It always seems like a good idea after buying a rather old and rather tatty boat to start pulling everything sub standard out of her in some mad rush to try and make her more ship-shape. The reality is, that the ripping out is easy, where as the reinstating is hard, expensive, time consuming and often slightly maddening. What planned to be two weeks ashore at Millbrooks Southdown Marina, turned into four.
Our mistrust in the variety of old sea cocks fitted to Moonlighting which had leaked at times on the trip down from Scotland, led us down the path of re-newing them all. Once I had taken advice of a knowledgeable friend, Jon, who was going go help with the fitting of the new sea cocks, it became clear that we would also need to re-new the skin fittings and hose tails at the same time, and to make them last for the long term, we would go for bronze for below the water and DZR for above. An eye wateringly expensive purchase of over £1000 for all the bits, which Grace and Connie inspected for quality once they arrived!
I took to the outside of the hull with gusty weilding my angle grinder to grind off the old skin fittings and soon had the holes exposed. Another job was to create some additional fittings to allow for example the forward heads basin to drain overboard and not into the bilge? As well as the bilge pumps to actually discharge and not terminate in a short length if hose going nowhere….I was slowly working through the poor boat husbandry we had inherited. As I pulled the boat apart a little, more jobs rapidly became apparent as well as a few shocks such as the live positive and negative cables running from the domestic batteries to beneath one of the bunks where they were left unattached to anything while lying amongst loads of wooden offcuts (tinder box); a fire waiting to happen.
One of the other major jobs was the replacement of the exhaust hose which was corroded internally and collapsing upon itself in places. It also became evident that the waterlock was not big enough and the swan neck in the exhaust to prevent a following sea from running through to the engine was not high enough. Jon had advised me to check carefully the size of the exhaust hose before ordering but I took a measurement from the exhaust manifold which I though was ok and got on with ordering 10m of 60mm exhaust and a Vetus 10lt water lock muffler. Sure enough, when I came to fit it all, it turned out to be 50mm after all which then was followed by lots of returning of goods, refunds, re-orders and delays.
One of the problems of having the boat out the water is that it saps what little time you have spare outside of work and family comittments. Every job seems to take a out three times as long as you anticipate and everything on board is reduced into a state of disorder which can be pretty demoralising.
In addition to the hull fittings and exhaust I also tried to tackle some of the engine pipe work which in places was of the wrong material and configurationin, plus the toilet pipe work which again was often of the wrong material and without the necessary anti-syphon loops or swan necks.
My stress levels rose as the weeks raced past and with still much to do on the forth week I was unsure that the boat would be relaunched in time for the required Spring tides to allow us to exit Millbrook creek. Thankfully Jon and a couple of his mates helped during two evenings of the final week and together we got all the essential pre-launch work completed with some of the other jobs able to be completed once she was back in the water.
With very fine looking skin fittings externally and with the knowledge of well backed valves and hoses within she was taking shape. Once the correct components for the
exhaust were sorted that was finished off and the launch was confirmed for HW at 0617 on Saturday 21st May.
Alyssa and I slept onboard the night before and the girls stayed with Grandparents nearby so that we could be up early for the off. After a bit of a false start where the engine wasn’t pulling raw water through, I soon realised that the strainer had an air leak which turned out to be a mummified O ring seal, so the suction hose was temporarily attached direct to the sea cock to get us going. With this jury rig we got underway, cleared the shallows at Millbrook, took fuel and water at Mayflower Marina and then made our way upriver to our mooring at Cargreen.
Alyssa and I spent the rest of the day finishing off plumbing jobs, tidying up and hanging the sails and sprayhood. Generally trying to get the boat back into order for the children’s half term holiday which is coming up when we hope to spend some time onboard together, hopefully not worrying about long distance delivers, gale force winds or grotty refit jobs. Rather, beaches, rope swings and BBQ’s….