Tag Archives: Boat Improvements

Further Adventures In DIY Boat Maintenance

Exactly a month ago I wrote about removing the old, frozen outboard motor bracket from the boat…  https://onemoregoodadventure.com/2019/10/01/the-cruising-life/. As of yesterday the new bracket is now sitting jauntily on the transom. It wasn’t easy!

You have to know a bit about me to understand how difficult the job was. I’m 77 years old. I operate on lungs with a bit less than 40% of capacity due to COPD. I have three arterial stents and my fingers are gnarled from arthritis. I live full time on a Venture22 sailboat anchored off of Coquina Beach, Anna Maria Island, Florida, a bit south of Tampa Bay. Most of my adult life I made my living on the water either operating boats or repairing the damned things.

I tried to install it a week or so earlier but couldn’t do it. I I thought if I could get one or two of the 5/16″ bolts through the holes it might hold up well enough until I could climb down under the port seat in the cockpit to get the nuts on. And I’m trying to do this in a dinghy! The damned thing is heavy at 20 lbs and wakes coming in from the nearby Intracoastal Waterway had me bouncing up and down. Kersploosh! One of the bolts drops off into Davy Jones’s locker. Certainly a pain, but from years in the business, even though there are only four holes to be filled I bought FIVE bolts.

This wasn’t going to work so I gave up for the time being. I made a couple of calls to guys I know who are anchored up above but got no reply. So I’m thinking over the next couple of days, “What would I do if I was off on some deserted island by myself? How would I be able to cope and get the job done?

I pondered for a couple of days and then it hit me. I’d been going at it from the wrong direction! If I had a bolt sticking OUT of the transom it should be easier to get one of the holes to slip over IT than to try and get a bolt to slip into what is a small, moving hole. In my container of assorted odds and ends I found a 3” long bolt and nut and a couple of fender washers. The strange thing I notice as I’m digging through the stuff is that I’ve got a good assortment of bolts but, oddly, very few nuts to fit anything.

So, I have to climb down under the portside cockpit seat and it’s not easy. For the benefit of those who didn’t read the previous post this is the challenge…

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Best case scenario is that I’ll only have to do this three times. Did I tell you I still believe in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny?

I toss the bolt back to the transom and dive into the hole head first and inchworm my way aft. Though it’s a bare 7 feet, a half century of inhaling the smoke of licit and illicit substances has taken its toll and I have to pause a couple of minutes until my breath returns to normal. Or a reasonable facsimile of normal, anyway. Struggle my way out of the hole, into the cabin and up into the cockpit where I have to rest up for a few minutes.

I then wrestled the 20 pound  bracket down into the dinghy and, hand over hand, pulled my way to the stern. I tied the bow and stern of the dinghy off to keep from moving around as much as possible and then tied a length of paracord to the bracket and secured it to the stern railing so that if I lost my grip on the thing it wouldn’t fall into the water.

I lift the bracket up to set it on the protruding bolt and it nearly slides back into the hole. I forgot to secure it with duct tape as I’d planned.

Unfasten the bracket. Back around to the side of the boat and up into the cockpit. Down into the cabin where I rest for a couple of minutes before plunging into the hole again. A couple of pieces of tape over the head of the bolt only take a couple of seconds. That done, it’s inch my way topside again and tie up astern once more. Resecure the bracket to the stern railing and lift the bracket up onto the bolt. Holding it in place with one hand I slide a fender washer over the bolt and finger tighten the nut to hold the bracket steady while I put the bolts into the upper and lower outboard holes of the bracket. The holes aren’t exactly lined up but a couple of light taps with the small hammer I’ve brought along takes care of that, and the bolts are head-deep in the holes.

The problem comes with the inboard bottom hole. The way the thing is built the bolt (yellow arrow) protrudes too far to allow the head of the bolt to pass by and enter the pre-drilled hole (red arrow).

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Back into the boat cabin and dig out the cordless drill and a bit that will fit through the hole. I’ll drill all the way through the transom from the outside in the hole just above the intended one. It will be a pilot hole. Then, when I’m inside the hole again, with the proper sized bit, because that one won’t fit through the bracket hole, I’ll enlarge the hole until the bit bottoms out on the metal of the bracket.

Now I’m back in the hole for the THIRD TIME. Tighten the two lock tight bolts after fitting aluminum backing plates over the bolts and enlarge the new hole. I remove the tape from the pilot bolt and use some two-part epoxy stick putty to fill the hole that’s useless.

