Col’s Tech Update: winterising and annual maintenance


Like all sailing boats, finally my darling (FMD) requires annual maintenance. Without that maintenance, both the systems on board and hull of the boat itself would start to rapidly deteriorate and ultimately let us down. It’s a bit like insurance. It costs to have these insurances in place and maintained, but it’s the protection you must have not just for the boat, but also for the safety of those who will continue to enjoy cruising in her.

With the benefit of having cruised the Mediterranean for almost eight months, we had generally worked out what we’d wish the boat to be like going forward. So in addition to the maintenance costs to be carried out, there were improvements we decided upon that also required some expenditure on our part. As was the case this year, we actually spent more on improvements than on maintenance. But the monies spent for those improvements are now permanent, their benefits to be enjoyed for the life of the boat. Thus ongoing annual costs should be almost entirely on maintenance. There can be no doubt that value of the boat in terms of re-sale value will have improved as a result of the changes, making FMD stand out when being compared by potential future buyers.

Maintenance

This year’s end of season maintenance costs will come in at about A$3,900. Here’s a summary of where that money was spent:

  • Rebuilding one of three electric flush toilet macerator/flushing pumps. Here’s a great example of a saying in Turkey: “don’t throw anything anyway.” Most large town or cities in Turkey have an area/s called “the Sanai.” Where can be found an amazing range of mostly small workshops and technicians who, for years have re-built just about anything for a fraction of the cost of buying the new part. Repairs also included replacing the toilet’s “joker” or one-way valves. A relatively small outlay, but essential considering what occurs at sea if a toilet blocks or effluent can’t be held in the holding tanks while in a small, pristine harbour or waterway.
  • Rebuilding a failed Harken 42.ST electric sailing winch gearbox where the bronze bevel gear failed almost three months earlier, forcing us to use a winch handle.  It was fun trimming by hand for a week or so, but it was bloody frustrating when both Harken and the Italian gearbox manufacturer Bonfiglioni failed to respond, didn’t reply to emails or via their service department web sites, and when they did reply, they never really gave a concise answer. A new gearbox, had it been available in a timely fashion was quoted at A$775. Whereas the gearbox was completely rebuilt in the aforementioned Turkish workshops, including installing all new bearings and seals, and the machining of a new hardened bronze bevel gear, all for A$390.
  • Replacing two failed stainless steel gas struts that supported the heavy fibreglass hinged water maker compartment lid.
  • Rub back and sand the entire hull below the waterline to remove and smooth imperfections in the anti-fouling paint layer. Damaged areas were filled with epoxy resin filler and faired to give an even finish ahead of applying two coats of (expensive) anti-fouling paint. The application of anti-fouling paint won’t in fact be undertaken until a few days before the boat goes back in to the water.
  • Cut and polish the hull from the waterline upwards, including the underside of the bridge deck, the deck and superstructure areas. It should be noted this cut and polish task shouldn’t be required again for another two to three years, with a light buff now and then for maintaining a nice lustre.
  • Service of all three onboard diesel engines being the two Volvo Penta D2-55Hp engines and their sail drive units, plus the 4-cylinder Perkins diesel powering the massive 11kVa 220V electric generator. This year, all three engine-cooling systems were flushed and re-filled with coolant and all three engines received new water pump impellers and water pump seals. Two of the three engines had noticeable weeps develop around the housings over the year. Total costs for these three services, that excluded labour as it was all done in-house, totalled in the order of A$400. The costs include oils, fuel and oil filters and parts. The coolant for example and hopefully the water pump impellers and seals, shouldn’t need replacing for about three years. So again, next year’s costs will be less than this year.
  • Carry out minor gel-coat repairs: minor bumps and scratches almost always occur. With modern repair kits and a bit of practice, the owner can generally get an acceptable finish especially when the job is followed by the hull cut and polish.



