The summer of upgrades
As usual, we planned to spend the summer north of North Carolina for hurricane season. We decided that going all the way to Nova Scotia was simply too far a trek for us after doing so last year. We are proud of our 10,000 mile pendant from Nordhavn, but are looking forward to not moving at such a fast pace as last year.
After our stop at York River Yacht Haven, we moved on to Herrington Harbour North to spend a month there. We have learned that a longer stay allows a much better marina rate than moving along and paying transient rates. We find the heat on all of the east coast requires us to take marina space to plug the boat into the power grid so we can run our air conditioning. It also allows us to support Amazon with our boat maintenance orders.
Herrington Harbour was a good stop for us, maintenance wise. I had prepared a long list of items that I wanted checked or upgraded with an eye towards the eventual journey to Central America this next year and the Canal transit into the Pacific.
Herrington Harbour had some good trades located at the marina. As the marina is actually a very large haul out and winter storage yard, they have a cluster of marine contractors on site.
I had an issue with the Steelhead crane again at York- even after installing the new wireless controller sent to us by Advantac, which I installed in Ft Lauderdale when we stayed with Michael and Katie off KYA.
I contacted Marine Technical Services (MTS) and Ryan came out to trouble shoot the crane, and to check on some other shore power issues we had experienced.
I was pretty impressed and learned a lot about trouble shooting electrical circuits with Ryan, and I was really happy when he diagnosed a connection in the crane, under the crane body that allows the crane to go round and around. It was faulty and had finally failed. Advantac engineers told us that we had to use a crane to lift the crane off the deck to replace the connection. I suggested to Ryan that we just cut off the connection and rerun new conduits from the motor to the crane.
It took us a couple of days to discover the issue and to run new wires, and Ryan reworked all the other connections, and the crane was (I think) FINALLY fixed. This issue explains all of the problems we have had with the crane over the past 3 year.
We had an issue several times at new marinas, with new shore power connections with ELCI safety breaker. When we plugged into these new pedestals off the forward shore power plug we would trip the breaker.
Ryan discovered some bonding wires incorrectly tied to the shore power connector, placed them on to the correct (220 V- plug for the Air Conditioning) and the leakage which cause the ELCI to trip was eliminated.
We also had Canvas Connections at the marina come out and quote on a number of upholstery and shade improvements.
We wanted the seat cushions in the newly reupholstered salon, and wheel house settees plump up some. Christina did this for us, inserting an additional 2” of foam. Much better to sit on now, and the squabs look great.
Christina also created and installed some shade cloth on the transom which now shades our cockpit from the setting sun. She also had to modify the crane cover due to the bump out for the wireless controller.
I also located a Mercury repair agent in Herrington, at another marina. Which now with the improved and working crane was able to drive over and have the 100 hour service, and the under floor fuel tank pumped out, with the contaminated fuel removed, we can now have confidence that the outboard will not have any more fuel issues, like we had while in the Bahamas.
So we made some good progress while we stayed at Herrington North. But the real work was planned for our haul out at Washburns Marina in Solomons Island in September.
Going back to Washburns was kinda of like going back to see old friends. Eric and his crew, Ricky (ABT stabilizer expert), Jerry (Lugger extraordinaire) Gary (Ricky’s Able body assistant) and of course Kevin and his crew who did a great job on the bottom maintenance and hull polishing.
We did a long list of work here; Which I think I will just simply list now and then make a few comments about some to the fun stuff that they presented us. Much of the list was done by the yard- but we did quite a lot of it ourselves
- Remove and check main engine shaft for corrosion
- Remove and replace cutlass bearing
- Remove and check propeller
- Remove and clean and paint with Pettit Prop barrier 1792 block bow and stern thruster blades
- Remove get home propeller, grease reinstall
- Clean all through hull fittings
- Prep and sand bottom for new anti foulant paint
- Install all new anodes including anodes on stabilizer fins under the finetts
- Fabricate mount and install an anode on the metal rudder shoe (this had never been done and was unprotected)
- Kevin cut and polished the full and top of the hull (and she looked brilliant)
- We removed all the stable rail mounts, swim ladder mounts on the swim platform and reinstalled with new fasteners and new silicon sealant.
