Pachuca Circumnavigation

This blog began in late 2006 with the planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in my 39-foot sail boat Pachuca. It then covered a successful 5-year circumnavigation that ended in April 2013. The blog now covers life with Pachuca back home in Australia.


Pachuca in Port Angeles, WA USA

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Anchor Winch and Sails

There was a spurt of activity in the winch replacement project.

On Monday morning Jerry told me by telephone that he had discussed the issue with Maxwell and could recommend either of two of the company's offerings.  I responded that I had been doing research of my own and had concluded that the Maxwell RC10-10 was the most appropriate for my boat.  Jerry replied that his preference was also the RC10-10, which was an excellent start to the project.  We agreed to meet at the boat at 11 AM to discuss the matter.
Removing old mounting block

Block removed, teak at  left cut out

Chain hole drilled

Winch mounting block in position

Jerry came well armed with a Maxwell catalogue that contained much more information than what is available on the internet.  We discussed the variations available for the RC10 and agreed on the actual part number to be ordered.  It was no accident that Jerry had come so well armed with information because in the past he had been Maxwell's maintenance person for the Perth area.  I received his invoice for the new winch on Tuesday and made payment on Wednesday.  The winch will be shipped from Queensland and delivered to a business in the area.

On Monday I spoke also to Bruce to discuss the fitting of the new winch.  Using a paper template for the RC10-10 Jerry and I had seen that the existing wood mounting base would require an extra 30 mm on the port side we all agreed that the simplest thing was to replace the entire base.

Within an hour Zelko the wood specialist was on board and we agreed on the shape and dimensions of the new mounting block. I went along with his suggestion that jarrah would be used because it is much stronger than teak. Zelko finished his visit by removing the old mounting block with remarkable ease.  He also skillfully removed a section of the teak decking to accommodate the larger mounting block.  The old block was made of meranti, a good rain forest wood that is nevertheless not as strong and durable as jarrah.  The old block was of two pieces glued down the middle and the wood was in bad shape.

Early the next day Zelko arrived with the new block made of a well seasoned piece of jarrah (more than 20 years old) and a hefty 40-45 mm thick.  Bruce soon joined us and we agreed on how to proceed.  Zelco fit the piece, which required him to first scallop out the bottom side of the block to accommodate the camber of the deck.  He then drilled the hole for the passage of the chain rode to the chain locker below.  The larger hole for the body of the winch would wait until the actual winch was on hand.  Once the required holes (including 4 bolt holes) had been drilled the block would be well coated with Everdure then glued to the deck.  At that point Jerry would arrive to oversee the actual installation.

Below the deck were two thick metal backing plates that had been expertly shaped to match the camber of the deck.  Bruce will arrange for a new backing plate to be made because the pattern of the four holes for bolting down the new winch is different from that of the old winch.

Although we have the capability of wiring in the new winch (we took plenty of photos) we will attempt to have our effort checked out by Greg the marine electrician if he is back from a trip to New Zealand.

On the sails front I completed the job of removing the accumulation of deck paint under the car tracks which prevented free movement of the cars.  (They would move only with the use of a hammer.)  I tried sanding by hand but the awkward job of sanding the rock hard anti skid deck paint by hand would have taken weeks and probably done damage to my thumbs.  I modified my angle grinder to take a circular sanding disk and completed the job in about two hours.  Sure, the appearance of the deck paint has been marred by the removal of paint a times exposing the fiberglass but it had to be done because I needed to remove not only the recent deck paint but also the paint from earlier times.  I plan to touch up the areas under the tracks with a thin layer of left over deck paint  without the anti skid material.

The mainsail is on board and ready to go up now that I managed to replace the "gate" clip that prevents the sail slides from dropping to the exit openings by cleverly (if I say so myself) modifying an off-the-shelf clip that was not quite long enough.

The head sail story is somewhat interesting.  I was thinking ahead about clearing the enormous amount of junk stored in my garage and shed. There were two head sails that had been damaged on the circumnavigation and I had to either use them again or dispose of them.

