Living in a boat yard is not all that bad. Did I just say that? Here at St. Marys Boat Services (SMBS) we are fortunate to be located close to the river and get to enjoy beautiful sun sets like this one almost every evening. We have a list of projects/repairs that we would like to complete before splashing in January. The list contains things that “must” be completed and others we consider as “would be nice”. The list seems to grow and shrink almost daily. As one project is completed and crossed off the list, we find a few more that get added. However, the good news is that the “must” items are getting completed. Here are just a few of them.

Here is Renee practicing here Wax-On, Wax-Off  routine she learned from Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid! Last year 5KNOTS was in the water, so we had to do one side while sitting the dock and the other from our dingy. Needless to say, being able to do it from the scaffolding is much easier. Renee put on 2 coats and she is looking mighty fine! 5KNOTS really shines too.

We were having issues with the range on our VHF radio and our Automatic Identification System (AIS). Both of which are extremely important pieces of equipment when boating. VHF radios are used to communicate with other ships/boats and the AIS shows your position along with others that are in your area. Both had only a range of about 3 miles. As we like to say South of the Border, NO BUENO! Since both of these devices share a common antenna and cable, these became our our first suspects. Once up the mast, we could see that the VHF antenna housing was cracked and was full of water. A new antenna and we have improved our VHF reception and can see AIS targets all the way in Jacksonville, about 20 miles away. This is a big relief because we were dreading having to pull a new cable to the top of the mast.

As long as we were going to be up the mast, we decided to replace our anchor light (white fixture in picture) with a new one from Orca Green Marine (OGM) that is LED and has a photodiode in it. This will accomplish two things, first our light will be brighter and draw less amps and second we can leave it on during the day knowing it will only come one as the sun goes down.

This year we had two major plumbing projects that we wanted to complete. First was to install a water filter at the sink and the other to replace our fresh water accumulator tank.

The filter installation was rather strait forward except for the fact that even though 5KNOTS was built in Marion, Georgia, many of her components come from France and Italy. This means that you have metric, standard and British Standard Pipe Thread (BSPT) to contend with. I ordered the odd BSPT pieces online and then went to the hardware store and got several different connectors of different sizes in order to make it all come together. Here is the filter and new drinking spout.

Towards the end of last years cruising we noticed that our accumulator tank needed to be replaced because it was rusted inside and the water was brown due to the corrosion. Since there is limited space where the tank and pump are located, I decided to order the same size 1 liter tank from the original manufacturer. This would ensure and easy swap right? Negative, although the capacity was the same, the tanks physical size was different which means not an easy swap.

Feeling a little like the cow staring at the new gate in the fence, I asked our buddy Tim to come over to lend a hand. After some debate as to what the best approach is, we settled on a plan. This required us to dismantle the heart of our fresh water system, make a wedge to support the new accumulator and then reattach all of the parts. Now that the plumbing is all back in place and connected, it is time to see if we have any leaks. Guess what?

Although more difficult, the accumulator installation went in without any leaks but the under the sink filter had a small one. Tim suggested taking the connections apart to make sure they were not cross threaded and that they were making a good seal. Even though we bled the system there is always some water that you can’t get rid of.  Here I am after receiving my second crotch bath. I am not sure what was funnier, getting drenched for a second time or watching Tim laughing at the whole thing. Turns out one of the BSPT connectors was bad and once replaced, we now have a leak free system with filtered water at the sink.

The keel repair project is coming along nicely. If you recall, after pulling the boat we noticed our keel had dropped towards the back end (pictured left). We decided that the fix would be to loosen the last keel bolt and using the jack stands raise the stern of 5KNOTS to expose the gap as much as possible. Using a hack saw blade, putty knives and paint scrapers we cleaned out the gap. Once cleaned I put on two coats of barrier paint and let it dry. I then filled the gap with 3M’s 5200 and slowly lowered the hull by releasing the jack stands. Once fully lowered, we used a torque wrench to re-torque the bolt. This approached allowed the weight of the boat to squeeze the 5200 and ensure a good seal (pictured right). Once this completely cures, I will fair the joint area with SikaFlex and apply new paint.

We are traveling for the holidays and will return in January to finish the remaining projects. We are anticipating leaving for the islands around mid January. Until then, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!