Friday – October 6, 2017

It’s been 7 months since we pulled Aine out of the water and unstepped the mast and finally we are getting back in the water today. I was hoping for the first of October but we had to wait an extra week to let the water in the Neuse River drop from Hurricane Irma. If the water is too high the marina can not raise the mast high enough to step it, so we wait.

But the day is finally here, the scheduled launch time is 2:30 pm. I arrived at the yard at 1:30 to complete my pre-launch list and I’m ready to go, But it’s 2:30 and here I sit in the marina office while the previously launched boat sits in the sling sorting out problems. Now I get it, if it were me I’d want the sling under me too if I wasn’t ready to safely leave. So, 2:30 turned to 3:00, then 3:30, by 3:45 I’m starting to think that it isn’t going to be the day after all. But luck is still with me and the previous boat motors out of the launch pit. The travel lift heads for Aine while the yard guys get the mast from the storage area and roll it to the launch pit. Aine arrives and it is lowered into the water, the sling is removed and they take Aine out of the pit and turn her around to step the mast. I clime aboard to coordinate lowering the mast to the keel. I notice some water in the area were the new mast-step is going to be located and start checking for leaks. First all the sea cocks, then the stuffing box… which is leaking like a sieve. Not just drips, but streaming water. Now in my head I know that the packing will expand with time, but I give the packing nut a turn to slow things down a bit. I have done this so many times you would think that watching water run into the boat would be common, but my head just won’t let it go. It is screaming at me, what if it doesn’t stop! I’ve got to think about something else and I proceed to lowering the mast and attaching the new standing rigging. Everything fits and goes without event. By 5:30 Aine is in her slip and the stuffing box has sealed. I start checking around for potential problems later. At sun down I give the bilge pump a test and heading for home feeling pretty good.

Early the next morning I’m sitting at the kitchen table eating an omelet for breakfast and the skies open, monsoonal type drenching rains start to fall. I pay little attention and continue to eat, but now a thought leaps into my head… I never reopened the sea-cocks for the cockpit drains. ‘Oh Crap’, barefoot I run out of the house jump into the truck and head for the marina. All the while I’m envisioning a waterfall cascading through the companionway and into the cabin. I arrive at the marina only to find that it isn’t even raining here. So I open the drains, check the bilge, check the lines and head back to finish my breakfast.

Essentials – Cooking with fire

Tuesday – September 26, 2017

The P323 was originally built with a Kenyon 505 three burner stove / oven combination which uses pressurized alcohol for fuel. The fuel tank is in a small locker next to the nav station. Over the past 2 months I have read everything I could about this stove/oven, how to use it and just using pressurized alcohol in general, OMG what a topic! Boat fires and explosions, unbridled fear of pressurized alcohol, some say Propane or Diesel is best, some say unpressurized alcohol is the way to go, some say use the small (green) 1 lb propane bottles. Everyone has an opinion of what the best approach is and they are absolutely sure of their decision.

But the people who have / had pressurized alcohol systems say they are as safe as any other way if you FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS. It seems that the only draw-back, aside from fear, is Flare-ups. According to the people who use this system, a flare-up can occur if you don’t preheat the burner correctly. But once you get the hang of it, it is a breeze to use. Now I have no experience with preheating a burner, but in reading how the stove works I fully understand the need. In a nutshell, a hot burner vaporizes the liquid fuel from the tank and it is the vapors which burn, so I get it. But what to do…

Replacing the existing stove/oven means $1000 to $2000 depending to fuel type; propane means a dedicated propane locker in the cockpit/lazarette, diesel means adding an exhaust pipe through the cabin top, a non-pressurized alcohol unit means nothing extra to add. If I have to replace I’m leaning this way. I had a two burner Origo non-pressurized alcohol stove in my previous boat and used it with ease.

The only way to know for sure is to understand the risks of the existing stove/oven or even if it still works, so let’s evaluate what we already have. By the looks of it the oven has been used for storage for a very long time and I’m not sure that anything has even been baked in this oven. The burners have been used before, but again not for a very long time. The tank has a pressure gauge and the fuel connections are all in good shape. In reading the Kenyon instruction manual all that is needed is Denatured Alcohol, and pump up the tank to about 10 PSI. After inspecting everything and having a fire extinguisher at the ready, I take off the top of the alcohol locker and look for the pump which is supposed to be already attached to the tank (per Kenyon). I’m not seeing a pump, maybe it is under the fill cap. I remove it and, no pump, just the smell of alcohol. On the tank is a bicycle tire fill stem, I originally figured that it was a secondary means of pressurizing the tank, but no that must be how you do it… I’ll need a bicycle pump, which never existed on the boat as long as I’ve owned it. Off to Lowes to find a bicycle pump, grill lighter, and denatured alcohol. I get everything and drive back to the boat. I turn off the fuel at the valve on the tank, attach the pump and pressurize the tank to 5 psi and look, listen and smell for leaks. Nothing, up to 10 psi and wait for a problem, but still everything is good. Over to the stove/oven I open all the valves a 1/2 turn and close them to get a feel how they are working, all seat fine in the off position. I prop open the stove top cover exposing all three burner assemblies. I turn on the tank valve pressurizing the fuel line, again I’m looking, listening and smelling to see if there any leaks… I wait for awhile and still nothing, all is quite and good. I turn on the front right burner valve and look for liquid fuel which is supposed to fall into the preheat cup under the burner. But this burner does not look anything like the pictures in the manual, the actual preheat cup is rectangular shaped not round and it runs from the valve control to the other side of the burner. The fuel line feeding the valve runs through the middle of the burner. This is nothing like what I saw in the manual. With no thoughts of stopping now, I fill the preheat cup 1/2 full of fuel and light it. The flame reaches about 1 to 2 inches above the burner and it seems to take forever to completely consume the fuel in the preheat cup. I finally sit on the Settee to wait out either the explosion and fire or the flame going out… extinguisher at my side.

I was a medic for 20+ years and taught for 12 years at the Center for Emergency Medicine in Pittsburgh. I taught basic trauma life support and specialized in the lecture on burns. I’m sitting watching the flame on the burner, remembering all the postings online about people who swear that pressured alcohol is the most dangerous thing in the world and they would never use it. At the same time I’m also visualizing all the real-life burn slides I used when I taught, one by one they slowly flashed into my consciousness. I’m wondering how lucky I feel, when I notice that the flame is starting to diminish.

I rise to my feet and wait for another 45 seconds until the flame is completely out. Now is it going to be Boom, Bust, or Best? I turn on the valve and I can hear gas escaping, just what you would expect from a pressurized gas stove. I turn it off and ready the grill lighter in my left hand, with my right ever so slowly I turn it on again grill lighter flame at a burner port. Nothing at first, so I keep opening the valve, then as if it’s a miracle tiny blue flames out of each burner port. I keep increasing the flame, it’s beautiful! Easy to control, and responds quickly. The person who invented this was a genius I’m thinking, I’m sold. As for the fear that is so prevalent, I guess we fear what we don’t understand or misuse. But today fire is the best thing we ever discovered!

Mast – New Standing Rigging – Lazy Jacks – Finished the Mast Head

Wednesday – September 20, 2017

Finally the new standing rigging showed up. I ordered it from a rigging company in Stuart, Florida and my order was supposed to ship right before Hurricane Irma was making landfall in Key West… Needless to say it did not make that ship date. I grew up in South Florida and experienced about 10 or more hurricanes in my 15 years living there, so I waited about a week to let the company get back to normal and finally called. My rigging shipped the next day!

With the new standing rigging on the way it was time to complete the mast. Earlier in the summer I had completely disassembled the mast, rewired it and replace everything electrical and rebuild all the wenches. The PO had somehow cleaned everything off the top of the mast. VHF antenna, mounting bracket, and antenna wire connector were completely gone. Just a lonely wire sticking out of the side of the mast waving in the wind. Also gone were the anchor light and wind indicator. I added a Tri-Light /  Anchor Light LED tower in the center on the top, made extension tangs off the front and back of the mast head to accommodate a standard wind indicator aft and wind direction /  anemometer sensors forward. A new Running Light / Deck Light LED combination mid-mast had previously been installed too. I attached the spreaders with new philips head screws for the end caps. Now I installed Lazy-Jacks, placing the blocks on the spreaders close to the mast and 3 straps under the boom (3 point Lazy Jack system). I rigged it while it was lying on it side and everything looks right, we will see went we re-step the mast. I replaced the flag halyard block on the starboard spreader and added a flag block to the port spreader to hang the radar reflector from.

When the new rigging arrived I stretched each one out next to its old mate, and each was a perfect match. Absolutely no issues and its nice to see a turnbuckle turn so freely. Back to the yard I started attaching the new standing rigging. All the fittings fit the clevis pins the only issued was that the new forward tang attachment screws were about 1/8″ too long and interfered with the forward stay strap. But that was an easy fix, I just removed the extra screw length and made them flush with the Stop Nuts. And Voila, fini.

