Here are pictures to go along with the posts below. For a change, I'm posting chronologically so that if someone wants to read the whole thread in order it will be easier.
...And here are links to websites I have turned up as I research the refit. Some of them I use a lot, others not at all, but if they might be of use to another refitter, I have posted them here.
Closed on the boat at the Morehead City Yacht Basin in the morning. Cheryl the brokerage accountant had all the paperwork ready and it was a quick, simple process. I paid over a check for the balance due and signed the bill of sale and other papers to have the documentation switched to my name and North Carolina registration applied for. Yes, in NC you have to register documented boats.
Amazon got slow on shipping and failed to get me a big order of refit supplies before I had to come down to the coast, so I didn't have some of the things I needed. But I did find plenty to do. First, I decided to have a look at the batteries and see if they were worth saving. I found two beneath the cabin sole. The foreward one had a badly corroded positive connection but I eventually got it free with the help of PB Blaster. I got the battery out and found it was carrying 12.20 volts and had water over all the plates, so, good signs. I put it on an automotive charger, 6 amps nominal for three hours, then left it unplugged overnight.
Meanwhile, I carried the working jib up to the lawn and spread it out. When we sea trialed, all the hanks on this sail were frozen, so we sailed under one of the genoas. Copious quantities of Liquid Wrench got all but one slug free, and it came loose after some work with pliers and hammer. I lubed them all with 3M 08897 Silicone Spray, something I haven't tried on sail hanks before. I usually use light machine oil or graphite lube, neither of which lasts very long, so time to try something else.
Buck Dawkins came by and took a look at the sail and said it looked to be in pretty good shape. I greatly value his opinion, as he has a lifetime of experience, so that was encouraging. Buck suggested I take the sail home and swish it around in a big tub of water with a little mild detergent, so I put it in the back of the truck.
Checked the foreward battery and found 12.53 volts, so put it back on the charger for a couple more hours. Around noon I took it off and put the aft battery on and let it charge all afternoon. In the evening I reinstalled both batteries. They're weak, but better than they were. At least now I have enough battery power to reliably start the engine. With some power I can also start tracing through the 12 volt system. I expect to do a lot of rewiring, learning as I go.
I pulled a drawer out, gave the interior a light sanding and rubdown with alcohol, and put a coat of Rustoleum white paint on it, then spent the rest of the afternoon packing things away. Yesterday I could hardly walk through the cabin for all the stuff, but today it looks a lot better. As I pack each drawer and locker, I wax the slides to make them work better, and make a list of what's in it. I'm finding interesting old things like a lead line and a whole cache of blocks. I also determined that the oil lamp in the salon does work.
This will probably be the last post for a couple of weeks as I am preparing to go to Florida to visit relatives.
I got one more little job done early in the morning before packing up and driving to Winston-Salem. I put a second coat of white paint on the inside of the drawer. It looks much better than the unfinished wood, which is probably straight from the Pearson plant, circa 1964. All the drawers and lockers will get this treatment, and there are a lot of them.
I can't be down at the marina working on the boat, but there are things I can do where I am. Make up docklines, for one. Defender recommended 1/2 inch Samson Pro-Set three-strand for my boat, so I ordered 100 feet. This gave me a chance to check out Defender, who I hadn't ordered from before. The price was competitive and shipping was quick, so I will definitely use them again. I middled the rope and cut it to give me two 50 foot lengths, then middled each of them and cut so I ended up with four 25 foot lengths. I put an eye in one end of each length, so, 12 inches for the eye and 12 inches for the splice, I ended up with four 23 foot docklines. I still have to whip the bit ends, but that will wait until I get home. I dare say I could find whipping twine in Ocala, but not easily.
By the time I got to Matthews Point and stowed some of the items I brought, it was after dark. I started work on the manual bilge pump with the aid of a drop light. It is just in front of the port cockpit locker, with a round cover over the pump handle. The cover was stuck in place with paint and took a good half hour to chisel free. Underneath, everything was wet and filthy. The pump itself sits in a tub sunk into the cockpit deck, and the cowling that locates the tub in the hole in the deck is loose, so water and trash drains in. Once I got the cover loose I left that project for daylight.
Next I started trying to figure out how to get the rails that hold the companionway hatch cover loose so I could rebed them. I took a fair amount of trim off around the hatch, but in truth I believe all I will have to do is remove three screws on each side that go in through the cabin ceiling, unscrew the steel track that the hatch slide rides on, and the forward part of the wooden slide base should come out. Then I can re-seat it in butyl tape. That should fix a leak that I noticed one day when it rained, coming in around one of the ceiling screws. All the screws show signs of leaking, so this is a job that needs to be done. Maybe it will be an easy introduction to hardware bedding.
An intro to hardware bedding, yes - easy, no. I started with the port assembly. The steel slide came off easily and I got the hatch cover off. The wooden base that the slide bolts to runs full length rather than being two parts, as I thought last night, so it had to be unscrewed all the way back to the aft end of the companionway. I found that what little was left of bedding was silicone, not good since new bedding won't stick to it. So I had to laboriously sand the bedding surface to get rid of every trace of it. Then I laid out butyl tape for new bedding and started screwing the wooden base in place. The aft end was fine, but the forward end screw holes were too soft to pull down. So I scraped off all the butyl tape and packed the holes with Permatex. Once it sets up I will re-drill the holes and get some slightly longer screws, hopefully that will be enough to hold.
After spending half a day with not much progress, I decided to do something where I could see results. Since the companionway hatch cover was off, I painted the underside of it, and also painted inside one of the drawers under the nav station.
