Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall charting our adventures as we sail around the world. This season we spent 5 months exploring Vanuatu and are now on the east coast of Australia.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

There's ay some bloody thing!

We're back aboard Maunie and were delighted to find her in very good order after her (and our) 2 month holiday. Whilst we were away a local sailor, Mike, came out to the mooring to check on her weekly and he emailed us a condition report each time - when cyclone Ian blew through here a couple of weeks ago he also came and had a good look at her through his binoculars! Our mooring was well-sheltered but other boats weren't so lucky; a few had sails and covers ripped and the car ferry came adrift from its overnight mooring and damaged a couple of nearby yachts, including Liberty VI who seemed to follow us (enjoying Dianne and Heidi's night time VHF conversations!) on several Pacific passages.

After a brilliant car and tent journey it's great to be home! However, we're back to some boat work and Graham's father's favourite boat saying, "There's ay some bloody thing!" (to be spoken in a Scottish accent),  is being much used, along with "It's a boat!" (to be spoken in an exasperated accent). For example:

We'd decided to tackle a simple-sounding job, to add some permanent mountings for the solar panel on the cabin roof - we'd had it lashed in place with rope and the cable just trailed back into the cockpit to a deck socket. It worked fine but offended Graham's engineering senses and looked a bit Heath Robinson. Thanks to a chat with the guys in the local chandlery (who are proper sailors and so give great, practical advice) we came up with the idea of using stong polycarbonate hinges rather than stainless steel brackets to make the job of aligning the panel with the curved roof much easier. Of course, this meant drilling bolt holes through the roof so the headlining in the cabin had to come down and we took great care to make sure that the bolt holes were very well sealed to prevent water ingress. 

Chaos below
New fittings to raise the panel clear of the ropes

This of course was just part of the project - a new cable gland was needed (a waterproof socket, bolted to the roof, through which the power cable was threaded) and the cable had to be threaded through various very small spaces down to the charge controller next to the batteries beneath our bunk. All in all about an 8-hour job but were pleased with the result.

However, whilst we had the headlining down we investigated an annoying drip from the back of the cabin roof and eventually found that the sealant around the bolts fastening the mainsheet traveller had hardened and cracked allowing capilliary action to draw rainwater (and sea water in bad weather!) through into the cabin. Getting the whole thing prised up, cleaned and resealed was a bit of a challenge.

A large lever and lots of muttering were required to lift the alloy fitting from its resting place of 17 years
A third, minor, leak had also been spotted last time we sailed in rough seas so, whilst we were in the mood (though noticeable less enthusiastic by this time), we removed one of the deck hatches and resealed it; a process known as "gobbering up with Sikaflex" by an old sailing friend. 

The hatch removed and the deck masked up ready for gobbering up
Sikaflex is an amazing adhesive / sealant that's almost guaranteed to end up on your clothes and skin, no matter how careful you are with it. Once there nothing will remove it apart from time and vigorous scrubbing. Graham now wears two pairs of latex gloves so when he gets all sticky he can peel off the outer pair and continue working.

So, finally (and all this was a 2-day project) we refitted the headlining and tidied the boat up, just as torrential rain arrived. Our smug satisfaction at several jobs well done was soon shattered when a drip arrived, swiftly followed by quite a few of its friends. How could this be after all our careful work with the Sikaflex?

Once more the headlining came down to reveal the source of the water - the cable gland for the older solar panel on the roof. A rubber o-ring seal had perished and split allowing water to find its way past the threaded fitting.

The leaking deck gland

The cause - a UV-degraded o-ring seal
Replacing it involved removing the cable, prising the whole fitting from the deck to disassemble it, fitting a new o-ring, reassembly and, of course, more application of Sikaflex before replacing the headlining. Time to complete all this? Three hours! It's a boat!!

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