Boat repair.

A week or so ago, we were at anchor and rafted-up in a cove with another boat when we experienced the largest boat wake we have ever seen on Lake Travis, courtesy of a motorhead who is ignorant of the damage that his wake causes other boats and docks along the lake.  We never saw him, but his wake caused our two boats to smash into eachother, resulting in our port-side gate stanchion breaking.

The next day I got on the phone with Catalina Direct and ordered a replacement.  That was the easy part.  The fun-part remained:  figuring out how to access the nuts & bolts below deck to make the repair.  Suffice to say that it was not a Catalina 320 design point to make access to the stanchion bolts easy or straightforward.  The Catalina 320 owners’ association discussion forum was a helpful resource, with some threads describing the repair.  I decided to document our experience, along with some photos, in the event it helps another sailor down the line.   This is a two-person job, as screwing and unscrewing the nuts requires one person above deck, and one person below.  Oh, and the below deck person needs to be small enough and able to contort his/herself in a very confined space for the duration.  This repair took about 4 hours.   While this post documents replacement of a port-side gate stanchion, I imagine it would be a similar experience for replacing any other stanchion, but the location will dictate a different set of steps to gain access.

In the photo below (new part on the left, broken part on the right)  you can see that the threaded rod of the port-side gate stanchion’s aft leg was broken off at the deck.  It’s actually a great design, in my opinion, because even though the stanchion was bent significantly enough inboard to pop the weld on the threaded rod, there are no outboard through-deck bolts to damage the deck by being pulled out when the damage occurs.  Another thing worth noting is the width of the “h” on the new stanchion was about an inch less than the old one.  You can kind of see that in the photo.  But we were able to remedy that by a gentle, but firm, pull on the legs to spread them enough to make the bolt holes line up with those on deck.   Don’t forget to order the new nuts/bolts/washers that are recommended in the listing for the stanchion on the Catalina Direct website.  They have to be ordered separately.  Our old bolts were bent pretty good, and the washers were cupped a bit.

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The life lines on our 320 connect forward at the bow pulpit.   Easy enough to remove for the repair.

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Now for the fun part.  On a 320, the bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion are located behind the aft galley cabinet.  The bolts for the forward leg are behind the middle galley cabinet, where the microwave sits.  You’ll want to open both of them up to gain access.   I recommend taking the divider wall between the two cabinets out as well to make maneuvering a little easier.  There is a molded fiberglass cable chase/run behind the wood trim inside the cabinets.  You will need to cut away part of that to access all the bolts.  A previous owner of our boat had cut some of it away for some other repair or installation.img_1147

When I first opened things up to see what I could see, this is what I saw in the aft cabinet.   Some of the fiberglass panel had been cut away already, but not enough for this repair.

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I used a Dremel tool to cut away another 4 inches or so.   BE CAREFUL to not damage the cabling behind the fiberglass panel!  Also, take precautions to not work around live electric cables, to avoid damage/death to yourself.     I also recommend eye protection and wearing a mask to protect yourself from breathing in the dust while making the cut.   And, beware, that cut fiberglass edge is sharp.img_1142

This is an upclose view of the 3 bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion.   The big one is the broken outboard threaded rod.  The 2 inboard ones are the smaller through-deck bolts for the aft leg.  I had to lower the cabling that was fastened below deck to get access to the bolts.  I found that there was no clearance below the threaded rod to allow me to use a socket of any kind.  So I had to use a wrench to turn the nut, little by little.  As I did, the top of the broken-off rod rose slowly above the deck, eventually enough to be able to put a vicegrips on it above deck, to keep it from turning as I removed the nut the rest of the way.   I also will note that the recommended bolt/nut/washer kit that we ordered contained new stainless bolts for the inboard holes of the aft leg that are about an inch longer than the old ones.  That might make using a socket difficult, if you don’t have a deep enough one.

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This picture shows all 5 bolts – the 3 of the aft leg, and the 2 of the forward leg.  It also shows how nice it is to not have the dividing wall between the cabinets there.  It made reaching through with tools easier.img_1143

We first removed the inboard bolts of the aft leg.   Monte unscrewed the bolt above deck, while I held the nut below.

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This is a shot of the deck with all the bolts removed, and the old adhesive scraped away.   We used fresh marine adhesive, liberally covering the area of each foot.  All that remained was to install with the new hardware.

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Voila!  repair complete.

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Ohmigosh, 2015 already!?!

I want to wish you a most happy New Year and all the best to you and yours in 2015!  I have been away a while.  Partly due to distractions.  But also partly due to the fact that I had run out of online storage space for my blog @ wordpress, and I wanted time to think about how and or whether to upgrade the options for my blog.

In the end I decided to simply buy a storage upgrade (to add an additional 10G to the default 3G limit).   When my domain options are up for renewal next year, I might consider upgrading to Premium on wordpress, which includes the increased storage, but I bought myself some time.

I think last we crossed paths out here in the blogosphere I was headed home from a long visit in Seattle, back to Austin.   Suffice to say I have not been idle.

The day after coming home, we left for a fantastic week in Paris – a trip we took with little pre-planning; celebrating a birthday in a place we both love.  And since then:  Thanksgiving, family visiting, Julie graduated and left Austin to take the next step in her life’s path (sniffle), Christmas & New Year’s, and we have spent some fun times with friends.

Somewhere in there 2014 slipped away.  Today I find myself on the second day of a new year — a few weeks delinquent in blog posts but looking forward instead of behind.

Here are just a few picks to fill in since last I posted:

Bon Anniversaire!

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Post-Thanksgiving Day sail:

IMG_7228 A day trip through the Hill Country and a hike to the top of Enchanted Rock on a clear December day with my sister & brother-in-law:IMG_7275

Christmas Eve:

IMG_7336And New Year’s Eve:IMG_7363

I can’t wait to see how 2015 unfolds….

