Category Archives: Boat Details

Disgusting Water Tank

Sugar Shack is equipped with (2) built in water tanks that hold 400L of water each.  These are fiber glassed into the boat and are not easily accessed.  As you know, we have a water maker that provides all of the water to the boat.  It converts salt water into potable drinking water and is a true must have for our cruising life.

The port water tank feeds the port head (toilet, sink, shower), exterior shower on the port sugar scoop, and the galley sink.  The starboard head feeds the starboard head (toilet, sink, shower).  I use the galley sink (port tank) to fill our drinking containers.  Matt on the other hand fills a 20L water jug directly from the watermaker because he “can taste and smell” the water that comes from the water tank.  I can’t so I’ve been using it for years (which might explain my strange personality).

The Problem

The interior lining of the water tank has been peeling away for years.  Matt has drained the tank, scraped the excess paint off, and vacuumed up the mess several times.  But, it was beyond time for us to completely clean out the tanks and repaint them with special non-toxic potable paint.  Raw fiberglass was exposed in some areas of the tank.  This could explain the weird tick I have (kidding, I am fine, but really this is disgusting!)

The white or light specs are actually pieces of chipped paint.  Now don’t completely freak out because we do have several filters for each water tank.  So the water goes through each filter before coming to the taps.

The Access

You can see from the above photo that the two access points are very, very small.  In addition, they do not give you easy access to the center because there are two baffles (which prevent the water from swashing around while underway).

So, we make the decision to cut a rather large hole in the center of the tank to provide easier access.  I say “easier” but still not great access to the back corners.

The Removal

We are not sure what they used to line this tank but it does not seem to be the correct product.  The port water tank is far worse than the starboard one so we are focusing on this one.  Plus it supplies our galley and our drinking water so it becomes the priority.

The existing lining scrapes off with a knife but some areas require heavy sanding and grinding.  You can see that there are areas that bubble up, then they pop water is released. 

Step 1: Removal of old lining

Matt had really worked hard to remove a significant portion of the old lining.  However, it still took he and Josh (from Norsand Boatyard) a week to completely remove all of the lining.  It is a very difficult job because you are extremely uncomfortable, often upside down, inhaling fumes, and stretching to reach the corners.  They used puddy knives, stainless tubing, sanders, and grinders.

Step 2: Cleaning

First Josh vacuums as much dust and debris that he can.  Then he has the unfortunate job of wiping the tank down with acetone.  It is a very toxic smell.

Step 3: Gluing

We noticed a crack, on an insignificant area of the tank, that we decided to fix with epoxy.  The crack is on the top of the tank on an extra piece of fiberglass that makes the corner an angle vs a hard corner. We are not sure what its purpose is and it does not impact the quality of the actual tank.

Lance comes in to pre-mix the two part epoxy which Josh performs acrobatics to apply it on the crack.

Step 4: Painting 

We are using International Interline 850 paint which is a light colored, solvent free, heavy duty epoxy tank lining specifically designed for potable water.  It requires a very specific application where you apply a thin layer, wait 24 hours, then apply a 2nd coat, wait 24 hours and then repeat 2 more times for a total of 4 coats over 4 days.  Here are the data sheet on Interline 850.

Then we have to wait 8 days for the paint to “off-gas” before we start the final step of flushing.

The smell is so overwhelming that we can hardly stand being on the boat.  Ideally, we would open all of the hatches and let it vent out, but it is so darn cold (7-14C or 40-55F).  So, we run the dehumidifier to try to help remove moisture from the air and we have a heavy duty, very loud, industrial fan that sucks the air out of the hull and displaces it out the escape hatch.  So, we only have to have two hatches on the port side open.

Between the smell, cold, and loud noise it makes it unbearable to live on the boat.  We have 17 days of this.  This is Conor painting the inside of the tank and a photo of our dehumidifier and large, obnoxious fan.

Step 5: The Lip and Top to Seal the Tank

We had to cut a large hole in the center of the tank in order to access the inside.  In order to put it back, Josh had to build a fiberglass lip for the top to sit on.  Once the lip was built, he glued it onto the tank and it was painted.  Then the top was fitted, glued in, painted, and then fiberglass was placed on top of it.

Once the lid was set, we cleaned up any excess epoxy (glue), and painted the edges.  Now our 8 days start.

Step 6: Off-gassing

The paint or lining we are using is solvent free but it still requires an “off-gassing” period.  So, we wait for 8 days with the port hatches open and the dehumidifier and fan running causing a really crappy living environment.  If we weren’t in the middle of other boat projects we would just leave the boat — but alas, we are trying to complete several other projects while we are on the hard.

