It’s crazy to think about, but Amy and I have lived aboard Starry Horizons for an entire year. We’ve done a lot of work on her so far, but the one year anniversary meant it was time for a haul out. Amy had done some research while we were up in Maine, but there was a very limited selection of yards available that could haul us out, so instead we decided to head to Nanny Cay on Tortola at the suggestion of our friends Frank and Mary Grace on the Helia ‘Let It Be’.
Here’s the list of projects that we wanted to complete:
Enlarging the Anchor Chain Hole
I’m sure there’s a fancy boat term for this, but I have no idea what it’s supposed to be, so anchor chain hole it is. We absolutely love our Mantus Chain Hook, which is an extremely secure way to attach our bridle to our anchor chain. Unfortunately, it didn’t really fit through the anchor chain hole on our boat. I had to angle it the proper way when dropping it through, and in order to retrieve it, I had to use the windlass to pull the chain hook up to the roller and then pull it by hand through the hole. Using the windlass usually meant that the chain hook got jammed into the roller or up against the fiberglass. So we decided to make the hole bigger.
As with all boat projects, this was easier said than done and required two separate projects.
1) Resizing the anchor roller
This was the tricky part of the project as a larger anchor chain hole meant that the anchor roller had to be modified as well. We met Leo, the in house welder, and came up with a game plan that would involve stretching the width of the roller, but also beefing things up a bit as well.
2) Cutting the anchor chain hole larger
This was the easy part, but meant that the bolts for the anchor roller would now be in a thinner piece of fiberglass, so we had Eddie from VI Marine Refinishing add some more layers of fiberglass as well. This of course required grinding and sanding, which meant fiberglass dust everywhere!
The combined results are very promising so far. Both the revised hole and the welding work look great and in our limited testing (2 so far) the chain hook goes out no problem, and comes up over the roller just fine with a little upward pull on the chain to make sure there is no banging into the fiberglass.
Painting the Bottom
Even though I have experience painting the bottom of boats, this was a project we elected to have the yard take care of for us. Mostly because it freed up the time for us to do the projects we had on our own to do list.
Realigning our Port Rudder
A while back, we noticed that Starry Horizons had developed a “port lean”, meaning even if engine RPMs were even and the rudder indicator was at zero, the boat would still veer to the left. Since we spent most of our time on autopilot, it automatically compensated, but we wanted to fix things and reduce stress on the system.
Realigning the rudder required loosening the pinch bolts from the rudderstock and then physically moving the rudder into the proper place. Sounds easy, but in the cramped space of the engine compartment, it was anything but.
We have 3 blade Flexofold props and Rope Stripper cutters on the boat. This combo has worked quite well for us, but requires specially machined anodes to fit on our saildrives. Before we left France, I got a set of spares, just for this occasion, and swapped them out.
Changing our Saildrive Oil
I was a bit negligent on this one, as our Volvo Maintenance Schedule says you’re supposed to change the oil every 200 hours, but most people I’ve talked to change the oil annually during their haul out. In order to drain everything, you’re supposed to unscrew the drain plug on the bottom of the sail drive. Yet again, I found myself without the proper tool for the job as the flathead screwdriver I had just wasn’t large enough to get the amount of torque needed.
So while we were on our cross island shopping trip for a larger socket, we also bought a larger screwdriver. Unfortunately, this one still wasn’t large enough so it was time for Plan B.
Once again, our Reverso Oil Change pumps came to the rescue, once I realized that I needed to unscrew the dipstick to unseal the vacuum. I was able to use the rework the plumbing for the pumps in order to get out almost all of the oil and then poured in new oil through the hole for the dipstick. Pretty easy and now I have no excuse for not doing oil changes on time.
Dinghy Beach Wheels
Way back before we even left Texas to head to France and pick up Starry Horizons, I had ordered a pair of Beachmaster Dinghy Wheels. These are pretty sweet since they are removable and robust, which is a rare combo. The idea was that these wheels would easily let us land ashore and roll the dinghy up off the beach and away from the surf.
There never was a great opportunity to try and install these so while the boat was on the hard seemed ideal. I drilled a few holes, screwed in some bolts with sealant and we were all set!
Replace one of our Davit Lines
One of the blocks used to haul up our dinghy broke and started to chafe the line. Rather than worry about it failing while we were out sailing, we just decided to replace it. Amy used the technique shown in my Running Rigging Video and ran the new line through.
Replace Door Latch
On our way down from Bermuda, we had one large wave that came directly at us, as compared to our port forward quarter like all the rest of them. The result of this wave meant that Starry Horizons crashed down pretty hard as the wave rolled past us. So hard in fact, that the latch to our salon door broke into 3 pieces.
Alex at FP was kind enough to quickly ship us a new latch and Barney at TMM, who we’d been introduced via email thanks to Frank and Mary Grace on Let It Be, was gracious enough to allow us to ship the part to their office, in spite of us never having met us!
Once the part arrived, I discovered that when the old latch broke, it warped the hole for one of the screws. In order to fix, I applied some JB Weld, waited for it to dry, then drilled and tapped the hole for a new screw. Fortunately, everything is holding tight and we can now lock our door again!
Protect Toe Rail from Spinnaker Blocks
The new aft blocks we’ve been using for our spinnaker/screecher sheets as well as our outboard jib lead and our preventer, have been great, but I’ve noticed that they’ve been scratching up our fiberglass a bit. In order to provide a bit of protection, I added some stainless rubbing strakes. It’s pretty simple to install, just drill out the hole, use a countersink bit, add a little 4000 and screw the plates in.
And unfortunately, when we hauled the boat out of the water we discovered a problem that necessitated another, unwanted project.
Fixing the Port Mini Keel
As the boat was being lifted, we noticed that the port mini keel had a stream of water coming out of it. For those of you unfamiliar with boats, this was not a good thing. Running my fingers along the bottom of the keel, I could feel a small, almost invisible crack, but it was clearly enough to cause a problem. The one good piece of news is that the mini keel is made from closed cell foam, so once we got it dried out, it would be good and we wouldn’t have to worry about rotting that a wood core would have likely experienced.
Once again, Eddie came through for us. He opened up the crack, dried it out, and then laid down fresh fiberglass and gelcoat before applying some bottom paint. You can’t even tell there was work done.
Granted, water entering in any part of the boat makes me nervous, so we’re looking at doing another haulout in Grenada just to double check and make sure the keel stays dry and perhaps add some underwater lights, which was the one project we didn’t get done that we had wanted to.
So all in all, a very productive few days in the yard, but I am quite glad to be back living in the water and not 12 feet up in the air!