The Mechanical Saga Continues

In case anyone was wondering what we’ve been doing every day, in lieu of cruising the beautiful Pacific Northwest coast, the month of May was spent doing “a few chores” on the boat. It turned into a fairly extensive refit. As it happens, I’m thrilled.

The extent of our refit is good news because owing to “adult supervision” we were able to do a more ambitious upgrade to the boat in one month than I could have ever done alone. Huge thanks to Nathanael Dieter of Good Marine Services for making it possible. He has worked with us nearly every day, and his experience and skills have proven invaluable. In addition to doing some beautiful work, Nathanael is also a patient mentor and a way-cool guy who has proven to be a good friend. Without his help, arriving cold as we did, it would have taken us years to achieve these results. Care for an example?

The upper picture shows a WiFi booster that we asked Nathanael to mount on the mast spreader. Alas, the boat was literally built around some of the wiring. There was simply no access. I wondered how he would get the wires into the cabin, and where we might mount the router. It was a work of art. He snaked the Ethernet cable down the conduit for the radar cable, cut a small aperture in the aft cabin bulkhead, and routed the cable in via a waterproof fitting and through another small hole in the back of our dish cupboard. The router and power supply is mounted against the top, as shown, and not only is the router invisible, but there are no wires in sight inside the cupboard! He managed to snake them into the space between the bulkheads. The only component in view is a toggle switch on our electrical panel marked, “INTERNET.” It was like watching him build a ship in a bottle. Previously, our iPads got spotty Internet, and only on the flybridge while standing on one foot holding an oar above our heads. As I write this, I’m seeing 65 Mbps data rate all over the boat. Beautiful!

That summarizes our last month. Nathanael has been doing “stuff.” Some of the tasks were our initiative, some were explicit in the pre-purchase survey, and some were necessary to bring the boat up to his standards. The latter category has become the once that gives me the most confidence. He tends to work on three or four tasks at once, depending upon parts requirements, access, and some factor best called, “temperment.” He often assigns me “helper” tasks as we go, and when not otherwise occupied I watch him carefully, in the awful knowledge that I will need to perform some of these jobs alone some day soon. It has been an education.

In retrospect, our boat was in pretty good shape for its age. The structure is sound, but the systems needed some “TLC.” Sufferers from insomnia may find relief in the following list of work that we have accomplished since our arrival. I write this confident that certain of my nautical friends will go over it with a fine-tooth comb, with enquiries about whether I used the correct foot-pounds of torque. You know who you are! The list:

PLUMBING

The faucets were replaced in the galley and shower;

Through-hull for the galley sink was replaced.New hoses were installed;

The water pump was tested, wiring upgraded and the mounting repaired;

The macerator mounting was repaired, hoses replaced, wiring repaired and the Y-valve was replaced. The associated through-hull was replaced;

A utility fresh water wash-down faucet was installed in the engine room;

The raw water wash-down pump for the ground tackle was mounted more securely, and associated hoses were replaced as required;

Hoses were extensively inspected and replaced as necessary, including:

  • Installation of a hose from the aft head floor drain to the sump;
  • Replacement of the forward head water inlet hose and waste hose;
  • The water tank interconnect hose was replaced;
  • The forward basin drain hose was replaced.
  • The forward head inlet hose was replaced.
  • The shower sump discharge hose was replaced.
  • The auto electric bilge discharge hose was replaced.
  • The engine exhaust hose from the engine to the muffler was replaced; and
  • The engine coolant hoses to the siphon break were replaced.

A broken raw water inlet fitting to the engine heat exchanger was replaced with a newly fabricated replacement;

The water tanks were drained. They were filled repeatedly with water and bleach, and allowed to sit for several days. The tanks were then drained, a commercial water purification product added, and drained a final time. A potable water filtration system is on order.

