Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cruising Comforts

If you check out the tabs above, you'll see a new tab titled Cruising Comforts.  Since I cook so much on the boat, I've been asked a good many times about the food I prepare, how I do it, and the recipes for it.  I was initially going to do a page only for recipes, but I decided to start a new blog for all things related to cruising comforts and to link to it on that tab.  I've only started it today so there's only one post, but keep your eye on it as there will be many recipes and cooking tips there as well as other tips to help you bring the comforts of home to cruising.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Which way are we going?

Sailors know that it is possible, indeed usual, to have the bow pointing in one direction with the boat going in a slightly different direction.  Given the state of the wind, point of sail, tides, and characteristics of a particular hull, it is even possible to be pointed the way one wants to go while blissfully unaware that the track over the ground is almost the exact opposite direction. 

The V-Drive man says he can build us up a brandy new unit and ship it our way.  After hours of painstaking research he found a part number for the Westerbeke custom fabricated coupling that will allow a Hurth transmission to be joined to his Walter V-drive.  He seems pretty pleased with his discovery and I am thankful for any hint that there is a way out of this drive train nightmare.  There is only one tiny little problem...

Westerbeke never heard of it.

In the mean time the powder coat people have figured out a way to finish up the hatch frames.  And it will only cost me $200 more to have them fix their mistake than they were going to charge me to do the job in the first place.  Even better, they can have the painted (not powder coated) hatches in my hands in a couple of weeks...which is the exact same amount of time I was originally quoted.  (Though it actually took them almost a month to screw them up.)  I gave the "go ahead".  A couple of grand for a tranny, another couple of grand for a v-drive, the cost of engine mounts and a mystery coupling yet to go; what's another couple of hundred bucks between friends?  At least I'll have something that I can actually put back on the boat.

This is what passes for progress in Kintala's world.

And yet...

I had to leave the marina early last weekend to spend a few days flogging the jet.  It was a good few days, some rain, a few low visibility approaches (one during a night landing - always a good time), even a little ice to knock off the boots.  The day after I got home family arrived for the holiday, kids and grand kids fill the house and a good time is being had by all.  But I woke up this morning and thought to myself, "Man it has been a while since I've been home."

For all of the problems when I think of home I am thinking of the boat.  That seems like a good thing.  Still, its going to be a long, cold interval until spring arrives and we find out if we are making any real headway in the direction of living aboard; or if Kintala is going in the wrong direction.

Friday, November 18, 2011



Not too bad for an itty bitty boat oven, no?  This weekend we're having a yacht club Thanksgiving get-together and it was a good day to stop and bake a pie and enjoy having the boat smell like cinnamon and nutmeg and bubbly apple yummy-ness.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dare I say progress?

Another work weekend on Kintala.  Every weekend is another work weekend on Kintala, so that isn't a surprise.  What is a bit of a surprise is how well it went, and how good I feel about how well it went.  For, truth be told, if I honestly thought that these last few weeks are the best that "living aboard" has to offer, I would be planning my escape back to the land of the sane and solvent.

The tranny is actually hanging off the back of the engine, installed.  All of the mount brackets are wire brushed, sanded, cleaned and painted with Ford red "ceramic enamel".  (Not sure what "ceramic enamel" is, actually.  But it sounds hard and looks good.  Sadly, 80 grit and a rattle can, and the brackets look tons better than my powder coated hatch frames.)  All of the exterior teak is scrubbed and has one last coat of winter protection.  Some plumbing has been replaced.  (I didn't like what I did the first time so I did it a second time.  You do that too, right?)  Both Kintala's and a friend's boat's holding tanks are empty.  We helped move a couple of boats to their winter slips.  Deb did a bunch of work in the clubhouse, getting ready for next weekend's before Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner here at the marina.  (She thought it would be nice to get the "hard core" few together for a Thanksgiving dinner, figuring most people would be busy with the holidays coming up.  So far 40 people have signed on, nearly half the club membership.)

Lastly, some trim that goes around the still missing aft hatches has been sanded and refinished.  While loading a fresh square of 220 on the palm sander and humming quietly to myself I was struck by just how much I had enjoyed this weekend.  I'm not much on mysticism; the limits of my spirits-uality is what proof is being poured into my glass.  But I got to thinking that there would be only two differences between heaven, (if there actually be such a place not filled with religious fanatics) and this day.  The first would be that every day in heaven would be as good as this day.  And the second would be that everyone would get the chance to enjoy their life as much as I am enjoying mine.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Useless Settee Meat

If you haven't read Tim's previous post, read that first so you can get the whole picture.  He spent the weekend thrashing on Kintala, I spent the weekend wrapped up in a heavy wool blanket on the port settee with chills, a pounding sinus headache, and a streppy-feeling throat, sipping on copious amounts of lemon and honey tea.  It was every bit of effort I could muster to make it the 4 feet into the head to deal with the copious amounts of lemon and honey tea.  I did manage to grab the camera on the way to and from the settee and try to take a couple pics of the whole process, so I guess I wasn't completely useless.

Not even one crumb of rubber left here...
Wanna take a guess as to whether these are the original engine mounts????

Brand new mounts courtesy of Torreson Marine and their ultra-efficient shipping department.
Lots of rubber here...

The aft starboard mount was pretty accessible

Not so much on the port side...

The forward port side was infinitely more challenging.

