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

Saturday, March 9, 2019


We've spent much of our last two weeks doing last minute work on the boat that we had not planned for but have nevertheless been well worth the effort even at the cost of delaying the relaunch date.

One of those unexpected projects was the rebuilding of the base upon which the boat's toilet rests, which I mentioned earlier.  Bruce removed the thin 10mm plyboard sheet (which was partially fiberglassed) that the toilet sat on to reveal the top of a completely sealed box.  The top of the box was badly deteriorated with rot and the inside was positively evil with moisture (even though the boat had been on the  hardstand for 6 months) and reeking of mold and rot.
Toilet support only 10mm thick and in bad condition

Section cleaned out for rebuild

Vertical jarrah supports at ends of front, stringer as support at back

This represented another fault in the initial build.  We believe that building grade rather than marine grade ply was used, and to totally seal the section was lunacy.  Simple breathing holes on the vertical face of the box in front of the toilet would have done wonders.

Bruce did an outstanding job of patiently removing the structure without damaging the stringer that runs along the back then began the process of designing and building a new toilet support.  Two sections of 18mm thick marine ply glued together will form the new base, which will sit on two vertical pieces of jarrah at each end of the front and the stringer at the back.  Bruce will cut an oval opening at the front face of the section to allow ventilation and physical examination and cleaning.  Doing carpentry work in a world where nothing is square, plumb, level, and often not even straight is about a challenging as you can get and Bruce as usual is excelling himself.

We finally finished the installation of the new lazarette cover.  Rob the fabricator paid a visit and adjusted the latches with diabolical ease. I am very pleased with the result.  The cover is strong, easy to remove and replace, and very effective. We did get some minor leakage when squirting the perimeter of the cover with a hose but I consider a reduction of at least 95% of the leaking that I've had to put up with a victory and if I really get fussy I'll replace the rubber seal with a thicker one.

New lazarette cover and teak deck needing maintenance

The photo of the new lazarette cover shows the bad state of the cockpit teak work.  (Double left click to enlarge.)  I have always been scrupulous about protecting the teak decking when doing any maintenance work because the teak is not sealed and is vulnerable to staining, somewhat mitigated by the oil content of the teak.  However, in was inevitable that there would be damage from all of the work being done on the boat since June by various people doing all sorts of things.

I asked Bruce if it was time to start thinking about doing something about the teak work and he responded with an emphatic Yes then showed me step by step on how to do the restoration.
Sanding the rear cockpit seat

Selfie with sanding dust protection

Cockpit after sanding (still drying)

Teak now looks as new

Teak decking should be periodically sanded down because the wood wears down over time leaving the caulking between the boards proud.  The teak decking was about 9 years old so this was the perfect time to do the sanding.

I started off by hosing down the teak and while it was still damp applied "Star Brite" teak cleaner, then hosed it off.  When the teak was dry I began sanding with Bruce's random orbital sander using 80-grit paper. 

This is where I got a lesson on the value of quality tools.  Even though I take good care of my tools I've got a half dozen sanders of various types in my garage that didn't last long before failing for one reason or another.  The only reliable sanders I've got are my two Makita belt sanders.  I had grumbled about this to Bruce several times and he told me that he is done with cheap tools and has good sander for which he paid more than $1,000 (gulp!).  When I started using the sander I understood what he was on about.  In one day using that sander and only 3 pads I had the cockpit sanded.  After a bit of hand sanding of the edges of the teak the job was finished with remarkable ease.

The next day Bruce drove me to Industrial Power Tool Services in Canning Vale and I purchased my own German-made "Festool" brand Rotex RO 150 sander.  Festool tools are made to connect to their  extraction system via a simple hose connection.  It's actually a big vacuum cleaner that would give me the capability of sanding and other wood work inside of my garage without getting dust all over the place.  I will probably fork out $700 for the extraction box once my garage is cleared of all of Pachuca's equipment and can set it up  as a workshop again.
Boards ready for sanding, sanders in position

Varnishing in back porch of house

Selfie with mask and gloves

After the sanding I gave the teak another dose of teak cleaner then finished it off with Star Brite teak brightener, applied the same as the teak cleaner.

I then did a bit of internet research to see if there was any treatment available to prevent the teak from going grey and learned that 100% pure tung oil is the best solution.  I expect to pick up a 4-liter can of tung oil in the coming week and will give it a try.

Another detour was the ambitious task of re sanding and re sealing the cabin floor boards.  This was suggested by Bruce and represented another good way to use my time while Bruce did the heaving lifting with the bathroom base, the mast support and base (more on this later), the finishing of the hull below the water line, etc.  The plan is that I am at Bruce's disposal when he needs me but I do as much as I can to pretty the boat up now while it is still on the hardstand because any activity involving sanding or noisy tools is forbidden when Pachuca is back in her pen. 

