Restore a Sailboat - August/September 2019

WelcomeWe get the call that the new engine is installed in the boat, some other repairs concluded and she is ready for us.  When? Labor Day weekend.  Some six summer sailing weeks of summer after we last saw her.

Two of us, my Dad and I, take off motoring at midnight Friday of Labor Day weekend, make it out of Lake Charlevoix, MI, through the draw bridge a block away from Lake Michigan and finally to freedom. We take casual shifts when one wakes, the other goes to the bunk for sleep.



dsc02469Saturday sunrise with the Michigan shoreline.







dsc02472Up close with the freighter, “Roger Blough,” in the Manitou Passage.




dsc02476North Manitou Reef Light. From this light, to the shore of the Island is a reef.




Our first stop after daylight on Saturday was Frankfort, MI for fuel.  Conditions are cold (low 50’s), and we wore heavy clothes, ski caps, and rain gear (not that there was rain, just to stop the wind from blowing through the clothes). Next port of call was Manistee, MI again fueling up and heading right back out in the Lake.

We decide to cross the Lake at this point, at first targeting Port Washington, WI for fuel, but during the night the wind was stronger and from behind where we put up sail going faster, and using less fuel. The “executive decision” was made to head for Milwaukee, WI instead.  We landed at 10am, fueled and headed back out.  It was back to motoring, no sails, with a strong beam wave.  A short time later I decide to wash the deck (the shipyard workers walking on and off carried lots of sand and dirt). It was the craziest wash job I ever did.  There was no way to stand with the beam waves.  I sat on the cabin house pushing the deck brush back and forth, on my hands and knees to scrub harder on the dirt spots that weren’t coming out, and lastly standing at the shrouds to pull buckets of water out of the Lake and tossing them on the deck.  But 1/2 of the time missing the target where I threw water as the boat moved out of the way while the water was mid-air.

When done, I asked my Dad what he thought of the wash job, he said, “I thought you were going to go overboard.”  I said, “Me too, but only twice.”

dsc02478Sundown Sunday off Waukegan, IL.








We landed in Chicago at 12:30am Monday morning agreeing to sleep at the dock, finish cleaning up in the morning after sunrise and then head home. A 48 hour and 30 minute delivery.

With the exact same engine make/model as we had before, it has many improvements. The old engine had a 30 amp alternator, this one is 55 amps, almost double the power. It sounds smooth, it has electronic ignition, the last one lost 1 quart of oil for every 5 hours of running, this one is still breaking in and used 1/4 quart for 50 hours of running. This one starts easier, using little to no manual choke.  And with no negatives.

Now its time to try to get a lot of sailing squeezed into a short amount of time.   We earned four 1st places in the Wednesday Night “Beer Can” races, and in the “Chicago Regatta” a charitable race, thru a series of events we ended up with two on board – Jack and myself to double-hand against full crewed boats in a distance race.  Conditions were perfect for double-handing and we nailed every maneuver. How do you prove you nail it?  We left our sistership “Providence” (same make, model, sail sizes, etc., like racing two stock Ford Mustangs against each other) at the start of the race, and continued to extend our distance out in front of them throughout the race. On the second to last leg of the race it was marginal to put up a spinnaker, ours was rigged and Providence raised theirs.  Keeping a watchful eye on them, we did not believe they were picking up on us much so we held with the genoa.

While the final mark in the race was the Harrison Dever Crib turning to port, a different group of racing sailboats were using this same crib for their mark and turning it to starboard.  A mass of boats turning in head-on courses!  We conservatively dove to the outside and didn’t try to weave our way through the oncoming boats.  Now with just a little over a mile to the finish, I was judging that we were in contention for winning this overall……..until a hole began (a “hole” is a common wind anomaly where there is wind around the edges of the hole and no wind in the middle of the hole). The three bigger boats in our group who are faster than us, but give us time, made it through the hole when the hole was smaller and didn’t lose that much speed.  However, when we got in the hole, it grew, and grew, and grew.  We sat there not moving watching for a long time with the boats ahead of us sailing away to the finish. There is nothing you can do but wait.

Eventually the new incoming Southwester blew in and we took off.  We finished 8 minutes against the fully crewed sistership Providence. Once across the finish line, I said, “It is a beautiful day, why don’t we go for a sail?”  There was no discussion as we continued heading South.  We made the day having sailed up to Belmont in the race, and down to Jackson Park in the afternoon (not quite the full distance of Chicago’s lakefront, but close).  Once back at shore at the party, we learned we were 3rd in our section, 4th overall (out of 36 boats).  Not bad for double handing!  We were pleased, and just wished the hole didn’t nail us so hard.

As time permitted since the boat’s re-launch, I keep whacking away at the projects on the boat that need attention, having added to the list after the 700 mile trip up to Mackinac Island and back, living aboard 24/7 for seven days.  Things popped up, having used things on the boat that we had not ever used in the first two years of ownership.

I only list what wasn’t working on the boat when we got it originally –

264. Removed old caulk at base of head bulkhead, put in new caulk, it looks nice.

265. Started out to fill the 4 holes in the main hatch where two useless wood blocks were removed on the trip down the lake. Then filled 5 holes in the head, 11 holes in the back wall belowdecks, and the 6 holes after removing the bow lights.  Then painted them all.

