Winter Projects for Cruising

It’s been a typical Northwest winter, thankfully. The precipitation in December was perfect for laying a deep snowpack on the mountains. The torrential rains have exposed even the smallest leaks on Satori. The window to be outside on the weekdays are limited to early mornings and lunch breaks. Some days I run the Dickinson stove in combination with the space heater. Other days it’s warm enough just to keep the space heater running nonstop, but raining enough to keep me harvesting mildew on a weekly basis. Projects are still getting done, although a little bit slower than usual. I’m on track for a ocean sailing, and have still enjoyed a bit of cruising around the Salish Sea. I don’t venture very far from the marina because it’s cheaper to stay tied up to the dock, and it’s a quick trip to find the hardware I need to upgrade Satori. The lack of sun and inconsistent winds means having to charge the batteries from my engine, portable generator, or at the dock. It also means having to heat with diesel fuel, which is a much higher cost than electricity. I’m limited to how much data I can use while not connected to land based internet. I could pay more, but I don’t mind remaining here while I am still engrossed with boat projects. I have one more big project to finish and then I’ll try to head back to working while cruising. The boat project has been very slow, but the results will be rewarding once it’s finished. I am very close to having all of the rigging completely replaced, with only halyards and whisker stays remaining. Most of the winter projects are to prepare Satori for trade-wind sailing in the Pacific Ocean. If I was just sailing around the Salish, I wouldn’t need any of these modifications. I could wait until I get further south to complete these projects, but it’s probably better that I address them now while I have the money, resources, and time.

Snatch blocks for trysail or spinnaker sails
Snatch blocks for trysail or spinnaker sails
New bobstay
New bobstay

Immediately after finishing the engine project I went straight to getting an inventory, and gathering and estimates on new hardware for the boom. The hardware was pretty straightforward, but I was a little concerned about the load limits. I’m not very talented at this kind of math unfortunately.  I did a semi-calculated estimate on the loads, and chose hardware I thought suitable for the job. The winches were the easiest choice. I went for alloy drums but self-tailing in size 14. The self-tailing choice was because of my experience on the foredeck. Often you’re making three points of contact while using only one hand to adjust lines. One hand is keeping me balanced, while the other is doing the reefing. For the reefing blocks I decided to use Schaefer Series ,with a working load limit of 1500 lbs. They come with ball bearing sheaves which should reduce line friction, and make it easier to reef most of the way down before finishing with the winch. The rope clutches are Lewmar DC1 series, which has a working load limit of 1100 lbs. The blocks on either side of the boom equalize the load, so a combined working load of 3000 lbs. I have taken into consideration the square footage of the sail and the force being distributed by all of the sail slugs along the mast, combined with the three load points of the head, tack, and clew. The chances of the load ever achieving even half of the load limit of the blocks and rope clutches are pretty low I think.

Lewmar 14 self tailing winches with alloy drums
Lewmar 14 self tailing winches with alloy drums

I’ve decided to use Amsteel for the reefing lines to keep the lines as strong and durable as possible, plus to try out a special splice that seems to be perfect for reefing and topping lift lines. Instead of buying yacht braid (also known as double braid) of entirely polyester, I was able to obtain a fair amount of Amsteel for a third of the price, which enabled me to purchase dyneema chafe sleeve and have some really trick lines for about the same price as good quality yacht braid. Instead of having a rope sheath on the entire line, I decided to only use it for areas where I will be winching and inside of the rope clutch where it is locked closed. The bury splice I used is uncommon and very time consuming splice, but is also a great way to join a double braid to single braid. You must tease out four inches of the braided sleeve, then individually thread each length of the braid into the twelve-stranded core. I could buy some cheap yacht braid line and have been done much sooner but this method reduced friction when pulling down the clew of the sail, and prevents the sail from becoming chafed and worn from the line. The life of the line could be as much as a decade or more due to the UV resistance of Dyneema. Time and experience will determine if this is the most effective line system for reefing.