Bruce suggested that instead of ordinary varnish I use Estapol two-pack polyurethane varnish because it will be much more durable.  As luck would have it, I had 3 Liters of Part A and Part B along with almost a full can of thinner in the garage, left over from when I varnished the floors of my house during its major renovation.  I have learned that 2 pack paints though expensive up front can be cheaper in the long run because they last forever when stored properly, whereas enamel paints and ordinary varnish can go off big time after a few years.  The Estapol material was in perfect condition.

After some thought I formulated my  plan.  Sanding the boards could be done at the boat yard but varnishing inside of the boat would be impractical because all of the other work being done inside, and impossible outside because of the wind, threat of rain, and dirt all over the place. 

So I brought 12 flooring pieces to the house, left the car in the driveway, then washed the boards for drying overnight.  The next day I placed the boards in the car port and next to them set up one of my Makita belt sanders with an 80 grit belt, the other Makita with a 120 grit belt, and my new Festool orbital sander with a 120 grit pad.  I had 5 new 80 grit belts and 5 new 12 grit belts on hand and plenty of 120 grit pads.  The floor sections are of 10 mm thick planks of teak on top of 15mm marine ply, and have proven to be very strong and durable.

The plan worked like a charm.  I sacrificed the 80 grit belts to break through the varnish to the bare wood then switched to the 120 grit belt to remove any remaining pockets of varnish and yield smoother finish, the switched to the orbital sander for final finish.  I had all 12 sections sanded and ready for varnishing after about 3 hours of work.

The varnishing had to be done indoors because of the threat of gusty winds, particularly from the east in the mornings.  The garage is so full of boat equipment that walking through it is difficult enough, which left the house, so with some reluctance I set up the porch area between the back door and the bathroom for the work.

That has worked very well.  After complaining to Bruce that I had noticed a pattern of flu-like lethargy on weeks following painting with 2-part epoxy paints he took me to Gary Martin's "Boat  Paints" where his son Sam sold me a real mask and showed me how to use and maintain it.  The mask has three filters: a thin outer one for dust that is designed to be replaced frequently, a dust filter cartridge, the a fume filter cartridge.  I was amazed at the effectiveness of the mask.  The fumes from 2-pack paints are very strong yet when wearing the mask I get no scent of the chemicals whatsoever.  The mask cost me $130 but it is another demonstration that quality definitely pays.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

(Mission) Creeping Along

Pachuca's launch date has been locked in at "two weeks from now" since early January, and given the long history of receding finish dates I am considering renaming her Tantalus.  Just kidding.  The pace of work has slowed down for various valid reasons but I expect it to resume to full pace in the coming week, hopefully until launch time.
Repainted compartments

The mast is ready and we have have completed the connection of the new thru-hull fittings with this week's fitting of the new engine intake hose and three head hoses (basin drain and two for the marine toilet).  However, with typical mission creep, we decided to replace the 11-year-old marine toilet with a new one which will give me the opportunity to repaint the areas around the site of the toilet (more mission creep).

All of Pachuca's thru-hull fittings have been replaced except the two at the galley (basin drain and salt water intake) which were deemed to be in good condition.

I've used whatever spare time became available to repaint parts of the cabin interior, a job much easier to do before the boat is equipped and furnished for sea.
Bruce bedding the pre-glued rubber on Sikaflex

Bruce put rubber seals on the lazarette cover but we ran into trouble with one of the latches and Rob the fabricator will visit the boat to sort out the problem.
Photo of materials for future reference

I am also including a photo of some of the materials that we have been using in our work for my future reference.  A major omission in the photo was International Everdure primer and sealer.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Deck Painted

9 Feb 2019

The painting of the deck was completed on Monday, which I consider to be a milestone. 

Bruce and his wife "Dolphie" arrived early in order to do as much painting as possible before the arrival of the hot midday sun.  Bruce began rolling the paint at about 8 AM while Dolphie worked furiously to complete the masking with tape. A small amount milled plastic powder had been mixed with the paint to ensure that the non-skid property would not be degraded by this second unexpected top coat.  By about 4 PM the entire deck had been  painted and the port side which had been painted first was already touch dry.  Bruce and Dolphie had hung in there throughout the extremely hot conditions and I was grateful for that.  While they worked above their son "Oakie" worked below sanding the hull below the waterline  to smooth finish.  Oakie exhibited the same strong work ethic as his parents.
New deck color

We had changed the color from "Biscuit" (X42) to "Magnolia" (X32) which was two shades lighter and I was pleased to see that the result was as I had envisioned.  The enclosed photo does not do justice to the colors when viewed from a computer screen but at least give an idea of the result.  Note how the toe rail complements the color.

