In an effort to share a little bit more of the day to day, I’ll be posting some shorter posts here chronicling our journey…hopefully not in a lackluster fashion.Although we’ve now owned Rocinante for over a year. [record scratch] Wow, wait, really? We feel like we are just beginning to work on her in earnest. This spring season we are tackling a bunch of projects… some of them being pretty important with regards to safety and establishing baselines.
Now, fortunately, last spring’s “shake down” from Panama to Maine went off without a hitch. Before we left, we checked the boat pretty carefully, but didn’t tackle anything except the essentials. A single chainplate got rebed, the hydraulic backstay got rebuilt, the raw water pump impeller was changed, we emergency-siliconed some of the portlights, painted the bottom, replaced two out of three seacocks that were frozen, greased the windlass, tried to fix a leak on the heat exchanger, and a few other little jobs, but I can’t remember them all.
After 3,000 miles, and some of the biggest waves we’ve ever encountered, we arrived in Maine safely, but both went to work immediately. I set sail with Rozalia Project aboard American Promise, and Teresa set off for a few expeditions with Outward Bound. We worked as relief captains for some day boats in Camden, and launched our sail training business, Morse Alpha. It was a non-stop summer. But we had to… we were pretty broke after not having worked for months, purchasing a huge boat, hiring two surveyors, hauling out twice, flying to Panama a few times, oh and of course insurance, taxes, etc… all the fun stuff they forgot to mention in ‘the brochure’.
So after a busy summer of trying to make some money, living aboard and working aboard, we put old Rocinante to bed, without even brushing her teeth, and covered her up for the long winter. Now, spring is just around the corner and our list is, well, long. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know our new girl intimately.
While the cover is on, and the mast down, we are tackling the sensible things like new standing rigging wire, new mast tangs, complete inspection and rebedding of all chainplates, and removal and inspection of mast step.
So far I’ve discovered that the forepeak is really uncomfortable for trying to remove the headstay chainplate / bow roller. This massive hunk of stainless steel is held to the boat by 12 bolts. I’ve gotten 8 nuts off so far, but 3 of them were completely rusted and the nuts just fell off as soon as I put a wrench to them. Guess that’s why there’s 12! Forepeaks are miserable places. Miserable. And one thing I’ve learned, is that I prefer plumb bows!
On Elizabeth, our Bristol Channel Cutter 28, I replaced the bobstay chainplates. I spent a considerable amount of time in the forepeak of that boat. And I’ll be damned, but it was 500% more comfortable up there on that 28′ boat, then it is on this 44′ behemoth. The reason? The BCC has a plumb bow. The sleek and 1980’s style overhang of the Norseman bow makes accessing the very pointy end a miserable affair. I wish such miserable activities only on my most miserable enemies.
The job isn’t finished yet. I tried to move the step ladder to the bow to access the screw heads and begin some extraction. Nope. Ladder frozen solid to the ground. Try again in a few weeks… when it thaws.
Now, I’ve learned a few times over, that it’s best to start one project and finish it, before moving onto the next one. But when your ladder is frozen, you get a green light to move onto the next project. Up next: windlass rebuild. Take it apart, clean it up, order replacement parts. Waiting. Another green light. Next project! Remove the rest of the chainplates.
The Yachtworld listing for Rocinante said “accessible chainplates”. I wasn’t sure what that really meant. I half expected to arrive in Panama and see the chainplates in full view while sitting at the salon table eating my PB&J. But what it means is that Ta Shing did a nice job of covering up the chainplates with simple vaneered plywood, which are neatly tucked inside the cabinets. I didn’t really consider this “accessible”. But it all came miserably clear, when discussing chainplate inspection with a friend who owns a Young Sun 36. His chainplates are fully encased in the fiberglass hull. They run through the cap rail and right down the middle of the hull laminate. To inspect his chainplates, he’ll need to grind away a few layers of glass mat. What a mess. I gratefully understand “accessible” now.
So far so good, two chainplates out, with minimal fuss, 6 more to go.