Category Archives: Repairs

Leaks: Drip, Drip, Drop

Maybe that is a bit of an overdramatization…but we do have several leaks that recently started.  The fun part is trying to determine the source without tearing the boat apart.  But sometimes you just have to tear it apart to put it back together.

Same problem causing multiple leaks.  We were seeing leaks at each corner of the boat.  Originally, we thought it was caused by the seam between the deck and hull.  Then we thought it was where the stanchions meet the deck.  Next, we checked the drain area where our lines originate.  Ah ha!  There it is.  The angled 90° drain, that connects to the drain hose, needs to be replaced in all 4 corners. 

It took Matt months to find the right size angled drain that fit the 19mm hose and had a 31mm drain opening.  He ordered 4 and replaced the largest leak at the starboard bow first while we were in Fiji.  Being in New Zealand during this unusual rainy season has moved the leak project up to the front.

The top white drain is the original defective drain.  The larger white drain is the replacement that works in the two bow locations.  Unfortunately, the larger white drains are too tall for the aft cabin drains so we went on a hunting expedition to find new ones.  We tracked two new drains down in the South Island and had them shipped up to us in the North island (grey drain).

Both angled drains are leaking in the back and both are over beds.  The one in the master leaks right over Matt’s head and the one over the office leaks over the corner bed.  Fun!  These two locations require us to tear down the ceiling panel to access the drain.

Master Cabin Leaks

We removed two of our ceiling panels and found three leaks.  The main leak from the drain, then another leak coming in from a new solar cable we installed a few years ago (they didn’t seal it properly) and the third leak was coming from the ignition panel.  The good news is we could access all of them.

Cyclone Hale

Just after we removed all ceiling panels, we learned a cyclone was coming.  This is good and bad news.  Good in that we will see exactly where the leaks are coming from, but bad because it’s a cyclone for goodness sake!

For those of you who don’t read weather systems, here is another visual of the flooding.

Cyclone Hale changed directions a little bit and ended up over Coromandel.  Basically, we received a lot of rain and winds of about 40kts.  We are pretty protected in the marina so we felt relatively certain we would be ok.  Dressed in our foulies.

But other parts of New Zealand (like Coromandel) did not fair as well.  Once Cyclone Hale passed, we resumed our leaky project.

We replaced the angled drain and put epoxy all around it.  We then resealed the solar cable and we resealed the ignition panel.  All three leaks in the starboard master cabin are considered done!

Port Office Cabin

The port office cabin leak is the same leak as the master bedroom cabin  Ah ha!  There it is.  The 90° angled drain.  So, we removed more ceiling panels to see the source.

Wowza, evidently there has been a slow leak here for awhile as it was pretty moldy and gross.  Matt had to break away the thickened epoxy (without damaging the hoses).  It was a dirty job that is for sure.  Once we replaced the drain, resealed everything back up and called this project done.

But don’t let me over simplify everything.  These projects took months to complete.  Partly because we had to wait for spare parts or wait for things to dry (as it often rained in Whangarei).  But mostly because these were all really huge jobs.

Also, the removal and replacement of the ceiling panels is a massive job.  It takes great patience to remove a single panel (to ensure you don’t damage it) so we can use it as a pattern to make the new ones.  Then it takes several days to remove all of the old glue and glue residue from the ceiling so that you can adhere the new panel.  The glue and glue residue all have to be removed if we plan to reuse panel.

I thought about doing a blog post on the ceiling panels as it is such a huge job but man that would be boring!  This is what our poor forward cabin looks like as we do all the work in the office.

Cyclone Gabriel

Seriously, we came to New Zealand because it is “out of the cyclone zone” but here we are – again faced with a much larger cyclone aiming for the north tip of the north island  – right where we are located.  Evidently, this is the fist cyclone to actually hit land (cyclone skirted around NZ, but never technically hit land).  The bottom image is the wind speed that Matt tracked during the cyclone.  Topped at 55kts which is the worst winds we have ever seen.

Everything flooded all around us with the tides rising over 3 meters and covering the streets, walkways, and pontoons.

Roads were shut down with damage, collapse, landslides and fallen trees.  A week after the cyclone over 400 people are unaccounted for and the death toll is climbing.  We were lucky in that we had no damage, but Matt was well prepared.  We removed anything that could be ripped off by the winds and stowed it all inside.

Events from this blog occurred in mid-January 2023.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events.  In our last blog post we rebuilt the windlass – do you know what that is?

Rebuilding the Windlass

Our windlass is a vital part of our boat as it controls our anchor and anchor chain.  It allows us to use the motor to raise and lower our 100 meters of 10mm stainless chain and 33 kilo spade anchor.  We replaced the motor, gaskets and a few other small pieces in Costa Rica 2019, but we have not taken the top portion of the windlass apart for some time.

We were having issues with the windlass as it was drawing too much power to operate.  Something was causing friction or issues making the motor work too hard which then overloaded the batteries.  Never a good thing to have the boat shut down as you are trying to bring up the anchor.

Getting Started

In order to work on the windlass we have to disengage the anchor chain.  However, we did not want it to drop into the marina water so we ended up securing the anchor and chain to the bow roller.

We ordered new gaskets, o-rings, a sure clip, and a bearing from Lewmar (which took forever to arrive).  As Matt was taking everything apart he realized that the spacer had rotted.  Well shoot!  For some reason, Lewmar has stainless and aluminum pieces put together which is odd as these two materials don’t like each other.  

