"For Boats, even the uglier ones, are among the loveliest creations of man’s hands, and though owning them brings a train of debts, hangnails, bruises, bad frights, and all kinds of worries not experienced by those who content themselves with more practical vices, the relation between man and his boat is as personal and intimate as the relation between husband and wife" – DESMOND HOLDRIDGE
Ever since the purchase of my trusty Southerly 135, I have had an irritation with a fickle galley sink drain. Sometimes it runs away with alacrity and yet, sometimes the dishwater just sits there, seemingly forever. The problem has defied cleaning bleach and the handy plunger but it has never been at the top of the ‘to do list’ so it has, until now, evaded my focus.
So, I began to think the problem through. The sink drain outlet is just below the waterline and there is a twin sink feeding it with large diameter (typical domestic size) waste pipework. There are water filled traps so; there is the potential for an air lock between the traps and the underwater outlet when upright or on port tack preventing the drain from flowing. How do you check the theory? I made the decision to drill a hole in the top of the pipework just below the traps into the hard plastic elbow to vent any airlock – if it didn’t work I could always fill it with silicone so no real harm done. The drilling was something of a challenge as the pipework is recessed and there is little room, it needed a right angle chuck and a shortened drill.
It worked, the sink ran away just like that !
The challenge was then, how to retain the breathing hole yet not suffer a leak when heeled.
The answer was simple. I remembered that I had some domestic irrigation pipe tap off spigots which screw into the soft pipework making their own hole. This I tried to ‘self-tap’ into the hard pipework without success so I had to adapt a thread tap so it could be turned in the confined space.
This accomplished, I screwed the spigot in, I attached the small bore rubber irrigation pipework and extended it ‘uphill’ to the inboard side of the sink so it would not leak when healed. A very simple solution to an irritating problem.
Having fitted two new jammers each side of the companionway to supplement the existing three while in Barcelona, I was keen to add additional organisers on the coach-roof to deal with the additional lines. Ideally I wanted to over-mount double units but unfortunately, the existing Lewmar items were obsolete. The very helpful Chandler in Barcelona located two triple units in stock elsewhere but only one double. Deciding to go for the two triples to match up the arrangement, I inadvertently introduced a potential problem of stray lines being jammed into the ‘V’ that I had introduced. Thankfully, working from sketches and photos, Mike Parsons – friend, sailing mate and employee, came to the rescue and machined a couple of blocks which he sent out with me with the right size drill, tap and screws to do the job so that the potential issue was overcome. Many thanks Mike!
Ventilation for cooling in warmer climates is always a challenge, particularly at anchor where the Air Conditioning is less practical. Leaving the coach roof port lights open is an option but sometimes a mistake as the 14 on the Southerly 135 open inwards and are angled so that, especially in the Caribbean where a torrential downpour can descend without warning, the result can be a sodden interior. Cruising south once again this year, I was conscious of the issue so I was delighted to meet Charlie Hunter in Vilamoura on his 135 ‘Aurora’. He had sourced rain shields from seaworthygoods.com in the USA and they looked as though they would solve the problem. The ordering could not have been simpler and delivery was prompt although there was additional import duty to pay. I fitted the shields to a dozen port lights in less than 2 hours, it could not have been simpler.
One point for consideration however is the jib sheet lead to the track car where it could conflict with one of the rain shields. I have fitted additional track cars mounted at the aft end of the track so the lead can always be positioned to avoid the conflict.
This ‘tale of woe’ has nothing to do with the Southerly but has several lessons which can be drawn from the salutary experience and I hope that by recounting the story, others will be better able to deal with any similar problems should they arise.
In the late 1990’s, I decided that it was time to sell my Parker 31 and move up in size and move to the sun. I focussed on the Jeanneau 44 ‘Sun Magic’ as it ‘ticked the boxes’ for my next phase of sailing. Having viewed several examples of this model, I was rather taken with an ex-charter yacht in Majorca which had been substantially re-fitted by a marina yard and was quite tidy with new sails among other things. They had (apparently) rebuilt the 50hp Perkins engine and I found this reassuring.
On my first extended cruise I was heading back from Sardinia in November…!.. Having been stuck there waiting for a break in the relentless gales, we had just left Menorca when the engine note changed and it was clear that the sea water cooling supply to the engine had failed. Ruling out the impeller, it became evident that the water pump shaft, which was driven direct from the engine cam shaft via a slotted keyway, was not turning. With nearly 100 miles to go to our marina berth in Mallorca and with crew booked on flights back to the UK the following day, there was some pressure. The wind had completely failed and some of the crew were struggling to cope as we wallowed in the uncomfortable swell left over from the storms. We were going nowhere and it was imperative that we found some way to get the engine ‘up and running’. A bit of lateral thinking and improvisation got us underway as we utilised the electric bilge pump, diverted using various connections, gaffer tape and jubilee clips to take a sea water supply from the engine sea cock direct into the heat exchanger. Switching the bilge pump on, the Heath Robinson ‘lash up’ held together all the way back to the marina and only fell apart as we went astern into our berth.
The yard (that had rebuilt the engine) replaced the pump and it was put down (wrongly as it transpired) to ‘one of those things’.
The next time the pump failed, we were just off the entrance to Barcelona Harbour with fortunately a downwind run to the end of our dock. We ghosted down under poles as I worked out how best to achieve a satisfactory berthing under engine. Having full fresh water tanks, I instructed my young son to turn on all the hot water taps down below and I started the engine at the end of the dock. The fresh cold water running through the calorifier cooled the loop through the engine allowing us sufficient time to berth.
