Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tales and tips from our haulout

Oceanus after our six-and-a-half week haulout last fall. We are still recovering.
I'm still recovering from last year's haulout, but I think I can finally write about it without suffering a full attack of Post Traumatic Haulout Syndrome.

For the benefit of my brothers and sisters about to put their beloved boat on the hard, I have two stories about what went well and one tip I wish I knew before we splashed the boat.  I still can't talk about some parts of the haulout. Maybe someday after more (sailing) therapy.

Replacing the cutlass bearing

After the crew finished pressure washing our hull, I walked around it looking in wonder at the work that lay before us. It was apparent that something needed to be done about the cutlass bearing. I may have uttered an expletive. OK, I confess. I definitely remember uttering an expletive. Having never replaced a cutlass bearing, or even pulled the propeller shaft, I was intimidated and briefly considered hiring the yard to do it. I'm glad I didn't. (Story to follow.)

The thing that saved me was an excellent set of instructions on the Compass Marine web site. This corner of the web is must reading for DIY boat owners. I followed his directions exactly and had no problems.
After cutting and removing the old bearing I polished the inside of the strut using my Dremel tool and a red scrubbing attachment.

The new cutlass bearing.

The setup with the all-thread rod, three nuts and three washers.
I put some grease between the two washers on the business end.

Almost there...

...and we're done with no drama.

First you remove propeller shaft. Then you can try to tap out the old cutlass bearing. Just looking at my cutlass bearing I knew this wouldn't work so I went to the second option. Using a hacksaw, I cut most of the way through the old cutlass bearing and used a screwdriver and hammer to bend it in on itself. I could then easily tap it out.

As I cut out the old cutlass bearing, a yard employee stopped by to offer advice. The employee was always friendly and tried to be helpful. This occasion was no different.

"Once you get the old one out," he advised, "all you do is take the new cutlass bearing, grease it up good with liquid dish soap and bang it in with a big ol' hammer. Nothing to it."

Using liquid dish soap to lubricate the new cutlass bearing during installation is good advice. And I took it. Banging it in with a big hammer... not so good. The yard employee may have been able to pull this off, but I doubt it. Had I elected to hire the yard to install it we would have found out. He would have been the yard employee assigned to the task. The Compass Marine method is a sure thing and easier on the cutlass bearing, not to mention the propeller strut. It's not as exciting as the yard employee's method, but haulouts are never short of that kind of excitement.

Instead of a hammer, I used a two-foot length of one-inch all-thread rod. I had this left over from another project and it was perfect for this application. You put two nuts and a washer on one end to lock the nut on the rod, slide the rod through the hole in the strut, slide on the new cutlass bearing (well lubed with liquid dish soap) and thread on a third nut with a washer. Turn the third washer with a wrench. I needed the biggest wrench I had and used all the leverage I could to overcome the friction of the cutlass bearing sleeve sliding into the strut -- but no trauma, no drama. Easy.

Sealing the mast

I use "Capt. Ron's Never-Leak Super Spar Seal (TM)" to seal around my mast. You will not find this wonder product in your local chandlery or even the West Marine catalog or Fisheries Supply. But you will find it in your local hardware store in the plumbing section under it's more common name "Toilet Bowl Wax." It will set you back all of about a dollar. You will even have some wax left over for emergencies. I've been using it now for about two years and I'm sold on the product. And not just because I'm a cheap #*(&$^d.

Sealing a mast is never easier than with "Capt. Ron's Never-Leak Super Spar Seal (TM)." In this photo I tried some rescue tape around the mast collar to dress things up, but it didn't last and it wasn't necessary.
Here are the advantages: It's cheap, available anywhere people use toilets, easy - almost fun - to gob in with a putty knife, quick to install and de-install, and -- best of all -- it never leaks.

The only disadvantage I've found is that it's hard to get off the deck. Once, when I wasn't paying attention, I dragged the hose over it. Some got on the hose and then on the deck. Scrubbing with soap and water wouldn't touch it -- as you might expect, but it was easy to remove with mineral spirits.

When I hauled out it was quick and easy to dig out most of the wax in preparation for the crew to pull the spar. After I launched, the yard crew stepped the mast just as rain clouds gathered. I quickly tightened the stays and dove into the cabin for my "Capt. Ron's Never-Leak Super Spar Seal (TM)." In 10 minutes I had the mast hole watertight just as it started to pour. I can't think of another product that would work in that compressed timeline.

I have a friend here at the marina that used a fancy (read: expensive), two-part compound in a kit to seal the mast on his Ingrid 38. It worked OK until he decided to tune his rig. Then it leaked like nothing was there at all. Another friend used the same product and didn't wax well enough and the yard had a heck of a time when they tried to pull his mast, which increased the cost of pulling the mast and damaged his boat.

Some people I've told about toilet wax are concerned it will melt when it gets hot. In the Northwet this is NEVER a problem, but it might be when I go south, say in Mexico. The person who told me about "Capt. Ron's Never-Leak Super Spar Seal (TM)" cruised Mexico and the western Caribbean and had no problems with melting wax. We will see.

I keep a spare ring of toilet bowl wax around for emergency leak repairs and to remind me how grateful I am that do not to own a house anymore.

What I wish I knew

After we splashed our boat, an update to a blog I follow arrived in my email. The couple say they always ask to be the first boat launched in the morning. Then they ask the yard to put them in the travel lift slings at the end of the workday before launching. That way they can coat the bottom of their keel and have it dry over night.

Oh well, there's always a next time.

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