My best head sail had been made by Steve Hartley of Taskers in 2008.  Due to over canvasing the boat through several gales while crossing the Bight I blew out both of my head sails.  While I was having those sails repaired in Adelaide I telephone Steve and that night he had the cutter at work for the manufacture of a very strong "laminated" sail.  The front of the sail was so thin that I could see stars through it, and the back of the sail was of standard material, probably Dacron.  The idea was to save weight.  In light airs the entire sail would be rolled out but as the wind got stronger the sail would be rolled in, leaving the stronger material to take the load.

The stitching of that sail gave way along two seams while approaching Cape Horn and I was forced to bend one of the sails that had been repaired in Adelaide and managed to reach Argentina while staring at the small slit in the sail and the flimsy looking patches along the tears.  During this time I spent many difficult hours using a palm to force a needle through the steel hard material to prepare the damaged sail for emergency use.  In Argentina Pato Salas did a more professional sewing job, but he did say "You still need a new head sail."  I wanted no more sail problems so I visited North Sails in Buenos Aires and asked for a head sail that could carry me through 45 knot winds.  The result was a heavy (about 9.5 oz) cruising sail that even today looks like new.

Back to the present day, I rolled out the laminated sail on the ground and to me it appeared to be in remarkably good condition.  I then rolled out the heavier of the two head sails that had been repaired in Adelaide and it looked even better.  On that basis I took the sails to Steve Hartley for an assessment.  He pronounced the laminated sail to be in amazingly good shape and he could get it ready for use for only about $500.  The Dacron sail also looked very good but replacement of the UV material along the foot and leech would make its restoration a bit pricier at about $1500.  Because I must either repair the sails or purchase a new one for about $4500 and because I hate discarding things that still have usefulness I gave Steve the OK to repair both sails.

The sails are now ready for pick up and I will probably put up the laminated sail and store the Dacron sail at home along with the heavy cruising sail at home to minimize the weight and clutter on the boat while I am doing local cruising.
Channels for wiring

During the week I also installed some channeling provided by Greg to tidy up the wiring between the main panel and stern.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

It's not over yet

I thought that the refit ordeal was over when I brought Pachuca back to her pen, but now I have the task of replacing the anchor winch.  I have put it thus to friends: The war is not over, only the battlefield has changed.  (These are times to try men's souls.” - Thomas Paine)

On the brighter side, here are photos of Pachuca in her pen.

Replacing the anchor winch

Late last year I was referred to Jerry Davis regarding tiny amounts of oil dripping from the anchor winch gear box whenever I activated it.  For various reasons Jerry asked me to contact him after the boat was back in her pen and last week he attended to the winch.

The motor had been replaced in New Zealand in 2008 but the gear box was the original from 1983 and it showed.  Jerry worked hard for several hours over two days attempting to remove the winch without damaging it but everything that he tried failed, including drilling holes around the perimeter of the corrosion-fused top bearing, soaking the top of shaft over night with penetrating oil, and my using a heat gun on the fused top plate to the point where the wood underneath began to smolder.  Jerry called it the worst winch job that he had ever encountered and coming from a trained fitter and turner with many years of experience that is a very strong statement.  He commented that the shaft was so tightly bound that he was amazed that the winch had worked at all.

I agreed with Jerry that given that the winch was 36 years old and had had a very hard life at the bow of a low freeboard boat it was probably not worth saving, particularly since as far as I could tell Orca winches were no longer manufactured and parts would probably be impossible to get.  He then spent another difficult hour with an angle grinder cutting the top  plate (beautifully made of thick bronze) and removing the unit.  He subsequently did an autopsy on the gear box and that evening sent me the following cryptic text: "Gobs full of brass rust and dirty oil ...."

Jerry recommended a Maxwell winch as being the best value and I am awaiting his recommendation and quotation.  In the meantime I did some research of my own and I think that I have identified the suitable replacement: a Maxwell RC10-10.   It can take a rope/chain rode, meaning that I'll have the capability of using less heavy chain.   Also, the through-deck hole has the same 100mm diameter as did the Orca.

