Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back under way

We are anchored just inside Lake Worth Inlet, near Palm Beach, Florida (map).  Aboard with us are our friends Steph and Martin, taking a brief break from the commissioning of their new boat to join us at Trawler Fest, which starts tomorrow in nearby Lake Park.

We shoved off yesterday morning at 7am from our slip at Apex Marine, from which we had not budged in six weeks.  Other than when we were on the hard at the boatyard, that's the longest we've stayed in any one spot without moving, and it feels good to finally have a change of scenery.  Also, we got a good chance to test out many of the changes we made to the boat while we were in Stuart.

We had fantastic weather for the outside run, and once we were well past the jetties at St. Lucie Inlet we had calm seas with gentle ~2' rollers.  With little breeze it actually got a bit warm in the pilothouse even with the doors open, with the massive expanse of glass facing south, and so we spent the middle portion of the day on the flybridge -- a perfect day on the Atlantic.  We might easily have come the whole way less than a mile off shore, but we angled out to the three mile limit and back in order to empty our tanks.

It has been over two weeks since my last post here, and once again I have a great deal to update.  I do also still plan to write up the whole electrical system upgrade as a separate post, but I literally just finished the project three days ago, and I need a few hours to gather it all together.  At least I can report that all worked well during yesterday's test run, and last night was our first at anchor on the new batteries and inverter and we finally can make it through a whole day without running the generator.

When last I posted here, we were just about to leave for the Miami boat shows.  Parking in Miami Beach turned out to be quite the challenge, and we missed an hour or so of show by the time we got parked and into the convention center.  We stayed all the way to closing time at 6pm, and I just barely made it to all the vendors on my list.  I think we made it up and down 85% or so of the aisles as well, and we picked up a handful of items for the boat.  I also ordered a new VHF radio for the pilothouse, thus adding to my already lengthy project list.

One of the reasons to attend on (and spring the upcharge for) "premier" day at the show is that the manufacturers send their technical reps for that day.  We got great information from Lugger, the manufacturer of our engine and generator, Wema, who made our tank monitors, Nautical Structures, who made our crane, Naiad, who made our stabilizers, and ACR, who made our searchlight and EPIRB.  I also spent a good deal of time with the head guy at Standard Horizon, which cleared up enough of my questions to enable me to order their newest radio.  All in all a great investment, and we'll probably come back to this show again some day for just that reason.

Even though we did not make it to absolutely every booth on Thursday, we decided it was not worth paying another full day's admission Friday, and we opted instead to go to the Boat and Brokerage show a little further north, which is free.  We went through the handful of booth vendors there, and walked through a few boats as well, before finishing up at "Cruiser Port," which is a miniature version of Trawler Fest that pops up within other major boat shows.  That left us just enough time to get back to Stuart and our lonely cats Friday evening, and the car back to Budget on Saturday morning.

Last week's great project was, of course, the installation of the granite in the galley.  I had to defer completion of the electrical project and other engine work until the granite was done, so that I could have my parts of the project done in time for the granite installers to do their thing.  That meant, for the most part, my least favorite activity: plumbing.  As long as we were getting new sinks which would require re-plumbing of the waste lines, I took the opportunity to remove the hokey ABS unvented traps and wastes all the way down to the metal stubs at the base of the cabinets, and start over.

Granite being shimmed during installation.  This is the cooktop cutout.

I also took the opportunity presented by all this to install an under-counter filtration system at the wet bar.  We've been using a faucet-mounted Brita filter at that sink to get our drinking water, and we wanted to get rid of the unsightly and somewhat less convenient faucet-mount, with its expensive proprietary cartridges, in favor of an industry-standard filter holder and a dedicated spigot on the countertop.  This would also allow us to plumb the ice-maker into a filtered source, whereas before it was connected directly to the supply from the tank.

New PEX water lines (left), filter (center) and waste plumbing (right).

Redoing the fresh water plumbing meant removing the supply valves and a handful of fittings upstream, and I decided that now was as good a time as any to replace all the crappy galvanized steel pipe in this part of the system.  That added more than a full day to the project, involving ripping out some 40' or so of 1/2" galvanized pipe in the engine room and replacing it with PEX.  This has been a long time coming, and we now finally have at least one place in the boat where we can get fresh water that has not been flowing through decade-old galvanized pipe.  I still need to do this for the rest of the boat, but at least there is no galvanized potable plumbing left aft of the engine room bulkhead.