Rebuild Bow Pulpit / New Anchor Roller

August 3, 2017 – In reading all the accounts of cruisers anchoring in the Bahamas a single salient fact kept showing itself, oversized spade type anchors like the Ronca and Mantus did not drag as often, whereas the other types did. I’m sure that this generalization will anger many who will swear by ‘their’ anchor and as with all things there are exceptions to every rule, but I will be single-handing for much of my time and I’d like to get a good night’s sleep, as many nights as possible. So with that in mind last year I purchased a 44 lbs. Mantus, one size heaver then recommended, and knew that I was going to need to change the bow pulpit to accommodate it.

After examining many P323 I found out that at some point the pulpit on Aine was changed from the original one attached at the factory to a custom made one. It has a ‘built in’ anchor roller on the starboard side and works well for a bruce or claw type. But since I was adding a anchor windless and a new anchor that would not fit this roller, things had to change. Besides the teak planks were in poor shape, many of them held in place with nothing more then a prayer and some completely missing. When I was removing the pulpit I noticed that there was quite a bit of flex at the bow attachment point. Upon further investigation I found that the pulpit is attached to a bow/stem plate using a single Stainless Steel 3/8″ bolt. The bolt is attached to a piece of stainless steel angle welded to each arm of the pulpit. The angle iron was about 14 gauge and it didn’t seem strong enough to me. I made a new piece of stainless angle using 12 gauge stainless steel sheet stock, bent it to match the existing radius and spot welded it to the existing piece. Much stronger now!

I found a local source of rough cut teak and purchased enough to re-do the pulpit decking with 3/4″ finished thickness boards. The custom pulpit structure was made of 1 7/8″ stainless steel tubing and I was going to place the new planking across the entire width of the pulpit and then attach the new anchor roller to the planks. The existing planks were attached with #8 Stainless Steel machine screws and I was going to attach the new teak boards the same way. However I could not use the existing holes since the original teak boards were all different widths and the asymmetrical look of the boards just bothered my engineering mind, so all the boards were cut 2 5/8″ wide with a 1/4″ space between each board. Ah, the symmetry! Tapping the first hole I was using a traditional 4 lobed cutting tap, but I broke the tap off in the hole and knew from previous experience that a broken tap in really hard to remove. I researched ways to remove a broken tap in stainless and in the process learned something I never knew about before a ‘forming tap’. After 2 hours of chiseling away the broken tap using a carbide center punch, it finally broke apart and came out. A ‘forming tap’ is specifically for hard steels (like Stainless). So I bought one and it works like a champ, disproving the old dog theory once again! But I should have researched this before I started.

The new Pulpit with one side of the teak planks attached. Once all the planks are attached I’ll glue in teak bungs, sand them and add two more coats of finish to the top of the boards.

Starboard View

August 27, 2017 – Finished attaching the teak boards and installed the bungs. Applied four coats of finish before installing the anchor roller over them.

The new anchor is a 44 lb Mantus and I bought the anchor roller directly from Mantus as well, including the optional anchor point cradle. Click on the picture for a closer view. The anchor roller is mounted using 4 – 3/8″ Stainless Steel bolts and hit the middle of each board drilling the mounting holes… just lucky not planned.

Port View

New Cabin Top (Doghouse) Handrails

July 29, 2017 – Aine came with the port side handrails broken and both sides were badly worn with remnants of old varnish. I knew that I wanted to replace them with new teak and figured that while the bottom was being worked on by the yard painter, I could attend to the teak projects. The existing handrails looked small and flimsy, I wondered what the original size was from the factory? Or had they been sanded so many times that they kept getting thinner and thinner?

First task was to measure them, 110 1/2″ long, 2 5/8″ wide, and 5/8″ thick. Next I removed all the bungs and tried to remove the screws. From other P323 owners who had completed this restoration I knew in advance that the handrails are bolted through with no way to get at the nuts. Literally no way to get to them, one of the few flaws the designers made. I tried to unscrew them and get the hidden nut to back off as much as possible, but after a few attempts it was clear that this was futile. I decided to saw the old handrails as close to the fasteners as possible and then snap off what remained, which worked like a charm. With all the wood gone, I grabbed the screw and pulled it up as far as it could go so I could cut off the head. Now I figured all I had to do was push the screw back into the cavity until it fell out and then I could fill the holes with epoxy so I could attach the new handrail using Stainless Steel sheet metal screws.

But not so fast the sailboat restoration Gods tell me. The screws that were originally used must have been 3 to 4 inches long! When I pushed them back they bottomed out against the cabin liner and will go no further. Since there was no way to move or remove them without making a much larger hole in the pedestal, I opted to fill the smaller hole with West System epoxy and some added filler. When dry I sanded each pedestal flush.

I located a piece to teak lumber which was 17′ x 5″ x 1″ rough cut, it  would yield 2 hand rails 3/4″ thick and I’ve have some extra teak for other projects. I spent the next day in the shop just making enough room to cut, plane, and sand a piece of wood this long, it had to be able to go out the front door for both cutting and planing. 2 days later it was finished and I had 2 beautiful pieces of wood. You know you have good quality teak by the feel, smell, and how it works with tools. I put a 3/8″ radius all around the top side and a 1/4″ radius on the bottom side. It felt good in the hand and left a larger mounting and sealing surface for attachment to the pedestals.

I pre-finished the handrails prior to installation. Once the installation is complete I’ll glue in the screw-head bungs using waterproof glue, cut them close to the surface, sand the bungs flush and scuff sand the entire top surface and add some finish to the tops.

Installation was easy, I mean really easy… I marked the center of the first handrail and drilled and counter sunk a hole for a 1 1/2″ long #10 SS flat head sheet metal screw. The counter sink hole was 3/8″ in diameter to accommodate the screw head and 3/8″ deep so a teak bung could be installed. I positioned the handrail in the middle of the pedestal and drilled a smaller hole in the fiberglass and attached the screw. The only reason this worked is that there is an odd number of pedestals so the center is easy to find. I attached ratchet straps to the starboard rail aft and starboard stanchion forward. This allowed me to easily bend the handrail for the next pedestals fore and aft. I went fore and aft one by one, slowly bending and attaching the handrail. Once the port side was complete I moved everything to the starboard side.


On the right is a picture of the before and after handrails.

The completed job on the left came out nicely.

If you don’t take it out of the water – – – You will never know

July 5, 2017 – The worst thing any sailboat owner can do is haul the boat out. I knew this from owning previous sailboats. The last one I hauled stayed on the hard for over a year, with me making repair after repair every weekend for over a year. So I knew what to expect…

If you take them out of the water you will find a thousand things to fix. I’m starting to think that ignorance might be an owners best friend!

But this time I have no choice, the boat had to be hauled so that I could replace everything that had been forcefully removed from the top of the mast (Lights, antenna, wind indicator, etc.) during a previous ownership. Out it came in March, my intention was to replace the wiring in the mast, add new lights, new antenna, new wind instruments. Remove the old depth sounder hole and glass it shut, add a new anchor roller for the 44 lbs manson. Inspect the bottom and add anti-fouling paint as needed. Then back in the water by the end of May. It’s now July and we are still working to complete all the tasks. Sadly the list keeps growing!

  1. Found a completely corroded mast bottom and mast step. – Cut 2″ off the mast and had a new maststep fabricated (Pictures posted below) – Completed
  2. Found all the wiring corroding inside the mast – Replaced all the wiring with marine grade cable in the mast. Replace all the lights with LEDs, new antenna and new wind instruments. – Completed
  3. Found the two winches on the mast completely gummed up inside. Which, god help me, forced me to look at all the winches on the boat. All needed cleaned and re-lubricated. Main’s needed re-chromed. – Completed
  4. Found that there was 20 to 25 layers of bottom paint when I was glassing the old depth sounder thru-hull shut, Upon closer inspection the bottom paint was flaking off in certain places. In glassing the thru-hull shut I used a vacuum bagging technique and the results are fabulous! See separate posting.- Contracted the yard to remove the old bottom paint and sand the hull. – Completed
  5. Had to glass shut the cockpit holes from the instruments on the cabin wall which had been removed by a previous owner. They repaired the holes with a 1/4″ piece of starboard caulked to the cabin wall. Underneath was 3 holes about 5″ in diameter. Glassing and fairing shut the holes, sanded – Completed
  6. I was able to see previous barrier coat(s) on the rudder which had started to come off. But what I could not see was… once the yard removed the old layers of bottom paint it became evident that the previous owner had blister problems in the gel-coat only. The hull was inspected and was stout and firm, no issues with the glass. But for some unknown reason they never filled the blisters, lots of small ones. Now we need to add new barrier coats and hull needs fairing, along with new hard coat anti-fouling bottom paint. – Completed
  7. On deck teak was a sad shape. About 40% of the screws had their teak bung’s gone or had loose glue and needed replacement. Bung replace, sanding, seam filling, cleaning, and apply a new protective finish. – Completed
  8. New anchor roller for the 44 lb Manson. – Completed

Replacing All the standing rigging

Thursday June 29, 2017 – The biggest problem is the removal of Stainless Steel screws from aluminum, this has pledged me from the very beginning of the restoration. All the standing rigging was easy to remove with the exception of the spreaders, the screws holding the end caps just would not come out. You can see the shroud still in the end cap in the picture below.