- I installed all new ss fasteners on scuppers (these have a tenancy to rust and break off- and is difficult to repair in the water)
- We also too all the stainless screws out to the stainless steel Nordhavn badge on the bow, and rebidded it new stainless steel fasteners
- We took all of the anchor chain out of the chain locker, cleaned it out, and turned the chain end of end.
- Spliced a new bow snubber (7/8” nylon) for the anchor chain, I added some plastic hose for abrasion protection from the chain
- We had the fire system inspected and certified
- We had a marine surveyor come out and do a condition and valuation survey of insurance purposes ( as we anticipate needing to change insurance company as we are going to Central American this year)
Engine work- also due to the expected long distance travel this next year we did lots of preventative maintenance on both the main and the generator engines
- Replaced injectors on the main
- Rebuild injector pump on main
- Rebuilt the alternator (175 amp)
- New serpentine belt and small alternator belt
- Replaced oil filter hoses and transmission filter hoses
- Checked valve clearances ,new oring on valve cover
- Flushed cooling system and replace coolant
- Replace thermostats and cover gaskets
- Replace hose clamps on keel cooler hose
- Replace hose clamps on hydraulic hose to stabilizer cooler
- New Air filter
- Check turbo
- New seals on all injector lines (part of the injector pump work)
- Realign engine following new shaft installation
- Check transmission
- Rebuilt injectors
- Check exhaust riser
- Replace lift pump (failed after replacing injectors)
- Check valve clearance
The big job was replacing the prop shaft. 2 ½” Aquamet 22 material, 10 ½ ‘long. The old shaft had corrosion around the packing gland, and it looked like it had, what is called crevice corrosion, which means the corrosion is penetrating the material. It is hard to know how deep the corrosion is into the shaft, so we decided to have it replaced.
It took two full days to get the shaft out of the boat, and the prop removed. The coupler and prop were glued to the shaft. Not the approved method of installation. The guys at Washburns were finally able to get it out, and we sent it away to Baltimore for the new one to be machined to the prop and a new coupler would be installed.
We had to cut the 2 3/4” hose that goes from the stern tube (where the shaft goes through the hull) and the packing gland.
As it turned out this is an unusual size, not to be found at any place in the US. We had to order it through Nordhavn from the boat yard in Taiwan; A $10 part with $300 of Fed EX overnight, which actually took almost a week to arrive.
This held us up, on the hard.
During the haul out Jenny and I set up a 16’ long work bench in one of the sheds at Washburns. They graciously let us use the space to redo the upholstery on our overhead panels.
Each panel is velcroed to the cabin roof, and many panels have multiple 3” down lights. We took each panel down, one at a time, and took it to the shed. About an hour was spent removing the old vinyl, and the very stubborn foam backing which as disintegrating.
The foam left gritty sand like mess, and we had to clean and vacuum the work top. We rolled out 1/8” thick foam and cut it oversized to the panel. We then used the spray glue on the plywood panel and the foam. We then carefully laid the panel onto the foam and turned it foam up and made sure we had no bubbles and the foam was uniformly glued to the plywood.
We let the glue dry for a few minutes, and then cut the foam with a razor to fit the plywood.
We also had to cut out each light fitting hole, removing the foam from the hole.
Next we laid the vinyl out and the panel on top, and cut the vinyl oversized, by at least 3” all around.
We pulled the vinyl very tight length wise, and folded the vinyl over the top of the panel. We started stapling with the stainless steel staples in the center of the panel. We stapled from the center toward the end- keeping the vinyl tightly stretched length wise. We moved along from the center to the other end. We had to stop stapling 6-8” from the corners to cut a tab for the corner.
This goes on until we have stapled the vinyl very tightly with about 500 stables. We then have to cut out the light holes, and cut around the Velcro that holds the panels up. This process takes about an hour each panel.
We finished the salon, pilothouse (we used a light grey material for less reflection at night), and both of the cabins below. It took us about 10 days to do the boat overhead. Luckily I invested in an electrical stapler, and we were pretty tired from the hard work. But it looks fantastic. No more sagging when the cabin is humid.
