Thursday, December 30, 2010

My plumbing is defective

Allow me to explain.

Your water comes from a faucet.  Mine comes from a tank in my boat, which is delivered to our faucet by a small electric driven pump.

That pump was not operating properly and Kerry was unhappy with the performance of my water system.

So I promised her I'd do something about my defective water system soon.  Today seemed like the day.  I set out to clear a space under the port side lazarette, where the little water pump lives.  This meant hauling a bunch of stuff out into the cockpit (I didn't mean that pun -- sue me), and climbing down into this space...

This is the area under the lazarette when it is empty of stuff.  This is where I'd have to squeeze my ass, arms, legs, and tools into to get to the little pump and remove it.

Now, today was freezing, literally, but it was nice to climb down into the space.  At least I was warm.

When I got down there I assessed the situation.  This meant looking over the stellar wiring job (this is the first negative thing I have said about the previous owner at this point) that awaited me on this job.

"Wire nuts? Wire nuts on a fucking boat?" I said out loud.

Yeah, wire nuts, and butt slices, all corroded, that pulled out in my hands.  The pump you see here is the bildge pump.  It's what keeps my home from sinking should the basement (bilge) develop a leak.  In sorting out the wires, I pulled the corroded connections for the bilge pump loose from the multiple butt splices (sometimes two or three per wire run) and the male/female spade (no shit) connectors.

So I had to rebuild the wire connections on the bilge pump too.

But the little water pump wasn't that hard to pull out, if you count being crouched in the space, arms bent up, then down, trying to get at the mounting screws.  Finally it was out.

That's it, one defective water pump and one soaked crotch (see photo above). After changing my pants and hanging my soaked ones up to dry, we headed for Fisheries Supply to get a new pump.  After figuring out they had the right one and finding a strainer recommended by the manufacturer, I headed for the electrical aisle.

Yes, I got butt splices.  I also got diaelectric grease for the insides of the splices, to prevent the very corrosion I discovered at the start of the job.

Returning to Brigadoon, armed with new pump, strainer, splices and a sandwich, I got to work.  Kerry was very patient as I, buried in the lazarette up to my shoulders, called multiple times for help; get this tool, hand me that, etc.

It took more time figuring out how to de-splice, de-spade, clean up the wiring than actually doing it.  However, once started, I removed about eight connections (opportunities for failure and corrosion) and replaced them with exactly two.  The new pump was in.  Now to flush the system and proclaim victory.

Not yet...

The damn system finally flushed the air out of the sink in the head but the galley faucet would not flow.  It was very frustrating.  Finally after staring at it for a while, I unscrewed the aerator from the faucet and -- sploosh! -- water everywhere.  The damn aerator was clogged with a teeny piece of debris.  Now the thing worked.  The pump happily chugged along, shutting down when I closed the faucet.  Success!

Except the quick release fittings on the pump leak a little.  I took care of that with a quick trip to the hardware store for various sized "O" rings.  I'll soak my crotch again when I install them tomorrow.

Your water comes from a faucet.  Mine comes from two stainless steel tanks buried under the cabin sole of Brigadoon.

Wait until you hear about where my electricity comes from.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Winds of Winter

We have what our yacht broker called, "a million dollar view," of Seattle and Lake Union.  This is because we have an end-dock slip.  There is nothing between us and the Center for Wooden Boats at South Lake Union except the length of the lake.  That means, when the winds blow from the south, the entire fetch (waves) end up against our starboard side.  So, we have learned to deal with her rolling and bucking then the winds pick up.  It's not that bad, really.    Then...

Brigadoon weathered her first real storm at the dock this last Saturday.  We have had a rocking boat before, with winds pushing two or three foot waves, which pushes Brigadoon against the dock.  It's why I upgraded to spherical fenders.  They don't jam like the cylindrical ones and they squeak less, due to the fact that they act like large ball bearings, allowing the boat to roll on them a bit.

However, though they had weathered some pretty hard winds the week earlier, like when the previous Sunday night was pretty high, they weren't enough the morning of the 18th.

