ToeRail Repair & New Equipment (October 24 - November 4, 2001)
Both of these were major projects in and of themselves.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001: Starting on the Toerail

Spoke with Mark, and learned that he's a bit delayed on another job. Drilled out the bolts holding the damaged end of the Beneteau's toerail, then put little pieces of rigging tape over the holes to keep out any rain. Cut seven feet of toerail off of the big piece in the basement, then took it over to the boat.

Thursday, October 25, 2001: Miscellaneous Tasks

The bolts for the Beneteau's toerail arrived. Met with Mark again. Removed the starboard lifelines and one stanchion. Used my new drill to pump more sludge off the bottom of the port and starboard freshwater tanks. Found lots of dead cockroaches, and one big live one. Filled the forward freshwater tank through the new waterfilter, and discovered that the water now tastes quite good coming straight out of the tap. Couldn't open the ports for the other two freshwater tanks, so I pulled one out of the deck. The lid is so tight that I'll have to find a pipe vise or something to get it loose. Scrubbed the decks, since they were getting fairly grimy with bird poop.

Friday, October 26, 2001: Struggling With the Fill Valve

Mark started on the toerail today first thing in the morning. By the time I got over to the boat, he had already sawed off the old piece of rail and applied a patch to the fiberglass, so I missed all of the excitement. He took both the old and new pieces of toerail back to his shop, and I went home to work on the fill valve.

I drilled a hole in a 2x10, then bolted the deck fill valve onto it. This gave me incredible leverage on the valve, but I still couldn't get it free, even with a solid pounding from my hammer. It's really, really fused shut. I bought some PB Blaster at Ace Hardware, but that didn't help either, probably because there's no way for the stuff to get down between the lid and the valve where it can do some good. I could certainly replace the entire fitting, but the one on the other side is fused shut too, and it's behind the master head where I can't get to it (for all the same reasons I couldn't get to the bolts holding that section of the toerail on). This is some bad juju.

Met some of our neighbors out at the dock -- fellow big-boat sailors. One of them (Scott) owns the Beneteau Oceanis 440CC just a few slips down from ours. (That boat has the same hull and rig as ours, but with a different interior and topsides.)

Saturday, October 27, 2001: Galley Cleaning

Theresa and I spent the day thoroughly cleaning the galley area, primarily in an attempt to find out what the cockroaches have been eating. Lo and behold, Theresa found that something had rubbed a hole in the bottom of the plastic bag around our sugar, and the cockroaches had been feasting on it. Furthermore, we found cockroach feces in three bags of bread mix, apparently where the ziplocs hadn't stayed zipped, or hadn't been zipped properly in the first place. We also found a bag of cus-cus with a small hole in the bottom, also apparently caused by abrasion. No wonder the cockroaches had moved in! Now all that's left for them to eat is poison, so they best move out or die. :->

Scott stopped by to offer us 30' of leftover chain, and to say that he's selling his Raytheon radar/chartplotter, if we're interested. I said we might be. Theresa and I took all of the linens (6 big black garbage bags of them!) off of the boat so we could wash them.

Sunday, October 28, 2001: An Offer for Some Used Equipment

Met Scott briefly to take a look at the radar/chartplotter system that he's selling. The radar is old Raytheon technology that's incompatible with the new Raytheon system that I'd like to own someday (the RL70RC), so I wasn't too interested in it. The chartplotter, though, appears identical to the 10" LCD chartplotter (the 620) currently on the market, and it uses the same C-Map/NT cartridges that I'll need for the RL70RC. The only problem is that it doesn't support HSB, so I'd need to shuffle the C-Map cartridges up to the helm while underway. Still, it's a nice upgrade from the old NavCenter chartplotter that's currently down below, and I can finally condone buying some local C-Map charts.

Theresa and I went to West Marine, where I bought some teflon spray for the deck fill valves, and we browsed the chartplotters. When we got back, I went over to the boat to lube the fill valves, and I actually managed to kick the starboard freshwater valve open using a winch handle. Of course, I tore the glue loose doing it, but at least now I can fix the thing!

Monday, October 29, 2001: Buying Some Used Equipment

Sent an email to Scott first thing in the morning agreeing to buy his old Raytheon 600 chartplotter, Raytheon differential GPS, and 35# CQR anchor. Repaired the shower hose and toilet pump in the guest bathroom, then cleaned both the bathrooms.

Scott came by late in the afternoon and dropped all the equipment off. I spent quite some time positioning the "new" CQR anchor on the bow, but I think I'm going to have to cut another opening in the lid of the chain locker to accomodate the second chain.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001: Playing With the Chartplotter

Bill sanded the fiberglass repair and added a layer of white paste, while I played around with the new chartplotter. As I was leaving to get some stuff from Radio Shack, I saw some guys diving under a neighbor's boat, and I asked if they would be willing to clean the scum off of my prop while they were at it. They agreed to clean the prop and check the zincs for $20. Bought some alligator clips and continued experimenting with the new chartplotter. I finally got it to work with the existing Furuno GPS, but I could never make it work with the new Raytheon GPS. It would be a lot easier, I'm sure, if I had the documentation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001: Installing the Chartplotter

Pulled out the old ST50 Navcenter and enlarged the hole to accomodate the new Navcenter 600. Without a template, it was fairly slow going -- a repetitious cut, file, test operation. Also, I was having real difficulty controlling which direction my scroll saw was cutting, so I gave up on it and made the cuts by hand. This was slower and more work, but much more accurate. I finished the installation around dusk, so I went home to see if we'd have any trick-or-treaters.