When I was home for a couple of days I washed the working jib in the bathtub and stenciled "Working Jib" on the sailbag. To finish off today, I carried the storm jib up to the clubhouse and washed it along with its bag in the sink (the sink is big, like a pot wash at a restaurant). It has some stubborn rust stains that probably won't come out, but it's in good shape, perhaps never used. I got all but three of the hanks free, will work on them some more tomorrow. I raised it to let it dry out. Tiny little thing, about the size of the jib on my old Vagabond 14 dinghy, but heavy cloth with lots of gussets.
On thoughtful consideration, I decided that the wooden bases for the hatch slides should have studs in them so they could be tightened with nuts from in the cabin. The existing screws that came in from the underside of the cabin ceiling were only hanging the wood by a scant half inch at most, and the wood was getting soft. At the hardware store in Havelock, I found studs with wood screws on one end and machine screws on the other, just what I needed. I clamped the wood down and drilled holes almost all the way through, then coated the wood threads with soap and ran them in. The machine screw ends come through the existing holes in the cabin top (I had to enlarge them a bit) and will be secured with big flat washers and nyloc nuts. This has been a tedious and time-consuming project but it is starting to come together.
It rained hard in the morning, but by noon it was over. Once the cabin top dried out, I countersunk the holes in the cabin top, wrapped a cone of butyl tape around each stud (Dan tells me these are properly known as hanger bolts) where it entered the countersink, taped the length of the base with butyl tape, then set it on the cabin top and tightened down the nuts from in the cabin. On the aft end, I overdrilled the holes attaching the base to the fiberglass and trim in the companionway and screwed that down. Finally I set the cover onto the tracks and screwed down the port track to the base. So the port side is done. If it proves out in the rain that is expected in a couple of days, I will use the same method to do the starboard one.
Next I took a look at the sole where it passes between the head and sink. It had collapsed by a couple of inches. It should rest on the shower pan, which rested on stringers that were once attached to the sub-floor on all sides of the cutout for the shower pan. The stringers had come loose, the shower pan had dropped down to rest on the top of the forward end of the water tank, and the floor had dropped with it. Since the screws attaching the stringers are covered by the teak flooring over the subfloor, I decided to think about it a while and see if I could come up with a way to fix it without destroying too much.
In the morning I got on the phone with Wildlife Resources about a little issue with registering the boat and found out what I needed to do to make them happy - no big deal. Afterwards I went to town to pick up supplies for more projects. I decided that I could try using steel straps with pre-drilled holes to make stringers for the shower pan. I intend to try epoxying nuts to the bottom of the straps and screwing into the nuts from above, leaving them loose enough to work the pan into place. Then I will screw them down tight. I'll probably consult with Dan before I try this.
With some time in the afternoon, I started cleaning and oiling interior teak, using Don Casey's method - wipe down with a bleach-detergent-water mix, using a damp cloth. Let sit for half an hour. Wipe down with clean water. When dry, rub down with lemon oil (not lemon polish or lemon wax). It worked good. For anyone who thinks they might like to try refitting an old boat, Don's book "This Old Boat" is almost a necessity.
Old Mr. Roche had installed a rack to hold twelve bottles of wine, and since I don't think I will ever carry that much wine aboard, I removed it. Then I checked the specific gravity in each cell in the two batteries, comfirming what I expected, that the forward battery is in poor condition and the aft in fair. Other than that, I didn't get much done, other than driving in to town to buy tools and supplies. One thing I picked up was motor oil so that tomorrow I can try to start the Atomic 4, warm it up and change the oil.
With Dan's help, we got the Atomic 4 running. However I made no progress on changing the oil. The engine slopes back at such an angle that I could get nothing out of the oil fill, and the siphon hose is too big to go in the dipstick hole. My plan is to get a length of surgical tubing that will fit down the hole and tape it to the siphon hose.
Just to make sure I could do it, I restarted the engine after Dan left to work on his own boat. Here is the procedure:
The motor should start instantly if it is already warm, within a second or two if it is cold. If not, try rapping the carb to get the float to unstick. If the engine requires more than 10 seconds of cranking, turn off the raw water intake to keep water from backflooding the cylinders. Don't forget to open the seacock as soon as the engine starts.
Shutdown is simpler. Turn off the key. Close the fuel petcock. Close the raw water seacock. If you don't need house power, turn off the switch under the ammeter and turn the battery switch to the off position.
That's the procedure on my Atomic 4. I am very grateful to friends, Dan in particular, who know these old engines and helped me get oriented.
After getting nowhere with changing the oil, I decided to root around in the starboard cockpit locker and see what was in there. I found a panel that I was able to unscrew and get to the back of the shift lever, so I squirted some oil around all the joints and pivots. Then I began removing things from the locker. There was an enormous amount of old rope, most of which I threw away. There were several serviceable fenders. There was an old hose, which I tossed, and an electrical cord with rusted and corroded ends, which I cut off, but kept the cord. There was a rope and slat boarding ladder in need of repair, which I kept.
Finally, success with the Atomic 4 oil change. I tried the thin surgical tube down the dipstick hole, but 1,000 pumps got me only about a quart of oil, so I moved on to another method. The reversing gear is in a case at the back of the block and is fed by the same oil as the engine. The cover is fairly accessible. I got the bolts out of it but it was adhered down with gasket adhesive and I couldn't get it off. Later I tried again, hosing the edges of the cover with PB Blaster and then tap-tap-tapping with a light hammer. After several minutes of tapping, the gasket came loose and I was able to get the cover off. Then I was able to pump close to three more quarts of oil out of the case. This plus the quart I got out of the dipstick hole made four quarts, which is more than most people can get out of an A-4. They hold five, but the way the motors are located low in the aft of a boat makes it impossible to get that last quart.
