Category Archives: Repairs

Sweetie back from the spa

Dinghy Spa for Sweetie

Our sweet 20-year-old dinghy has had a slow leak for a few months.  However, she has required air 2-3 times per day over the last few weeks which is simply unacceptable.  One it is annoying and two it is not good for the velcro holding the chaps (chaps=sunbrella dinghy cover).  We decided it was time to take Sweetie out of the water. 

Getting Sweetie onboard Sugar Shack

Our Yamaha 25hp outboard is a beast weighing in at 50 kilos (110lbs).  Way too heavy and awkward to lift by ourselves. We used the main sheet and the boom to hoist the outboard over the transom (stern of the boat).  Matt was in the dinghy, in the water, holding the outboard steady as I hand cranked her up over the lifelines.  She is secured on the stanchion while we work on the dinghy.

Next, we had to find out how to get Sweetie onboard Sugar Shack.  Matt decided it was best to copy our monohull friends. Using the spin halyard that comes from the top of the mast, hoist her over the side of the boat.  Our dinghy is an Avon rib with a hard bottom.  She weighs in at 82 kilos (180lbs) and is 3.4 meters in length (without the outboard).  Matt cranked this time raising the main sheet as I attempted to keep the dinghy off the side of the boat and over the life lines.  Once onboard and safely resting on towels (to prevent scratching the deck), we deflated her.  She looks so sad.

Dinghy deflated and sad

Dinghy deflated and sad

She IS 20-years old which is remarkably old for an inflatable dinghy.  We’ve been very happy with her and hope to get a few more years out of her before having to buy a new one.

Patching Sweetie – Slow Leak

One day while snorkeling, we noticed a leak on the port side bow (just below the attached line hold). The valve cover also has a slow leak.  It was time to repair them. But first, Matt took dish soap and water to the entire dinghy to see if he could find any other leaks.  Luckily those were the only ones that were found.

The pontoons are made of Hypalon (it like a heavy-duty rubber).  Matt had purchased specific glue made for Hypalon.  Unfortunately, it was a few years old and had dried up making it unusable.  Of course!  You try to be prepared by purchasing necessary items in advanced – but it doesn’t always work out.  Instead, he used G/Flex waterproof, flexible glue which we had used before.  Matt cleaned the area, applied the glue to the patch, then applied the patch to the dinghy, and added weight to it.  Now we wait 24 hours until it is dry.

The valve leak repair is only temporary as we are waiting for our new valve covers to come from the States.  We need a visitor (or as we like to call them “pack mules” – you know who you are :).

The first image shows the exposed or weak area causing a leak.  The upper right photo shows the glue during with “weight” and the last is the new patch.

Patching a slow leak

Patching a slow leak

Sealing Up another Leak

Our dinghy has a false floor.  The floor inside the dinghy is a flat surface and is called the “false floor.”  Which is great as the “V” shape floor makes it hard to stand, walk, keep your gas tank, and groceries flat and dry.  Back to our false floor.  Between the false floor and the actual bottom of the dinghy is a space that would periodically fill up with water.  Not a big deal as you simply pull the plug to drain it (see bottom right photo with 2 plugs).  The top plug drains water out of the dinghy (above the false floor) and the bottom plug drains water between the false floor and the bottom of the dinghy.  But how did the water get in there?We also would get water in our forward locker where we stow our dinghy anchor chain, tools, and inflate pump.  Everything can get wet, but they rust and make a mess.  How did water get in there?

With Sweetie out of the water we are able to explore all possibilities.  Matt decided to remove the tow eye (bracket) in the front of the bow that holds our painter (long line that we use to tie the dinghy up).  He noticed that it was not sealed properly which is not a surprise considering it is 20-years old.  It appears that water was getting in through these two holes filling up the bow locker and the space under the false floor – ah ha!

Photo: top right is the bow locker.  Top photos show the holes that hold the tow eye.  Bottom row shows the tow eye out and then secured back in place with new sealant. 

Sealing a leak at Tow Eye

Sealing a leak at Tow Eye

Gluing Velcro to Hold the Chaps

Sweetie has a blue dress that covers her pontoons to keep them safe and last longer.  The dress, aka “chaps” have been sewn and patched several times over but are still in good working condition.  The chaps are attached to Sweetie using velcro.  The velcro is stitched to a small strip of Hypalon which is then glued to the dinghy.  Glue adheres better when it is Hypalon to Hypalon. Part of this strip needed all new velcro.  No small task as the thread/stitching is smothered in glue.  After a few hours of picking, I was able to remove the old velcro and stitches.  The new velcro was stitched to the strip which was then glued back on to Sweetie.