Step 7: Painting the Exterior

While the tank lining is “off-gassing” Norsand sends in Ian (aka “Stretch”) to clean up and paint the exterior tank.

Step 8:  Closing up the Tank

Matt had to install the two small access points before we began the flushing step.  The forward one is easy as it is just a gasket and a million screws and washers.  The rear one had to have all of the hoses and tank sender be connected in addition to the gasket, million screws and washers.  Everything went well until we filled the tank.  The tank sender, which tells us the level of water inside the tank) had a crack in it.

Unfortunately, it was a Saturday, everything is closed on Sunday, we splash Monday and leave Tuesday.  So, we place a rush order to be delivered to Marsden Cove Marina where we are checking out.  But in the mean time Matt creates a temporary solution with a piece of plexi.  

He loves the plexi because he can now see inside the tank.  I think he will install the new tank sender once we arrive in Vanuatu.  But he will also find another place to install the plexi because he likes to be able to see inside the tank.

Step 9: Flushing

After our 8 day off-gassing period, we are ready to flush the tanks.  This entails filling he tank full, letting it sit for 24 hours, then draining it.  We repeat this process for 4 days.  Our watermaker would not be able to keep up with this rigorous schedule so we have to be near a water source which forces us to stay on the hard for an additional 4 days. The watermaker can fill 40L per hour so it would take a solid 10-12 hours to fill the tank which is not time efficient.

We are finally ready to test the taste and smell of the water….

We are so very grateful to Norsand Boatyard, Josh, Conor, Lance and Aaron for all of the gymnastic poses and for helping us with this very difficult project.

Our blog posts run 8-9 weeks behind actual live events. The events from this blog post occurred in the Norsand Boatyard during May 2024.  During our last blog post we share all of the repairs we did in the boatyard on our 2nd haul out of the season.

Back in the Boatyard

We are back on the hard in Norsand Boatyard.  What, you are probably asking, “why?”  Well, we had a lot of little things we needed to do – each individually would not warrant a haul out, but together they did.

Boatyard Projects on the List

  • Reburnish the Coppercoat (due to our barnacle incident)
  • Fix small gelcoat damage (another boat ran into our starboard bow)
  • Water Tanks: Scrape, clean, and repaint interior 
  • Repair Teak on both Sugar Scoops 
  • Wax the hulls and stern

Haul out

Hauling your home out of its natural environment and onto a trailer is always nerve racking.  However, Kevin and Shayne at Norsand Boatyard are experts and they truly take every precaution to ensure our home is safe. 


We applied fresh Coppercoat in late December 2023 and had a massive issue 6 weeks later after being in a barnacle infested river.  Coppercoat UK and the local NZ Coppercoat distributor agreed to reburnish the bottom of our boat. This particular task requires us to be out of the water so the boatyard can sand the entire bottom with 320 grit sand paper.  

I will say that we rock!  Why do you ask?  Well, we spent days in the freezing cold water scraping and cleaning our bottom and it looks so much better than other boats with barnacles on their Coppercoat.  I took a photo of a monohull that had similar barnacle problems to us (lower right photo).  As you can see they were not as successful at removing the “feet” of the barnacles (little white spots) as we were.  And another boat with Coppercoat who stayed in the barnacle infested water for over 6 months had a reef with baby eels falling off of it when she hauled out (lower left photo).

Sugar Shack bottom at haul out (top) and another boat after haul out (bottom), both with Coppercoat.  Yep, we did good.  

Coppercoat Repair

Once we were out of the water, we noticed an area that has 4 spots that are down to the barrier coat – that is not good.  So we have to address this issue.

Conor fills the spots with filler and Coppercoat.  It needs a sanding, then it is ready to be burnished with the rest of the bottom.

Burnsing the Coppercoat

Right before we splash, the yard comes back to burnish the Coppercoat with 320 grit sandpaper.  Not sure what I expected, but honestly, I was surprised that the bottom turned back to copper color after the boys (Ian and Shamus) burnished it.  It was soooo smooth.

It even had a shiny penny look when the sun hit it.

Hit by another Boat

Another boat hits us while we were docked at Town Basin Marina.  It was rather an unfortunate occurrence but the damage was minimal.  This other boat was trying to squeeze in front of us and claimed he had bow thrusters.  He had bow thrusters, but they did not work.  The tide was pretty strong and carried his boat side ways causing the stern of his boat, with his dinghy and dinghy outboard to scratch the inside starboard bow.

Aaron from Norsand Boat yard came out to give us an estimate and the other boat owner, begrudgingly paid us the $1500NZ that it cost to repair our boat.

