sailing homepage : trip reports : summer refit : exhaust & safety

Aug 19-20: Exhaust system replacement and safety equipment installation!

We got a lot done. In the week previous, we visited West Marine no less than four times. We spent money like crazy mad people. On one trip we bought so much stuff the salespeople said we had "made their day".

I thought they were happy to see us or something. No. They meant that we had pushed West Marine Sausalito into profitability for that one day. Hey, we're just happy to help. Thanks again go out to Amy and Wyn, who generously let us use their Port Supply card for huge discounts.

In a recent Latitude 38, we read a horribly sad story about a father who lost his son off the stormy northern California coast. The 18-year old was wearing a lifejacket, and was swept overboard from a freak wave that broke over their boat.

The father and crew were able to turn the boat around and get back to the guy in the water. Unfortunately they didn't have anything to pull him back onboard, the motor wouldn't start, the radios didn't work, and they quickly lost him. They heard his whistle over the next few hours, but couldn't find him again. He died and was later found and recovered by the Coast Guard.

Needless to say, safety equipment has been on our mind recently.

Saturday morning we were up at 5AM for the drove down to Alameda. We met up with Jack, who sold us the dinghy and motor two weeks ago, and bought his 6-man Givens liferaft. $800, which I think is a good deal. He bought it from a guy who sailed here from England, and has had it repacked several times over the last 8 years.

We took it straight to Coast Marine, who are going to inflate, inspect, and repack the raft. $~500. I guess it's a good deal. I've asked them to take some pictures of it when they do the testing, so we'll get to see what it looks like.

Next we went to West Marine, again, and bought some more stuff. Then we were back to the boat for an afternoon of working. Lots of working.

We bought and installed a man overboard pole, mounting brackets, floating nylon line, horseshoe, water dye markers, a whistle, and water-activated flashing light. Sara and I installed the pole on Saturday, and Sara finished the job with Ed on Sunday. It's a solid MOB system; one we never hope to need.

Sometime during the last week we bought a four-step ladder, returned it on the next trip when we realized it wasn't long enough, re-ordered a six-step ladder, received it on the next trip, and on the last trip (Saturday morning) we picked up the mounting bolts to install it. Who sells hardware without selling the mounting bolts?! We're setting it up so it can be mounted on the port or starboard side.

We also got a 12' extendable boat hook and permanently mounted it just outside the cockpit. It's securely held in place, but is quickly available for emergencies. I'm happy about this one because it's easily overlooked, and absolutely critical in a time of emergency.

We also bought handheld, signal, and 1000-foot parachute flares, smoke signals, whistles, horns, and all kinds of crazy pyrotechnics that I am just itching to fire off. We now have three canisters full of this stuff. The 12-gauge shells look tiny compared to the 25mm hand-cannon artillery rounds. With our friend Larry so worried about pirates, I'm happy to assure him I'm just looking for an excuse to launch a couple of these monsters.

I spent some good quality time in the lockers over the weekend, wiring up the power distribution to the TV/DVD entertainment centre, wiring up the Sirius satellite radio receiver, and rewiring anything that looked suspect. I've now found and fixed four separate high-current cable connections that were just twisted and taped together!

Before heading home on Saturday, Sara and I also had a bit of a break on our dinghy. It ran after we first bought it, but it didn't idle right, it would die mid-throttle, and lurching back/forth with a binary throttle (ON or OFF) sucked. During the past week I rebuilt the carb during a dinner party with friends. Sara was super impressed.

Anyway, with the rebuilt carb and new plugs, the motor is much better. Runs smoothly, starts on the first pull, and we had a blast zipping around the marina.

Sara has dubbed our little dinghy "Purpeat". Some explaining is due. The dinghy is in awesome shape, but it has some sort of bleach-resistant purple bacteria on the hulls. We've come to love the blotches, and named the raft after the one-eyed, one-horned, purple people eater.

We've done a lot to outfit little Purpeat, including two new paddles, new oarlocks, new registration numbers, new huge gigantic roller wheels for mounting beach assaults, an awesome new engine mount handle, a new mounting block for the outboard, a new lock for the motor, and lots of other safety stuff.

On Sunday we were up early and went to Home Depot to mix up the shopping trips a little. We bought $150 of stuff we didn't know we needed, and headed back to West Marine just one more time for just a few more key items. $700. When we tried to buy lunch, my credit card bounced: "insufficient credit"! Ahahah. Whoops.

Back on the boat we were quickly joined by Ed, Mike, and Sam. We love you guys.

