Archive for the ‘Maintenance’ Category

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Engine bay hatch upgrade

May 24, 2017

The engine bay hatch on our Macwester Malin also doubles as most of the cockpit sole. At some stage in the past a previous owner had covered the GRP hatch with strips of wood as shown above. Over the years since we purchased Indefatigable Banks back in 2011, the wood has slowly deteriorated and one of the strips (see top right of image above), which was broken when we made the purchase, has unsurprisingly totally failed to re-grow back to its former state.

With this in mind, I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and renovate the hatch. The largest part of the project was preparation. The wooden strips were bolted and glued on, and didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to my reasoned arguments. Eventually, I lost patience and got physical with sharp …and blunt instruments.

Removing the wood and glue was laborious. The next stage was filling the holes left by the bolts, and repairing the isolated areas where my prolonged, careful and caressing approach to removing the wood had ripped off the gelcoat. All in all the preparation took around three days. Maybe a knowledgeable individual with more technical ability than me would have cracked through it quicker …but I’m stuck with me.

I purchased some Tiflex flooring to match the flooring that I used in the new heads and in the forepeak (see here). I also bought a couple of 60mm diameter Osculati 316 stainless steel latches. I used the hatch as a template to cut the Tiflex. Then leaving it to cure over a number of days, the Tiflex was bonded to the hatch using Sikaflex 291i.

I decided to use Sikaflex 291i because I read that the two-part adhesive alternatives tend to be near impossible to remove, whereas Sikaflex will give a permanent bond, but when the time comes to remove it, the process will be slightly less onerous.

Fitting the hatch and tweaking the latches to make sure that they were a tight fit took a few hours. Once the hatch had been fitted, I also made some repairs to the area surrounding the hatch where there had been legacy fittings. I subsequently used “Bar Keeper’s Friend” to clear accumulated grime, as the bright GRP of the renovated hatch had made the surrounding area look pretty shabby.

From start to finish the whole project probably took me around five days. That was longer than I had hoped, but I was pleased with the results. In practical terms, the new floor will be less slippy than the wood when wet, there are no longer any holes left by legacy fittings that let water ingress into the engine bay over the winter, and the new Osculati latches do a much better job of securing the hatch.

All-in-all then, another upgrade that makes our Macwester Malin better than it was before I started. So that goes down as a victory in my book.

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Cold and windy start to the season

April 26, 2017

We hoped to get away over the first weekend back in the water, (which was the long Easter weekend), even if it was just to Port Edgar. The late tide on Friday was our chance to set sail, but the forecast for the following day was awful and we decided that we didn’t like the idea of being stuck at Port Edgar, so after much (too much) deliberation we set sail for Capernaum instead.

We hid from the worst of the high winds inside the harbour, and made good use of the time by pressure-washing our Macwester Malin’s hull, cleaning her cockpit, and fixing the port midship cleat which had become a smidgeon wobbly. The best access to the cleat was by taking the cockpit speakers out (above).

We also helped the Joint Venture team put out the club’s race markers ahead of the first race the following weekend. The tanker on the horizon is leaving Grangemouth presumably having delivered shale gas from the US.

In total we spent three nights onboard Indefatigable Banks. It was chilly, but it had been six months since we last had the opportunity to sleep onboard so neither of us were too bothered about the cold and the howling wind. It was just great to be floating again.

As you might expect, we had a few visitors, with the crews of Artemis, JambelJoint Venture, and Pitteral dropping by. As if we needed an excuse, we reasoned that it was the six-year anniversary of our maiden voyage from Naarden in the Netherlands back over to the River Forth. Posts here. Photographs here.

The following weekend I single-handed our Macwester Malin back to Capernaum, where the welcoming crew from Joint Venture was on hand to catch the ropes. I had made provision for getting alongside without help, but having assistance took some of the stress out of arriving, as this was my first true single-handed trip leaving our mooring and arriving at Capernaum.

I spent the rest of the day finishing-off some repairs and renewals. Just before noon the following morning the Calloo crew kindly helped me pop our Macwester Malin back on her mooring. I had thought about single-handing again, but the forecast was for 30 knot gusts and I didn’t fancy taking unnecessary risks …especially when I have friends willing to lend a hand.

With another long weekend ahead, hopefully our 2017 shakedown sail is up next!!

