Maintenance

Making a boat into a home

12 Oct

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In the run-up to cutting our docklines, my friend Toast and I would meet for workday lunch breaks in downtown Seattle to talk about All Things Cruising. It was a much needed outlet during a time that we weren’t very public with our plans, and could only bore close friends with for so long. One week, she reported back from a daysail with another would-be cruising family that hoped to point south soon: “they’re never going to leave Puget Sound.”

She was right. They didn’t leave, and sold the boat the next year. Most of the right cruising prep boxes ...

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Understanding engine overheating problems

2 Oct

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Why is the engine overheating? Our Yanmar engine’s shrill alarm was the jarring start to some stressful hours during the last five months, and we asked that question many times. The answer was not one root cause, but more likely a series of related events, as a domino effect of different issues cascaded. I’ve written about the painful side of this before, but less so the final diagnosis and fix, so this is for cruisers like Mark, Lynn & Rick, Gary, and others who reached out and asked to learn from our experience.

It all started when tried ...

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EYES ON BOATS: And Other Important Upgrades

29 Sep

New eyes and hole

Lunacy was on the hard last week to get her bottom cleaned and some new paint put on before she goes south for the winter, and while she was out I finally made two changes I’ve long been pondering. First I cut a hole in the aluminum plate (the “bob-plate” I call it) that supports her bowsprit; second I stuck a pair of eyes on her bow.

The reason for the hole is that I really dislike the way the bob-plate sometimes makes the bow look like a clipper bow in profile. Not that I am inherently prejudiced against ...

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SERVICING WINCHES: A Necessary Chore

15 Aug

Winch service prep

I spent some time last year installing new “disc springs” on the two Andersen primary winches in Lunacy‘s cockpit. At that time I knew I should have also taken the trouble to clean and grease those winches, but I have exceptional procrastination skills and so managed to talk myself out of it. This season, however, the winches were screaming so loudly every time I turned them, I knew I could no longer forestall the inevitable.

Servicing winches is definitely a chore and can be a bit time-consuming if you do it properly. But it is also a pleasant job, ...

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Oh, RATS! Getting rid of rodents aboard

14 Aug

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It’s not easy to get rid of rats on board. Preventing rats from getting on in the first place is better, of course. We blame our current dock-bound status for the uninvited visitors, but two other boats have related to us how rats in New Zealand swam to their boats from shore and entered by climbing the anchor chain! These are determined creatures… and if they’re going to find you, it’s good to know how to deal with them first.

Our unwanted rodent remained aboard for four weeks to the day. I’m not going to think about the hours of ...

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Hauling Out

12 Aug

No one likes hauling out. Mostly because it means you are not sailing, and that is a terrible fate when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.  Hauling out means fixing things, buying replacement parts, discovering nasty surprises, and living in a boat yard. None of those are my favorites.  But what needs to be done needs to be done, and Papillon definitely needs a propeller shaft rejig and some centerboard work.

We got out of the marina on Monday morning, and made the short trip across the bay to the yard. As Erik heroically defied our massive ...

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AUTOPILOT FAILURE: Back Across the Gulf of Maine

4 Aug

Self-steering options

I knew this day would come. I recently discussed having to make up new wood-chip “fuses” for the “electric vane” rig on Lunacy, and in the whole time I’ve owned the boat, about eight years now, this has been the only repair I’ve had to do to keep my autopilot system going. But the small tiller-pilot that is the brains of the operation is very old, and I did expect it would fail eventually. Which is what happened when Mr. Lassen and I were scuttling home from Nova Scotia a few days ago.

It wasn’t a big deal at ...

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Tackling Leaks and Selling the Dream

23 Jul
Amy: Girls, they are going to be here in half an hour.  I need you to tidy up the cockpit.
Indy: Who?
Amy: Those people… Dave’s friends. Like we talked about at breakfast? It doesn’t matter. Just tidy up.
Indy & Stylish: Okay, Mom.
Papillon: Hee hee hee.
Amy: Why are you laughing?  Let’s see, I need to cut up some baguette–
Papillon: I have a surprise for you.
Amy: What? No. No surprises. I have an unknown quantity of Kiwis arriving in thirty minutes.  I have to finish getting ready.
[pause]
Amy: What is that dripping noise?
Papillon: Chortle!...
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The Evils of Cockpit Flooring

11 Jul

There are many things I love about my boat.  It is a comfortable home. It sails beautifully in heavy weather. It is very pretty.  But even Papillon has its flaws.

The girls and I were playing a game in the cockpit. Stylish rolled, and the die skittered off the table. All of us shrieked and grabbed for it, but it was too late. It fell through the cockpit floor.

What, you might wonder, is the big deal? Our floor is painted aluminum with a teak grid overlay. It is a good concept: when water gets into the cockpit, it falls ...

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Engine woes in the Singapore Strait

29 Jun

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The engine failed our test run, but it at least had the grace to wait until we were beyond the worst of the shipping traffic. With a few miles left to our intended anchorage the needle began to steadily tick up again. This has been the pattern: it’s fine, right up  until it’s not, and then the overheating happens very, very quickly. We shut it down and drifted with the current, happy to be outside the shipping lanes. Jamie replaced 1 1/2 liters of coolant, much of which had spilled into the well.

It’s dashed our plans, if not our ...

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