Mike and Sam worked on installing the TV in the main cabin, pulling apart the trim and nice cabin walls to install the brackets. The bracket was wrong, so they modified it to fit. We didn't have the right parts, so they went and found them. Did we mention how much we love these guys?

Ed and Sara worked on the stainless-steel rail project, which I haven't written about much. We're putting in new SS tubular rails for additional safety in the cockpit, but also to have a rigid place to mount the solar panel(s). The rails should have been done a few weeks ago, but they weren't strong enough, bent too easily, and needed another stanchion installed and the fittings welded on.

Mike and I have been carrying the parts back/forth from a local metalworking shop, who also have done a lot of work on the SS anchor mount that Mike is organizing. I can't recommend the shop, Celeri's Welding and Fabrication, enough.

Anyway, Ed and Sara were putting the finishing touches on the installation: bending the SS tubing to match the curves of the boat, cutting and installing the tubes, and matching the mounting hardware to the welded links. It looks absolutely amazing, and needs just a little bit more welding before it's done.

During all of this I attacked a few more projects, all of them in the stupid cockpit lockers. I feel sometimes like I live in these lockers. I should install cupholders or something down there.

First I tried to remove the threaded eyebolt from the steering quadrant. I hit it with penetrating lubricant. I banged on it with a hammer. I filed down the end of the bolt and tried grabbing it with locking pliers. I drilled a hole in the bolt and bent a perfectly good Allen key. I eventually gave up.

I removed the exhaust hose instead. This hose had a connection halfway through its 15-ft run, and the metal fitting had completely rusted away. We couldn't just replace the fitting, it had destroyed the hose. Mike tried and gave up a week or two earlier, so I knew removing the fitting was a lost cause.

Instead we decided to remove and replace the entire hose. Easier said (written?) than done. I tried pulling the hose off the thru-hull fitting on the back of the boat. No dice. Okay, I'll cut the hose off. Yeah right.

Exhaust hose is solid. Really bulletproof. You can't cut it with a knife. It has an integral 1/8" thick wire wrapped around inside the middle of the hose. Hitting it with a small grinder didn't work. I ended up using a dremel tool cutting wheel to cut each wire 'rib' one at a time.

The other end of the hose removal was easy, it just popped right off the water mix muffler thing. Now we've just got to take it to BoatUS and get a new length of hose. At $11/ft!!!

Finally, I addressed the project that's been keeping me up at nights. The job that's been giving me nightmares. My nemesis, the rusty engine exhaust fitting.

This piece of work attaches to the engine and has a fitting where the engine-cooling seawater is mixed with the hot exhaust gasses. The other end goes to a water lift muffler, where the gasses are muffled by the presence of the water. The hot exhaust and hot water are then fed through the beefy exhaust hose out the back of the boat.

The water mix fitting is metal. It's covered with heat wrapping to protect everything else in the engine room. While cutting away the wrapping, I discovered the fitting was so badly rusted, the wrapping had been holding it together!

What had been worrying me for so long was the bolts connecting the fitting to the engine. They were really rusty. If they broke while we were removing them, we would have been right fucked. I guess we would have had to drill out the bolts, drill out the existing threads, re-tap the holes, and pray that we didn't damage the engine during the process. All of this, of course, while bent over sideways in a locker.

So in the preceeding two or three weeks I've sprayed the bolts with pentrating oil, hammered on them to loosen the rust, and generally worried about how they would come free. I attacked them with vigor after successfully removing the exhaust hose.

Long dramatic story short: the bolts came out. I had a bit of fun with one of them when the socket stripped the bolt. Urgh. I ended up carefully filing the rusted bolt from a metric size 12 to a metric size 11. I hammered on the socket, and finally popped it loose. Success!

During my struggle with the hose and rusty fitting, Mike squeezed himself into the back locker and had a look at the steering quadrant. In just 15 short minutes, he accomplished what Sam and I couldn't do in more than two or three hours. He rotated the eye-bolt by gripping it on _both_ ends (aha!), and cut off the mangled end with a grinder. Mike rules.

Uh, what else did we do? Lots of little jobs: removed the deck fittings over the anchor locker in preparation for the windlass installation, fixed a bunch of stuff we'd done wrong the first time, and oh yeah, we went for another dinghy ride on Sunday evening.

We treated Mike, Sam and Ed to dinner at a local Thai place. What great friends. We would never have been able to finish the boat without them.

This week has the following jobs on the list:

Carried-over to do:

It's coming together,