While we were at it we had the boatyard finish a job they forgot to complete last time.  They missed cleaning up the repair around the port cleat (the cleat goes where the 3 holes are) the repair was the cracks around the cleat.

Water Tanks

Our two water tanks hold about 400L of water each and are built into the boat.  When the boat was built, the manufacturer used some sort of weird potable paint that has not held up well.  For several years it has been peeling away and clogging up our filters.  Matt has drained the tanks, scraped the excess paint off, and vacuumed up the mess several times.  But, it was beyond time for us to completely clean out the tanks and repaint them with special non-toxic potable paint.

The white or light specs are actually pieces of chipped paint.  Now don’t completely freak out because we do have several filters for each water tank (which holds 400L).  So the water goes through each filter before coming to the taps.

This is such a huge project that I decided to write a separate blog about it so I can include more of the details (in case any of our other fellow cruisers need to do this too).  See upcoming blog post “Disgusting Water Tank.”

Repairing the Teak on our Sugar Scoops

The teak on both the port and starboard sugar scoops has had a long, challenging life span in direct sun light, constantly covered in salt water and enduring heavy usage.  We try to be diligent with its care but it is completely exposed to salt water, sun and constant use.  We’ve replaced the teak about 8-9 years ago, but it time to do a temporary repair until we can replace them again (it is a long and expensive process so we want to squeeze as much life out of these sugar scoops as we can).

As you can see, the black caulking has come up and is completely missing in some places. It is time to repair it all.

I watched several YouTube videos and pulled Matt in to help.  This is turning out to be a much larger job than we anticipated. So, the details of the teak repair will be coming out in an upcoming blog called “Caulking the Sugar Scoops Teak” stay tuned.

Waxing the Boat

Ian, aka “Stretch” comes in to wax our boat and make her as shiny as possible (considering her gelcoat is thin and old).  He always does such a great job.

While we were working on the sugar scoops we had to get on and off the boat with a very tall (15 steps) ladder which was such a pain in the arse!  Luckily it was only for 2 of the 6 weeks we were here.

As you can see we made the most of this haul out in the boat yard.  We were anxious to get back in the water as we prepare to head to a new country, Vanuatu.

Our blog posts run several weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occurred late April 2024. We enjoy some rough housing during the stock car races in Whangarei.

What Happens When Matt is Alone on the Boat?

Many of you have asked, “What does Matt do alone on the boat while you are in America?”  He does whatever he wants, when he wants, and how he wants.  Of course, he keeps busy with the never ending list of boat projects, but he also makes time for fun!

During this trip he has managed to go on several long paddle board rides.  He brings his garmen and then uploads the track to create fun animated videos.  I took snap shots of the final route on a few of them – one he even made a heart!  As you can see, he progressively went on longer and longer routes…starting at 4.7 miles, then 6.5 miles, then 7.1 miles.  Of course, this is his “alone” time even when I am on the boat as you won’t be finding me doing a 7 mile paddle!

Boat Projects

There are always boat projects to do and Matt continues to tackle the list!  He cleaned out both port and starboard diesel tanks, replaced the Raco diesel filter and secured the baffles inside the tanks with bolts.

Matt is famous for starting a project, then starting another project before the first project is complete.  Usually, its because he needs a tool or part.  But when this happens, I ask that he clean up his mess at the end of every day.  While I am gone, he starts piles of projects all over the place – which drives me crazy.  But, it doesn’t matter because I am not there!

He may be alone, but he was a very busy boy:

  • He dropped off and picked up our Genoa which was in for a quick repair with North sails,
  • Picked up our new exterior cushions, sunshades, table covers, cockpit cushions, cockpit pockets, and recycle bags.  Then installed them.
  • Filled our jerry cans with both gasoline and diesel
  • Started installing the bathroom accessories in both heads (needs me on a few pieces)
  • Tested the new Bauer Jr dive compressor, only for it to fry our new inverter charger (guess we will be selling the new to us dive compressor)
  • Mounted our new main sheet line bags on the transom
  • Installed a new 6 button C-Zone controller on the starboard helm

New Cockpit light installed.  We have a cockpit light that we leave on at night so that it is easier to find the boat in the sea of boats at anchor.  The light is white or red.  As you can see our original light was a little corroded.   Our new light is a Nevis2 Engine Light that we bought on Amazon.

I posted photos of the canvas work on the blog “Final Touches on Sugar Shack.”  

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events. This blog post occurred in March 2024.  If you missed our last blog, Road Trip to America, then you don’t know why Matt is alone.