Oh, I’ve tied the standard procedure for removal; lubricate – bang with a hammer for awhile – try to turn without stripping the head- repeat. This can take days or weeks if it works at all. But I saw how ‘motor heads’ remove broken studs in an engine block and said, ‘hey, that would work here’. First I needed to teach myself Tig Welding. I’m no pro by any measure, but I can accomplish what I need to. The automotive boys Tig Weld another bolt to the end of the broken stud and then just unscrew it. So I figured that I could weld a piece of stainless into the screw head slot and then remove it with channel locks or an adjustable wrench (the latter worked best for me). This would make it easier to grip and give me more torque. See the first attempt pictures below.

It took some torque to get it moving, but it came out ‘slick as a whistle’ and did not strip the threads in the aluminum. It took longer to setup the welding station then it did to weld on the extension and remove the screw. This is my new favorite way to removed stuck stainless fasteners in aluminum.

Updated VHF radio gets a new home and brought family

Tuesday May 23, 2017 – I met with Ed and Joan Criscuolo, fellow owners of a Pearson 323, who were returning home after a cruise in the Exumas, great people by the way. Ed and I got to talking about the best things to have on-board since I will be making a similar trip this fall. He asked if I had a remote mic at the helm? I said no, I had been using a portable. Ed said to me, your are single handing right? I say yes. He says let’s pretend you are in trouble and you have a choice between a 1 watt portable VHF radio or a 25 watt radio with the antenna 55 feet in the air, which would you choose? Well that got me to thinking…

I decided to replace the 20 year old Standard Horizon VHF, which was still in good condition, with a new model 1700 and added the RAM3+ remote mic for the helm. The 1700 has an internal GPS and sends position coordinates with the distress call to all DSC VHF radios. The 1700 is only slightly bigger then the old one and I could have just mounted it in the same location, but I never really like it there, right next to the companion way ladder. I decided that easy access to the radio controls from within the cabin or seated at the navigation station would be best. When I tried my first test fit I found a number of short comings with this approach; 1) the mounting surface is a complex curve, 2) with a fixed mounting the screen and controls can be accessed easily from either the cabin or the nav station, but not both. So what to do… I designed a VHF mounting dolly to fit the complex curve of the nav station and be able to rotate 45 degrees for good access regardless of position. I took some measurements and went to work at the 3D CAD station to design the dolly parts. The front and back radiuses as well as the sides of the dolly was calculated to match the 1700’s mounting bracket with a 1/8″ reveal. Once the design looked good in the virtual world, I took the STL file over the my CNC 3D machining software which converts a 3D shape into G codes for the CNC Mill to use.
3D CAD output

The new radio will be mounted at the forward end of the nav station by the existing light. The top piece is machined to match the complex curves of that location and creates a flat parallel mounting surface of the rotational dolly (bottom piece). The rotation is restricted to about 45 degrees by a socket head screw mounted in the dolly which fits into a slot in the top piece. A 1/4 – 20 flat head stainless steel screw passes through the pivot point of both pieces. The top piece is held in place by two flat head screws. Once the top piece is attached the pivot hole is then drilled in the fiberglass that holds the light and is accessible through the removable panel in the nav station.  The pivot screw is passed through this hole and a flat washer and locking nut are used to adjust for proper tension between the top and bottom pieces of the dolly. Alone with the 3D profiles of each part the CNC also machined all the mounting holes, pivot hole, and rotational slot for both pieces. A little bit of deburring and they were ready to assembly.
Machined Parts

The G code program to machine the two parts was over 7500 lines long and took about 90 minutes to machine both the top and bottom. Each piece is .300″ at it’s thickest point and were each produced from 3/4″ white starboard.
Finished Install

View from Ladder (Dolly Straight) – View from Nav Station (Dolly Straight)

View from Nav Station (Dolly Rotated)  – Internal GPS antenna picking up 12 Stats.

Primary Winches – Oh Boy!

Wednesday May 10, 2017 – I really didn’t intend to address the primary winches this soon, but weather prevented me from other work so I decided to disassemble one of the winches while sitting in the cockpit one day. Earlier I had researched my winches, they were Lewmar 42ST and found only a little bit information. Luckily the information I found including an assembly diagram, it seems that this winch was only manufactured for a short period of time. From the limited information online I could tell that some P323 had non-self-tailing winches, some had 42ST and still others had 43ST when they were first delivered. I found only two other sailboat manufacturers which included 42ST as standard equipment. I contacted the ‘normal’ Lewmar spare parts outlets and was told that no spare parts are available for my winches. I was also hoping that either a 40ST or 43ST would be a similar design and I could get spare parts that way, but no such luck both are completely different designs. The only spares still available are pawls and pawl springs, that are still used in newer designs. [Remember you can always click on a picture to see greater detail]

The external condition of my winches was really poor. Most of the chrome plating on the drum and line stripper arm was either completely gone or was peeling off with every gust of wind. The winch design is mechanically time tested, but for this design they elected to mix bronze, aluminum, and stainless steel. The drum is cast bronze which is chrome plated and includes a line-wrap gripping pattern in the center of the drum (which was completely missing from my drums). At the top of the drum is the lower line locking teeth of the self-tail. The upper line locking teeth of the self-tail are on the crown plate and is cast aluminum which is black anodized. The line stripping arm (which causes the line to exit the line locking teeth) is also black anodized cast aluminum and is located between the upper and lower teeth. Three 1/4″ – 20 1″ long stainless steel socket head cap screws hold the aluminum crown plate to the bronze drum. Next is a plastic flange bushing (separates the crown plate from the stripper arm). Then the stripper arm (which guides the line from the drum into the self-tail teeth), it’s cast bronze and chrome plated. To finishing everything off, on top is a molded plastic cap which holds the bronze split locks (collets) in place. Four 1/4″ – 20 3/8″ stainless steel socket head cap screws secure the top cap to the cast stripper arm.

The biggest problem with disassembly is galvanic corrosion where the Aluminum comes in contact with the stainless steel screws in the crown plate. Even though the crown plate is drilled with clearance holes, that didn’t seem to matter much. The screws were locked in place and 2 of the 3 sockets head cap screws sheared off at the head. It took some persuasion (hammer and steel rod from below) to loosen the crown plate from the screw shafts. Once the crown plate was out of the way, I could removed the remaining screw shafts with my fingers.

All of the black anodized aluminum pieces had corrosion and pitting on all sides. I found a local hard chrome platter and dropped off the drums. He glass beaded the drums (a form of sand blasting which is less aggressive) and to my surprise returned the gripping pattern to the middle of the drum. I scraped off the gross corrosion from the Aluminum parts with a small straight blade screw driver and then scotch-brighted all surfaces. Next I cleaned the aluminum parts with a strong acidic cleaner. Lastly I painted all the aluminum parts which do not come in contact with line using a flat-black outdoor spray paint. I also painted the plastic top cap to match the aluminum casting. I know that the paint will deteriorate with time, but the gorgeous drums just didn’t look right with the ‘natural’ faded-and-deteriorated looking aluminum.

INSIDE – Oh My Gosh!

Saturday & Sunday May 13 – 14, 2017

With the drum removed, I took my first look at all the moving parts inside. What a sight, it all looked like crap and the grease felt sticky like molasses or thick honey and I could not hand turn anything. The pawls, pawl springs, the two gear spindles, and main spindle (winch handle attachment point) are all stainless steel, everything else is bronze or plastic. I used mineral spirits in a bowel and a tooth brush to clean everything. But that did not remove all the years of hardened sand and grease. I used a small straight blade screw driver to scrape out all the hardened remains from the valleys and tips of the gear teeth followed by another mineral spirits scrub. Finally I scotch-brighted everything to remove the remaining hardened bits. All of the gear assemblies were then dry fitted and tested for proper operation. I replaced all the pawl springs.

Finally satisfied that everything was as good as it was going to get, I greased the gears, oiled the pawls and reassembled the winch. It looks like it just came out of the box and worked perfectly, feels smooth-as-silk.

A single winch took 4 1/2 hours from start to finish.

