Category Archives: Getting the Wreck to be Seaworthy

Launched at Last!

The Boss and I arrived at Baltic Wharf on Friday to find that they had nicked our boat and put it beside the launch slipway. There seemed to be quite a bit to load on, food, clothes, and stuff, but there was stuff to get rid of, including the power cable and ladder.

Rowan had completed the canopy and the cockpit enclosure ( a good case of “just in time”!). It proved its worth during the next 3 nights afloat. Thanks to LNR Marine.

Anyway, the guys were very good, lifted us into slings, gave us plenty of time to antifoul the patches where the chocks were and under the keel. The launch went smoothly; I checked all the seacocks and were, at the time, fine. However, when we were sorting ourselves out alongside, I realised that I had not checked the depth and speed transducer mounts. Both were unusable; the depth ‘cos I couldn’t get the depth transducer fully into the mount – probably caused by debris and muck at the bottom of the mount. The speed log blank was seized solid! We later found that a heads seacock needed tightening.

The trip down the Dart from Totnes to Dartmouth was event-free. We had booked a berth at Darthaven came in alongside Starboard side to, but like our Rival (the previous Cuchulainn) she kicks to Port in astern which makes stopping at a starboard berth a bit more of a challenge.

By this time, we had created another list of bits we needed, for example, torches and a replacement hand water pump, ‘cos the old one leaked air back into the pressurised side of the water supply. This made the pump operate at the wrong times! The pressure switch appears to be a bit dodgy so that may need replacement but it’s old and may be unavailable which equals a new pump! We also discovered that the water tank leaks from the inspection cover and, in several places, around the fibreglass cover. This is a winter job and, despite tightening up all the screws & bolts, it will still weep a little bit of water, particularly when heeled or overfilled. (Moral: don’t do either!)

Our launch coincided with a Cargreen Yacht Club Cruise to Dartmouth, so on Sat we joined 6 others at the Floating Bridge pub for dinner.

The forecast for Sunday was W to NW 3 or 4 occasionally 5, with thundery showers; we were going west into the wind. Great! No chance for a proper first sail! It was a motor all the way back to Cargreen from Dartmouth. The weather was very sunny, all the clouds were nearly all inland and around Yealampton, there was a substantial thunder storm with loadsa rain. We left our berth at 08:30, topped up with some diesel (and discovered another winter job – replacing the filler hose and bleed hose!). We cleared Dartmouth just after 09:00 with a light tail wind. Within an hour it was about 8 knots and enough to fill the mainsail when I raised it. You can tell that this boat has been in the Mediterranean with all the Saharan sand/dust still embedded in it despite the serious cleaning it got this winter!

We did manage to sail with both sails up and no engine for 15 minutes! The wind had backed enough to the SW but it didn’t last, genoa came back in and the cast iron genoa came back on!

By the time we got to Start Point, the tide was beginning to turn foul against us so our average speed dropped a couple of knots and once clear of Bolt Tail SW of Salcombe we were managing only 4 knots over the ground. (No boat speed or depth!) The adverse tide lasted all the way up to our mooring at Cargreen where we used the tried and tested method of the Boss driving and the Skipper picking up the mooring. It was lovely and quiet after the bustle of Dartmouth. The meal was from out-of-date tins and lots of Lee & Perrins! The Skipper was heard to mutter nasty things the next morning – the resident gulls clearly had had a party on our brand new cockpit enclosure and left lots of nasty white muck. &@$£%€∞#s!!

Our small dinghy was full with the bags that we brought back from the boat and we were met by D & A who were very kindly giving us a lift back to our car that we had left at Baltic Wharf. We are very grateful to them.

It was a full-on 4 days but the boat is just about ready to go; the list isn’t endless but grew a bit during the trip.

PS Photos afloat to follow…


Launch Date in Sight

The launch date has been set for Fri 18 Jul. So now we MUST get everything ready!

The clamp for the bilge pump is now installed, although with all the twists and joints in the tubing, I managed to connect it up the wrong way first time. It blew instead of sucked, not good if you want to empty the bilge of water!

The deck is now painted a rather bright white and is really non-slip! It took a while to mask up all round the deck fittings and I also cut pretty curves in the masking tape. The end result is fine but it certainly shows up how rough the rest of the deck is!

First main coat of antifoul is done, we’ll complete the top coat probably on Mon.

First coat of Antifoul

First coat of Antifoul

Jobs left are just tidying, putting cushions out, collecting together all the stuff that we need. We did acquire some melamine plates from the skip plus a kettle, but we threw that back when we saw how scaled up it was!


