Launching a boat is a process couched in optimism. The annual ritual of unwrapping, polishing, swapping fluids and slapping on bottom paint leads to a triumphal splash that marks the beginning of another sailing season.
This year I was somewhat organized but left starting the motor until the last minute. I wasn’t too concerned as my Yanmar 3GM30 has always fired up easily. This year, it was already in the water when it finally started…. but I’m getting ahead of the story.
Tortuga was already sitting by the crane when I arrived an hour ahead of my scheduled launch time. Uli was unusually efficient that morning and the crew were itching to launch. So much for a leisurely pre-splash inspection. I grabbed a pail of lake water and scrambled onboard to start the motor while the slings were being fitted. It seemed that the battery was weak as the cranking rpm was low and the motor wasn’t catching. Strange… Complicating the starting process was the crane’s diesel motor was idling six feet from my head. I think roaring is a more apt description as I couldn’t hear the engine cranking and was relying on the tachometer to see if the engine was actually turning over. This really threw me as the batteries should be, and were, fully charged by the solar panels. This was confirmed by the voltage showing. I’ve never started the engine deaf, relying solely on the tach, so I wasn’t sure how fast it usually spins on startup.
Rather than delay the launch any longer, I gave the go-ahead to splash. I figured this would give me time to charge the batteries and figure out what was going on. I set the charge controller to equalize to get a deep charge. I let it sit for an hour. I finally got the engine to start and immediately there was a smoke coming from the engine! A quick shutdown and inspection revealed that the alt was seized?! Now I’m completely confused as the alt was fine at haulout and recently rebuilt! The boat is dry and the water fresh so corrosion shouldn’t be a factor. I loosened the belt and then loosened the alternator pivot bolt – this freed up the alt.
In a flash, all my confusion vanished and all the sensory feedback made sense. The alt mounting arms have 1.5mm of play on the engine mount, I must have tightened up the alt and that warped the housing enough to pinch the rotor. Luckily releasing the pressure released the pinch and no real damage was done.
I shimmed the gap with a washer (will have to get the proper diameter) and replaced the belt with a new Gates AX 37 TRI-POWER, keeping the old lightly toasted belt as a backup.
I hope I haven’t over-stressed the poor starter motor, I am actually surprised and impressed that I was able to start with a seized alt, not something that I want to repeat.
- I should have started the engine at least the day before in the quiet of the yard. Being in a rush and feeling pressured to meet the yard schedule isn’t the best path to clear thinking.
- I should have stopped cranking and inspected the engine, although catching a seized alt is hard to notice, stopping and thinking might have led to my remembering that in the fall I adjusted the belts and must have tightened the alt mount with more vigor than previously.
- I should trust what I know. I knew the batteries were charged, I could see the voltage was high and the starter battery cable was warm to the touch. This should have registered in my brain that the cranking loads were high and something was amiss.
The requirements of a shelf, to be a shelf, are fairly simple. It needs to be big enough to hold the intended items and sturdy enough to stay up, but the shelf in the photo really isn’t a shelf.
For me, like the boat itself, the shelf is the physical manifestation of my dreams, personality and aspirations. A bathroom towel shelf on a cold winter’s night is less about orderly towel storage, but about making the boat into a floating home, one that we will live on and hopefully take to warmer climes, have adventures, and watch our children discover some of the wonders of the world. This shelf is about providing the best summer home for my young children to make memories in and keeping my wife happy with a nice bathroom (my idea not hers). It’s about having clean dry clean towels to wrap ourselves in after a cold swim. It is about dreaming of sailing down to the Bahamas. It is about making the boat better then new, putting my stamp on it, doing it better than the designers. It is also a great justification for having a shop full of tools and ferreting around boat yard dumpsters.
A shelf that loaded better be strong.
Continue reading shelf
Sailors seem to be divided into two camps, winter cover or no winter cover. I’ve played on both teams but I’ve finally become a card carrying member in the cover camp. In the past I used tarps from Canadian Tire, silver on one side and black on the other. Some years I didn’t bother, I didn’t see much of a difference, the old boat was leaky covered or not, and being over thirty years old, the UV had done it’s damage to the gel-coat.
I think it was the day I visited Tortuga last winter when I decided to cover it. There was a couple of inches of snow and ice on the boat. Snow, like rain isn’t my main concern, it was the ice I was worried about, specifically water creeping under deck fittings, into cracks and crevices and then freezing. The freeze thaw cycle has the potential to tear a boat apart, keeping water and snow off a boat is the best defense, short of indoor storage. Continue reading Winter Cover – DIY
To cover or not to cover.
I read lots of forums, blog posts and asked the sailors I knew what they did with their boats for the winter. There wasn’t much consensus, some say why bother, boats are leak free anyway, others warn of the dire actions of snow loads and ice, not to mention the unrelenting assault on bright work from UV. The simple reasons I choose to cover was 1) the windows are a bit leaky, a cover will keep water out 2) I’d like to do some simple maintenance, like bright-work and winch overhauls, digging through snow and ice doesn’t sound fun. 3) six months less UV sounds like a good idea.
Looking stern to bow, you can see the nice loft from the breeze.
I decided on a simple tarp from Princess Auto, it just fits. Four 10′ x 3/4″ electrical conduits from Home Depot fit into the life-line stanchion bases, the mast as cross beam. I’m not sure if there are enough supports, the spacing is about 4′, looks like it might sag between if there is a snow load – we’ll see. I underestimated the amount of rope needed to cover the Tanzer 7.5. Seems looping under the sailboat back and forth is not the most efficient use of line.
I like the fact that the cover seems to funnel air into it, much like an air sock. Not sure if this is a fluke on the location, wind direction or the fact I have the bow open a bit and pointing towards the water? The upside is it stopped the flapping motion and I hope this will extend the life of the cover and help the grommets stay put.