Prepping for season 2014

April 7, 2014


The long wet and windy winter is drawing to a close, and over the last couple of months we’ve been doing what we can to prepare our Macwester Malin for the new sailing season. As usual, we haven’t managed to achieve all that we hoped to, however on top of the annual routine of de-winterising the engine, changing the oil, checking the engine anode (new one required next season), replacing the impeller, fitting a new impeller gasket (see above for part number), freeing-off the cockpit drains, anti-fouling and other processes, we’ve also ticked a couple of ‘bigger’ (yes, more expensive) boxes on our list.

At the end of last season we put all three of our 32ft Malin’s Quantum sails in for repairs and cleaning including replacing the UV strip on the head sail (total cost approaching £500) at the local sail loft over in Port Edgar. We’ve yet to pick them up, but the sail-maker said that our sails are high-quality sails that are still in good condition. So that’s great news.


The other ‘even bigger’ job that we decided to do over the closed season was to have stainless steel shoes fitted to the bilge keels and skeg. This was because we spotted that the keels had acquired some damage over last season (see above), and we were keen to not just repair that damage …but also prevent it from happening again this year.

20 tonne bottle jack

The prevention aspect of the equation is why we decided to go for a stainless steel solution, rather than simply build-up new glass fibre over the damage, as I’ve occasionally spotted on some bilge keelers with encapsulated keels.

repaired keel

Several weeks ago my grinder and I got up close and personal with the keels. Then, when the temperature was warm enough, I repaired the holes that I’d made with epoxy, and sanded the keels and skeg down to a smooth finish.

The biggest part of the job was well beyond my limited abilities, so we had the keels manufactured and fitted professionally. That was always the plan, and the company that produced the shoes, also did all the technical stuff required to jack up our 5.5 tonne Macwester Malin to facilitate unrestricted access to the underside of the keels and skeg.

stainless steel shoe

For the record, we used 5mm 316 stainless steel plate for the shoe base, with the walls slightly thinner to aid bending. We used A4 (316) stainless screws, silver CT1 as a sealant/adhesive, and we also added an additional layer of resin to the bottom of the bilge in order to be 100% sure that the screws in the skeg plate were sealed internally and externally.

bilge keel stainless steel shoes

It was financially painful, but undoubtedly a job worth doing properly.

This week, I’m replacing the bilge pump hose, and getting the strops attached to our Hippo buoy, which has already been re-installed. Once that’s done, we’re more or less ready for crane-in this coming weekend.

Almost there!


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