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Prepping for season 2017

April 4, 2017

With the fuel system overhaul behind us, we turned our attention to getting our Macwester Malin ready for crane-in. As you can see from the shot above, she’s got a fresh coat of antifoul paint coupled with a new boot top. The main sail and genoa are back on, and the mizzen followed later.

You probably can’t spot the replacement sprayhood windscreen that we had replaced professionally over the winter. To be honest, we’re a little disappointed as the quality of the replacement material isn’t as good as the Dutch original. However, the windscreen needed replaced and the new one is an improvement, despite falling short of our expectations.

My little helpers kindly re-varnished and painted the dinghy (above left). Then with one week to go, it was time for my least favourite pre-season task, which is as much fun as wading through mud …mainly because it is wading through mud. As the tide receded I reluctantly dragged on my waders and trudged out to our mooring. It was heavy going, as the large and heavy tools and the large and heavy chain relentlessly sank into the energy-sapping putty. All in all it took me two and a half hours to make some alterations to the mooring ground chains including swapping out a couple of shackles, and re-installing the Hippo buoy. On the plus side I avoided face-planting the brown stuff.

Back onboard, I replaced the engine anode, and then proceeded to bleed the fuel system. I had studied the manual and was struggling to understand where the air actually escaped from the system. My chum from Joint Venture offered to help and he realised that our Lombardini diesel has a self-bleeding system, so all that’s required is to prime the fuel …and the air escapes back into the port fuel tank all by itself.

Unsurprisingly, the engine took a few attempts to start due to the fuel system overhaul, however everything was fine when it was up and running. I let the engine warm up a little before shutting it back down again.

We checked the gearbox oil which didn’t need changing. I then set about draining the engine oil. As you can see above, our Lombardini has a dedicated pump on the starboard side of the engine to empty out the oil. I cut a small cross-hatch in the side of a used water bottle and pushed the bottle on to the oil outlet before pumping the oil out. Easy.

I refilled the engine with fresh oil, and then tightened the fan belt which was a tad on the loose side. After a few more checks, I turned on the ignition and the engine burst into life first time.

That’s it. Our Macwester Malin is ready to get her bottom wet. With just four sleeps to go, crane-in and season 2017 is up next!

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Fuel system overhaul – 2017

March 20, 2017

Interested in cleaning out diesel tanks? Like talk of filth, choking and pumping? Or perhaps you’re struggling to sleep? If so, this is the post for you!

Over the last few years I’ve had nagging doubts lurking in the deepest recesses of my mind about our Macwester Malin’s fuel system. These question marks were completely unfounded, however when you buy a used yacht, you really can’t be certain of the integrity of components until you get up close and personal with them.

Our Macwester Malin has two large fixed fuel tanks, and three or four years ago I decided to stop filling them up at the end of each season and run them down instead, so that I could open up the inspection hatches and have a look inside (see above). Part of the overhaul project included dismantling and cleaning other components such as the pipework that joins both tanks, changing both fuel filters, servicing the Jabsco raw water cooling pump, and trying to find out why our Malin’s diesel tanks occasionally leak when they’re brimmed and our yacht is healed over.

Given there was up to a 100 litres of diesel in the tanks, I bought a 12v pump capable of transferring 45 litres per minute, and 10m of hose. Unfortunately the hose wouldn’t navigate a join in the fuel-fillers, so the skipper of Joint Venture helped get the inspection hatches open and we emptied the tanks in a matter of minutes. The bottoms of both tanks were pretty filthy, but the good news was that this filth didn’t appear to be diesel bug. The filters inside the tanks were completely choked (see below), and my chum reckoned that problem would have led to engine problems within the first 24 hours of engine usage during the new season. That being the case, my unfounded nagging doubts (a.k.a. paranoia) turned out to be a good thing.

As there was still a smattering of diesel on the bottom of the tanks, I agitated the murky contents with a stiff brush and then cleaned out what I could. Then, by decreasing the hose diameter incrementally, I pumped 25 litres of clean diesel back into the tanks with a little bit of pressure, and went through the agitation process once more before pumping it all back out again. After drying, I brushed the bottom of the tanks, and finally used a vacuum cleaner to suck up any remaining loose debris.

A week later I had another session brushing the bottom of the tanks in the first instance, and then using a telescopic magnet to reach the distant corners. I was surprise by how much debris was still inside, so I kept using the magnet until the diminishing returns diminished to the point of being unrewarding.

We dismantled the filters and pipe that links both tanks and I took those home for cleaning. I considered mothballing the starboard side tank, but having looked at the options and taken advice (thanks), I decided it was better to keep them both operational on the basis that it’s arguably the best way to stop the tanks from rusting.

