Summer 2021 – Care and Feeding of an Older Boat


Well, we’ve been back on the Chesapeake in our home port for about a month now.  I figured that it was time for an update.  First, it’s good to be back home again.  (Finally able to get some great seafood for a change.)  However, we’ve found that these trips sure do take a toll on an older boat.

We calculated that our total trip was around 3,000 miles on the boat this winter.  It took 28 days to make the trip down to Florida, but only 19 days to make it back up home.  On the way south we had to deal with bad weather, holding up at several marinas while storms passed.  On the way back north, we had to deal with wind.  We had some rough wind and weather to try and pass through; we made one ocean run around Georgia, had high winds at Mile Hammock bay and drug anchor during the night and dealt with 40 knot winds in Virginia.  All in all the boat did well, especially during the storm we hit in the Bahamas.  It was apparent that the boat systems were really taxed on the trip.

We decided to pull back into Safe Harbor Narrows Point Marina (formerly Mears Point Marina) and have Rick Nissen at Atlantic Yacht Works do some repairs.  We had another stabilizer ram develop a leak resulting in oil in the bilge and the loss of the use of the stabilizers.  One of the tachometers on the engines went out on us, and we still haven’t fixed the auto pilot (it’s a real treat to hand steer this big boat for a thousand miles), and the bow thruster still isn’t fully repaired.  

We had to pull the boat to get the ‘out of the water’ work done.  So, what do you do when you have to pull the boat you live on?  You hook it up to electric while you sit on the hard and do your best.  It’s not really too bad, except you have to climb a ladder in and out of your house and you can’t run any AC without water to the system, so when it’s hot, it’s hot.  Robin opted to drive back to New Jersey for a couple of those evenings.

First things first, clean the bottom of the boat and inspect it.  It didn’t look to bad but a new paint job and zincs would be in order.  I took this time to disconnect and remove the old washer and dryer (It had seen better days and was beyond repair).  We loaded up new Splendide washer and dryer and installed them, new present for Robin. (Just Kidding)

Next, the nasty swim platform had to be addressed. I priced out a new one but quickly changed my mind when I found that it was the price of a new vehicle.  I decided to tackle the job myself. After all, how hard could it be?

Robin and I pulled the platform off, broke almost every bolt in the process, and sanded it back down.  After several really hot days and a couple quarts of Cetol, some metal polish and new bolts, we were able to get the job done.  Not professional but good enough for my shallow pockets.

Then, on to the bow thruster.  I replaced almost every part in my attempt to fix it while we were in Florida, and still it wasn’t running right.. The only thing left was to replace the drive unit.  Turns out that the seal on the drive unit was leaking and allowing water to back into the drive unit and forced its way up and into the oiler, displacing the oil (water isn’t the best lubricant).  Unfortunately, Vetus has all of their material on back order and the new drive unit wouldn’t be available until August.  We used some creative MacGyver-like hacks to temporarily repair and lubricated the drive and seal the drive unit off so no water can intrude (it should work until the new drive unit arrives).

Another job was the stabilizer fins. We removed the fins with help from Hild Marine and replaced the seals on the shafts (3 year pm).  We still need to address the leaking ram on the port side, but that has to wait until we’re back in the water.

A new paint job on the bottom, change out the zincs and polish the boat.  After two weeks of dry-dock, she was ready to splash and go back into the water.   

We didn’t get everything done.  The stabilizer ram still has to be fixed, the auto pilot needs to be calibrated and the engines need to be inspected but that’s it for now.  Time to wax the top of the boat and relax for a couple of days.  It won’t be long before Robin catches me sitting on the back deck relaxing and says ‘so, what are your doing today?’ LOL

It’s been almost a year on the boat and she still hasn’t thrown me overboard yet, so…..

Get a boat they said, you’ll love it they said, it’s so relaxing they said…….

Categories: Life AboardTags: , ,

1 comment

  1. First off the swim platform looks brand new! Wow. Awesome job. Most importantly though I’m glad you and Robin are back in Kent Island. Dee and I missed both of you and I hope you never leave! At least not until I do………. 🙂 see you soon. #hydrating

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