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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Minor repairs

I've come to the conclusion that a boat is all the work of owning a house, times ten.  This little truism first struck me as I got deep into the build process for N6062, and has been confirmed when I look at the list of little repairs needed on Tanglewood II.  Houses always need something.  Boats always need more somethings.  Aside from the routine maintenance and prep work to get the boat launched, I've worked through a variety of minor repairs this spring.

It's really nice having the boat so close to home (about 15 minutes), so I can pop over anytime, fuss for a while, then go home and warm up.  Actually, in the spring the boat stays pretty warm by itself.  The shrink wrap protects from the wind, yet the warmth of the sun goes right through so there is a nice greenhouse effect.  I'm also stored right next to the light/power pole in the yard, and discovered that the nasty looking 50A outlet actually works just fine, so I have a couple of little electric space heaters that I run in the colder weather.  That's all past us now, but back in early march it was very welcome.

Anyway, looking back at my notes, here are the repair projects from this winter/spring:

Forward Hatch Leak:

One of our forward hatches has had a leak for the past two years, which isn't so good on a 4 year old boat.  Last year I traced it to the rubber seal that holds the glass into the metal frame of the hatch.  A little googling last year lead me to a place in CT that can rebuild them by installing a new seal, but they only do a complete rebuild which includes both a new seal and new glass.  That's OK except for the $700 price tag and the 6-8 week turn around.  That didn't fit with our travel plans for last summer, so I carefully gooped up the seal lips with silicon figuring I had nothing to lose.  Well, it improved things, but didn't fix it, and we spent last season with a rag tucked under that hatch to catch the drips.

This winter I decided it had to be fixed, so I started hunting around again and decided to contact the manufacturer directly.  They are in Taiwan and are an otherwise unknown brand.  Their first response steered me to the repair shop in CT for warranty work, but I replied back that they wanted to be paid for the work even though the hatch was nearly new.  I then asked what the cost would be on a new hatch cover figuring it couldn't be much more than the repair cost.  Their next reply asked for pictures showing the problem area.  Because of the time difference, each of these exchanges is a day apart, so it's a dialog in slow motion.  Well, to my surprise and delight they said they would send me a complete new hatch, freight pre-paid, to replace the leaking one.  Now that's excellent service.  I have since received the replacement hatch, installed it, and so far so good!  This has been a nagging problem that will be good to have fixed.

Oil Leak in Engines:

There is a crankcase breather tube attached to the side of my engines (Cummins QSC) with a little fitting screwed into the side of the block.  There is a little streak of oil below the fitting, identical on both engines.  Last fall I was at the Ft Lauderdale boat show crawling around a brand new Grand Banks with the same engines, and guess what?  They were leaking the same way.  I guess someone on the Cummins assembly line didn't get the memo about sealing the threads.  This little leak is completely benign, but I prefer to keep on top of little issues like this, otherwise they can mask more serious issues.  The fix was easy - remove the fitting, clean it up, apply sealant, reinstall.  I'll check once the boat is back in operation, but I'm pretty confident this problem is fixed.

Holding Tank Level Sensor:

An issue developed over last summer where the "Empty" indicator for our holding tank never comes on.  We have started flushing the tank with some fresh water at pump out time to help keep accumulation to a minimum.  You pump out, then add 5-10 gal of fresh water, then pump that out.  Regardless, our "Empty" indicator still appears to be stuck, so fixing it went onto the winter fix-it list.

My initial plan was to remove the gauge, give it a good cleaning, and reinstall.  But that plan was quickly foiled by the mass of plumbing lines crisscrossing the top of the tank right where the gauge is located.  So, I went for plan B.  Last fall I flushed out the holding tank multiple times so it was as clean as it could be, and then added some pink antifreeze.  Vinegar is a popular solution to dissolve accumulated crust and crud in a black water system, so I decided to give that a try while the boat is still on the hard.  I first pumped out the antifreeze so the vinegar would not get diluted, then poured in 5 gal of vinegar to let it soak.  A few weeks later when I commissioned the water system, I pumped out the vinegar and guess what?  The Empty light came one!  Problem fixed, and hopefully our new regiment of flushing and re-pumping at the end of each pump-out will prevent a recurrence.

Dripping Drain:

Ever since installing the stabilizers, I've had an ounce or two of salt water below the starboard actuator after running is heavy seas.  My assumption has been that it was due to working of the actuators allowing water ingress somehow.  This of course was a significant blow to my ego and otherwise successful stabilizer installation.  But over the last season I finally tracked down the problem, and the hit to my ego will be much smaller than expected.

