2020 Projects

Social Distancing – Fortunate To Have Sonas At Home

Well COVID-19 certainly put paid to our annual spring three months cruise to the Bahamas. Initially, like everyone else, we didn’t know how long we would be tied to the dock, and we were optimistic that the delay would only last a month or two. As time dragged on I began to complete one boat project, then another, and another, and I even thought we might get to the job that was on the very bottom of the project list – giving the engine room and bilges a good cleaning and repainting parts of the engine that needed touching up!

Dirty engine


We were anchored off Cumberland Island for three nights back in March and Sian noticed a new sound when raising the anchor. When we got home I had a look at the Maxwell HWC 3500 and saw that two of the bolts that held the shaft to the port side gear box had either come loose or sheared off. They were grinding against the manual retrieval plate.

Maxwell 3500 Windlass

My mechanic dismantled the windlass and found everything well greased and easily came off the port side of the windlass, until he got to the clutch cone. It was seized solid to the shaft. No amount of cajoling, prizing, wedging would get it to budge. He decided to remove the starboard side of the windlass and see if he could remove the shaft to work on the port side, and found the starboard side clutch cone stuck as well.

Clutch cone

Next he used a heat gun to heat up the bronze cone to try and pop it from the shaft. After quite a while that did the trick. When he removed the manual retrieval plate he found that the four bolts holding the shaft to the motor housing had failed. One had sheared off completely, the three others were loose with two of them bent. We simply cannot remember an incident that would have caused that damage.

So the mechanic got the windlass off the deck and took it completely apart to full investigate what was going on. He found the gear housing plate cracked and the bolt holes worn, allowing the windlass to become loose. So we ordered all of the needed parts and rebuilt the windlass. It was obviously a catastrophic failure but we still don’t know what caused it.

Worn bolt holes and cracked housing
Rebuilt gear housing

Teak swim platform and steps

Over the past couple of seasons the caulking on the swim platform teak had been coming off. I asked the yard if anything could be done and they told us that the teak was so worn that it was now too thin to re-caulk. We had been finding that it was also uncomfortable to walk on in certain areas. The yard had given us a couple of names of people to do the work but they were busy and couldn’t get to our project. I was finally directed to a company called Teakdecking Systems out of Sarasota.

Teakdecking were very responsive, although they also said that they had a lot of work on the books they would schedule us as soon as they could. They gave me a quote based on a measurement sheet I sent them and then in early May they advised that they had a team going up to Savannah who would stop by Jacksonville on their way to take the measurements.

Ron stopped by on his way to an installation on a large Viking in Savannah to make the template. He took it back to Sarasota where they made a digital pattern and are currently fabricating the teak. They said they could send an installation team but recommended I use Huckins here in Jacksonville as they do tear out and installs and that would save me the travel and lodging. Huckins is waiting for the final shipping date before scheduling Sonas.

Swim platform template

I couldn’t persuade Ron into the engine Room either!

Floating dock

I treated myself to a new floating dock for our AB 15 DLX RIB. Even though the water at our home is mostly fresh we still get white worm on unpainted bottoms. We were continuously lifting the RIB and storing it in the garage, which was not very convenient.

The blocks arrived and Sian and I put it together ourselves. We had a couple of missteps, mainly from not making sure we were on a flat surface, but once we moved the build to the flat concrete dock it went smoothly. Once together and in the water roped to the inside of our dock, we ran the RIB up onto it – and only got half way! Talking to Dock Blocks they suggested adding more water to the entrance blocks to lower them. We did that and still couldn’t get the RIB more than half way on. I then noticed that the chines were getting caught in the channel of the floating dock and that was stopping the RIB from coming on. It needed to be lifted higher on entry.

Dock Blocks had a solution – circular bunks that install into each side of the channel. They sent me links to other installs and to the process. I decided that I didn’t want to retro-fit these so asked if they could install next time they were in the area.

I can’t say enough about Mark Partridge from Dock Blocks. He was passing through Jacksonville returning from visiting family. His wife and child amused themselves in Jacksonville while Mark came and installed the bunks – charging only for the parts.

