Spring Haul (oops.) (July 2003)

s/v Stella Blue or Hauls or Home

Thursday, July 3 --
This is the starboard side. The port side is worse!

I'm going to raise the waterline to the top of the bootstripe and put a new stripe on. That's a bit much, but if I don't cover the existing stripe I'll have to live with part of the old stripe showing.

This was supposed to happen in May, but sometimes things don't work out.
I was waiting on the new Nexus transducers, as well as the keel cooler for the Frigoboat system.
And I had a new job --
which was really important to keep.

I'm always amazed at how small
the transom is. When you're on the boat, it seems much bigger!

She's always sat low in back, being designed for 40g water in the V-Berth (that tank's out) and having a Perkins 4-108 in back (a bit heavy.)
And with all the project stuff sitting in the port quarterberth, she's developed a pretty ugly fringe.
She'll get balanced, but even then she'll sit a bit lower if I ever provision her for a trip.

To be honest, my waterline
was a fzdxwing eyesore.
That's why I hauled now.

I just couldn't look at it one more day.
And if there are
4 inches of bottom paint
over the waterline, I won't
have to deal with 'Klingons'
ever again.
So let's hear it for overkill.

50 cents worth of foam pipe insulation
from Home Depot works
to protect the teak toe rail.
This was such a Great Idea that I had to replace it twice while in the yard.

Every haul has a little ugly surprise
(or two or three or four), and
the first one was my keel.

It isn't perfect, but it makes me happy.
Does anything else matter?

I should have rolled and tipped, because you can see my brush strokes.

Oh well, from five feet away it looks just fine.

This boat is definitely becoming a reflection of me.

I don't remember this from my initial
haul for survey.

Perhaps it was
from that
survey/haul yard,
that wouldn't
let me do any work myself.


Time to get down to it!
First, to raise the waterline. After a good 4 hours of measuring and stepping back I had the top of the new bootstripe taped off.

Some folks say that the best way to do this is to level the boat and trace the line from the ground,
or use a laser light on a level surveyor's stand. Having the yard level the boat would have cost a lot of money in labor and lift charges -- and I don't have a surveyor's tripod! And nothing around here's
level anyway.
So I just winged it.

Friday, July 4 --
If it's perfect, no one would believe that I did it myself.
To the left is a pic
of the stern after priming.
The first step was to wipe everything down with Interlux 202 solvent, to remove any old wax and crud.

Then 12 hours (count 'em) sanding, sanding, sanding,
to get the section to the top of the old bootstripe clean and the new stripe roughed up.
This is important. Prep is everything. I've seen boats with poor prep lose the whole job.

The bootstripe is primed with Interlux Brightside Primer (they just renamed it to something else)
and the bottom part with Interlux Interprotect 2000, a two part epoxy barrier coat primer
that's pretty ugly chemical stuff. Then I sanded the Brightside primer smooth
to where the gelcoat almost showed through.

Now, after two coats of Interlux Ocean Blue, I pulled the tape off and
wet sanded everything as flush as possible, using 320 grit on a rubber block.
(Darn, does my hand actually look that beat up? I need some udder cream!)

You see, the upper line was pretty tough to lay out, and I did it using small sections of tape. So the upper line needs to be smoothed out a bit. After sanding, I laid a single strip of tape along the top and bottom and added another coat.
I would have liked to have sanded it back down and put a fourth coat on,
but Monday is here and the job is officially over.

There was another little blister near the bottom of the rudder, which I ground out
with my
Handy Dremel tool
and flushed
with water.

Let 'em sit and dry out for a bit!

Wednesday, July 23 --
Here are just
a few gratuitous pics
before dropping in.

The only blisters were on the rudder.
There was one deep one (left) that really shot out some liquid when it popped. It was deep enough to penetrate the laminate, and I was into core before things came up clean.
The core seems solid, and the rudder taps out fine.

I flushed it out well with clean water and will let it sit
in the heat (under the canvas cover) until next weekend.

Tuesday, July 8 --
The through hulls and transducers are out.

Here's the starboard side.

Here's the port side


Here's the inside,
under the galley.


And here's a snapshot of
the inside of the hull
under the galley cabinets.
I always wondered what it looked like under there.

The hull is
1 3/8" thick at the hole
closest to the keel.

The yard pulled the
through hulls, because I had to
go earn more money.
Besides, they did it in a few hours, and it would have taken me an entire weekend.
The big 1.5" head sea cock
(the one I broke the handle on) clearly gave them some trouble.
It looks like he
just ground it off.

