Cruising is not all Fun and Games

So, we just spent 15 days at the top of a ladder in the parking lot where we gave Toodle-oo! some much needed TLC…

We arrived at New England Boatworks and immediately had Norm, their new Engine specialist, aboard Toodle-oo! to check out the state of the engine. He pulled all the injectors and they look good, ran a compression test – good, a leak test – found a small leak and fixed it – the engine passed it’s physical – we’re good to go.

The next day we were hauled out and the state of the bottom was to be expected… Toodle-oo! has been sluggish to say the least and not surprising since we haven’t even tried to clean the bottom since we were in Bermuda – and that was a half-hearted attempt at best. We were parked in the lot, just two boats away from sister ship Big Frisky – just one year younger than Toodle-oo! and also out for some general TLC. The difference was that they were paying to get their work done, we were here to do it all ourselves… It didn’t take me long to question our sanity!

Doesn't look too bad...

Doesn’t look too bad…

Until you get close!!

Until you get close!!

First job: Sand the bottom. It took three back breaking days to get the bottom looking like this – all the old layers of paint, some of which were showing a tendency to flake, were removed and I got her back down to very close to the barrier coat, ready for a fresh paint job which we did just before launching. This was going to take 4 gallons to do two coats – at $270/gallon, one wanted to make sure the prep job was good… After sanding the bottom, the next thing was to compound and wax the Topsides (which is a silly name because the Topsides are on the side of the boat – the hull from waterline up to coachroof – why did the nautical folk of yore decide there had to be a separate language for mariners?) – this was another awful job – especially since I’m incapable of using a buffer, so had to do the whole thing by hand, constantly reminded of Daniel – Wax on, Wax off…The end result has been quite satisfying however – and she’s now restored to her former glory.

Three days worth of sanding...

Three days worth of sanding…

All done!

All done!

Attention turned back to the engine – which has had sea water dripping down onto the turbo – so it looks like hell. Laurie went at it trying to remove as much of the rust by scraping, prying and sanding. I followed up with a chemical treatment and then set to with a Dremel tool – the tree approaches managing restore solid metal – which we then coated with Yanmar Grey – she looks like new! After that, I set to adjusting valve clearances – which brought me back to my Mini days – seemed I was always tinkering with those silly engines and this one looks remarkably similar!!

We also replaced our traveler system (here we go again – sure the whole boat is a traveler, but in this case, it refers to a movable point on which one can set the boom’s angle to the wind – it’s all about sail shape don’t you know) – the old one was pretty knackered – such that every now and again, a worn component would slip from one side of it’s housing to the other with a loud bang that from down below sounded like a shotgun going off. Of course, our traveler is obsolete, making replacement less than straightforward. However, with help of Phip from Rig Pro and John from Lewmar, we managed to get all the components so that once again we can be declared fit and well – at least as far as sail shape is concerned…

We got to end-for end the anchor chain. One tends to use the same 100ft or so, so after a while, it looks pretty naff and rusty while the other 2/3rds looks pristine. We have 275 ft of chain followed by another 250 ft of rope. This rope is really nice rope, but has been used perhaps twice when we were anchored in really deep stuff. It also happens to be the type of rope I’d like to use for our dock lines – so that we can get rid of the silly ones we have currently which are way way too thick and bulky… So, opportunity presents – we cut the good rope off and replaced it with a not so nice, but equally strong rope we had sitting around doing nowt. OK it doesn’t go into the rope well quite as nicely and when we finally need to use it I’ll be curing up a storm, but at least I’ll get to enjoy the nice rope as my new docklines. Back to the anchor chain… having freed the good line, we spliced the 3 strand nylon to the chain and full anchor rode is restored… Last thing we did was to repaint the chain – every 25ft there’s a colored section so that we know how much we’re letting out as we deploy the anchor.

Talking of deploying the anchor… you might remember some idiot leaving the sail locker hatch open and filling the darn thing with sea water as we approached Martinique… Well, it did a number on the Windlass. A windlass is not an out of breath girl from Yorkshire but is in fact another nautical term for the winch system used to deploy and retrieve the anchor and it’s ‘rode’ (there has to be a reason…). Anyway, said windlass was kaput. I had managed to botch it together to allow us to retrieve the anchor, but it was unable to deploy it – so instead I basically resorted to letting out the clutch and letting the anchor free fall… Since I do that fairly regularly anyway it worked fine as an interim solution, but getting the rebuilt unit back and installing a maze of spaghetti wiring will allow us to use the windlass once again with rather more finesse!

Our boat has a rub rail – finally a sensible nautical term – a rub rail is a rail that stands proud of the topsides and allows you rub up to a dock (god forbid someone else’s boat) without creaming the topsides… Ours has a nice stainless steel cap screwed on to give it extra flash – except several screws had rusted badly and were leaving streaks down the topsides. Others were broken entirely. We decided to remove the whole cap and replace all the screws (150!). Low and behold, when we got the sections of caps off it turned out they were all badly rusted themselves. Laurie gave them the whole metal polish treatment and then we remounted them – all looks in tip top shape!

We also got some other repairs done – to sails, cushions, sun screens, etc…

I also managed to service the winches – well actually 5 of the 6 winches we have – which reminds me I’ve one left to do – so I’d better get going and do it!

It’s great to be back in the water! I’m exhausted after this intense 2-week maintenance bash and really looking forward to getting back into relax mode!

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