Today's project was to drive to Oriental and talk to the people at Sailcraft Service about having the boat hauled at the end of the month. I got costs on haulout, un-stepping and re-stepping the masts, and monthly shore charges, and all seemed reasonable and satisfactory.
Back at the marina, I decided to take the boat out into the creek and run it under power for a while. My Atomic 4 guru, Dan, agreed to come along, and we got underway around 3:45 in the afternoon. However, due to low water we could not get out of the slip. Oh well, maybe the water will be higher tomorrow. The wind is supposed to veer around to the northwest overnight, and that should allow some water to come in.
I am hoping to get some antifreeze into the motor tomorrow and then go home for a while. I threw the Number 2 Genoa in the back of the truck so I can swish it around in the tub at home and get some of the salt out. Cleaning up the sails is a good task to do when I can't be at the marina. So what exactly is a Number 2 Genoa? From what I could find, the Number 1 is the biggest genoa on the boat - 150% or so - and the Number 2 is smaller, say a 135%. Could have fooled me, this sail in the bag labeled "Number 2 Genoa" must weigh 40 pounds. I had to go get a cart to haul it off the dock.
Arctic air will move in over the next few days and I have to leave for Winston-Salem and Florida, so I completed a final chore, winterizing the motor, before packing up. The procedure is quite simple. Pull the hose off the raw water intake seacock, stick it in a bucket of RV/Marine antifreeze, and run the engine until it sucks up the bucket of antifreeze. From all I have read and heard, this is good enough for my part of the world. People up north or on the Great Lakes have to be quite a bit more thorough.
The ladder on the front of the motor cover had 16 inch gaps between the steps, so I took the whole cover home for a rebuild. My shop partner Joe and I removed the bottom step and reset it lower, then built a new step out of oak to mount between the top and bottom, so that the gaps are now just under 11 inches. The whole assembly will get painted white for visibility and non-skid material will be put on the treads.
Coast Guard Placarding and Fire Extinguisher Requirements: Any boat 26 feet or longer with machinery spaces (essentially, an inboard motor) must display a "Discharge of Oil" placard. Any boat 26 feet or larger must display a "Discharge of Garbage" placard. This is something I didn't have to worry about on Valor since she was less than 26 feet. Fortunately these placards are inexpensive and widely available. The packaging should have details on placement. Any boat 26 to 40 feet is required to have 2 B-1 or 1 B-2 fire extinguisher, on mounting brackets. Valor was only required to have one.
Back in Florida on family business, but so that progress wouldn't halt, I ordered a couple of boat hook ends to be shipped there, and built two new hooks with the ends and supplies I picked up at the local hardware store. I consider boat hooks to be consumables, since I can never hang on to one for more than a few years. These are easy to build and cheaper than commercial ones. I got the ends from Amazon for just over $9.00 apiece shipped, and the plastic pipe, pipe ends, pvc cement, dowels and hardware cost $20.00. Total cost for a four foot hook and a six foot one, under $40.00.
Aboard Terry Ann at Matthews Point, I replaced the sheet metal screws we used to hold the engine cover steps in place while the construction adhesive set with bronze ones and painted the area to the starboard of the assembly. I hung the fire extinguisher and added the placards, getting the boat a little closer to Coast Guard legal. Then I ran the A4 against the docklines in the slip for 20 minutes, just to be sure I could get it started in a day or two when I take the boat to Sailcraft Service.
Main project for the day was to rebed the starboard companionway hatch cover track. Having done the port one a month ago, I knew what had to be taken apart to get the cover and track off, so that process went quickly. I decided to pot the cabin-top holes this time, not the Compass Marine way that requires a dremel tool, but the Don Casey way of just overdrilling the holes, taping the bottoms and then filling the holes with epory. I did take a bent wire and rooted out all the wet, rotten balsa that I could get at. Then I filled each hole with epoxy, stirring it in with a wire and tapping around the holes with a wooden mallet to get out air pockets. Each hole pulled down a fair amount, one of them had an insatiable thirst for epoxy, so my guess is that I filled some fairly large voids between the fiberglass layers.
A note on the epoxy. For an earlier woodworking project, we needed a relatively slow setting epoxy, but all I could find at Home Depot or Lowe's was fast-setting, five minutes or less. So I did what I probably should have done to start with, ordered it from Amazon. I'm finding that if I can plan properly it just makes more sense to order online than mess around with going store to store trying to find things. What I ended up with was Great Planes 30 minute epoxy, marketed for model airplane builders and perhaps available at hobby shops. I have been very happy with it. It mixes up easily with a one-to-one ratio of resin to hardener, it kicks predictably right at 30 minutes, and it cures fully in 8 hours.
Back to the cover track. With the epoxy setting, I started drilling the track for the hanger bolts and got two done quickly. Unfortunately, I broke a bit off in the third and had to spend some time drilling around it until I could get a pair of needlenose pliers in and pull it out. Then I finished drilling the hole and installed the hanger. I mixed up another small batch of epoxy to patch up where I had drilled out for the pliers.
All that is left for tomorrow is to drill out the potted holes in the cabin top, countersink them, lay out the butyl tape caulking, put the parts in place and screw them all back together.To finish off the day I put a second coat of paint on the area I started yesterday, just to starboard of the steps down from the companionway.
First order of business was to take the ferry over to Sailcraft Service, arrange for a haul-out and drop the truck. Matthews Point neighbor and good friend David Wynne agreed to meet me there and shuttle me back to Matthews Point. However, with the wind continuing to blow from the west and southwest, and forecast to strengthen tomorrow, yard staff Shannon and Alan both suggested that I not try to come in Whitaker Creek, due to low water. The forecast is for north winds on Thursday, which should let some water back in the lower Neuse. So, with a couple days until I can yard the boat, I brought the truck back to Matthews Point.
