One Week on the Water

The gaskets came in. What the sea strainer is SUPPOSED to look like.

That title is a bit misleading. A week on the water typically means a week out cruising and having fun. Yes, Further is IN the water, but it’s not like we’ve been out sailing around. But there is an update to report…

After several efforts, I was able to find the correct gaskets for the sea strainer — the filter where seawater is pulled in to cool the diesel engine. I got them installed and…voila! The engine started right up. I let it run for a couple of minutes and everything seemed fine. A little smokey, perhaps, but that’s no surprise after it’s been sitting idle for a year and a half.

A day later the mechanics came back and tried unsuccessfully to get the transmission to slip. That said, it’s not like they were running the engine full-bore and in gear (not while tied up in a slip). So at this point, I need to take Further out and open her up to see if I can replicate the problem. And maybe, just maybe, there’s no transmission issue at all. I kinda doubt it but hey, one can hope. (“Hope isn’t a business plan,” I can hear a former boss reciting.)

I also sat down and chatted with the tech who looked at the leaky keel bolt. He said even the quick-fix option, which the company won’t countenance, required lifting the boat out of the water while the nut is removed, some sealant squeezed onto the bolt and the nut replaced. He thought that with just the one bolt leaking that was definitely an option but again, one I’d have to do myself. And another person I spoke with separately asked if I needed to do the fix this year, but that kinda flew in the face of everything I’ve seen about keel-bolt issues.

The company recommended doing a proper fix: hauling the boat out, dropping the keel and fixing whatever is letting the water in there in the first place. That is, as you can imagine, much more involved and much more expensive. But after doing a bunch of research and talking to some other folks, I’m kinda thinking that I’m gonna take the plunge, bite the bullet and go this route. I figure if I get it fixed once and for all, it will be set for the rest of my life. And since Further is from an era when boats were built as strong as battleships, it seems a worthwhile investment.

And there’s a side benefit to doing the job right. Before the keel can be dropped the mast has to be removed. And to be honest, I had several things I wanted to do to the mast this spring, including replacing the old radar as part of an electronics upgrade, fixing and replacing some of the lights on the mast, and replacing all the halyards. All of those chores can be much more easily done with the mast on sawhorses in the yard versus hoisting someone up off the deck. I also had a rig check scheduled for this week in order to check the mast, spreaders, shrouds and such, and they can do that then as well.

So I figure I can have the boat hauled, have the mast pulled and checked by a professional, do the work I listed above myself, and also a few other add-ons to Further I’ve been contemplating that would require a haulout (watermaker, anyone?). Then the pros can drop the keel and fix the bolt issue. Further can then go back into the water fit and rarin’ to go.

To that end, the company just emailed to say they have me on the schedule to start work the week of June 21. In the meantime, I’ve paid for this slip through the end of May and am living aboard (cheaper than a hotel or AirBNB). So I’ll stay here and shoot for a haulout at the end of the month. That’s good timing: I get my second Covid shot on May 18 so I’ll be good-to-go on June 1 if, as they’re saying, you have to wait two weeks for full effect of the vaccine. But starting now and into June I’ll get everything ready so that when the time comes to do those projects on the mast and the hull, I’ll have everything ready to go. And I’ll also keep chipping away at the extensive to-do list I already have.

Had this impressive-looking gust front move through a few days ago. It’s been a windy spring on Chesapeake Bay.

Now I need to decide whether to bend on the sails (including the new genoa which is still in the bag…exciting!) and sail a bit this month. That would mean removing the sails again before hauling out but it also gives me three weeks or so to bop around on the bay and see if I remember how to sail. The tech I spoke to said the boat would be safe but just to keep an eye on the keel bolt while I’m out there.

The weather forecast isn’t too great this weekend but yeah, I think it’s time to get after it again. If anyone is near the Chesapeake and wants to go for a ride…