First maintenance work this spring

First maintenance work this spring

7. April 2018 Off By Søren

It didn’t cross my mind until I was in the checkin queue in Dublin Airport; Did I still have paint in my face? Well, I have been using water and soap, but had not really taken a good look in the mirror, as focus had been somewhere else. It was ok with the paint, but a warm bath home was very much appreciated after 5 days on the boat with outside temperatures between 0 and 5 degrees Celcius, and cold bathing facilities in the marina. During Easter it is difficult for June to take days off, so we had decided she stayed home working – that is, earning money I could spend in Carlingford on the boat.

When plans change

The view from the restaurant in the marina

You might have noticed from previous posts, that maintaining a boat far from home is quite difficult, when you only have the vacations and bank holidays to spend at the boat. This week has been an example of this. According to the plan, the boat should have been back in the water by the end of my stay at the boat. I was at the boat in a flying visit 2 weeks before this trip to make sure the relaunch was possible. You can read about this here: Flying visit at the boat. But one thing is planning, another is reality. With a long todo-list, and short stays where it is not possible spending more days to find a solution to an unexpected issue, minor changes make plans go south real quickly. A miscommunication and 2 through-hulls, that didn’t behave, led to the boat not being relaunched.

Cruising is boat maintenance in exotic places
But don’t get me wrong. Even though it can be frustrating, the challenges that emerge and has to be solved is exciting and satisfying as well. All the way from studying a subject or technique, trying to plan so everything go as expected, and finding a solution when things go sideways. So far, and hopefully going forward, we have managed to find solutions to the challenges. And maintenance taking place far away has another quality. Someone has said, that cruising is just boat maintenance in exotic places. And this is exciting as you are closer to the local community, speaking with many different people, shopping in different shops than usual, and at the same time recognizing the environment of a marina across borders.

We might have been biting more off than we can chew this spring. As our experience with cruising and offshore sailing grows, we also get a better understanding of what really needs to be working well and in be a safe and secure state. Also, it can be annoying when having to use an emergency navigation light when motoring, or one of the halyards for the headsail can’t be used. Furthermore, we try to do as many improvements on the boat as we can, which means less to do when getting home to Denmark – there will be plenty anyways.

Only boat ashore with mast unstepped
Replacing masthead and anchor navigation lights are easiest done with the mast unstepped. When doing that, replacing the running rig (halyards) and a thorough check of the standing rig is an obvious thing to do as well. And now we are at it, we replace the wiring, for example the coax cable for the VHF and AIS as it looks really worn, and we think we have a weak signal on the VHF and AIS.

The mast was unstepped with a very old crane at the marina, but it went quite well. I pealed off a lot of old junk on and within the mast, and now it is waiting for one of the spring trips to the boat for replacing lights, wires and halyards.

By the way, we are the only boat ashore without the mast stepped. This is quite different from here in Denmark. In one of the local marinas boats hard standing with the mast stepped is not allowed.


Through-hulls and corrosion
It could be due to our experience this summer, where we thought we had a leak and that the problem was a through-hull (see Penzance, Pirates, and Panic). Now the last though-hulls and seacocks, which we don’t know the age of, must be replaced. They look like it is about time, which was also proven when one of the hose tails broke when trying to take of the hose.

We have chosen to go with TruDesign composit material for skin fittings and valves. No more corrosion. However, we ended up having skin fittings in bronze and the seacocks in TruDesign. This was the recommendation from a seminar I attended, as it gives a solid through-hull with strong threading to attach the seacock to. Furthermore, bronze is strong and has very little corrosion due to low content of zinc, as would have been the case with brass, even marine brass. Just as important, the hull is quite thick at the through-hulls, so the skin fittings did not leave enough threading for the seacocks. The TruDesign skin fittings are half a centimeter shorter then the bronze fittings, and this makes all the difference. I did not realize this when I went to the boat measuring the through-hulls, so I ended up without finishing the 2 through-hulls.

It did manage to apply antifouling, so all that is missing before being able to relaunch the boat is the two through-hulls and a bit of antifouling on top of them.

New trip required, where all has to go according to plan
With me back home, we have been planning on what to do with the missing through-hulls, when to relaunch the boat, and to get material for the mast. Should I buy here in Denmark, or order online and have it shipped to the marina? this depends on price, materials, and what I can bring with me on an airplane.

Because the boat wasn’t relaunched we have decided I will take an extra trip to the boat, as it is not passible to do on the trip already planned in the last weekend of April. So I will leave thursday afternoon. Thursday night I will install the new through-hulls and seacocks, and then the boat will be relaunched friday at high tide. I will go back Saturday morning. Right now, I’m planning to avoid a situation, where I will not be able to install the new through-hulls. This is both a bit tedious and a good challenge. I probably won’t be able to fully relax until I succeed installing the through-hulls and seacocks.

When the boat is back in the water, further items on the todo-list can be started:

  • Changing the motor control panel
  • Installing new AIS
  • Prepare and step the mast
  • Repair the headsail as it has a crack
  • …and a lot of other minor tasks

We are looking forward to this, and hopefully the weather shows better signs of spring at that time. In the clip below you can see how the temperatur difference from last year in Lissabon to this year in Carlingford has affected the working clothes.