I over estimated our requirements, and sold the excess vinyl to another Nordhavn owner. The foam and the glue were returned to the suppliers for a credit. And we saved ourselves $15k doing the work ourselves
Sometimes Good comes from Bad.
When we were finally splashed (after the stern tube hose arrived from Taiwan), we were ecstatic to be able to move out of the motel.
We were placed at the slip next to the travel lift, where the Wi-Fi signal is dismal. But it was all they could do for us.
We had to stay here until the injector pump and injectors came back for us.
Jenny decided to do some laundry, and near the final rinse cycle we smelled smoke coming out of the washing machine.
A quick call to Miele customer service confirmed we had to replace the 15 year old front loader. Linda who runs the office at Washburns told us of a place in Baltimore that sold open box appliances (previously on display).
Gary and I spent about 5 hours that day getting the washer out of its nice tight cabinet. We had to remove trim, and doors, and the drier on the shelf above. But we finally got it out and had several strong lads from the yard hoist it onto the dock and into the pickup truck.
Washburns let us borrow the truck to drop the old washer at the dump and pick up the new Bosch washer we found in Baltimore. We got back after hours with our new washer, and had to leave it in the pickup bed until the morning.
Next day we got the Washburn lads to hoist the new washer onto the boat, and Gary and I had it all hooked up and ready to run. I wanted to leave it accessible to check for leaks, etc. The new Bosch was actually a few inches smaller.
We installed new hoses, not wanting to use the old ones, and I got them longer so that we could move the unit in and out easier than the other one.
We pressed the start button, and a yellow light flashed and nothing happened. We checked the door, checked the connection. We had power, but the yellow light would flash momentarily and nothing would happen. We checked the manual and determined the light was the ‘close the door ‘symbol.
A call, now it’s Friday afternoon, to Bosch Customer service, and we were scheduled for a warranty service call from a company near the boat yard.
We lived around the washer placed in front of the cabinet, the carpet rolled up and the drier left in the cockpit as we had no room inside the salon.
Monday morning we received a call from Donnie. He was coming later that morning to look at the washer.
He arrived only about an hour later, and he quickly learned that the door switch was loose. He said probably from the factory. 5 minutes later and we were running.
Donnie is a good old boy; he has been fixing appliances his whole life, the business started by his father.
Bosch paid Donnie’s bill.
I noticed Donnie had a Sub Zero badge on his shirt. I told him about our refrigerator repair in Ft. Lauderdale. He said that they did what he would have done. I then asked him about our Thermador stove top. The port burner would not ignite; an appliance repair man in Virginia had told us that it was not repairable, as the parts were not available.
Donnie looked at the stove and said, “I just may have some parts lying around that may work in this unit.” He agreed to return the next morning.
He showed up early the next day, with his box of potential parts. I told him the burners were seized and would need to be drilled out (as related by the Virginia appliance tech). Just as I finished the sentence, Ronnie put his socket onto the first burner and spun it easily. All four burners came off without any problems.
I was happy and livid at the same time. The Virginia appliance tech was going to hear about this.
Donnie removed the top of the range- pulled out an old (new) potentiometer inserted it and tried the burner. Still no start, he used the potentiometer off the adjoining burner; Still no start. He determined that the gas solenoid valve for that burner was also bad. He pulled one out of the box and tried it again, and woof it started.
All burners are working like new again.
And so, in retrospect- the washing machine dying was pretty disappointing. But at least it happened while at the boat yard, where we had help to remove it and install it. And we were able to find a good price as we were near a major US city. If it had happened a couple of weeks later, it would have been much harder to deal with. If I had happened in the Bahamas, we would have had to return to the US.
So the timing was ideal. The malfunction was serendipitous as well. The loose switch cost us nothing to repair, only increased my blood pressure, and we met Donnie, who repaired our Thermador dual fuel oven/cooker. He saved us a new range-We were looking at over $3k for that.
So sometimes good things come out of bad. You just have to learn to keep your sense of humor.