Thursday, November 1, 2001: Installing the GPS

Spoke with a support rep at Raytheon who gave me some clues about how to wire the GPS receiver. After spending some more time playing with it, I discovered that the trick was getting it enough juice. Though it supposedly draws power from the SeaTalk bus, it sucks down so much juice that it needs its own feed. Once I had it working, I drilled some holes on my radar bridge and mounted it. I'll need to get some properly-sized bolts. I powered up the system down below, and everything worked! I spent the rest of the afternoon reading documentation for the various electronics aboard, and developing a wiring diagram.

While I was putting stuff away, I discovered (much to my alarm) that the floater switch in the bilge had stopped working! That could be bad, particularly with Hurricane Michelle floating around down by Cuba.

Friday, November 2, 2001: Attaching the New Piece of Toerail

Went shopping at West Marine (pelican hook, fuses, electical connectors, and stainless screws), Ace Hardware (various metal files, a pair of C-clamps, some hacksaw blades, and a three-foot iron pipe), and Radio Shack (digital multimeter and junction block).

When I got back, I called Mark to see when he would be starting on the boat, and he said that he was already there. I went over immediately to help (and, I admit, to supervise somewhat). He finished polishing the fiberglass repair while I replaced the bolts on the GPS receiver, then we turned to the section of toerail.

Though Mark had managed to bend the rail somewhat, it was still pretty straight. We decided to match it up as best we could at the cut end, then bend it aft, bolting it down as we went so it wouldn't pop off. First, though, Mark had to grind about a quarter inch off of the cut end so the holes would match up. He then cleaned the deck surface and applied a heavy layer of non-silicone sealant. We bolted the cut end of the rail down and managed to get 5-6 bolts in before the bend became too sharp for us to pull by hand. The aft end was close enough to the line chock at this point, though, for us to see that another quarter inch needed to come off of THAT end, so Mark did some more grinding.

Meanwhile, we needed a way to pull the aft end in, so I rigged a dockline from the end of the rail to my starboard winch and cranked it in. The rail was under so much pressure that I don't think we could have done it any other way. Miraculously, Mark had a 10mm deep-socket wrench that fit the metric bolts Beneteau had sent me, so I was able to tighten the nuts underneath fairly easily -- not that it didn't require some painful contortionism to reach them!

In the end, I'm fairly happy with the results. The fiberglass looks as good as new, and the only blemish on the rail is the spot at which the two pieces meet. Both pieces bend around the edge of the boat, but there's nothing to force their ends to continue that curve, so they meet at a tiny bit of an angle. As a result, there's about an eighth-inch gap between the ends on the outside of the curve. Mark thinks he can fill the gap with a special aluminum-goop so it will look continuous.

While I was cleaning up after Mark left, I found two more garbage bags full of linens in one of the aft cabins, so I took them back to the house to be washed. Once the linens are clean, I'm going to pack them into some duffles so we don't have to keep hauling them around in garbage bags!

Saturday, November 3, 2001: Reinstalling the Lifelines

Went over to the boat early and drilled holes for the stanchion that I took off of the damaged piece of toerail. Mark showed up a bit later, but he had been unable to find the aluminum epoxy to fill the gap between the old and new pieces of rail. He helped out with the second stanchion though, mixing an epoxy to fill the stripped-out screwhole. I gave him a check and we called the job done, though there's still a lot of cleanup work to do.

Theresa came over as I was straightening up, and we took some of the carpets out of the unused cabins to steam clean. We also took a couple of the cushion covers so we can figure out how to properly clean them. Meanwhile, we've been running the washer nonstop all day to get all the linens clean.

I just haven't been able to give up on getting this deck fill valve open. Since it looks like my only other option is to replace it, I've decided to pull out the big guns. I just need more leverage. I nailed another piece of wood crosswise onto the one holding the valve, then nailed that board onto the end of a railroad tie behind our townhouse. With the railroad tie as a counterweight and my three-foot steel pipe holding the key, I was able to put a ridiculous amount of torque on the lid ... and presto! it finally came loose! I was positively jubilant. (At least until I realized that some of the fire ants who's nest I had disturbed were biting my foot, but that's somewhat incidental.) I cleaned everything up and dismantled my contraption, then spent some time cleaning the threads on the valve. They were, indeed, badly corroded -- powdery, even.

Sunday, November 4, 2001: Cleaning the Deck & Reinstalling the Interior

I went over to the boat first thing and reinstalled the fill valve. I also cut another opening in the lid of the chain locker to accomodate the second chain for the CQR, and figured out how to properly secure it.

With that done, I hosed off the starboard side of the boat (opposite the fill valve so it could dry), since the toerail work and the berry-bird poop had rendered the entire deck a complete disaster area. The bird poop left nasty red and purple stains on the deck, so I washed them more thoroughly with Soft Scrub, but to no avail. I then tried FSR, but that didn't work either. Maybe the sun will have some effect. Giving up on the deck, I cleaned the lifelines and reinstalled them.

Theresa came over later in the afternoon to help, and we reinstalled the panelling in the main cabin. This didn't go nearly as smoothly as I had hoped -- the ends of the panel gouged some deep marks in the woodwork on each end. I can't realistically refinish the spots, but I think I can install a piece of trim over the worst one, and the trim will look like it belongs there. I just have to order some trim from Beneteau...

Turning to some easier tasks, we installed the junction block for the chartplotter wires so we could close up the electrical panel, and we determined why the automatic switch in the bilge had mysteriously stopped working: I had pulled the wire loose while tugging other wires loose down behind the electrical panel. At least that was an easy fix.

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