I'm moving things around, too. The old speedo was inaccessible, so I'm going to put the depth sounder there
since you really don't need to pull it.
(The manual on my Nexus sounder says
it's okay to paint it. Hmm!)

However, the hull is about a 20 degree angle there. If it's mounted flush, I'll risk missing the bottom when heeled on a starboard tack.

If you fold a piece of paper over twice you have a 22 degree angle. I need to make a little block to mount the sounder a little more vertical. Add that to the list.

This was really unexpected.

I had a bit of an argument with my 'buy-time' surveyor,
as I thought the hull was cored and he thought it was solid.

While working on the inside, I found a ridge around
the waterline that really looked like core demarcation,
so I had decided he was right after all.
Well, apparently not. There's definitely core here,
and it's definitely plywood around the sea cocks,
and the holes definitely need attention
before mounting new sea cocks.


Sunday, July 6 --
After 48 hours,
the big one is weeping
from the foam core .

I'll come back to it.

Thursday, July 10 --
Before sealing the edges of the holes, I need to
patch the small holes where the old sea cocks were
bolted through the hull.

When done, these will have backing plates and flanges covering the inside, so no need to make
too big a deal out of it.

I ground them out wider. Not 8 to 1,
as that would be pathological.
It's about 1.5".


They were swabbed well with styrene on a swab, then wiped well with a clean rag.


A little glop of epoxy thickened with colloidal silica plugged just the
bottom of the hole.

Then I laid three layers of fabric over the hole, trying to make them progressively bigger. Ha!

For the record, it's really hard to cut a 3/4" circle out of fiberglass fabric. These are little itty bitty squares.

While waiting for
the fabric to kick,
I topped off the holes on the inside using a thinner epoxy paste with colloidal silica.

The hull under the galley looks a little cleaner in this pic!

The fabric didn't kick as much as I wanted,
but it was 8 p.m. and the yard gets locked up at 9.
I don't want to spend the night in here!

So the fairing compound is a little thick
to avoid working the cloth around.
I didn't want to wait a day, since I wanted it
chemically bonded to the fabric patch.
It'll take a little extra sanding.
No big deal, if you wet sand with an air sander.

Turning to the rudder, I drilled a few exploratory holes near the bottom. Most came up dry, but the hole directly under the blister started to drip.

Great. Sometimes I envy folks up north
who can drop the rudder and stick it
in the basement all winter to dry out!

I'm not going to get worked up about this,
but it's good to know.
Most of the boats out there
have water in the rudder!
At least I know about it and
can take it under consideration.
It will need to be dealt with eventually.

One of the yard guys suggested it was just a backing plate glassed into place.
Well, maybe, but there's no line of demarcation anywhere, and
I have a hard time believing the hull is 1/2" thick next to the keel.
(If so, I want my money back.)
I'm cored with balsa, with marine ply around the through hull areas.
On this boat, it's cool, since C&C invented the concept of cored hulls, and had it perfected by '81.
In any case, it's permanent, so I'm going to seal it up good.

Friday, July 11 --
The core is good 1/2 inch marine plywood, which is
just perfect for the 1/2 inch sanding drum on my Handy Dremel Tool.

Don Casey's book says to ream out the core much farther back than this, but Don was thinking about Balsa core, not plywood. This is tough material.

Before I can ream the core on the
sounder hole, I need to change the angle of the hole to be more vertical. That means building the block for the outside of the hull so that I'll know the right angle.

I had a 4 inch circle of 1 inch thick FRP sitting around in the garage,
left over from the hole in my
windlass deck pad.
It's perfect.

Wow, that's going
to work out great!
To make it waterproof, three layers of fiberglass are epoxied over it. That should keep water from penetrating the laminate.
Saturday, July 12 --
I'm going to be grinding inside, so I set this fan up to blow air down the foredeck hatch. With all the hatches shut, it creates a lot of positive pressure inside, so all the grinding dust was pushed out the open holes in the hull. It worked!

Fabric is going around the holes, plus a couple of layers inside against the hull. This will make these holes really watertight and protect that plywood.

I didn't get too carried away, but just ground off enough paint to expose a enough of the hull laminate to get a decent bond.

Under the head sink,
it was hard to see.
Grinding in a mirror
is a mind bender.

So, first I blew all the dust out,
then wiped the exposed hull laminate with styrene to slightly reactivate the resin.
Then it was painted with straight, thin, West System to penetrate the wood and make sure everything's wet.

Then I took a super thick putty of epoxy and colloidal silica and packed the groove.

