead.

The house batteries were already suffering from an early end-of-life syndrome when we parked it, but, still, I'm sorry they ran all the way down.  The coach and generator batteries are a bit more forgiving, but even those were dead.  My fault, really -- I opened all the battery switches, but there are still some very minor parasitic drains that are connected ahead of those switches.  Most notably those are the battery equalizers, but the house side also has an SOC meter.  In hindsight, after opening the switches I should also have disconnected the equalizers and then the battery grounds.

The main charger, which is part of the inverter system, will not even power up unless it sees a nominal 24-volt battery connected, and the batteries were so low they did not register to the charger.  We ended up "jumping" the coach batteries from the rental car by connecting the car's 12-volt battery to the upper side of the coach 24-volt system, letting the equalizer pass half over to the lower side.  Then I was able to operate the bridging relay to send 24 volts to the house side.

Once I had power flowing from the car to the 24-volt house system, the inverter/charger could be brought on-line and the charger started up, which then provided us with power throughout the bus.  Fortunately, there is a 50-amp shore receptacle just a few feet from the bus.  It took most of the day, and more jumping from the rental car, to get enough juice into the system to light off the big Detroit, but it did eventually start after some cantankerous cranking.  The genny, by contrast, fired right up.

The batteries were so dead that we opted to leave the coach plugged in to shore power for the week, at a cost of an extra dollar a day.  We'll rent another car and go back this weekend to check on the progress, unplug the shore power, and disconnect the batteries more fully this time.  While in otherwise good shape, it made us sad to see our beloved Odyssey sitting there so forlornly, and I really need to get moving on finding her a new home with someone who will give her the attention she needs.

We took the long way home last weekend when we picked up the rental car in Gloucester ("we'll pick you up"), stopping in Chesapeake to pick up some parts at the Komat'su dealer.  That had us going right past our last digs at Riverwalk in Yorktown, a much shorter trip from here by car.  As long as we were all the way down there, we had a nice dinner at our club in Norfolk on the way home.

This morning the yard removed the shaft from the boat.  Unsurprisingly, it was covered with rust, but it all appears to be adhered to the surface (rather than the shaft itself rusting) from whatever is causing the tube to rust.

Somewhat more concerning is a handful of score lines on the shaft in the area of the forward cutless bearing, which suggests the bearing has some debris embedded in it.  We'll spring for new bearings while we're here, and I will inspect the bearing to see what's causing the scoring.  The yard polished the shaft up with a sander and it looks great except for the scoring.

When last we had the shaft out, we bought a fancy tool for removing and installing the propeller.  When we went to use it, however, we discovered it had the wrong threads for our shaft.  A bit disturbing, since the yard was supposed to have used this tool when they installed the prop on the new shaft.  So once again, the shaft had to come out with the prop still attached.   A local machinist is working on making the correct adapter for our tool, so we'll have something we can use elsewhere if the prop needs to come off.

As for my own projects, I've met my Waterloo with the bow thruster.  I removed the motor inside the boat, but getting the splined pinion off the top of the drive leg has been a challenge.  The Allen-head setscrew rounded out in no time, after turning my Allen key into a corkscrew, and I've had to drill it out.  Nevertheless, the pinion is still firmly stuck to the shaft, as are the propellers to theirs.  I've asked the yard to remove the props, and then I will try to drift the shaft out of the pinion from the inside.  Fortunately, I have a spare mount and a spare drive coupling from the very first bow thruster fiasco.

I came to an impasse today because I can do nothing further with the thruster until the yard gets the props off, and the engine room is off limits while they remediate some rust on the hull stringers and re-paint them with epoxy paint. My around-the-house list, at least the part slated for Deltaville, is already knocked off.

That list included replacing the davit winch cable with a fancy synthetic one, replacing some interior light bulbs with LED items, and adding some additional LED deck lights to increase our visibility at anchor.  I also bought a "crane scale" so we can finally weigh our tender, along with anything else we want to lift with the davit.  I'm working on a way to insert it into the anchor tackle temporarily, without getting it wet, so we can get an inkling of our "normal" anchoring loads as well as the setting force when backing on the anchor.

Louise is also at a project standstill, since her sewing set-up in the forward stateroom has been usurped by the bow thruster repairs. She's finished all the hand sewing she had saved up for this occasion, and now is being sorely tempted to buy fabric on-line while we have a good shipping address.

If you're interested in photos of her quilting, BTW, she's posting them on Instagram, where her user name is (not too surprisingly) @LouiseHornor.

When I booked the work here at the yard I had asked them to plan to complete it by tomorrow.  We're a long way from done, though, and I had already figured to be here next week as well.  I am hoping it will not be longer than that.  I think it's doable -- they have a little prep and barrier coat left before painting the bottom, and getting the thruster leg changed.  There is also some exterior paint and bedding needed around the anchor locker hatch.  We had asked them to quote a staple rail on the swim step and some exterior paint touchup, but we are prepared to leave without those if need be.

With any luck, my hiatus will be over tomorrow and I will again be busy from morning to night, so this may be my one and only blog post from the yard. Whenever we are done here, we will proceed with all possible urgency to Norfolk, on the first leg of a southbound trip to Florida for the holidays.


  1. Thanks for the update, sounds like you are getting everything looked after. It is always amazing to me just how much maintenance these boats seem to take.

  2. Are these more or less conventional lead acid batteries?
    After a year of dormancy (without a maintained charge) I'm afraid they may be toast.

    1. More details on these batteries than you ever wanted to know can be found elsewhere on the blog, including photos of me wrestling them into place.


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