The condition of these winches and the fact that they still, for the most part, functioned stands as an incredible testimony to their mechanical engineering. Which has changed little from the original design. Kudos!

Electrical Nightmare – Part 1

I knew from the first time I inspected the ‘inner’ workings of Aine, I was going to need to replace many suspect things. But the extent of the deterioration to all the electrical and electronics connections was shocking. The AC neutral bus and ground bus was so eaten away by corrosion that I’m amazed that anything electrical worked reliability. The on-board bonding of the Earth (safety) ground to the AC neutral was intentionally disconnected with the Earth wire dangerously dangling on top of the ceramic open-type AC fuse holder. The Neutral and Earth bus bars were almost completely corroded through in places as was the brass mounting screws. If I did not know better I would have sworn that this part of the boat was under water at some point. The first step was removing the old bus bars and installing new ones. I cut off all the wiring lugs and replaced them with new ones and included my water-proofing wire prep I had developed in the 1980s. It makes any electrical connection water tight and gas tight. I knew someday it would come in handy again. I removed the galley AC outlet and water heater on/off switch from the galley wall.

Many other Pearson 323 owners had replaced this area with a standard AC electrical distribution panel. That was also my original plan, but the holes cut at the factory would not be completely covered by the standard distribution panel. So I designed a collar/panel holder which would add an additional 1/4″ to each side of the panel. I designed it on my 3D CAD system, converted it to CNC G-codes and ran it through the CNC virtual machine viewer. I made some changes to the CNC cutting sequences and it was machined on the CNC Mill using a high speed up-cutting 3/8″ flat mill on 3/4″ White Starboard. After milling I deburred the edges, a little bit of finish sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and it was complete. It is about 3/16″ thick and hugs the AC panel like it was made for it, well I guess it was. To satisfy the engineer in me I purchased the AC panel with the analog volt meter and voltage indicating LEDs. I haven’t connected the 12 volt DC to back-light the meter and name plates yet. But after the re-wire, no blown breakers, no sparks, and everything AC powered up and work nicely. The reverse polarity LED is showing the break in the Earth to Neutral previously mentioned. I guess I took the picture before I finished all the wiring, its off now.

For waterproofing electrical connections I developed a process using a product from Quaker State back in 1983. This was long before waterproof connectors were generally available. I found this petroleum product that Quaker State used to sell to TV manufacturers in the US. It was sold as a contact lubricant used in old mechanical multi-contact tuners. Depending on when you were born, you may not even know what that means. I used it to fill connector shells (the mostly plastic mechanical parts of a connector which hold the pins in place) and it made the connections completely waterproof. A number of years ago Quaker State sold the product to a small company in Buffalo, New York, I forget the name now. But it is still sold as Truck-Lite NYK-77. The drawback to using it is that it is petroleum based and is harmful if you eat it. I have also used a Silicone Dielectric Grease which seems to serve the same purpose and can be purchased from any autoparts store.

Long delay while I get new parts


It has been quite a long time since I was able to post progress. Waiting for new working parts has set me back about a year! But after Rotator Cuff repair surgery and a brand new knee. I’m almost back to functioning without limitations. I have until November this year to get everything ready for cursing the Bahamas. At present Aine in on the hard, mast un-stepped. I found lots of corrosion on the bottom of the mast, cut off about 3 1/2 inches and I’m having a new Mast Step fabricated out of anodized aluminum. I’m replacing the sheves for all line halyards, new wind direction and anemometer, new VHF antenna, new tri-color LED Mast Head and anchor light, new deck light,

I forgot to add some important aspects of the mast removal… When I removed the mast it took about 15 minutes of continuous pounding with a sledge hammer at the base of the mast, and I don’t mean light pounding either, while the mast was being pulled up by a hoist from above before the mast would break loose from the corroded step. Then the bolt heads which held the mast step to the keel were so rusted that they could only be removed by grinding the heads off. I can highly recommend the 20 Volt battery operated Dewalt grinder here. Once the step was removed I was able to unscrew, using a bolt shaft gripping remover, 2 of the aft bolts. The 2 forward bolt’s shaft snap off due to additional rust and corrosion which reduced the shaft thickness. I ground them flush with the top of the keel and drilled new holes in the lead. I had the mast step made by a guy in Connecticut, his name is Richard Conti, email – dcproductsllc@yahoo.com. He quoted me an original price of around $350 but I cut off a bit more of the mast then he wanted which raised the final price to $400 due to the additional height. Along with fabricating the mast step he also had it anodized, I’m very happy with the result.


honey I bought another one!

And so it begins… I was about 90% finished with restoring a Pearson 28 and I wasn’t really looking for another project boat. The P28 was my first Pearson and I had come to have great admiration for the Pearson brand after sailing her for the first time about 2 years earlier. On that day she was so balanced at the helm that I sat in the cockpit in awe. In one day of sailing I had experienced a years worth of different weather conditions. The engine on the Pearson 28 was not working so I got a fellow sailor to pull me out to the outer marker where there is no danger of grounding. The wind was blowing from the South at 10 with a Carolina blue sky full of sunshine. Nice day to go sailing I thought to myself as I raised the main and unfurled the genoa. It was a wonderful 30 minutes, she is sailing like a dream… then the winds started to build, 12 – 15 – 20. I put the first reef in the main at 15 and reduced the genny. She is still handling very nicely. Just then I noticed a line of black clouds moving quickly from the Southwest toward me. While I’m pondering about bringing in the main, the main and genny are hit with a 25 knot gust from the back side. The wind is freezing and I know what this is. The boat heels to about 20 degrees, I release the main and genny and both sweep across the deck. I sheet both of them in to stop the flapping and I notice that with my hand off the tiller she isn’t turning up into the wind like every other sailboat I’ve owned, she is still sailing on course. Wow I’m thinking… just then I’m hit, snap,  with a gust of the same size from the opposite direction, main and genny backed again, boat heeling 30 degrees to the other direction. I’m getting tossed around like a rag doll. I know I have to drop all the cloth, I drop the main and I tie it to the boom, rain and hail pelting me. I struggle to furl the genoa, it wants to unfurl itself each time I rest to re-pull the furling line. Finally all the cloth is down and I rush to the bow to drop and set the anchor. Now I can go below, drenched, to sit it out. I’m peering out one of the windows and I notice that I’m smiling, again I’m in awe on how this boat handled in difficult conditions. I watch the storm through the port windows kick up 2 foot waves and we are riding it out like a small bump in the road. Within 15 minutes the storm has passed. I scan the sky looking trouble and see nothing but Carolina blue and sunshine. I climb back up on deck and re-hoist the main and genoa. Now there is absolutely no wind, a very bright baking sunshine and the temperature is rising quickly, 95% relative humidity which is also rising, but absolutely no wind. Every now and then I feel a whisper of a slight breeze. I sit in the cockpit with my hand over the side holding the genny out as far as I can just to maximize every little puff. I can feel the little tugs on the genny’s clew, and with each little tug I feel the boat move forward. Wow, I think to myself, she responds to even the tiniest little puffs of air. Yes sir, a years worth of weather in a single afternoon. So now 2 years after our first meeting when I was asked if I wanted to look at a Pearson 323 I thought, sure, I love sailboats and I’m starting to like Pearson’s a lot. And then she drew me in…

Sitting at Hampstead waiting for the lift

Sitting at Hampstead waiting for the lift


Wednesday, July 15, 2015 – I purchased a 1981 Pearson 323. I first inspected her about one week ago in a private slip in Wilmington, NC. She has been sitting without much care for awhile, the present owner says 2 years, but I’m guessing longer. There is quite a bit of Teak damage in the V-birth, head, and main solon. A ton of dry rot from leaking fixed ports (4 of them), leaking hatches (2 of them), and leaking opening ports (4 of them). 20150925_141302

I also suspect that the anchor locker recessed in the forward deck is leaking into the rope locker right below and then into the bilge. The water in the bilge rises faster then I would expect. Everything made of wood forward of the solon needs replaced. The stuffing box has a steady stream leak and will need repacked first thing… ‘good thing the bilge pump works’ I told them ‘or she would be sitting on the bottom’. These would become prophetic words in the not too distant future. The hull is solid as a rock, like every other Pearson I have ever seen. It needs a paint job, the teak hand rails on deck need repaired. All the teak on deck needs refinishing. The mast… well the mast looks somehow different, like it doesn’t belong and I’m not sure why. I can see the beauty in this boat, in her lines, how she sits in the slip, and in my mind I can see what she will look like when I’m finished rebuilding her. As I sit in the solon, even with all this decay she feels just right to me!

