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!

9 thoughts on “Road to Re-power: The journey begins with wax and paint

  1. We also have an old Perkins in our boat that is showing aging signs so very curious to hear how your project progresses.

    Would be curious to know what tranny you had and whether you will keep or change to what Beta has.

    Thank you

      1. Never heard of that tranny. We have the Velvet drive which seems maybe more common for that engine in a marine setup but certainly no expert in that field.
        I will check out the sail drive but it won’t work with our aluminum boat and the way the skeg is placed etc.

  2. Looking good. Good luck with the repower! Out of interest how oxidized was the hull? Be interested in your thinking of a restorer wax vs something a little more abrasive?

    1. Thanks, Gavin! The hull wasn’t terribly oxidized. When we did the skeg and rudder work two years ago in Seattle our fiberglass guy recommended the restorer and Fleetwax. But his best tip was to spend the money on a professional grade buffer, and it truly does make all the difference. I opted to go with something similar to this from Home Depot (
      Also, renting rolling scaffolding makes the job so much more efficient and you can do a much better job. Trying to do all this work from ladders is seriously horrible work.

  3. Yahtzee Power! If you all need some real estate in the Portland or the Gorge area for a visit with your people, reach out. We could probably host you.

  4. Good luck on the repower! I did that on my previous boat Jammy after the engine literally exploded – it was 30 years old and had seen better days. Fully raw water cooled old Volvo without a heat exchanger, so eventually the cylinder walls collapsed while under way, and cylinders and oil were everywhere!

    The repower was stressful but worth every cent to have a completely new, reliable, more fuel efficient engine, along with a better electrical and charging system. It even got quieter, and faster! Can’t wait to see how Yahtzee turns out!

    1. Thanks, Steve! I’m definitely feeling a little of that re-power stress, but I know it will be worth all the hard work in the end. Also, a quieter engine and faster boat is something I’m looking forward to!

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