Ready to splice
Ready to splice
Amsteel with Dyneema chafe sleeve, bury splice
Amsteel with Dyneema chafe sleeve, bury splice
Complete bury splice
Complete bury splice

While working on the boom I decided to also address some other rigging that has been on the list for some time. I managed to install the running backstays for supporting the forestay when running downwind under staysail or storm jib alone. They are a simple splice with thimbles on either end, and attached to the mast tangs with quick links. It took some serious consideration to decide how to make the attachment to the mast. There are so many options, but none seemed as simple and bomber as a stainless quick link. On the bottom end I am using a basic 2:1 block system that leads fairly to the jib sheet winch for getting the proper tension. The standard attachment is to a tang at the bottom thru-bolt of the aft stanchion, which leads perfectly to the sheet winch. Many people seem to use fiddle blocks and a cam cleat to set the tension, but I decided to simplify the system and use a more simple way of how they will be deployed. When running downwind, the leeward side is where the sails are flying. To support the mast at the head of the staysail, you deploy the running backstay on the windward side. The only thing to be aware of is if the mainsail is in use, then you need to make sure the runners do not interfere with the boom coming around.

Running backstay
Running backstay

As part of the boom overhaul, I have replaced the topping lift using 1/4″ Amsteel. Instead of using a block on the boom end, I have opted for a low friction ring. This will help reduce any chafe on the mainsail, yet provide plenty of strength to support the boom or if I need to use the boom for lifting or stepping the mast. The original topping lift was a 2:1 setup, and nearly impossible to raise the boom with the mainsail already deployed. Even when I released the tension from the sail by easing the traveler and mainsheet, I still could not get the boom up to mate with the reefing cringle. The topping lift was also rigged on the opposite side of the boom from the reefing lines.  Now I no longer need to go back and fourth to manage the boom. I simply head to the windward side of the boom  and all of the lines for reefing and raising, or lowering the boom and shaking a reef are consolidated.

Amsteel topping lift with chafe sleeve for the masthead connection
Amsteel topping lift with chafe sleeve for the masthead connection

I have also decided to replace the sheet lead blocks with something more substantial. I’ve been pushing Satori quite hard and as part of the learning process, I’ve discovered that her original lead blocks are now insufficient. They were old Schaefer blocks, and one of the pins stops had already failed from the screw not being tightened properly. The new cars have more contact with the tracks, and spring loaded pin stop, and a much better setup for leading the sheets aft. I replaced the existing jib sheets, which now provide a very strong attachment to the clew via a soft shackle and eye splices on both sheet lines. I will keep the existing sheets as spares in case the new ones fail, or I need extra line for something else.

Gärhauer LLC-3 sheet lead cars
Gärhauer LLC-3 sheet lead cars

Last summer I attempted to adjust the mainsail  foot tension using the outhaul system that came with Satori. It was a simple external 3:1 system with steel wire that makes a few turns and then runs along one side of the boom to a block. The whole system was full of friction, and did not work properly. I replaced the wire with Amsteel line to reduce some of the friction, but that did not seem to work. I decided that the whole system was just not meant to be adjusted more than once, while at the dock. The foot of the sail stayed tight even in light winds, so the sail shape was compromised and the outhaul proved to be useless. After reviewing a few different options, I decided the best approach would be to remove the end cap to gain access to the inside of the boom. Then I would be able to cut the entrance and exit block holes and make the new outhaul completely internal. This would reduce the clutter along the boom to three lines on each side, and make the outhaul adjustment available at the gooseneck with a simple cleat to secure the bitter end. I used the Harken formula for a 6:1 advantage.

Harken 6:1 Outhaul
Harken 6:1 Outhaul
Internal outhaul system
Internal outhaul system

I asked friends and people online about cutting into my boom. “Simple”, they said. First I had to cut into the slide track so the block insert could fit through, then cut through the actual wall of the boom. Both cuts needed to be precise in width and length, but also allow the sheave pin rivet to clear. This meant I had to cut grooves to allow the sheave pin rivet to pass through the first cut, then slide forward a quarter inch, and finally slot the block into position. Before I made any cuts, I also had to figure out how to remove the end cap that had been attached to the boom for almost forty years. None of the screws came out with a screw driver, so they all had to be drilled out with a cobalt bit. When I installed the end cap, I just added one set screw to hold the cap in place. Next time getting the cap off will be cake.

