It was another mostly busy weekend. Friday I headed for the boat in the early afternoon and spent the first half of the day dismantling the house battery wiring, pulling out the house batteries, and installing some battery hold-down straps. I ended up needing to put the straps athwartships due to attachment constraints, which is probably quite a bit less effective than having them in the fore-aft direction, but I still think they’re solid enough to hold the batteries in place in a knockdown.
I also installed 150A terminal fuses on the positive terminals. I still need to install both terminal fuses and a hold-down strap for the starter bank. Here’s how things look now at the house bank:
I checked the electrolyte while I had all the batteries out. Seems good, although I should probably top up the cells slightly. Doug also noted that there is some swelling of the batteries. I suspect I should probably leave the battery charger off much of the time instead of always on, even though it’s supposed to just keep the batteries in a float stage (~13.6V). I also noted that all the new wiring is still looking great (hadn’t checked it out since we returned from our Tioman trip).
Later in the afternoon I went up the mast again, pried off some messy sealant from the opening for the VHF antenna wire, and dropped a weighted fishing line down to the bottom of the mast to use in pulling through an anemometer cable. (I’d wanted to make sure we could actually pull that off before I go out and buy an anemometer.) It turned out to be quite a hard job, mainly thanks to tangled fishing line. I was at the masthead for about an hour and a half while Doug rigged a temporary reel, which worked well. He was able to hook the line quite easily at the mast step.
Saturday morning I did some shopping. At Marintech I picked up a new engine zinc (having finally checked my existing one last week and finding it long gone). Here’s the old one:
And here’s the new one installed in the raw water system:
I also stopped by Eng Lee Machinery near Jalan Besar, bringing along my broken fuel line. As far as I can tell they’re one of the few Perkins parts distributors in Singapore; my Belgian neighbors a few slips over recommended them. I was quite happy that they were able to find an exact replacement for my fuel line within a few minutes, for a pretty reasonable price. I’ll probably be picking up lots more replacement and spare parts from them. The proprietor also recommended a mechanic to me, and called him up. I’ll be getting him to come take a look at the engine over the next couple weeks, mainly to do a general check-up, help me put together a maintenance schedule, and take a look at the engine mounts, which may be a little loose as evidenced by the vibration that, I think, caused the fuel line issue. I haven’t yet installed the new fuel line but it shouldn’t be a huge deal.
Doug continued his on-again off-again task of hand pumping bilge juice into containers for disposal, which basically continues whenever we finish off a 5L jug of water so we can use the container. The bilge is fairly full of diesel from the leaky fuel line, so we can’t pump it out with the bilge pump:
The big job of the day Saturday was supposed to be installing the new hatch, which arrived last week. Step one was removing the old hatch. It took liberal application of some kind of Xylene solvent, a lot of stabbing with a putty knife, some hammering, and some prying, but eventually the old hatch came loose and didn’t bring (too much of) the deck with it:
Here’s the deck with the old hatch removed:
There were unfortunately some issues fitting the new hatch. There’s a little bit of play, which shouldn’t be a problem once the hatch is sealed and fastened; however, the flange of the new hatch is smaller than that of the old hatch, so the deck will look a little rough around the edges. I did some sanding, and will follow that up with a coat or two of paint before laying down the hatch.
The bigger problem is that the hatch’s base is a bit too deep, so it rests against the trim in the cabin ceiling without lying flush against the deck. (Doug measured: it in fact rests a full 5/16in above the deck.)
There was some debate over what to do about this. My initial inclination was that we’d have to remove the trim and cut it down. That’s not a very easy job as the trim is carefully angled to rest flat against the bottom of the hatch, and all the trim pieces are already quite small. Furthermore, removing the trim is pretty laborious. Doug presented an outside-the-box option which I eventually liked: cut down the hatch itself. The base of the hatch is all plastic, and removing 5/16in from it isn’t hard and doesn’t change the functionality at all. I’m going to bring it someplace with a table saw and try to get them to cut it for me for a few bucks. We’ll see how that goes.
In the meantime, here, more or less, is what the new hatch will look like; pretty much the same as the old hatch, except not crazed or leaky:
I must admit I’m not all that crazy about the new hatch; it’s plastic as opposed to metal, and therefore feels a little cheap. But it’s solid, and anyway, if I want aluminum or SS hatches I’ll need to expand the through-deck holes, since there are no other hatches I can find in these dimensions. That’d be a much more complicated process.
The leak from the old hatch wasn’t the fault of the hatch itself so much as the joint with the deck. Some of the plywood core around the starboard side of the hatch is clearly rotten. I drilled a bunch of holes in it and poured in penetrating epoxy, which should solidify it. I had to leave it there; I’ll pick it up again later this week by capping off the holes with epoxy putty, sanding, painting, and finally sealing and fastening in the new hatch. In the meantime Doug’s bed is protected from the rain by duct tape and a plastic bag!