I reassembled the pipework that links the tanks and re-installed the clean filters inside. When it came to re-sealing the inspection hatches, I bought 100g of Hylomar Blue gasket & jointing sealant, along with two 200mm x 200mm x 3mm sheets of nitrile which made up the new gaskets.

For the record, this was the first time that I had changed the secondary fuel filter, and I soon realised that it was impossible to simply unscrew the filter (see above), as there wasn’t enough room to drop it out of the housing. I therefore had to remove the housing from the engine block to get the filter off. None of this effort qualified as additional work, as I had to remove the secondary filter and the filter housing in order to get an allen key into the lower bolt that attached the Jabsco raw water pump to the engine block any-which-way. The good news is that the secondary fuel filter was clean and contained nothing but clean fuel.

My friend from the club took the Jabsco pump away and drilled out a bolt that had been left behind when the top of the bolt sheared off. The following paragraph is a particularly boring one for my future reference, so please feel free to skip on to the next paragraph.

The raw water pump is a Jabsco 29470 2531C model. The impellers we have always used have ten blades. The Lombardini part number for the ten blade impeller is 0042002040, while the Jabsco part number is 18653-0001-P (although “–B” is the same as “–P” without the gasket). Having spoken with Jabsco, a six blade impeller is also suitable (part number 653-0001). Jabsco stated that there was no difference in performance or longevity and it was okay to use either. In the end I bought the Jabsco SK405-0001 service kit which came with a ten blade impeller (although the SK405-0001 service kit typically comes with a six blade impeller), mainly because I wanted to replace all six of the bolts, because with the benefit of hindsight, I now think the existing bolts were non-original and could explain why one of them sheared off. The cost for the kit was £50 including VAT and delivery. Did you read all the way to the end of this paragraph? …well I told you it was boring.

Our chum from Ragdoll popped over for a look inside the tanks. He was briefly over at Port Edgar, before heading back to James Watt Dock on the Clyde, where Ragdoll was waiting ahead of a trip south to Liverpool. Having had a good poke around and performed a HD video survey, he gave the tanks the thumbs up. Not perfect, but pretty solid and serviceable. I bought some replacement braided hose and set about re-working the venting system as that appeared to be an unorthodox sealed configuration that might be the cause of the diesel leak. I didn’t get too far into that project before I spotted that the tanks actually are vented overboard not sealed, as the hoses running around the engine bay are not connected. Instead there is a hidden crossover and the hoses vent over the opposite side of the hull from the corresponding tank.

Granted, overhauling the fuel system wasn’t the most exciting of pre-season maintenance projects, and combined with my crane-out finger injury, it delayed the work that I still have to do to complete the heads compartment, but we now have substantially improved the fuel system, and that should mean that we’re less likely to have fuel-related problems out on the water. It’s fair to say that as we haven’t actually had any fuel-related problems since we bought our Macwester Malin back in 2011, that doesn’t feel like much of an achievement. However another way of looking at it is that we were destined to have fuel problems in the first few weeks of the season, and following the overhaul we’ve substantially reduced the likelihood of that happening.

In a last-ditch attempt to make this post a little more exciting, the shot above shows the Cutty Sark’s rigging …taken at the weekend in Greenwich, London. The crew and I walked around her and mused about the adventures she’s seen; inevitably our thoughts drifted to the adventures that lie ahead for our Macwester Malin over the coming months.

With just two weekends left to prepare for crane-in, it’s going to be a challenge to squeeze in; getting the engine recommissioned (including bleeding the fuel system), anti-foul painting, re-installing the mooring, repairing the dinghy floor, restocking, refitting the anchor, sails and the cockpit tent.

Guess what I’ll be doing at the weekend?

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High & dry …ish

November 22, 2016

ragdolldysart2016

On-shore life has been hectic since crane-out, but we’ve been squeezing-in boat related stuff where ever possible. Team Ragdoll have been doing their best to gloat about being afloat while we’re high and dry. Last we heard they made it over to the inner harbour at Dysart.

Me …jealous?

winterdinghy01

Not to be out done, we decided to get out on the water too.

