How The Winter Projects Have Fared

As anyone who has followed our blog and videos know, we did a lot of work on the boat over the winter. We are very happy with the outcome of many of these jobs. Others, we realized or have come to recognize still need more work. So, I thought I would spend a little time and discuss a few of the projects and how they are working out.

Our – or my – biggest failure was certainly the re-bedding of the chainplates. In late April, as it became clear that Port Townsend Foundry was not going to get our new chainplates to us within the timeframe they initially said they would, we decided to reinstall the old chainplates for the season and replace them over next winter. As various events conspired to keep us from getting to the boat until later in May, it turned out to be a very wise choice. When I returned to Bear, the first thing I did was reinstall the old chainplates. I thought the job had gone well, but a few big downpours since putting the boat in the water have proved me very wrong. Two of the starboard – the fore and aft – plates leaked significantly. In St. Simons, I took up the deck cover for the forward plate and put butyl tape on top of the caulk I had recently put in, hoping to staunch the flow. We have not really had a downpour while in port to see whether that fix worked. Of course, even if it did, it is not a long-term solution, but it will get us through the rest of the summer until we replace the chainplates with our external ones in the fall. Keep your fingers crossed.

Another project that was not completely successful was the replacement of our freshwater lines. Our primary intention in doing so was to ensure that we were always taking from both our starboard and port tanks at equal rates. Last year, our starboard tank would often empty long before our port one, causing us to list slightly to port, which we already do a smidge because our batteries are on that side. No small side benefit was that we would also know we have clean lines. Well, we have clean lines, but have not solved the flow problem out of the port tank. After some experimenting at the dock, I now think our problem is a slightly clogged vent hose to the port tank. We will try to replace that in the near future, either in the Chesapeake or in the early fall.

The autopilot has been a huge success with one lingering issue. Since I took it apart, re-greased it, and replaced the spirol pin, we have been able to use it for hours – over twenty-four on our overnight – without incident. We can also use the two more sensitive settings that previously made the thing go crazy. This opens up the opportunity to use the autopilot in so many more situations, which has been wonderful. However, we still occasionally have the problem with the steering sticking when we turn to starboard after having the autopilot on for a long time and then turning it off. I suspect that the issue is not with the innards of the unit itself, but actually an issue with the connection between the actuator joint and the pilot’s arm. We will have to do some more experimentation, though it is really difficult to recreate the conditions that cause the issue.

Other projects fared much better than these three. The replacement of the drain lines below the sink has been a great success. It is so nice to be able to pour massive volumes of liquids down our sink without worry. We even drain our pasta and canned goods into the sink, something we could not have dreamed of doing last year. There were only two small issues with the sink. The first occurred when we first splashed Bear; water was leaking in fairly quickly from the below-waterline connection points on the drain. Quickly tightening the O-clamps up with a ratchet did the trick, and we have been fine on that score since. The other issue is cosmetic. As you might recall, I had to remove the sink to get to the hoses and seacock. In order to do that, I also needed to dismantle two of the fiddles. After Margaret re-installed those fiddles, she sanded and re-varnished them. Because of the direction of the grain and the way Margaret had sanded – something we had no clue about – the varnish took on a two-tone quality. At first, she was quite unhappy with the outcome and intended to redo it. Since splashing, though, Margaret has not said a word about it, and I have not even laid eyes on the offending spot despite passing it dozens of times a day. I imagine this will be left as is until we redo the galley in a couple years, which we have been discussing.

The standing rigging has also turned out splendidly, though I still need to tighten the rig a bit more as it has stretched a hair since we first put it up. I also need to install the checkstays, or running backs, when we are in Annapolis. While this project has been very successful, I will definitely have a good deal more to say about it in some future posts along with some video of installing the Sta-Lok fittings.

Redoing all the lines in our raw water system has turned out well, though we do not notice the biggest benefit of doing so: the safety that comes with replacing the corroding, below-the-waterline brass fittings with bronze. But our washdown pump no longer smells, and the new pump works as well as the previous one.

I think that about covers the major projects from the winter with the exception of all of Margaret’s cushions. I will leave that discussion for her at a later date. Moreover, I have been typing this while coming up the upper Pungo River on autopilot, and we are just about arriving at the Alligator-Pungo Canal, so I need to go back to hand-steering.

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