I have been thinking a lot about the unreliability of offshore voyaging boats. It seems like most every cruiser I talk to has a tale of woe about all the problems they have had with their boat and how much those problems have screwed up their plans. For crying out loud, if cars were as [...]
Just made for the job One refreshing thing about Spain is that it is still a country where people carry out many of their own repairs. Evidence of this can be seen in the number of ironmongers (ferreterias) that still exist in even relatively minor towns, Aladdin’s caves filled with every conceivable item for some [...]
It’s a fact of life that even in our throw away world of ‘service by replacement’ equipment there are times when good old fashioned improvisation can save the day, especially when you’re thousands of miles from the nearest service centre. As a result, part of any spares kit should comprise of a mix of wire, [...]
We joined our friends Dave and Shelly, who live and voyage on their beautiful, and beautifully maintained, Able Apogee 50, Cadence, for dinner the other night. I knew that they had spent the day on maintenance tasks on Cadence and I could sense that it might have been a tough go. (It’s a sure sign [...]
It seems like a logical way to own a good offshore sailboat. Buy an older and a bit rundown but fundamentally decent boat and refit it. But does it really work? To explore that important question, I have a true story to tell you.
Back afloat at last, and it’s so good to feel Pèlerin swing to the wind and tide at anchor once more, after what seemed an endless winter. The last few weeks in the boatyard have been exhausting, as we’ve slogged through the work getting her ready for the long haul after a series of false [...]
As the old saying goes, you pay for your pleasures, and that’s certainly true when it comes round to the annual re-fit. The many little jobs that were just too awkward afloat, added to the big ones like antifouling, can all back up and lead to a formidable worklist. And to top it all, there’s [...]
Practical Sailor is one of the two magazines we still subscribe to. We have been getting their great information on all things boating gear for over 25 years. In that time the magazine has saved us untold amounts of money, not to speak of frustration and wasted time, by helping us to source the best [...]
In Part 1 I asked the question: “who contributed more to a safe and seamanlike voyage over three days recently, Phyllis who rebuilt the mast winches and went through our medical kit, or me who installed a new AIS transponder and nearly lost his mind doing it?”.
Phyllis and I are in the throes of preparing Morgan’s Cloud for a voyage to the high latitudes this summer. As usual, we are splitting the many tasks—I call this stage of voyage preparation “death by a thousand details”—between us, based on our individual skills. I was once, in the dim and distant past, a [...]
Part of the engine installation project on Morgan’s Cloud was the fitting of new engine mounts—which meant welding, which meant sparks flew, which meant the paint in the engine room got speckled. (Morgan’s Cloud’s builder did a wonderful job of most things, but painting the bilge in the engine room was not one of his [...]
Phyllis and I just finished laying-up Morgan’s Cloud for the winter at Billings Diesel and Marine in Maine, where we will be replacing the engine. As always, we are sad to move off the boat, which, over the last 18 years, has become more our home than any place else.
“Boat Yard Hell” is our term of endearment for Morgan’s Cloud’s annual date with a boat lift. There just isn’t much fun to it: living at the top of a 15’ ladder, peeing in a bucket, the morning dash to the toilet building, and of course day after day of boat chores as we try [...]
Here is a top ten list of what we did during the refit that we really like:
So, what did we do to our beloved Morgan’s Cloud that could possible take four winters of hard labour?
Question: I am intrigued by your high praise for Tef-Gel. I have not heard of it before, and in the past I have used ‘anti-seize’ for mooring shackles and installing stainless steel fasteners in aluminum. I am curious about your experience with ‘anti-seize’ versus Tef-Gel. In addition, I have had good luck using BP Blaster [...]
Maintaining an aluminum boat has made us especially paranoid about making sure we use an anti-corrosive agent whenever we screw anything to anything else. We have found that Tef-Gel, a teflon product, does the best job. Stainless steel screws back easily out of aluminum even after several years if they’ve been applied with a liberal [...]
It used to be that when we wanted to attach something to our aluminum hull we had it welded. This requires special equipment and a skilled operator, not to speak of all the attendant mess and paint damage. Not anymore, we now use Plexus.
Vibration and movement are always present on a boat at sea and can easily loosen screws. To avert the substantial problems that even a single backed-out screw can cause, we use Loctite thread lock fluid. Use Blue if you want to undo it easily, Red if you want to work at it and Green if [...]
Over the years that we have owned Morgan’s Cloud, there have been many custom stainless steel items that we have had fabricated by Tops in Quality: cabintop handrails, liferaft cradle, lifeline stanchions, etc.
Our neighbour here in Down East Maine, where we have been refitting Morgan’s Cloud for the last three winters, is Jeff: lobsterman, talented photographer, Persian carpet dealer and, for the last two years, wooden sailboat owner.
Over the last 35 years of offshore boat ownership (there were dinghies before that) I have done four major refits and a complete rebuild—I’m beginning to think that this may be seriously sick behavior. But, be that as it may, at this point in the process, with the launch date looming large, we have entered [...]
During this last refit, we had custom wood bezels with embedded helicoils built to fit permanently around the cabin ports (we’ll discuss these further in our Refit Series). During cold weather, we screw Plexiglas covers to the bezels and voila…no condensation! However, after installing them we realized that the little chains with small bars at [...]
I am writing this while looking out the window of our rental house in Maine, admiring another gorgeous sunset over the beautiful waters of Penobscot Bay. There is about two inches of snow on the ground and on as much of the rocks as stick up above the water at high tide. The window I [...]
It all started with six weeks of intense work last June stripping the deck for painting. Every cleat, every track, every fitting and every hatch came off and slowly a 10’x20’ storage unit filled with boat bits.