After a long month, we are finally back on the water, with a ton of our repairs done. We’ve been working hard and we are completely exhausted, but it’s nice to see that effort pay off.
Our old engine was removed and the engine compartment cleaned out, as best we could. The engine mounts were fixed which will reduce vibration (they were loose, weird angles and in pretty poor shape). We discovered that the water exhaust mixing elbow on our old engine was too low, and the exhaust hose to the outside of the boat was too low. (Or at least that is my interpretation of it. I’m not a mechanic.) Basically this means that water was able to back up the system and into the engine. It is actually a bit surprising that this did not become an issue sooner. It had been like that for the past nine years so it’s not like it was a new issue. It was just that the “perfect” conditions for the water to back up into the engine didn’t happen for nine years. In any case we now have a new engine, which is now mounted correctly with an exhaust system properly set up, and even a new transmission. We have a possible buyer for our old transmission, a bunch of spare parts we can salvage from the old engine, and a couple other parts we’ll probably sell on eBay. It makes me feel better for the amount of money we had to spend on this repair that we weren’t planning for. And it was also nice spending time with our friends that came up from Florida to install it. They are fellow cruisers and it is nice to have people to talk to that “get it”.
Painting was a lot more work than I was expecting, mostly just in prep. Above the water line, we had a bunch of bubbles between paint layers. It looked like a matter of poor adhesion between old layers of paint, which had gotten water in between. We scraped the spots that had loose paint and sanded around the edges. We actually had to do that several times, as it rained almost every day, and the edges would start separating more. We finally got the spots scraped and sanded, and a layer of two-part epoxy barrier coat over the repair spots. The barrier paint also helped fill in the spots that paint had been scraped. Then the whole above the water paint was sanded. We used two-part paint, applied a quart at a time. It was really interesting paint, very thin, which we rolled on, and then “tipped”, which is just brushing it with a dry brush. Since it is so thin, it got a lot of bubbles as it was rolled on, so the tipping removes those bubbles. You can tell it was an amateur job, and there are a couple of places, mostly on the transom where there is a lot of parts to work around, where we got the paint too thick and it left drip lines. You can also still see where the paint bubbles were scraped. It is a 40-year-old boat, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. Instead of thousands of dollars to get it done professionally, we paid around $300 in paint. It would have been nice to be able to get all the original paint off, but the rest would not have scraped off easily and it would have been a ton more work, and could have ended up being worse than it is. In any case, we are extremely happy with how it turned out.
The bottom paint was a huge pain to prepare too. There were probably half a dozen layers of previous paint, with chipping around the water line and other places where there were gouges and scrapes. There were a couple osmotic blisters, but for a 40-year-old boat, it was nothing. The sanding was really hard work. It is amazingly hard paint, and it was an awful job. I also broke out from the paint dust, which was truly awful. We didn’t remove all the old paint, but we got it in good shape before putting on the new paint. There was also no paint left on the bottom of the keel, it was down to the fiberglass resin. We sealed some of the worst spots in epoxy, then a couple of layers of the two-part epoxy barrier coat, then three layers of new bottom copper paint. It is gorgeous, if I do say so myself.
While the engine was out, we pulled the transmission shaft out, and replaced the propeller and cutlass bearing.
The key for the shaft had been coming out so it was machined with a new key so that it won’t slip out anymore. (We had just been checking and tightening it every 5-6 days or so as the shaft slipped back out.) Now we won’t have to worry about that. It looks awesome with the new equipment.
Finally, we got the diesel tank pulled out. It was awful! The tank was surrounded by a hard sludge. Once we got it out and cleaned up, there were several holes, almost big enough to put a finger through. The hard junk around the tank had been keeping the diesel in, but it was definitely a good thing we pulled it out to fix. We had a new aluminum bottom welded on the old tank, then cleaned it up really good. We also had extra of the epoxy barrier coat, so we put a coat of that on the outside for good measure.
Now cleaning out the bilge…it was full of all the oil that leaked from the old engine when it blew and some diesel that had leaked from the tank, and a bunch of old nasty water. It smelled like death. It was a really, really awful job to clean it out, carrying 5 gallon buckets of that nasty stuff down the ladder over and over. And seriously, the smell… I am so glad to have that out of the boat now. It isn’t perfect because you simply can’t reach all the crevices, but it is acceptable now, and no longer an environmental hazard.
Most of the time we were on the hard, we had Kevin at Tiki Paws in Shallotte. It was a home-style kennel/doggy daycare, and I cannot say enough good things about them. We were able to visit him a couple of times and it was just a pleasant place to be. He made all kinds of friends and it was awesome. And now when we encounter other dogs, he isn’t reactive like he used to be. Now he just wants us to let him go so that he can go play. It was good to have a safe place for him to be while we worked on the boat, and you could tell that they enjoyed him too. He even got a free bath and nail trim before coming home, including a nautical bowtie. Seriously the best kennel we’ve ever been to, by far.
Anyway, it was an amazing amount of work and time and money doing all these repairs, but I think it was worth it in the end. We are relieved to be back on the water now. It is nice to be rocked to sleep again.