Tuesday, May 01, 2012

No free rides

After several weekends of winds topping 30 knots, the desire to sail overcame my worry regarding the small craft advisories on the bay. Saturday afternoon we climbed aboard the Seahorse and headed out on a three hour tour.

It was the first time we'd had the boat out since the bottom job, and the very first thing I noticed is that if I throttle the engine up to 3000 rpm, which had previously been the sweet spot, the boat squats backward and buries half the transom underwater. This initially had me worried, but the Kubota seems to run fine with the exhaust underwater, and as soon as I throttle down to about 2200 rpm the stern raises back up. The smooth bottom, the extra horsepower from the Kubota, and the new propeller have the Starwind attempting to break hull speed, which sends her nose up onto a bow wave and makes the rear squat. I imagine about six months of barnacle and oyster growth will settle her down a bit. Either that or I just need to put a 200 pound anchor on the bow.

It was windy in the marina, but once we hit the bay, it was REALLY windy. We watched numerous boats motor past the boardwalk, hit the chop, then turn around and head back for the lake. However, we slowly made our way out past the second marker and turned into the wind.

It was decided that we'd run up the storm jib and then see whether or not we needed the main. We did not. We weren't heeled too far over, and we were bouncing along at a steady 5.5 knots and surging up to 6 knots and above during the gusts. It was a fun run. Unfortunately, tacking didn't go so well. With just the head sail up, the wind would pull the nose too far around. I don't think we ever ended up on the course I had intended. Then again, we had no actual destination, so it didn't matter too much.

I'd say the afternoon of sailing was a success. Nothing broke. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

BUT, there are no free rides.

I opened the engine compartment and did an inspection Sunday afternoon just to make sure everything was ok. The first thing I noticed was that the alternator was missing a bolt.

Belt rubbing issues

This is the second time the engine vibrations have caused the bottom alternator bolt to shear in half. I think the problem lies in the fact that the bolt hole in the alternator is larger than the bolt hole in the engine. I guess I'm either going to have to find a bushing for the alternator or drill out the engine. Either way, I've got to do something to stop the worry that I might suddenly lose my belt along with my cooling system, etc.

Then I went to take a look at the stuffing box and found two of the four bolts that hold my propshaft to the transmission had vibrated loose and fallen out into the bilge. The bolts and lock washer were right there, but the nuts had disappeared into the abyss.

The stuffing box itself was dripping at a constant rate of once per second. That's not enough to sink a boat with a working bilge pump, but I had no idea when it was last serviced, so I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.

Stuffing box

I made a run to West Marine for new nuts and teflon packing. Only upon my return did I realize I didn't own any wrenches large enough to fit around the stuffing box. After that it was off to Home Depot for some very large pipe wrenches.

Approximately an hour later and with the assistance of a marina neighbor who actually knew which way the stuffing box was supposed to turn, I had the old stuffing out, and the new stuffing in. The drip had been eradicated.

All in all, it wasn't THAT expensive of a weekend. The stuffing, nuts and wrenches were only about $40. However, I am guilty of ignoring the broken Y-valve in the waste system.

Mylar Y-valve

When you flush the toilet, this Y-valve either directs the waste overboard or into the holding tank. Well, it was stuck in the overboard position. After some fierce coercion in an attempt to open the holding tank, it now has no handle. And the price for this simple valve? $70.

Since we're leaving on vacation, and I really wanted to make it a weekend without spending $100 at West Marine, the Y-valve got put on the future to-do list.
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