Yes, it’s fair to say that our choice of vessel was a tad more compact, and had slightly less in the way of creature comforts [such as cabins and engines]…

wintermacwester

…nonetheless, we made it out on to the river, glided majestically past our Macwester Malin, sitting high and dry on the hard [above], and even ventured over to the Ghauts to upset the gulls, curlews, and oystercatchers.

winterisationlavac2016

Obviously there was some work to do too. We performed our usual winterisation processes, making sure that everything is properly decommissioned for the winter months. This year we also had to winterise the heads for the first very time [above].

seinecarnov2016

As usual over the closed season we go out on regular reconnaissance missions. I couldn’t help but include this “in-seine” snap I took of a snazzy-kitsch-car on a Parisienne house boat in early November. Who knows, we might make it there some day.

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Another post crane-out-road-recce saw us nip over to Fisherrow, which could be on our cruising to-do list next year. On the way back we dropped into Leith docks to have a look at the Windsor Castle and her de rigueur dazzle paint. This is the boat that we totally failed to see during the Battle of Jutland commemorations earlier this year.

Later the same day, we dropped by Port Edgar to find out if team Ragdoll were around, but they were nowhere to be seen. Instead we bumped into our chums on their brand new Grandezza 33, Tight Fit V. We spent a night onboard Tight Fit IV, a Grandezza 27 back in June. They sold Tight Fit IV shortly after, and had been AWOL over the summer, so it was great to catch up and have a tour of their lovely new pride and joy.

dinghytrip2-1nov2016

Another cracking day found us back out in our little dinghy. The river was like a mirror and we gently drifted just off the Ghauts as we enjoyed a leisurely picnic in the November sunshine, before heading over to the local pub.

dinghytrip2-2nov2016

By the time we reached the steps just across from the pub, the tide was dropping and the wind had changed direction. We decided to head back round to the club harbour straight away, which turned out to be a sensible precaution. The wind picked up during the journey, and by the time we reached the harbour there were sizeable waves breaking at the harbour mouth. Fortunately the crew couldn’t see them rising menacingly behind her.

Note to self; take life-jackets with us next time we head out.

culrossnov2016

As well as a walk along to Peatdraught Bay, a road trip to Dysart, and dropping into North Queensferry, we planned to walk out on the [new but rickety] pier at Culross. That didn’t go particularly well, as can be seen above. We expected a high tide given the super moon, but this was an hour after high water and the tide should have dropped to around 5.8m by the time I took this photograph. So by my reckoning, the stone part of the pier [just visible in the distance] is completely submerged at around six metres. As the pier can’t be all that much more than a metre [maybe a metre and a half] above the putty, I’m not all that confident about our aspiration to visit Culross next season.

We’ll see.

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Battleships & Bridges

June 1, 2016

ForthBridgesApproachMay16

It was an early start on the Saturday of the long weekend. We set sail about 15 minutes after half-a-dozen yachts from our club set-off on a race down river to Granton. With the tide and wind against us, our Macwester Malin ketch managed a respectable 6.5 knots over the ground on the way to the bridges.

In the distance [circled above] we could just about make out HMS Kent which was lying in front of Inchgarvie.

HMS-Kent-Jutland_May2016

The 436ft long frigate was on the Forth as part of the Battle of Jutland commemorations. Tragically, HMS Indefatigable (1909, obviously not the later aircraft carrier of the same name) was sunk in the first few minutes of the battle with the loss of over one thousand men. Later, the dazzle-painted Windsor Castle would also make an appearance.

While the club racers carried on to Granton, we sailed north-east towards St David’s Harbour before turning back to Port Edgar for lunch.

PortEdgarQueensferryCrossingMay2016

The weather brightened, and we had a relaxing day in and around the marina …and beyond to South Queensferry. Most of the yachts from our club that had been racing to Granton arrived at the marina around 5.30pm, and before long we had all congregated on Joint Venture (a Salty Dog) which was berthed alongside us. By my reckoning there were thirteen of us on a twenty-six footer, so it was pretty cosy in the cockpit.

We cooked and ate on board Indefatigable Banks while the others headed-off to an eatery in South Queensferry. Although there was more stuff and nonsense to be had on Calloo later on, we opted for an early night.

MacwesterMalinCupboardSpring

Early the following morning (Sunday), we heard our chums all set off for home. We thought about that momentarily, and quickly decided to spend the day pottering around in the marina instead.

Having managed to find the right size and shape of spring (above; at last), I replaced a missing spring from one of our Macwester Malin’s cupboards, so we can now heel over without fear of the contents making a riotous bid for freedom. Hurrah!