During the afternoon, I redrilled and countersunk the holes for the hanger bolts in the starboard companionway hatch slide, installed the bolts, layered the butyl tape, making sure to cone it up around the bolts to fill the countersinks, and ran on the nuts and washers from the inside of the cabin. Then I reinstalled the cover, the metal track and various trim pieces. That job should be done, but of course I won't be sure until we get a good rain.
With a north wind in the forecast for Thursday the 2nd I made preparations for moving the boat. Thursday morning my friend Lou who also keeps a boat at Matthews Point followed me to Sailcraft Service and shuttled us back to the marina. Lou is an avid sailor and agreed to come along for the sail over to Oriental. After a struggle getting the Atomic 4 to start we took in lines and motored out Clubfoot Creek. There we set sail and beat over to Oriental. On the way in Whitaker Creek I ran us aground but Towboat U.S. was on the spot and got us off the shoal. We tied up in the lift slip at Sailcraft around 4:15 with a lift scheduled for first thing the following morning. I shuttled Lou back to Matthews Point and finished up the day as the sun set.
After the boat was hauled, pressure washed and blocked, I started preparing to have the masts lifted out. First I removed the main sail. There is a gate at the lower end of the sail track on the mast, and with it opened the slugs could be dropped out the bottom of the track. Then I unfastened the clew and pulled the slugs forward out of the boom track. I dumped this huge, heavy sail over the side and then gathered it up and stored it in the back of the truck. Next I detached the main boom from the mast and lowered it over the side, using the topping lift and halyard winch to tip it up so it would slide over the bulwark. I blocked the boom up alongside the boat for the time being. Next I pulled the mizzen sail and boom (much easier than the main). To finish the day I put the registration stickers on the bows.
Saturday dawned far too cold to work, but by mid-afternoon it had moderated enough to get a couple hours in. I started pulling cotter pins out of the turnbuckles and loosening them enough so that the clevis pins at the chainplates could be pushed out when the time came.
A little warmer Sunday, and I got several more turnbuckles loosened, but a few had plastic pipe jammed down over them so thoroughly that that they wouldn't lift off. This old technique was designed to keep the sails from rubbing on the shrouds but the main effect was to trap a lot of dirt and moisture in the rigging, and it is frowned upon these days. I decided that a wood chisel would be a good tool to get the stuck ones off, but the hardware store was closed so I had to wait for Monday to get one.
The chisel was just the ticket to get the plastic pipes off, and by lunchtime I had all the turnbuckles loosened. After lunch Alan brought the lift over and with the yard rigger Travis and I helping, lifted the masts out of Terry Ann. With the masts on saw horses, I started pulling running rigging, and then at Alan's suggestion took a close look at the mainmast spreaders. One proved to be rotten around the base, so I took both of them free. I'll make a replacement for the bad one at home. Next I started removing the standing rigging from the mast tang attachments.
First job was to finish removing all the standing rigging from the mast and coil it neatly so Travis could move it to the rigging shop. With that done, I removed the tangs for the lowers and found elongated holes in the brackets that the tangs attach to. So I removed the brackets so that the machinist could use them for patterns to make new ones. The brackets have spacers inside the mast to keep the mast sides from deforming when the nuts on the through-bolts are tightened. You don't want to lose these spacers inside the mast. The holes on the bolt head side are big enough for the spacers to drop out, so the trick is to run the nuts back on part way and drive them downward until they drop down on the bolt head side. Then take off the nuts and slide the bolts and spacers out together from the lower side of the mast. Don't try to lift the bolts out from above or you may drop the spacer in the mast.
With the rigging loose, I turned my attention to the chainplates. They are easy to find and remove on an Alberg 35. There are small plates on deck that should be removed and then the plates themselves can be unbolted from the bulkheads below deck and lifted out from on deck. I did three and found the bedding to be leaking badly on all of them. The plates themselves were in fine shape. As the machinist noted, the leaky bedding probably helped keep water from pooling on the plates, saving them from corrosion. It's not too good for the deck coring, though. And in the case of the port bulkhead that supports the upper, the water ingress had caused major decay. The bulkhead needs to be cut out and replaced, a major job that will have to be done by the yard structural person.
Even though the chainplates looked good, I decided that a program of replacing them was appropriate, since they are almost certainly 53 years old. We will do the two uppers this year, the lowers next year, the stay plates the year after, and then the mizzen plates. That's assuming I don't turn up any problems when I take the rest of them out for inspection and rebedding...
This was the last day I could spend at the yard, so I got things ready for a three-week absence. First, I cleared out all around the bulkhead to be replaced and shored up a sagging section of the cabin sole. Then I sealed up the chainplate deck fixtures with butyl tape and duct tape to keep out as much water as possible until I can completely rebed them. Then I winterized the Atomic 4, sucking up about a gallon of pink antifreeze through the raw water intake hose. Finally, I showed the yard woodworker and structural person, Jim, the rotten bulkhead and worked out a plan with him for work he could do while I am away. After that, Jim gave me a hand loading the main boom on top of the truck and I motored off toward home.
Back home, Joe and I made a trip up to Wall Lumber and selected a straight-grained section of soft maple for the spreader. We traced the old spreader and cut out the right shape, then started working it with a bench plane. Afterward we started stripping the old finish off the boom.
