Monday, September 14, 2009

Handrail Covers

More canvas! Pretty soon, our entire boat will be wrapped in blue canvas ;-) Mark made the two for the flybridge, and Michele made the two for the foredeck. These may seem a little silly or overkill to anyone who hasn't cared for teak... but these will probably save us a world of hurt when it comes to brightwork.

Hmm, I've probably lost track of how much we owe Mark for all his help getting Mariner II and her tender looking nice...

Deck Rot

During the rainy weekend of 8/22/2009, Michele and I discovered (to our deep dismay) that we had water coming into the cabin through the aft-most stanchion base on the port side. A lot of water. We woke on Sunday morning to drier weather, so we prepared to pull the stanchion base to rebed it.

The first problem was access to the underside of the bolts -- tucked behind a bulkhead between the hanging locker and the v-berth. It's a good thing Michele is petite! Even still, we found evidence of a prior repair effort: We removed the nut and washer from one bolt, only to find another nut behind the washer, firmly embedded in the underside of the deck, with no way for us to put a wrench on it. Ugh... We ended up using a hack saw to cut the head of the bolt off, and then pushed it through the bottom.

Once we lifted the stanchion, the news got worse: soaked balsa core. I used a pick and dug out as much wet core as I could. I was able to remove a circle of core several inches in diameter, leaving nothing but the fragile glass on each surface (upper and lower). Two estimates from Osprey Marine Composites at Herrington Harbor North offered two drastically different repairs: 1) cut open a section of the deck, replace the core, and reglass/gelcoat ($2600.00), vs. 2) plug the underside of the bolt holes, and back fill the deck with epoxy ($400). We went with the less aggressive repair, as much because we didn't want mismatched gelcoat as because of price. If this doesn't address the problem, I think we'll know within a year or two, at which point we'll go with the more aggressive repair. Aside from the initial shock of a $2600 estimate, I was very pleased with Osprey. Despite it being a small job, they did exactly what they proposed, on time, and under the estimated cost, and they communicated with me the whole time.

Here's a picture of the epoxy-filled void. It's a mess from the work, but the deck area cleaned up and doesn't look too bad, though we still have some cosmetic work to do on the gelcoat.

Michele and I both took September 4th off from work (to extend the holiday weekend), and used some of that time to redrill the holes for the stanchion base and rebed it. While we were at it, we did the #3 base on the port side as well, so the two aft stanchion bases are done. We had done the complementary two on the starboard side a while back, but we're now much more motivated to do the remaining stanchion bases, water & fuel fills, and the ladder bases!

Pram Canvas

The canvas cover for the dinghy is done! Mark, as usual, served as inspiration. We more-or-less copied his, except that ours doesn't come down the hull-sides as far as his. Our pram's hull is painted rather than varnished, so it doesn't need the same protection.

Most of the work was done at Mark's house over the weekend of 8/15, leaving just a few details for us to finish up the next week. Mark very generously helped with the whole process, and no doubt was as tired as we were after all the davit installation and canvas work!

Outlining the canvas:

Michele, on Mark's Pfaff, sewing the line into the channel around the edge:

The nearly-finished canvas:

Michele and I finished off the rest, which just involved adding a few grommets to tie down the canvas, and cutting/reinforcing holes in for the slings.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Windshield Canvas

Our windshield canvas is done! Something like, oh, maybe a year or two ago, we got an estimate for a new windshield canvas. $600. Uh, no. It's just a rectangle, right? Well, it turned out to be a bit more difficult than we thought (not a rectangle!). Anyway, it finally percolated up to the top of the to-do list, so Michele finished it last week. It looks perfect!

Dinghy on Davits!

Happy birthday to me!

On Wednesday the 19th, Mark picked me up at work (we both work near New Carrollton), we picked up the pram at his place, and took it down to Shipwright. Michele met us there, and a short time later, we had the pram on the davits. Canvas cover forthcoming!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dinghy Davits

Some time ago, Michele and I bought a Chesapeake Light Craft sailing pram, intending to carry it as our dinghy. Well, it took quite a bit of time, but we finally got the sail kit, had the kit finished, and had the pram modified to accomodate it (thanks, David!). With the pram ready, it was time to get davits installed on the boat.

