Summer Accomplishments at the Sailboat

Although it’s not the end of summer yet, we will be heading back to our property in Arizona for a few months, so this is a good time to reflect on what we got done this year. Here is a list of what we have done:

  • Installed rebuilt hydraulic steering pump
  • Replaced all hydraulic steering hoses
  • Performed 250-hour maintenance on diesel
    • Replaced o-rings on exchanger
    • Changed coolant
    • Checked impeller (good)
    • Changed oil
    • Changed belt
  • Replaced one house battery
  • Repaired windless ground connection
  • Replaced inverter
  • Replaced water heater
  • Revarnished wood for skiff seats
  • Made vinyl seat cushions for skiff
  • Mounted third solar panel (470 watts total)

The two things that were most important were the replacement of all the hydraulic lines for the steering and the 250-hour maintenance. A close third is replacing the hot water heater, which was leaking fresh water into the engine coolant and causing all the coolant to be pumped out the exchanger cap.

We had the hydraulic steering pump rebuilt at the first of the year, but we did not have time to pick it up and install it at that time. We ended up installing it when we returned to the boat this year. Replacing the hydraulic hoses for the steering was the most labor-intensive, next to replacing the hot water heater. It took about four hours to route the hoses and secure them so that they were not close enough to the prop shaft to become chaffed. Bleeding the lines took about another hour to complete.

Although the 250-hour maintenance was not terribly difficult, it was time-consuming. I had to take apart the heat exchanger and clean all the tubes, then replace the o-rings and tighten all fittings. Working in a semi-tight engine room and not wanting to drop anything into the bilge, it’s a slow process. The coolant change was all part of the process. The maintenance list for 250 hours includes checking the impeller, which was in perfect condition as expected. The more time-consuming item was changing the oil. Beta Marine thankfully included a hand pump for draining the crankcase, but it is still a slow process. Changing the belt was a no-brainer. One strange thing during the maintenance was the failure of the new Beta Marine oil filter. After the oil change, we ran the engine for several hours, motoring around and checking for leaks. We took the boat our a second time to move to a different slip so the marina could do some electrical maintenance on the slip are assigned to. No problems at all. We were preparing for a second trip to Catalina Island when I started the diesel and went below to find oil squirting from the filter gasket. We shut her down and ordered two filters from Beta Marine.

We had one house battery that was becoming weak – it was four years old. I noticed something was dragging down the 12-volt side and it ended up being one of the batteries.

While replacing the battery I noticed that one of the crimp on connectors for the windlass ground had a loose connection. Some corrosion had made its way into the connector and was corroding the wire. I was able to crimp on a new connector and seal it.

It seems that replacing the power inverter has now become something we do every two years. We have decided that when we are not sailing, we are going to disconnect the inverter and stow it in a drier place. It is currently installed close to the batteries under the settee, and it seems that moisture tends to seep into that area. It is close to the aft bilge, so that is probably the culprit.

Replacing the hot water heater was another painful task. It became necessary because, as in this post, it started leaking fresh water from the internal heating element, into the coolant system of the engine. It probably took about five hours to replace because of where it is installed in the engine room.

First Mate took on the task of re-varnishing the skiff seats. About two years ago the single seat on the skiff broke in half. It looked like the West Marine skiff seat was not made with marine-grade plywood and water had made its way in weakening the wood. We remade the seat using mahogany with Gun-Stock stain to give it the appearance of teak. We also made a second seat closer to the stern where you can sit to drive. The second seat should have been there from the factory. It’s a 12-foot skiff and two seats should have been a minimum. First Mate then made white vinyl cushions for both seats, and they are now much cooler and more comfortable to sit on.

For solar we originally had two 100-watt solar panels but found that we were using too much power to allow the battery bank to fully recharge after a night of using power. After all, we have two laptops, two iPads, two phones, a MiFi, an icemaker, two refrigerators, and probably a few other things that we run. We recently installed a 270-watt solar panel in place of one of our 100-watt panels, but I needed to remount the second 100-watt panel so we could include that in our total. With the additional power, we found that during our two-weeks at Catalina Island, our banks were fully recharged by about 10 a.m., so the 270-watt panel was a welcome addition.

Considering we only made it back to the sailboat in June of this year, we did accomplish a lot. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to Catalina Island for two-weeks and a trip to anchor at Dana Point for five-days. Two wonderful sails and we enjoyed the time out immensely! Now onward and back to our property for a few months to take care of things there, then back to the sailboat. We will probably return in November, depending on this virus thing, and what happens in early November. We will post more here and I will be uploading a few new videos to our YouTube channel!

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About Captain Tom

Over 10 years sailing and over 3500 miles under our keel. Was an engineer (EE) for over 30 years, then after moving into management, decided that the corporate world was no longer for me. Ran my wife's law office for 15 years and recently retired. Now we live aboard and sail the California coast, soon to leave for the Sea of Cortez.
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