Outside and tied up to the transom again I remove the pilot bolt and put the new bolts into the holes. Back around to the side of the boat. Up into the cockpit. Down into the cabin. Squeeze into the hole. Inchworm my way to the transom and tighten the two final bolts.

DONE!! It looks cool back there. Today I just gave the go ahead to Cannon Marine down in nearby Longboat Key to order me a Yamaha 6 horsepower, long shaft, four stroke outboard. The price is nearly $300 less than a similar model Mercury outboard from West Marine or Bradenton Beach Marine. Monday I’ll know when it will be delivered. It has to be ordered from Yamaha as it’s not in stock but will be coming in with some other, larger engines they’re going to be ordering. When I get it I plan on doing a bit of cruising around the area. Up into the Manatee that goes through Bradenton and into Sarasota and the Hillsborough River that flows through downtown Tampa. I want to go up there and check out the Jean Street Boat Yard. It’s the only one close by (40 miles away) that will let you work on your boat yourself. I need to paint the bottom to fend off the barnacles and other flora and fauna that grow on it in these warm, shallow waters. An interesting side bar to the Jean Street yard is that it’s the oldest boat yard in the entire state of Florida, opening its doors for business in 1848!!!

 

 

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Boat Improvements…

The Venture 22 foot sailboat I call home was never meant to be a “liveaboard.” At best, the designer saw it as a daysailer capable of taking a very compatible couple for an occasional  gunkholing weekend. Literally thousands of them were built. The reasons why I live aboard the boat full time at anchor has nothing to do with today’s story.

The boat I bought is over 30 years old and, like all boats it had problems with leaks. Fortunately NOT leaks in the hull since there are no through-hull fittings like sea cocks. But there were leaks where the chain plates pierced the cabin top. Those were easily taken care of with the judicious application of caulking.

The most serious offender was the sliding hatch at the entrance to the cabin from the cockpit. Rainwater would seep underneath the flange at the rear of the hatch and, when closed up, as one must do when it rains, water would find its way to into the cabin and drip down onto the cushions I sleep on.

In the last year and a half I’ve tried several different ways to thwart the problem. The most successful was covering the entire pop up top (a device to provide standing headroom which I don’t employ.) with plastic sheeting, generically known as “Visqueen” to boat yard workers, and fasten it down with duct tape. It worked, but cosmetically it looked like crap and the Visqueen had to be replaced every couple of months as the sun’s ultraviolet rays degraded it.

After endless hours of contemplation sitting in the cockpit I think I’ve finally got it conquered!

I bought four 1”X4” boards. On edge they give nearly an inch of clearance for the hatch to slide beneath. After cutting three of them to size I screwed them to the teak rails the sliding hatch rides under. I needed a piece of plywood to cover the area, but

Since I depend on buses for transportation I’m limited in what I can carry at one time. So at first I covered it with Visqueen. It worked fine proven by the hours of hard, pounding rain we got last week.

I went to Home Depot the day before Christmas and got them to cut me a piece of ½” plywood a bit oversized for the gap. When I got it screwed down I discovered that I should have coughed up a couple of more bucks and gotten a ¾” piece as what I’d purchased sagged down and lay on top of the hatch.

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But someone whose resourceful Yankee roots extend as far back as 1630 the solution was close at hand. I had a six foot piece of that 1X4 board left so I cut it down to the width of the gap, laid it on end and glued and screwed it to the plywood. You’re not going to get THAT to bow. So now there’s a ½” space between the top of the hatch and the bottom of the plywood cover. Just need a little caulking to make sure there’s no intrusion and a bit of paint to make it look nice and I’m done. Those black patches are the hard part of Velcro. They work great for grabbing ahold of mosquito netting when you need it. Just touch the netting to the spot and it sticks.

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The final touch, though, was to fasten the solar panel to the new top. It had simply been laying on deck before though secured to the mast step with a cable lock to prevent theft. Now it won’t blow away or be rocked off the deck into the water. Came close to that once before, though.

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In all it took me about an entire eight hour working day to get it built. The problem is, when you’re an old duffer with serious COPD things take longer. Tasks that shouldn’t be a problem leave me winded and in need of a breather. And it’s slow because being aware of how easily I get out of breath each step has to be thought out before actually doing it.

The new addition to the boat ISN’T quality work. My defense is: “It’s not an effin’ yacht, ya know….”

 

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