Getting ready to take the old girl home

Friday, July 17, 2015 – Taking Áine home requires 2 to 3 days of motoring north on the ICW from Wilmington until we reach the Neuse River, then up the Neuse to New Bern. In preparation for the trip motoring her home I purchased some navigation/chart plotting software for the Galaxy tablet and a book of all the ICW pit falls I might encounter in route. It is going to take me a total of 20.5 hours of motoring to get to New Bern assuming an average speed of 6 knots, hull speed is 7.3 knots. This speed does not take into account bridge opening schedules, wind, or current. All of which could be a substantial help or hindrance. The ICW book showed me that there were lots of places to get into trouble or run aground and it is a damn good thing I bought it! In parts of the route the center line of the ICW has a MLW is 2 foot! You have to steer into the ‘chart plotter grass’, leaving the ICW and then returning in a loop no bigger then two or three boat lengths. In my life time (62 years / 50 sailing) I have never before seen navigation markers RED – GREEN – GREEN – RED in a straight line on the far port edge of the channel. I loaded all the legs of the trip into the tablet. I also found ActiveCaptain Dot Com which is a website/database of information from fellow boaters traveling the ICW, as well as other waters, and providing first hand information on what they have found in their travels. After reading the ICW book for the third time and looking at all the ActiveCaptain posting along my route, I purchased the Gold package Towing Insurance… seemed prudent. I got the portable VHF from the P28 and gave it a full nights charge and I’m ready to bring her home.

The plan is to leave Wilmington early and get to Anchors Away Marina in Hampstead by noon. Lift her out of the water and inspect the bottom for any problems and make temporary repairs as needed; like a new zinc, scrap off any barnacles, etc, etc. Re-launch and get to Swansboro by dusk, about 7:45pm.


Let’s go home baby!

Monday, July 20, 2015 8:30 am – I was informed by Bob (man at the marina) that George (previous owner) had a problem with the bilge pump over the weekend and had a new one installed. Everything is working perfectly according to Bob, good thing given how much water is coming in via the stuffing box. My daughter Elizabeth drives me to Wilmington. At the marina she and I are trying to fill the fuel tank with 5 additional gallons of diesel when she loses her balance. I dive forward to grab her so that she will not fall in. During the lunge I hit the cockpit combing and I hear and fell something pop in my lower left abdomen, in the area of the floating ribs. I was a paramedic for over 20+ years, so I know that this may be potentially bad. It fells like a broken rib and it hurts to take a deep breath… so I take shallow ones. This is not going to stall my departure.

The Start – Setting out… the diesel starter will not turn over, so I have to fiddle with the power connection behind the engine instrument panel that George showed me when we closed on the purchase. After fiddling with the power wires a bit, with Bob at the helm, we get the engine started and it seems to be running fine. I read in the ICW book that there was shallowing on the north side of the channel from the private marina to the ICW, so I planned a route to bare south until I’m clear of the swallowing. On departure day the marina is being dredged and there is a lot of confusion, boats and bares at the marina when I decided to head out. I get to the end of the slips and I’m baring south of the first piling when I slowed to an abrupt stop. Yes, you guessed it, I’m grounded. It seems that the pilings and markers have been reset to the new dredged channel. Not an auspicious start I’m thinking… The dredging crew pulls me off and tell me about the pilings being reset. So departure #2, off again heading for the Wrightsville Bridge, it opened on the hour. Each time I shift my weight from one side to the other, I get a sharp pain in the side. But I’m ignoring it for now. The plan is to motor to a Marina in Hampstead, pull the boat, inspect the bottom, add zincs (which I’m sure are missing), and relaunch to arrive in Swansboro this evening. I get lucky and make the Wrightsville Bridge opening on the top of the hour. I notice as I exit the bridge that the GPS tells me that I’m making about 4 knots, that means there must be a 1 1/2 knot current on the bow. At this rate I will not make the next bridge on time, and I miss the Figure 8 bridge opening and have to wait 30 minutes. My schedule is slipping. I’m past the Figure 8 bridge motoring and I can see that I have no readings on the volt meter, engine temperature, engine RPM, knot meter, or depth sounder. I remember Bob telling me that all the instruments worked when I first inspected the boat, so something is wrong, and since there is no autopilot I’ll be at the helm until we make the marina. So basically I’m motoring by feel alone, it’s a little concerning. After about 2 and a half hours I noticed black smoke coming from the exhaust and can see what looks like black oil in the exhaust water. Oh crap, this can’t be good. I’m worried that the Volvo MD11C might be on its last legs. But I’m not going to pull in anywhere I’m going to keep motoring north for as long as she will keep the prop turning.

The Pull – By 2:30 pm I get to the Marina in Hampstead and I think to myself… if they pull the boat right away I can still get to Swansboro by evening and stay on schedule. But no… there is a power boat to be pulled before mine and the power boat is not even at the marina yet! So I wait, and wait, and wait. It’s now 3:30 pm and I’m still tied up to the finger pier an no way in hell I’ll get to Swansboro today. I call Elizabeth and ask her to come pick me up and take me home after the boat is pulled and blocked. By 4:30 the yard crew is ready to move my boat from outside of the finger pier to inside the pier for the lift. I’m sitting in Elizabeth’s car in the cool AC watching the yard workers. Sitting in the car the only sound is that of the AC fan blowing cold air… so I’m watching the workers thinking to myself that Carlie Chaplin has got nothing on you guys… The yard crew is led by a young man in his mid-thirties and he seems competent enough. They start by tying normal length dock lines together to make them longer, this is so that one man, one very large man on the far finger pier can pull the boat toward the lift point between the two finger piers. I notice that the evening winds have picked up, which is normal, and I guage them at about 10 to 12 knots blowing from the South, the finger piers run east to west. The P323 is tied up on the outside wall of the north finger pier. The yard crew has to move the boat to the end of the finger pier and then pull it into the wind so that it can be backed in between the two piers. On the first attempt they push the boat to end of the pier and then try to pull it broad side to the wind and waves. I’m thinking to myself, these are people who work with boats everyday, and they are trying to pull the boat broadside. Something doesn’t fit… The guy on the furthest pier looks like a small man-mountain, built like a fire plug, damn good thing to he is being pulled across the finger pier toward the water. They give up the first attempt. They tried this same maneuver three more times… not unsurprisingly with the same results. Now I sitting in the car and I know better, but I’ve never inserted myself into a leadership situation without being asked first. Next thing I see is the crew starting to untie the lines and I figure they are giving up. I walk out to talk to the crew chief and ask what the plan is? He says that they cannot move it because of the high winds and they will do it the next morning when the winds are lighter. I’m not feeling good about this and I’m not sure why, but it just does not feel right. I tell him to hold on a minute… I get aboard the P323 and go below and start looking around, looking for a reason to not wait until the next morning, something tells me to look in the bilge. So I pull one of the floor boards and see water to within 1 ½” of the floor boards. I immediately go over to the panel with the new bilge switch and turn it on manual… I’m waiting to hear water pour out the side, and I hear nothing. I place the switch on automatic, still nothing, then back to manual, lots and lots of nothing. I’m figuring that the batteries are dead, something to do with that battery wire behind the engine instrument panel which prevents the engine from starting. I poke my head up through the companion way and tell the crew chief that the boat has to be lifted right now! The bilge pump is not working and she is taking on water. I ask him if it would be alright if a commanded the crew to get the boat into the lift, he agrees. I tell my crew that the plan is to move the boat up the side of the pier, turn the bow into the wind at the end of the pier, keep it pointed into the wind as we push her past the end of the pier and then let her slip backwards into the lift. I assign each man a job, 2 minutes later she is cradled by the lift straps and I’m breathing easier.

The Bad – It’s 5:45 pm and the boat is blocked. I plug in the shore power cord and verify that the battery charger was on. I try the bilge pump switch on manual again and still nothing is happening, so I pulled all the floor boards to see how a brand new bilge pump could have failed so soon. I reach into the water, the water half way up my bicep. In the bilge I pull out 4 wires… all 4 are cut. 3 wires go to the vicinity of the bilge pump and one seems to go to the float switch. No way in hell this pump was ever working. The water is so high I will not be able to see what is actually going on down there until the water is removed. I come to the realization that I’ll need to fix the bilge pump and repack the stuffing box before I can relaunch and continue the trip home. So I’ll need a new schedule, who knows when I’ll get her back in the water again. As Elizabeth is driving me home, I have to wonder… did someone want this boat to be sitting on the bottom with me in it or was this just a case of colossal incompetence. One or two wires might be happenstance or incompetence, but four? It is hard to believe it’s not intentional.

The Ugly – When I first examine the prop and prop shaft they are both completely covered with barnacles, so to are all the through hull transducers and seacocks. The engine water inlet is almost completely closed off by barnacles. I look at the exhaust, the exhaust where I saw what looked like oil and see some black stuck to the transom. I wipe it onto my finger and sniffed it. It smells like soot, it was not oil but soot. That is completely different, I’m starting to feel a little better about the engine, maybe it just needs the injectors cleaned or something simple adjusted.

