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The Wonderful World Of Electrickery

The Wonderful World Of Electrickery

As soon as one major project is finished, the next one is champing at the bit to get started, or recommenced, or finished, or something. We have known for some time that the batteries were just about dead.  The main house battery hasn’t been holding a charge for some time and the smaller starting battery is probably near the end of its life also.  The designations for which battery is the house and which is the starter are purely mine.  Old Keith, the previous owner is no longer around and has gone off on the great eternal cruise, so apart from whipping out the Ouija board, there is no way of knowing what he had in mind when he began modifying the electrical system on The Gull.  I believe it was Keith that put the dual battery system in, as well as upgrading the lights to LED.  The folder that we inherited when we first took ownership of the boat tells the story of the last couple of decades of La Mouette.  It is full of receipts and instruction books, surveys and sales brochures.  It is a very interesting read indeed, and from reading between the lines, and a close examination of purchases, much can be revealed.  For instance, the rust in the gearbox we encountered was due to salt water ingress and we have discovered receipts where the gearbox was repeatedly flushed to get all the salt water out.  We still have no idea how it got in there in the first place but there are lots of blanks that we would desperately love to have filled in.  The sales brochure from a boat broker that is about 10 years old plus various survey pictures show us a slightly different boat to the one I am currently the owner of.  It’s not that dissimilar, but there are lots of little differences, mainly cosmetic, but the distribution panel is different, as are the curtains, cushion covers.  Telling the story of some overhauls by Keith.

Ten years, however, is a long time in boat years, so it’s not really surprising that it’s now time for a major refit of all of The Gull’s systems. The rigging and mast have been done, the engine has just been overhauled and now it’s time for the electrical system.  At this stage everything is pretty much an open book – do I completely strip every last wire, switch, relay and fuse out of the boat and begin from scratch with a new system, or do I break it down into sections and replace them one at t a time?  What electronic gizmos do I want to incorporate in this brave new world, or is it just the same system as before but newer?  Well solar charging is definitely on the agenda as is a stereo system.  I have a portable blue tooth speaker box, and it pumps out great sound but the battery only lasts a half hour before it needs recharging.  Music is important, so I think a stereo, probably with Bluetooth, and decent speakers are definitely on the agenda.  New radios are also on the list as is a new distribution panel.  The old one is one of those cheap rocker switch types you see in the chain chandleries for about $35.  The other big question is do I do it myself or pay someone of unknown quantity or quality to do it for me?

Truth be known, I am not an expert on electrics. The wiring diagrams that I have been looking at are very abstract and no doubt that people more experienced in electrical matters than I can read them very well.  I am also struggling with a lot of stuff such as bus bars and where do you put them,   I do have the wonderful Nigel Calder book on Boat Maintenance, plus a few other books on refitting marine electrical systems but they all seem very confusing.  Hours and hours of research are paying dividends bluand some of the fog is clearing but it’s a long and winding road.  I have learnt a lot of things however, which leads me even more in the direction of a total rewire.  For instance, the main power feed to the distribution panel comes from the engine ignition switch.  Yes, that’s right, there is a red wire coming from one of the ignition terminals up to the panel when it should be coming from the battery switch and have a fuse somewhere along the wire.

I have noticed that there has been a distinct lack of fuses. The automatic bilge pump was connected straight to the battery with no fuse.  I installed an inline fuse early in the piece.  It seems to be a common feature of boat ownership in that you spend a lot of time and resources fixing up dodgy repair work from previous owners.  I would guess that the reason why a  lot of people end up with DIY electrics (and a lot of other stuff) is because the boating industry is so expensive.  Maybe if goods and services were a bit cheaper, and more reliable and trustworthy, then boat owners would make more use of professionals – and they wouldn’t have to charge as much.  But this is fairy tale stuff – like living happily ever after!

