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Tranquility Maintenance (long)

Tranquility Base is in the water! It went in Monday, and I even had a great sail. 15 knots of wind was a bonus when 5 was predicted.

That's the ending of the story. The beginning started with the beginning of the year as I thought about preparing for the season. It has been an eventful time here at Less-than-stately Entropy Manor!

My first thought was about what I did not do during the previous session on the hard or while in the water last Summer. Frankly, sailing was too rare last year due to work commitments and I just couldn't bring myself to spend my time anywhere but out on the water unless the broke thing was a real danger. So here's the list:
  • The PYI Dripless shaft seal didn't fit so in 2011 I delayed its installation and never got back to it.
  • I didn't put on the new eyebrows.
  • I never did the experiments with alternative solutions to remove Poliglow.
  • I never fixed the leaky water tank fitting.
  • I never put on the pedestal guard and cockpit table, although I did refinish the table in my free evenings.
I also thought about the things that most frustrated me:
  • The propeller has no thrust to speak of in reverse.
  • I REALLY need an autopilot for single-handing, and it would be useful when it's just my wife and me since she is a little more disabled every year.
  • For 6 of 8 weeks in July and August I didn't have weekends. By the time I got back to my boat, I found the antifouling paint on my prop had worn off and every square inch of it was covered with barnacles. I had to haul to clean it and repaint it. I developed an altered perspective about the relative cost of anti-fouling properties and the longevity thereof. Spending more to begin with and hauling less suddenly seems like a good trade-off.
So I planned, and I finally decided this was the time to spend the personal performance award my company gave me last year.

First, I wrote PYI and explained about having purchased the wrong size boot - did they exchange? And they said yes! So we exchanged for the right size. I asked a local mechanic put it on (I just don't fit well in there), and when he decoupled the shaft from the transmission, it was obvious the cutlass bearing needed to be replaced. Well, this is the time -- I'm already halfway there. But I could not pull the shaft without dropping the rudder which would require a short haul to raise the boat. Hmmm ... there's this guy with a high dollar tool that can push a cutlass bearing through the strut with the shaft in place. Neat! Better, he charged less than a short haul. That works for me! I now have a dripless seal and a new cutlass bearing ... and a new prop.

What I wanted was a feathering prop but everything suitable was at least 3K. Nothing was within my budget. Eventually, I settled on a three-bladed Campbell Sailor for $550. I also bought PropSpeed. It's hideously expensive stuff! But if it lasts 1-2 years on power boats, I am hoping it lasts at least 2 years on a sailboat. I learned a few lessons while applying it too:
  • There's a reason they recommend professional application. Doing a decent job is hard.
  • Don't use of disposable brushes unless you use foam ones. Cheap bristle brushes didn't do the job. I had to start over.
  • It doesn't take much for a sailboat prop! I mixed 60 ml of the two-part etching primer and that turned out to be way more than I needed. Also, it didn't harden in an air-tight container, so maybe I can use the excess later (I'm not hopeful -- later will be a long time, and why not mix it at the factory if it lasts a long time mixed).
I think PropSpeed is only slightly more expensive, per year, than primer and anti-fouling paint, assuming it lasts two years and you are careful and know what you are doing with it. Time will tell.

Stripping the old Poliglow: I tried a lot of different chemicals, up to and including acetone. The two best outside of Polyprep are acetone and Simple Green, blue formula (no, I don't know why that call it that either), but nothing worked better than Poliprep. It does require some scrubbing and lots of water to rinse, though. That was a PITA since the nearest spigot in the boatyard was 300 feet away. I hauled 5 gal buckets and rinsed with a sponge -- and the water runs down your arm as you reach up. Don't do this on chilly days! NOTE TO SELF: I just saw the link for Polistrip on the Poliglow web site. I may try it next time.

On to polishing topsides. I tried some traditional elbow grease on my gelcoat, hoping to make use of Mainesail's most excellent instruction. What I found was that the gelcoat on my 29 year old boat is too far gone to polish (where there's enough of it left to polish) although his polishing instructions worked a treat on my motor home. My choices were to continue with acrylic polish or go to paint. The former is really an intermediate approach since it does not preclude the latter and Poliglow produces good results for me - so I will stay with Polyglow.

Last weekend, I finally screwed my courage to the sticking spot and drilled holes in my deck to put on the new-to-me pedestal guard. I started with 3/32" pilot holes all the way through, which allowed me to measure the deck thickness. I then drilled over-sized 3/8" holes down to but not through the lower fiberglass layer of the sandwich, filled them epoxy, then re-drilled them to the correct 1/4" once they cured. I discovered that Islander really did use plywood when they did the I30 Bahama -- 1/2" marine plywood to be precise. I was very careful with my measurements -- I measured it 3 times before I drilled. Somehow, it all worked. The holes were centered in the epoxy and were correctly spaced so the feet actually fit through them! Whew! I counter-sank the holes and put the feet in with Butyl tape per Mainesail's instructions. Flooding the cockpit with an inch of water produced no drips -- so far, so good.

I removed the Poly water tank last month and only just now finally got all the fixes done. I sealed a cracked but unused fitting on the far side of the tank. I also glued an HDPE plate inside the tank over the incorrect hole for the new fitting that I had drilled in the wrong place. I used epoxy mixed with colloidal silica for that and also leveled the hole to the tank's surface with same. Finally, I drilled out the hole again, this time in the right place so the fitting works. I also cut out the old 4" access and replaced it with a 6" access. I can now get my whole arm in and clean the entire inner surface.

So how did it all work? Pretty well! The Campbell Sailor is everything West by North promised it would be. I can back down now and prop walk is greatly reduced. So is vibration while powered thanks to a new cutlass bearing and a switch from a 2 blade prop to 3. I get more forward speed at the same RPM too -- bonus! My cockpit table works great and fits nicely in the cockpit when deployed.

There is still more to go, but I can do it all while in the water.
  • Now that I have cleaned the water tank inside and out, it's ready to go back into TB.
  • I still need to put on the new eyebrows (I have the mahogany half-round waiting for me in the garage).
  • I need to order and install a Raymarine X-5 Wheel Pilot. TB's dry weight is only half its max displacement capability so I think even fully laden it should handle the load.
  • I need to replace the lifelines. I need to do some materials homework on this one.

So I'm excited! I think it's gonna be a great year!


T. P. Donnelly
S/V Tranquility Base
1984 Islander 30 Bahama
Pasadena, MD

Last edited by dacap06; 04-14-2013 at 09:41 PM.
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-14-2013
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Re: Tranquility Maintenance (long)

Nice work Tom.
Older boats require a lot from us but they do give back a lot as well.

"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen

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post #3 of 4 Old 04-14-2013
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Re: Tranquility Maintenance (long)

Congratulations! Sounds like you've been busy. For lifelines, consider Dyneema. Lots of good threads on that here.

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post #4 of 4 Old 04-14-2013
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Re: Tranquility Maintenance (long)

Great Tom,

Hope to see you soon.


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