We finished stripping the boom and filled cracks with epoxy. We got the spreader in shape and coated it with two-part epoxy sealer. We laid the mainsail out in the back yard, rinsed it off and lightly scrubbed some of the stains with dish detergent.
I picked up a quart of Minwax Spar Varnish and we put the first coat on the boom. Then we started work on making a trim piece that goes on the aft end of the companionway slide. We found a piece of salvage teak and after much cutting and planing, got it thin enough to take a curve. We left it clamped up against a badly bowed plank to start setting a permanent arc.
Back to the yard and ready to put in a couple of weeks work. The boom has five coats of spar varnish on it and is ready to go back on once the masts are stepped. That will be a while though as I need to install the two new chainplates and bed all of them, install the spreaders and all the various tangs and brackets that came off the masts, and clean and wax the masts. Travis the rigger has my new standing rigging ready. Dan the machinist has the new chainplates and spreader brackets done. Jim the wood and fiberglass man did a bang-up job on replacing the rotten bulkhead. So a fair amount of work got done while I was away. But a lot still needs to be done and I am thinking that I will be in the yard until mid-April.
Back at home, Joe and I built a first aid box out of reclaimed teak. I brought it with me to the boat and started stocking it with things I think I need, plus the contents of the commercial plastic one I have carried for years. The commercial box mainly had band-aids in it - that's what comes to the corporate mind when they think first aid, evidently. By the way, mine has a green cross on the lid to identify it as a first aid kit. Why green rather than red, you might ask? Because the red cross is the property of the International Red Cross and can only be used by the military, the Red Cross or the Red Cross's licensees. A white cross on a green background is the official symbol for First Aid adopted by the International Standards Organization, though the green cross on white background is commonly used and is seen on a lot of OSHA placarding.
Turns out Jim installed one of the new chainplates in the process of fixing the bulkhead and did a his usual exceptional job. I started the day by potting the slot for the starboard aft lower chainplate. I'll let the epoxy set overnight and drill it out tomorrow. I rebedded one of the plates that I didn't remove using butyl tape and I think it shouldn't leak anymore. I screwed on a small piece of trim to the edge of the companionway hatch cover. I greased the sail track on the mainmast. This was a laudable piece of foresight on my behalf. It is much easier to grease the track with the mast on sawhorses than it is with the mast standing. Then I went to the boatyard office and wrote out an enormous check to pay for progress billing.
I installed the two chainplates that were still out of the boat. In the case of the starboard aft lower, that involved drilling and filing a new slot for the chainplate to come through the deck, where I had epoxy potted it the day before. Jim used one of the old uppers as a backer on the one he installed, so that left me with one extra, which I will keep as a spare. With all the chainplates installed, I worked on bedding them and got all but two done. In the afternoon I dug out the junk in the stern lazarette, finding a nice green boom awning, making room to examine the aft stay chainplate. It was easy getting the bolts out, but the plate itself would not come up out of the slot. It is encased in fiberglass and would require sawing out. Since all the other plates were in such good shape and this one seemed solid, I decided to leave it alone. I bolted it back in and prepared the deck surface to rebed it tomorrow.
It was a bit cool today to do anything with epoxy or butyl tape but I did get a piece of trim that goes on the front of the companionway cleaned up and ready to install when the weather gets warmer. Below deck it was up into the fifties so I decided to do some painting in the galley area. Most of the hardware came off easily but the two screws holding one of the swingarms for the old alcohol stove proved recalcitrant. PB Blaster didn't help, the impact driver didn't help, and I finally had to drill them out. The other issue was that the drawer under the counter was too deep to come out. Evidently the boatwrights at the Pearson plant installed the drawer before building the cover over the front of the engine. I sanded the what I could of the formica surfaces with an orbital sander, the rest by hand, then taped off the trim and brushed on a first coat of paint.
Spent most of the day getting supplies. With the boat out of the water, I can't help but put on a coat of bottom paint. One gallon should do, so I checked prices and found the current rate for my favored Pettit Hydrocoat is $139 at Defender, $158 at Bock and over $250 at a third purveyor who shall go unnamed. So I bought it at Bock. The difference in the Defender price would have been eaten away by shipping. I did give Defender an order, though, for 160 feet of Samson LS 7/16 double-braid, enough to make up new jib and main halyards. I also ordered a Windex. That's what I'm used to and it doesn't require electricity, unlike the Raymarine wind direction/anemometer. At the Lowe's in Morehead City, I picked up stencils and paint to replace the hailing port on the stern of the boat. Back at the yard, I rebedded the aft stay chainplate and the port aft lower. Just one left, the port upper. I'm waiting for Dan to make a new cover plate for that one - the old one was corroded to the point of falling apart.
I got one big job done today - painting the bottom. I started by washing and scrubbing to get off any loose scale or dust that had accumulated since the boat was hauled and pressure-washed. Then I taped along the boot stripe. With that done, I spent about 15 minutes diligently stirring the gallon of Hydrocoat. Next, I rolled on a coat - the real time consumer of the process, taking 4 hours. Then I took a small brush and hit all the spots the roller wouldn't go, like around the rudder pivot and in the through hulls. I still had about a quart of paint left, so I put a pint in a jar to save for coating under the jack stands after they are moved. The rest I will use tomorrow or the next day, recoating along the water line as long as I have paint left.
Been a little under the weather for the last couple of days. I've found the best plan is to take multi-sympton cold and flu medicine and keep working.
There was a forecast for rain later in the day so in the morning I used up the rest of my Hydrocoat (other than the pint reserved for after we move the stands) to run a second coat all around the waterline, which is where the barnacles tend to grow the worst.