The basic theory in the coming electrical refit is to keep everything as simple as possible. Not too many complex systems.  There will be interior lighting of course, the outside boaty type lights, radios and of course engine electrics.  A solar charging system and a few nav instruments and that’s about it.  We will probably get a fridge one day, so provision for a few other items will be built into the system.  The major change that is planned is to create an electronics station just above the port quarter berth.  I will make up a wooden panel where the new distribution switch, radios, stereo, 12 volt outlets etc will go.  The engine dashboard will remain in the port inside companion way bulkhead where it is and possibly a couple of engine gauges. The system will be totally DC of course – shore power currently consists of an extension lead and a power board.  It will stay this way – no shore power when you are on the hook or on the mooring.  It’s only at marinas you have access to shore power, so we don’t really believe that a complete electrical system is really justified for those odd occasions.  Besides “off the grid” means “off the grid”.  The only thing holding us to the dock should be the mooring lines.  Certainly not power cables.

Like most plans and projects, things will change and evolve somewhat – “oh look at the shiny thing – we must get one for the boat”! Lin and Larry Pardey didn’t have electrics in their boats and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.





Light the Blue Touch Paper and Run Like Hell!

Light the Blue Touch Paper and Run Like Hell!

Watch out seagulls! La Mouette now has an engine that works, however, as we all know, it’s not enough for a diesel engine to just go suck, squeeze, bang, blow.  It also has to propel the said vessel through the water to destinations with palm trees.  Well at least to get the boat out of the marina to where the sails can take over, and then go to destinations with palm trees.  But I am getting ahead of myself here – there won’t be any palm trees until La Mouette can get out of her berth!

The engine rebuild went fabulously, unfortunately, we faffed about too much and by the time the rebuild was completed, Christmas was upon us and the installation was delayed, in fact, until February.   As I am inexperienced in aligning the engine with the propeller shaft, we got the boys from Minards Diesel shop to give us a hand.  James, who lives in nearby Ettalong, helped out.  Tuesday was set aside as the big day, and I took a couple of days leave to prepare the boat and do all the last minute jobs.  Monday was spent finalising the engine mounts.  The original ones were quite rusty and pitted and needed a jolly good clean up.  The rubber mounts were going to be replaced, but the actual brackets, which were basically 90×90 angle needed a good clean and a coat of paint.

The starboard forward mount seemed to be the worse one out of the four brackets – mainly because it was situated directly under the water pump and at some time in the past, the pump must have leaked with the result that the bracket was incredibly rusty. It was so rusty in fact, that despite being cleaned up with degreaser, hit with a wire brush bit in a drill, and then being treated with rust converter, followed by two coats of primer, the rust was still coming through.  I even cleaned it up several times  and after several more coats of primer, the rust still came through!  Very frustrating to say the least.  In the end, I filed and sanded it – eventually, I ended up with four engine mount brackets that looked good enough to go back in.  There were also a few other bits and pieces that needed cleaning and a coat of paint which was duly done.  The centre piece of the engine is the red five litre fuel tank that sits on top and it was going to need to look good.  The original tank had had a leak at some stage and was fixed with epoxy.  The boys from Minards recommended scrapping it.  The spare tank I had was in pretty poor condition as the flange was separating due to rust.  E-Bay came to the rescue and I purchased another tank.  However, when cleaning this one up, I found that someone had repaired a leak by braising an old two cent piece to it!  I had definitely got my two cents worth with this tank!

With all the bits painted up and looking new all that remained now was to do one last clean of the engine bay, install the mounting brackets and ultimately the engine.

Tuesday morning dawned to the sound of ducks quacking around the marina and fisherman scooting around the bay in their tinnies. James came around with the engine and we man-handled it out of the truck onto the trolley, up onto the wharf and ultimately into the sparkling clean engine bay using the boom as the lifting device.  Surprisingly, all the engine mounts located correctly except one, the forward starboard mount.  Guess which bracket gave me all the trouble when I was painting and cleaning?  Correct, the forward starboard mount.  For some strange reason it just didn’t line up with anything.  James went out and found some 90×90 angle from somewhere and made up a new bracket.

By the end of the day, the engine was pretty much in but a lot of things still needed to be done before we could hit the starter button. Friday was the next scheduled day and things would continue then.

We stayed over on The Gull on Thursday night in order to get an early start. Friday morning saw more of the Yanmar come together and by the end of the day it was pretty much ready to go.  As we sat back in the cockpit in the late afternoon enjoying a couple of well earned beers, we watched a huge storm front come through.  First, the black clouds headed south west, then the wind changed direction by a complete 180 degrees.  You could see the storm still heading one way and some of it coming back the other.  It was quite strange.  Then the air changed and we all felt that pre-storm feeling – a disturbing quietness.  Perhaps it’s the negative ions that give that feeling, or it’s just the anticipation of what’s to come.  It was time to go.  We packed everything up and headed back to the city.  With the storm had come a blackout and there was no power in the area,  including the train crossing at Woy Woy.  The resulting detour and traffic jam added another half hour to the trip home.

