Improvements to Rhapsody (2) - Haulout

When I had Rhapsody hauled out for the initial survey, George Jarvey recommended that I have the propeller shaft replaced due to pitting. He also suggested that several thru-hulls and the "water-chest" be replaced as they were old and corroded. He also pointed out some corrosion on one of the keel bolts and said they should be cleaned and painted and inspected more closely.

So I called Shelter Island Boatyard, and talked to the owner, Bill, to schedule the work. He told me that the boat yard would only haul the boat and do the bottom painting and act as the general contractor. He recommended Western Yacht Commissioning to do most of the real work. He also recommended Ocean View Yacht Repair to do the finish work, to wax-and-buff the topsides and bleach the teak decks. So I took his advice and gave them a call.

In the process, I was very fortunate to meet John Krase from Western Yacht Commissioning. Not only did he do most of the planning, logistics and actual work on the refit, but he also served as an advisor and friend thru the process, helping me learn about everything from adhesives to plumbing and rigging. A boat's a complicated beast, and it's good to know people like this. So, if you're ever in San Diego and need work done on your boat, I highly recommend you call John or Dave at Western Yacht Commisioning on Shelter Island, at (619) 224-1474.

The boat was hauled (for the 2nd time now), on April 23, 2007. My expectation was that the boat would be out of the water for a week. It ended up taking nearly 3 weeks (mostly for the propeller), but everyone at the boatyard, especially the owner, Bill, and the yard manager, Wayne, were very very nice about doing everything possible to minimize my costs. When it turned out that the propeller would take several weeks to get done, they even put the boat back in the water and let me stay at their docks rather than pay the hefty $150/day for keeping the boat in the yard. They worked around my needs, not vice-versa, and I was very pleased to have chosen Shelter Island Boatyard in the first place.

New Propeller Shaft, Cutlass Bearing, and PSS Shaft Seal

The first thing John did was pull the old propeller and shaft so that it could be measured. It was a 30mm shaft (metric), and, much to my dismay, would have to be special ordered and take weeks to replace. After some discussions, based on Bill and John's recommendations, we decided to replace the metric shaft with a standard 1.5" U.S. shaft, which was more available, and would make future work easier as well.

Of course, this means that we had to rework the bevel on the inside of the Max-Prop folding propeller. After some more consideration, we decided to also have the propeller factory-reconditioned, as the distributor would be the best choice to rework the bevel, and they could also completely recondition the propeller at the same time. So we shipped the propeller up to Seattle, Washington, the day after the haulout, expecting it to be shipped back within a week.

At the same time, we commissioned a machine shop in Wilmington, California (a suburb of Los Angeles) to machine the new shaft. Even though it was stock material, it had to be cut to length and the proper bevel put on it. So, also on the 2nd day, the shaft itself was shipped (via truck) up to L.A.

We also replaced the old Volvo Shaft seal with a new PSS dripless shaft seal, and of course put in a new cutlass bearing and so on. John handled all the work of rounding up parts, making sure they were compatible, and installing them. By the following Monday (one week after the haulout), the new shaft was in the boat, ready for the propeller.

Factory re-conditioned Maxprop Propeller

As I mentioned, we needed to have the bevel modified on the Max-Prop and so we shipped the prop up to the distributor in Seattle. The prop was fairly worn and pitted, and I knew they would polish it up as part of the reconditioning, but was not expecting it to look like brand new when it came back.

Although the pictures may not capture it well, when we finally got the prop (a week late, it should be mentioned), it looked great! It was as shiny as a brass clock, and looked like a brand new propeller.

After the extra week's delay, John and Johnny from WYC put the new prop on the new shaft. It's kind of technical and they had to make sure that it was assembled and adjusted correctly. Above, Johnny is putting the finishing touches on it by injecting grease into the bearing.

New Thru Hulls and Valves

As mentioned before, the surveyor recommended replacing several thru-hulls and the water-chest (which can be seen in a "before" picture on the next page). The old valves were a variety of metals: some were brass, some were stainless steel, and so on, but most were corroded. So I decided rather than replacing them with more metal that would corrode again in the future, that I would replace them with all Marelon valves, which would never corrode.

Once again, John rounded up the parts and did most, if not all, of the work. In total, we (he) replaced the following thru hulls and valves.