RosythDocks01

Later on Sunday afternoon we decided that we would head back to our mooring. We took it easy, only unfurling the genoa, as the wind and tide were behind us. By the time we reached Rosyth (more naval hardware above) we partially furled the genoa to lose some speed, as we were well ahead of time. In the end, we were still about an hour too early to access our mooring, so we spent the night at Capernaum.

As the haar smothered Port Edgar, we were happy with our decision to leave.

HeadsVeneerCover01

We opted for another late start on Monday morning, so we missed the opportunity to pop our Macwester Malin back on her mooring, and spent another day pottering around. Still seeking to finish-off the heads, I had sourced a rubber/cork solution (from Tiflex, the same company that provided the Treadmaster flooring), to cover the veneer that had been ruined when I removed the seating that was originally situated there. The new rubber (left-hand-side on the bulkhead above) was a substantially lighter brown than I had hoped, but tonally it was a reasonable match for the paint to the rear of the heads, so I trimmed it up and installed it.

MacwesterMalinDuskMay16

It was about ten pm on Monday night before we popped Indefatigable Banks, our Macwester Malin back on her mooring. By then the light was beginning to fade, and we knew that we had squeezed just about all we could out of our long weekend.

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Ten days and counting…

April 6, 2016

 

PettycurBayBeachWalk29-12-2015

The new season is almost upon us, with just one more weekend’s prep to go.

As usual when our yacht’s on the hard standing we’ve been out and about by road, along the coast to Anstruther, Crail, Dysart, Elie, Pittenweem and St Monans amongst other coastal villages. The shot above was taken on the 29th of December 2015 while the tide was out at Pettycur Bay (click to enlarge).

PortpatrickFeb2016

We also spent a few days in Portpatrick in February, which was the very place that we decided to buy a yacht when we were last there back in 2010. On the far right hand side of the image above you can just make out a Zorb that was part of a BBC Blue Peter presenter’s attempt to cross between Donaghadee and Portpatrick (click to enlarge).

Anyhoo. I’ve been really busy over the last few months, but I’ve still got way too much to do before crane-in. With a bit of luck we should float, however this year our Macwester Malin has a date with me and some power tools for the first month or two in the water. Once I’ve finished I’ll talk through what I’ve been working on here, but prior to that there’s the small matter of crane-in.

 

HullAntifoul2016

As usual, our Malin’s hull has been anti-fouled, I’ve de-winterised the engine; changing the oil and flushing out the anti-freeze. The dinghy has been repaired following on from the damage caused by vandals at the end of last year, and anti-fouled too.

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I’ve dismantled our dinghy mooring, as this year the club has installed pontoons for our dinghies. You can see our dinghy already parked on the nearest pontoon above.

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I have also tackled the opaque patch on our sprayhood window. Having read online that there’s little can be done to improve opaque vinyl, I tried a variety of solutions coupled with several hours of elbow grease. Subsequently it still wasn’t clear to me whether the opaque patch was dirt or sun damage, but on balance it seemed most likely to be a distilled stour that had dripped down from the main boom. Eventually I reached the point where replacing the window seemed like the only alternative. Once I’d made that decision, there was nothing to stop me trying one last solution …a solution that isn’t recommended in online forums.

Sprayhoodvinylclean2016-2

 

I dug out some old car wax (Johnson Rally Wax) that had been languishing in the shadows of our garage and tested a couple of strips using my Dremel 3000 as a circular polishing tool. I bought 100 wool polishing wheels from Ebay, opting for non-Dremel wheels as they are a couple of millimetres deeper and I wanted to use the tool at a right angle to the vinyl. Surprisingly the test strips proved that the opaque patch was stubborn dirt on top of the vinyl, rather than sun damage integral to the plastic itself. There was a noticeable improvement and no sign of any damage caused by the Dremel or wax.

 

Sprayhoodvinylclean2016-3

As I kept experimenting I discovered it was best to use plenty of polish, and have a heavy white card underneath the window in order to have a good view of the process. There was often a stubborn layer of orange residue, which came off with a second or third pass of the Dremel and car wax. While not quite as good as new, it’s a major improvement. Now I’ll need to find a way of removing the excess wax and cleaner from the surrounding fabric.

While there’s loads more to do, the only essential task that I’ve still to perform is installing our Macwester Malin’s mooring tackle. That’s one that I’ll choose to do on a sunny day if one of those turns up in the first half of the month. Failing that I’ll be getting soggy …again.

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