Internal outhaul sheave just after completing the slot
Internal outhaul sheave just after completing the slot

Fortunately the internal rigging was pretty straightforward. I already had an attachment point inside the boom, using the mainsheet bail thru-bolt. The original install did not include a compression sleeve so I made sure to oversize the hole and install the sleeve with the outhaul rigging attached. The lines to secure the internal outhaul are spliced Amsteel. The handling line will be 5/16″ yacht braid. The attachment to the mainsail will also be Amsteel soft shackle and a velcro webbing strop to keep the pulling angle low and prevent any excess load on the foot sliders. Instead of repainting the boom, I decided to just clean up the work I did, apply zinc chromate on the raw aluminum parts, and paint with a semi glossy aerosol paint. I plan on removing the mast in the near future, so I will wait when I have a place and good weather so I can prep and paint the spars with more detail and permanence.

Completed outhaul system with a simple jam cleat near the gooseneck
Completed outhaul system with a simple jam cleat near the gooseneck

Installing the cheek blocks was pretty straightforward. I already had the set location from the previous reef turning blocks, so I just needed to tap the threads again and drill the additional holes. I marked the location on the opposing side of the boom, and then added the boom end blocks. The rope clutches and winches took 1/4″ fasteners, so I drilled the winches first so I could use it as a guide to leading each line fairly without causing interference. The rope clutches were mounted in a cascade with the top closest to the winch, and each preceding one further back. This allowed the lines to run fairly close together and prevented the clutches from sitting too high or too low on the boom. Because the winches are both right hand turn, the rope clutches on one side cascades up, but the other side cascades down. I’m glad I measured and checked the line routing instead of assuming that the rope clutches mirror on either side.

Rope clutches for topping lift and reefing
Rope clutches for topping lift and reefing

Back when I overhauled the bathroom and plumbing, I did not install a direct overboard for the toilet because everywhere in the Salish Sea seems to require a pump out. The few times I’ve pumped overboard have been when crossing the Straits where it’s legal and less of a chance of causing environmental harm. There is a proposed no discharge zone for the American Salish Sea, which includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca where I would normally cross to enter the San Juan Islands. Currently the law allows for discharging of waste three miles from land, so is very limited to most places in the American Salish Sea. While I’m here at Shilshole I pay for a weekly pump out, and stop off at the pump stations while cruising away from the marina. While passage making I want to be able to pump directly overboard, but also be completely safe and coast guard compliant. To be safe, I need to make sure the discharge still passes through a vented loop before passing through the boat. I also need to make sure that the junction from the vented loop does not pass effluent back into the toilet when pumping overboard, or allow the overboard system to pass into the holding tank. Finally I need to make sure the Y valve can be locked so it meets Coast Guard regulations. This means I have to use two Y valves; one for switching from holding tank to overboard, and the other to switch the flow that passes over the vented loop from the holding tank when pumping overboard, to the flow from the toilet. The cost was a little more than $120 to add a direct overboard, but now I have a very reliable and legal septic system.