The original Volvo Penta MD11C

The original Volvo Penta MD11C

Diesel University

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 – The marina in Hampstead had a ‘deal’, for a fixed price they would pull and block the boat, pressure clean and scrap the bottom, include 30 days of yard storage / electric / water, and then re-launch at no additional costs. The marina manager was a real nice girl originally from Buffalo New York. She and I hit it off from the first telephone conversation, I suppose that it was because she had the same mid-western influenced accent that I had. She pointed out to me that the yard costs increase abruptly after the 30 day deal period. The ‘deal’ price was reasonable, but I needed to be back in the water within 30 days. The last time I pulled a sailboat I had to swap out an engine for a new one, and I had intentions of completing my work within 90 days. The reality is that the boat was on the hard for over a year. Once you make the commitment to repair something on a sailboat, you will continually find things to fix. One month sounds like a lot of time when you first consider it, but in the reality of boats it is just a heart beat.

Today I took the time to do some detailed research on the Volvo MD11C and diesel engines in general. In my first sailboat, a Watkins 27, I had a Yanmar 2GM and I never had anything go wrong with it. As a result I never needed to know anything about the internal workings of a diesel engine except the routine maintenance to preform. What I learned about diesel engines was that soot is produced whenever the engine is overloaded and it can be overloaded when the prop is fouled with barnacles. Wow, that is the exact scenario of my trip from Wilmington to Hampstead. As I look back on the trip, after passing the Wrightsville Bridge and was heading for the Figure 8 bridge I knew that I was behind schedule so I bumped the engine RPMs up to try to make the opening, which I missed anyway. It was just after passing the bridge and moving the throttle back up to full speed that I noticed the black smoke and soot. This is actually good news, I think I may have just dodged the re-powering bullet… for now anyway. I was originally planning on removing the injectors and sending them off to be cleaned, but I don’t think I need to do that now.


My first visit to her on the hard

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 – Prior to heading down to the boat yard in Hampstead I stopped at West Marina and bought a 1200 GPH bilge pump and 10 foot of 2 inch diameter hose. The plan is to drop the pump into the bilge, take the hose out the hatch in the main solon and then bend it over the side. I’m going to wire the bilge pump directly to the battery so there is no doubt that the pump is getting power, and then pump her belly dry. This pump will have to be stout, it is going to have to lift a 2 inch column of water vertically for 7 feet before the hose makes the turn over the side. I placed the new pump in the bilge and taped the hose down and out the hatch and over the side. The tape will ensure that the force of the stream does not flip the hose back inside the boat, that would just add insult to injury. With everything wired up, finally I hear a pump running and water hitting the ground. What a beautiful sound that is, but the water in the bilge goes down so slowly sometime I think the hose must be clogged. But I can still hear the reassuring sound of water hitting the ground, so it must be just a lot of water. It seems like it takes forever, but finally all the water is out of the bilge.

With the water gone I start to inspect ‘the scene of the crime’… so… no new bilge pump, no new float switch. I’m thinking to myself how can this not intentional? I text Bob about what I have found, he tells me he will check with George… Bob replies and says George said he had a guy put in a new bilge pump and George himself verified it was working correctly the Sunday before you left. I text back, no way in God’s green earth that can be true, someone is lying and that lie almost put me and my boat on the bottom.  Bob doubts me finding, he almost has to he is George’s friend. OK, so proof is needed… I get that. I remove the existing bilge pump and take a picture of it and a picture of the permanent dirt stain in bottom of the pump bowl. I also snap pictures of the cut wires and send the picture package to Bob. I wait for a reply, how about that… I get no reply back. Why? Because both of us know that there is no more doubt. I clean the bilge and remove all the cut wires and non-working components to ready the area for new parts. With a load off my mind and one removed for her belly, I button her up until my next trip. Just before I leave the marina, I text Bob one last time. ‘Sailors don’t ever do this kind of thing to each other’. Then I drive home.

Water, water everywhere but nary a drop to drink

Saturday, July 25, 2015 – I have a full day I can put into working on the boat and I’m headed to the boat yard to install the new bilge pump. When I get there I find an additional 6 inches of water in the bilge. There was an overnight rain shower, but this is a lot of water for such a short shower! There has to be more places leaking then I originally found. The boat is out of the water and on the hard so all this has to be deck leaking. I spend the next few hours searching out all the ways the water is getting into the boat. All 4 opening ports have cracked port lens to the point that 2 of them have lens in two pieces, all have frayed screens that are nothing but threads hanging from the sides of the frames in a bizarre spider web pattern. The frame to lens gaskets are so badly compressed that they can no longer be tightened any further, and each one is leaking around the trim rings which leads me to think that the deck to frame sealant has failed. Two of the opening ports are in the V-birth, and they have destroyed all the teak paneling below the ports on both side of the entrance. The other 2 are in the head and everything in the head has to be removed and rebuilt. One of the unique features of the Pearson 323 is a swing out sink. The sink is on an hinged teak panel which completely closes into the side of the boat and acts as a back for the toilet. I’m sure it is a nice look when new. The back side of the panel is (was) and nice piece of teak which formed a counter top with the sink attached. Above the swing out sink panel is a teak pull out drawer for all your toiletry necessities. The sink panel is completely rotted through and through and is hanging by only two screws on the hinge. The sides and bottom of the drawer are completely delaminated and pulls out in thin layered sheets attached to a water stained drawer front. On the other side of the head is a storage area with teak doors, water stained and delaminated. This might be the saddest place in the entire boat, I know it will take all my woodworking skills to restore and rebuild it.

All 4 fixed ports in the solon are leaking, 2 of them leaking vary badly. Below one of the badly leaking fixed ports is an area where the teak panel is completely rotted through. This area forms a wall between the aft settee and the navigation station. The other badly leaking fixed port is in the galley, the rot is not as bad here with the teak being water stained on both sides of the panel. The galley port leaks the most of all the fixed ports and about 3/4 of the water leaks down the stove/oven cutout and into a pot and pan drawing below the oven. This drawer is in the same shape as the one in the head. I placed a 16 ounce plastic bowel under the galley leaking port and the entire bowl can be filled in about 10 minutes during a moderate rain.

There is also mold on the anchor rode locker hatch door. This door is forward of the V-birth and I’m thinking that water is running through there too. There is slight water staining that can be seen on the teak solon wall below the hatch. I’ve got to slow this water down, so I’m going to order new opening port lens and gaskets, I might only use them for a month or two, but the water has to be slowed. The fixed ports will have to be removed, dis-assembled, and rebuilt with new gaskets and sealant. The solon hatch is bent, I guessing that the hatch was open to high while sailing and a boom line must have gotten looped around the hatch while she was changing direction. I tried to bend it back in the opposite direction, but that isn’t going to work. The plastic hatch top is lifted off on the starboard forward corner probably from the torque of the bend. A new hatch will be needed.

Finally I get to the planned task of the day… into the bilge I go, but first I have to re-engage the rescue bilge pump to remove the new 6″ of water, it didn’t take near as long as the first time. The old pump was centered in-between two floor board access holes. Each access hole is 8 inches wide by 2 1/2 feet long with no direct access to the pump from either side. You have to lay on deck with half of your stomach in the floor opening and half out. Your arms have to be fully extended forward into the bilge so that you can reach the bilge pump and manipulate tools. Sight lines are difficult to impossible. What a pain in the butt this is! As I look over my work area I’m hoping that I can see enough to be able to work in the 1/2″ to 3/4″ of water still in the bottom of the bilge since a pump never completely removes everything. I try this for about 30 minutes and come to realize that I’m going to have to sponge it completely dry to get this job done. I’ll need to disassembly the new pump, and screw the strainer screen to the bottom of the bilge and then re-assemble the pump. With the bilge prepared I’m off to the marine supply store for a new pump. Although I’d prefer a different pump then the previous one, I don’t want to have to drill new holes in the bottom of the bilge to mount it, so I’ll get an exact replacement to match the existing mounting holes. An hour and a half later, the new pump is in. Now I have to remove all the old wiring since I have no idea what leads to what. I install new color coded wires and its time to test the new setup… sweet! The pump tests out ok and this has taken the entire day. I got to the boat at 8:30 am and it is now 6:30 pm, so it’s time to call it a day. At this rate I’m starting to worry that 30 days may not be enough.

