Friday, October 31, 2014

D-Day - 13 : It is alive !

"and the light shines in the darkness". John 1:5.

It is alive, damned creature of Darkness...
 Westerbeke 40
Happy Halloween.
And it spurrrrrs...

Not out of the wood just yet. I was still using the electric lift pump and I need to disconnect it, and redo some plumbing. But at least, this is a good sign. The rest should be a slam dunk.
I might even be able to sail this week-end.
Really ?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

D-Day - 14 : The dark days.

Dark days.
A really cool song from Coal Chamber. Let's give it a spin while writing this.
Well. I was hesitating to start this fuel job. Eventually, I told myself, if I do it, I do it now, while I still have some time if something goes wrong.
Well. Smart and not that smart.

freaking mess in the cockpit. Tons of bags full of fuel.
Already used 4 rolls of paper, and counting....

I got carried over with my change of water pump that went pretty well, and I am 90% convinced it is working alright (hard to be sure when the engine does not start, but only cranks).
Anyway, three days now I am living in the middle of the diesel fumes, the boat fully open - and it begins to be cold at night. Between this and the mess of the tools and the diesel spills everywhere, moral is quite low.

Experimental system with an a small electric lift pump.
Works well to give me some cues about where the system is failing.

This preparation would have been always like that, one step forward, 2 steps backwards, a real roller coaster. Now, we are at 2 weeks of the departure, I am on the verge of being stuck in the marina this week end again, and the engine does not start.
I have a mechanic coming on Saturday morning. Hopefully, he is a genius and will figure it out pretty quick, without asking to change the full fuel system.

This whole thing is giving me an headache, literally.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

D-Day - 16 : Fueling

Nop. Not fueling before a marathon. This is old story.
Fueling my good old Westerbeke 40 from the 70'. Almost older than me.

Before, there was fudge at the bootom of the filter

Without surprises, it end up with a very very
dirty filter. 

It is obvious that the maintenance of the engine has not been done properly.
After the oil, we still have to do the fuel filters. Hopefully, the fuel pump will not blow up on me like the water pump. The incoming fuel seems contaminated a bit, but the Racor did an awesome job to keep it clean for the engine, as you can see below.
Nice red color.

ZipLock bags as fuel container,
it is an awesome idea (but not mine)
Still, it is a very messy operation. Diesel fuel stinks. Really.
And the vapors give me headache. Obviously, I do not use gloves, and I am not that agile with my hands. I kinda limited the fuel spills, but overall, it was still a big mess.

After cleaning, as new.
After changing the filters, I needed to bleed the lines. Ended up quite eqsy, hopefully I did it correctly. I had to vent the boat fully for one day / one night. but overall it was an Ok operation.
I will buy a couple of other filters, just in case, but hopefully, won't have to change them at sea.
I was almost sea-sick to change them in the marina.
I cannot imagine if you add the rolling into it.
In fact, I can imagine it pretty well, and it won't be pretty :(

Monday, October 27, 2014

D-Day - 17

Countdown started.
There is still around 20 items on the list. No time to fool around :)

And after

Not perfect, but way better.
My first holes in the boom !

New guides for the reef lines.

New lines for the Windvane with matching colors,
and length.

The dinghy, after 2 weeks in the water,
was already eaten by marine growth.

10 cones left !
The drogue looks complete.
(Actually, I thought it was complete :)

As you can expect, this Sunday was as usual. Stuck in the marina, Engine not working, and running around all day.
Tomorrow, back on the engine !

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Best Birthday gift - ever.

Alright. We not get any younger.
Today is my birthday anniversary, and it is usually symbol of festivity, party or maybe just a nice restaurant. Cheering from some friends, celebrating with family and relatives. Hugging from my girls.
Not today.
Today, I am alone and as usual, working on the boat.
I might indulge myself with a movie and ice cream tonight.
It could sound depressing. And to be frank, I begin to be tired of working on this boat and spending my night stuck ashore. And this damn engine still missing parts.
This is certainly the year I have been offered the best gift ever.

Priceless ...
Not really, actually.

The gift that made possible buying, outfitting the boat. That marked the promise of the passage and down the line, incredible adventures, uncommon Hawaii shores, South Pacific in all its glory, and maybe some single handed races, who knows.
It takes a toll on the family life, savings (which savings ?), to get ready for such an adventure. I did not expect that to be so $$expensive$$ and time consuming.
Success or failure, it is certainly worth it. There are some dreams you have to try to reach.