He stayed and watched me successfully load the boat after the install!

Dock bunks

Marquipt Davit

Next up was tidying up the davit. We had been seeing flecks of rust on the deck underneath the winch area for some time and saw that the outside of the motor had a coat of rust. We had also bought a new cable and hook set from Marquipt over a year ago and it was time to install that as the current cable had kinks.

 I took the cover off and gave the winch a good sanding and a couple of coats of Rust-oleum rust converter. Then I gave the cable a yank from the top of the drum, it wouldn’t budge. Tried with pliers; wouldn’t move. I know on previous davits that a small piece is jammed into the drum groove to hold the cable in place so I turned the drum to punch a screwdriver from the bottom to dislodge the holding piece. Still nothing. So to get the cable out of the way I cut it and punched again. Still no movement. I sprayed with PB Blaster and tried again, and again. Finally I did what every red blooded man eventually does – I called the manufacturer for the Columbia 1000 winch!

Rusty winch

They kindly sent me the schematic for the cable replacement, clearly showing a tear drop piece inserted into the bottom of the drum (not in from the top) holding the loop of cable!  Once I saw this I quickly punched a screwdriver from the top of the slot and out popped the tear drop – and the cable replacement was a cinch – after a couple of days of trying!

Schematic showing tear drop

I was trying to persuade Sian into the ER while I was handling this, with no success!

New shades

First up was selecting and having new shades installed. Sonas still had her original wooded venetian blinds. Some of the cords had snapped, and some of the head mechanisms had become worn and stiff. After we broke off a part of a slat on one of the blinds it was time to replace them.

Old blinds

We first selected roller blinds and the manufacturer came and measured. Unfortunately when the installer came to check things before they were manufactured we discovered that the roller heads would not fit behind the bug screen frame on the rear salon doors. After discussion we decided to go with honeycomb blinds due to the smaller footprint. Again she measured, again we paid and again the installer came to check and said that the honeycomb would not fit either.

The choice was to change out everything but the door windows or leave as it. Somewhat frustrated we told them that we would hold off for now and stick with what we had.

Then I was on Yachtworld one day looking at another Grand Alaskan trying to answer a question for someone when I saw a boat for sale that had Roman Shades. They looked great and because of the way they work there was no large head mechanism. We called the company back and after measuring, paying, and a final installer visit we found that they worked. So Sonas is now sporting new window treatments!

New shades


The next project, while it was still somewhat cool for Florida, was putting new poly on the cap rails. We had neglected to add a couple of coats last year and the relentless Bahamian and Florida sun had taken spots back to the teak. I decided to separate the rails into three jobs. One around the rear side-walks and the cockpit. The second around the Portuguese Bridge, and the third the fore deck.  I spot scraped and sanded all of the spots back to the teak, filled with three coats of poly and finally went over all of the cap rails with an additional three coats.

Spotty teak

I did some research on how I could get the brightwork to look uniform but the overall consensus was that unless you take everything back to the bare teak, the new varnish spots will show as the older teak has been discolored by the sun and elements over time. Eventually the spots will start to merge.  Note to self – a light sanding and a couple of new coats every fall or spring will keep the bigger job at bay!

Thought for a second or two about cleaning the engine room next, but luckily managed to find other projects!

Power pedestal

We have our own dock behind our home. The power pedestal, probably original from 1998, was looking the worse for wear. So I carefully power washed it, and gave it three coast of bright white with a light sanding in between. I was quite pleased with the result!

Cleaned pedestal
Painted pedestal

Re-arming PFDs

It was time to replace the arming on our two West Marine Coastal and two Mustang Survival PFDs. We decided to have a bit of fun with this and jump into our pool wearing them. This proved that they were still good AND allow us the experience of having them go off while wearing them.

They worked fine and are now rearmed!

Two types of PFDs

They worked!!

So here we are in September and I still haven’t cleaned the engine room! I have found other ways to avoid it, including re-sanding the pavers around the house, re-painting the garden gnomes, and digitizing hundreds, if not more, old photographs and letters!



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