Saturday sunset.

A three day weekend!  Yep, you guessed it, we headed to the lake.   Lori and Dave anchored out with us.    Here’s our favorite spot at sunset, the view off the starboard side of Nirvana.
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We layed on the deck and played ipod wars ’til we couldn’t keep our eyes open.  The breezes were light all night, so we rigged the windscoop for the first time, and it worked great.  We were very comfortable in the v-berth up front.
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Goodbye, August!

Fair breezes.

We enjoyed a fun raft-up last night.   It’s been a long time since we’ve had 5 boats rafted up overnight.   Last night it was Monte and I on Nirvana.  Nick, Isabel, Lorene and Dimitri on Kalliopi.   Wally, Kurt and Kevin on Zen.   Kirk and Lilly on La Cima del Cielo.   And Brent and Lawrence on a Catalina 27 that came in under the veil of darkness before the near-full moon rose, so I didn’t catch their boat’s name.   We played ipod wars into the wee hours.    This morning we lounged around on deck and floated behind the boats till after noon.   Then Nirvana and Kalliopi sailed down to Carlos & Charlie’s, and then turned around to make way back up to our slips.    Isabel sent us this shot that they took on our way back to the marina.

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Back at the marina we checked out the boat to make sure everything was ship-shape, since our docks are now offshore by nearly a mile.   We will allegedly have power hooked up in a few weeks.  We shall see.   The lake is at about 621′.   Terribly low.   It’s no longer a lake.  It’s just a windy river with lots of new hazards around every corner.  I’m starting to think it will never rise again.

Joe came out visit with us on Nirvana for the afternoon.   It was really nice to get a visit in with him.

Unos momentos desde mi Cinco de Mayo.

Hola!  Happy Cinco de Mayo.  Before I forget, I want to post this shot that I took yesterday.   I took it with my waterproof camera from the kayak, so I wasn’t able to upload it until today.   This is Nirvana and Sapphire at anchor.    Pretty boats.

Rafted up in Arky South.

Rafted up in Arky South.

Today I paddled completely around Arky South cove.  I enjoy paddling.  But I like, even more, cruising along the shore for found objects.   Today’s haul: 4 plastic bobbers, 1 popper jig, 1 croppie tube jig, and 2 nice docklines with spliced loops.

Then we pulled up the anchor and sailed for several hours.  We sailed along with Kalliopi (with Nick and his kids on-board) for a while.  Then we turned around and caught a glimpse of Lori, Joe, Wally and Kelly on Camelot, with her newly raised 150 whomper jib.  I think Lori’s getting serious now, ever since Nirvana beat Camelot in a beer can a couple weeks ago. 🙂

On the way home, we saw this guy riding along 620.   Amazing.   It appears to be direct drive, no evidence of a chain.   And, I have no idea how he stops / dismounts this thing – that front tire is about 5′ in diameter.

Lance, is that you?f

Lance, is that you?

And, now back home, we are celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Julie.  Salud!

Made by the master.

Made by the master.

At anchor.

Saturday!!  This is likely the last weekend before our dock becomes disconnected from shore, power and water. Lake Travis is low and dropping.  😦    This guy was guarding E dock when we arrived.

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We anchored up in Arky south again.  Rory and Greg arrived on Sapphire and joined us after a couple hours.   We have the kayak stored in the slip now so it’s easy to bring it out with us.  This is its first outing of 2013.  Many more to come.

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One of those days.

Nirvana mainsail.

Let’s see… up at the crack of dawn to prepare for the day’s meetings.  Back-to-back meetings from about 6AM to 10PM.  Dropped the gallon of milk on the floor, which exploded all over the kitchen, while on a conference call.  Heated meeting discussions. New technical problems with several projects underway.  HR issues.

I need to find my happy place.

On a positive note 🙂  the mainsail is ready to be picked up.  So, Monte headed there this afternoon to pick it up and rig it back on the boat.  I would love to go help, but it’s not going to happen today, so I think Kurt is meeting him there to lend a hand.  The picture above is one of the mainsail on Nirvana the first time we took her out, on the seatrial.  The repairs were to replace the luff tape (the black tape that runs up the mast side of the sail).  It should raise and lower much more easily now, as the last one was frayed and broken in places.

Here’s to a better day, tomorrow.

The old and the new.

We’re gonna do it.

The marine survey was scheduled for today.  I took the day off work so that I could be there with Monte for it.  The marine surveyor was fantastic.  He spent about 10 hours on the boat with us, inspecting virtually everything on the boat while explaining how everything worked as he went along.  He didn’t find much wrong, and no surprises.  So, pending getting the final report from him, I think we will be upgrading from our beloved, homebuilt wooden catboat that we’ve been playing on for the last 8 years, to a big-kid, plastic boat that we will be enjoying for the next 15 or so years.  🙂

Moving on up?

Cupholder II?

We went to the lake today early, to finalize an offer we’ve made on a new boat.  It’s not a done deal – we still have to take it out for a sea trial and have a marine surveyor inspect it, but if there are not problems found, this may be our new ride in a couple weeks.

We have infinitely enjoyed sailing and playing aboard our unique, homebuilt wooden catboat for eight years.  We treasure the friends we have made at the marina in those 8 years, too.   We are not ones to make big decisions lightly.  But we recently decided to make a move up to a bigger boat, and this is the one that presented itself.    If it doesn’t work out, no biggie, we’ll wait for the next one that feels right.  If it does work out, I look forward to another 10-15 years of fun aboard this boat on our beautiful lake with our sailing friends.

I’ll keep you posted!