Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Keep The Water On The Outside, Part 1: Seacocks

Seacocks, 5/31/2006

Virtually every boat has holes in the hull. That sounds bad, but it's not. Many systems need a constant flow of seawater, so a thru-hull fitting below the waterline provides this flow via a seacock and hose. A seacock is simply a valve that protects the boat from flooding in case the hose fails. Open the valve, full water flow. Close the valve, no water.

Over time, it's fairly common for seacocks to become stuck (or "frozen") if they aren't maintained or at least operated regularly. In our case, the prior owner kept the boat on a lift, so he never closed the seacocks. As a result, our engine and head intake valves were frozen in the open position, which is not safe.

Cape Dory is known for rugged construction and quality components. Much of Cape Dory hardware, including the seacocks, came from Spartan Marine in Georgetown, Maine (the original home of Cape Dory). Sometimes, that quality has its drawback (read: "price"). I learned this very early on, when restoring these seacocks to operating condition. I briefly contemplated replacing the seacocks. Very briefly. Bronze is obviously not cheap, but the $238.00-per-seacock price tag made a repair effort seem like a great idea.

In the end, the repair work was not that difficult. While the boat was out of the water for bottom painting, I soaked and scrubbed them with CLR to remove lime deposits and WD40 to loosen them up. Eventually I was able to get them moving again, enough to suffice for the first season, and plan for more complete maintenance at next haulout. Now that the seacocks are functional, I've made it a habit to close them every time we leave the boat overnight. I sleep much better knowing that sturdy bronze fittings, rather than rubber hoses, are protecting the boat while I'm away.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bottoms Up

Bottom Paint, Bootstripe, 5/30/2006

The prior owner kept the boat on a lift, so never had a need for bottom paint. His maintenance records show that when he acquired the boat in 1996, he had a few minor bottom blisters repaired and had an epoxy barrier coat applied. That's a great benefit and works well to prevent future blisters.

Now that the boat will be in the water 7 months each year, it needs antifouling paint to prevent marine life (barnacles, algae, etc) from growing unchecked on the hull. Bristol Marine hauled her out during our first week, and applied the paint. They also installed a new zinc anode on the propshaft and repaired some gelcoat damage along the starboard side. The repair (of course) required repainting the entire bootstripe (the blue stripe along the waterline).

Monday, May 29, 2006

Drop The Charges

Battery System, 5/28/2006

[Note: backdated this post to reposition in chronological order.]

One more maintenance/repair post, then I promise to write about one of our weekend cruises last summer. I say that as if someone is actually reading this, and actually cares. ;-)

Our pre-purchase surveyor cautioned me about the battery system. There was a problem getting voltage, and it wasn't clear why. We sea-trialed ok, though, so I felt we could address the problem after taking delivery Memorial Day weekend 2006. Oops.

My friend Chris was visiting from Tennessee, and I was glad for the help to bring the boat home. Saturday of Memorial Day weekend arrived and Chris, Michele and I set out to pick the boat up at the prior owner's home. He was away for the weekend, but gave us permission to take her away while he was gone. Guess what, no power. We struggled for a little while and then gave up, resolved to return on Sunday and gut the battery system. We did just that: replaced both batteries, the battery switch, all battery cables, and the ground wire. It took all day and three trips to four different marine supply stores, but shortly after 4pm, the big old diesel engine roared to life.

In the next few minutes, I made a very risky decision. On a Sunday of a holiday weekend, with evening approaching and a 3 hour trip ahead of us, in an unfamiliar boat, in unfamiliar waters, navigating solely by compass and charts, Chris and I cast off and set a course for Shipwright Harbor, our boat's new home.

Fortunately, sunny and mostly calm weather made for a really nice cruise, and we made it with no real problems. Our only struggle was finding red #2 in Herring Bay, but eventually we got in ok and Michele was waiting for us at the slip, ready to catch our lines. We tied up, covered the boat, and headed over to Skipper's for dinner and margaritas. The bartender welcomed us to the neighborhood with a couple complimentary tequila shots, a gesture we surely won't forget!