Saturday morning was the run down the final straight. Everything had been connected, aligned, bolted, painted, crimped, fuelled, charged and given one final wipe over with a clean rag.  The big moment had arrived.  James had mentioned a problem with the alignment in that he couldn’t turn the propeller shaft.  This was strange as I had been turning it around a few days earlier to paint the flange.  It appears that the shaft had to be pulled up into the boat a little bit in order to get it to mate with the output shaft from the gearbox and it we figured that the most likely reason was a barnacle build up on the propeller itself.  To check if this was the case, I gaffer taped a waterproof camera to the boat hook and stuck it over the side to have a look.  The propeller wasn’t just encrusted with barnacles, it was basically a blob of them.  No wonder we couldn’t turn the shaft!

Would it work? That was the big question.  The wiring harness had been in as a poor condition as the rest of the engine bay and some stopgap repairs had been needed.

I am surprised that we haven’t experienced any problems with the wiring to date as a lot of it is in pretty poor condition. High up on the to-do list is a total rewire.

With all the battery cables connected up and the wiring loom connected, the ignition switch was switched on and we quite surprised to hear the shrill warning buzzer sound. Of course, it’s supposed to sound and boat owners are conditioned to expect it when you turn the key, but it still came as a surprise!  We must have got something right!  That was the first position of the ignition key, the second is the actual start and we gave it just a quick turn and were gratified to hear the engine try and turn over.  All that remained was to bleed the fuel line.  Once bled we hit the key and ….  It started!  It took a few moments for it to settle into some sort of regular idle but it was going.  We killed the engine and again hit the starter.  Bang, it went straightaway.  The various deities were looking upon us favourably.

Until the prop is cleaned of its barnacle collection, there wasn’t much more to be done. Just clean up the boat and make it ship shape again.  The wooden engine box was put back in place and the main saloon was tidied up.  Things were starting to get back to normal.  The afternoon saw another storm front come through and this time the drive back to Sydney was fraught with excitement as hail stones were bouncing off the bonnet and the motorists on the freeway couldn’t handle the hail stones, nor the rain which seemed to be a wall of water at times.  Sydney drivers are just like cats – a few drops of rain and they go into a mad panic and rush around doing stupid things.

It’s one thing having your engine looking brand new and working, but La Mouette still has to leave her berth and once again brave the currents and tides of the Brisbane Water Channel, not to mention all the kayakers, jet skis, ferries and the antics of the BBQ hire boats. But more of that next time.


What Shall I Buy My Boat for Valentine’s Day?

What Shall I Buy My Boat for Valentine’s Day?

The world of Facebook is a weird place and I sometimes wonder why I even have an account. As much as we all complain about it, we are nonetheless compelled to continually check it out and inevitably winge and grumble at all the crap we see on there. At the moment, people are having a complete meltdown about some of Donald Trump’s policies, however, Facebook is one of those things that at any one time, someone is having a complete meltdown over some issue or other.  In between the meltdowns are pictures of cats, dogs and what people are having for lunch.  That’s pretty much what Facebook is about.  I had a Twitter account for a while but just didn’t get what it was about, but it seemed to be much the same, people having complete meltdowns but without pictures of cats.  As for Instagram, I have no absolutely no idea what that is about, but somehow there will be meltdowns or cats somewhere, after all it’s the internet!  Oh, there was one meme recently that I found amusing, can’t remember the picture but the caption was “What shall I buy my boat on Valentine’s Day?”  There were other variations too,  “what shall I buy my car/bike/Land rover”?

