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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Paint Party
11/01/2007, Granada

I spent a lot of time deciding which bottom paint to go with. We had Micron CSC put on in Fort Lauderdale a year ago and it had given up about four or five months ago. Our boat was actually a smorgasbord of Interlux products. The factory put on two coats of gel shield, one coat of Trilux and two coats of VC Off shore. These are hard paints. The Micron CSC was ablative and I can only assume applied after a light sanding. Depending on which Interlux literature you refer to this might all be well and good but the general consensus seems to be that you are best off to have a barrier coat and a single kind of bottom paint. In the tropics, best if that bottom paint is ablative as well.

Practical Sailor had just come out with their annual bottom paint update and Micron 66 came in with top honors in the two year paint category. It was also a pick in the one year group. Seeing as how we are headed for the South Pacific and may be in the water for a while I wanted to go with the best stuff I could come by. Many local folks recommended Islands 44, which is illegal in the US. I really do think that we all need to pitch in to reduce human impact on the environment, and although no bottom paint could be said to be green, I decided that I should probably avoid things outlawed in the homeland. Jay was very happy with his Micron 66 and that pretty much sealed the deal for me.

Over the past couple of days one of the guys from the yard and I had done quite a bit sanding on the bottom. It was down to the gel shield here and there but that was just the best we could do with out a crew. So when Jay, Fred and Cindy showed up we started with Islands 1277 barrier coat to seal the hull and provide a good base for the Micron 66. We finished right as it started raining. The barrier coat dried quickly though and the rain didn't seem to do any damage to the coat. Next we put on a coat of Micron 66. Nasty stuff that. At least you don't have to worry about mosquitoes (or anything else without a respirator) when you're applying it. Then it rained again. Well, I guess any bottom coat that can't take a little water is not worth having. The first coat of antifouling seemed to do just fine except for a couple little spots where the boat draining caused a little running in the very wet paint. After cleaning the first coat up we took a break and then finished the job with coat three. Then it began to rain again.

When the rain stopped the boat still looked great. We had just the right number of people and just the right amount of time to get the work done. As you can see from the photo you have to be careful about inhaling too much bottom paint.

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.


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