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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Saturday, November 5, 2016


This has been my preoccupation since the Berg arrived in South Carolina.  Whether from rain or from the lake below, I wanted to make sure that any leaking was arrested.  That is probably too tall an order when you consider there are a thousand places where screws are loose, or fiberglass adheres to metal, and leaks grow over time and find their way into the boat.  Nonetheless, that was and continues to be my preoccupation.  

So, you can understand why a leaking valve in the bilge got my attention the other day.  She'd only been launched when one of my club pals said, hey there's a leak down there!  Yup.  About one drop of water sweated off the valve on the port-side.  How frustrating.  I had made sure I addressed both of these deck drain valves.  I replaced the through-hull on the starboard because it was not seated well but on the port it was very firm.  However, I failed to turn the valve sufficiently to stem the sweating and stop the endless stream of the lake into the bilge.  

A pal looks down below and says, "I believe you have a leak...!"  Not the words I wanted to hear just after launch.

Good news was that the bilge pump was not concerned.  It was set on Automatic and had not felt any compunction to start tossing water overboard yet.  Ok, that was a win.  Still I had to stop this sweating valve.

After scratching my goatee overnight, I decided the best solution was to undo the valve completely, re-apply plumber's teflon tape to the threads on the valve, and re-put the valve, tighter this time.  This of course meant a trip overboard to plug the through-hull entry.  But I also thought of the difficulty of dealing with a "live" valve, that is, there is water ready to jump aboard if I but remove the valve.  This means that I must have some sort of way of stopping the lake from entering the Berg.  After some whimsical images in my mind of what this might be I was walking past a plant on our patio outside and noticed a champagne cork staring at me from a planter.  Voila, that's it!  A cork.  And, as we used to drink quite a bit more wine than now, we have a few hundred wine corks in a basket ready for such service.  I grabbed another champagne cork of different size and several wine bottle corks from German white varieties and French reds.  Off to the club with a viticultural solution!
Just the right size for a through hull .
Seems that at an older age we're not so excited to be jumping into a lake in brisky Autumn.  There was a chill in the air the other morning when I changed into my surfing gear (no wetsuit however) and plunged into the murky lake water.  I love the water but I also love it on my own terms, and the more I get older the less I want to have my breath taken away by a plunge.  The effects of age I guess.

I knew I would video this event because there's just something about a wine cork in the hull that evokes such utility that it cannot be left to imagination.  And, if I had not been so safety-minded, I would have left the PFD aboard and jumped in without it so that I would not have had to fight my own bouyancy to insert the cork.  This proved to be ridiculous and the video betrays it.  This footage is after I fought to remain underwater and shoved the cork into the opening as I resubmerge, sounding like an alien, and I push the cork a bit further to assure that I would be able to keep the water back while I changed the fitment in the hull and reset the valve tighter.

Now that the slow 10 second sweaty drip is over, I can relax a bit more that the Berg will not be resting on her keel full of water when I arrive at the club.  In retrospect, the issue for me was not over-tightening either through-hull upon refit.  I completely changed the starboard through-hull but only the valve on the port.  And because the piping used, I presume original, is of an old-school variety, it won't hurt my feelings either to change it out later.  But this refit is only meant to get me into the water with the least of changes to see what works and does not work and to see how I would improve on the Alberg's systems after a season or two of sailing.  That also gives me ample time to get the trailer tires replaced etc., etc.

I am sure there are more of these sorts of adventures ahead however I hope they are few and far between.