It’s very timely actually, because the engine is scheduled to go into La Mouette on 13, 14 and 15 February. Valentine’s Day.  Well the thirteenth is Valentine’s Eve and the fourteenth is actually Valentine’s Day and the engine should be in place by then with the just all the hoses and wires to connect up and then, fingers crossed, it will go.  Instead of being the intrepid, self-reliant, do-it-yourselfer, I am getting the diesel shop to help install the engine.  The main reason being the alignment of the prop shaft to the gearbox flange.  As a result of the rebuild the engine has got a replacement gearbox and the, chances are something isn’t going to be quite right or fit on the engine mounts like it used to – so that will have to be fixed and then the alignment done.  The alignment is critical and I haven’t done one before, so this is my chance to see how it works.  The learning curve is steep!  I haven’t seen a Youtube sailing vlog yet of someone doing a prop shaft alignment.  There are instructional videos on Youtube on alignments and I have watched them, but have yet to see SV Delos, Sailing Uma, Whitespot Pirates or Drakeparagon get out their feeler gauges, dive into the engine bay and do an alignment.  I rather think that they pay someone else to do it also.  I know that most of them have had engine troubles at one time or another.  Some of the vloggers seem to have magic boats that nothing ever goes wrong and they just live the high life of sipping gin, admiring the bikini girls whilst anchored off a pristine white beach with palm trees and a gorgeous sunset.  Other vloggers are a bit more down to earth and seem to live in the same universe as I do.  Just when I think that my boat is about as unreliable as an old Series Landrover, I can watch other couples experiencing the same boat issues that I am experiencing and feel reassured that it’s just not my boat, but just part and parcel of the joys of boat ownership.  Part of the fascination of the Youtube sailing vlogs is that they are people just like me, getting out there and having a go, making mistakes, finding solutions and most of all, trying to get something out of life.

So, once Valentine’s Day has come and gone, all the chocolates have been eaten, and the roses start to droop, will I be out there navigating the channel, avoiding the rocks and yelling orders at the crew?  Not quite.  La Mouette hasn’t moved from the berth for a while and her bottom will be growing things.  I even hate typing words such as “hasn’t moved from the berth” – it’s almost an admission of failure.  La Mouette has become like all those other boats that never leave their moorings.  However, we both know that it’s not quite like that, but nonetheless, it sometimes feels like that.  Next on the list is a haul-out and bottom clean.  La Mouette, I am also ashamed to admit, has a couple of blisters on her bottom and they will get fixed.  In fact, the plan is a soda-blasting to remove the 30 odd layers of anti-foul and go back to bare gel-coat.  Fingers crossed we won’t find any disasters under all that antifoul, fix what needs fixing and then a couple of layers of epoxy barrier so that those pesky blisters don’t return.  The plan is to get a couple of other jobs done whilst she is out of the water and then we can begin navigating those channels once more and shouting orders at the crew when they don’t do as they are told.

Exciting times ahead for La Mouette and her crew, but more on that next time.

The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix

The range of skills you need to have to successfully maintain your boat is really quite broad. You need to be a rigger, an electrician, a carpenter, diesel mechanic, painter, sewer/seamstress, fibreglasser (or whatever a fibreglassing expert is called).  These are just the basic skills – then there are some specialist skills such as welder/boilermaker, fitter and/or  machinist.  The mind boggles – how do you learn all this stuff?  A lot of books on the cruising lifestyle suggest you go and do courses to learn stuff such as basic diesel maintenance etc.  On top of the maintenance skills, there are also the sailing skills which encompass sailing, navigation and docking.  You can then throw in a few other skills into the mix such as cooking and first aid.  A lot of people only learn a couple of these in their lifetime, let alone the whole lot.  To be honest, I don’t think a lot of boat owners have the whole suite either, although I do know a few people who come very close.


As for myself, I have picked up a few things along the way and have a lot to learn. I have tinkered about with petrol engines a bit in the past and learnt a lot of my mechanical skills that way, but not really had much to do with diesel engines, although my car, a Landrover Defender, has a diesel engine, it’s never broken down (touch wood) and all the maintenance has been done by the dealer.  I have yet to bleed my marine engine – mainly because I haven’t had to do it yet, but learning that is just around the corner.  The Yanmar is infinitely a lot more simple that the Defender engine, but at some stage I will need to learn how to bleed it also.  Surprisingly, owning motorcycles, is perhaps one of the areas that will give you the greatest range of skills to be able to do boat maintenance.  Granted a bike doesn’t have rigging or sails, and is petrol powered, but there is a heck of a lot of other things in common.  Fibreglass?  If your bike has a fairing and luggage you will need fibreglass skills.  It has an electrical system and  a mechanical system.  But really the main common factor is that self-reliance and the attitude of “having a go”.  Yes, there are lots of bike owners, who couldn’t adjust the mirrors without help, but there are a hell of a lot that can fix a lot of things that break, or won’t be afraid to have a go at fixing them.  I hear you cry that bikes are very technical these days and you need specialised training.  Yes, they are a lot more complex than they used to be, but underneath all those hoses and wiring and computer systems, they still function the same.  Boats and cars still function the same basic way they always have and the skills required don’t change.


