Baggy Wrinkles

Baggy Wrinkles
S/V Nautica, Hull #614, Built at Whitby Boatworks Ltd., Ontario, Canada 1977, one of the most recognizeable Carl Alberg designs. A masthead sloop displacing 9000 lbs, keel hull, Yanmar 15 hp diesel, LOA 30.27 Beam 8.75, Draft 4.29, roller furling headsail, tiller, berths for 4, interior teak bulkheads, teak cap rail and cockpit teak coamings, 12 volt lighting, aluminum mast support, Harken self tailing winches, in its day was designed for customers as a Cruiser-Racer, the Alberg 30 remains a Classic design of the large Alberg inventory.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Into the Bilge

Having eyed this location repeatedly while doing other things, I knew one of my upcoming challenges would be the bilge area.  A funny name for the place on any vessel where at the lowest point, the sides of the hull meet and where any residual fluid, water, tools or any loose change, will eventually arrive in a dark, forgotten place that swishes about with ambiguous pipes and wires of some intent.  It is out of sight but not out of mind.  It is where the catastrophe can begin aboard but where it also may be avoided. 

That's my office in case you didn't recognize it.  At the bottom two gerrymandered holes made by some well-meaning sailor, to access the very bottom of the bilge and insert a pump device which today does not function.  Tools are everywhere, but the tool I want is always not here but down the ladder in my truck and vice-versa.  Of course.
And so, with glee, I began my journey downward into the Berg.  By now, I have begun to accept the routine of rising very early and making my way in the ease of pre-dawn traffic to the club where only silly squirrels and curious deer await my arrival.  The summer heat from about 11am until 4pm has been so oppressive this year that I gave up on trying to push through during the day and have selected a morning shift rather than suffer.  I've even taken to parking in the shade on one side of the Berg and moving the Burb to another location as the sun moves.  Plus, I've been very attentive to the fact that the sun has changed positions quickly and the heat has begun to lessen in severity.  Fall is coming.

My work environment below shows the initial jump into the bilge where a non-functioning bilge pump begged for my attention.  Some previous adept sailor had afixed the bilge pump to some sort of fiberglass footing, then used ordinary screws (that's a problem eh?) to affix all to the bulkhead and to the liner flooring.  After several attempts to extract the pump device like a gentleman, I resorted to more primal methods and began to use extreme force to penetrate the bilge area.  Cutting, breaking, and pulling, I managed to extract the arcane but sensible mounting and saw what I was wise not to trust.

What?  Very resourceful and creative but this is going to the trash.  Too arcane and complicated.  Plus the wires were simply hand twisted.  Unreliaible, unsafe, unwanted.  Notice my blue gloves were simply to keep my hands from getting dirty on the job, nothing toxic here lol.

Yes.  Hand-twisted electrical wires to the bilge, the little motor which will save your vessel. 
It worked once or twice but then stopped buzzing and never listened to the electricity again.  Time to toss.  They only cost about 30 bucks!
The surveyor for the Berg had put a price tag of just under a quarter million to rebuild such a yacht as this.  And to trust that to the looks of such a pump are silly.  Replace and verify.

Not being the fount of wisdom, that decision to open the bilge felt pretty good.  I traced the wiring upward out of the dark bilge toward the power source and realized that this system was built for failure.  Extraction and a new pump were in order.  After not much deep thought, I decided this sort of thing need not be fixed with brick and mortar.   I will use NASA's veclro to affix my pump in the bilge.  If it fails in the future or becomes clogged and sticky, out it will come with a snap and be replaced easily.  Why not use a simple solution?

Once I had met the bilge pump, I turned my attention aft to the next part of the bilge, behind the diesel.  My mechanic had advised me to clean up the assortment of electrical wires, get the batteries out from under the waterline, and provide some sort of access to the prop shaft area.  I did this partially already in a previous post where I called this activity "Hot Yacht Yoga," and had cut a bit of an ingress area on the port-side underneath the cockpit where I had extracted the stainless steel muffler box.  It was large enough for a kindergartner but not a man, so I determined to remove the pedestal "mount" area and insert a 10 x 20 hatchway in the cockpit.  The pedestal ring was already under foot in that area and at minimum the hatch would be flat yet provide ample access to the assortment of other skippers' decisions as to where to run hoses and wires below.
Each of these Albergs are different due to various owners and periods of build.  This is the "pedestal ring" to which I refer, however as you see, there is nothing here to stop and see.  It is a hole in the cockpit through which a small tree monkey could climb but through which only an arm could fit.  Beyond in the very stern are electricals, hoses and clamps, the rudder fitment without a hatchway cannot be accessed. 
 While I banged my head on the bulkhead and poured sweat into the bilge, I had decided that easy access for the future meant decisive initiative.  A cockpit hatch, albeit not the most desirable of things to have under foot, provides in this case access to an important area.  My vessel has to be accessed by me because there is no one else who will crawl about and find deficiencies below as will I.  Done.

The hole.  This cockpit sole is so overbuilt that it was not any less sturdy with this gaping hole in it.  I weigh 190 pounds on a light day, and I was standing all over this deck.  There is absolutely no flex to it.  The hatch is rated to handle small elephants as well.  Are there any other questions?  I don't think so.
Using my Dewalt reciprocating jigsaw, I began to eat up my wood blades one by one until common sense chose a metal blade.  After a slow go with metal blades, I grabbed my battery powered skill saw with carbide blade and cut the straight edges and followed with the Jig to make the turns.  The hatch, from Defender, fit perfectly into the space.  The big decision was, "should I use 4000 or 4200 or 5200 3M adhesive?"  After scratching my forehead, now looking like I'd been in a domestic assault situation, I decided this was to be a permanent fixture, and 5200 slow cure would do.  Done.

I already tested getting down into this space and it is possible, however one must take the attitude that it will be a slow process and those wary of claustrophobia need not apply within. 
 There is so much trepidation amongst us non-builders in using permanent adhesive, yet it functions well.  Here, viewing the aft bilge area, not so scarey now, you see a through hull replaced, a white hose to evacuate a deck drain, and assorted wires and hoses, and that prop shaft area.  Leaving the hatch to cure, I will return to affix the 16 screws which will hold it down to the deck.  

For the inconvenience under foot of a hatch in the cockpit sole, this access is easily worth the cost of a hatch and the occasional wetness which might occur if water enters via the hatch seal.  I used the 5200 liberally around the hatchway both surface and vertical seal.  This view is before I glued the hatch down.  The sole is easily a good inch thick and hard as steel.
This hatch provides so much access to this area of the vessel that I cannot imagine not having it now. Am glad I did this now rather than debating the issue.  At this point I will now enter the aft and begin policing the cables and tubes which are randomly lying about.  Will certainly take that photo when I am finished in this area.

Next is the prop shaft however, and am awaiting the mechanic to extract that this week hopefully, and this provides me time to get wiring done, install bilge pump, and finish my house-cleaning in this aft section.