Bora Bora Lagoon

That's why I want to thank my wife and little girl who supported me and made this possible, what ever the outcome is. Without them, it would not have been possible, of course. And they made some sacrifices too, and not only with our always shrinking budget,-  me being away for so long - it impacted us all.

Thank you, girls.
Hold on, I am coming back, and this time, aboard our sailboat !


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tank Shock

No, this is not a video game name. Could be, though.
Stuck at the marina, waiting for my water pump to arrive Monday likely (and some plumbing on Tuesday), I am cranking down my to-do list for a change.
The Jetlag was way better this way than the opposite, I am already getting up quite early and working late too.
Same old, same old.

At night, I started to work again on the Jordan drogues.
Around 80 cones to do.

It was very foggy yesterday, to the point it feels it was raining... Inside.
Hard to tell, but the hatch of the main salon is leaking. Too.

This one seems only to leak at the screen.
It will be easier.

Redid the reefing system. New blocks, new lines.
Reefing will be a breeze in a breeze.

Getting better at packing the main.
On my previous mast, I had a furling mast.
I think I prefer like this.

New belts. And a ton of chlorine.
Time for a shock treatment.

Goal is to fill the tanks with a doze of chlore to disinfect them.Killing germs takes usually 24 hours.
After you have to rinse and flush the full system at least a couple of time.

Bought our diesel spare tank.
The engine sender does not work anymore, then it is better to be safe.
And I will need Diesel tomorrow when I will be changing the filters.

Changing oil and filters.
You are supposed to warm up the oil, but for this is you need an engine that runs :)
Took me 4 hours, but I did 2 pass of oil change.
Just in case, some water managed to infiltrate the engine case.

At the risk of repeating myself, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The last two big items, the engine service and the jordan drogue are on good way. The fuel filter change - planned for tomorrow - is critical. If all is good, everything relies on the water pump, that I should get early next week.

After that, this is history.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cranking the engine

Did not need long to feel like back home. Still jetlagged, but I managed to get some work done starting at 2AM :)
This week (and all weeks before the departure will be engine focused at this point).
First, the impeller.

Typical Water Pump Impeller

What should have been a routine maintenance operation ended up a real nightmare. I eventually came to the conclusion the shaft of the water pump - which seems to have been rebuild before - does not fit very well, and worked only because the old impeller was worn already.

Inside of the water pump.
Bad luck. After changing the impeller, now the pump is leaking. Before too much water goes into the engine oil, I will need to change the pump itself. A little less than 500$.
Another drop in the sea.

Alternator Belt
Looking at the belt, it is time for a change. This is a simple maintenance task.

Fuel and oil filters are ready !

The good new is a found a matching pump already, and it should be delivered on Monday. There will be some plumbing to do , but nothing too bad at this point, after what I have been through.
This thing is killing me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On the way back

It was a very cool week - is it still a secret ? - and now I am on my way back to California.
I am gonna flight over the Pacific East to West for the last time before the passage.
Next time, in less than 3 weeks, it will be West to East, and by sail.
Modern life is amazing.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hatching - Part 2

As I cannot really talk about what I am doing right now - this is a secret - I come back on my hatch work I just re-completed before leaving. I quickly realized that I have issue with the only gasket I did not change yet (this is custom part for this hatch, and I don't think I can find it).
But the main issue was the base sealant, between the hatch and the top of the cabin.
I just did not use enough sealant.

Water testing.
You can see we have some issue with the gasket between the 2 parts of that hatch.

At first, as I used 3M, I was afraid I could not remove it at all. this thing sticks like crazy, and lots of people unadvised using it for this reason. There is no place for mistake, and if you screwed it up, you are in for a ride. However, in my case, it did not really glue on the metal, barely, and in one spot, after 24h actually separate the two layers.

Scrapping the old-new sealant

Removing the remaining sealant using a metal wire and cutter blades was slow and irritating (this was a brand new job after all), but I eventually managed to get it done without apparent damages.
Back to sanding, coating -again- with acetone.

