Maintaining the Boat – by Mark

 

Nov 10, 2017

Our new machiatto/scab wifi view

Maintenance on our boat tends to be quite a significant  portion (at least 2 days) of every week. This includes normal maintenance as well as repair of breakage.  For example, this week had me changing the zincs on the props, engines and checking the saildrive and central boat zincs for wear. Propulsion engine needle zincs were gone.  We waited too long to change them (8 months). The gen-set needle zinc was changed, just in time, along with the prop zincs. Notes were made in the maintenance log.

Needle zincs

The next issue was the inaccurate reading of the brand new ultrasonic Blue Sea water tank sending unit installed 8 months ago. Apparently, they are not compatible with salt water and air environments.  I bought a spare ultrasonic depth sender when originally installing the system, just in case this happened.   All is working again. I have added another layer of liquid electrical tape to the top, thinking it will help extend the time before another replacement. Wires were rotted from the inside due to improper factory seal at the head.

It should be under warranty, but like every new component that has failed on Uno Mas, once you leave the States, you are on your own.   Manufacturers will state all over that their warranties are solid. Sure, if you can ship it back and wait for rebuilt parts to be shipped out. ( A 3 month turn around time if you are lucky). Even with Spectra watermakers (on our friend’s boat), apparently, Bahamas is not covered in the manufacturer  “world wide” 100% labor and material lifetime warranty. We went with Ecotech out of Trinadad for our watermaker, and ironically, have been extremely pleased.  The off the shelf filters and fancy RO membrane have gone down in price and increased in availability over the past 3 years. The watermaker pre-filters, screens and house water carbon filters were replaced (sourced from Walmart). They worked fine, but over 6 months have passed and time, not usage, dictated they be changed.

A list of other repairs performed this past month:

Next Gen Gen-set. We’ve noticed the amps and voltage have been pulsing until a large load (water heater or heat gun) is added, and the preload pulsing voltage was between 109-118 v and 6 to 11 amp. The gen-set capacitor failed and voltage output stopped.  After replacing, the pulsing continued.  After reading the generator manual (only available on line), it was determined that the potentiometer needed to be adjusted and engine run speed compensated for the adjustment.  You just need to locate the engine throttle adjustment screw, which is not listed in any manual or pic. I guessed the engine stop solenoid may have something to do with it, since there isn’t any exterior adjustment of the governor or idle. The engine stop was lubricated last week with wd40 due to it sticking and not allowing the engine to start. So, a ¼ turn of the stop bar noticeably increased the engine speed and miraculously eliminated the pulsing and increased the voltage output to an even 118 to 120v. No messing around with the generator potentiometer was needed. Notes were made in the maintenance log book, in case the generator starts to pulse voltage and amperage again. The gen-set’s oil needed to also be changed due to another 100 hrs of run time.

Capacitor

 Maxair scuba tank fill air compressor. The water/oil separator plug split where the safety electric solenoid was screwed too tightly into the threads from the factory. This happened after 10 hours of run time (break-in) and a failure rendering the unit useless, unless you like to fill you Scuba tanks with 300 lbs instead of 3200 lbs of air.  I was able to order the replacement plug along with more supply air carbon filters. Originally, I tried to have the manufacturer warranty the plug, but after 2 weeks and numerus emails, I could see that they were going to draw this out to the “just send in the failed part and we’ll have our engineers evaluate it and get back to you with the assessment. We are leaving Bonaire in 1 month, so…… I paid for a new plug. It is just easier. In the meantime, I was able to tap and thread the bottom of the plug and install a bolt with some Loc-tite. The safety solenoid is still connected, but not screwed into anything. We are now back to filing tanks. There is still a safety pressure relief and manual gauge for safety. We are still waiting for the parts to arrive. We have a tracking number, so maybe two weeks?  We have also decided to fill the tanks at a local scuba shop instead of using up our remaining filters.  More filters are due to arrive with the shipment as well.

Deck light. The deck light that seems to need replacement every year, is now being replace with 2 LED units. Each unit has the same lums as the original light, so over 2x the light, at a fraction of the amps used. We installed a remote controlled deck light 3 years ago in addition to the now failed factory setup. Of course,  it is 20 ft up the mast and requires soldered electrical connections. This is always fun with the winds typically blowing out whatever lighter you use.  We have not found one yet that works well.

Up the Mast working on the deck lights and wifi booster

Side note, soldered electrical connections. It was mentioned to me that the “official boating (lots of letters behind their names) commission recommends that all electrical connections be crimped.”  This is beyond BS. (I now feel like an old sailor with a beard and flip-flops  here, with tales of yester years.) Since most boaters don’t know how to properly solder, they decided it would be easier  to not educate people on proper soldering technique.  They would rather make an inferior connection now be the accepted norm.  The majority of failed crimped connections I have replaced on Uno Mas were from the factory.  ZERO of my soldered connections have failed in 8 years of owning Uno Mas.