I have just gone through a week of sorting bike issues to get it passed for its annual registration renewal. The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) has been playing up and needed sorting.  In Just one week, I have learned how to remove the upper fairing sections and the instrument cluster from the bike.  Once removed, I opened up the instrument cluster to remove and replace the ABS warning lights.  And then put the whole lot back together again.  I also now know how to remove the ABS unit and replace it.  Bleeding the air out of the braking system is a fairly standard operation, and it hasn’t changed all that much over the last few decades.  Of course, I am not doing this blind.  I start off by trawling through the Internet forums for my model bike and can usually find instructions from someone else who has done this before.  Then there is the manual and of course, good old Youtube.  Spend a bit of time researching how to get to the instrument cluster and then the removal and replacement, and that’s half the battle.  The other is getting out there and getting practice.  I can imagine that attempting to repair something as complex as a BMW motorcycle can be really daunting for those that have no experience.  I don’t count myself as experienced but I have fixed other things and I know how to go about fixing it – even if I don’t know the ins and outs of a particular job, I know how to go about it.  Finding out what’s wrong and then finding out to fix it.  Is it fixable?  Where do I get the parts from.  Can I get parts other than that supplied by the dealer?  Are there other modifications or procedures that aren’t necessarily in the owner’s manual?  You would be surprised by what you find when you start researching your project.  For example, I discovered that you can buy LED kits to replace the instrument lights which are a vast improvement over the factory ones.  I have already made enquiries about getting myself the kit!


The boat is exactly the same as the motorcycle. Something needs replacing, so you go about it in the same way.  Work out what the problem is.  Research how to fix it etc etc.  It just needs a bit of confidence and to be able to see past the complexity.  A lot of things these days can’t be fixed at home of course.  Those mysterious “black boxes” full of electronics that seem to control things in the engine bay of your car or boat.  They are mostly throw away and buy a replacement – quite easy really.  Fixing them requires specialised diagnostic tools and specialised knowledge.  Although, after watching a few episodes of “Wheeler Dealer” on the Discovery Turbo Channel mechanic Ed China makes it look easy – he just opens up the black box in question and gets out the soldering iron and sorts it.  Ed makes fixing up old cars so easy, you sit there watching him and think “I could do that”.  And that’s how it starts.


I grew up building Airfix models of Spitfires etc – I personally think it’s a wonderful grounding for life – it teaches the patience needed to sit down and work out how to disassemble something and then put it back together. Fixing bicycles is also a good grounding.  They are simple and you start off by removing wheels to fix a puncture, then adjusting the chain, adjusting the brakes.  It’s not rocket science but it builds the necessary confidence to go onto more difficult things.  Pretty soon you will be like me and not be afraid to go at removing the instrument cluster on a motorbike, tearing down your sheet winches to service them.  Replacing wiring and wiring in new instruments for your boat.


Whether it’s got two wheels or sails it needs maintenance and it will need fixing at some stage or another. Do you do it yourself and thus learn those important skills, or do you pay a lot of money for someone else to fix it?  However, it’s easy being able to fix things in your garage with a nice workbench, good lighting and a vice, not to mention the internet close to hand.  Trying to fix it out at sea, a long way from the internet or telephones, spare part stores and even any sort of advice is a different kettle of fish altogether.

A Snowball’s Chance…

A Snowball’s Chance…

What started out as a dodgy gearbox in the Yanmar soon escalated. As previously described, we removed the engine from the Gull and dropped it off at the diesel workshop, Minards Diesel up in Newcastle.  I had a really good chat with Neil, the guy who would be working on the old clunker and he really knew his stuff.

