Another installment of "This Old Boat"

Buy a boat on Dec 31st, take possession on Feb 2nd, and start sailing the Caribbean and sipping MaiTai's by Mar 1st - no problem right? 


Now for the reality - buy a 25yr old boat Dec 31st, have it surveyed by someone from a google search, regretfully(?) trust the surveyor, buy it and take possession Feb 1st,  move it 40 miles to the "do-it-yourself" boat yard, move aboard, start to really get to know the condition of the boat, and finally realize it is going to take at least 6 months to get it ready. This is our reality.

It seems as if every time we remove one screw it opens up a dozen new previously unknown problems. So, we are cruisers with a boat going nowhere. and with a to-do list that keeps growing exponentially. Marking projects off of the ever growing to-do list is becoming less frequent as the projects get more involved and time-consuming.

The engine is in multiple pieces as I write this, and we are awaiting parts - gaskets, o-rings, and hoses mainly. It all started with flushing the coolant system with a pour-in cleaner - the brand and name of which I don't remember, just something off the auto parts shelf - and draining the old oil and replacing the oil filter (the auto parts stores by the way have much cheaper oil drain drill type impeller pumps than the marine stores). Those two seemingly simple procedures turned into tearing apart the cooling system. I have since replaced the fresh water pump with one of our new spares because of massive corrosion. I will rebuild the old one and keep it as a spare. I also pulled and reconditioned the raw water pump with new seals, gasket and impeller.  We still have a spare in case it needs to be replaced as well.  I also decided to take off the raw water strainer and shine it up and replace the gasket. Upon further inspection of the cooling system I found the heat exchanger zinc was completely gone and there was coolant leaking around the gaskets and a fair amount of corrosion evident, so I removed it and cleaned it in a bath of Muriatic Acid - harsh stuff by the way, wear gloves and goggles, trust me I found out the hard way.  And, since I already had the heat exchanger tore apart I also decided to remove the header tank and exhaust elbow and clean them up.  Once I removed the header tank I found it too to have considerable corrosion of its aluminum housing requiring some cold weld repair using JB Weld (keep your opinions to yourself, we'll see how long it lasts - a new header tank costs $800 so I'm taking my chances). I also removed all the old hoses and ordered new ones, and all new gaskets for the removed parts. I'm currently waiting for the parts to arrive as they are on back order now going on 2 weeks. While I was at it I figured it was a good time to apply some new paint to the engine, Ford Red, courtesy of CarQuest auto parts. There are pictures of various stages here. I found that our fuel lift pump was also leaking so I ordered a spare for that along with some o-rings to see if I can fix it first. Cost of $600 so far for engine parts.

While I'm waiting on engine parts, Tammy has been stripping the Cetol treatment off the teak toe rail, it was weathering and starting to peel off so we decided to remove it and go with the all-weathered natural gray teak look - we figure we'll have very little time to upkeep varnish if we ever get back in the water due to all the kicking back and relaxing we plan on doing. I noticed while Tammy was working on the decks that it was flexing under her, some friends had also been onboard and mentioned they thought they felt soft spots, great! A little inspection and probing with a drill bit and sure enough we have rotten core on deck - four spots averaging about 4 foot long x 2 foot wide so far. One spot on the starboard side just in front of the jib sheet winch, one by the starboar forward shroud chain plate, one by the anchor windlass, and one by the cabin top on the port side. So now I have the head liner and part of the interior cabinets tore apart inside to be able to get to the back of the deck hardware screws to remove them in order to fix the deck- which by the way involved removing brass screws hidden behind teak bungs (remember my electrical wiring dilemma?, guess I ended up removing it all anyway).  Have you ever tried removing 25 year old brass screws? Every one of the brass screws strip on removal, requiring yet another trip to Ace Hardware to purchase a stripped screw gadget thing to get them out. The tool is calle dthe Grabit. Also, upon removing the headliner we found many of the through bolts had insufficient backing plates or washers soooo... here we go with removing all the deck hardware, including the stancions and blocks to rebed them properly.  Along with the deck removal for the rotten core areas this is going to require painting the deck now, and while we are at it we'll re-do the non-skid. Again, more pictures here.

So, we are yet a few more (or more than a few) months out before we hit the water again, unless of course we just put blinders on and say screw it and go....  which is sounding like a better plan every day.

We did however get the following done:

4 Lights replaced with Sensibulbs - not as bright as the halogens, but a nice soft light and next to nothing drain on the batteries.  Next up 4 reading lights and the nav and mast head lamps replaced with LED's. We are looking at this place for these other replacements as the sensibulbs were a little spendy at 40$ a piece:

Our new LED lights, pre-install

From Updated 4 17 09

BoatersWorld is going out of business (at leas the stores down here) - so we bought replacement hot/cold water hose for about .25/ft - we bought the box they had left on the shelf, they figured 15ft was in there, turns out there was 45ft. Huge score. Added to list: replace existing water hose.

From Updated 4 17 09

We finally got our EnGenius EOC-2610 wireless outdoor bridge amplifier super dooper wireless internet antenna thingy from keenan systems working (after a firmware upgrade) - we now pick up 2 whole access points (which is 2 more than before) - fast and reliable internet on the boat! Whoo hooo! I'm definitely going to get less work done now.  "Hold on Tammy, let me look that up on the internet."  Wait, whats this - horny college girls looking for fun! - "Hold on, I'll be right there!"

I purchased approx 3 million all 316 (including the screw) ss hose clamps from in various sizes. Added to list: replace all hose clamps showing even a smudge of rust.
We ordered 23 yards of Sunbrella upholstery and various needles, thread, sail tape, and other misc stuff I can't remember from And added to list:  recover all interior cushions - and other stuff.  Minus hundreds of $$

Our de-naming/re-naming ceremony is prepared: good bye old name, hello new. Added to list: design new name vinyl - our friend Len does custom vinyl work (he owns the rights to the fast and furious car design graphics) and is going to help us out in this department - check out his website at Add to list: flames for Sea Bungalow! Just kidding.

Currently I'm working on (along with everything above) cleaning out the fuel tank, there is a layer of sludge in our Racor filter, only a pre-cursor to whats actually in the 25 year old tank, which by the way has no inspection port...  baby diapers by the way have incredible holding power - 3 mega packs of diapers awaiting fuel saturation.

A shot showing the leaking around insufficiently backed deck hardware bolts after removing the headliner panels:
From Updated 4 17 09

This sail track has to be removed and the deck cut away to get to the rotten balsa core underneath... balsa has become my nemesis.

From Updated 4 17 09

My cleaned and newly painted heat exchanger.. there are old pics of it's crusty old ass somewhere else in the album:

From Updated 4 17 09

Header tank corrosion, yumm.

From Updated 4 17 09

Removing the impeller (much easier to do with the whole pump removed)

From Updated 4 17 09

New freshwater pump installed (round thing in the center with the shiny silver middle) and fresh Ford Red paint on the engine 

From Updated 4 17 09

Testing the thermostat functionality before re-installing it:

Sandler thinking all this cursing at the engine by me is damn funny

From Updated 4 17 09

Oh, and it's 80's and humid here in South Texas... and the mosquito's are out in full force, we have our nets on... 

From Updated 4 17 09

Until next week, this is Ken (aka Nigel Calder)signing off.

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