Overboard discharge valve, showing the overboard selection
Overboard discharge valve, showing the overboard selection

I bought and installed a freshwater pump two years ago but the solid state variable speed sensor has already failed. It’s a Jabsco Sensor-Max 5 gph, 40 psi VSD pump and has been great for on demand water. The pump sensor couldn’t control the pump speed so the pump cycled on and pressurized the plumbing until the hot water pressure relief valve opened on the hot water tank (about 100 psi). I didn’t realize this until I observed the inline pressure gauge ramp during one of it’s malfunction cycles. Fortunately the whole system is pex so it can handle the pressure, but I’m losing a little bit of hot water every time this happens.  I bought a replacement pump, and am in the process of getting the old pump replaced or repaired under the three-year warranty. I hot swapped the pump with almost the same Jabsco pump (upgraded model) while I get the warranty squared away. Now that I have an exact spare in my inventory, I can use the diaphragm pump to run pressurized seawater for the galley and to wash/rinse above deck. I decided to remove the old manual freshwater pump from the galley sink, and replace it with a non-mixing faucet. This spring I will add a faucet hose connection in the cockpit so I can connect a hose and wash down the decks, clean the anchor and chain, or even clean up a mess from cleaning fish. I will also add a freshwater hose connection so I have both seawater and freshwater in the cockpit.

On demand freshwater and seawater faucets
On demand freshwater and seawater faucets

I have a few more tasks before the boom is completed. I need to add an additional boom bail for the preventer and soft vang. I need to add more fairleads to the boom to prevent the lines from sagging or catching on the dodger. I have the second reef lines to splice and install. Eventually I need to plug the original holes and repaint the boom. For now I will try out the new rigging, and make sure it’s all working the way I want it to. In the next couple of months I will replace all of the halyards, and that will complete the rigging overhaul. I replaced the bobstay, but still have the whisker stays and chainplates to replace. I will wait until I haul Satori out of the water to make it a simple project. The next wave of projects will not be until April or May, where I will put Satori on land, remove all of her bottom paint, and fair her hull. She will need to be smooth for her ocean voyage so she is able to reach hull speed and still sail at a reasonable speed in light winds. The deck drains will be repaired so they no longer leak inside of the boat. Finally her prop shaft will be overhauled and if my budget allows, I will install a feathering propeller to help reduce drag in the water. Until then I will peck away at many of the small project that need completion for blue-water sailing. We’re getting close to the left turn…

The Rise of Humpty

Winter has arrived. Nighttime temperatures have hovered around freezing at night. The monsoon rains are here in between the cold spells, and the winds can blow upwards of thirty knots between weather systems. Days are short, and we spend a lot of time inside. Today was the darkest day in nine years. I run the diesel stove during the afternoon to warm up the cabin for the evening, and leave the AC heater running nonstop. The project for this winter is to repair Humpty (Satori’s engine) and hopefully prevent catastrophic failure in a remote place. It has been a pretty big undertaking repairing the corrosion on Satori’s engine. It’s also exciting to give a thirty year old engine a new life. Instead of watching it slowly bury itself into a shallow grave, I’ve seen a kind of resurrection. The issues are not beyond repair, but there is no guarantee that the engine will last very long either. There were times where I questioned the amount of effort to the amount of reward that was gained. It doesn’t matter really because I love engine repair, and this process has given me new insight to the condition of the engine. I would rather it wasn’t inside of a confined space, but I’ve adapted and allowed myself to be at peace with it. Eventually I learned how to do it without working too hard, getting frustrated, and avoiding injury. I learned how to keep the tools, solvents, cleaners, paints, and parts cleaned and organized without cluttering the boat. Living on a sailboat and working on a sailboat at the same time can be unforgiving. It wears on you over time, and is difficult to think about anything else. Fortunately the reward to such effort is confidence that the engine will continue to run . The cooling system overhaul eliminates compounding problems. By eliminating any leaking, I have eliminated rapid corrosion. I have also added other means to help eliminate corrosion through regular maintenance. Through a collection of wire brushes for a drill, angle grinder, and Dremel I was able to get the majority of the surface rust off of the engine block, and the external components. By replacing the rubber parts, I can trust that the connections are no longer leaking or risk hose failure. The original hose clamps have been upgraded to Awab clamps, which are less prone to rusting and can last a very long time . The attachments to the hoses will be cleaned and prepared to ensure a tight, waterproof seal. Each part has been cleaned and polished. Some have been clear coated with a high-temp enamel. Others have been painted red to match the engine. Copper has been left to create it’s own protective oxide layer. Part of the engine block has been brought down to as little surface scaling as possible, and then prepared for several coats of red paint. The second phase involves having to prep the engine, removing the rear bolts on the rear mounting bracket, then reassembling the engine. The last post I left off with the front mounting bracket being put back on and the engine being painted underneath. The biggest part being the bolts. I inventoried the bolts and assumed that the ones needing replacement would eventually come out, even if it meant drilling them out. A total of fifteen bolts were completely replaced. It’s been six weeks since I started this project and I’m at ninety-nine percent to completion.