As Kerry and I lay in bed, in the early hours around dawn, Brigadoon struggled with the winds, both the constant and the gusts.  The constant winds held us firmly against the dock, putting the fenders to the test. Then the waves started to build, causing Brigadoon to buck like a pissed off 22,000lb Clydesdale wanting loose of a loaded beer wagon.

We were pretty snug in our bunk, dealing with most of the hard rocking, until the heavy waves hit, slamming against the boat.  Brigadoon bucked and heaved, in large figure eight motions under the approximately four foot waves that were forcing their way against and under her hull.

I lay there, being tossed about a bit, listening to the fenders hold us off the dock, wondering if we needed more.  I knew we had enough lines but, I wasn't sure if the fenders would take it when she really heaved.  Kerry wondered if we should get up.  I joked that I was going back to sleep.  Just as I closed my eyes on my pillow, nature's alarm clock went off.

The the wind gusted.  Brigadoon heeled at least thirty degrees to port and, held by the wind, stayed there for a good thirty seconds.  Then the waves got under her...

And the port cap rail hit the dock, I'm sure of it.  Now, sometimes the waves hitting the bottom of the hull can bang but this was different.  Kerry was a little scared as the motion was getting pretty violent.  When Brigadoon leapt and rolled and I heard that bang again, I was dressed, told Kerry to do the same and was outside in the cockpit in less than a minute.

"Be careful!" Kerry warned as I headed out the hatch.

"Don't distract me, luv!" I yelled back.  "I'll be careful."

I grabbed fenders out of the dingy and tossed them on the dock.  Timing my step off, as Brigadoon was rising and falling three to four feet with the wind and waves, I found my self on the dock.

Brigadoon looked angry.  That was the only way to put it.  She looked angry.

"Ok, girl," I thought.  "Let's get you settled."

Carefully, I stuffed the four additional fenders between her and the dock, being careful not to get my hands between an irresistable force and and immovable object.  I didn't want to have my arm torn off.  I'm not kidding here.

Finally, all the fenders were set.  I boarded Brigadoon again to check on Kerry and to encourage her come on out. We went ashore and stood back to watch Brigadoon dance against the fenders and her moorings lines.  Again, an angry Clydesdale came to mind.

Kerry took a video.  This is what Brigadoon looked like, when the wind calmed a little.

Knowing that there was little we could do, aside from getting aboard and casting off to finding better shelter, even riding it out in the center of the lake, we decided to trust the six dock lines, a good ten fenders, and go to breakfast

As we sat there at breakfast, at the Fremont Dock, we watched the traffic signals hang at 45 degrees as gusts continued for a good half hour.

Returning after breakfast, we found things much calmer.  I surveyed Brigadoon for damage.  One brass rub rail has lost a screw and the port cap rail was scuffed in a couple places.  Aside from that my stout boat was just fine.  Good girl.  Good Brigadoon.

So, I'll make some adjustments in fender placement (a little higher I think) and keep additional fenders on her for the hard stuff.

I guess a million dollar view comes with some costs.  In our case, it was a little drama, some lessons in boat rigging and a couple minor scuffs.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Short report

I don't have much to say, maybe more later.  We took Brigadoon out for a real shakedown sail.  We took her to the fuel dock for a pump out, then out the cut east towards Eastlake and Montlake bridges.

We sailed her close hauled, with all sails out, towards Sand Point, where we turned home on a broad reach.   We hit an easy 5.7 kts in 10kt winds.  Not bad for a 1980's, full keeled, 22K lb boat.

It was my boat (yeah, it's our boat but, when I'm responsible, it's my boat), as I sailed her, as I talked the crew, as Kerry sat happy in the pilot house.

And she pointed 30 degrees to windward, at 5 kts.

Then Brigadoon ran, on a broad reach, with my father in law happily at the helm.  The GPS said we hit 6.2 kts (not bad for a 5 kt shitbox) on the reach back to the cut.

It was a good introduction.  The cleats on the port side interfere with the winches, the yankee really needs those winches, the mainsail is really baggy, and I really need to replace those battens.

Our home moved.

Our home moved.

And Kerry said, "now, we don't have to pack up our stuff and go home...."

You see, we were home.