All that is seen and unseen

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 – The new opening port lens have arrived and I need to start halting the flow of water into this boat. The first thing I do is look into the bilge and see if the new pump and switch are doing their jobs, they are and the bilge is dry. I start to remove the old opening port lens starting on the starboard side in the V-birth, the lens literally breaks apart in my hands. As I move from port to port removing the old lenses each one does they same, not one of these ports has a whole unbroken lens in it. How does any boat owner not see this, or worse yet, just ignore it. Some things in life are not meant to be throw aways.  Removing the old nuts from the lens hinges is becoming a problem, but spraying a little penetrating oil on each and using a bigger pair of pliers does the trick. With all 4 port lens installed I move on to changing the gaskets. I start with the portside head first, since it leaks more then any of the other ports. Removing the old gasket is easy, slight pull and zip the whole gasket falls right out. A smart man would have taken notice just how easy the gasket was to fall out. I start to install the new one, the instructions from the port manufacturer say that I should start inserting the gasket spline into the frame groove in the middle of the port and then hit it with a rubber mallet to set it in the grove, which I try. It does not work! I try hitting it softer, no good. I try hitting it harder, still no good. I retry this procedure about 4 more times, each time the spline falls out no matter what I do. I degrease the grove, just in case something slippery is in there. Nothing is, same result. The damn grove in the frame just is not deep enough to hold the spline. This is really frustrating as hell, no wonder they leak. So I try using a pair of pliers to push the spline into the groove, no joy, just falls out. I tried to push the spline in with a small flat head screw driver and that has some success, but by the time I get to the end of the grove where it arcs down toward the bottom of the frame, the gasket is too small and has to be stretched. Yep, stretching the gasket just pulls the entire thing out of the grove and we are back to square one. I’m sure that this made sense to an engineer somewhere, but I can’t imagine he actually every tried the installation instructions himself. After two hours and only limited success, it will have to be good enough for now. There has to be a better way!

As luck would have it, it starts to rain just after I screw the head port closed against the new gasket. What a good time to verify the locations of all the leaks I think I have. It is not a hard rain, but it is steady. Well yes, all of the places that I thought water was getting into the boat, it is. But then comes the sound of splashing water, loud splashes, my eyes are searching the dimly lit cable for the source of the sound. But I see nothing. I rush to the V-birth, but no splashes, nothing big going on in there, then into the head and inspect the ports in detail, but just the normal leaks. I rush across the solon and look inside the engine room, but it is dry. Then I notice water on the solon / head wall, and the settee cushions next to the mast are wet. I’m figuring that the solon hatch right next to the mast must be leaking, but I can not see any signs of water around the perimeter or streaks of water anywhere on the cabin ceiling. I place my hand on the mast and can feel water streaming down the mast and onto my arm. This isn’t a slow trickle, it is gushing. I had inspected the mast boot and everything looked perfect, but there must be a big hole or tare in the boot somewhere. It’s too late to get a boot now, so I move the settee cushions out of the way and place a waste basket to catch as must water as possible. Replacing the mast boot has just moved up to the top priority!


I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 – I found the stuffing box nut tool listed on the Pearson 323 owners group web site, it is an oversized plumbers basin wrench from Ridgid. It is able to swivel at the knuckle which should give it the ability to adjust to the confined space below the transmission, at least that is what everyone who has used it says. I ordered it online from Grainger, but it will not arrive until Friday. Basin_Wrench

I’m starting to develop a routine work schedule for the boat. Wednesdays I leave work at 3:30 pm when production goes home and I get to the boat around 4:30 pm. I’m able to work until 8:30 pm – 9:00 pm. On Saturdays I leave the house at 8:30 am and work until 8:30 pm.

Today I was inspecting the electrical wiring and found a bit of a nightmare. The shoreline AC ground has intentionally been disconnected from the boat grounding system including the negative terminals of the batteries. This was not just your normal disconnect by unscrewing a ring lug from a copper distribution bar, oh no. Someone forced the ferrule (wire clamping area) of a ring lug apart to pull the green ground wire out of the ring lug terminal, the carcass of the mangled terminal remains attached to the copper bar. This wire is unattached and is bouncing around right above the open AC hot fuse connection, God only knows how it has not shorted out and fried something yet. The white shoreline AC neutral bus is completely green from corrosion, so green in fact that at first glance I thought it was the grounds. Now this one is the best of all; someone decided to make a wiring connector to the barrel of the battery post terminal.Battery Terminal There was a red 18 gage wire which had its red insulation stripped back about an inch. The bare wire is held onto the outside of the barrel using a small stainless steel hose clamp. A HOSE CLAMP! Now part of me thinks that this is an ingenious emergency fix, but you fix it right when the emergency is over, right? Current flowing through a hose clamp, I’m just saying… I investigated the intermittent engine connection which would not allow the starter to turn over. It seems that Volvo uses a multi-tap fusible link instead of an inline fuse to make the battery connection to the starter solenoid and alternator. The selected link was fractured and wiggling the wires made enough of a temporary connection to allow the starter to kick over and start the engine. I replaced the multi-tap fusible link with an inline fuse holder and replaceable fuse. This also explains why the volt meter was reading zero while motoring, a few vibrations after the start of the engine and the connection was open again. In retrospect this also means that there was no chance to restart the engine if it ever stalled… Dodged another bullet without even knowing it. I can see it now, stalling the engine at the Figure 8 bridge (which almost did happened) with a 1 1/2 to 2 knots of current pushing me into the shoal. But luckily that didn’t happen.

OMG, could this be a bigger pain in the ass!

Saturday, August 8, 2015 – I was sleepy and did not leave for the boatyard at 9:30 am, this work schedule might be warring me out! The stuffing box nut (plumber’s basin) wrench is in and we should be ready to tackle this task now. I’ve repacked stuffing boxes before and it is usually one of the easiest jobs in the engine room. This is especially true if you are pulling the prop shaft, but we are not going to risk any further delays by removing the shaft. The REAL challenge is working is such a confined space. PackingI read a detailed discussion on the Pearson 323 owners website about using 1/4″ vs 3/16″ packing in the stuffing box. Using the former seemed to cause the prop shaft and log nut to overheat quickly and possibly gauld the shaft over time. The general consensus was that 3/16″ was the correct diameter, even though the P323 seems to have been originally shipped with either from the factory. I drove down to Beaufort early Friday morning to try out a new marine supply store I have heard good things about. I caught the owner packing his delivery van getting ready to leave, but he gladly stopped everything he was doing to get the packing for me. Really nice guy, I’ll be back. On the way to the boat I stopped at Lowes and bought one of those miners (forehead) lights to help illuminate the work area under the transmission and between the motor and V drive. Before I left on Wednesday evening I drenched the log nut with penetrating oil in hopes that it will come off easily. But those hopes are dashed and I have spent about 2 and a half hours trying every which way to get a tool on the nuts and have gotten absolutely nowhere. My hands have been beaten up by all the hose clamps and blunt pieces of metal they keep running into as I try to find a position that the tools can work in. It is damn near impossible to get the arm of the wrench around the nut and then position the swiveling wrench arm in a position where it can be moved. I have tried it from every position possible and there is nothing but frustration. I work with tools all the time and this is just a pain in the butt. The locking nut is paper thin and almost unwrenchable (Mr. Webster I just invented a new word). I spent an hour just cleaning all the crap off the surfaces of everything under here. The only success is the purchase of the miners lamp, that works very well. To make this work, I have to disconnect the raw water hose from the V-Drive and fold the hose back, up and out of the way. I finally get the lock nut loose and have been able to back off the log nut somewhat. To accomplish this I have grease and grime from fingertips to armpits on both sides of me. My arms are dark rusty brown with streaks of black. To get at the work area I lay on the cabin floor on my left side with a towel under my shoulders to raise me up enough to get past the engine room door lip. I have to fully extend my arms to get at the stuffing box with the tools in hand. It becomes exhausting work and frequently I stop, sit up and rest for a little bit. During one of my rest periods I’m sitting on the cabin floor leaning on the nav station, I was just staring at the engine and focused in on the water pump. I started thinking, I have no idea what the condition of this pump is, and given it importance, I should know. So I’m staring at the water pump and it looked like every other boat water pump I’ve seen except… something is different. I concentrate harder looking at the pump and oh, yes, I see it now… it only has three screws holding on the pump cover plate. That is kind of strange I think to myself, I’ve never seen a pump with only three screws… hummm. Oh well, back at the stuffing box, I get the log nut fully backed off and now I can access the existing packing rings. The opening to the rings faces aft so you have to take out the existing rings without being able to see anything. You do this just by feel alone. It takes me about another hour or so to stab, pull, and pry the old packing out. 3 rings of ¼” packing. With all the packing out and I replace it with 5 rings of 3/16”. I had to keep adding rings until I had some adjustment left in the threads of the log nut. I have always repacked using the same size packing before, so 3 out and 5 in seems like a lot of rings to me, but I have no way to be sure. I’m going to have to check with someone who has already changed from ¼” to 3/16 and see what their experience is. I hand tighten the nut and leave the locking nut loose until we can check it in the water. Finally I have this one complete, I hope I never have to get under here again! It takes me about 10 minutes and three cleanings to get all the crap off my arms, but after a while I’m able to recognize arms with a familiar color. gojoAfter I’m clean I wipe down all the fiberglass around the engine room access panel and galley sink door.  

