A Winters Refit Tale-Part I May 15, 2004
By The Ithaka - Published May 15, 2004 - Viewed 644 times
May 15, 2004 Newport, Rhode Island
41° 29.325 North
071° 19.319 West
A Winter’s Refit Tale-Part I
By Douglas Bernon
Ithaka, in repose and receiving all manner of attentions, sits on her poppets in the corner of Newport Shipyard, covered in shrink wrap.
Yet, I’ve ploughed onward, compelled by a magnetic power far greater than I am. I’m referring, of course, to The Boat. I now understand, for the first time, why so many men refer to their boats as mistresses. During the course of this winter, I’ve been floating about in my private checklist-bubble, adding to-do items, putting in sub-categories, sometimes re-doing my lists and copying them into different forms. Anything to maintain some control over entropy.
Before installing the new windlass, we made a new base-plate and reinforced its below the deck.
Mark Mutty, Newport Shipyard’s manager and the go-to guy, is the one person who puts a caring human face on the workings of a big yard full of every manner of boat – from America’s Cup racers, to classic megayachts, to hardy little cruisers.
Phil Burton is a dear friend, and a master shipwright of extraordinary talents and patience.
We were lucky to find a house to rent only a few hundred yards away from the shipyard, so no matter the weather I had the luxury of easily going back and forth several times every day. We had Ithaka shrink-wrapped, and then we borrowed a 70,000-BTU kerosene heater that kept us warm above decks and below, even when we were covered with snow. And I got especially lucky that a good friend and boat wizard, Phil Burton, was able to work with me, which is to say manage and teach me. He performed these tasks with uncommon patience, tact and good humor. There’s nothing Phil can’t do, and between the two of us, we steadily checked projects off the lists. More importantly we became a good team and better friends. To have him as playmate and guru made being in the boatyard something I actually looked forward to most mornings. I know I’d never have been able to do many of these chores alone. Five years ago, when we first bought Ithaka, Phil had worked on her then, and been a great teacher. This winter, his one-on-one tutorial continued, and it’s been the most fun class I’ve taken in many years.
Our nav station is now a shrine to our new speed and wind instruments, and the new SSB
I’ve found the source of two of our three leaks, and fixed them – such as this chain plate cover that needed re-bedding.
We figured the most critical tasks involve staying afloat and knowing where we are. These had both become problems last fall when the seal on our dripless shaft gland started gushing water and violated the keep-the-ocean-on-the-outside rule. As for knowing where we were, we pretty much limped into Newport last year, with only the depth sounder working. The ship’s GPS, the anemometer, and the speedo had all died of old age within the same month; and the SSB was intermittently mute, only talking when it felt like it, which was increasingly less often.
Re-installing the shaft was not a delicate procedure, as evidenced by the tree stump used to complete the job.
We installed a new PYI packless shaft seal, and so far the bilges are bone dry.
Once my beloved (Ithaka, that is) was on the poppets, Phil and I pulled the shaft, took it to a machine shop, had it rolled and checked for trueness, then put on new cutlass bearings, and replaced the failed gland with one of PYI’s Packless Shaft Seals, a strong and elegant unit that was relatively easy to install -- although getting the shaft back in required some serious persuasion from a large piece of tree. So far—we’ve been back in the water now for two weeks—there’s nothing in the bilge below the PYI shaft seal but dust. To speak so matter-of-factly makes this sound like no big deal, but really, to us it’s the sun and moon. And the folks at PYI, whom I called several times to figure things out, were consistently helpful. (You can find them on the internet at www.pyiinc.com).
Solenoid, newly mounted on starter. We carry a spare for each.
Our new Lewmar windlass is more powerfully built than our last unit. Plus, it has a manual override – critical so that you can use the windlass in case (read: when) you lose power.
We yanked our old windlass. That traitor that had betrayed us any number of times by going on strike when we most needed it. We replaced it with Lewmar’s new V3 model, a handsome and massive muscle, which comes with a manual over-ride, just in case. I can’t imagine owning a unit that does not have a crank-it-by-hand option for those inopportune moments when electricity is no longer “available.” This is much more windlass than our previous one, so naturally it’s a different size and didn’t fit the footprint of its predecessor. That meant ripping up part of the deck, putting down a new mounting plate to spread the load, and then hunkering down this beefy unit with some serious bolts. Now, to listen to its sweet whine is one of the greater pleasures in life. (You can find information about the V3 at www.lewmarusa.com).
Ithaka’s side deck, after re-caulking several replacement teak planks, and before sanding off the residue.
A wet deck shows the finished project – new planks
In our on-going compulsion to keep water outside the boat, we pulled up and re-bedded all the deck fittings, replaced the bimini and dodger and re-caulked all seams between deck and coach house. As I write this today I know of “only” three small leaks now, two of whose origin have been uncovered. I’ll get them this week, but there’s a third that’s sneaky-evil, and I still can’t find where the water is entering from over the stove. My resolution is slay that beast before I write the next log.
The old water temperature sender. Now we carry a spare of this item, too.
Bernadette put “Install a new head” on the winter to-do list.
Our estimated time for the two of us to accomplish this job together was 8 hours. Our actual time spent was 17, because we had to cut new spaces in the nav station for all the new instruments. Plus, in the cockpit, we had to remove the old display heads, fill those holes, gelcoat over them and polish it all. Then we had to cut new holes for the different-sized navigation instrument replacement units (wind speed, depth, etc). We learned on this task, as we learned on all tasks, that as soon as either one of us made a well-reasoned time guess-timate for task completion, the other would laugh and double it. Our total hours actually spent on each task does not include trips to the local coffee shop for rejuvenation. (Information on the ICOM M802 can be found at www.icomamerica.com/marine/ssb/icm802/main.asp).
When the weather is warm enough, finally, it’s time to make that first cut through the shrink wrap, and emerge from a winter hibernation.
It’s a great day when you tear off the shrink wrap and find your boat again underneath.
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