Bukh DV 36 ME engine label
Bukh DV 36 ME engine label

Each day at lunchtime I would choose the next errand to run on behalf of the engine. Tacoma Screw, MFCP, and Stone Way Hardware are my most popular stops. Tacoma Screw handles bolts, hell-coil kits, the occasional socket, special drill bit, solvent, adhesive, and various odds and ends. Stone Way covers the wire brushes, paints, paint brushes, rust removers, tarps, rags, and other random hardware store items. MFCP is the hose, pipe, and pipe fitting place. Tacoma Screw and MFCP are a combination of wisdom rarely found in the maritime industry in Seattle these days. Right after work is when I usually tackle the engine. I’ll work on a bolt, or clean a part, wire brush the engine block, and peck away slowly. Once I hoisted the engine off of the rear bracket I had hit phase two. From the end of October I had most of the parts figured out, and placed an order for a new water pump. The old one will be a project for the future. I will need to order a new shaft and rebuild kit for it, but that can wait. The other order was to French Marine in the UK for a few small Bukh parts. I should have bought more gaskets a long time ago, but I think at the time I was in denial about the situation. Now I have decided that I want to be able to service parts on a regular schedule and pay closer attention to it’s needs.

Engine lifted from the cockpit
Engine lifted from the cockpit

IMG_5753

Bukh transmission and engine connection. Repainted at the mount level
Bukh transmission and engine connection. Repainted at the mount level

The biggest part of this project was tackling the corrosion. I can only remove a small area at a time due to the dust and physical exertion. I wear a respirator, gloves, and eye protection but I still get metal splinters in my gloves and dust up the nostrils. There are little wires falling off the brush all the time so I have to make sure to vacuum often. I have the drill for the majority of the brushing, which is great if you have two batteries to swap. For bigger areas and for paint removal I use the angle grinder with a burly twisted and gnarled wire head. I must be very careful not to contact anything but the engine, and make sure to keep a controlled grasp at all times. Finally for polishing and hard to reach areas I use the Dremel. After each time I tackle the engine, I end up having a good sized to clean up. Every day after I’m done, I clean parts and put everything away. This keeps living on the boat and working on the engine manageable. Taking photos is very helpful so I can study areas and take notes about how to accomplish each small portion of the engine and parts. Digging into the engine has really taught me a lot about it, and will prepare me in the future when I need to tackle it again. Most of all it’s taught me never to neglect a diesel engine.

Progress removing rust from the engine block. Detail showing the rear mounting bracket before removal
Progress removing rust from the engine block. Detail showing the rear mounting bracket before removal
Tackling engine corrosion with an angle grinder and heavy wire head
Tackling engine corrosion with an angle grinder and heavy wire head
Finally removed the rear mounting bracket to gain access for cleaning iron oxide scale
Finally removed the rear mounting bracket to gain access for cleaning iron oxide scale
Rear engine mounting bracket where most of the corrosion occurred.
Rear engine mounting bracket where most of the corrosion occurred.

