Yard Work? I thought this was a boat!

There is always a time when boat maintenance below the waterline needs to be completed. After our globetrotting antics, we arrived back in Whangarei, New Zealand to Dazzler standing high and dry above the ground in her storage cradle. After unpacking and taking a day to rest and re-group, the work had to get started.
Up on the list of projects to complete were to replace a thru hull and valve assembly, and paint Dazzler’s bottom. As most boat projects go, there is always more than meets the eye. As it turns out the cutlass bearing had sufficient time to dry out by the time we returned to Dazzler. I checked it when Dazzler was removed from the water and it appeared to be in good condition. Checking it after seven weeks revealed more movement than there should have been and it too needed replacing.
First up! Head issues…the ball valve of the direct discharge hose from the head had broken in the closed position last September 2018. We had been routing discharge through the holding tank since then. Not really a big deal.
The head had to be removed to expose access to the valve assembly and thru hull. Upon removing the plywood deck that the head was attached to it revealed that it was delaminating and would need to be replaced also. The only good thing about this is that we are in a land of plenty and finding some marine grade plywood was easy. More about that later.
I learned a thru hull trick many years ago that saves time and I’ve used it ever since. You can spend hours trying to remove all the nipples valves and fittings in a tight compartment with many nicks and cuts to your fingers and knuckles trying to save the fittings or you can just replace it in parts or with all with new components. First you drive a tapered wooden plug into the thru hull from the outside of the hull and cut off the excess flush with the surface of the thru hull. Next you size a bi-metal hole saw blade that will cut just outside the threads of your new thru hull. This is easy if you are replacing it with the same size thru hull. Next, find the center of the wooden plug and mark the center with an X for the pilot bit of the hole saw and then drill away. The hole saw blade should cut just outside of the threaded stock of the existing thru hull and after completing the cut the valve assembly should fall free inside the hull. Next clean up the hole and prepare it for the install of the new equipment. Easy and straight forward. This technique saves time and several other frustrations of trying to break lose old fittings. All of the new components were install in about 20 minutes. That was easy enough.
Now onto the head deck. I used the old deck as a pattern and with a few power tools was able to make a good copy of the old deck. Dry fitting the new deck needed a few minor modifications and then a quick paint job.
The Cutlass Bearing Replacement.
First I should address what determined the need for replacement. Trying to move the shaft up, down and side to side, should result in no movement or not more than a 1/16” as recommended by companies that manufacture sleeve or cutlass bearings. I know of two different types of cutlass bearing installations usually found on most sailboats. A strut that suspends down from the keel of the exterior of the boat bottom and a sleeve that is fitted into a stern tube molded into the bottom of the hull or at the trailing edge of the keel. Dazzler has a tube that is molded in the aft edge of the keel.
You will first need to remove the propeller and shaft from the boat. On Dazzler this required that I also remove the flange attached to the shaft from the aft flange of her transmission. After which the shaft could easily slide out of the cutlass bearing and stern tube. Ha ha ha. Nothing in water world is free or easy. Needless to say after some assistance of a large hammer and a block of wood Dazzler’s shaft finally succumbed and yielded to the persuasion of the blunt force blows.
We don’t own a reciprocating saw on Dazzler, so I hired the yard with their saw and personnel to extricate the old cutlass bearing. By the way, this was money well spent. After about an hour and a half it was removed and ready for the new bearing. Once again, being in a land of plenty has its benefits. A drive down the street to All Marine resulted in a new bearing. Having internet at your disposal is also a great benefit as it provides ample sources of time saving suggestions. One of which made inserting the new bearing very easy. Place the bearing into a freezer overnight. That will help the soft metal of the bearing to contract ever so slightly and facilitate and easier insertion into the stern tube. It tapped into the stern tube very easily and allowed the two side mounted set bolts to secure it in place.
I cleaned up the shaft and it slide through the new bearing without any issues. After a few hours everything was bolted down, secured in place and ready for operation. I did replace the packing material for the gland as I re-installed the shaft.
Bottom Paint Decisions!
While all the other projects are being done, the looming thought of which bottom paint to use was a big issue. Here in New Zealand they are several years ahead of the US in terms of using ecologically friendly bottom paints. Which in short means heavy into the eco friendly biocides and less into the realm of suspended metal particles in the paint. The other issue is that almost all of the paint selections are self-polishing/ablative vs hard paints. Dazzler was last painted in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico with Z Spar, a hard paint similar to Petit Trinidad. In fact, I’ve been told that it even comes out of the same vat at the paint factory.
After a lengthy period of pouring over internet articles and paint brochures, we decided to use Sea Zone 60 made in New Zealand by Altex Coatings (altexcoatings.co.nz). This is advertised as a self-polishing ablative paint that contains a silyl acrylate, cuprous oxide and co-biocide combination that is purported to provide outstanding protection that exceeds traditional ablative cuprous oxide based formulations. It is also to be a somewhat harder finish than most other ablative paints.
I contacted the company’s technical representative to find out if I could paint it over the existing Z Spar bottom paint. Their belief was that it should be fine, but to ensure good adhesion a coat of their primer was encouraged.
Off to the paint store, Wynn Fraser, to acquire the paint. At the store we obtained a quote and ordered three, four liter pails of Sea Zone 60 Viking Red paint and a four liter pail of primer. Our color choice was not immediately available and so the company needed to run a new batch for that color. This made the turn around time seven days before we could pick up the paint. Lots of sanding and prep work needed to be done so the wait provided time to get other projects completed.
The next week we stopped in to pick up our paint and discovered that two of the pails of paint had been damaged during shipment. One can was crushed and the other’s lid had popped off spilling about a third of the contents. We picked up one pail of paint and one pail of primer. They also gave me the partial can of paint as well because they were going to be reimbursed from the damage claim with the shipping company. That should keep me out of trouble over the weekend while we wait for two new cans to arrive on Monday.
The bottom was all sanded and I had added five coats of barrier coat to those areas of the bottom that needed it such as the bronze rudder hinges, thru hulls and any other areas that needed touch up. The next day I lightly sanded the barrier coated areas and started to roll on the primer. Once I finished with the primer I started right into the first coat of Sea Zone 60. With the partial pail and full pail of bottom paint I was able to get two full coats onto Dazzler’s underbelly. Everything rolled on without any kinks or hitches and Dazzler was starting to look like she was getting closer to being slipped back into the sea. The next day I picked up the remaining pails of paint from Wynn Fraser and finished putting on a third coat on Dazzler’s bottom and a coat along the leading edge of the hull, water line, rudder and propeller aperture.
The next day all the waterline tape was removed and I cleaned the water line. Dazzler was now ready for launch. Wahoo!
The following day we were scheduled to launch. After 68 days of Dazzler being on the hard we were more than ready to be back in the water. The launch went without a hitch and we anchored in the bay for a couple of nights to just enjoy being back on the water.
Sitting at the dock, mooring or underway, enjoy being on the water. Cheers!
Captain Dan
P.S. We’d like to thank Maurice, Tim and the rest of the crew at South Pacific Gateway Marina for making our time on the hard as easy and stress free as possible.

Author: Dan & Jilly

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.