Z-Spar goose neck boom connection at the mast. We replaced half of the unit 3 years ago, and now it has become loose again. This time, I redrilled the entire assembly so a larger stainless bolt can be used. One end of the assembly needed a bushing due to the wobble at the worn out end. A brass bushing was sourced at the local hardware store by way of a plumbing fitting. After cutting and filing, we are back in action with the boom remounted to the mast.

Brutons Autoprop bearings loose. In order to replace the bearings, we removed one of the two props (only one side was loose) and installed our aluminum backup prop, all underwater. Of course, to remove and tighten the bearings, two special tools, costing around $300 were required. We installed the backup prop incase a wind came through and we needed to move quickly.  Once the prop was out, I was able to adjust the bearings and eliminate the play. We now have two full sets of replacement bearings for our two props. Hopefully, like insurance, we will never need them. The prop got regreased and reinstalled. The other side will be closely inspected when we haul out for new bottom paint in a few months.

 Micron 66 bottom paint. We should be able to go three seasons (2, most definitely) with the 3 coats of  paint on Uno Mas.  After only 3 months of Uno Mas in the water,  it is gone. Not just spotty, but all worn off. We now clean the bottom every 2 weeks, breaking off barnacles and lightly scrubbing off the green fuzzy growth.  This paint IS NOT cheap. 3 coats require 6 gallons. Each gallon is about $300. That’s $1,800 just in paint. Haul out, storage, and US yards requiring the paint to be applied by their employees, is all additional. The St Augustine Marine Center,  where we were hauled out last year, doesn’t allow owners to paint their hulls.  There goes even more money for the additional labor.

Prop and Hull cleaning time!

So, where does that leave us? Panama has a boat yard, Shelter Bay, that will allow owners to do their own bottom work. We’ve been warned not to use any of the yard’s contractors due to billing not matching quoted prices for work performed. (3x as much as originally quoted, was what our friends found last month.) Again,  never trust anybody to do work on your boat unless you can stand over them all of the time, which kind of negates hiring labor. Don’t you think?)  Anyway, we purchased all of the paint, epoxy barrier coat (because, of course, we need to raise our water line, yet again), and miscellaneous materials while in Bonaire. Why? Well, one would expect that Panama, being a trade-free zone, we could purchase everything there for 8% less (due to no import tax).  One would be correct, assuming big savings, but would they have the paint available? Or, would it be multiple $20 taxi rides into town with a promise that next month’s cargo ship will have the balance of the order? As we’ve learned before, don’t trust people to perform or have what you need. So, for an extra $200 and we are ready to sand, prime and paint as soon as Uno Mas is on the hard, doing it all ourselves.

SeaHawk Island 44 Plus is our new bottom paint. A lot of people have strong opinions on bottom paint. Here is ours:  Micron 66 worked great for the last 6 years while only sailing in Florida and the Bahamas. We only had the boat in the water for 5 months at a time. It didn’t wash off (that ,I could tell) while on the hard, and it never required additional cleaning. ….. Until we did a serious 7 day crossing in 20 ft seas that  pounded the bow. After that, it was gone (at 3 months). And yes, it was meticulously installed according to manufacturer installation instructions.  I used Micron 66 because of multiple reviews and tests. It is available for use in the USA.  Island 44 Plus is not available in the States, and if you show up with it, the coast guard can test your hull. You can be required to repaint within a month, or leave US waters. In 8 years, we have never met anyone who has had their bottom paint tested. One of our friends has it on his bottom. After 5 years, he is repainting. Not because of failure, but they thought it must be time.  Bonaire’s Budget Marine has it in stock (ordered weekly as it doesn’t stay on the shelves).They used to also carry Micron 66, but nobody purchased it. Now it’s not being restocked. This also reaffirms my decision.

In the environmental arena, is it better to paint 6 gallons every year for 3 years (18 gallons) of not as bad for the environment paint, or 6 gallons of the good stuff every 3 years? This does not even consider  the costs incurred for haul out, locations (we are 24 ft wide and not able to haul out most places), and time lost. Sadly, the bottom paint with 0%  copper and tin are being pushed in the States as the best alternative. Maybe it is for fresh water or a sailboat kept in the water for weekends, but not for serious sailors.  Quick side note , regulations should focus on banning/adressing real threats to oceans such as sewage, fertilizer runoff, over fishing, plastic bottles and bags and temperature increases, not paint….SIGH. Yes, even with our choice of “recently banned” bottom paint, we consider ourselves environmentally conscious, knowing that our nieces and nephews will never see the coral reefs in their splendor that we have experienced.  Even in Bonaire, we have seen a huge decline in coral and reef life. But, it is still better than the places we have seen the last few years.

There’s a bunch more maintenance going on, but that’s the list of “major” issues this month.  (Angie has been fighting rust on the deck (STILL fallout from SAMC, and mold due to higher humidity days.) A lot of cruisers consider boat ownership to be “a series of repairs carried out in exotic locations”. I still enjoy the maintenance challenges along with the immediate gratification of all systems working as installed, and sometimes, even better.

 

New gear hanging area
Auxiliary cooling fans for fridg and freezer compressor. Made too much noise. Waiting for next idea

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