Sunday, July 19, 2015

Chock full of tales

The port side salon rebuild is in the bag moving the bow repair to the head of the line. There are actually several individual items needing a look: bow cleats, anchor roller, anchor chain lock, and the starboard side line chock. The chock garnered the most concern since it appeared to have been damaged in the storm we rode out off Fox Town. Such a thing doesn't come loose unless something is squished, crushed, stripped, or otherwise rendered not up to factory spec. Kintala's bow chocks are very far forward, just inches behind the bow peak. Access to the underside is anything but pleasant.
Any serious repair to that area would rank as a first class pain in the patute.

The chocks are held down by two 5/16 inch screws that go through a plate and into the deck right at the hull / deck joint. The aft one was loose and came out with just a bit of twisting and pulling. It was too easy for what should have been a damaged fastener. It came free with some kind of dried sealant (4200 maybe) all the way down the threads.  That generally indicates that the threads were never in any kind of a nut or insert; not what I expected to see.

The front screw offered a bit more resistance, expected since it appeared to be the only one actually threaded into something. However, when it came free it too had dried sealant all the way from head to tail. With my mechanic's sense in full puzzle mode further investigation ensued. There was some serious wonk going on with Kintala's starboard bow. It seemed likely that marine industry human wanker wonk was lurking just out of sight.

And so it turned out to be.

Close examination showed that the starboard side chock was 3/8s of an inch narrower than the port side. Though close, the two parts were obviously not a match. Worse, the mounting holes on the port side chock, port side hull, and starboard side hull, are on 6 and  ½ inch centers. The odd ball starboard side chock has 6 and 5/8 inch centers. In other words it doesn't fit.

It is close though, only 1/8 inch off. It was far enough off to keep the screws from lining up with the inserts bedded in the hull. But it was close enough to allow the “installer” to slightly oversize the holes in the deck plate and fiberglass, then drive short screws into place coated with sealant. With the bonding of the additional sealant under the block itself, there was no way to tell that the chock was not actually attached to the bow in any way. It was, quite literally, just stuck on there and held in alignment with a couple of pins masquerading as 5/16s mounting screws.

The sealant, as it turned out, was pretty good stuff. Under normal docking and anchoring loads it held fine. It even handled the storms in Oriental and Charleston, though in both places it shared the load with other chocks and lines. Since those storms we have taken to running the anchor snubbing lines off just one side of the bow. Kintala seems to ride to her anchor better that way, particularly when the wind and waves pick up.

So in Fox Town the starboard chock was on its own. With a Mantus 65 hung off one end, a 23,000 pound Tartan hung off the other, and 50 knot winds driving green water over the fore deck, the sealant holding the aft screw had met its match. Fortunately for us the pitching loads were trying to drive the front screw through the deck rather than pulling it out. The next morning we sailed serenely away unaware of just how lucky we had been.

The best repair for the wonk will be finding the correct part to put on the bow. Since these chocks seem to come in sets of two we will probably end up changing both. This also leads me to believe that the wanker who installed the wonk did so because he just happened to have a chock lying around that was close enough. Why buy a new part when you can put an old part on the boat, and then charge the owner for new? Win – win, right? The boat gets a part.  The installer makes a few extra pennies.

And what does it matter if the thing isn't actually attached.

No one will ever know.


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