Time For Some Work At The Yard & Preparing For Hurricane Irma


After three months at sea we had a list of items we wanted worked on over at Lamb’s boat yard. Some of these were left over from time of purchase and had been raised by the survey. Others were general maintenance items, and one (the swim platform that we dinged in the Exumas).

So at the end of July we took Sonas over to the yard with a list of A items that we definitely wanted to get done, and a list of B items that I wanted to discuss with the yard.

The A List.

The survey found last year that the port fiberglass exhaust tube had hairline cracks that was allowing raw water into the engine room. The yard couldn’t see this last year when we asked them to look at it. When we were in the Exumas I saw salt accumulating on a bulkhead so investigated and found the cracks on the inside top of the tube – which you could not see unless you put a camera behind the tube (which I did with my phone). The yard ground out and replaced the fiberglass on both exhaust tubes.

Small cracks in exhaust tube

Both Vacuflush heads were giving us issues while in the Exumas. The master cabin head would prime inconsistently and the guest cabin head had a leak in the vacuum cylinder as well as a fresh water leak behind the toilet seat itself. We had the yard do a full service on both heads.

We found that the bank of twelve wet cell deep cycle house batteries would drain overnight when maintaining the house without the generator. We do have a full size fridge freezer and another chest freezer, and a few other things like lights and heads flush running off the batteries. However they should have enough to manage that. The yard checked the batteries and found that they were on their last legs, so switched them out for twelve low maintenance AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries.

Sonas had a PathMaker system. What this allows you to do is link all of your batteries together to support starting your engines if your engine start batteries were too low. When turned on it would link the house batteries with the start batteries to give them more amperage. The Pathmaker was not working, and in fact was continuously linking the batteries. Which meant that we were also running everything off not only the house batteries but also the engine start batteries when at anchor. This is not the best idea as you could end up running your start batteries too low to start the engines. Rather than try and fix the PathMaker, we had the yard remove it altogether to keep the batteries always separate.

Sonas has stabilizers. These are fins that stick out of the side of each side of the boat and are managed by gyros. As the gyros feel a wave they move the stabilizers so as to keep the boat on a more even keel, which makes for a much more comfortable ride. While our stabilizers worked fine, the starboard one would move and squeak while we were at anchor and asleep as waves rolled across it. This was so annoying that we had to manually lock it down at the end of every day. We had the yard bring in a stabilizer tech who had to replace a few parts and resolve the issue.

Noisy stabilizer inside Sonas

Repair swim platform damage. For those that read our posts from the Exumas you read about our incident with the Glendinning Controls, resulting is a bashed swim platform. The yard did a great job repairing this back to new! See here for that story. 

Dinged swim platform

To fix the swim platform dent the yard had to haul Sonas. So we had them replace all of the zincs, including bonding zincs.

We have a large automatic halon fire suppressant system in the engine room. This has to be re-certified every few years. The yard had the local tech come in and re-certify our system.

Halon system

Finally, the fan for the guest cabin A/C System was running continuously even when the A/C was not running. The yard found that the A/C control board had gone bad and replaced that for us. Now our guests can sleep in quiet!

We also had a secondary list of item that we wanted completed if time allowed. Unfortunately hurricane Irma appeared before that list was started. The yard still had Sonas up on the hard and offered to keep her there for us during the storm. However we felt that she was safer in Queen’s Harbour at our fixed dock, and protected from storm surge by our lock. So we had them launch her and we went and brought her home.

The B list will have to wait for another year.

Below is a gallery of some photos of the hurricane preparation work we saw on the St Johns on our way home.

Once Sonas was home we stripped off the canvas and doubled up on the lines and fenders. We cleared off all loose items and window coverings. We also bungee-corded the helm covers and seat covers down. The storm came through but she rode it out with no difficulties. Unfortunately downtown Jacksonville did not fare so well as the storm surge flooded the city pretty badly.

One lesson we learned was that we should have made sure we had plenty of diesel on Sonas. So that when the power went out at the house we could use the boat generator to keep everything frozen and use the TV, radio, and even sleep on board with the A/C if we had to. We probably only had enough for a few days in the tanks when the storm came through. Fortunately we only lost power for a few hours.

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