Behind the starboard actuator is a drain thru hull that serves the bilge pump and the condensate drain for the freezer.  When I installed the stabilizers I had to redo a complex section of this drain where the anti-siphon valve, Tee for the freezer drain, and thru hull come together.  It turns out this is the source of the water.  In heavy seas, water sloshes in the thru hull which is located just above the water line.  With water in the line, it drips.  In calmer seas or while sitting at anchor, the line is empty and there is no drip.

Fixing it, however, was much easier said than done.  This complex assembly is strategically located back in a tight corner behind a variety of stabilizer equipment, and barely reachable.  I made sure I can reach the valve shut off, but access to repair is another story.  After struggling blind to get it disassembled, I finally decided to bite the bullet and remove the stabilizer gear to gain better access.  I'm a slow learner on this front.  It's almost always faster to remove and reinstall equipment that is blocking good access to a job, than to struggle with poor access.  But I never seem to remember this until I've already done the struggling.  Anyway, I had to dismount the hydraulic oil tank which involved disconnecting and capping the return line before too much oil spilled out, then dragging the thing out of the way and zip tying it upright so it wouldn't fall over.  The tank is wicked (that's a New England technical term) heavy so all this was not easy.  Then I dismounted the control valve for the actuator which allowed it to be moved enough to the side to gain access.  From there I cut out the whole clump of plumbing, rebuilt in on the bench with new hose and new clamps, then reinstalled with the top still disconnected.  From there I closed the thru hull valve and filled the thing with water for a test.  With paper towels strategically placed all around the thing to quickly show any drips, I left it all for a few days.  On return, there were no drips, so I made the final connection and put all the other stuff back together.

And there you have it.  That was the list for the winter, and all-in-all, a pretty short list.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Let's get cruising.....

Enough of this talk about building new boats.  It's time to get the boat we have in the water and under way.  She's been snuggled away at Cape Ann Marina for the winter, and thanks to all the preparations for our trip south last fall (yes, the one that didn't happen), the boat requires very little this season.  It also helps that all our big projects are done.  Jobs like installing stabilizers, adding a water maker, redoing all the electronics, enclosing the fly bridge, and building decking and storage space in the lazarette.  This year all I have to deal with are the basic maintenance chores.   It's still a pretty long list, but it's part and parcel with boat ownership.  Here's what it looks like:

  • Replace all the zincs.  Between the hull, props, engines, stabilizers, and generator, there are probably 2 dozen zincs to replace.  Fortunately, this is one of the things I did in the fall, so I get to check it off the list without lifting a hand.
  • Replace all the water filters.   These get replaced every year, every 6 months, or as needed depending on the filter.  But we start the season with all new, and once again there are more of them than you might imagine.  Seagull filter for the sink drinking water, Aquapure for the flybridge (remnant from a water maker), strainer for the fresh water pump, charcoal filter that we fill the water tank through, strainer for the water maker, bulk filter for water maker, fine filter for water maker, strainer for salt water washdown.  I think that's all.
  • Fill the water tank and bleed all the air out of the system.  This alone takes quite a while since the pump needs to be primed and any back pressure in the system works against you and the pump.  You just need to leave faucets opened and wait for the water.  Then the hot water tank needs to be filled which is 20 gal so that takes a little time.  With all that done there was water again on board which is nice.
  • Fuel filters all get replaced in the spring, and there are 8 of them. 2 on-engine filters, one on each engine.  1 on-engine filter on the generator.  4 large Racors, 2 for each main engine, and 1 medium Racor for the generator.  The filters are a pain in the ass to change for two reasons.  First, there is always spillage, so lots of containers, diapers, and towels are involved.  Then once the filters are changed, all the air has to be bled out, and that's a giant nuisance too.
  • Impellers need to be changed on the main engines and generator.  These can and do last more than a year, but sitting out of service for 6 months is hard on them, and I think it's cheap insurance to just replace them.
  • Operate all the thruhulls.  They stiffen up if not operated and will become hopelessly seized if you don't work them.
  • Have the yard freshen up the bottom paint.
So far I've done everything except the on-engine filters on the main, and the impellers.  Once they are done and the bottom is painted, the boat can go back in the water.  Then it's time to go through and test all the systems to be sure everything still works, and fix the few things that surely won't.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Progress continues - Week 12

Build progress continues, but it's not quite as startling this time.  I guess it's no different than building a house where there is rapid apparent progress when the framing is being built, then progress appears to crawl during trim and paint.  Despite no signs of the swarm of workers, there is still noticeable progress.  In the last post I was a bit rushed and let the pictures speak for themselves.  This time I'll try to provide a bit more commentary.

