Archive for the ‘Maintenance’ Category

No Time for Tsunamis

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Everyone has been asking if we were affected by the tsunami caused by the Chilean earthquake. Though we kept the VHF radio on to hear updates from other cruisers who were monitoring bouys off of Acapulco, Manzanillo, and Cabo San Lucas (which saw .5, .9, and 1.2 foot surges) we weren’t very concerned. We were too busy getting ready to launch! And thankfully, there was really no effect here.

We’ve met a number of people whose boats were flooded while they were in “dry” storage during the hurricane. In such cases it is always better to seek the help of experts from  to avail the storage services. Typically this happened because the cockpit filled with water and then emptied into the cabin. For some it has just meant a muddy mess to clean up; for others, it has meant lost gear, dead batteries, and ruined engines. One guy (who, incidentally, is responsible for reintroducing wolves to Idaho- you meet such interesting people while cruising!) had hoped to spend a month sailing the sea, and instead is hauling his rusty engine back home. So, we were even luckier than we realized!

We worked hard getting ready to launch. While Todd was busy taking the engine apart and then putting it back together, I was in charge of scraping all the old cetol (varnish) off the boat. After coming off my previous job of waxing the hull, which took two days and left me with some sore muscles, I was glad to move on to a less taxing chore. (more…)

She’s Safe!

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Thanks to Adam of Estrella, we’ve found out that Sugata is safe and looks great!

We had been worried because we thought she was still in the work yard, which had 4 feet of raging water running through it. You can imagine our relief when Adam said no, she had been moved to the storage yard a few weeks back!

Plus, she was moved to an ideal location, with the least amount of water and mud. Hooray!

Adam trudged through mud and scoured the yard, checking on a number of boats for folks like us. And he got this photo for us:


Three cheers for Adam! And let’s hope that San Carlos, and other hard-hit towns, will have a speedy recovery from Jimena.

Life on the Hard

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Sailors love jargon. They don’t call the front of the boat “the front”, but “the bow”. They call the back of the boat the stern. The kitchen is the galley, and the toilet is the head. Sailors will tell you that the toilet is called “the head” because on old sailing ships, that’s where you went to relieve yourself- to the “head”, or front, of the boat. “Wait a minute,” the logical person protests, “You just said the front of the boat was called the bow, not the head.” The sailor will reply, “Look, I don’t care where you go, just make sure you wash it down afterwards!”

So, when your boat is hauled out on land, you don’t say “on land”, you say, “on the hard”. I asked Capn Nautologic why that is, and he said, “I don’t know,” then thought for a moment and postulated, “Because the ground is hard?” Hmmm….

I have another explanation: that life on a boat out of the water is hard. Actually, “inconvenient” would be a better description, but saying that your boat is “on the inconvenient” takes too many syllables. (more…)

Held Captive in La Paz

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Help! I’m being held in La Paz against my will! I’ve pleaded with my captors (Capn Marina and his sidekick, Playdate Girl) but they just don’t want to cast off the lines and head out to the islands! I’m hoping to make them leave today by telling them that, as it is International Workers’ Day, all of the taco stands will be closed. I figure by lunch time, they’ll be so hungry that they’ll do anything to get me to cook!

The sail over from Mazatlan was one of the tougher passages we’ve had. Our plan was to sail northwest until we reached the latitude of La Paz, then turn due west to cross the Sea of Cortez. The forecast called for 20 knot winds from the north on the day we’d be crossing, so we hoped for a good sail.

Well, to make a long, bumpy, sea-sick story short, our plan didn’t quite pan out! The wind was more northwesterly, and with the rough seas, we got pushed quite a bit to the south. About 55 hours after we’d left Mazatlan, we ended up anchoring at Muertos (about 50 miles south of La Paz) to get a day of rest, then came up to La Paz the following night. (more…)

Haulout and new standing rigging

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

We’ve just finished our haulout at Svendsens doing the following work:

1. Putting on 2 new coats of Petit Trinidad SR
2. Replacing the 10 year old standing rigging (including bobstay, whisker stays, and ham radio back stay insulators)
3. Replaced a corroded aluminum mast step (which was sitting on a stainless deck plate ughh)
4. Replacing some suspect blind rivets in the mast track
4. Pulling/refinishing/rebedding the bowsprit

From Click here to see the photo gallery


Stopping rust on stainless steel by repassivating it

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

WichinoxI’ve found that once you get a spot on stainless steel that starts to rust it’ll keep coming back, even after you clean and polish it. So on our stanchions I’ve just been repolishing with Brightboy every 4 months or so which was frustrating not to mention time consuming.

When I mentioned this to a friend he recommended re-passivating the stainless using Wichinox. I haven’t tried it long enough to know how well it’s working but in theory it should re-passivate the steel which will stop it from rusting for a good long while.

Keeping track of the list

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Preparing a boat for cruising is a lot of work and keeping track of the list gets overwhelming. We’ve been using 37 Signal’s web based project management solution Basecamp and have been extremely happy with it. It has TODO lists where you can assign the work to various people, writeboards for documenting things like part numbers, and messages for discussion. The free plan has proven more than enough for our needs!


Inexpensive bilge water monitor

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

I wanted an alarm in the bilge to alert me of incoming water while out sailing. I ended up buying the $19 battery powered Sonin 03300 Wireless Water Alarm available from Amazon and have been happy with it. The main unit takes two double A’s, has no moving mechanical parts, has a 6 ft cable between the unit and sensor, and it has a test switch. It has an optional remote alarm as well (that I haven’t needed to use) that can either be powered by batteries or the included AC adapter.

The sensor is just two metal contacts that when connected via a conductor such as water sounds the alarm and it can easily be tested by dripping a little water on it. I didn’t even bother installing the remote receiver since I can hear the main unit’s alarm well enough even with the engine running.

Replacing port gaskets

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

When we bought our boat in September of 2000 the original rubber gaskets on the ports (the rubber that seals the port or window to make it watertight when it’s closed) were dried out and shot. No doubt they were still the original ones from 1979. With the recommendation of some fellow members of the Hans Christian Owners Association I picked up some 3/8″ round EPDM foam rubber from McMaster Carr part number 8605K43 and replaced the gaskets. They’ve sealed well ever since and if I ever need to replace a gasket again I’ll be able to do it in about 5 minutes.

Rebedding chainplates with butyl mastic

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

After having rebed all of my chainplates with polysulfide and having them leak again within several years I was fed up. Polysulfide just isn’t designed to handle the stretch and pulling that happens with chainplates under heavy load in a seaway.

I realized I needed something more elastic and had read good things from people who had rebed bowsprits, toerails, and chainplates with butyl mastic. So in 2002 I hit McMaster Carr and picked up some Butyl-Coated PVC Foam Sealing Tape part number 75875A661. I knew this stuff had great potential because with it’s PVC core it’s highly elastic and extremely sticky. So I rebed all of my chain plates in late 2002 with it and since then I’ve only had one start to leak, a much better track record than I ever had with polysulfide.

The best part was that rebedding was so much easier because the tape stays intact so you just pull it out, clean the contact areas with a putty knife and some acetone, and then re-apply. It’s also a lot cheaper than polysulfide!