The first lesson here is that one should always look behind any failure to establish a cause. In this case, the engine rebuild exercise had not used the recommended alignment tool to ensure that the rotation of the cam shaft was concentric with the water pump and they were not. Every turn moved the tongue and slot backwards and forwards against one another and the result, after a time, was that the tongue was worn into a pin which no longer rotated with the groove.
Purchasing an alignment tool from Perkins, we aligned the pump and cam shaft and kept the reconditioned old pump as a spare that was never subsequently needed in the 13 years that I kept the yacht.
The other lesson which is easily acknowledged but far more difficult to implement is not to make tight travel deadlines. I know that we have all heard this before but far better to have a leisurely day or two in hand than force a passage through inclement weather and unforeseen failures. I feel for charterers who have deadlines to keep!
When I bought my ‘used’ 135, I commissioned Northshore to carry out some work which I felt would benefit from the epithet ‘Installed by the original builders’ should I come to sell the vessel in the future.
Other elements of the Northshore work certainly warrant dedicated articles but my recent Atlantic circuit has prompted this entry regarding the watermaker installation.
With extended cruising aspirations, a watermaker seemed an essential part of the picture and the low output Katadyn 40E was recommended. This made sense as with the planned electrical generation regime, the watermaker could be left running in the background for long periods without taxing the batteries. On the face of it, the installation looked neat and professional.
Because once commissioned, regular ‘pickling’ would be necessary; the watermaker was not tested until heading south for the Canaries. The unit worked perfectly in the marina but failed to produce any desalinated water once underway. This conundrum was the subject of Email exchanges with Jim at Mactra, the agents for Katadyn who was very helpful and supportive, particularly as they had not supplied Northshore as it was a ‘grey import’. Changing the pipework, repositioning the filter in a lower location, repeated bleeding and flushing failed to rectify the problem. It was only a series of progressive elimination tests, culminating in supplying sea water direct from a bucket in the cockpit, that drinking water was eventually produced. The problem was clearly the watermaker sea-cock somehow admitting air so that the pressure on the membrane was compromised (pneumatic instead of hydraulic) but the prospect of filling buckets and holding them in the cockpit for the small quantities of fresh water produced was not practical so we had to think of a better way. Inspiration dawned while on a ‘stop over’ in Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands. We extended the intake pipework and fed it down the keel box slot beyond the hull with a fishing weight attached to the end. This Heath Robinson ‘lash up’ worked perfectly on the 2000 mile passage to the Caribbean and allowed liberal showering which was welcomed by all.
Our analysis suggested that the tiny bubbles that always run along the hull on passage were the root of the problem. In the small quantities normally experienced, the watermaker can deal with their very minor influence as the pressure is overwhelmingly hydraulic. The sea cock that had been installed however, although of good quality bronze with a strainer, was totally inappropriate.
When underway, the tiny bubbles collected in the top of the strainer and progressively compounded into a large bubble which was trapped until the yacht heeled when it was released into the supply pipework and formed against the membrane preventing the seawater from reaching sufficient pressure to pass through.
Jim at Mactra recommended that the watermaker intake should be spaced away from the hull and forward facing but could not recommend any proprietary fitting. Additionally, because of the unique drying out abilities of the Southerly, any protrusion on the underside of the hull would be vulnerable to damage .
The solution turned out to be the modification of a log impeller through hull so that it could be withdrawn when the watermaker was not in use (the watermaker is only used on long Ocean passages)and replaced with the flush blanking ‘plug’.
The strainer sea cock was re-utilised for a new sea water pump inlet under the galley sink which, in the event, all but rendered the watermaker unnecessary!
The addition of 12V sockets in strategic locations to power electric fans has proved to be a real winner. When anchored in the tropics or when the only shore power is American 60Hz precluding the use of the AC, the cooling provided by the fans is a real boon.
We have found that the traditional axial fan has its place but that they tend to be noisy and fragile.
The centrifugal fans however are sturdy, two speed, more compact and will sit on a shelf, out of the way ready to be switched on whenever the need arises. You will find them on Amazon.
I guess if you read reports of crime from around the world, you would not travel and the cruising fraternity, with the advent of the internet, are very good at reporting incidents. So it was that, convinced by Simon and Jenny on Fenicia, whom I met in Albufeira on the Algarve, I decided to design and source substantial security bars for the two main hatches so that they could be left open with no fear of unwelcome visitors. It was important that the bars would occupy a minimum of space when not in use and the design allows for them to be compressed and the ends which secure the bars within the hatch aperture, swivel to reduce the depth required.
The padlock is one of the ‘keyed alike’ padlocks used on board and we take care to keep a key close to the bars so that they can be readily removed should a rapid evacuation be required.
We used the bars extensively throughout the Caribbean, both day and night and although they proved unnecessary, we all slept better (and cooler) for them being in place.
A problem of longer passages is just how to address the problem of the accumulation of rubbish, mainly from plastic food packaging. This can be bulky and inevitably becomes smelly in the warm conditions. We came up with a novel solution to both seal and compact the refuse so that it could be stored flat in the bilge pending disposal in the Caribbean. We used a home-made adaptor which slotted into the end of a re-chargeable vacuum cleaner and cheap vacuum storage bags. Simple !