Don Casey in his book "This Old Boat" only goes full tilt once, and that is when he describes Coast Guard regulation of sewage discharge inside the three-mile limit. Terry AnnTerry Ann has a bona-fide chemical treatment system, and Don notes that such a system can pump out inside the three-mile limit - or could if I wanted to figure out how to make the thing run and sacrife the precious amperage to power it. And I agree with Don, sewage mixed with chemicals is worse than plain sewage. So I have no plans to pump out inside the three-mile limit. Don implies that, inside the three-mile limit, any boat equipped with overboard pump-out must have the plumbing padlocked or secured with a nylon wire tie - not taped or secured with metal wire - to prevent direct pump-out to the sea. That's a problem for me, since the location of the seacock is such that I could only drill a hole for an eye-bolt to anchor the lock by going through the bottom of the boat - not going to happen - or coming through the bulkhead - but there is a tank located behind the bulkhead so I can't get in there with a drill. So I decided to padlock the pump handle so the pump is inoperable and hope that the Coast Guard will see that I made a sincere effort to comply, if I ever got boarded.
My plan is to install a composting head sometime in the future and be done with all the unpleasant plumbing issues that surround a traditional marine head. I know lots of people who have put them in and they are all happy with them.
Continuing my efforts to put the boat in compliance with Coast Guard regs, I painted out the old hailing port of Gloucester, and stenciled in the new one - Morehead City. And about that rain - we got a light shower around mid-day and then beautiful blue skies all afternoon.
I spent most of the day fitting the spreaders to the new stainless steel hardware that fabricator Dan built. Without the proper tools and vise, it was a tedious job but I got it done. I am going to have the yard awlgrip them since buying a quart of primer and a quart of topcoat is prohibitively expensive. It wouldn't take more than a few brush strokes of each, but a quart of primer would cost $40, and the topcoat $70. The yard is going to need a few days to get around to doing the work, so this looks like a good time to make a quick visit home. I'll probably leave tomorrow or Saturday and spend a week at home. That puts me back at the yard in late March. We should be able to remast the boat soon after I get back and be in the water around the first of April - right on schedule.
Spent the morning cleaning up the boat and packing. After lunch I crossed the river on the ferry and drove on to Matthews Point, where I spent the afternoon and evening visiting with Dan and Mike, who had just gotten in from a week-long trip up to the Pamlico River on Marian Claire. I took advantage of Vic Copelan's invitation to bunk on Oconee while he is off to the islands, and in the morning drove home to Winston-Salem.
I drove down to Oriental yesterday and got in late. This morning I fitted the new spreader brackets to the mast, a long and tedious task involving much file work. I am finding that new hardware is never quite like the old item, and a lot of finicky adjustments have to be made before it fits. Next up was reeving the new topping lift and jib halyard, one of those jobs that is much easier with the mast down than up. With that done, I bedded the last chainplate cover plate. Then I started work on pinning the new standing rigging to the masts. Right away I ran into a problem. The new shackles to pin the upper ends of the rigging to the mizzen were too shallow to fit the clevises. I'm thinking that undersize pins might fit, otherwise the rigger is going to have to come up with something - it's his mistake. The mainmast rigging went better, and I had the forestay and backstay attached by the end of the day.
It frosted last night and started off cool and cloudy, but by afternoon the sun was out and the temperature approached 70. Perfect weather for boatyard work.
The forecast for today was cloudy with showers, and when I awoke just before sunrise that is what we had. By midmorning, the clouds were breaking up, and afternoon delivered cloudless blue skies and temperatures climbing well into the 70s. My workday started with a quick trip to Village Hardware, just a few blocks from the boatyard, to pick up various clevises, cotters and washers that I needed to attach new rigging to old tangs and brackets. Much to my amazement, I also found old-fashioned "festoon" style lightbulbs to fit the bow running light fixtures, one of which was out. First order of business back at the yard was to install one of those bulbs, and now I am that much closer to having the boat legal with the Coast Guard.
I spent the rest of the day pinning standing rigging to the masts. It went smoothly except for the one shackle out of four on the mizzen that was done with non-standard hardware and wouldn't quite fit the hanger. At least it was just one, rather than all four as I thought yesterday. I grumbled at the rigger a little but agreed that rather than make him swage a new cable I would file out the hanger a hair to get the pin to fit. There was plenty of meat around the hole and since the mizzen is mostly a lightly-stressed riding sail, I figured it would be ok.
Alan has sort of half promised that the spreaders will be ready tomorrow, so installing them will be the day's work.
I wasted some time to start the day. I wanted to get some cash from the bank and thought I remembered a PNC in Grantsboro - but no, so I ended up driving all the way to New Bern to find a branch. On the way back I stopped at Pickers on 55 west of Oriental. This is a junk store that has lots of tools and marine items. I was hoping they were parting out a San Juan 28 they had on the lot and would sell me the boarding ladder, but it turned out they want to sell the boat complete. I did find a tape measure for a dollar to replace mine that I have lost somewhere.
Back at the yard I finished installing and painting a shelf in the hanging locker. Joe and I cut it out last time I was in Winston and I installed it at arms length in the locker. I couldn't quite reach the back of the locker so I spray painted it rather than brushing on some of my copious supply of white paint.