266. Remounted red/green bow lights so they point the right direction and bedded them. I do not believe a boat coming on dead on at night would have seen both green/red at the same time indicating to them we were in bow on collision.  Now we are safe to ourselves and the other boats on the water at night.

267. Attempted to remove the valleys and mountains in the tracks for the sliding hatch and rewaxed the wood.  Time will tell if it is good enuf.  Starboard side still has a peak in the middle.

268. Installed Gail’s new springs on the traveler, cleaned it, McLubed it. Decided the line size was the problem, got the right line size and installed it.  Now the traveler works right for the first time in 2-1/2 years.

Funny story – on our last boat all halyards on the front of the mast were the same color – brown mustard yellow. It became a joke, that the owners got a helluva deal on that color making it impossible to tell which one you had in your hand.  On this boat, most of the lines are red, just by circumstance.  So I send my Dad to get new line for this traveler, what color does he get???  Red!  Are you freaking kidding me? God, if he bought bright pink or nuclear lime green I wouldn’t have been unhappy, but red? When you come aboard and sail with us, and we call for you to pull the “red line” you better be a mind reader!

269. To my disbelief the compass light on the final night of the Mackinac race went out. I banged on the compass, it flickered a few times, then dead. I fixed this once before installing LED lights, and re-crimping the wires at the switch panel, what now?  Once I had some time, with the voltmeter, and supplies I started into it. The connections at the switch panel were good, but the power at the compass was dead. I decided to pull a little on the wire at the compass to re-strip the ends that were corroded, just then it broke free easily. The bottom of the wire that broke off fell down out of a hole in the compass base it went through, when I saw the white tape for the first time. A completely hidden problem.  This wire had shorted with the prior owner, he wrapped it with tape rather than replacing it and it gave up again.  Grrrrrr.  It was a little thin wire, I decided to replace it with a beefier wire that will never cause a problem ever again, only I have to drill out the hole in the casting larger, and feed a new wire from the engine panel.  Rock solid installation. Voila – we have light!

270. The sailmaker dropped by the boat to see our new #4 jib. He recommended that we raise the height of the pre-feeder and move it closer to the headstay.  Good idea.  I move it and re-tie it.  Only now once the sails are raised, they don’t fall out of the pre-feeder, when the sail is dropped to be re-raised later, it has to be disconnected at the deck, lifted out of the pre-feeder, then re-attached at the deck, then the pre-feeder is ready to have the head of the sail put in again.  For efficiency, I take my hot-knife and cut off 23″ off the bottom of all four jibs so they automatically fall out of the pre-feeder once the sail is raised.

271. I started to remove one old wire not connected to anything, and ended up removing three wires.  Sounds simple, right? Here’s what is really involved – the white wire pulled out easy not connected on either end. The two others took a bit of effort, starting in the door next to the hatch opening, opening both fuse panels and the door behind the stairs, then into the lazarette, then opening the electronic displays at the wheel. Then putting things back together again. This was a lot of crawling around small places to remove 1/3 pound of wire, the weight isn’t the problem, it is when having difficulty with other wires that these useless wires don’t confuse you when tracing out what is really needed.

272. A few spinnaker sheets and guys, and halyards had looped pull strings.  Loops suck! They get caught in the shackle as they close and possibly make it impossible to open the shackle when needed. I have stopped myself many times from closing a shackle to straighten it out.  So I re-did them all so they are a single line with big knot on the end to be able to grab to pull.  No more snags.

273. The two painters to the mooring can have a shock cord near the deck, so when you pull one up out of the water, you can reach the other.  However, when the shock cord was tied (a few years ago) it was wrapped around one many times causing the two painters to wrap each other. While the boat naturally swings from side to side, each painter would come into tension while the other loosens, but would be sawing each other 24 hours a day.  I removed it, tied it without wraps so now the painters are straight from their own cleat to the mooring can.

274. While simple sounding, this was one of my favorite projects of late.  I cut off (14) ¼-20 bolt ends over the galley shelf, and removed 1 screwed in nylon wire tie with sharp ends of the nylon. 1. When reaching for things, it was easy to snag and cut the back of your hand; and, 2. This prevented storing taller items as the bolts sticking down were in the way. Once washed and cleaned up it looked like it never had before. Now safe, it doesn’t cut your hand, and more stuff can fit, making it really nice.

275. The white stern light is mounted on the deck surface 5 inches in from the back edge of the boat.  When on at night time, the white deck behind the light, reflects and lights up the back half of the cockpit.  I paint a black wedge on the deck 4” on each side.  Testing it, it looks good and works.

276. We filled the holding tank in the Mackinac race. This is unsatisfactory to me.  It was the first real test on the head system.  Clearly the head was using more water to flush that it was designed to do.  The first attempt at reducing water usage is installing a new “joker valve.”  These rubber pieces work well when new, soft, and pliable, and don’t work at all well when old and stiff.  I haven’t had a chance to test it, but with great confidence from experience, am betting this is solved.

What others worked on:

1. The shipyard installed the new engine with electronic ignition, bigger 55 amp alternator, etc.
2. The shipyard re-bedded two leaky thu-hulls.
3. The shipyard stopped the rudder post leak.

The next owner is really going to enjoy this boat.

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