End of Year Delay

New problem. This spacer was not available anywhere in NZ, USA, or Europe!  Evidently Lewmar would not be manufacturing more of these pieces until end February (it was December when we discovered the problem).  If we were to wait, the part would not get to us until April or May. That would mean that we could not leave the marina as we would have no means to anchor which was simply unacceptable.  So, we decided to take it to RH Precision Engineering to have a new one fabricated.

Rob at RH Precision was wonderful!  We dropped the sad little spacer off on Friday before Christmas and he called us on Wednesday 28 Dec to tell us it was ready!  And on top of that he only charged us $100NZD and 2 beers!  We would have spent hundreds of dollars more had we ordered it from Lewmar.  And it is beautiful and works perfectly!

We discovered the culprit was a rotted cord deck which held the spacer.  Sea water had seeped into the wood, rotted it out and kept the spacer wet.  So, Matt had to dig out all of the rotted wood, let it dry out, then filled it with epoxy.

We were finally able to complete the windlass project after 3 weeks, mostly waiting on parts.  Now, we should be able to anchor without putting too much stress on our batteries.

Events from this blog occurred in late December and early January 2023.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events. We upgrade Sugar Shack with lithium batteries and Starlink in our last blog.

New Glasses for Sugar Shack: Windows

Say what?  Your boat got new glasses?  Well, technically, yes.  Our cabin top windows needed some love.  We have 5 flat windows and 4 large curved windows.  The flat acrylic windows craze (hundreds of very small cracks appear making it very difficult to see out of).  We replaced them in 2010 when we bought the boat but they’ve crazed again.  And several windows are leaking after many years of bending and flexing with the boat as we crossed thousands of miles across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

We engaged Metro Glass to replace 5 windows and re-bed all of the other windows.  It is a huge, messy job.  We wanted to replace three of the windows with acrylic windows and replace the two small hatches (front of the cabin top) with glass (“wanted” being the key word).

Matt had re-glued several of our curved windows to stop the leaking.  However, it was time to do it professionally again, so in comes Metro Glass.  Dave came out and took out the two flat rear windows first.  The goal was to remove them in the morning, use the old windows as a pattern and bring new ones back later that afternoon.  That was the “plan”.

What Went Wrong?

Dave’s co-worker Rob, accidentally painted the wrong side of the window (he painted the inside instead of the outside) so they have to make an entirely new window. They put the old window back in temporarily to keep the elements outside.

The other window was “in” but they drilled the holes by hand and the holes were crooked, so the screws won’t stay in.  Yes, they will have to come back to remake this window as well.  Not a good start.

They took out the center cabin top window next and managed to remake and install it with only a few little issues.  Next, they took out the two small hatches which were to be sent to Auckland to be replaced with glass.   So, we sat with 5 windows covered in plastic and pvc for more than a week waiting for the rain to subside.

All of our cushions have to be removed as the black glue gets everywhere.  This is the Metro Glass team working on the center cabin top window.

Moving on to the Curved Windows

Our two large, curved side windows were schedule to come out next.  These windows would just be re-bedded (come out, cleaned up, and put back in).  We thought these windows would be “fairly easy” to remove as Matt has re-glued these several times (which requires removal of old glue and reapplication).  However, they were stuck on good giving the guys a bit of a challenge. 

The team uses a stainless piece of wire that they saw back and forth (one person inside and one outside) to get the glue to come off.  They applied so much pressure at one point that they “sawed” right into the plexi.  Luckily Matt caught them in time and it was only a small 1/8” dig and won’t show or ruin the integrity of the window.  The other window was a smidge easier to come out, but not by much. 

It is two weeks into our 4-day window project and I am feeling incredibly defeated.  I actually begged them to just finish one window as each window they had touched was in mid-state of repair.  Finally, they finished the sealant on the very first window and the center cabin top window.

The two front cabin top curved windows were the last to be re-bedded.  These are the two that have the smaller hatch windows inside them. The most challenging windows.

Glasses Don’t Want to Come Off

They start working on the starboard window first and worked on it all day.  It was a stubborn one as it has never been taken off in 22 years.  Surprisingly, it had areas that were leaking and yet other areas would not separate.  They again sawed super hard to get the glue to separate and managed to cut the plexi 1.5” which completely sucks as this window is not being replaced.  It is in the corner where it is not visible, but it does create a weak point which could further crack while the boat is under stress.  We will have to keep an eye on it.

A few days later they came back to work on the other curved cabin top window.  This managed to come out a little easier.

In the meantime, the new small glass hatches supposedly came back from Auckland.  Matt asked them if they drilled the large hole for the latch handle and the small hole for the locking mechanism.  They checked and guess what, they did not drill the small hole.  When they inquired about it they discovered that they cannot drill the smaller hole that close to the larger hole because it would compromise the glass.  Seriously, they did not know this before?  So, they had to remake them in acrylic in order to use our latches.  At this point, I have discussed my displeasure many times and they had the intelligence enough to offer to do these small hatches at no charge.  Appeased a little, but we are not getting what we wanted which was glass hatches.

And Yet More Problems

Moving on…they continue to work on the last 4 curved windows in between the rainy days.  As they remove the duct tape from our two forward curved windows, we see marks by the small hatches.  Oh my goodness!!!!  Another $600 discount and over three weeks later, the windows are finally considered “done.”  What a project.

It was rather an unfortunate experience and one that we would not wish on anyone.  Thank goodness we had the time to babysit the workers and watch every step, but even still we had loads of problems.  But they are done, better than before and look much improved.

New Glasses are Done

Glasses are clear and leak free, for now 🙂

The events from this blog occurred in December.  In our last blog post, we enjoy Red Bull Flutag in Auckland.  We witness man-made flying contraptions plummet 6 meters into the water – it was great fun!