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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Plan B
10/31/2007, On the Hard

Our friends Fred and Cindy on Kelp Fiction II left for the US a few weeks ago. Jay was watching Kelp Fiction II over at Martin's Marina. I wasn't sure when they were coming back and although we expected to be gone before they returned Hideko and I both hoped we would see them one more time before we headed off in different directions.

I was contemplating what to do with Swingin' on a Star. I was just about out of projects to do while waiting for the yard to paint the dang bottom. As I was standing there considering the levity of doing it all by myself, the Calvary arrived. I couldn't believe it, a car drove up and out popped Jay, Fred and Cindy. After warm greetings all around, Jay looked at Swingin' on a Star and began to rant. Jay is not highly tolerant of inaction. In a matter of moments my friends were telling me to paint the boat myself and that they would help. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. I knew this was going to cost me a lot of beer but that would be a comparative bargain.

If you've never painted the bottom of a boat with incredibly nasty/toxic anti fouling, you simply can't comprehend how good a friends these folks are.

Later that afternoon a few guys emerged from a thick haze of ganga smoke (typically billowing all around the yard at lunch time) and said they were going to start on the bottom paint. I asked them if they were going to prep the bare glass spot first (I had been asking this same question for a week). They decided that someone else would need to handle that. I said, "ok send him over now but I no longer require the paint work".

Saildrive Raw Water Shutoffs
10/30/2007, The Yard

Anyone you talk to about Yanmar Saildrives will tell you that the raw water shut offs in the drive leg are problematic (the one exception I know of being another Saint Francis owner I have talked to who seems content with his). There are several problems with the stock shut offs as I see it. First and foremost, they often don't shut off. You might as well just put a straight pipe on there. The screw mechanism is extremely prone to seizure by fouling or minor surface corrosion. Anything getting in the threads (remember this is a raw water shut off so things getting in there is the rule not the exception) will make it nearly impossible to adjust the valve. The tiny wire handle on the top doesn't help matters.

I try to exercise all of my shut offs regularly. When I first tried to turn the Yanmar Saildrive valves about three months after delivery both were seized. We broke one loose but the other was stuck open until removed for service, and this is not the kind of valve you want to take off in the water. Another issue that I noticed after the fact was that when I closed the one valve that was working it wasn't closing all the way. Something had mucked up the threads making it feel closed but there was still quite a bit of gap between the screw and the housing opening. This brings to mind the fact that you can not just look at these shut offs and tell if they are open or closed, an obvious short fall. The stock hose for the raw water is good quality but not wire sided and you can not see through it to tell if water is running or not.

One great thing about Grenada Marine is that they work on a lot of cats and have a lot of experience with many common problems cat owners run across. When I inquired at the mechanical shop they told me that they install standard 90 degree shut offs on Yanmar Saildrives very often for all of the reasons above. A single new Yanmar shut off valve part would cost me more than two quality 90 degree shut offs, new top quality wire sided see through hose and installation! I now have a nice pair of standard shutoffs.

Paint and Half of a Repair
10/29/2007, Saint David's

When we took delivery of our boat there were two repairs that needed to be made to the bottom. One was a small crunched spot on the vestigial part of the port keel (no clear idea how that happened) and one was a small void in the starboard bow which I discovered inadvertently as I was knocking the hull. At the one year mark the keel repair is looking good and is indiscernible from the rest of the boat. The bow repair, not so much. I began to see raw glass at the bow repair around the 8 month mark. This is because there was not only no barrier coat but no gel coat! They apparently just painted the spot with antifouling and called it a day. Well at least the glass work looks nice.

My original impression of Grenada Marine as the speedy bottom paint spot has just about worn off. The first day of the second week has come to a close and not even the prep on the bottom has started. I need a bit of gel coat on the bow, a good sanding all around, a barrier coat and two coats of Micron 66. This is not a giant operation but it would take me a few days to do right by myself. I am, however, contemplating it.

The Bar at La Sagesse
10/28/2007, La Sagesse

It was the day of rest and we did. A good book, a pina colada and a lovely setting. Very therapeutic.

Rooms at La Sagesse
10/27/2007, La Sagesse

I worked a short day on the boat today. Hideko, Roq and I enjoyed our lovely room, free internet, beautiful beach and great food at La Sagesse.

SD50 Drive Legs
10/26/2007, Grenada Marine

The Yanmar diesel is an impressive piece of gear. I have been very happy with mine and I have found few folks who don't speak highly, if not reverently, of them. The Yanmar Saildrive is not quite of the same status.

Perhaps it is just my perception, but Saildrives in general seem to need a little more polish to achieve the levels of reliability and low maintenance of the diesels they are attached to. Among the lot the SD50 seem to be some of the better out there. Ours have served us well so far but there are a few distinct issues that seem to be universal which I thought I would try to address during our annual service session in the yard.

The first thing that seems a little under engineered is the rubber flap that is designed to streamline the hull area around the cut out that the drive leg comes through. Many factories simply glue this to the hull. In my experience this is fine for about one good passage or perhaps a month of hops. I can't recall seeing it any other way than as pictured here, hanging on the leg.