To remove the rear bracket, I needed to first tarp the cockpit so I could pull the floor hatch and setup the engine hoist. Only a centimeter in height was needed to prop it up and relieve stress on the bracket to remove the bolts. Before resigning to chopping the bracket bolt heads off, I decided to try a set of six sided impact sockets, lots of aero-broil, some oxy-fuel heat with a jewelers tip to break the bolts free. Out of the three bolts remaining I only had one bolt head shear off. The remaining came off with an extendable half-inch ratchet and impact socket. Getting the bracket off was a landmark achievement since the remaining work was cleaning the corrosion underneath, and repainting the effected areas. Removing the sheared bolt was accomplished the same way as the front bracket. I tried to use an extractor but it was seized beyond removal, so I added a double-stacked heli-coil. This time was a little more trouble getting the coils to line up so the bolt would thread to the end. After a couple of tries I finally ended up with suitable threads. I finally have a short list to get Humpty the engine back together again. I finished removing the scale from the engine over a weekend and by the following Monday had treated the bare surface with phosphoric acid (Ospho). The next day I completed most of the engine block painting. There were a few remaining steel parts that received a clear coat once back on the engine. There is less red paint than the original engine, but at least the hoses were not painted red like before. I ended up buying a handful of HPS brand reducing couplers made of silicon. These couplers help eliminate too much of a size change between pipe connections. Each one is about fifteen dollars, and I could get them on Amazon with free delivery in less than a week. To get the hoses and couplers onto the pipes, I used alcohol between the pipe and hose to ensure that there was much less friction for sliding. Once the alcohol evaporates the hose is tightly bonded to the pipe, so the hose clamps are just to allow for increased pressure. There are more parts but there is also less likelihood of the seals leaking due to the quality of each connection. I added double hose clamps on a couple of places where a single clamp is not strong enough to prevent movement. Where there are two clamps there is a very tight seal, which gives me confidence that the engine will stay dry and corrosion free.

Cooling system parts
Cooling system parts
One of many photos, which I used to decide where to focus the scale removal
One of many photos, which I used to decide where to focus the scale removal
Oil pan with new paint. The Ospho coating is showing in some areas and perfectly acceptable
Oil pan with new paint. The Ospho coating is showing in some areas and perfectly acceptable
Original seawater pump showing the reused fittings
Original seawater pump showing the reused fittings
Brand new Johnson seawater pump with thirty year old refurbished fittings
Brand new Johnson seawater pump with thirty year old refurbished fittings

I bought the water pump from a local dealer of just water pumps. The owner and co-owner of Marelco have been in the maritime industry a long time and were very helpful with discussing possibly rebuilding the old pump. I’ve decided to buy a new pump again when the old one fails. Too much hassle for saving a hundred bucks. I only needed a couple of spare o-rings, and plate gaskets. They threw in the gaskets and I picked up a few 3″ o-rings at Tacoma screw. I wasn’t sure if the water pump had fittings already, but also had doubts that I would get off that easy. Sure enough, I had to reuse the old ones. I was able to remove the fittings from the old pump, bathe them in CLR overnight, and polish them the next day.  They were like brand new again. Like the other copper fittings, they had withstood thirty years with only a little calcium buildup inside the pipes. One the same trip as the water pump, directly across the street Tacoma Screw was able to supply me with the dreaded long list of replacement bolts, nuts, and washers. The mounting bracket and exhaust flange only cost $22 to get hot tanked and bead blasted at the machine shop. They both came out so good that the machinist suggested that I get moving on treating the steel as soon as possible to prevent immediate oxidization. I did an Ospho treatment, let dry overnight, then started painted with Krylon. By today I had the engine mounted and aligned back to the prop shaft flange. Only a single gasket and coupler is preventing me from starting the engine. Sometime this week I will celebrate this achievement and move on to upgrading the boom. No rest for the weary.

I double clamped the seawater vented loop. I didn't like connection with singles so I made this bomber. Yes I know they are not opposing Captain OCD.
I double clamped the seawater vented loop. I didn’t like connection with singles so I made this bomber. Yes I know they are not opposing Captain OCD.
Heat exchanger end cap replacement
Heat exchanger end cap replacement
Showing the corrosion and original oil pipe prior to repair in 2014
Before: Showing the corrosion and original oil pipe prior to repair in 2014
Mounting bracket painted and installed after cleaning corrosion
After: Mounting bracket painted and installed after removing corrosion