Preparing for Another Passage South

Preparing for Another Passage South

We have been busy over the past week preparing for our rapidly approaching departure for the Virgin Islands.  We hauled Altera last week for new antifouling paint and to inspect the saildrive and rudder.  Since then we have been steadily been ticking off maintenance items so that hopefully we will have a smooth passage, not break too much gear and be set up to enjoy the winter without more boat projects.

After 8000 miles we had worn through the majority of 2 layers of antifouling paint and what was left wasn’t doing much to prevent slime.  We debated whether we should wait to paint until we made it down south so as not to wear too much of our new paint off, but then decided the working conditions in the cooler climate would be the better option.

After the dusty and disgusting job of lightly sanding the bottom I knew we had made the right choice.  Oh how I miss the fresh water VC-17 paint that doesn’t require sanding prior to application.

Following the advice of the paint reps at the boat show we are now trying the newly released Micron Ultima.  I’m a bit weary as to whether this was the right choice as it is a water based paint and cleaned off my hands really well with water.  Hopefully once dried on the hull it doesn’t to the same!   So far it has made the 12 miles  from the yard to Hampton, so there is hope.

While the boat was out we took the chance to change the oil again in the saildrive and repaint it as well.  The little rubber gasket that smooths the water flow around the drive had started to peel off in a few spots.  I figured I would just clean up the loose spots and re-glue them, but efforts to do this didn’t go so well.  In the end I pulled the entire thing off and then spent the better part of 2 hours removing the glue, questioning why I didn’t just squeeze some liquid gasket goop in the gaps instead, as that had worked the second summer we owned the boat.

Earlier in the summer when we hauled for a quick service the rubber gasket had been coated with barnacles that took a long time clean off, so I figured I would try the antifouling paint on the boot this time around.  Worst case the stuff washes off and I’m no worse off than I would have been by leaving it as it was.


I also decided to try and protect the prop this time around.  PropSpeed seems to be the product of choice, but I couldn’t find long range cruisers reviews on the product so I wasn’t prepared to conduct my own $300 experiment (yes it is expensive stuff).  Instead I found some positive claims for the zinc based prop paint for boats that don’t sit idle for long periods of time, like us and growth can easily be knocked off when snorkelling the boat.  From what I can tell this is basically the same as cold galvanizing paint that some hardware stores sell and many sailors on the forums use the galv paint instead.  Unfortunately we were not located near a hardware store at the time so I had to pay the marine product markup of 28 a can instead of 9 for the cold galvanizing stuff, but if it works it will be worth it.

With the boat out of the water I also managed to get a fresh coat of wax on the hull.  I am really liking the Starbrite marine polish/wax with PTEF (whatever that is).  It goes on so quickly and buffs to a great shine.  I got the recommendation from the owners of an Outbound 46 that looked new at 9 years of age.  I figure if someone spent an order of magnitude more than you did on a boat and keep it looking like new, they probably know what they are talking about.


Since our haulout I’ve changed the oil using my handy new oil change pump and my custom hydraulic hose that I plumbed into the oil pan drain.  5 minutes to pump out the oil, which blows away all other pumps or methods I have tried thus far.  No more of that BS of sticking a tube down the dipstick.  Who came up with that idea anyway?  Unfortunately I still managed to spill oil when I changed the filter which took a good 15 minutes to clean out of all the unaccessible spots in the engine room.  Maybe one day I’ll get that part of the job figured out.  While on the subject of the engine, I also changed the fuel filters as well.

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Chrissy serviced all the winches, so they are all running like new.  She has also been reviewing our electronic communications and making sure that registrations are set up correctly.  And our Raymarine software has been upgraded and the new AIS display options are a huge improvement, with symbols for various types of vessels instead of everyone just being a triangle.  Of course she also dealt with vet appointments and paperworks so that Magnus can accompany us on the journey and did a very large provisioning run.  Fortunately the provisions didn’t drop us below our waterline.

Due a mistake I made this summer, I burned out our Electromaax 140A alternator.  Fortunately I had bought a lower output one as a spare, but that proved to be a huge disappointment.  I had to regulate the temperature sensor to operate the alternator below the recommended maximum as otherwise we got a terrible electrical stench, and an average output that I could have had by buying a bigger Volvo model for half the price.  I suspect some internal wire is undersized or lower quality insulation than it should have been.

Anyway, I had our big one rebuilt by a shop in Maine, Mark Grasser DC Solutions, who also makes his own equivalents and so far we are back to where we should be.  I did have to change a few connections as he uses a slightly different configuration for connecting our external regulator.  On the bright side, if our external Balmar regulator fails, I have to plug one wire in and the alternator will run on the internal regulator, so this will be easily done if we had a problem at sea.  I also up sized our serpentine belt by an inch so now the alternator sits about a half inch from the engine block and hopefully will run cooler, with better airflow.  Of course I also eliminated the possibility of making the same mistake that caused the burnout this summer.

Another little detail that has been on my list for a while now, was our tachometer.  When we originally upgraded the alternator, the pulley ratios were changed to provide for better charging.  Unfortunately the stock tachometer wasn’t designed to be calibrated enough to cope with that change (tach uses a signal from the alternator) so ever since, it has been reading 25% higher than the actual engine rpm.  The built in hour gauge had also died, so while I had wired in a cheap one in the engine room in the interim, I wasn’t really happy with a partial solution.  So, this week that detail has been fully addressed with install of a new tach/hour meter.

Anyway, it is time to get back to the final tasks so that we are set to depart when the next weather window across the gulf stream arrives.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Thanx for your news reports…I always enjoy reading them.

    • Thanks Bud! I’ll try and post a few logs while offshore this year if the new sat phone antenna works as well as it did when we tested it prior to departure.