Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

by Riley

Well, it's not quite my birthday yet, but I did need a speed and depth instrument, so it's my gift to myself. Electronics for a boat are one of the biggest money pits of yachting. There are so many fancy toys, it's easy to get caught up in thinking you need more than you really do. Because I'm kinda poor compared to most sailors, it was a little easier; only a few units fit my budget. I went with a Raymarine i40 bidata. The main reasons were price and the reputable name brand. The Internet is a great place for a bargain shopper. After researching what I wanted, I found the unit a good bit cheaper than list price, plus free shipping. Now that I have it, it seems to be good quality, and it didn't break the bank. I guess we’ll have to see if it works as good as it looks.

Keep Your Boat Afloat.

by Riley

Something I've been doing while the boat is out of the water is replacing anything below the waterline that is broken or might break. Some things that often get overlooked are the hoses that run from the cockpit drains to the thru hulls below the waterline. Before we bought her, I noticed that the drain hoses on Winbrandt were old and dry rotted. Everyday that she sat in the water I worried that one might give up and I would find my boat on the bottom of the Pamlico. A few new hoses and an hour or two of labor is cheap insurance. And there's no dollar sign on peace of mind.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Dodger.

by Riley
dodger coverdodger cover

Protection from the sun and elements is important. I have no wish to look like a lobster after a long days sail, but I also don't care for rubbing chemicals all over my skin. To remedy these problems on a sailboat, figure on shelling out some money. Winbrandt had a dodger frame, but no canvas. I ordered a dodger to fit the frame from A&J canvas, a canvas maker in eastern Carolina. They were very professional and built a quality product. Not to mention, they were a good value compared to competition. We went with “pacific blue” mainly to match the sail covers, but from my understanding, the color holds up better to UV than a lot of other colors. The dodger is good protection from the wind, but on those hot days when you want to circulate the air, the middle zips open; a feature I think I'm really going to like. 

When I was a kid, I used to ride in the back of my dads Suzuki samurai that had a ragtop. The plastic glass was old and fogged over by the sun, so I could never see out. This always irritated me, so even while I'm pinching my pennies, good visibility is important; I went ahead and had it made with strata glass. It's high quality glass and should hopefully outlast the canvas. So I can see!!

While one of the largest expenses, I believe it will prove to be invaluable.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Electrical 101.

by Riley
So, it's time to put my trade skills to work. Being an electrician, I felt more than capable to rewire the boat. The 120volt wiring was unsafe and really needed to be redone. I decided to install a breaker panel, something the boat didn't have before, in order to give it more capabilities. I chose a Blue Sea panel with a polarity indicator. The polarity indicator detects if the dock wiring is backwards for safety purposes. I also replaced the cables with boat wire. The previous DIY owners had used Romex and what appeared to be an extension cord with the ends cut off. Being as there’s water everywhere, I installed GFCI protection. To do so, I had to replace a few of the factory receptacle boxes because they weren't large enough to accommodate the new GFCI receptacles. The time consuming part was tracing out the nonfactory wiring. Everything went pretty well and I made good time on the project. Now, she has an up to date AC system, and I have one less thing to worry about.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Weekend.

by Allison
sanding the interior of a boat
oiling the teak interior of a boat

Last weekend, Riley and I spent time on the boat sanding and oiling the interior. So far, Riley has made most of the trips to the boat alone, and this was the first time I had been when it wasn’t bitter cold outside. Nice weather makes a huge difference in my productivity (and positivity…). I should also mention that it takes us about 4.5 hours to get to the marina from our house.  It is quite a time investment to make a weekend trip, so it’s crucial that we have a well organized game plan and weather that cooperates. Most of the boat projects so far have been beyond my expertise. Fortunately, Riley is more than capable, and willing, to complete them by himself. When it comes to sanding and oiling, however, four hands are always better than two. We made a lot of progress, and left at the end of the weekend feeling satisfied with the results. Maybe one more coat of oil on the walls, and a few coats of polyurethane on the floor and we should be finished. Since the weather was so nice, we did allow ourselves a little bit of a break to have a picnic at the city docks and catch up on a little American Pickers back at the hotel (a temporary luxury while the boat is an inch deep in dust). Not a bad weekend.

North Carolina city docks

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Head First.

by Riley
Sometimes it’s best to just dive in. One of the first things on my to do list was to replace the head (toilet). It is one of the worst jobs to be had on a boat, and I knew it. I was a little apprehensive about the project, but I figured it wasn't rocket science, so I would just get it over with. 

