Tag: Captain’s Toolbag

Twist the Wrench and Take the Bolt Out, Fa La La La La….

December is that time of year that many of you are thinking of how you will spend the holidays and the Dazzler crew is no exception. Our holiday is consisting of getting the larger projects onboard checked off the TO DO list in preparation for crossing the Pacific Ocean to the South Pacific in March of 2018. The list is long and distinguished. First up was beefing up the bulkhead for the auto pilot hydraulic ram.

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Dazzler’s Cranse Collar

There is now two inches of marine plywood, penetrating epoxy applied and painted and two quarter inch pieces of stainless steel plate that form the base plate for the hydraulic ram. That should handle any loads just fine.

 

Next up, the job of removing Dazzler’s bowsprit. Why do you remove what looks like a perfectly good bowsprit? I could say because it’s there, but the reality is that I removed it about ten years ago to repair a small area of wood rot. Then I repainted it and re-installed it. Two thoughts have gone through my mind in preparing for our upcoming crossing. Is Dazzler’s bowsprit sound? Should I decommission and disassemble her bow rigging to check and be sure?

I first used a hammer with a plastic head to sound the bowsprit. Everything sounded fine except for a small area aft of the windlass. Knowing the history of Dazzler’s bowsprit, I didn’t want to take any chances. So, the decision was made to remove it for closer inspection and repainting. Okay, I was going to repaint it anyway, but removing it makes the job easier and the results will look much nicer and we will have peace of mind knowing if there are any gremlins in the bowsprit.

First, we have to strip all the rigging and hardware off the bowsprit. When you first look at this kind of job your thought might be, “There isn’t too much to take off.” Ha ha ha! There is a lot more than meets the eye. Just saying. Before stripping anything, both the staysail and jib sail were removed and then the standing rigging had to be detuned.

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The bowsprit is ready to disconnect the roller furling gear and remove the pulpit.

Next up was removing the roller furling gear, bob stay and whisker stays. Dazzler’s bow pulpit and deck boards that are bolted down to the top of the bowsprit were next. There is a stainless strap forward of the windlass and an integrated stainless steel strap and Sampson post aft of the windlass. Both straps saddle the bowsprit and are through bolted to the foredeck. Dazzler is equipped with a Lighthouse windlass that has a vertical shaft that passes through the middle of the beam and deck and into the anchor locker where it’s motor is mounted to the bottom of the shaft. The strap bolts and motor must be disconnected before the sprit can be removed.

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Round head slotted fastener and its replacement.

Boats built in Taiwan in the seventies and eighties had a special style head on the fasteners that look like a large slot. Although it has a great finished look, those slotted heads are very difficult to get a wrench on to remove them. One of these said bolts 5/8″ in diameter and about 12″ long also passes through the bowsprit and deck to help index the sprit. Several years ago I bought a ½” drive socket that had a wide screwdriver bit on top. This was the best solution that I could find for removing these types of bolts. On a side note, these types of bolts have proven to be very difficult to remove without first removing skin from your knuckles. Trust me, I know. Additionally, these style fasteners are difficult to get enough torque to turn them even with the ½” ratchet and screwdriver socket. I had to result to using a pair of vise grip style pliers to remove the bolt. A new hex head bolt has been obtained for replacement.

When I re-installed Dazzler’s sprit in 2007, I put a layer of calking on the deck under it to help keep water from settling under it and thus keeping the area between the sprit and deck drier. This trick seemed to work, but added a level of difficulty in removing the sprit from the deck. I used a halyard tied around the sprit near the stem of the bow to assist in lifting it from its bedded position. Using the halyard and mast wench worked like a champ for lifting the bowsprit from the bedding compound.

After Dazzler’s bowsprit was removed, the job of cleaning all of the bow hardware and fasteners began. Along with sanding paint off the sprit to inspect for any hidden damage. I was very pleased to find that the bowsprit was sound and had no visible signs of rot or damaged areas.

 

Dazzler, like many cruising boats, is equipped with a small chandlery onboard as well as all the supplies needed to complete the painting project. In 2007, when I first removed the bowsprit, I used Awlgrip paint. 10 years of wear and use for a paint is a reasonable expectation. In 2013, I removed Dazzler’s teak decks and repainted her decks with Alexseal paint. I chose Alexseal based on recommendations from Dan at San Diego Marine Exchange (SDME). Dan had worked for many years as a boat finish painter and was a wealth of tips, tricks and advise. I have been very happy with those results as well. Alexseal, like Awlgrip, is a linear polyurethane blend of paint. Both are very durable and require mixing two to three components before painting. Yes, a can of Easypoxy would be easier to apply, but ten years of durable use and looking good speak for themselves. The initial cost is more expensive compared to other paints like Easypoxy. With all the work involved removing the bowsprit, I figured my initial investment for a ten-year yield is worth it. Additionally the painted surface is very durable and forgiving to small dings, which will happen.