Neil also recommended getting some head work done. Apparently you have to change the head gasket every five years or so, so I said, “sure, go ahead”.  Might as well make the most of it while the engine is out and I drove off with high hopes.  However, those hopes were soon dashed upon the rocks, and then giving a good pounding by a couple of rogue waves.  After being left high and dry, what was left of those hopes ended up dried and shriveled like a piece of seaweed in the sun.

A few days later Neil rang with the bad news. It looked like that at some stage the gearbox had had water in it with the result that everything was rusty.  The gears, bearings, clutch and flywheel.  And not just a light coating, but really rusty.


I seem to dimly remember some documents that came with the boat mentioning the gearbox being flushed a few times to get the water out. I wonder what happened and how water could possibly get from the outside of the boat to inside the gearbox.  It turns out that the spare motor someone gave me a few months ago, wasn’t a YSE model but in fact a YSB.  They have an alloy gearbox casing and bell housing compared to the cast iron of the E model  so I wasn’t able to do a straight swap with the gearbox.  Not looking good.

A week later Neil rang again. It was like one of the phone calls you get notifying you that a family member is now deceased.  The rear thrust washer on the crank was dodgy and there was a deep score mark on the rear crank journal.  This basically meant that the crank was knackered.  Cranks for the old Yanmars are now as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth.  If you can’t get one, the engine isn’t much better than a boat anchor.  Meanwhile, the dollar signs were flashing before my eyes.

Fingers crossed that the YSB engine at home has a crank that is useable. I am not a gambling man and I couldn’t even make a start on guessing the odds on this.  All I can do is say a little prayer to the god or goddess.  Would you say a prayer to Neptune or Poseidon?  After all they are the gods of the sea, not diesel engines.  Is there a god or a patron saint of diesel engines?  A quick visit to Doctor Google revealed that Saint Catherine of Alexandria is the patron saint of mechanics but no actual saint who looks after diesels.  Well then, I will still say the prayer, and maybe sacrifice an animal or two as well as a few libations – possibly when the moon is full.  With no actual god, goddess or saint to look after the old Yanmar engines, it’s no wonder that these engines are difficult to resurrect.  All the resurrections in the Bible were done by various gods, and without your deity, you are basically up the creek, with no paddle, nor engine – drifting at the mercy of the currents and tides.

Did I mention that the head wasn’t in good shape either, necessitating a replacement, as well as the cylinder liner being glazed and a new piston also on the list of replacement parts? In other words, a total rebuild.  Not what the doctor ordered.  I was hoping to get it going again with minimal parts, and maybe get a year or two out of it before repowering with one of those shiny red Beta engines.  A newer more powerful engine to push against all those tides and currents.  Anyway, if the old clunker can get a new lease on life, I should be looking at another 4 or 5 years, or even more, before I need the Beta.  In the meantime, I can get in the fix up the engine bay.  It was quite a mess, with lots of grunge, grime and mould.


All of the above makes the engine sound like it shouldn’t have been going as long as it has. That’s the big mystery.  Up until the gearbox started slipping in Paddy’s Channel, it was a really reliable engine.  It always started as soon as you hit the starter button – and that’s the big thing with diesels.

They don’t start easily if there are problems in the top end, and this one started easier and quicker than my BMW motorbike. To go from a reliable engine, even if it didn’t look as clean and shiny as it should have been to a total basket case is one of those mysteries that ranks up with the Loch Ness Monster and Bermuda Triangle.  Maybe that afternoon in Paddy’s Channel was its death throws.  It just faded away instead of dying with a bang and a clunk and a puff of smoke.

Will the spare crank turn out to be in a useable condition? Will Neil find anything else wrong with the old clunker? More on that next time.



Out With the Old and Back In With the Old

Out With the Old and Back In With the Old

The last blog was about time and how it seems to slip through our fingers like sand, or alternatively, there isn’t enough of it to hold in your hand. But we seem to be through the tunnel and are now able to devote weekends to La Mouette.  After a hectic couple of months with work commitments, a holiday, Pipeband stuff, Deb’s Mother being in hospital as well as moving out of my flat, things have stabilised somewhat and we can now spend some of that precious time on La Mouette.  This weekend saw us actually spending two nights on board and we achieved some big things.