I spent lots of time investigating options: Kato, Ocean Marine, Hurley, Forespar, St. Croix, and some others. I even went so far as to purchase and return Hurley davits; I liked the swim platform mount (no transom modifications), but in the end, decided the dinghy needed to be up higher to avoid swamping in rough seas. I finally settled on St. Croix removable davits, for a couple reasons:
  1. they're removable, leaving only the shoe on the transom, which is great when we don't want to take the dinghy with us,
  2. the swim platform is relatively unobstructed when the dinghy is launched, vs. rotating styles that have cross-supports,
  3. they're less expensive than most rotating styles.
Installation, however, is a bit of a concern. The transom top is not big enough to accomodate the shoes -- they'll hang off the back by about an inch. Plus, it is unsupported, so the weight of the dinghy will have a tendency to twist the transom top upward. St. Croix offers a "Sportfish" mount, which installs under the transom top, and connects down to the cockpit sole. However, because our transom top isn't big enough, it would not fit underneath. We'll need to find another way to reinforce it.

Mark Cline has the same davits on his Cape Dory, Brandywine. I studied his installation, and then with his help, did a similar install on Mariner II. Here's a series of pictures, along with my comments.

This is "before":

Holes drilled for the mounting shoes:

We fabricated a base for each of the shoes out of 1/4" starboard. This was both to give the shoe extra support where it will hang off the back of the transom, and to dress up the appearance. We cut the starboard plates on a table saw, with a 30° angle on the edges, and sanded them smooth:

Backing plate made out of 1/2" thick starboard. This is a temporary plate -- I made templates for much bigger backing plates that will extend from the hawse to the first stanchion on each side. The inside bolt from the hawse and all three stanchion bolts will also go through the backing plate. (Update: the permanent bigger plates are now installed.)


Here are the mounted shoes. It took some time to get the angle just right before we started drilling. We put the davit arms in the shoes, and tied a string to end of the arms to keep them at the right distance. It took three of us to manage this -- one person holding each davit arm and shoe, and one keeping the end of the arms spaced apart and marking the positions.

This is "after":

Mark's feeling, based on his experience, is that this is sufficient in the short term, but that I'll want to either glass in some reinforcement under the transom top, or find some other reinforcement. I'm considering running a shroud cable from the underside of the transom cap down to the deck. That would be an easy installation: I could attach an eye directly to the center bolt of the plate, attach the turnbuckle & cable, and run it to a pad eye (through-bolted and backed) on the deck by the scuppers.

Now we just need to get the davit rigged, and hang the dinghy.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Replaced exhaust elbow
Replaced belts

Dick Vosbury had been to the boat during the week to replace the exhaust elbow and the belts, following last week's assessment. Take a look at the old elbow -- wow -- I'm glad we didn't wait any longer on that! The inside actually looks ok, but the outside is in rough shape.

The bridge alarms are still not working though. I'll need to call him to see if that repair is still pending, or if he just forgot about them.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Last winter, while visiting Michele's parents, we went to the Grove City outlets north of Pittsburgh. I found a phenomenal deal at the Black & Decker outlet on a new-in-box 1000 watt inverter (model #VEC049DCB): $45. I could not resist. I finally finished installing it today, after Dick Vosbury left.

The inverter is under the bench seat, just above the house batteries. Inverters draw a lot of current for continuous periods, so they must be mounted very close to the batteries. Ours is close enough that I could use the 3' long #6 AWG cables that came with the inverter. The installation included a terminal fuse block on the postive battery post (including a 200 amp fuse), and a new 250 amp bus bar for the boat's main DC ground cables.

I actually had all of this in place last week. One problem: We would need to tear up the bench seat every time we wanted to turn it on or off. Plus, I'm certain we'd forget at some point to turn it off -- out of sight, out of mind. Fortunately, this inverter includes a jack for a remote on/off switch (model #VEC003). I ordered one online for about $20, and finished installing it today. I put it on the side of the helm just below the A/C control, where we can reach it from the galley or the main cabin area. I had to cut a 1.5" x 1.5" square hole in the wood to recess the control circuit. I always have a little nervous breakdown when I make permanent changes like this, but I think it came out ok.

Michele already bought a little crockpot for making dinners underway. Next purchase: electric blender. Anyone want to buy a slightly used hand crank blender??

A Visit from Dick Vosbury

Word on the Bay is that Dick Vosbury (of Vosbury Marine) is the man to call if you have an old Volvo engine. I've been trying for quite a while to figure out a time to have him look over our engine in Mariner II. Lately, my concerns have been increasing as I've noticed a few new problems: rust in a few areas, weeping injectors, and continuing shaft movement at the stern tube that I've never really liked.

