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, December 11, 2016

Our weather has turned quite frigid but the sailing continues, at least for some.  Others' boats soldier through the cold windy months without ever seeing their owners, clanging in the wind, rocking in their slips.  Not this one.

Early morning photo of  Nautica in her slip waiting for the mechanic to find where she's taking on water while underway.  The hatch boards made of white azek boards with acrylic polymer UV resistant material making her look as if the hatch is open from a distance.  My eye caught the morning sun shining on her stern as I drove up to the dock  this December morning.

Today, my mechanic came aboard to assist in locating the pernicious leak which appears while running the diesel underway and disappears once the engine shuts down.  After checking absolutely every thru-hull (just in case) and every connection, every hose, and attempting to detect moisture in or around the dripless seal, still no resolution, still water comes aboard under diesel power.  

The curious thing is it rises to the point of the bilge whereupon the bilge does its job of evacuating any more than 3 gallons of water below.  Glad for that little bugger!  Nonetheless, there must be a reason water enters while the shaft rotates when we've done all we can to do not have water ingress under power!

While awaiting this service, I've been chasing a few more small leaks and have tried to reduce these to a minimum, or to the point that the small amount of moisture doesn't become an issue.  Regardless, the other day, I noticed on the port side where before my ownership, the bulkhead linked to the port shroud is positioned, was soaking wet.  Ugh.  Never saw that before.  However, I did notice the other day the mast plate had rocked aft and cracks in the adhesive underneath the base were revealed.  Using liquid math, I presume the water did enter at that point, then traveled and found its way inside the core to the port side and fell with gravity through the point of contact with the bulkhead.  I've been constantly advised to fix my cabin roof core as it is probably black and soaked from years of hydration.  But this season is not the season for this.  I will wait until perhaps next summer when the weather has turned oppressively hot, and when perhaps I've adjusted the mast to the point I can have confidence in its position on the mast plate, and then cut open that area and fix it.  The mast plate has to be right first and foremost, then a fix to its surrounding area.

The survey had indicated plenty of moisture on the cabin top, and I have no doubt that a thorough-going surgery of that area is indeed necessary.  That's my priority of work for that area but it is later.

Getting the mast adjusted was my first pre-occupation as it appeared when we stepped it some weeks back, we simply attempted to align the most logical holes with each other.  This began to reveal a mistake, as the photos here show, the cabin top began to push down. 
Yes, it is pushing downward about 1/4 inch.   And at the fore you see a speck of daylight underneath the mast base.  Also note the position of the bolts fore and aft.  There is about 3/4 of an inch of movement possible.  Plus, the aft through bolt was put in the tip of the ski tip shaped mast base when stepped as we had more leverage with our hoist.  Now there is more downward pressure as the bolt passing through the aft of the mast base is under constant downward pressure.
 This bend in the mast plate annoyed me for weeks. I began to determine after chatting with a pal who has a Triton 28, cousin to the Alberg, that I would move the mast itself 3/4 of an inch forward to perhaps alleviate this unintended downward sag.  If you look carefully you can see that at the fore of the plate against the top of the cabin, there is a gap.  Another gap occurred on the port side of the plate.  I wanted to eliminate this potential problem and get the mast as far forward as possible.  When something is as pronounced as a small footprint of several hundred pounds of pressure without the addition of being under sail pressure, every inch is important.  Plus, my distant pals in the Alberg Association, savants all, agreed that forward is better.  Then so it is...

Now pushed forward just that small amount the plate is flat on the deck and more centered over the aluminum support.  Our initial stepping was to insert the bolts where it was most obvious.  However, after 30 days, it was obvious it was not correct.  Action had to be taken to move it forward.  Note: there is very little room for improvement moving forward however little is much at this point.  Plus, the design of the hatch opening just in front of the mast is quiet inconvenient.  Who drew that design?
Loosening the shrouds to the point that shaking one by hand would make the mast base dance a bit at its base, I backed-out the bolts which served to "locate" the base in the fitment, and moved the mast forward as far as 3/4 of an inch would provide me.  I think you can see the result above.  I'm not an engineer but my limited capabilities in that area did suggest to me that since the rigging is holding the mast to the vessel that undoing the bolts was not going to be a difficult affair.  Yet the mast base had sort of a ski tip appearance, rising on the aft end with a tubular opening for a 5/16th bolt.  The fore end is flat metal.  Without any previous information to assist, I decided to forget the allure of the ski tip and convenient tube of that piece of metal and opted for positioning the mast as far forward in the fitment as possible.  I will perhaps re-drill 2 holes in order to insert a bolt across the aft end of the mast.  In any event, the base of the mast was under pressure downward as I had to hammer and punch the bolt out the other side of the through hole in the mast plate.  
This shows a bolt threaded loosely in the aft-most holes of the shoe plate while the ski tip of the mast bottom is seen rising, encroaching on fitting the holes in the next set of holes to fore.  I will punch through below and closer the aft part of the mast base and thread my bolt there.  Already the gaps have disappeared and the cabin top is sighing in relief.
Just for my own sanity I caulked Boat Life around the base as seen in the photo.  

But the mast was something to do while waiting for the mechanic.  Once he had arrived, we both set out on the lake under power to examine how this curious arrival of water into the bilge occurred.  It took about a minute to discover the problem.

He dove into the open cockpit hatch and called out, "here it is..." lifting his wet fingers out from under the rudder packing seal.  I had missed this because I kept looking in the wrong direction with my head under the deck, no one at the helm and the engine in forward!  It was a frantic position in which to be, frankly.  And, since I had Brightsided the below-decks, it was hard to see clear water streaming under the engine wet exhaust tube.  There it was, streaming into the bilge as water was pushed up into the rudder shaft and through the large 2 inch bronze packing bolt with its blue green patina.  It probably had not ever been serviced.

He looked at me smiling gleefully, "Sometimes it takes two people to find these things!"  I was sardonically happy that finally, after pumping out the bilge several times, my mysterious leak was found.  It was cause for celebration nonetheless.  He spent about an hour and a half twisting himself underneath the deck to beat on the nut and finally persuaded it to move ever so slowly.  Then he packed it with new material and closed it again.  "You probably will never have to do this again..." he smiled. 

After he departed, I looked around at the assorted tools, sails, and scattered things "needed" when one is working on several problems at once in such a constricted area.  I cleaned the salon, put away tools, straightened up below decks and sat in the winter sunshine below, light streaming in, warming the teak, and thinking to myself how little time I've had to sit and admire this old vessel until this moment.  Hopefully I will find more of this time now.  After all, isn't that why we get these old boats, to enjoy them?  

Like this beautiful schooner sitting quietly in my living room it is hard to imagine the difficulties such vessels can deliver us as their lines are seductively capturing our imaginations to adventures we might have aboard far far away somewhere.