While Bruce did his thing I concentrated on the task of setting up the  hoses for the three bilge pumps.  The electric bilge pump and the manual "Whale Gusher" manual pump at the stern of the cockpit drain the forward section of the cabin bilge and the manual Whale Gusher pump at the starboard side of the cockpit drains a pit in the bilge below the cockpit.
White electric pump atleft, black manual pump inlet at right

Electric bilge pump hose above white manual pump hose

White hoses to manual bilge pumps in cockpit, clear hose at left from electric pump

The first task was to route the two hoses passing from the cabin to the lazarette.  Unfortunately the mechanic had been naughty and passed without notification to us one of the Morse control cables through the opening for one of the hoses and a fuel line through the other.  It took me over an hour of careful work to move these lines to their proper paths.

Passing the hoses through their respective routes turned out to be easier that I had expected.  The key was to feed the hoses down through the lazarette floor into the steerage compartment and from there use a combination of pushing and pulling to reach the cabin drain area.  The starboard cockpit pump hose was already in position and I connected it to the pump.  On Wednesday and Thursday Bruce and I worked together to fit the hoses, coating the through hull inlets with Sikaflex then using a heat gun and lots of muscle power to fit the hoses into the clamping position.  We used sturdy wide clamps rather than the standard universal clamps.

One of the subtle improvements to the boat is the USB power outlet plug suggested by Greg Hansen.  The upper slot delivers 1 amp and the lower one delivers 2 amps.  The shelf below it completes a very convenient setup for charging mobile phones, cameras, etc.

Charging my Android phone at the new facility
Greg made another improvement.  Up to now the boat's AM/FM radio has been  practically useless because it has relied on a tiny antenna in the cabin strapped next to the mast.  I had used it mostly as a sound system for CD's and watching movies.  I had sacrificed my old, decrepit, and redundant Lowrance GPS to make room for the upgrade of the boat's 240 volt system and it was Greg's idea to use its antenna position at the stern of the boat to mount a long marine AM/FM whip antenna.  Greg visited the boat on Friday and did precisely that with the help of Bruce and myself.  He came up with a stainless steel plate to which he could screw the antenna with holes for screws then drilled holes in the freed up Lowrance mounting plate and fitted his plate with thru bolts.  He then screwed the mast onto the plate and  passed the antenna cable through down through the stainless steel tubing into the interior of the boat using the redundant Lowrance cable as a pull through. 
New AM/FM antenna at left, AIS antenna at right, on angle because it is strapped to a vertical slanting bar
He connected the antenna cable to the Pioneer car radio that had served me faithfully throughout the circumnavigation, turned on the radio and we were immediately listening to an ABC AM station in Narrogin, a country town 200 km to the SE.  The clarity was amazing given that the sun was high.  He then dialed in another country station before we locked in on the Perth AM stations that came in crystal clear.  The FM reception was also crystal clear as expected.
Greg connecting the radome

Earlier in the week Greg had made the final connection of the radar dome on the mast.

Painting of Deck

2 Feb 2019

Bruce worked hard to prepare the deck for painting and by late Thursday the deck surface had been prepared, masked off, and rolled with a coat of Norglass "No Rust" primer that acts as a barrier between what little remained of the original enamel paint and the planned 2-part epoxy paint.
Deck masked off and painted with primer

Bruce and Mike (who had painted Pachuca's mast) laid the first topcoat on Friday morning before the blazing summer sun made the work unbearable.  Bruce rolled the paint onto the deck while Mike followed with a sifter to shake the Inernational "Intergrip" anti skid material onto the wet paint then rub it in gently with his hand.

After the paint was laid we had a discussion about the color and I agreed with Mike and Bruce's advice that the color was too dark for summer conditions resulting in extra heat inside of the cabin.  We consulted the paint chart and I agreed that the same color but two shades lighter would be more appropriate.  Fortunately (and very wisely) the second can of paint had not been tinted and by the end of the day the paint had been tinted and ready for the second coat on Saturday morning, which Bruce would lay down on his own.

I noted on Saturday morning from my home in Darlington that that painting conditions were almost ideal with some cloud overhead, a moderate southerly wind, and a much cooler day.