The top image shows the old velcro (white) just above the rub rail. The new velcro (black) was sewn on to the strip of Hypalon which was then glued on to the pontoon (bottom photo)

Re-attaching the velcro strip

Re-attaching the velcro strip

RE-ATTACHING THE RUB RAIL

Every dinghy has a rub rail as the rub rail takes a beating to protect the pontoons.  It is not us ramming into things, but rather the dinghy bumping against docks while we are at shore.  Also, the glue loses its adhesiveness when the dinghy deflates as there is no pressure holding the rub rail to the pontoon.  So, we had to do lots of gluing with special epoxy to get the rub rail back in place.

Attaching the rub rail to the dinghy

Attaching the rub rail to the dinghy

SCRUB AND SHINE

The last part of Sweetie’s spa day is a scrub and shine.  I know she looks really disgusting with the green growth, but I have to tell you this is nothing compared to most dinghy bottoms.  However, this is bad for us and for our dinghy.  It is really difficult to clean her bottom as she has to be out of the water.  Our dinghy and outboard are too heavy to lift by ourselves unless we bring her on deck which is a huge ordeal.

It takes a lot of muscle and several products to clean the growth off.  We use “On Off,” bleach, and soap and water.  Some of the products we can only use on the hard-bottom surface while others we can only use on the Hypalon.  I’m pretty darn pleased with how she turned out.  The hard-bottom is white again and the green, black, and brown spots are done.

Bottom of dinghy scrub and shine

Bottom of dinghy scrub and shine

Fiberglass Repair

The hard bottom of the dinghy was a little banged up.  Partly from us dragging her on to the beach and partly just wear and tear.  So, Matt added some fiberglass and epoxy to some of the worn areas.  Almost good as new.  Top left photo is the “before picture” and bottom right is “after.”

Fiberglass repair

Fiberglass repair

After a week on the deck, she was finally ready to go back in the water.  Lucky for us, we did not need our “car” while at our current anchorage.  We swam to shore a few times. Remember, Sugar Shack is our home and our dinghy is our car to get from our home to everywhere else.  Putting the outboard back on the dinghy.  Matt tried a new method using a dynema line and 3:1 purchase which reduced the rubbing and pressure on the main sheet and boom.

Putting the outboard back on the dinghy

Putting the outboard back on the dinghy

It was really good to be mobile again. 

Sweetie back from the spa

Sweetie back from the spa

Dinghies can be very expensive so it is in our best interest to make our little girl last as long as possible.  Check out new dinghy rates.

Events from this blog post occurred during the month of January 2021.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

Wash down pump replacement

Servicing our Girl: Sugar Shack

What do you do on a beautiful day in paradise?  Get dirty?  We had a few boat projects that needed to be completed in calm weather (no wind and no swell).  So, we set out to do some maintenance and servicing of both Sugar Shack and Sweetie (our dinghy). 

Anchored in calm waters with very little breeze made it much easier to accomplish these specific projects.  We dropped the hook at North Totegegie where we had beautiful views. 

Servicing the Boat in Paradise

Servicing the Boat in Paradise

Windlass Service

What is a windlass?  It is an electric wench that raises and lowers our anchor and anchor chain. It is a very important part of our boat as it would make anchoring nearly impossible without it.  In a pinch, we can manually raise and lower our anchor using the hand crank method.  However, we have 100 meters of 10mm stainless steel chain attached to a Spade x140 anchor that weighs in at over 65lbs.  Imagine cranking all that chain and anchor up by hand – no thank you!

Our Lewmar Ocean 3 windlass (2000 watt) was running a little slow when raising the chain.  Once it got going it was fine, but the startup was less than optimal.  Not a problem, just needed a little love.  We are at anchor with our anchor chain connected to the windlass.  Can’t rightly service the windlass without removing the anchor chain, right?  First things first, Matt ties a line to the last link of chain (just at the rode) and then secures it to the anchor roller so he could remove the pressure off the windlass.  Then he jumped in the hole (locker) and cleaned the brushes and removed the corrosion.

Servicing the Windlass

Servicing the Windlass

Not yet at 100%…it might require a more comprehensive servicing in a month or two.  For now, it is better than it was and that is good for us (maybe at 95%).  A few days later, Matt took the windlass apart and cleaned all the connections.  He found a loose wire that was the culprit and now the windlass is running perfectly!

Tail Tails

Do you know what a tail tail is?  It doesn’t have anything to do with your posterior or an animal.  A tail tail on a boat is an indicator of how your sails are trimmed while underway.  They are small, light pieces of fabric attached to the sail.  When the sail is trimmed correctly, the tail tails on the windward (inside) and leeward (outside) of the sail will stream backwards.  That’s when life is good.  If the sail needs trimming the tail tail will either fly up or down indicating the need to tighten or loosen the jib sheet (working line) to give you optimal performance.

Our tail tails were very sad and in need of servicing.  Easy enough job when there is no wind.  Matt had to drop the sail onto the deck in order reach all the tail tails.  You don’t want to do this in windy conditions as your jib will be flopping all over the place.  We bought a kit which made replacing them super easy.