The half-promised spreaders were not ready today so I worked on replacing the combination masthead tri-color/anchor light. Dan the electrician suggested that I install an LED anchor light and dispense with the tri-color, a relatively useless item. Bulbs for the old fixture are almost unobtainable and the LEDs are so much more efficient that I had been thinking along these lines anyway and all I needed was Dan's prodding to make me get on with it. Removing the old fixture was one of the most aggravating jobs I have done. The bolt holding it in place was thoroughly seized. Dissimilar metals are the bane of sailboat maintenance, and the steel bolt had become one with the aluminum masthead. After much soaking in PB Blaster and hammering on the wrench, the bolt finally moved. Generally once a bolt is broken free it comes out easily but in this case it took several complete revolutions of leaning on the wrench and cursing before it finally backed out. With that done, I started pondering how to make a new fitting to attach the LED anchor light. Eventually I saw how I could fabricate something out of aluminum flat stock. I got started cutting it out before the day ended sometime after 5:00.
I started right in on mounting the anchor light. It occurred to me that I could make the bracket a little longer and mount the Windex on one end, so I cut a new one and drilled one hole to mount it to the masthead fitting, a hole to mount the Windex, two holes to mount the anchor light, and one final hole to allow the wiring to pass through to the underside of the light. Hacksawing thin aluminum and drilling holes in it, and filing the sharp edges is about the limit of my metalworking ability. To my surprise it all worked and tomorrow morning the electrician will help me hook up the wires.
A little note on disparate metals. Jim, the yard mechanic, told me to thoroughly coat the threads of the steel bolts with blue Loctite or preferably Tef-Gel to keep moisture out and prevent corrosion. Tef-Gel is unobtainable in the little town of Oriental, so I used Loctite.
A piece of trim on the bow was knocked off during the last hurricane and the prior owner tried to get it fixed but wasn't able to before I bought the boat. It will be a while until I can fabricate a new trim piece but in the meantime I can pack all the cracks and voids with Marine-Tex. I got everything cleaned up and ready today but the temperature never got warm enough to apply Marine-Tex. Tomorrow should be up into the 60s, plenty warm.
To finish the day I finally got a second coat of paint on the galley area that I started weeks ago.
Dan the electrician man helped me get the anchor and steaming lights sorted out, so I'm closer than ever to Coast Guard legality. With the long-promised spreaders complete, I collected them and set them out in the sun to let the paint get good and hard before I started fitting work. Temperatures rose quickly in the morning, and around 11:00 I mixed up a batch of Marine-Tex and puttied up the cracks around the bow hull-deck joint. After lunch I started fitting the spreaders, and it went easier than I expected. I had them installed by late afternoon.
Jimmy moved the jackstands so I could paint under them. I had saved a small jar of bottom paint for this job and had plenty.
I wired the uppers to the spreaders and cleaned up the cockpit and cabin. Then I knocked off for the afternoon - it was Saturday - and drove over to Matthews Point to visit with the Dosters. Mike and I had a few beers after supper before he retired to his boat and I bunked out on Oconee.
I installed the rubber boots that go over the ends of the spreaders and finished putting a third coat of paint on the galley area. Later I put the doors back on the galley cabinets.
My friend Bruce Mierke arrived at Sailcraft with his boat Arabella. We had a couple of beers at days end and talked sailing. He plans to keep the boat at Pecan Grove Marina for the spring and get down for a week or so each month from his home in Murphy, NC.
Arabella went in the water first thing in the morning and Bruce motored off toward Pecan Grove. I finished some minor chores around the boat and drove over there to give him a shuttle back to get his truck. Terry Ann was scheduled to go into the water at 11:00 but things kept getting pushed back and it was almost 4:00 before the Travel-Lift picked her up. Setting the masts was a task. Just like everything else, fitting the new hardware to the old fixtures made for some difficulties. Still, we had the job finished by 5:30. Thanks Travis for staying past quit time to help us get it done. Bruce came by and was a big help. Afterwards, the three of us had a few beers as the sun went down. It's nice to have the boat back in the water. There is something unnatural for the boat to be perfectly still on the jackstands. In the slip, it moves around like a boat should.
Alan had a boat scheduled to launch at 8:30 so I made preparations to move Terry Ann to her temporary dock, where she will reside for a couple of weeks while we trial. I told Alan I would try to start the A4 but if it was recalcitrant we could line the boat home. Travis helped me load the main boom onto the cabin top, and I set to work trying to get the A4 to fire. Much to my surprise, it started on the first crank, but much to my expectations, it quit after a few seconds. Then followed ten minutes of tapping on the Facet and the carb float bowl, judiciously squirting ether into the carb intake, and making attempts at the starter. Abruptly, the engine fired into life and after a minute on the choke settled into smooth operation. So I was able to sedately motor to the dock.
Travis tuned the rig and I started installing cotter pins in the turnbuckles. The aft lowers turned out a hair short, possibly because of a slight variation of the new spreader hardware from the old, and we will have to install shackles. Travis was a bit upset, but I told him not to worry, it is in the nature of refitting new hardware to old boats for there to be some issues. We'll fit shackles, and if in a year the wire has stretched enough to dispense with them, we will.
The big job for the day was to re-rig the main boom and sail. I didn't run into any problems. A couple of rain showers came through mid-afternoon, and I took the opportunity to wash down the deck while it was still wet from the rain. Bruce drove over from Pecan Grove at quit time and we had a couple of beers in Terry Ann's cockpit before heading to the Silos for two-for-one pizza night. While we ate, torrential rain swept the area, and when I got back to the boat, all the dirt and dust that had accumulated in the yard had been washed away.
I rigged the mainsheet first thing in the morning. It needs replacement, so I measured it and found that it needs about 75 feet end to end. So I will order 80 feet of 1/2 inch double braid and get to work on it.
I spent the rest of the morning packing and cleaning. After lunch I got on the road, first stopping by Pecan Grove to drop off Travis' phone number with Bruce so they can get together for some sailing. Bruce was out on Arabella but his microwave - his sole cooking instrument - was on the dock, so I stuck the card in the door. Then I drove off for Winston-Salem. My plan is to spend about a week at home and then head back for the Neuse River.