Now, here's where I made a mistake in my plan.
Actually the mistake was listening to an ex pert..

I had originally planned to just lay three or so layers of fabric around the edge of the hole, to bond the putty with the hull and make sure that temperature changes or differing rates of expansion wouldn't create a tiny crack. But one of the yard guys said I should wrap the fabric over the top of the hole and let it bond to the interior of the hull.

It's a great idea, and will work well if there's one person on the inside of the boat and one underneath. But I gotta tell you it was a real Pain In The A**
to do by myself. (How many times can one man
run up and down a ladder within 5 minutes?)
I ended up with a couple of air bubbles under the fabric, which I had to grind out with my Handy Dremel tool and refill, and it took hours to do all seven holes.

Here's a pic under the galley again!

Two layers of cloth are now chemically bonded to the cloth that lines the hole. Of course, while adding this cloth I moved one or two bits of cloth lining the holes, since they were still wet, thus the bubbles.

In the end, it's okay,
as I caught it in time and fixed it.

It's hacked into shape with a hand grinder, then finished off with a bench belt sander.

After the first layer of fabric set, I was able to use my Handy Dremel Tool with a thin cutting wheel to slice the excess fabric off -- while the epoxy was still tacky. That was tricky!

The trick to this whole process was to
make the weather work for me. It was about 80 degrees,
and I used fast setting epoxy. So, it kicked quick and I had to make small batches and do one or two holes at a time. At the same time, once it set up it was still 'green' and could take another layer without moving, so all the layers are chemically bonded.
That's good.

After this, it was a matter of smearing epoxy putty around the edge of the hole, then laying wet fabric in, and working it all down, smooth it off, let it kick, and repeat.

Two inch wide fiberglass tape
was much easier to wrap around the hole. A lot of work with the fingers to make sure that it was mashed down good and solid.

Finally I just laid a big thick smear of putty around the inside, to make sure it was all thick enough to be ground out smooth for the new holes.

In the morning I'll cut the crud off the bottom
and start grinding everything into shape.

Bottom line, it took about 30 batches of epoxy, nearly an entire box of disposable gloves, a quart of epoxy and a full canister of colloidal silica,
10 hours -- and really wasn't much fun.

However, I don't think I'll ever have to worry about wet core under the waterline -- at least around *these* holes.

Working with epoxy overhead has it's risks! (left)

Sunday, July 13 --
Fairing everything down was fun and easy with ye olde air powered
random orbital wet sander.

It was messy, though...
I feel like Dustin Hoffman
in 'The Graduate',
but there's no pool in this yard.

After finishing the through hull holes,
it was time for the keel.

Using a wet sander with 36 grit made it pretty easy to clean off all the loose paint. I debated just clearing it all away, but decided to fix the symptoms and see how it looks in two years.

It was clear that someone had sanded it with a grinder, and whoever it was had no clue. There were pretty deep grooves in the lead, then a primer and a couple of coats of paint.

I think the pressure washer at Svendsen's is just very powerful, and exposed the problem.

You can see how the port side was screwed up, and just about the time the starboard side was started someone came by and
yelled 'Stop, you idiot.'

By the way, the top of the keel is actually quite smooth, it's just wet and reflecting light funny.

Lead is tough to prime, which is why you never sand down to it!
It forms an oxidation layer faster than aluminum, and once there's a layer of oxidation, paint will not stick to it.
That's probably what happened before.

So as soon as it was dry I primed with Interlux Interprotect 2000E, which is a 2 part epoxy primer. While painting I discovered a few more areas that should have been sanded clean.
After the primer kicked, I covered with bottom paint.
We'll see how it looks in two years.

The new through hull holes are very satisfying. Some (right)
are exactly perfect!
Some (left) are
plenty good enough.
That's just dust, not dry fabric.

The trick to making them perfect is to over drill the initial hole by 1/8". That leaves room for a 1/16" buildup of epoxy and fabric.
If there's a leak, it definitely will not penetrate into the plywood core!

The block for the inside of the depth sounder is teak,
with 3/8" marine plywood epoxied on top for strength.

When dry mounting it to test everything out, I discovered that I hadn't left room for the actual depth sounder transducer, which fits down into the through hull and is held in place with a fitting that screws down onto the top of the through hull.

Brilliant. But hey, my motto is 'There's nothing that can't be fixed.' (grin)

My first impulse was to take the grinder to it right there in the yard and make it fit. That would have been a mistake.

So I broke out the CAD software and drew up my first implementation. It matches exactly, down to the amount of fitting that's left exposed above the top nut.
Note that the hull gets thinner as it moves away from the keel.