ELECTRICAL

All identifiable wiring in the electrical cabinet was labelled. Proper circuit protection was installed for the windlass and bow thruster. An upper and lower fuse panel were installed to facilitate better wiring for minor DC appliances;

All house batteries were replaced with new batteries, and the wiring to the batteries was repaired;

The windlass was tested. Wiring to the windlass was repaired. Foot switches were repaired and sealed;

Checked the voltage regulator and alternator function with engine running; and

The main ground buss was replaced, and engine room wiring extensively upgraded. An isolation switch was added for the house batteries and another switch to isolate the batteries from the inverter-charger.

SAFETY

The manual bilge pump was tested, hoses replaced, and the associated through-hull was replaced;

The smoke detector in main salon was replaced with new unit;

All fire extinguishers refilled and recertified. There is one ABC-type extinguisher in each compartment (V-berth, galley, aft suite), plus one for the tender;

A master alarm panel was installed, connected to sensors for propane/gasoline fumes, high bilge water level and engine room over-temperature;

A remote propane shut-off solenoid was installed and wired to a switch in the galley;

A carbon monoxide detector was installed in the aft suite; and

A redundant 2000 gallon per hour bilge pump and float switch were installed forward of the holding tank. Both bilge pump’s wiring was upgraded to be routed through a fuse block fed directly from the batteries.

APPLIANCES

A second VHF-FM whip antenna and two new base station radios were installed, such that there is a radio connected to an independent antenna at each helm station;

A second chartplotter (a Lowrance Elite 7Ti) was installed at the upper helm station, connected to a depth transducer, providing charting and depth displays at both helm stations;

The depth sounder was tested, and the mounting of the depth transducer was repaired;

The refrigerator was replaced with a NovaKool 8220 AC/DC unit;

The radar was tested satisfactorily;

A circuit-protected DC utility plug (12 VDC and USB) was installed in the aft suite, and another at the fly-bridge helm; and

A WiFi booster system and integral router were installed and tested, as detailed above. The installation was painless and the system was up and running within five minutes of connecting power. Big shout out to Coastal Marine WiFi for a beautiful product!

SYSTEMS/COSMETICS

Caulking was scraped and replaced from the shower enclosure and both head basins;

Broken mounting hardware for the access panel to the interior transom was replaced;

All evident metallic surface corrosion was treated with a wire brush followed by Fluid Film inhibitor;

The horn was serviced;

The heater and associated thermostats were tested. Wiring was upgraded. The heater fan for the aft suite was replaced;

The flange on the fresh air inlet hose to the heater was repaired;

The drip rates of the driveshaft coupling and the rudder packing gland were observed immediately upon return from a sea trial, and found to be satisfactory;

Engine fluids were all checked and replenished as necessary;

The stove/oven was cleaned and tested;

Repaired the aft navigation light;

Fuel stabilizer was added;

Assessed minor delamination reported on the transverse stringer in front of the engine, and filled it with epoxy;

Installed a precautionary “splint” on the sheathed rod to the transmission shifter, owing to observed chafing;

Improved the routing of engine room hoses, and the wiring in the engine room by installing a protective loom around the wire bundle;

The engine shut-off solenoid was mechanically serviced; and

Installed depth charge launchers on the aft deck to despatch those pesky geese that keep shitting in our dinghy.*

Finally, a word about that pesky thruster. Do things on boats often just fix themselves? Our wayward bow thruster, mentioned in our last post, seemed like it was going to require a haul-out, but is now mysteriously fixed. Nathanael bumped the switch. Voila! Thrust! I’m betting that it was fouled with something, but our neighbouring boat is having a diver go under for some work on Tuesday, so we will ask him to have a peek. Parts are on order anyway, but, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

There are a few tasks left, but the big ticket items are all done. To tell the truth, we haven’t kept track of the cost. We set aside a small duffel bag of money, anticipating some upgrades. We spent it.

With any luck, we’ll be off the dock by this time next week. Meanwhile, living in Nanaimo we suffer the view from our back deck…

*Just checking if anyone is still paying attention.

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