The first photo below is taken in the salon facing forward.  The window-like thing in the floor is an access hatch to the engine room to facilitate installation and removal of the engine, generator, and other large equipment.  The tower-like structure in the middle is the exhaust stack where it passes through the salon.  Behind the stack, you can see that the floor drops down a step to the level of the galley and master stateroom.  The galley is on the left with a bar separating it from the salon.  On the far right are the stairs going up to the pilot house, and between the stairs and stack is the passageway that leads to the galley, master stateroom, and stairs down to the utility and engine room.

Salon, looking forward

In the next picture, we are standing in the galley looking towards the starboard side of the boat.  You can see the hole in the floor where the stairs descend to the utility room, and to the right you can see the end of the stairs ascending to the pilot house.  Far left is the door to the stateroom.

Galley, looking to starboard

Now we have stepped into the state room and are looking forward.  The bed will be off to the left, and ahead you can see the doorway into the guest state room and office area.

Master state room looking forward

 Here we are standing about where the bed will be located, looking to starboard.  The section on the left is the stairwell coming down from the pilot house.  To reach the forward compartments from the salon, you can cut through the master state room, or if it's occupied, you go up into the pilot house (which is over the master state room) and descend back down bypassing the master.  The doorway over to the right goes into the master head (that's the bathroom).

Master stateroom, looking to starboard
This next picture is a bit odd.  We are standing in the master head looking into the shower.  The showers are fiberglass units, presumably to keep the water inside without chance of leaks, and initially there is just a small access hole cut into it.  Later this will be opened up into a proper doorway.

Peering into the master shower

Here is the rest of the head where the vanity, sink, and toilet will live.

Master head
Below is the master stateroom, but now we are looking aft.  Through the doorway you are looking into the galley and the salon beyond that.  The bed will butt up under the portholes on the right.

Master state room looking aft

Now we are in the forward compartments looking forward.  This area gets split into two parts with a good sized sliding door between them.  To the left is the guest bunk, and to the right is the office.  Most of the time the slider will be open creating a single space, but anyone wanting to get some shut-eye in the guest bunk can have privacy anytime by closing the slider.  The forward doorway leads into the guest head.  There will be a second doorway as well so it can be entered either from the bunk or office.

Office and guest bunk area
Here's the guest shower, once again with just a small access hole cut into the fiberglass surround.

Guest head and shower

Below in the engine room we see the space starting to take shape.  The stringers were there before, but now much of the floor panels are in place.  These panels give the space a much more finished look and make the space much more usable.  Without them, there wouldn't be a flat surface anywhere.

Engine room with floor panels installed

Up in the pilot house not much has changed looking in this direction.  But it still gives a good sense of the space and the excellent visibility for operating the boat.  The opening in the floor to the right is the stairwell down to the forward compartments so they can be reached without cutting through the master stateroom.

Pilot house looking forward

But looking aft we start to see the rest of the space taking shape.  The dividing wall that we are facing separates the pilot house from the captain's bunk.  It will be an exception for us to have a hired captain on board, but we think this bunk will be very handy regardless.  On long passages, whoever is off watch can crawl in to sleep and still be right at hand if needed.  It also provides a 3rd bunk for guests allowing for two guest couples when desired.  There also is a little 1/2 bath back there which is real handy when you are on watch.  This bunk and bath has become known as the "tree house" by many owners.

Pilot house looking aft.

Well, that's all for now.  I think the next big milestone will be to see the boat deck and aft pilot house section go on, followed by the pilot house roof and fly bridge, but perhaps they will install the engines and generator first - I don't know.  It certainly would be easier to lower the gear into the engine room before the roof is on, but I gather they do it both ways, so we'll just have to see what happens next.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Continued rapid build progress - Week 10

The swarm continues to make incredible progress on N6062.  Perhaps it's because the flag ship N120 construction is finished and that boat is in the test tank.  I'm guessing that consumed a lot of resources over the past few years.

Anyway, here's a flood of pictures from almost 2 weeks ago.  I can't wait to see this week's progress...

The big news in these pictures is that the main deck is installed including the cockpit, salon, forward deck, Portuguese bridge, and the forward half of the pilot house.

Transom, looking forward

Cockpit with hatch to lazarette

Salon, looking forward.  Exhaust stack in center.

Looking aft and down into the salon

Looking aft through pilot house and captain's berth

Forward deck

Looking aft from forward deck

Salon, looking to port

Salon, looking to starboard.  Steps to pilot house on the left.

Master stateroom, looking to port.

Master stateroom, looking to starboard.  Door to head on right, and stairwell+door to forward compartments on left.

Stairwell down from pilot house and door to forward compartments on left

Office/guest stateroom looking forward to head

Forward shower, I think.

Guest stateroom

Office

Engine room, looking aft

Engine room, looking forward

Salon, looking aft through door to cockpit