Us? We ran around like turkeys too…except on the boat. Up and down 9ft ladders, ducking in and out of companionway entries, squeezing in and out of tight engine rooms, reaching into inaccessible lockers…ah, the joys of boatyard boat work.
Preventing Undue Perspiration
We’d decided to begin our seasonal work detail a couple weeks later this year. Our aim? Avoiding the typical high-90’s late October weather, which about killed us last year. This slight delay worked in our favor, with high-70’s to mid-80’s all week. Jealous yet? Don’t be. Instead of sailing the high seas during Thanksgiving, we were in San Carlos…in the boatyard… working, working, working. Our Thanksgiving week looked like this:
Replace Prop Shaft and Cutlass Bearing
Why? We’re hoping to resolve Brian’s nemesis – minor engine vibration. A big job with many steps, this could either go really smoothly or turn into a complete nightmare.
- Disassemble the steering quadrant (chain under the wheel linking to the rudder).
- Remove the gudgeon (bronze piece holding the rudder post to the keel).
- Drop the rudder (not easy…it’s juuust a bit heavy).
- Pull out the drive shaft after undoing interior coupler (piece of cake, for once).
- Remove the cutlass bearing. (When pounding doesn’t work, hack it out!)
- Clean the bronze gudgeon, bolts & stainless rudder post. (Scrape, sand, polish, repeat.)
- Reverse: Put in new cutlass bearing, drive shaft, coupler, repack stuffing box, add new hose clamps to the rudder post (all 4 were cracked), put the rudder and gudgeon back, reassemble the quadrant. Done!
Fortunately, things went relatively smoothly, except for…(insert dramatic Monster Truck announcer voice)…Brian’s Cutlass Bearing Battle. This short metal tube fits through the hull, cradling the prop shaft perfectly in place (see photos). While the shaft spins, the cutlass bearing remains rock steady. Knowing its tight fit would cause difficulty removing, Brian welded his own puller tool this summer to assist in this procedure (yes, he really is MacGyver). But this bearing was practically fused to the hull. And its walls were so thin, his manufactured puller just made mincemeat of the metal. Yanking, tugging, jerking and twerking did absolutely nothing.
Frustrated, Brian was forced to slice it up. With a SawzAll. Veerry carefully. Try using a Sawzall blade inside a hole the size of your mouth…sawing through the bearing wall without nicking the skin below. Nice image, huh? He was not happy doing it; but he won the Bearing Battle.
New Steering Cables
Since we needed to undo the steering assembly to work on the drive shaft, we decided to just replace it altogether. After 23-years, it’s probably about time. This is the perfect example of how one project leads to another project because, well, “since we’re in here taking this apart, we might as well replace it, otherwise we’ll regret it down the road when it fails…all because we were lazy or cheap.”
Our steering chain/cable threads up into the steering column and over the wheels’ gear mechanism. So, of course to replace it, we must remove the wheel along with the compass sitting atop the binnacle. Again, another “might as well” project. Now, we may as well replace the bearing, circlips, plastic washers and o-rings attached to the wheel shaft. This was like doing an operation inside a 5“ hole. Flashlight in one hand, I played surgical tech with the other, providing Brian tools upon request. Needlenose pliers. Here. Dental pic. Got it. RoboGrips. Black or grey? Why does every boat project feel like a surgical procedure?
New Cockpit Drain Hose
Our cockpit drain hoses were original to the boat. So we planned on replacing them this season. (We tried last year but couldn’t find the right hose, so we brought some with us). Upon removal, we discovered one of the two cracked. Good thing this project was high on our list! Each hose runs from the cockpit, through the engine room, and out the hull to the ocean. So any water running into the cockpit (from washing the boat or from boarding seas) will leak right into the engine room via a split hose. Not good. Engines and water don’t mix. Sinking is even worse.
Doing The Hard Stuff First
We decided to complete the above hard projects first. The ones that involved Brian awkwardly wedged in the engine room (“the hole”) for a week straight. The ones that could become super-complicated if everything didn’t go smoothly. The ones we didn’t want to do.
Our thoughts: get ‘em over with now and we won’t be too tired or too irritated or too lazy later, ultimately determining “well… we can wait ‘til next year.” Our plan worked.
We have at least another week of boatyard drudgery, but it’s all stuff we’ve done before. Painting, painting and more painting. Hard work…but easily done. Would I rather be watching the Macy’s parade and eating every hour with naps in between? Yes, please. Would I rather be shopping or driving in the Black Friday mayhem? No way. I’ll actually take boatwork over THAT.