Washdown Pump

Our Jabsco washdown pump is located in a locker near the mast.  This pump provides pressure to our hose to enable us to wash down the boat, the anchor chain and pretty much anything we need.  It is great because we can use it with salt water or fresh water depending on how the valve is turned.  We usually hose things off first with salt water, then do a final rinse with fresh water.  Why is that?  Because we have an abundance of salt water and a very limited amount of fresh water.  Our pump was very corroded as it is in and around salt water and salty air.  It worked, but it was limping along.  Instead of ‘servicing’ we decided to replace her.

The pump is only attached with a few screws and clamps.  Matt had it replaced in under an hour.

Wash down pump replacement

Wash down pump replacement

Servicing Sweetie – Our Dinghy

I had intended on putting the work done to service Sweetie on this blog, but it was so extensive that I ended up giving it her own blog post.  Stay tuned for “Dinghy Spa for Sweetie.”

Events from this blog post occurred during the month of January 2021.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

Tahiti Sails

Main Sail Maintenance

Our main sail, the main source of power for our sailboat needed some loving.  It is original to the boat which puts her at 20 years old.  She is made of two layers of dacron which is a heavy-duty material and weighs in at almost 300lbs!  She needs to be replaced because she doesn’t really hold her shape very well, but she still is functioning.  Matt and I hope to replace her and the jib when we get to New Zealand (next year).

We decided to get her re-stitched in order to get the most use of her and make her last longer.  We contacted Tahiti Sails and scheduled an appointment for them to retrieve our beastly sail.  First, you have to remove it and that is not easy.

Removing the Main Sail

The main sail lives inside the sail bag which is held up by lines called “lazy jacks.”  The sail is hoisted up the mast by 13  “cars” and has 3 reefing lines (in the front and 3 in the back), and 3 boom stromps that have to be removed.  Matt positions the boom off to the side (protecting the boom with a fender on the cabin top).  This gives him access to the sail bag, lazy jacks, boom stromps, and reefing lines.  Photos are of the sail bag as Matt removes the sail.

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Next, we document the areas that we want re-stitched and repaired.  Mostly it is re-stitching the tack, clew, head, and baton pockets.  We are going to have them strengthen all of the key stress points and add a protective fabric over them (head, tack, clew). baton pockets) to block the UV from the sun. 

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Tahiti Sails

Guillaume met us at our boat to pick up the sail.  We walk him through all the “weak” areas or areas of concern (as mentioned above).  He tests the thread on the actual material as he thinks it might be compromised as well since it is over 20 years old.  But to our surprise it is holding up nicely.  Matt and Guillaume fold up the main and off it goes to get repaired.

We also noticed that our small / top baton needs replacing.  It is shattered.  You can tell because it does not look like the rest.  Lucky for us it is the smallest one and the easiest to reach.  We will have to hunt to find a replacement.

Guillaume said it should take about 5/6 hours of work which could be done within the week.  Not sure how it takes a week to do 5/6 hours of work, but ok.  At an estimated cost of 40000xpf ($400).  We shall see.

The Beast Returns

Guillaume called us on Tuesday with the quote and a run down of all the repairs after he laid out the canvas on the floor.  The work was completed on Wednesday and delivered on Thursday – under budget and on time.  He repaired the head, tack, clew, baton pockets.  Added tail tales (wind indicators) and patched a few small tears.  He did really good work.  The top right photo shows where he hand stitched around a high stress point, then covered it with sunbrella.

Installing the Beast

Then the process of reinstalling the 300lb main begins.  It is a slow process as the weight makes it difficult to raise above our heads.  But Matt powers through it.

The sail is positioned along the side of the boom.  First he attaches the clew (bottom rear attachment point to the boom.  Then he attaches the head (the attachment point that raises the main up and down) to the main halyard.  Next up, he attaches the first of 13 cars.  He opens the car, slips the line in, closes the car, and inserts a split ring on the pin so it can’t slip out. Then is raises the main to the next car and repeats the process 13 times.  As he approaches each of the 3 reefing lines, he has to tie them on to the appropriate place in the front.  He will do the back 3 reefing points last.

Attaching the main to the cars

Attaching the main to the cars

After he attaches all 13 cars, he works on the rear reefing lines.  Lucky for us it is a quiet, windless day which makes it so much easier to keep the sail up while at anchor!  Matt is amazing!

Fast Forward:

A few days later we go to Tahiti Yacht Accessories and find a baton.  It is not really the correct size, but it is better nothing.  We needed a 16mm by 165 and he had either a 14 or 18.  Since the 18 was too big, we went with the 16.  You can clearly see the good vs the bad.

We celebrate with Rachel (from Agape) at a cool Poke Bowl place and it was delicious!

Events from this blog occurred on 21 October 2020.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.