Looking Ahead to Boat Projects for Spring 2017

Last week, I mentioned that I will be heading out to Bear around April 1st to get a few projects done. In this post, I thought I would detail a few of the bigger projects that we are looking to accomplish over that month.

One of the first and most important things that I have to do is rebuild the anchor locker. When we purchased Bear three years ago, the surveyor pointed out a little rot in some of the boards that both divide our anchor locker (200 feet of chain on one side for our primary and 200 feet of line with a few feet of chain on the other for our secondary) and support the windlass motor. The rot at the time was relatively minor, but the surveyor indicated that it would not remain that way because the boards were simply painted plywood with the paint wearing off and water already penetrating the wood. This summer, I noticed that the boards were getting significantly more rotted; clearly, we cannot delay this project any longer.

I plan to tear out all the old wood and rebuild it using either marine plywood or something like Starboard. I really need to spend some time making a plan and ordering the necessary supplies before I head east, which is true for this and the other projects. Since we will have the anchor locker apart, I also plan on fully servicing our Lighthouse 1501 windlass. We have had no problems with the windlass, but we have been meaning to add this task to our regular preventative maintenance. And, I recently acquired all the manuals for the windlass, so I now have a good idea of what I am getting into with the servicing.

Bear as we left her in the fall. She will be waiting for us shrinkwrapped when I return in April.

Bear as we left her in the fall. She will be waiting for us shrinkwrapped when I return in April.

We are also going to finally add a new chartplotter at the helm. When we purchased the boat, there was an old Raymarine model that was next to useless. We only ever turned the unit on a few times and finally got around to removing it this past spring. While I am a huge advocate of paper charts, after losing our autopilot heading back to the Chesapeake with my Dad – and, hence, not being able to let go of the wheel for long to check the chartplotter below or stare at a paper chart – I finally accept that a display at the helm would be useful; Margaret recognized that long ago. We are going to take this opportunity to add AIS, which I came to appreciate while heading to the BVI aboard Remedy in the fall. At the same time, we will replace our old transducer and depth display, which slowly and intermittently stopped working over the past two years.

While I am installing all those electronics, I will also be troubleshooting our autopilot. As I mentioned, the autopilot stopped working at the end of the summer. While my Dad and I headed south from Newport, I tried to fix it a number of times. Initially, I thought the problem was the connections at the drive unit itself as we were not getting as much voltage at the unit as we should have been and there was a minor bit of corrosion at the connection. Redoing the connection there got the autopilot operating in calm conditions, but the whole thing stopped as soon as a little chop and wind came up. Next, I traced the problem back to the connections at the autopilot “brain,” which lives in the very back of our electrical cabinet. At that point, I realized I must have accidentally knocked one or more of the wires loose when I was installing our new radar unit while Margaret and I were in Hadley’s Harbor a few weeks prior; we had not used the autopilot much since then and had thought it was acting a little temperamental when we did turn it on. Knowing what the problem was and fixing it turned out to be two different things, though. Bouncing around at anchor and not wanting to take apart more of the electrical cabinet, I could not get a clean connection that would consistently deliver the power to the autopilot. Having several hours on the hard with nobody else around should allow me to really dig into the wiring, fix the electrical issue, and make certain we are not having any other issues with the unit. Keep your fingers crossed.

The last of the high priority projects for the spring is addressing our slipping v-belt. The entire time we have owned Bear, our v-belt has slipped. It has been a regular, annoying aspect of the boat, forcing us to tighten the belt regularly and change it out once or twice a summer. But at the end of the summer, the belt seemed to be slipping more than ever. Then, when my Dad and I were still about ten miles from the Cape May Inlet on our overnight down the Jersey Coast, the belt shredded, which we only found out about when the engine overheat warning started blaring. Fortunately, we were in beautiful light-wind conditions several miles offshore, so we just put up the sails, waited for the engine to cool, watched a whale feed, and then put a new belt on. Obviously, things could have turned out quite differently if we had been coming in the inlet or passing through New York Harbor when the belt shredded, so addressing the v-belt has become a priority. We are not the first person to have a problem with their v-belt slipping, particularly on Yanmar engines with an aftermarket alternator. Several folks on the Tayana owners’ group have addressed this problem successfully in various ways. We have not yet settled on a solution, but I will be sure to share our approach when we do.

Those are the major points of emphasis for April. There are a ton of other smaller jobs and the regular maintenance and commissioning as well, so it promises to be a busy month of work. But I am looking forward to it and, more so, another summer aboard.

Be sure to check out our new video about our time aboard Bear at Block Island last summer. We will be posting new videos every other week and new posts on the blog at least once a week!

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