Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bank 1 is toast

Ever since we put the boat back in the water after the haulout we’ve had some leaking at the stuffing box. (This is where the prop shaft passes through the hull.)

The only way we could address this is to open an access panel above it.  The access panel is in the lazarette, under a bank of batteries of course. 

In preparing to get in there, We found that all 4 of the batteries in that bank have ginourmous cracks in the top of the case.  Likely due to some questionable charging practices on my part.  Bank 2 is still in good shape, but they’re really old batteries so we’re going to replace all 8 of them.


So after some battery box destruction and considerable effort (they’re 77 pounds  a piece) we got the batteries out. 


The good news is that access to the stuffing box was excellent, and we were able to fix the leak.  We just tightened it up slightly and then we motored around for awhile and verified that it was operating correctly. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On the right track

We’ve added a Tides Marine Strong Track to the mast.  The low friction cars that are being built on to our new mainsail should allow for much easier hoisting, reefing, and dousing.  Our sail maker said it was the best thing since self-tailing winches.  I guess we’ll see.

Basically, the new track just slides into the old track.

I hoisted Nicole up a few times, first to clean the old track and then to give it a light lubrication.  She’s a pretty good little mast monkey and is pretty comfortable with working aloft.  Which kind of surprised me, since I copied the commercially available mast climbing setups by getting a used caving harness and line ascenders off eBay. 
The track ships in a big box.  This is as sharp a bend as it can take, so we had to remove the boom in order to install.
The existing track feeder also had to be enlarged to accept the new track.  I’m not sure what people did before the Dremel tool was invented!
Ready for the new main!  Should be ready in October.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

BrightWORK: A labor of love

DSC_1140One of things that initially attracted us to Hans Christian sailboats was the beautiful woodwork. And indeed, when we purchased Bella Star, her brightwork was in good shape.

But all play and no maintenance left Bella Star’s teak longing for some attention. “We’ll do the varnish next year for sure,” we’d say.  But this elusive “next year” would come and go and more varnish would peel away.

This year, however, we buckled down, rolled up our sleeves, wielded a pair of heat guns and got the job done.  It was a lot of work to strip all the old, peeling varnish, sand it smooth, bleach it with oxalic acid to even out the color and lay down 8 coats; but boy, was it worth it.

When faced with the “to varnish or not to varnish” question, many people opt to eliminate the yearly varnish maintenance ritual by letting their teak age naturally or “go gray.” But for us, it wasn’t really a question.  Simply put, we love the look of varnished wood.  Our main objective, though, was to protect the teak—not go for a museum-quality finish.

The previous owner(s) chose to use Cetol Light, a well-respected and long-lasting product.  But it isn’t our favorite, so we did some research and decided on Epifanes Wood Finish Gloss and Clear varnish (top coat).  The Wood Finish Gloss was great to work with, and sanding in between coats wasn’t required (with as much wood as we have and the short Seattle summer, that just wouldn’t have been practical).

As a side note, don’t you hate it when you’ve been singing the words to a song for years and someone (Aaron) finally points out that, no, Nicole, Elton John isn’t saying “Lay me down on sheets of leather” in “Tiny Dancer.” It’s sheets of linen. LINEN.  Well, I had nearly the same epiphany when I called the Epifanes customer service line.  Turns out, it’s not Ep-i-fains, as we’d been pronouncing it. It’s Ep-ah-faw-nes.  Who knew?

Now for some before, during and after pictures.

Before: Notice the graying wood and peeling varnishDSC_0917 
During the stripping phase: We used acres of plastic sheeting and blue tape to keep the bits from going in the water.  There’s Aaron with his heat gun…DSC_0930DSC_0931 
During: Sanded and bleached with oxalic acidDSC_1071 
Finished!  Eight coats down, with a goal of getting up to twelve next summer.  Beautiful!  Next up, the turtle and treasure chest, followed by the boom gallows and belaying pins. DSC_1140DSC_1143