Fairly new winch motor, corroded original gear box

Shaft fused at both ends with corrosion

Jerry cutting through the top plate

Winch Removed

Hole covered in preparation of expected rain

Re fitting a leaky skylight

The first serious rain in months revealed that the skylight was leaking.  At first Bruce thought that the solution would be a simple job of sealing the mitered corners of the teak frame with Epiglue, but that was not to be.  We were forced to take the entire system apart.

The job of installing the skylight while I was in the U.S.A. had been entrusted to a man of many years experience who should have known better and will remain nameless.  He had done a slap dash job with Sikaflex sealant.  The Sikaflex was the incorrect material and was not sticking to the metal frame, providing one vector for the leak.  A second vector was the mitered corners mentioned above.  The third vector was around the six screws holding down the metal frame that had been fixed with no sealant.  Worse,we found that the edge of the thru deck opening had not been properly filled, allowing water to seep into the balsa core of the deck between the layers of fiberglass which would have eventually led to serious damage.

After over an hour of patient work we managed to work through the sticky Sikaflex and remove the entire skylight. Then we cleaned the the entire system with acetone and some sanding.

Then Bruce got to work at what he excels at.  He sealed the edges of the thru-deck opening with Epiglue, applied with a syringe and finished off with his finger, rendering the gap between the two layers of fiberglass  now impervious to water.  The Epiglue dried overnight and the next day Bruce appeared with a carefully selected "neutral" silicone sealant that will stick to metal as well as the usual materials.  He used the sealant liberally then inserted the screws with plenty of sealant then screwed the metal frame down as we watched the sealant ooze out under the pressure.  Some of the sealant oozed into the perimeter of the prism but that could not be helped and in any case was barely noticeable because the sealant unlike the Sikaflex is translucent.  The result was "bullet proof" as they say, and I will confirm the outcome when I return to the boat today after two days of at times heavy rain.

I estimate that the initial sloppy job of installing the skylight would have taken one hour tops,  and it took Bruce and myself at least four hours spread over two days to redo the work correctly.

Skylight clean and ready for re fitting

Epiglue around perimeter of the opening to protect the deck core

Applying the silicone sealant

Plate pressed down and ready for screws

Monday, June 10, 2019

Launching Jetty Party

On the afternoon of Pachuca's relaunch, Friday 24 May, we opened the boat to friends and fellow sailors who might be interested in seeing the fruits of the refit that had lasted more than a year.

Brenda and Dolphie did a wonderful job of providing warm and yummy finger food complete with all of the necessary plates, glasses, cutlery, etc all splendidly laid out on a table that we dragged over from another part of the works jetty.   I had the simpler and unimaginative task of providing the drinks and ice.

The 4pm start time approached with us expecting anywhere from 0 to 30 guests and we wound up with a group of about 25 by one estimate, composed of fellow sailors from the club (and one from Hillarys), two colleagues from my working days at the university, and other personal friends.

Toward the end of the evening I paid tribute to Bruce Diggins and the wonderful work that he had done on Pachuca.
Wonderful group of well wishers

Bruce with Brenda at his right and wife Dolphie at his left.  Victor Mews far left, Zac Armanasco far right

Small Jobs

After the boat was back in her pen I installed  two small lights that had been provided by Greg Hansen on the new switch panel.  The one over the "steerage light" is particularly important because it is so easy to forget to turn that light off after working under the cockpit.
Warning lights for cockpit and steerage switches

Vents above and below inverter compatment door

Greg had also mentioned the compartment behind the navigation housing the 60-amp inverter needed ventilation and next day I installed two vents, one high and one low.

Mast Stepped

On 23 May the boat was removed from the shed and was back in the water for the first time in over a year.  The next day the riggers Steve and Christian stepped the mast.

New pin to secure the mast to the compression post

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