Countertops removed.  The duct at left carries HVAC from the unit below the counter to the grille in the upper cabinets and is normally covered by trim.

In order to get the wet bar countertop out (and the new one in), I also needed to disassemble the lowest level of the built-in wet bar bottle rack.  I had to pick up a brad nailer to put it all back in -- fortunately, there is a Harbor Freight in town and I was able to grab one on sale for $22, as I really didn't want to spend $80 or more on a "lifetime" tool to shoot perhaps four dozen brads for this and some other trim projects around the boat.

New wet bar counter and sink with new faucet at left and drinking water tap to its right.  You can tell what's important on our boat -- the wine is wearing its own life vest...

Even though we paid the granite company for "demolition," a modest $75 fee that included hauling away the old counters and sinks, I removed the wet bar counter myself, and also removed all the fasteners from the galley counters and broke them loose.  That left only cutting them in two and carting them off the boat for the granite guys.  The new counters also came in two pieces, with a small seam in the center of the sink cutout.  They did need to take two of the counters back off the boat to make a few additional cuts with a diamond saw -- the stove cutout was too small, and the wet bar counter needed an adjustment.

Fixing dinner on the new counter.  The nice large sink is a bonus, and the seam between sections is barely visible.  We added soap dispensers for hand and dish soap on either side of the single-handle faucet.

The new counters are gorgeous, and really make a huge difference to the look and feel of the galley area.  In addition to the new drinking water tap in the wet bar, we also had to get a new single-handle faucet as well, as the two-handle one that was in there did not leave enough room for both.  The new spigot makes it easier to fill the coffee pot and our water pitchers, too.  Most of all, I'm glad to finally be rid of the hokey plywood square that's been filling in for the counter where I removed the electric range back in June.

The old solid-surface countertop, before removal.  What a difference.

After the granite was in it took me another full day to get all the plumbing back in.  As long as I was adding fully new drains, I brought the stacks all the way up to just below the counters and installed mechanical vents on each, which has reduced considerably the amount of "blurping" that we hear when the washing machine drains, as well as allowing the new sinks to drain a bit better.

New replacement O-ring on left, old, leaky one on right.  Definitely not the correct part.

By the time all this was done we had just a few days left before shoving off for Trawler Fest, and it was a mad scramble to get everything done.  With the old alternator off the engine I needed to yank the raw water pump to address a long-time oil leak.  I had already purchased a replacement O-ring, and I was certain that I would find the old one pinched, cracked, or dried out.  Instead I found an O-ring that was several sizes too small in thickness for the application.  Considering the reversed cover plate and the took marks I found on the raw water side of the pump I can only conclude that some technician somewhere pulled the whole pump off the engine to get a cantankerous impeller out, then used the O-ring intended for the cover plate to reinstall the flange to the engine.

"Inside" the water pump cover.  Stamped writing indicates this was originally the outside and it was flipped when the inside became worn.

The new alternator, being exactly the same frame as the old one, fit on without any trouble, and I was able to use my Gorilla Bar to tension the new pair of V-belts.  A quick stationary test of the new unit under load showed more than the rated 110 amps.  We detected a faint burning smell, which we are attributing to break-in as the belts seat and the manufacturing oils burn out from the new parts.

Getting everything cleaned up and secured after all the projects was itself a big undertaking, and I also had to finish wiring the new chartplotter system to the autopilot before getting under way.  We just barely got it all done, but almost everything worked perfectly on the way here.  The two separate GPS inputs to the new chart system appear to be causing some "jumping" of the position signal, and I need to learn the routing commands, but the oil leak is gone and we had plenty of juice from the new alternator under way.

The new hydrostatic release for the EPIRB arrived just before we left, and, along with having just recertified the unit with a brand new battery, updated that part of our safety regime before our ocean excursion, leaving only updating the life raft on our major safety-related list.  Good thing we are not signed up for any seminars at Trawler Fest, just cocktails -- as an arriving cruise ship suggested to me this morning, I need a vacation.


  1. Excited to keep reading your amazing adventures- as usual, handymen rule the world. :)

    I know you did it when you were RVing, but could you do an update on how you manage things like mail, gathering provisions, organizing onboard etc. Would love to hear the practical side of life onboard.

    Best, Christy

  2. Great stuff as always Sean. Love the granite counter tops.


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