That’s it for now. I have to get back to working on the bowsprit, so we can keep moving forward in passage preparations. I’ll be putting together part two after this job is done. Where is that tube of Neosporine?

Cheers!

Captain Dan

SV Dazzler

 

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Thinking Outside Of The Box

While cruising México during the last seven years, I have learned a few tricks that may save the new World Cruiser a few steps, bus or taxi ride. México like most third world countries is developing around us. It has many conveniences, but the handy Starbucks on every corner or a marine supply store in every city. West Marine, Fisheries Supply and others are an Internet click away, but getting our precious purchases into México and onto our vessels has many drawbacks. There is a time for those consumer marine stores products and that is usually when we travel back home or we know someone who can Mule or Burro items into México for us.

During my years of cruising México, I have learned that applying the conventional 18600876_10206827277199088_1816111679_nthought process for finding a stainless steel fastener, special fitting or other marine specialty item is lost. Yes, there are a few Ferreterías scattered throughout México and yes most of the old salts know where they are located. One in particular looks so much like a West Maine inside it is scary. Sometimes putting a patch on something to get by is an option until you can get to one of these stores. Sometimes a patch isn’t going to work.

Consider your options. If you have a hydraulic issue you won’t easily find a B & G hydraulic ram for sale much less the parts you need to effect a repair yourself. But, hydraulics are used all over México and there is usually a hydraulic shop that you could have a pump rebuilt or purchase parts necessary to do the repair yourself. The same thing goes for bearings and shaft seals. Just because there isn’t a ProFurl outlet near by, doesn’t mean that a tienda that sells seals and bearings isn’t available. I have seen hydraulic hoses and hose fittings at a welding shop that also work on farm equipment.

While on an outing looking for a fastener or other specialized part, it is not unreasonable to visit four, five or even more tiendas until you find what you are looking for. While in those tiendas along the way, take your time and look through them. You never know what you might find.

If you are like me, I have a list of projects that is constantly growing and ever present. This is the list of things that I like to call, “Good to do when I get a ‘Round Tuit!’” So when looking through the tiendas along the way with this floating list in my brain, something on a shelf, peg boar or bin will silently shout out making me stop and contemplate the possibilities of completing one of those less critical items on the list. I was looking for some carbon brushes for a DC water pump in Santa Rosalía. I found them in a hardware store that sold lighting and plumbing fixtures. Go figure! What you seek is not always where you think it should be and thus thinking outside the box results in a victory if only for one item on your list.

Costco Shopping Mentality. Most folks know what IMG_3966shopping in a large warehouse store is like. You know the large quantities of items stores with the 40 pound package of raisins, the 55 gallon drum of laundry detergent, etc…? Well, I can tell you that I have more than once, while shopping there, seen one of those shiny items on the self and thought I would like to have it, but I wasn’t prepared to by it at the moment. You know that item guys, the thing on the shelf that is illuminated with a blinding light from the heavens above with six arrows pointing to the item? I usually convince myself that I’ll be back to Costco next week to get it after I measure and figure where it will get install or stored. Almost every time I’ve gone back to get that item it has been sold out. I tell myself that I was stupid and that I know better. Folks, if you see an item in México that you remotely think is something you need, BUY IT! Because when you return the Costco Penalty of “Not Available” will grace you with its presence. There won’t be anymore lights from heaven on that shelf until maybe your next visit.

I thoroughly enjoy the adventure part of looking for an item as it gets you off the boat, interacting with the people in the community and adventure is part of the cruising culture.

So, here is how you find what you need. There is a wealth of information rattling around the heads of those that have been cruising México for multiple years. Most are willing to share the knowledge they have obtained from their adventures. If you can tap into this dusty well of information your adventures will take less time for actually finding what you are looking for. Browsing through tiendas along the way can broaden your knowledge base of what is available along the way and perhaps make your next adventure easier.

Just a few tips from off the decks of Dazzler.

Cheers!

Captain Dan
SV Dazzler