I do need to investigate the 3 screw water pump on the engine. It’s 8:30 pm, getting dark, and I exhausted so I’m done for the day.

Sunday, August 9, 2015 – I researched the MD11C water pump and it is supposed to have 4 screws holding the cover plate on. Where did the other one go? Why would you replace only three screws? I think I’m just going to replace the entire water pump, that way I know what I have. I also looked up the emails of some of the P323 owners from the website and have asked about the different ring count when changing the stuffing diameter. Hopefully someone can confirm what I have found.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 – I was not able to find anywhere that sold the water pump by the Volvo part number.  But after doing some research I found the manufacturer’s part number for the water pump and ordered it on Monday from a tractor supply house in Tennessee, I hope it is actually the right part. pumpThe pump showed up today and it is the identical water pump so I can remove the old one and install a new one today. In examining the pump I notice that there is no new oil seal o-ring with the new water pump and I can’t install it without one. The boat has to relaunch by August 20 or I’ll be paying through the nose. I go to the Volvo Penta website looking for every Volvo parts dealer within 100 miles and call everyone of them, no one has this o-ring. When I’m talking to the last parts dealer on the list, he says to me have you called Advanced Marine? I think that they sell Volvo parts. Advanced Marine is not on the list from the Volvo website, so I’m doubting it is going to be worth a call. But desperation makes me call anyway, and I get really-really lucky, they have the o-ring in stock.oring Really old stock, the parts manager says.

It’s going to be another long night, Pollocksville to Morehead City to Hampstead. About 2 ½ hours before I can start doing anything.  I arrive at the boat and take off the old water pump and mounted the new one upside down of course! Once I try to make all the connections it becomes obvious it is upside down, off it comes and back on again. The oil sealing o-ring I bought at Advanced is so small and thin when compared to the channel it sits in, I have to wonder if it is actually the right size. Then I remember Eric Robey, a mechanical engineer from Draeger. Dearger was a customer of mine for 25 years and Eric and I had worked on some projects together. I remember Eric during the Oxyguage project saying that most people don’t understand that it takes only a small amount of sealing pressure for an o-ring to do its job. So I will trust Eric and we will see how it goes when I fire up the engine. Before finishing for the night I take a paint scraper to the barnacles on the bottom and remove at least the first layer.


Let’s get ready to try again

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 – Eileen (wife) and I roll two new coats of bottom paint and two coats of anti-fouling barrier coat on the metal pieces, we re-launch tomorrow morning bright and early. I confirm with the boat yard staff that I am the first to go out in the morning at 8:30 am. The plan is for Sarah (oldest daughter) and I to leave Hampstead early and make it to Morehead City. Then Morehead to New Bern the next day, both days will be about 7 – 8 hours of motoring. Sarah is accompanying me on the first leg of the trip. Sarah is a medevac flight nurse and she has to go save lives on Friday. Shee-sh… children… so inconsiderate. ( he-he 🙂 ) We leave Sarah’s car at the marina we intend to get to in Morehead tomorrow so that we can drive home and sleep in our own beds.


Here we go again

Thursday, August 13, 2015 – Sarah and I arrive at the boat yard at 8:30 am expecting to find the sailboat in the sling waiting to be lowered into the water, that is the understanding I had yesterday evening with the staff at the boat yard. Well… when I arrive I find that no one is in the office, the Pearson 323 is still blocked in the yard, and the lift has a boat in it between the piers. So much for being first… Inside my head I’m thinking… ‘Really? It hasn’t even been 24 hours and they have no recollection of what we talked about… Really?’. I swear I’m living in some alternate universe. I’m not too happy, but I’m willing to hear what the plan is. With no one in the office I walk down to the lift to see what is going on there, I’m hoping that maybe my face will spark a recollection in someone’s brain. But I see no ‘ah-ha’ look in anyone’s eyes. The yard crew is busy attempting to lift a boat-type that they clearly have never lifted before. It is a 35 foot pilot boat with a ridged bottom and inflated sides. Every time they try lifting the sides compress and they have to stop and put it back down. The crew chief seems to be mulling over the situation when I see a cloud of dust from a passing car near the office. Maybe someone of authority I can actually speak to, I race back up to the office and yaaa… it’s the office manager (Buffalo) and she looks perplexed when she sees me. She says, ‘what in the hell are you doing here? I expected you to be well on your way by now. What is the problem?’. I explain what little I know. She says, ‘let me see what is going on’. She walks out into the yard and sees the lift at the finger piers, then she walks down to the boat lift and talks to the boat yard owner. I thought that this guy was one of the yard crew not the damn owner, thank God I was not an asshole to anyone. But he really looks like just a yard guy… The owner says that they had an emergency call to lift a boat which had run aground and had prop damage. Ok, I can understand that. She says ‘as soon as they lift this boat I’ll be next’… So I’m thinking the boat is already in the lift how much longer could it take? Right? Right? She says ‘it will only take half an hour longer’. So ok, I’m in the water by 9:30 and on my way, I can live with that. But in the deep-dark recesses of my mind it is saying… ‘Hay stupid, how many times are you going to believe this crap? Have they ever met a timetable yet? It will be two hours at least’… For the next 10 minutes I’m having this debate with myself, inside my mind, about what the real time is going to be. With neither side winning finally I stop debating. I come to the conclusion that either way the end result is the time table slips, but how far? Deep-dark is saying you will to be lucky to leave by noon and I’m getting bummed…

Tail of the Unprepared – When I researched the ICW before leaving Wilmington there were about half a dozen places to get into real trouble, which is why I bought the Gold Boat Towing package before I left for home… Just in case. Two areas in particular (by daymarker 62 and daymarker 98) where you have to leave the center line of the ICW, going into the green grass on the chart plotter and then return to the center line. The army corps of engineers has just given up trying to keep some parts dredged, the MLW is 2 foot or less. So the emergency lift was a pilot boat being delivered from the manufacturer in Rhode Island to Texas… by water… down the ICW and around the Gulf of Mexico by way of the GICW. They ran aground at 62… but wait the marina is at marker 90. They ran aground an hour and a half ago, and it is an emergency now? I started talking to the two guys delivering the pilot boat, both work for the manufacturer. The boat has no head, no galley, no bunks, and no navigation equipment. This was the second time on this trip they ran aground. The second time! Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing… Well anyway, they have no paper charts, no guide book, and no chart plotter in the boat. Before I left I warned them about the same problem at marker 98 and suggested they buy the ICW guide book and start using a tablet or smart phone with navigation software… Christ sake something!

The Re-launch – By 11:30 the 323 is in the water, I tightened the log nut until I get a drip every 10 seconds or so and locked it down. I could still hand turn the prop shaft, so five rings was the right number. I fired up the MD11 and it starts right up and sounds normal, volt meter was reading over voltage though, I’ll have to worry about that later. Still no engine temperature, no engine RPMs and no log meter. Off we go, I start out slow and increased the engine RPMs after she warmed up. No black smoke and no soot in the exhaust water. The shaft log is dripping at what looked like the right rate. We navigated the ICW from Hampstead to Swansboro. The bilge stays dry and the engine seems fine. Motoring makes for a long day though.  That evening we tie her up for the night at Dudley’s Marina. All the repairs held and no new problems arose. All in all a nice day on the water. Since we did not make Morehead as we had planned, Eileen picks us up. Swansboro has one of my favorite restaurants, The White River Bistro, on the White River. The three of us had a nice relaxing dinner before leaving for Morehead City to retrieve Sarah’s car.

Friday, August 14, 2015 – I push off the dock at 8:30 am and start motoring. Just like yesterday, everything seems ship shape and working. Everything is damn near perfect until I get to Morehead City. Morehead City Harbor and turning basin is a sight to behold, every kind of little boat flitting and flying around like thousands of fire flies with no regard for one another. Just literal chaos, I’m happy to be headed up under the railroad bridge toward Adam’s Creek and away from the madness. The trip is uneventful except for one very important aspect that I completely overlooked. When single handedly motoring a sailboat with no autopilot, when the occasion comes to, ah-er, eliminate personal water accumulation, it’s a problem. Lock the wheel, run below, start… oh shit, we are turning into the shallows, turn off the faucet (harder then it sounds), back up to the cockpit, correct the heading, and try again. Three cycles it takes me! Motoring for 11 hours makes for a long… very-very long day. I arrived in New Bern at 7:30 pm, it was almost dark by the time I slid her into her new home. I was exhausted, but she could have continued for hours, but both happy to be home. So now the rehabilitation begins in earnest.