For the most part, he didn't see any serious problems.
  • Rust and corrosion on the exhaust elbow is a concern, he recommended replacing it. New elbow is on order, and he'll put it in next week.
  • He considers the shaft movement well within tolerable range, and thinks we don't need to do anything further with it. This surprised me, but that's what Hartge said too, so maybe I'll convince myself to believe it.
  • Rust around the water pump can just be sanded and repainted. The pump was leaking at some point, but it appears that I stopped the leak when I replaced the gasket.
  • Injectors were leaking. He put washers on them (they were missing), tightened them down, and said that probably will take care of it.
  • Need to have the heat exchanger and oil cooler removed and cleaned, but we can wait until winter to do that.
  • The engine warning buzzer on the bridge isn't working. He checked it, and seems to need a new alarm circuit. He's going to replace it next week, when he returns to do the exhaust elbow.
  • Finally, he's going to replace the belts next week as well.
Overall, not bad.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gasket Replacements

Sea Strainer Gasket, Impeller Gasket

With Mark's help, we spent some time diagnosing the overheat during our trip from Mattawoman Creek to Colonial Beach. Neat trick: stuck a garden hose in the engine water intake, wrapped it with duct tape to seal it up, and turned it on. Water immediately blasted out of the sea strainer lid! As I feared, the gasket under the lid was shot. The consequence is that, as the water demand increased when I throttled up, the impeller began sucking in air through the bad gasket instead of sucking sea water.

We made a quick trip to Napa (in Mark's rented golf-cart!) where I bought a pack of gasket material, including various types and thicknesses. I had read somewhere (the Trawlers and Trawlering mailing list, I think) that cork was a good material for sea strainer lids, so I cut a new gasket out of the thinnest cork in the pack. In addition, I replaced the water pump gasket. I had opened the pump to inspect the impeller, and the old gasket looked like it was in pretty rough shape. I had several spare paper gaskets, but it turned out that the bolt pattern was different. I punch holes in the right spots using a paper punch, and put it in place.

After installing the new gaskets, the hose test looked good. We cleaned up, and ran out for a test underway, which showed a steady 170° for 30 minutes at a high cruise speed. Simple gasket failure -- should have had a spare on board! Actually, should have replaced it long ago. Oh well, lesson learned, but at least we're good to go for tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Waxed, Repacked Rudder

Clean, Wax, Repack Rudder, 3/28/2009

Washed and waxed the hull (below the rubrail) over the weekend. Black streaks from rain run-off continue to plague me. A simple wash and wax didn't really do a very good job of removing the streaks. I'm not really keen on doing another cleaner/restorer pass, so this will have to do for this season. In the future, I think I'll try a more aggressive cleaner in these areas. Another guy in the yard used softscrub to remove the streaks, and it looked good. I'm sure it removes wax, but I'd follow with wax again anyway. I didn't bother washing and waxing the transom at this point, since I didn't want to get the unfinished swim platform wet.

I also repacked the rudder stuffing box, again, since it's still leaking. I was new at that chore last time, so maybe I messed it up. Or maybe the bearing needs replacing... but thought I'd give the repacking another try first.

Platform Scrubbed Clean

Scrubbed Swim Platform, 3/16/2009

We plan to be away over the weekend, so I wanted to finish cleaning the swim platform before then, so it would have nearly two weeks to completely dry before we start coating it with Cetol.

I mixed up TSP and bleach in a bucket with water (gloves are a must), and thoroughly scrubbed the platform: top, bottom, sides, and in the slats. I used a scrubby pad with a little abrasiveness and really worked in the cleanser, thoroughly rinsed, and recovered with our winter cover. It looked really good -- very clean, mildew free. I'm optimistic it will hold up better.

Sanded Swim Platform (Again)

Sanded Swim Platform, March 2009

One of the more difficult, labor intensive jobs we've tackled was refinishing the swim platform. Sanding it to bare wood was very difficult work, mainly because of the slats. Michele put a lot of effort into this last year, so we were especially sad to see the finish failing after such a short time. Within months, we noticed black spots spreading throughout the finish. The spots are mildew, growing beneath the Cetol. In addition, the Cetol was peeling off in various places.

My guess is it failed for two reasons: 1) we didn't adequately prep the wood, and 2) we didn't apply enough Cetol. Ducks using our platform as their toilet probably doesn't help, either!

I took two weekends in early March and began the process again. I sanded the entire top surface to bare wood, and did a light sanding over the rest of it (inside the slats, and the underside). I plan to do a more serious cleaning of the top surface, and let it thoroughly dry before starting again with Cetol.