Final Jobs for Seaworthiness

These jobs are getting the nav lights to work; having a working bilge pump; painting the deck with non-slip; antifoul the hull.

In the last couple of visits,  I can’t work out why the wire from the switch panel to the anchor locker doesn’t work! So I’ve rewired it along a very torturous route: from the starboard side of the anchor locker, the cable went through the bulkhead into the cable duct. It was threaded through a deck gland to keep it waterproof. The cable went across to the port side duct into the heads locker, down to the water pipe duct. I pushed the cable through with the help of a bit of PTFE spray, to the galley. Under the galley and through another duct eventually to the cockpit locker. The final bit was up to the switch panel. However, it needed two attempts to get both lights to work! I had tried several other routes but the obvious one along the duct at the edge of the boat is blocked by the steelwork for the chainplates.

Over the past two visits, I hoisted both sails so Cuchulainn now looks more like a yacht ready to go! The weight of the sails is much less when compared to our Rival 41! I will probably leave the tack lines for the mainsail until we’re afloat as they are not essential.

I’ve given up with the leaks from the windows and have put a quadrant of Sikaflex around them all. Today there was no evidence of any leaks; only time will tell.

The bilge pump is partly done but I’m waiting for the replacement clamp. I hope it doesn’t hold me up.

I have marked the anchor chain at 10metre intervals and got it into the chain locker. But I discovered that the CQR anchor doesn’t fit through the stem fitting – it’s too big. J has given me a Bruce anchor that will fit, so I’m taking that down next time. I also need an 8mm allen key to undo the chain swivel.

Next visit will probably be on Thu/Fri when both days are forecast to be dry and I will be able to paint the deck.

Launch Date Closer

My book of jobs to do on the boat is now all on less than one page, so the launch date must be close! This entry is an amalgam of 3 visits to the boat over the last week.

The remote mic for the VHF now has a glassed-in bracket in the starboard cockpit open locker and a holder. I’d made the bracket from fibreglass as well. This morning, I did a radio check with Brixham Coastguard who came through “Loud and clear”. The radio/CD player now has new speakers in the cabin to replace the corroding, black boxes. They are smart looking,  flush mounted on the forward saloon bulkhead. Just need to connect them up tomorrow.

We STILL  have leaks from the windows, despite all the Creep Crack Cure I’ve poured into them. They have got one more chance before I break out the black Sikaflex to go around the frames. It was a remedy that worked on our Rival.

I’ve been having “fun” with an enclosure for the calorifier which I had hoped to finish today, however, the broken bilge pump above it and the replacement of all the tubing has put that on hold. The part I need is a plastic clamp, on order with Mt Batten Boathouse. Quickly please as it’s holding me up!

The deck is now sanded ready to be painted. I need a couple of dry days so that I can mask up the deck and then paint. Not this week unfortunately! The antifoul was put on by the previous owner (not many nice things can be said about him, suffice it to say that I have a Small Claims Court judgement against him but await him to pay me what he owes). I rubbed down what I could reach with the hose (about half); I’ve now extended the hose and will do the rest tomorrow. I’ve got the paint ready to go. The Boss seems to think that it is her favourite job, bit I;m not sure! The topsides look much better because I’ve feathered back the edges of the worn paint on the port side and replaced the stripes and from  a distance one cannot tell that there is damage there or that the paint job is pretty bad!

Very dangerously, I’ve been thinking about the running rigging and how to reef from the cockpit. I’ve just installed two extra blocks for the tack reefing lines (forward end of the sail) plus deflectors to ensure that the reef line pulls in the correct direction. Graeme from Harris Rigging showed me the way to do that. The boat is beginning to look like a yacht with the mainsail and stackbag rigged. Note to self – get an up to date photo!

Not everything is going well, I’ve discovered that the bow light won’t work ‘cos there’s no power to it. Somewhere in the cable from the anchor locker end to the switch panel there’s a break. The cable is well hidden in a cable duct, probably down the starboard side and almost certainly inaccessible!  This may be a rewire job! Bother!

Significant jobs left are: Deck paint; Antifoul: Bilge pump; Calorifier; Bow light. Light iIS at the end of the tunnel!

Trying to Beat the Rain!

Yesterday, the forecast changed at least twice, saying, yes, we would have lots of rain before 12:00 and yes, we would have lots of rain after 12:00! Well, today, it started to rain around 10:15, just as I was most of the way through sanding the deck prior to re-painting with non-slip paint. I was expecting rain, but, not so soon. I can finish that later, maybe on Saturday when it’s supposed to be dry. I discovered that two of the windows still leak and that the forward hatch still lets in rainwater. Another dry day job. The hatch is not going to be easy to find and cure the leak. As one of the contractors said, “Get a free deck wash – just put some detergent onto the deck!” 

