Barry's Blog #121 - One thing leads to another

When we began planning this liveaboard lifestyle we had a noble idea that we'd keep a spreadsheet of each item (and how many) we had on board and which locker or storage space they were kept in. The plan went well at first, but eventually it fell apart and keeping track of stuff just morphed into a memory exercise.

If you watched our YouTube video #102 where we serviced and winterised the outboard motor, you will have seen that I knew that I'd bought replacement spark plugs and I knew that they were somewhere on board, but I couldn't quite remember where.

Moving forward to the beginning of March 2020 and it was time to replace the sacrificial anodes on the keel and prop shaft. Again I knew that I'd bought them, but I couldn't remember where I'd stored them.

One thing leads to another

I'd looked in all the places I thought I was likely to store them and come up empty handed. Aannsha trying to help suggested that maybe they were in the locker at the bow. I knew I hadn't stored them there but she insisted that it was a possibility and decided to go take a look.

While she was emptying the locker and looking for the anodes I carried on grinding away at the weeping patch on the keel. The tools that our friend Nikos had lent us were really helping us move forward getting things done.

10 minutes later I heard that tone of voice as Aannsha shouted down to me "Baz, you need to come and take a look at this."

Putting down the grinder I climbed the ladder at the stern and went to the forward locker, the contents of which were strewn across the deck. "We've got a leak, some of these things are damp and there's black mould in the locker."

My heart sank, another job to add to the list. Will we ever get back in the water!

Climbing down into the locker I had a look at potential places water could get in from and I suspected that it was probably getting in through the cable holes that supply power to the windlass switches. The plan was to remove the switches, clean them up and re-silicone the area. But that would have to wait for another day as we had plenty on our plates today.

The anodes

One of the bigger jobs that we'd been putting off for a while was to get into the part of the bilge where we could access the keel bolts. When everything is in its place and when A B Sea is ship-shape there's a surprisingly large amount of space down below. But once you start doing any maintenance it's a whole different story.

Tool boxes and tools come out from their storage beneath the saloon seat and very quickly every available space is covered in stuff. Accessing the keel bolts was quite involved as we had to lift several sections of the saloon sole and move the whole section of bench seating that is next to the galley area.

We'd never done this before but after a little head scratching we figured it out and were soon staring at the bilge area that we'd never seen before. It was filthy and probably hadn't been cleaned since our boat was born in 1995. We had a lot of cleaning ahead of us before we could actually do the job we'd come here to do.

With the bilge area eventually clean and looking great it was time to have a go at removing the fibre glassing that encased one of the keel bolts. Nikos had also lent us an oscillating tool which we thought would make light work of the job. We were wrong.

Fibreglass is tough stuff and with the confined work space we only managed to expose the top of the very thick bolt that is one of 12 bolts that hold the iron keel to the hull.

Ideally we would've liked to remove enough fibreglass to expose the nut and washer but we couldn't get the tool into the angle to cut the fibreglass away. As we were cleaning the bilge we thoroughly inspected the lumps of fibreglass covering each bolt and none of them showed any signs of crazing, cracking, bulging or seeping rust stains. The rest of the hull showed no signs of cracking either. This was good.

Content that the one we inspected showed no signs of corrosion I made the call that overall the bolts should be OK and we put the bench seat and saloon sole back together covering up the now clean bilge.

There are a couple of storage boxes that live under the bench seat and just as I was about to put the big one back in my little inner voice piped up and said "Look in there." Always one to listen to the little voice I opened the box lid and inside was a smaller storage box with 'spare spark plugs and anodes' written on the top in thick black marker pen.

Indeed there were 6 spark plugs, 2 prop shaft anodes, 3 propeller anodes, 1 keel anode and 2 bow thruster anodes. Yay a win!

Other boat jobs

When all three house batteries failed in October 2019 I was chatting with Ant from SV impavidus (Ant & Cid Sailing) and one of the things he advised me to do was to install a battery de-sulphater. It's a very simple device that connects to the end chain of the positive and negative battery terminals.

Once connected it recognises if the battery bank is 12v, 24v or 48v and sets itself up accordingly. Then it begins to send out a pulse which vibrates the plates in each battery and shakes the sulphate off them. Sulphation of the plates is a common source of battery failure and if you add this little device as soon as you can to a new battery it nips the problem in the bud and extends your battery lifespan.

The only issue I have with the unit is that when it sends out the pulse to the batteries it makes a tiny high pitched beep and that beep will be very annoying for whoever is trying to sleep in that berth which the batteries live under. I will have to install an inline switch so that the device can be easily switched off at night time. That's another job added to the list.

At least the weather here in Greece is improving as we head towards spring, so working on the boat is now pleasant with reasonable temperatures and very little rain. There'll be more boat job stories in next week's blog, so remember to check back and see how we get on.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

Link to Barry's next blog

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