It took an impact hammer for the forward starboard mount.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A massive thrashing

Many, many moons ago my second job in aviation was as a mechanic in Beech's experimental hangar.  One of the crew had been at Beech since WWII, starting as a teenager building control surfaces for fighter planes; Kato.  I don't know if that was a first or last name - it was the only name anyone ever used - it was what his I.D. badge said - and one wag insisted that he had seen one of his paychecks and it was made out to "Kato" as well.  Anyway, he was the best sheet metal mechanic and aircraft systems man I have ever seen.  (You couldn't get him to touch an engine - Kato figured engine work was for grease monkeys.)  We were working on an air conditioning system in a King Air, pulling a vacuum on it to see if it was leaking.  The pressure wasn't falling fast enough for me; I wanted to start taking things apart to find the leaks.

"Son," intoned Kato from his seat by the service cart, "you gotta look at the good side 'till your sure you can't do that no more."  Kato knew that pulling vacuum on a new system could take a while as the water vapor was pulled from hundreds of feet of tubing that had been open to the humid, mid-western summer air.  He was teaching me not to jump to the worst conclusion until there was no other choice.

I put a major thrashing on Kintala this weekend.  (A pleasant change from having her put one on me.)  After a little less than two days her engine is sitting snug on 4 brand new engine mounts.  A job that turned out much harder than it sounds.  Over the years I picked up a lot of tricks when it comes to fixing things. This last weekend I was down to my last one for disassembling corroded parts.  The forward starboard mount was frozen solid in the engine case, one false move could easily lead to a cracked case and a near terminal injury for both bank account and cruising plans.  I ended up splitting the bottom (and utterly frozen) nut off the stud with an air chisel, then taking to the top nut with a 3/8s impact driver, jack-screwing the stud the wrong way (up instead of down) just enough to break it loose.  Then I hammered it down and jack-screwed it back up a few more times; and finally worked it out of the engine.  Heat and lots of penetrating oil were included in the recipe, and all of this accomplished in the few inches available with the engine hanging from a chain-fall supported by the boom, the boat rolling in wind guests to 20+ knots.  (Air tools and portable compressor supplied by Schmidty - who I'm going to write in for President of these United States; though he is way too smart to take the job.)

Mostly I got it done by taking one deliberate step after another, looking at the good side and not facing the worst until it actually happened.  Which it never did.  It was a close call though.  A slip of an air chisel or a hammer blow falling in the wrong place?  Had it been the forward port mount that was frozen there would have been no choice but to pull the engine out of the boat for access.  (Another major setback though not as bad as punching a hole through the case.) 

Instead, what I had feared would be at least a two-weekend-endless-thrash (that had several opportunities to turn into a total disaster) turned out to be a two day job-now-out-of-the-way.  I'm also going to keep reminding myself to look at the good side until I'm sure I can't do that no more.  The mounts are done.  There is no reason to think installing the tranny will be anything but routine.  We haven't decided what to do with the V-drive yet, replace or overhaul.  Either one will have to wait a while until we pry a spot open in the budget, but there is no reason to assume that will prove impossible either.  The big question is still the coupler - and for now I'm going to assume we will figure that one out as well.  We are still walking right along the edge of the cliff here, but it does no good to keep looking over to see how far the fall.

p.s.  If I ever hit the lottery I'm still going to buy me a NEW boat.  I know they come from the factory screwed up; but at least the screwed up parts won't be frozen together by 30 years of corrosion.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Riding the waves...

Not ocean waves, not for a while.  Not even lake waves, that will be a while yet as well.  No, I mean emotional waves which, I must tell you, is a novelty to me.  But this V-drive thing is getting to be quite a ride.  Yesterday I was convinced we were completely sunk.  Walter machine just didn't have any good news and about had me convinced that getting Kintala underway again was going to require nothing short of mechanical magic.  The tech there is convinced that our boat isn't factory and that there is simply no good way to put the parts back together again.  And neither the Tartan factory nor S & S (who designed the Tartan 42) seems to know just what engine / tranny / V-drive combination was originally installed.  (I'm still baffled as to how that can be.  Does the factory just have the assembly line go pull what ever bits happen to be laying around on a shelf somewhere and stick them in a boat?  I admit I used to build go-carts that way, but really?)  The yard that did the inspections has been less than encouraging as well; "You can't expect us to look into the future, can you?" (Well, YES, actually! Why else would I pay you to inspect something?) All that the broker seems to know for sure is that the boat should float. (I'm starting to suspect more lawyers and nasty letters are in my future.)
I was about as discouraged as I have been since we started The Retirement Project.  Retire?  I was starting to think we would be lucky to avoid bankruptcy.

But this morning Deb went into full Internet Sleuth mode and soon turned up pictures of at least three other Tartan 42 drive trains.  Two are very similar to ours and one is down right identical.  Clearly Kintala is factory after all. 

Even though they didn't have the exact information I needed, the email from S & S included the following; (I sent them these pictures.  Ours in the one on the left before I started ripping things apart.)

The two V drives you sent look identical with the exception of the mounting. It looks like they added some hefty mounts on yours, probably for vibration reasons. It also looks like the attachment is simply handled through the small bell housing between V drive and gearbox. I can’t imagine what the big deal is with Walter that they can’t assist you. Perhaps they had a bunch of these blow up. In any event I would probably try to put it back together as it was (obviously with gearbox and V drive rebuilt) and you will undoubtedly get many years of continued use out of it.

Sorry we couldn’t be more help.

Best Regards,
Bruce Johnson
President and Chief Designer
Sparkman & Stephens

I decided that Mr. Johnson has it right.  If its factory that means it worked once upon a time, is working for other people right now, and I can surly make it work again.

Tranny, V-drive, coupler, mounts...

Put the boat back together. 

Make it go. 


So in the morning we will head out to the lake and I will start changing engine mounts...  Getting it all done will still be a massive amount of work and cost a hand full of SBUs.  It probably can't be finished much before spring.  But there is no reason to think that it isn't going to get done.  And that has me feeling much better now.