Archive for the ‘Maintenance’ Category

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Summer cruise 2017 – Part 1

August 2, 2017

The forecast for the foreseeable future was for unsettled weather, so we chose to set sail on a day with marginally lighter winds and sunny spells. Our final destination was unclear, however St. Andrews and Lindisfarne were both possibilities. We left as the tide was receding, so the first leg to Anstruther would have to take over seven hours, or we risked arriving before there was enough water. This meant intentionally making slow progress, as we can typically reach Anstruther in five or six hours. The shot above shows us approaching a wreck to the south of Inchkeith with a following sea.

We started-out with a much reduced genoa, and the mizzen ready to deploy if required. With the tide pushing our twin-keeled ketch forward combined with 25+ knots of wind, we were doing between six and seven knots over the ground. That was way too fast, however I reasoned that the tide would be against us later in the journey.

We tacked as close to the south-east of Inchkeith as we could. That was a mistake; we should have delayed tacking, as the waves caused by the current/tide circumventing the island grew to over 2m. Unfortunately I don’t have any photographs, as the crew was a tad unsettled, and politely suggested that I might stop taking photographs.

I say ‘politely suggested’, but in reality she delivered an eclectic unbroken chain of colourful expletives strewn upon the wind, which all but obscured the words “Cecil” …and “B” …and “DeMille”.

We brought the genoa in further, now down to no more than a hankie, and hunkered-down until we were eventually afforded some protection from the island itself. The shot above shows a much calmer following sea as we headed along the East Neuk coast later.

Arriving at the marina on the late tide, we were welcomed with much-needed alcohol by our chums from Pampero, a Moody Eclipse. For my future reference, our Macwester Malin’s 1m draft lets us have access to the marina when there’s 2m at Rosyth. The photograph above shows the view from our Macwester’s centre cockpit over towards the Ship Tavern.

With the crew keen for a break from sailing and the high winds ever-threatening, we stayed in Anstruther and took some time out. We scrubbed the deck and I noticed that the varnish on the foredeck grab rails of our Macwester Malin was cracked, so I gave them a quick rub-down then varnished them. It was an in-season remedial approach, so they will have to be done properly at some stage.

One afternoon a pipe band turned up to the cobbled square adjacent to our pontoon (across from the Ship Tavern), followed by a number of visiting dance troupes. Apparently there was an international dance festival underway. The photograph above shows some of the Croatian dancers.

After a day or two the chap on a small Wayfarer dinghy called Dreamtime, that was berthed next to our Macwester Main, told me that he had decided to throw in the towel. His original plan was to sail around the UK, but the weather outlook wasn’t great and he didn’t fancy the journey up north. Instead he returned a couple of days later and I helped him get Dreamtime on to a trailer, so that he could spend what was left of the summer sailing in Cornwall.

As the days passed the crew and I eventually agreed that we wouldn’t be heading any further east, north or south with the possible exception of the Isle of May …but even that fell by the wayside. The shot above shows the Anstruther lifeboat returning from a rescue mission over at …the Isle of May.

Part 2 up next…

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Aberdour sortie July 2017

July 12, 2017

When we set sail on Saturday afternoon, we weren’t entirely sure where we were going to end up. We sailed down river under the three bridges, enjoying the sunshine en route, and eventually set a course for Dalgety Bay. When we arrived, a 26/27ft yacht was already in the small harbour. We considered squeezing in ahead of the yacht, but unfortunately she was badly parked and even although our twin-keel Macwester Malin only draws a metre, it was doubtful there was enough water. So we reversed back out and headed further east towards Aberdour.

There were loads of yachts racing in Aberdour bay as ABC, the local club’s regatta was in full swing, so we kept our sails under wraps and picked our way through the field.

Once we had tied up, we were delighted to hear that the local harbourmaster had bought Vaago, a Macwester 27 over the winter. We found out later that our chum on Joint Venture was the overall race winner. The next day a handful of yachts from RFYC over in Granton turned up for lunch, but didn’t stay. Sunday was a pretty drab and dank affair all day long, but there were breaks and we made sure that we were out and about ashore when we had the opportunity. Whereas when the rain was on, I spent my time carrying out some minor repairs that needed to be done.

The remedial work included replacing the deck fitting for the navigation light at the bow (above), and coming-up with an interim solution to keep the aft cabin hatch open and out of the way until I organise a proper stainless steel stay. This will allow me to use the helm seat (which sits on top of the aft cabin’s lower washboard), that I made a few weeks ago.

We sailed back home on Monday afternoon. Ten minutes after leaving, not far out of the harbour, we spotted our first puffin of the season. He was pretty close, but unfortunately didn’t hang around until I was able to photograph him. Pity. Anyway, with plenty of time in the bag to reach our mooring, we sailed leisurely towards the bridges.

Just north of Hound Point, we heard a shout out over the VHF from Aberdeen Coastguard. They asked if there were any craft in the vicinity of Hound Point as they wanted to follow-up a call for help that they understood came from a small boat near an oil terminal in the Forth Estuary. They ‘thought’ it might be Hound Point.

We couldn’t see anything near Hound Point, but let the coastguard know that we could just see a small craft off Braefoot Bay terminal back at Inchcolm which looked as though it was drifting aimlessly. The coastguard asked us to turn around and go check it out, so we brought our sails in and headed back east. About thirty minutes later we had reached the boat we had spotted and it wasn’t in any trouble. So it proved to be a bit of a wild goose chase …but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry. After the coastguard had told us we could stand down, we made a beeline for our mooring, as the oodles of time that we previously had in hand were now sadly MIA.

Back on our mooring with the tide receding, we didn’t have time to leave our Macwester Malin in the neat and tidy state we would have liked, however we sorted that out a couple of days later …along with spending some time out on deck with a sundowner in the sunshine (view from our deck above).

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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

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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?

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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]…

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…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.

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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].

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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