Improvements

As mentioned earlier, a number of improvements were carried out in the 10-day period immediately after FMD was lifted onto the hard stand at Marmaris in Turkey. In a couple of cases, elements of these improvements will be completed by local contractors while the boat is out of the water; to be completed over the five month European winter storage period. These improvements include:

  • Making an additional cylindrical cushion for the backrest railing, located behind the full-width helm bench seat. The standard Lagoon 440 helm position can seat five to six people with comfort, but gaps in the cushions mean someone is sitting half-on and half-off a cushion which can be uncomfortable. FMD’s cushions are now seven years old and losing their lustre. So Velcro–secured dark blue Sumbrella-type material covers have been made to completely re-cover the existing cushions and as well as the new cushion. The covers can be removed for ease of cleaning; and cover colours match the other Sumbrella blue trimmings.
  • Using sail cloth material from our Code Zero reaching sail, that was unfortunately severely damaged from an incident two months back, a set of screen covers have been made for the outside of our Lagoon saloon windows. They completely cover all the windows during times of longer storage or absence, and are affixed by secure clips matching the colour of the boat. The screens not only provide privacy, but also will protect the interior curtains and furnishings from fading.
  • Again using the former Code Zero sail material, a full lace-up cover has been manufactured to cover the three large 275Watt hinged solar panels.  The remainder of the otherwise excellent condition sail cloth was sufficient to make not only window and solar covers for our boat, but for fellow cruising partners Viv & Frank’s boat: Dominos.
  • In adding 1.5M long, 3700nm gas struts to each side of the existing solar panel lifting frame, makes the task of changing angles of the solar panel as the sun moves during the day, a one handed operation.
  • Relocating the large Outback Flexmax 80Amp solar regulator to a more sheltered and accessible position in a shaded, waterproof cockpit cupboard. Next increasing the cable sizes from the solar panels to the MPPT unit, and then onto the batteries. The result has seen better cooling of the MPPT unit and virtually no voltage drop in the circuit. Also added to the circuit were individual 40Amp circuit breakers allowing each, or all panels, to be individually isolated.
  • The complete removal, straightening and bracing of the weakly designed Lagoon anchor cable roller and bow support frame. Many Lagoon 440’s suffer the same breaking of mounting bolts and resulting bending of the frame. A new brace designed by fellow cruiser Frank Maunders was fabricated for both our Lagoons, and the new installation is completely bullet proof.
  • Relocation of the salt water feed pump for the Aqua-Tec 140Lph water maker. The original feed pump and piping, installed by a Lagoon contractor immediately following construction in 2006 was, in my view poorly routed and potentially inefficient. The improvement saw the removal of over five meters of hosing removed, hopefully saving in friction loss along the line.
  • Purchase of a stainless steel water manifold, ball valves and clamps to again tidy-up a poor Lagoon installation. The new manifold allows both water tanks to be individually isolated at the manifold ends and each distribution line to vessel services can also be individually isolated. Previously, a leak or rupture in any one hose would see all fresh water potentially lost overboard.
  • Manufacture and installation of an easily removable 2.1M high stainless steel support post for our auto tracking satellite TV antenna. In the antenna dome’s former position, it restricted access on the cockpit roof, became a tripping hazard, and the satellite signal was often blocked by the boom. The dome’s new location on the pole fixed on the extreme starboard quarter means it is well out of the way, easy to access and in direct, unrestricted line to satellites being sourced.
  • Finally, and not being undertaken until we return to FMD in March 2014, will be a replacement of the main sail halyard, the Spinnaker halyard, foresail sheets and mainsail sheets. All of these lines are original and at seven years of age, are either starting to show signs of fatigue, but have also developed memory. This memory causes them frequently to twist to the point where for example, the main sail cannot be hauled fully up, and is then often difficult to lower.





Upgrade and improvement costs will by March 2014 have cost in the order of A$6,000. This is a lot of money when added to the annual maintenance cost, but in each case, the works will not need to be borne again and will almost certainly add significantly more value to the boat’s potential re-sale value than the initial cost. When both FMD and Dominos are eventually offered for sale in Australia, they can genuinely be advertised as two of the best fitted-out Lagoon 440’s ever to come to Australia.

For those of you closely interested in the technical detail of maintaining and winterizing a boat, should you have any further questions or comments, please direct them via the comments field below or the Contact Us form. We look forward to returning our darling lady to the water next spring and will be sure to update here on any new learnings or developments. Wishing you the merriest of festive seasons and happiest of New Years! May 2014 be the year for chasing your dreams.

Cheers, Col.

Comments

  1. Michelle says

    Sounds amazing! Looks great. Have fun on the next voyage. Keeping a read of your journey. Waiting for the book & movie in time.

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