  • Replaced the "Water-Chest" with three new thru hulls and valves
  • Replaced the Main Engine Cooling thru hull and valve
  • Fiberglassed and epoxied over the old Water Chest hole
  • Replaced the Watermaker Input thru hull and valve
  • Replaced the Kitchen Sink Output thru hull and valve
  • Replaced the Port Head Waste Output thru hull and valve
  • Replaced the Starbord Head Waste Output thru hull and valve
  • Fiberglassed and epoxied over the unsued Master Head Waste Output
  • Fiberglassed and epoxied over the unused Crew Cabin Toilet Input

The photos don't show it very well (see next page for more), but there was actually quite a bit of work done to get all the old thru hulls and valves out and put the new ones in. Once again, John and WYC did this work poste haste and to the highest standards of quality.

I also had John install the new FLS sensor. There was an existing, unused and unhooked sonar sensor, and so we reused the hole, although it had to be enlarged and moved slightly (with epoxy to make up the difference). Then, finally, as we were about to wrap up the haulout, at home one night, I discovered a sensor for the ST50 depth sounder in a pile of junk I had removed from the boat early-on and decided I wanted it put on the boat. So I took it down to the boat yard at the last minute, and, True to Form, John had no objections about this last minute additional work. Quicker than you can say "ST50 sonar depth sounder", he had it installed on the boat.

Seal and Paint Keel Bolts

The "before" picture below shows the Masthead Compartment (at the foot of the mast) when we first purchased Rhapsody. George had recommended that we possibly replace the keel bolt in here. You can barely see it in the picture because of all the rust and corrosion.

After I had cleaned the compartment up, and particularly the bolt, I asked John what he thought we should do. He said the odds were that the bolt could not be taken out, as it would break in the process, that it was a small bolt, and not really taking much of the load of the keel, and that it wasn't completely deteriorated. He recommended that we clean it with Phosphoric Acid and then paint it with an epoxy based paint, so that's what we (he) did.

In the "after" picture, above, you can now see the bolt more clearly. You can also see the new FLS sensor on the centerline.

Bottom Paint, Wax Topsides, Bleach Decks

Finally, of course, or in the beginning should I say, there was the bottom paint job, since it was actually done BEFORE the propeller was put back on. (Note that these web-pages of improvements are not presented in a strict chronological order). And why would I show a picture of Steve Dexter here? Well, yes, we got the bottom painted, and yes we had the topsides waxed and polished, and yes we got the teak decks bleached. And they looked great. But the real story of this time, for me, was that the boat was down at the Shelter Island Boatyard for 3 weeks, and I was down there nearly every day, working on projects, hanging out, and learning.

When we hauled the boat out on Monday and sent the shaft off in one direction (to L.A.), and the propeller in the other (to Seattle), we thought they would be back within the week and Rhapsody would be out of the yard by the weekend. But then the propller got hung up in Seattle, and the boat got stuck in the yard. Then Bill, the owner of the yard cut me a break and let me store the boat in the water (at their docks), for an additional two weeks at a reduced rate.

Steve would stop by on his breaks to check out the boat, and was ever encouraging and honestly interested when I would show him the latest modifications to the plumbing. Or I might chat with John on his break about his progress with one of the various boats that he was working on. Or I might help with the lines for a boat coming in (as we sometimes had to move Rhapsody and other boats around to get boats in and out of the yard), hustle on foot down to see Fred at San Diego Marine Exchange for some parts (nearly every day), or find myself chatting with Wayne about the $10 million yacht that's been there for 2 years, has TWO full time architects AND an Italian interior designer working on it. Wow! It was a very interesting environment, and there's a lot that could be learned in such a place.

It strikes me very strongly that there are so many people working so hard and putting so much effort into these boats. If you multiply our feelings and the effort put into Rhapsody times the number of boats and boat owners, the result staggers the mind. So yes, Rhapsody got a bright shiny new wax job (Steve even called me to tell me he saw it on break, and it looked great) And the teak decks look wonderful, though I wish I had a nice photo of them still wet right after they were cleaned. And the bottom is coated with Interlux Anti-Fouling paint.

But, for me, the main thing about this set of "Improvements to Rhapsody" was the people I got to meet and work with during the three weeks I spent at the Shelter Island Boatyard.

More Improvements ....