Sunday, August 2, 2015

Maintenance in the heat that is Houston

Howdy Folks,

Thought I'd check in after what's been a very busy June for us.  For various reasons we weren't able to get down to the boat for about a month, so for the last 3 weekends we've made the 8 hour round trip drive from the house to Kemah and have been whittling away on the projects.

The first two weekends, we pretty much didn't do anything fun and just worked on the boat.  We've cleaned and lubed all 8 winches (4 self tailing and 4 standard).  This was a fairly nasty job that we'd been putting off but we knew it needed to be done.  Essentially we just dissembled the winches 1 at a time and tossed the parts in a bucket to let them soak in either gasoline or mineral spirits to degrease it a bit and took everything up the one of the deck area our marina provides.  The decks are elevated so they get a decent breeze, the view is good and most importantly they provide a bit of share.  Then we scrubbed them clean with green scrub pads and a toothbrush.  Then after a quick rinse in some warm (as if there's another choice for anything outdoors during the Houston summer) soapy water.  We re-greased the gears (lightly with a brush) and oiled the pawls and springs and reassembled everything.  This really isn't a challenging job, but it's fairly time consuming and was super nasty.  Our goal is to do them more regularly form now one and to just tackle them 1 at a time so it's not such a downer.  But hey, the winches truly sing now and are much easier to use.

Winch disassembly

Dirty pawls, these should not have been greased, just lightly oiled.

Kara, finishing this one off the right way

We also got both settees in the main saloon re-upholstered and are super happy with them.  We used a very light colored Ultra leather, we went with their Brissa Distressed and really like the feel of it.  It feels like really buttery soft leather but has all the benefits of Ultraleather, so should last for a long time.  We also had the cushions redone, so it's much more comfortable now.

Kara went up the mast to the spreaders (We've been taking turns on this one) the mast climber really makes this nice as mentioned previously, but this was her first time up the mast.  So she climbed while I spotted with a safety line on the winch (not required but well worth the effort for the piece of mind).  She replaced the steaming light and deck lights, so for the first time since we've owned the boat, we have a functional deck light...nice.  We've now replaced almost every bulb on the boat with a new LED and have several spares squirreled away, so our power consumption and heat generation from the lights has come WAY down.

Kara on her way up to replace some light bulbs.

We also re-sealed the fridge doors with some new rubber (weather) stripping.  Kara cut and shaped a new gel infused memory foam mattress topper for the forward bunk that we sleep on.  This thing is great, much more comfortable and the gel means it sleeps cooler, which is a welcome improvement for me ;)

Then we finally took the time to position permanent dock lines to make it easier when bringing the boat back in.  We'd been using extra long dock lines and using them for double duty, so our bow line would come to the dock cleat and then back to the boat as a rear spring, with a similar process on the stern.  This meant we needed fewer lines, but was a huge PITA if you need to adjust either line.  To say we should have made this change,  much MUCH sooner is a massive understatement.  We've gone out several times since and putting the boat away is now about a 5-10 minute process compared to...well longer before. 

We've also been working to narrow down our list of "Must do" boat projects before we can leave.  I'll share more detail on this later but one of the things that's been on the list for a while now is to have our chainplates inspected and potentially replaced, since the boat is 15 years old, we where assuming this would need to be done before leaving.  We've been dreading this, since Island Packet used internal chainplates that are fiberglassed in place.  This is great from a protection perspective as long as they are well sealed and bedded but makes them very expensive (~$10K) if you need to replace them.  Anyway, we had a rigger come out that's experienced with IP chainplate replacement and he inspected ours and showed us what great shape they where in.  We couldn't see the entire chainplate (fiber glassed over) but we could tell that the exposed areas below the deck where in great shape.  He said based on how they looked and that they're made out of 316 stainless, that he didn't see any reason to replace them.  Prior to 1998/1999 they where made out of 308, which doesn't hold up nearly as well.  We just need to keep them well bedded and should be in good shape moving forward.  Thank you Mr Bob Johnson, we love the quality and attention to detail that went into our boat!  Not to mention, saving $10k on not having to replace the chainplates, means more for the cruising kitty!

Inspecting the chainplates.  We also checked them out from the inside.

Here's a bad chainplate from an IP he did earlier this month.  They used to make them out of 308 stainless, ours are 316 and fortunately in almost perfect condition.

The other big job we finally got done was a getting our new name on the boat.  We originally where just going to order some generic vinyl lettering of the web, but didn't like how they turned out and realized that for a little bit more we could work with a local artist who worked with us nailing a design we really liked and then custom cut everything in his shop and applied it all, and we both love it.

Putting on our new hailing port

So that was two full weekends of boat chores and maintenance, without ever even having the time to leave the marina...which kinda sucked to do, but the progress has been great.  We decided that this weekend we'd focus on actually getting out and enjoying the boat.  So stay tuned, the next post will have anchoring, fireworks, sailing and the renaming ceremony.  But more on time.

I also made my first trip to the top of the mast, to check our halyards and a few connections up there.

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