Then it was just a matter of trying out various scenarios to come up with a plan that would work.

The final plan was to make the top plate and bottom block as thin as possible
without sacrificing structural strength,
then rotating the fitting so that the apparent thickness of the hull decreased.

Now it's a few degrees off of vertical,
but still close enough to find the true bottom when heeled about 15 degrees on a starboard tack.

That should be fine.

Then it was dry fit to check (below.)

Tuesday July 16 --
I dropped the rudder 1/2" by turning the big donut in the cockpit.
The easy way is to wrap a section of exhaust hose over it and
use an oil filter wrench.

This was just to take a good look at the top of the rudder, where the post is.
I poked at it with a wire brush,
(after taking this pic,) and there are
no discernible cracks.

If water's getting in, it's probably here, but it looks fine.
Dirty, but fine.
It's good to see that there's grease on the lower bearing,
although it's not the blue grease I've been shooting into the shaft.
Both my top and bottom bearings are unbelievably tight, and the last time I tried to goosh grease past them I ended up just moving the bearing, so there's no point going out of my way to find out where the breaking point is.

The rudder is sound, and doesn't wiggle at all. The bearing is in great shape. I'm going to plug the exploratory holes and go sailing.
I'm not going to deal with this today,
since I really don't think it's a problem.
If I was going to take off across the Pacific I'd get into it.

So before leaving for the day I stuck a dab of caulk in the wet holes.
They'll need to be dry before the epoxy is applied.

Friday, July 18 --
The holes that weren't leaking were easy.
I overdrilled 1/32" to clean them,
and just filled with a little plug of
colloidal silica putty using a syringe.

The big blister was also easy, as it was dry.
After cleaning it up with my Handy Dremel Tool, and washing with Styrene, I packed putty against the core, then laid a single layer of fabric over it.
It was mashed well against the existing glass.
This will stabilize it so that if the two different kinds
of resin expand or contract at different rates,
they won't separate.

I screwed up on the little blister at the bottom of the rudder. While trying to overdrill the drain hole to clean it up, I drilled through the caulk plug and it started to drip. Bummer. Plus, I had a manic moment and didn't even try to cut a pretty little circle of fabric -- I just figured I'd get it on and grind off the rest in the morning. Bad.
I also managed to smear epoxy over the existing paint and some of it was emulsified into the epoxy. Ugly. I must calm down and start over.
So I gave it a 10 second blast with a heat gun to kick the epoxy prematurely. That made it easy to grind it all back off with my Handy Dremel Tool.

That left a small plug of epoxy in the center.
Cool, maybe that will stop the drip. I'm sure it's weak, since it was cured in 10 seconds under heat! But that's okay, since it's just a plug.

I painted it back over with thin epoxy, and set a layer of fabric over it before covering with thick putty and a little fairing compound.

Saturday, July 19 --
Moisture seeped.
There's no trail underneath, so it's not actually dripping.

This is getting to be really annoying. I should have slapped some Marine-Tex in there in the first place,
but I was in a hurry. (Gee... See how much time I saved?)

I took my Handy Dremel Tool to it, and traced
the weak spot down to where moisture had worked through. A quick wipe with acetone, then another plug of super thick epoxy putty.

After it kicked and set, I wet sanded the whole rudder with 80 grit on an air sander to fair everything down.

That ended it.

Meanwhile, I installed the keel cooler for the new Frigoboat refrigeration.

This ought to knock a half knot off my boat speed!

Darn boat's too fast anyway.

It's bedded in 4200, and tucked in by the keel.

The location was tough to determine, and I spent a few hours just staring at the bottom of the hull and mulling over options. The cored hull was a major consideration, as I didn't want to add a new hole in the hull.
Sure, I can make it perfectly watertight,
but why drill another hole if it can be avoided.
(And that would extend my haulout another week.)
So I converted an existing through hull fitting.
The other concern was the speedo transducer.
I want this to be behind the speedo, so that it
won't disturb the water flow over the paddle wheel.

You can see the hole for the speedo at left, and the keel cooler's location.
I sure hope I didn't screw up.

This is still not optimal, as it's possible for a sling to get jammed up against the trailing edge of the keel and apply some pressure to the sintered bronze cooler. Not much -- a straight edge laid from the keel ridge to the hull only intersects about 1/8" on the outboard edge.
But that would still be inadvisable.

But it's pretty well protected by the ridge at the back of the keel.
The sling position (just behind the transverse bulkhead) is actually another foot back, and I think I'll add little "sling" stickers on the topsides
so that future yard guys won't accidentally create a problem.