This time using a silicon sealant - removable.
And using more of it.
This time I was not shy at all with the sealant, and found actually, it was just fine. Sure it was almost a mess when I applied pressure on the hatch , but not at all as I expected.
I was a little too slow for the job itself, and the sealant started to dry before I was totally done, but overall it went well. If that is still not sufficient, I think the next step would be to actually do not let the sealant dry after the hatch is locked down. I would put a medium pressure on the hatch, let the sealant dry and then screw it down, that will actually let a thicker level of sealant between the hatch and the cabin top and use it as a real rubber gasket, instead of just a gap filler.
Again, I am learning as I am doing it, and the 3nd time might be the good one.

However, in a hurry before taking the plane, I re did the water test and seemed ok. No leaks anymore between those two. Still needs some love for the main gasket, but I have some ideas :)

Going Dark again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Boom Vang

Racing (again) against the time to get the most I can do before tomorrow (I am leaving for one week for business travel).
The main thing we broke during the shake down cruise was the boom vang, which went through the fiber glass.
Epoxy, here I am again...

Mixing, as usual

Hum. This one is pink ?

Not pretty, bottom side.
That will need some sanding.

Bringing the hardware,
and the new backing plate.

After sanding. It is flat,
but still pink.

All done. I guess, I will do the gelcoat another time.

Bottom side. It is tough as a 1/8" stainless steel plate.

Oh. I almost forgot, My repair for the hatch failed the water test. I might post new pictures tomorrow, but long story short, I had to remove everything, clean again and redo it.
I might have some time to test it again tomorrow morning before I leave for the airport.
I am not sure I want to know if it worked this time.
I do not think I am ready to redo it a third time.
The good aspect of it is I am going faster and faster.
And the work is better too.
Still, It is annoying :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


No time to rest, I have a new prioritized to-do-list and only 3 weeks - roughly to do it all :)
This time, this is for real, November is key. Leaving later will lead to worst winds and overall colder weather, plus the risk of storms on the Californian coast.

First on the list, the main hatch that was leaking like a crazy, and transformed the forward berth in a pool.

Getting ready for the autopsy

As expected, the sealant was in very bad shape.

Corrosion at his best. No way, it will not leak.

Unrelated, but I did one of my last - hopefully - big shopping.
New VHF, and Lifesling. Safety first.

No surprise, the new radio is working, and now we gave the VHF on board.
That was not the antenna cable after all. Surprisingly.

The grinder is awesome. I like to destroy things.
This rod was stuck and bended, impossible to remove.

Even with al;l those tools, it took me at least one hour to get it dismantled.
Cake figures, using 3M  4200.

Voila! All together.

Need to get the new SS rod in place and some handles and stuff, but the hatch looks awesome, all screws and bedding are new.
Cannot wait to try it out.
Let's bring the water hose !

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shaked Down

Traditionally a shake down cruise is meant to be testing the system of the boat before a passage. Not supposed to be a break down cruise, for the ship or the crew. We have been lucky to not break too much, and have a good wind and good beating upwind, with 6-8 feet of waves on the nose. Nothing dangerous, but rough enough to be stressing the crew a bit and the boat too.

Windless, the engine worked perfectly for the 3 days.
Here, motorsailing.

We tested the Gale sail. It was getting windy.

The boat performed well when the sea got rough.
At night, it became quite impressive.

The windvane was my biggest fear. Some people find it tricky.
After 3 days, we were able to get it to work as needed when needed, on every point of sail.

In the action, The boom vang gave up. 2 layers of fiberglass, but no backing plates.

The main hatch at the bow was leaking ... tons.
Added to the to do list.

I was leaking too, after we failed our dinghy drop on the beach.
Ashamed for a double overhead surfer to get wet in one foot waves.

Anchorages were calm. The ground tackle worked as expected, but ended up way more heavy that I thought.
We might need a windlass eventually.

Waiting for the wind, we took the time for a bucolic walk on Santa Cruz Island.
Dry and desert. But there is some life in the bushes.

At anchor

Motoring on our way back.

Nice downwind sail on our way back,
it was sunny in SoCal,

I will pass on some nasty adventures (like the head that broke and the bucket usage that followed), but overall, it went pretty well. Except the drogue, we check most of the systems. The to-do-list is still quite long before going, but I feel confident we should be ready coming into November for the passage.
It was tiring a bit, but nobody got sea-sick and the boat - though a little wet - performed well.
Easy peasy.

Now, back on fixing things.