I did manage to get some things done inside, including securing all the cables for the chart-plotter that were hanging about behind the companionway, greasing the Volvo stern seal (thanks Marc from Marine Wise) and sorting out the loudspeakers and fitting new ones. (Just need to buy them now!)

After the rain stopped, I discovered lots of water in the bilge, so I pumped it out, only to discover that the joints in the pipes leaked and the bilge pump itself was broken! So I took most of it out and when I went home via Mt Batten Boathouse I ordered a replacement clamp that had broken and bought some new hose and fittings. In the eighties, boat-builders seemed to use domestic 2in copper elbows instead of plastic elbows just to save pennies. It was from these joints that the tube was leaking and one of the elbows had almost corroded away. Boat-builders were after a quick profit rather than a product that was fit for purpose. (Quick rant over)

When the rain started again, I fitted a new impeller (for the raw-water) cooling circuit,  and a new alternator belt. As I had the hosepipe with me, I ran up the engine until hot, everything seemed OK. Initially, it would have helped if I had the valve de-compression in the right place! The circulation water didn’t seem to reach the calorifier to heat the hot water so I wonder if there is an air-lock which will mean bleeding the pipes from the engine. That’s a job afloat later. But I did refill the bilge with water, but by that time the bilge pump was out! So it’s going to stay there!

The port handrail is now fixed. A wood specialist shipwright said that the rail is usually destroyed repairing it. What tosh! He clearly doesn’t do his job properly. Note to self: Don’t use him!

I’ve fitted all the new fire extinguishers except one – I found that the gas pressure is already down (in the lower red sector and it’s brand new. That’s going back for a replacement!



Quickie on Sunday

In between everything else that is going on, I managed a “short” day on the boat on Sunday, in between the showers that weren’t forecast!

The windlass is now fully installed, sealed to the deck with Sikaflex, cables connected to the change-over relay and it goes forward and backwards. I’ve ensured that no water can get inside through the cable tubes by filling them with building foam. It will be hell getting that stuff out of the tube to remove cables connected to the windlass! Hope it’s not me! Final job is to sand down and varnish the shelf in the forecabin under the cable run and control switches mounted on deck by the windlass. That job can wait until much later.

As it was raining quite hard, I hid under the tarpaulin and finished the NMEA connections and connected everything up and it all works, except the transfer of AIS info from the radio to the chart-plotter. I suspect (and hope) that it can be solved by reading the manual.

Louis is getting on with the stanchion blocks, however, last time I was down, the port deck drain was blocked and it flooded up through one of the covered stanchion block holes. I eventually removed a small handful of rubbish (mostly old plastic tape and paint chippings) from when I pressure-washed the deck.

Next job is the heads locker and sanding the deck in preparation for the non-slip paint.


Down at the Pointy End

The Boss came down on Thu with me to meet up with a friend who lives locally and knows Totnes very well. She liked the boat, which was good but then went on to persuade the Boss to spend our money  in Totnes! 

In the meantime, I was free to swear as much as I wanted during the day whilst I fitted the stemhead fitting. It was bowed from the work done by Daco but with only a few taps with a plastic mallet it slotted in and I then spent several hours inserting the bolts with Sikaflex to keep out the water. I did manage to get loads of the stuff onto my hands ‘cos I got fed up with splitting the nitrile gloves worn to keep the damn stuff off my hands! Hey Ho! The worst job was fitting the bolts right on the bow (the stem) through the fitting on the outside onto a narrow plate that Daco made with captive bolts. It took many attempts! My original idea was to screw a bolt through the wrong way, insert it through the hole and use that to tighten the inner plate, however it didn’t align well enough to get the other bolts through from the outside because the plate slipped to one side or other. Bother it! Eventually, I used a  wire to hold the inner plate against the inside of the bow and fitted and tightened the middle bolt – the rest was then fairly straight forward. This paragraph does not tell you how many times I went up and down the ladder or how difficult and painful it was to tighten the three bolts on the plate or the other three bolts that needed nuts and washers inside the boat. I’ve got long arms, and I was at full stretch, one arm inside holding the spanner, at times not knowing which nut I was holding and tightening it on the outside. I’ve got the bruises to show for it

The rest of the day was relatively easy – moving and replacing the forestay back onto the stemhead, Loosening the inner forestay that was helping to hold up the mast and finally tightening up the backstay. Now Roan from LNR Marine can come and fit the canopy steel-work, make the pattern for the canopy and cockpit enclosure and, when finished, we can dispense with the tarpaulin that has seen better days, but it has done its job.


