Saturday, 15 November 2014


Crystal Blues has been lifted out of the water and is on the hard stand at Rebak Island Marina, in Langkawi, Malaysia.

Ley (optimistically) booked for just a week, thinking we only had to do a quick anti-foul paint job and replace some plumbing - one week, should be easy.  

So now, almost three weeks later, no paint tins have even been opened, though the end is in sight.

In The Beginning

Removing the toxic underwater paint with normal electric sanding machines is not recommended.  

We now use an air powered random orbital sander that allows us to sand the hull wet, without too much effort. We keep the water running over the work area and the old paint is flushed away.  There is no dangerous dust, though it is still a very dirty and messy job. 

Once this was done I finished polishing the topsides, a job we started back in Singapore. Then followed all the stainless bright work.

So Far So Good

Next Ley tackled the brass-ware - aka cleaning the propeller ready for the new paint system.  

All was moving along quite smoothly until our neighbour Eddie said - "gee, you've got a bit of movement in that P-strut bearing".  Sure enough that bearing was badly worn - 10 years and almost 3000 hours of motoring will do that.  We ordered a new bearing from Australia, started to disassemble the drive train and the real fun began (click the link below).


The Gori propeller was removed then the shaft was disconnected from the gearbox, so it could be pulled backwards out of the boat.  This is where we both struggled, as Cruisehiemers set in.  

Removing the coupling from the inboard end of the shaft - we push, pull, heat, rotate and bang that brass flange with our largest "flogging hammer", but it seems it will never part with the shaft.  Then Ley recalls that we used some bolt and nuts and pushed the flange off last time.  Hmm, I'm sitting with an assortment of bits trying to remember, Ley remembers that we used the stainless spacer that we had made for aligning the engine.  So we demolish the boat searching for the elusive spacer.

Spacer found, I'm still not looking any smarter, then somewhere in the archives of my brain a thought emerges - get the Gori propeller puller.  Yes, we had the spacer modified so the Gori puller could also be applied to remove the flange.  Volia - the flange is off, the shaft is out and all we need now is for the bearing to arrive from Australia.

Its frustrating when you can't remember the tools you designed yourself !  As an aide to our aging memories we now have a photo of all the bits required to remove the flange.....

Needle Gun On The Frames
Hull Maintenance

Old age also doesn't help steel hulls, and we found another little "gotcha" caused by poor maintenance and fitout, back before we purchased the boat.  

Timber blocks had been fitted hard against the hull to support the shower base, and in the process critical limber holes (drain holes) had been blocked.  When the shower base leaked, water had pooled there and eventually attacked the metal.

We cut out the shower base to access the area and then cleared away the offending timber pieces, which are not now required.  Determined to master the skills ourselves, we then cut out the small section of steel plate and made a pattern for the replacement piece.

Cutting The Hull Piece

A local workshop had the right steel stock and we were in business - I spent a day carefully shaping the patch to exactly fit the hole, shaping it to the curve of the hull with that (finally) very useful flogging hammer.  Now we just needed to weld it into place.

The Missing Link

The Gods were shining on us this time - Tim from the cruising boat Top Secret is a DNV certified marine welder, and offered to set it right.  Another friend had the inverter welder, yet another had the welding mask, so we purchased a packet of special rods and we were away.  Tim said it was only a 30 minute job, so of course it took several hours, yet he still took the time to teach me the basics of welding, and the patch was triple welded into place over two sessions.  We've now completed the paint systems and the repair to the shower base is underway.  

Neil's First Practice Weld - Not Pretty
With luck we'll be back in the water in a week.  Its been a record amount of work in minimal time, and we've learned a lot in the process.  

Significantly, we've decided it's time that I learned to weld - then we can be completely independent in our maintenance work.  Can anyone recommend a good (small) inverter welding kit ?

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