Some outfits make their boats with a bracket that screws the flap onto the hull. This seems like the only durable way to keep it on. So I was faced with a choice, just get rid of them, or come up with a bracket of some sort. Apparently this issue is common enough that Granada Marine has fiberglass brackets premade. I decided to go with the brackets. Time will tell if this was the right choice.

The rubber flaps cover a rectangular hole in the boats hull. The top bezel of the drive leg is circular. If the Yanmar template was circular the existing flap and bell housing attachments would still cover the area perfectly but you could drop the leg down from under the boat rather than toting it through the interior. Per previous blog, a friend rounded out this area to allow the leg to come straight down and it made installing the drive leg (which we hauled out from above) quite easy.

I talk to the factory about this and they did not seem completely comfortable with the modification. I am going to try to get a hold of Yanmar to see if there is any real practical reason not to make the rather small circular expansion in the center of the existing rectangle's sides. I have decided to leave things as is unless I need to pull the drive legs. If I get the green light from Yanmar and need to pull the legs I think I will do so from below with a marginally widened opening.

I changed the zincs out on our drives. I had considered going with the two part kit but several factors changed my mind. First and foremost was the fact that our Varifold props were so easy to remove; three hex nuts to remove the blade bumper, three more to free the hinge pins and one big nut on the shaft and she's loose. Add to those fasteners the blade bumper, the three blades and their pins and the hub and you have everything in hand. Given the fact that the one piece zincs are cheaper and easier to come by and may make better contact with the drive leg I decided to stick with the one part zincs.

The existing zincs both had more than 50% of their material but not by much. I believe that the zincs were stock and if so they lasted almost two years. They did not wear completely evenly which I found interesting. More interesting however was the fact that the factory paint seems to have completely pitted out in some small shallow patches where it looks like aluminum was exposed and gnawed at a bit. Someone suggested that the last haul out paint shop used copper paint. I find that hard to believe (copper paint on an aluminum drive leg?!?) but who knows.

I was going to have the yard do the drive legs with the bottom paint but seeing as how there was still no activity at the end of week one I decided I'd better start knocking bottom prep items off myself. I used an Interlux solution to get things in shape. If this fairs no better by our next haul out I'll have the drive legs pulled and stripped so that I can do a complete set of coatings from scratch.

This time around I used an Interlux solvent to strip most of the nasty bits down to the metal or factory paint at least, and then sanded things clean with 80 grit. There was still a bit of factory paint on the legs but it looked fair and free of aftermarket stuff. I then used the Interlux etcher (a little heavily from what I hear). Followed that with two coats of Primocon Primer (almost ran out as well because someone stole one of my cans from under the boat). I finished the drive legs off with Trilux. It looked good on the hard, we'll see how it fairs in the corrosive sea.

La Sagesse
10/25/2007, La Sagesse

Happy Thanksgiving Granada! I decided to take half a day off today seeing as how it was a holiday. The boat yard is pretty out of the way and unless you have a car and are ready to go for a considerable drive there are few dining options. You can eat at the bar and grill on the boat yard beach but I can't recommend the food, the beach or the smell in the general vicinity. Stuck up American? Perhaps. You can get good food there sometimes, I just wouldn't count on it.

There is a very nice restaurant in the little resort, Bel Air Plantation, a short walk down the bay. This is a great place to eat but pretty pricey and not a place to go in your painter's suit. Your third option is to hit up one of the local folks that bring in sacks of rotis and whatnot to sell at lunch time. You typically have to be on the list or they won't have anything left for you though. Instead I had breakfast at the resort that we were staying at and left early enough to have dinner at a reasonable time with Hideko and Roq. The yard is not a good place for a dog to hang out so Hideko and Roq have been staying at the hotel while I try to get the boat back in the water.

Due to the short notice on the haul out we were scrambling a bit to find a place to stay. Getting a room somewhere is not too difficult unless you introduce a quadruped into the equation. The Bel Air is very nice and a very short walk to the yard, but no dogs are allowed.

After a few more calls we came across La Sagesse. The add read: private bay, beach front open air restaurant and bar, large rooms, dog friendly and free transportation to and from the boat yard at your designated interval. It sounded too good to be true. Hideko and I were both amazed when we got there. It was better than too good to be true. The owners were fantastic and made us feel like part of the family. The bar and restaurant are casual but elegant and beautifully situated. The secluded beach and bay is one of the prettiest in Grenada. The two resident dogs and one cat wander the grounds greeting everyone and taking people on beach tours (if you go for a walk on the beach one of the dogs will escort you). The rooms are gigantic with huge showers (nice for soaking after a nasty hot day at the yard). This place has got to be the best kept secret on Grenada.

After being picked up from the yard by John the La Sagesse bar tender, I enjoyed an exquisite Thanksgiving dinner overlooking the ocean with Hideko and Roq. La Sagesse almost makes me like being in the boat yard... not quite though.


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