Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Long, Long Winter

Shortly before the yard crew went home for the Christmas holiday, Minerva wriggled her way into the shop alongside the box containing her shiny new Beta 62T engine, putting her first in line for attention after the yard staff returned. The snow piled up in the yard while she patiently waited her turn, cozy and dry.

When the staff came back from holiday, they brought Covid with them and it swept through the yard crew, introducing delays while they battled the illness.

Eventually the old Perkins was removed and the Beta put in place. Although we had the mounts made at Beta to match the custom width of the old engine bed, the new engine still refused to settle into place without additional customization to raise the engine up off the hull so some space could be created beneath it and to better align the shaft.

The risers are made from sticks of non-compressible fiberglass which should give us years of trouble-free life supporting a heavy, hot engine vibrating under workload

This is what 40 years of prop wear on a bronze shaft looks like. Not bad, considering.

The prop shaft was condemned by the machine shop; 40 years of wear had worn a waist where the bar should have been straight, weakening it right at the point where it passed through the hull. Since a new shaft was being made for us anyways, we decided to make it a smidge longer and add a line cutter. This will give us some peace of mind while moving through the plentiful lobster pots and crab traps all up and down the East Coast, because although we try with all our might to miss them, it's probably only a matter of time before we snarl one.

Shaft Shark line cutter

We were originally planning to do a basic bottom job ourselves upon our return, but realized this would delay our splash by a month or more, since getting bottom paint to properly adhere requires a minimal daily temperature fluctuation not usually achievable in a Maine yard until late June, so we asked the shop to remove the old paint (what little there was left), and lay down fresh bottom paint while she was in the cozy shop where they could control the temperature. What they found when they started working were several previous bad repair decisions, and it took a significant amount of labor to get her bottom up to snuff. Without a doubt Minerva's previous owner knew about this and hid it from us - looking back with this new knowledge, some of his weirder eccentricities that we encountered during the purchase process come closer to making sense. Well, now Minerva has a shiny, smooth new bottom, it's been done properly and we shouldn't have to do anything more than a gentle scrubdown for quite some time, putting us in prime position to sail unencumbered for a couple of years before our next haulout. It cost a small fortune but now that it's been done properly we can proceed with confidence that she will remain strong, dry and upright for many years to come.

Lots of fiberglass repairs, two coats of epoxy barrier coat, one coat of primer, and four coats of bottom paint. She's back out in the yard and ready to splash.

The shop will start splashing boats on May 15th, and the weather should be pleasant by Memorial Day. Once Minerva is in the water they'll run some tests to ensure the new engine, new shaft, and old prop all play well together, then they'll reassemble the masts and rigging. We booked the one-way rental car for our ride back out and intend to arrive somewhere in the last half of May and will likely jump in somewhere during the rigging process. The hope is that we make it in time to see puffins doing their annual mating dance, but even if we miss them we'll still enjoy sailing Maine for the summer and will follow the weather back down the coast pausing to leaf-peep from the Hudson River in the Fall.

The new engine rests happily in its new bed with its accompanying higher-capacity fuel filtration system, water intake and exhaust systems, enlarged muffler, and a super-powered alternator to make quicker work of recharging the batteries. Minerva's new engine takes up less space, is more powerful and far more efficient. Our fuel range just increased significantly.