Sunday, July 20 --
I thought I'd try something different. Since bottom paint always falls off the strut, I primed it this time with some two part Interprotect 2000E.
Heck, I've got it left over, so why not?

This is just an experiment, so in two years it will be interesting to see if it makes a difference. (Of course there's no paint under the zinc.)

This is the 'stud' model,
vs. the 'thread' model.
In retrospect, I could have probably used the 'thread' model as I have room to swing a wrench in here... but only when all the
sea cocks are out!
I'm of the 'caulk it until it gooshes everywhere'
school of thought.

I split a length of extra bilge pump hose along the edge and wrapped it around the copper pipes that (will) go to the compressor. That's just so I don't screw up and break them later.

While buffing things down with a bronze brush
I discovered this interesting gem.

This prop is only 18 months old,
so red spots and pitting are unexpected.
Granted, I have two new boat-owner liveabords
on a 40 foot trawler in the next slip, but still.
The red spots are corrosion, but the pitting
looks like cavitation damage. Hmm.
Well, with my new Nexus instruments maybe I'll be able to
get a clue about engine RPM vs. speed over water.

I think that when I had a diver replace this prop underwater the connection between the shaft and prop may not have been clean.
The yard will pop it and I'll clean it all up.

The yard didn't have enough 1" Trident wire reinforced hose in stock.

That's actually just fine because I don't want to try and run new hose
from the amidships deck drains down to the new sea cocks.
Not right now. I want this boat back in the water.
So I took these hose fittings and packed them with epoxy putty,
to turn them into cheap plugs. I'll pull new hoses later,
but I want to wash the boat down NOW. So I stuck 8" of hose on
and stuck these cheap plugs in.

Frankly, I've never felt those amidships drains had much value,
and it will be very interesting to see what happens next.

Replacing all the hoses under the waterline was a good idea!

Here's the port galley sink hose.
It goes back out of sight for a few feet,
and I had a crack in the hose that was
out of sight and inaccessible.
Eventually, this would have become a crisis.
(It doesn't show clearly in this pic,
and now the hose is in a dumpster.)

This isn't a problem with the boat,
just regular maintenance.
After all, the hoses were 22 years old!

The backing plates are marine plywood, and exposed areas are sealed with West Epoxy to prevent fresh water intrusion and resulting rot.

After installation, the sea cocks are bolted with short Lag Bolts that just barely intrude into the laminate enough to keep them from turning, but not enough to seriously penetrate.

I'll paint everything with Interlux Bilgekote before it has a chance to get dirty.

Here's under the galley.

Hmm, I think I'll reset those hose clamps before dropping in. Hurrying through the details is never a good idea!

The speedo is easily accessible and cleanable. Whew, that'll be nice!

Tuesday, July 22 --
The sounder block worked out great!

After a lot of thought, I stayed with traditional Bronze for my through hulls and sea cocks.
I seriously considered going plastic, but
stuck with tradition.

Here's the sink drain, new speedo,
and keel cooler.
No new holes in the hull!

This pic is after the prop was wiped a bit...

There was some dirt between the prop and shaft, and the inside of the prop was covered with grease. I don't know if that would prevent a good electrical connection. The diver must have greased it up good to make it easier to install.

The nuts may not have been sized to fit, and perhaps it slid enough to prevent a good connection.

Or perhaps the red spots are just from having liveaboards on a powerboat next door. I have lots of big boats on my dock, with electrical stuff that's always on.

I think I'll get a Galvanic Isolator, just for grins.

In any case, everything is now super tight and there's a brand new castle nut to keep it all from budging.

I'll watch the pitch and form an opinion later. Note that West by North recommended I drop the pitch from 12 to 9 with the Campbell Sailor prop, since it was more efficient in design than the Michigan prop.

I always get picked up last thing
in the day so I can spend the evening giving the bottom of the keel a good slather of paint, and let it dry overnight.

Thursday, July 24 --

Dropped in
at dawn.

Besides, it's nice to sit there until midnight communing with the bottom of the boat, touching the prop and strut, giving the rudder one last thump.

It's silly, but I always get maudlin the night before dropping a boat
back in the water.
We're bonding. (grin)

The security guard
laughed at me.

Off in the distance,
someone yelled "What, are you going to sleep next to it?"

Gee it's good
to be back home again.

this old slip,
feels like
a long lost friend.


Gee it's good to be back home again.

to John Denver)

Now I just have to
clean up the truck,
and the house,
(I got
artsy fartsy for a few minutes.)