It’s always a big event having the engine removed from anything – the car or the motorcycle.  The boat is certainly no exception.  We woke up on Sunday morning with the feeling of expectation.  Today is the day!  By the time we go to bed that night the engine will have been taken out of the boat, come hell or high water (hopefully no high water in the bilge).  Over the past few months, I had stripped of a lot off bits such as the alternator, starter, exhaust elbow, water pump, crank handle assembly and fuel tank (the Yanmar YSE8 still had its original red 5 litre fuel  tank sitting on top of the engine) – mainly to lighten it up somewhat so as to make it easier to hoist out.  All that remained now was to remove the engine mount bolts and disconnect the propeller shaft.  One of the scariest things through this whole process was the fear of rusted nuts and bolts.  When heaving on a tight nut or bolt there was always the fear that shaft would snap due to the threads being rusted in solid, but fortunately, everything came out with no dramas.  I had been pro-active and sprayed everything with various penetrating fluids.  I was recommended a product called Reducteur – which came in a spray can.  It was readily available from Bunnings, a big chain hardware store here in Aussie.  It was expensive at thirty bucks a can but it did the job.  Not one rusted in bolt and nothing snapped or broken.  Only one screw refused to come out, and that was on the throttle linkage but I could still get the linkage out and will drill out the pesky screw later on and replace it.


The propeller shaft bolts came undone very easily, considering the amount of surface rust over everything. That was it – everything disconnected and undone.  The engine could now come straight out.  I had bought a chain block lifting device from Flea-bay and I rigged that up to the boom.  The Compass 28 has a key-hole hatch on the cockpit bulkhead.  They didn’t come with the sliding hatch in the cabin roof, so it’s not a direct lift upwards for the engine.  The chain coming off the boom and down in the engine compartment was rubbing against the top of the hatch, but a bit of carpet was placed there to protect the gelcoat.  A couple of friends, Dennis and Andrew came over to help and with Andrew in the engine bay, Dennis on the chain block and myself in the companionway to guide the engine we started.  The engine has to come up, across a bit and then up again before it’s in the cockpit.  It all went smoothly, in less than 15 minutes we had the engine sitting on a couple of bits of wood in the cockpit and after readjusting the boom sling etc a few minutes later it was sitting in a wheelbarrow on the wharf.  I just can imagine how difficult this would be with anything bigger.  Whilst the YSE8 engines are old and made of lots of cast iron, giving them a weight of approximately 140 kg, it’s still a struggle.  But we managed to get it out and into the carpark by ourselves, a job which would be damn near impossible with a large multicylinder engine in a larger boat.   Who said larger boats are more comfortable – try man-handling a 4 cylinder diesel around!


With that job done, I can now clean out the engine bay, replace bilge hoses etc and generally clean it all up. The engine will be taken up to Newcastle to get the gear box fixed and then I can put a lick of paint on it and do a few other things such as clean out the waterways etc.  A previous owner had disconnected the hand cranking mechanism, but I will be re-installing it.  One of the advantages of a small, simple engine is that it can be started by hand cranking.

With the engine out and ready to be sent off the get the gearbox fixed, it was time to turn our attention to some of the exterior woodwork, the washboards and hand railings. We got busy scrapping off the old coatings which were a mixture of Cetol and Penetrol.  A combination that had been slapped onto the highly weathered woodwork to make it presentable for sale.  It didn’t look to bad originally, but 12 months later the coating(s) were peeling off and the wood starting to grey.  It became a race as the weather had been pretty terrible all weekend with rain predicted for Monday (a public holiday).  As we scrapped and sanded away, we kept one eye on the approaching storm clouds.  The surrounding towns of Woy Woy and Ettalong got the rain but fortunately Booker Bay didn’t.  By the end of the afternoon we had one coat of Cetol on the washboards and handrails.  The next 3 or four coats will go on over the next week or so.


All in all it was quite a productive weekend. Going from not being able to spend any time with the boat for a month or so, to getting quite a bit done.  Once the gearbox is fixed, the next major hurdle is actually getting the engine back into the boat, then we have to get it going.  The learning curve is steep and we haven’t stopped climbing.  We will have to learn new skills such as bleeding the fuel system – a skill that every sailor needs to know.


But more on that next time.