Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Putting our new 35 foot 1974 C&C sailboat in the water

The weekend of April 17/18 2010 was boat launch weekend at QCYC where our newly purchased 1974 35 foot C&C sailboat sitting dry. On Sunday, after a dry run sitting in the cockpit as the boat is launched, our boat was safely launched into Lake Ontario for the first time (other than a quick motor test that failed a year or two ago) in about seven years. Peter, Paul, Ken and all the other members worked together to get us in safely and secured at our temporary slip. Peter went over the through hull valves with us and made sure they were all closed except for the engine cooling intake. Dad worked himself to utter exhaustion over the two days manning the pull lines, pushing the hulls, and clearing the yard. What a great feeling for all to see Initram back in the water...she is a beauty.

Getting the engine going

Now the fun begins. The Atomic four engine won't start so Paul has kindly ordered the required set of replacement parts such as plugs, distributor, and other pieces that typically need to be replaced at the start of the season. Peter who basically did all the essential to launch our boat was able to get the engine to turn over but she won't start. Several potential issues are likely the cause including dirty fuel (from long term storage), gas line filter problems, spark plugs, points etc. As new boat owners with no engine maintenance experience all these new terms and issues are daunting. However, fellow members are providing us with so much help and support, based on their many years of experience that it feels as though we are not alone.

Bilge pump

My big concern has been the the bilge filling with water slowly. The only obvious source is a drip from the stuffing box where the propeller shaft goes through the hull (I learned a bit more about stuffing boxes at a web site created by a Don Casey with a section on Servicing your Stuffing Boxhere). Apparently this is normal and should essentially cease to leak after a day or so assuming the stuffing box material is doing its job. If it does not, I am told the stuffing box can be tightened to stop the leak. With this leak I am over at the boat morning and evenings to manually pump the bilge as the automated bilge pump was neither functional nor connected/mounted. We have purchased a replacement automatic bilge pump (same model/capacity 750 automatic Rule) and I've got the DC battery providing power to test the new pump. It runs when I use the test button. However, having accomplished this small miracle (the switch to the wires used by the old pump are labelled water pump, rather than the more obvious but incorrect bilge pump switch) the questions are how do I mount the beast and to what hose do I connect it so that the water can be drained (without causing some other problem). So many switches and so little time. For a Bilge pump 101 course I found first David Pescoe with his All About Bilge Pumps - here and again on Don Casey web site Installation a Bilge Pump - here.

None of the hoses under the sink (picture to the right) where we found the old pump appear to be usable. From some articles on the web (see links above on Bilge pumps) regarding bilge pumps putting the hose into the sink through hull line wouldn't make sense since it exits via a through hull that is under water. The bilge pump needs to exit apparently through the hull at a point 12 inches above the water line (even when heeling). That suggest the stern where the existing manual bilge pump exits. No such hose or through hull appears to exist in this configuration. So, what was the setup before and what is the right way to proceed? If a through hull is required there is a pretty good article on the subject called Putting a Hole in your Boat. Stay tuned.

One suggestion from a fellow boat owner at the club is as follows: Install the electric pump in the bilge and run a hose up to where can splice a Y-valve into the hand operated bilge pump line.  Then you have to install a back-flow preventer (these allow water to be pumped through, but don't let water back) in both lines before the Y so that if you are using one or the other pumps, the water won't circle around and back into the bilge.  That way you can operate both at the same time and only have the one existing thru-hull fitting.