This place sure looks familiar. Oh, right. We were here just a few months ago. But, why are we here again? Our main reason for hauling out was to check the hose that provided some excitement for us a few weeks back. While repacking the stuffing box in our slip, we found water still leaking into the bilge after we tightened the large nuts that allowed access to the stuffing. Tightening the hose clamp proved to keep the water out, but we were left searching for peace of mind. Statistics from Boat U.S. were not providing us with any comfort. Fifty percent of boats sink right at the dock from a failed hose or hose clamp.
What did we know? We knew this hose would be a pain to get to. We knew it was twenty years old, and we knew it had never been replaced. We knew it was the only hose on the boat that did not have it’s own seacock (a valve below the waterline, that allows you open or close the hole in order to permit water to flow into or exit the boat). What if there was a tiny crack we couldn’t see on the bottom of the hose? We didn’t want to take any chances. So this time we thought very carefully about any additional projects we should complete while we were hauled out, and planned on having the cutless bearing replaced.
A few days before our scheduled haul out we noticed something else that looked strange. Looking into the water at the propeller we discovered that our max prop zinc was gone! humm? Another head scratcher. Wonder how long that has been missing? Even more bizarre was that all of the screws were still fully attached? Lot’s of things crossed my mind, as I was the one who originally attached it to our boat. Grant made a make shift replacement by attaching one end of a long wire directly to our prop shaft on the inside of our engine compartment, and the other end to a temporary zinc which was then thrown over the side of the boat into the water. (Quick review: A zinc helps prevent galvanic corrosion of underwater metals by sacrificing itself or eroding away.)
On the day of the haul out, the engine decided it was getting tired of our hammer trick, not starting after multiple attempts. We called Vessel Assist for a tow thinking our boat insurance would cover. Turns out it covered a tow, but not from dock to dock inside the harbor. Our coverage plan only covered us if we were stranded outside the harbor. We prepared ourselves to pay the $200 dollars it would cost to move us less than a mile to the other side of the harbor, when we tried one more time. Amazingly, the engine started! We quickly called off the tow and headed over to the boatyard on our own.
Replacing the hose that surrounds the aft end of the prop shaft and the cutless bearing, required removing the entire rudder and propeller shaft from our boat. (What’s a cutless bearing? In simple terms, the prop shaft goes through a metal sleeve (tube). Inside the metal sleeve is a slotted piece of rubber, together they make up what is a called a cutless bearing. Its purpose is to allow water to circulate through the slots in the rubber in order to lubricate the shaft, and hold the shaft in place as it spins. The shaft spins when you are in gear, forward or reverse.) We were quickly introduced to José who helped us with all of the replacements, even our max prop zinc.
We learned that it is common for hairline cracks to form near the screws on the max prop zinc because this area is thinnest part of the entire zinc. As corrosion eats the zinc away, it can become weak and fall off leaving all of the screws perfectly attached. José applied tape around the base of the zinc in an effort to allow it to start corroding from the inside out, rather than the outside in.
While out of the water we addressed our engine problem by removing the entire starter motor. We determined the problem was the solenoid by troubleshooting through our Boatowner’s Mechanical & Electrical Manual, written by Nigel Calder. The solenoid is attached to the starter motor as one complete unit. It was not located in what you call an easy access spot. Grant had to remove the coolant tank to reach it. It took some brut force to get the nuts off that attached it to the engine. It also required my small hands to reach under and hold it while Grant grabbed it, and passed it through a small access point under some hoses. It’s out! We took to an engine repair shop. They ordered a new solenoid and connected it to our old starter. We ordered a spare starter motor.
After being out of the water for one day, we noticed some chipping from our previous bottom paint application in Wisconsin. The chipping was located right by the engine seacock. Before going back in the water we had the boatyard sand and reapply an entire new coat.
The Moment of Truth
We got the starter back from the engine repair shop and they demonstrated that it was working at the shop. However, back at the boat one of the pins on the new solenoid was too large to fit the original ignition wiring. Grant rewired the ignition wire to fit the new pin. But, we weren’t sure about starting the motor to test the wiring job until after we were back in the water.
We were launched into the water and our boat given a good sudsy scrub. Grant paid our bill and we were given more swag. This time, a pair of matching but stylish hooded sweatshirts. Grant did the honors, turning the key to start the engine. It started right up! It sounded a lot healthier and a little quieter, maybe even a little happier!