Are we nearly there yet?

The boat is coming on and should be ready by the end of June. I don’t want to pay yet another month of storage.

All the instruments appear to be working except the speed log which needs the instrument connections redone as at least one is broken and one of the other two looks dubious. All the cabling is now tidy, secured with plastic ties, especially inside the quarter berth locker! But it does mean that behind the chart table locker there are miles of extra cable which I will deal with later. (I do have a “List of Jobs for Later”!) The remote mic for the radio is partially installed in the starboard cockpit locker. Next job is to make the connections at the mast foot inside the cabin.

The heads locker is ready to be rebuilt with new shelves, painted & varnished front and (I hope) better securing to the boat. We now have a full compliment of new and refurbished seat locker covers. However, Sadler made them from 9mm ply interior instead of 12mm marine ply which I’ve used. It means that the old ones are a bit weak especially where they have got wet. It appears that this boat leaked like a sieve at some time in its life!

I’ve finally got rid of the last remaining bolt from the stemhead fitting – more drilling and a big hammer helped. I got some applause when I cheered as it dropped into the anchor locker. In the meantime, Daco Engineering have finished their work and I collected it on Wed. It still fits! But, I’m going to drill out the holes a little and fill some redundant ones. I may need to do a bit of filing on the repaired hole to get it aligned with the now filled hole. Confused yet? – you should be, ‘cos I am!

The boom is now on; all the clutches are installed so once the forestay is re-rigged correctly she’s ready to go. I think the people making the cockpit cover are waiting for the boom to be on so that they can ensure the canopy clears it when being folded. Louis has some jobs to do as well but he’s not been around for several days. I hope they can finish it before we launch.

The only bit of the water plumbing we’ve retained is the calorifier. I’ve built a box for it with a lid to protect it from the rough stuff from being inside the cockpit locker. The aft locker with much more room requires the tiller to be lifted right up for access. Maybe I’ll split the lid into two at some stage. I’ve used scrap ply for it and apart from the paint shouldn’t cost much.

Although my jobs list is over 10 pages long, seven pages have been done (or deferred), so I’ve only got 3 left but most stuff has been done and I haven’t added anything substantial for several weeks. The last big jobs are the stem head fitting, sanding and then painting the deck with non-slip and stripping the antifoul, priming the hull with Primocom and 2 coats of antifoul.



Hot Electrics!

Thursday was a hot sunny day to the extent that my steel rulers got too hot to handle when I left them out in the sun by mistake! I was finishing the electrics of today to justify the title.

The new Raymarine Chartplotter is now fully connected and working well; it did when I remembered to put in the chart memory card! The touch sensitive screen is great, loud bleeps with every touch but seems good. I need to double-check some data cables (NMEA for the AIS) to the VHF radio.

I had considerable difficulty with the heads locker shelves for several visits. Now I’ve solved the problem by taking the whole of the front out which wasn’t screwed/glued/fixed to anything! Now I can get at everything and found that I need to remake the shelves to fit properly but at least I now have good quality templates rather than the broken mess from before. I’m going to paint the inside of the lockers with white acrylic paint. Something I did on the Rival 41.

The chart-table is now as good as finished. A baseplate needs a bit of varnish and fixing down and the front screwing on. Another white paint job inside will finish it off. This will be our bookshelf for Pilots, almanac etc.

The oil contaminated floorboard is now back in full use. I used lots of sugar soap to remove as much oil as I could. Other ploys included heating the wood to boil the oil out and wiping it off as it came to the surface. To seal the rest in, I painted two layers of knotting on both sides and varnished the top and painted Damboline bilge paint on the underside. The last layer of varnish was rolled on with Hemple non-slip compound. Although it’s noticeably darker, it works and has saved me buying very expensive holly striped teak ply.

I started fitting the clutches for the halyards that are just forward of the cockpit. The metal plate that is glassed into the underside of the outer skin to which they are bolted, is too small for 6 clutches a side. There is space for about 4 and a bit clutches! My answer is to drill all the way through to the saloon headlining and drill and tap an aluminium plate for the clutches that are outside the glassed in plate. I’m finding that Sadler did not pay much attention to detail and cut corners where they could. It’s rather disappointing.

Lots of others things are well underway and they include:

Refurbished stemhead fitting; Stack bag for the mainsail; Dinghy bag; Canopy and enclosure; Replacement fire extinguishers.

I’ve now got plenty of work to do at home. The builders are here as well doing a small extension so there’s plenty of tea and other stuff to do! I am getting confident that we will launch by the end of June.