Thankfully, I thought ahead enough to try flushing a good bit of fresh water through the hoses before I disconnected them. After closing the thru hull valves, I took loose the water inlet hose first, and placed the end in a bucket to drain. It kept draining and draining and draining until it was apparent that it wasn't going to stop. The valve was broken and wasn't closing, it need to be replaced. 

broken thru hull

The working area was extremely tight, and at times, made me lose my religion. Originally, I was just going to replace the head itself. After removing the old, and replacing with the new, I went to try it out. I chose a Jabsco manual head for price and availability of parts. With the outlet hose set to “pump overboard,” just running water through worked flawlessly. So I switched it to go to the holding tank. When I did, I heard a rush of water. I thought to myself, “that sounded odd.” Sewer water had run back from the tank to the head along with some other "solid material" that I'm still telling myself was tree bark because of it's consistency. It clogged the pump valves, causing it to no longer work. I knew nothing at this point about head pumps, but it was apparent that I getting ready to learn. 

In a few minutes, I found myself in a really crappy situation (pun intended). I removed and disassembled the unit, realizing why people just buy new ones. After removing all of the “bark,” I reassembled it with minimal difficulty. Test run number two I don’t care to write about because it went a lot like the first. In the end, I found that the problem was caused by an anti siphon loop on the sewer side that was in the wrong location, causing the waste to run the wrong direction since the holding tank is at a higher elevation.  There was also buildup on the old hose, which is where the "bark" came from. I also added an anti siphon on the water inlet side. The previous installer failed to recognize that the head was below the waterline, which allowed water the ability to siphon into the bowl and possibly flood the boat. So after a new thru hull valve, all new hoses, two new anti siphon loops and the head itself, I have a new toilet. And I'll know how to fix it a little faster heaven forbid, next time. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Raising the Sail.

by Riley

It's about time to start the real projects. In order to do some of them, the boat needs to be out of the water. So, before beginning all of the work, I decided to take her for a sail.

I'm having a hard time adjusting to a boat with a wheel. All of the other boats I've sailed have had a tiller. It was a nice day. I sailed with just the genoa up. I wanted to take it easy because I was singlehanding and I'm still very unfamiliar with the boat. My new to me C&C 30 performed well, I thought. It was stress free and a good time. Now she is on the hard, ready for some love.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Problem with Buying an Old Boat.

by Riley

The problem with buying an old boat is that you never truly know what you’re getting until you already have it. Fortunately for us, I was able to find Winbrandt at a good bargain, so hopefully it will offset the cost of repair.

The Good
  • The boat has solid bones. C&C yachts are known for being quality built boats. 
  • All the running rigging is new.
  • She sails well.
  • She has a diesel engine, so fuel economy and safety are much higher.
  • She has a good amount of storage for a boat her size.

The Bad
  • The head needs to be redone and modernized.
  • The electrical AC is out dated and unsafe.
  • The DC is just a mess.
  • The bottoms of some of the cabinets have collected moisture over the years, causing some rot.

The Ugly
While not really a problem per say, Allison and I feel that the boat (and us) would benefit from:
  • Refinishing the interior wood trim and floors
  • Re-laminating the countertops
  • Reupholstering the interior cushions

buying a C&C 30

Perhaps the problem in buying an old boat really isn't a problem.
I feel like I will be a lot better off for buying a boat with problems. That may sound crazy to most, so let me explain. I would rather have an entire system needing replacing now, and learn about it, than to have a small problem go unattended and break in an inconvenient place. At the end of all of our hard work, I will not only know what kind of boat I have, I will know how to fix it again when it counts.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Step 1. Finding the boat.

by Riley
buying a C&C 30' live aboard sailboat

I have been a very careful spender my entire life.  Finding a boat that met our needs within a small budget was a very difficult task.  I quickly ruled out Yacht World and other dealer websites because brokers tend to ask more for their boats.  Instead, I focused on owner sales on websites such as Craigslist, which is where I found several potential boats.  

Boat performance is a high priority since I’m coming from a racing background.  We don't plan to live on this boat long term, so full blown cruising luxury is not as imperative, but still a factor.  A solid hull and rigging is very important.  The mechanical portions of the boat are not as critical as I feel more capable for a refit.

They say a boat picks it’s owner.  We eventually settled on Winbrandt, a 1980 C&C 30.  Hours before I had contacted the owner, he had actually turned his boat over to a broker.  After examining the boat, I spent over month negotiating the final sale price.  Now she’s ours, along with all the issues that come with buying a 32 year old boat. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Dream.

by Riley

The dream we have is more of a goal. I tend to make goals in life to motivate myself.  To buy a boat and sail it down the East Coast, perhaps to the Bahamas and back, was something I have always wanted to do at some point in my life.  In the last few years, I started to feel like I was losing control of the direction my life was going.  Life was just happening on it own, with all the responsibilities and restraints that come with it.  I started dreaming constantly about this idea of quitting my job for a while and sailing in warm blue waters, seeing new sights everyday.  I also began thinking about how the longer I waited, the harder this dream would be to achieve.  So, when Allison saw this existential crisis I was having, she gave her consent and said,  "If we’re going to do it, we need to do it now." And so, the adventure begins.

sailboat, sailing
Sailing a J24, 2010

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.” -Mark Twain

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