Monthly Archives: October 2018

It’s not you, it’s me: A love letter to Yahtzee

Dearest Yahtzee,

Last week came time to remove your old, tired blue engine. You have lived with it your entire life and it has propelled you many a sea mile, but the incessant noise, the constant oil leak and the broken transmission has made the beast too much of a burden to keep around any longer. It was time. 

Sitting in your companionway gazing out over the mountains towering above the boatyard, I waited patiently for the mechanic to arrive and help. Alas, he was overdue. Excited as I was, I devised a way to coax the heavy hunk of machinery from its cozy compartment with the mainsheet attached to the boom and a dock line made fast to the mast. I know what you’re thinking — clever, right? Impatient? Maybe. But I was eager to get that greasy engine out of you.

Sure enough, with a bit of sweat, some muscle, a few choice swear words and Led Zeppelin blaring through the speakers, I pulled “Old Blue” out into the cabin with a thunk and began to lift it skyward. Inch by inch. Up, forward and out it came. Much to my relief, the able mechanic arrived soon thereafter and quickly gave his approval. The grizzled Perkins 4-108 was leaving your homey interior for the outside world.

Working as a team now, the two of us pushed, lifted, pulled and prodded the elderly engine out into the evening air. Yes, we were careful not to scratch your wood or nick your fiberglass (though mistakes happen), and oil streaks were kept to a minimum (mostly). You’re welcome.

In due time, the 34-year-old piece of equipment was being gloriously and gracefully hoisted off the deck and down to the boatyard below. I know you will miss that mighty powerplant that served you well from your birthplace in Italy across the Atlantic Ocean, in the Caribbean Sea and while looping from the South Pacific to Pacific Northwest and up to Alaska. Who can blame you? Certainly not I. But times change, and engines grow old and tired. Such is life.

With that ugly bit of news in our wake, I am happy to inform you that a shiny new Beta 50 with sail drive is waiting to lay claim to your engine compartment. She’s red and we have yet to give her a name (I’ll let you know when we do). We’re working hard to see the project through before winter arrives here in The Great Land. But rest assured, Yahtzee, you will be running again soon — and much better for it.

I Love You,

Andy

P.S. Shortly after removing Old Blue I proceeded to fall down your companionway and bruise (break?) a few ribs in the process. Point taken: It’s not you, it’s me.

Enclosed are a few pictures of the procession:

Road to Re-power: The journey begins with wax and paint

Have you ever re-powered a sailboat? No? Well, me either. There is a first time for everything, though, and I’m enthusiastically diving into this massive project with sleeves rolled and an open mind.

Yahtzee ambles her way down Port Ave in Seward to be put on the hard.

As luck would have it, we pulled Yahtzee on Friday and happened into a perfect stretch of weather to complete other projects first. Under bright beautiful sunshine and warm days (fall in Alaska?), I rented a section of rolling scaffolding and gave the hull a cleaning and waxing. One coat of 3M Restorer Wax, power buffed, and then two coats of hand applied Fleetwax brought her 34-year-old gel coat back to a gorgeous shine. Waxing and buffing is never a fun project, but it’s always satisfying when it’s done.

Shine baby shine!

Next, paint. It has been two years and many miles since we’ve had Yahtzee out of the water and I have to say I am once again impressed with Sea Hawk’s BioCop bottom paint. Just a thin layer of growth was present and almost no barnacles had hitched a ride in that time. Pressure washing the hull revealed few if any blemishes and I was happy to see that only one coat of paint would be necessary. That turned the whole job into a one day affair that included taping, scraping, sanding, cleaning and then painting. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to go quite so smoothly but, alas, it did.

The keel showed clean paint and almost zero growth once pressure washed.
Waxed and painted, looking oh so good.

While waxing and painting was underway, I also turned to the larger project at hand: the re-power. Putting a new engine in a boat is a multi-layered undertaking that unlocks the need to tackle many other projects at the same time. And the first big task is that of getting the old engine and sail drive out. I found time to do the first steps in the process and drained all the transmission and engine oil from each unit. To physically get the engine out of the boat we need to disassemble various parts of it so I took the alternator off, removed the air filter system and dismantled some of the raw water cooling system. With rain in the forecast, I can now turn my focus from the outside solely to the inside and hope to get Old Blue out soon.

We’ve had a good run, Old Blue.
Removing oily engine parts is just the beginning.

Of course, none of this is nearly as fun as actually being out cruising, but there is always a means to an end. With a departure goal of Memorial Day set, we’re in go mode with this project and many others. Plus, we have the looming Alaska winter to contend with, which will cut our work window much shorter. Fun times are ahead, stay tuned!