Back at Sailcraft. I got an early start from Winston and made it to the yard by mid-afternoon. Travis had installed the shackles on the aft lowers so I put cotter pins in the turnbuckles. Then I connected the masthead electricals. The wind gauge works now, but the masthead light and steaming light still don't. So I'll have to look for a short somewhere when I have time.
I started the day by installing the battens in the mainsail. With that done, I went around the boat stowing items and getting construction debris off the boat. By late morning that was done and Terry Ann was ready for her first post-refit shakedown run.
The Atomic 4 started with little trouble and I managed to get out of the tight dock space without hitting anything. With a working depth sounder and local knowledge, Whittaker Creek held no terrors, and I never saw less than 7 feet of water. Out in the river I set the main and No. 2 Genoa and sailed in light airs on a beam reach down the river. In just over an hour I was off the mouth of South River. There I turned back and, as the wind rose and shifted toward the southwest, made a good fast run close reaching for Oriental. The boat sailed nicely but with variable winds I never did find a good setup to be able to tie the tiller. Back in front of Whittaker Creek I started the A-4 - no problems - and struck the jib. The boat bobbed docilely on just the main, bow to the wind. I started to drop the main and ran into a problem. In order to set up the lift, I need the winch, but the main halyard was already on the winch. I needed to set the lift as tight as I could by hand before taking the halyard off the winch, but I neglected to do so and dropped the boom in the cockpit. Fortunately I didn't have crew or they would have had a cracked head. With the halyard off the winch, I cranked in the lift and then finished dropping the main. I'm going to have to rig up some kind of purchase for the lift.
I motored uneventfully back in the creek and slowly - very slowly - approached the dock. I managed to squeeze this big boat into its very small space without damaging anything, so I felt good about that. It was a great three-hour cruise, and validation that with some practice I can single-hand this 35 foot boat. But I'm still hoping to have crew now and then.
I thought about my topping lift issue, and it occurred to me that any time the lift is set up the jib will be down, except rare occassions when I am running only the jib with no main. (As a rule, I always set the main before the headsail). So if I use the jib winch to set the lift, the main boom should generally be off the lift before I need the winch for the jib. For the rare occassions when I might need the winch while the lift was set, I seized a loop inline in the lift that can be shackled to a convenient bracket above the winch. To do that I had to get some slack in the lift without letting the boom down into the cockpit - otherwise the place I needed to put the loop would be out of reach up the mast. So I did a little research and found instructions to tie the icicle hitch - a handy knot that won't slide on slick double-braid. I put one in above the point where I wanted to seize the loop and tied it off near the winch. Then I could drop the lift off the winch and get some slack to make the loop. Now if I need to I can shackle the loop, which keeps tension on the lift, and take the lift free from the winch. I'm still thinking about this, but it should be an adequate solution for now.
I plan to take the boat over to Matthews Point this weekend so I spent some time today moving things to the truck that I won't need right away. For example, the mizzen boom and sail. The slip here at Sailcraft is so tight that if I install the mizzen boom it will hit the bow of the nice Out Island 28 "Baby Morgan" docked behind me. So I'll install them when I get to Matthews Point.
There was a very attractive small boat in for lazy jacks today. I thought it might be a Cape Dory 22, with a short cabin and outboard in the well, but the owner identified it as an O'Day 26, designed by Philip Rhodes. The extra 4 feet are all in the cockpit. I looked the boat up and found that about 80 of them were built between 1965 and 1968 and marketed as the Outlaw 26. It bears a family resemblance to the Chesapeake 32 that Rhodes designed in 1960. Rhodes never designed an ugly boat, that I've seen.
One of many charmingly retro features of my Alberg 35 is - I should say was - a big analog clock on the outside of the rear cabin wall. I hesitate to even guess as to why it was there, unless old Mr. Thorpe was very punctual, or perhaps had celestial navigation fantasies. Regardless, I decided to remove it, under my principle of closing off all possible holes in the boat, above or below the waterline. A few minutes of industrious work with a wood chisel and putty knife and the old nonworking relic gave up its grip and came out. I was surprised to find not wet, rotting balsa between the layers of fiberglass, but a void - the inner layer is a liner rather than part of a cored sandwich. I needed a good solid base to build up layers of fiberglass to fill the hole, so I cut up some mat, thoroughly soaked it in epoxy, and packed it into the void. Tomorrow I'll fill all the left over gaps and start layering up glass. In the end, nobody will know that silly clock was ever there.
Filling the clock hole filled most of my day, and I still need a few more layers of fiberglass to bring it up level.
I have long wondered what was behind the fake walnut paneling under the settees, so last time I put in an order to Amazon I bought a usb endoscope that can be dropped down a drilled hole and take digital pictures of what is inside. A quick look showed that I could cut a hole under the settee cushion and get access to some extra storage. I will have to build some brackets to hold up the cut-out lid, but for now I have an extra drop board layered over the hole so if somebody sits on that settee, they won't end up in storage.
I plan to sail home to Matthews Point tomorrow, so I squared accounts with Shannon. After a few adjustments, we came to a mutual agreement on what I owed, and I wrote a check. Some things cost more than I expected - in particular, machine shop work - and some less - the standing rigging - but overall it was just about what I expected. I am completely satisfied with what we got done the last couple of months, and the boat is in good shape for a summer's sailing. Much remains to be done, though, and I expect to make some improvements in the months ahead. So I will be posting to this thread now and then, but not as much as I have recently. Until next winter, I hope to spend more time sailing the boat and less time working on it.