While the deck was being painted I worked below setting up the route for installing the hoses from the electric and manual bilge pumps in the cabin to the drains in the lazarette.  Unfortunately liberties had been taken with no consultation in the routing the Morse cable to the transmission, one fuel line, and one heavy battery cable and it took me about 2 hours of slow and timid work (First, do no harm) to reroute these lines and free up the two large holes through the bilge bulkhead  for the pump hoses.  After investing in some trial and error it became clear that feeding the hoses from the cabin into the lazarette was not feasible because it was impossible to get past the muffler to get a good two-handed grip on the hoses to pass them up into the lazarette. Feeding the hoses from the lazarette down into the steerage compartment is definitely the way to go.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Window Replacement Completed

On Monday installed the final two windows and just in time because we got bouts of light rain over the next 24 hours.
New Starboard Windows

Bruce and I lowered the repaired port water tank into position and I then connected the three water lines.  On Tuesday morning I filled up the tank until the water was overflowing from the filler hose then checked the tank and its hose connections very carefully and found no leaks.

This opened the way for Zelko to pay a visit to fit the hold-down restraints that he had designed for  both tanks and adjacent batteries. He came in on Wednesday and did the work and the result was two tanks and batteries firmly secure and guaranteed to remain in place through a knockdown, rollover, pitch pole, or whatever agitation that the sea can throw at the hull. He then did some minor jobs such as cutting a wooden wedge for the base of the engine muffler then securing the muffler with three thru bolts.
View through the new window

Ryan from Sealed Marine Windows at Bibra Lake had produced an aluminum spacer to fit between the mast compression pose and the keel.  Zelko used his jig saw to trim it for a better fit but then we realized that the keel area was lumpy and would have to be neatened up.  Bruce purchased a special drill attachment to do the job but then we saw that the new compression plate did not sit firmly enough on the floor supports.  Bruce removed the fiberglass along the top of one support and discovered that the timber was saturated with water and mold was growing.  This amazed me because the boat had been high and dry for months.  Unfortunately the water was trapped with no ventilation.
Aluminum spacer and perimeter of mast support plate

We had no option but to fix the problem and between Bruce and I we spent hours using a heat gun to dry out the wood so that the space between the wood and the fiberglass could be filled with epoxy glue before the end of the day.

Steve put in several  hours with his assistant and finished the reassembly of the mast, with only a few minor things to be done later.  Greg the marine electrician will visit in the coming week to connect the radar, lights, and instruments.

Bruce did some great work in
Gap filled with Epiglue, support perimeter ready for fiberglassing
organizing the painting of the deck.  After some investigation he set himself up with the proper angle grinder disc for taking off the tops of the roughness molded into the fiberglass and he employed Lucas, a hard working university student to go over the entire deck with a wire brush.  Bruce also inquired on whether there was available a coating that could act as a barrier between the old enamel paint and the planned new 2-part paint and sure enough a new product just came on the market: Norglass brand "No Rust Surface Primer".

  Mike the painter paid a short visit and he and Bruce will do the painting on Thursday after Bruce has complete the deck preparation and laid down a coat of primer..  Mike will roll on the paint, Jotun brand "Hardtop Ultra Base 2" with "Hardtop AS/HB Comp B" hardener, and Bruce will use a sifter to sprinkle the white anti skid paint additive, International brand "Intergrip" that looks like very fine sand but is, I am told, a milled plastic.  On Friday when first coat has dried they will blow off the excess anti skid material then lay down a second coat of paint. The paint will be left to cure over the weekend.

I have been told that the paint has the very useful property of being able to be re coated in the future with no need for sanding.

I made the decision to change the deck color from the light blue that I have always disliked to something a bit more earthy.  The color is "Biscuit", number X42 on the AS2700 color chart.  I am hoping that the color will interact well with the considerable amount  of teak work  on the deck as well as the toe rails that have been powder coated a shade lighter than the "Biscuit".  It appears that the color will also work well with the blue spray dodger and sail cover.  Let's hope that it works out.

Image result for paint colour x42

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Bilge, Tank, Windows

I used my spare time such as when Bruce was helping Stephen with the mast or during a  circuit with suppliers to paint the aft part of the bilge: in the cabin on both sides of the engine compartment and aft of the main cabin bulkhead between the quarter berths. The entire bilge has now been painted except the section  in  the steerage area below the cockpit.
Bilge painted around engine compartment

Bilge painted aft of engine

On Thursday we had the necessary materials and equipment in place to begin installing the new polycarbonate windows.  The firm plan was to take each of Pachuca's battered windows that had been taped around the edges to hold them together, lay it on the polycarbonate material, then use it as a pattern to cut the new window and drill the holes in the exact positions.  The accuracy of the holes was concern to me because being even 1 millimeter out would cause of problems.  The windows came with plastic covering on each side,with the inner side already coated around the edges with a special primer.

The first window took us about 1.5 hours to install.  We had to carefully mask off both sides of the window opening in order to prevent the thick black tar-like sealant from oozing onto the window surrounds.  We had to deal with screw problems where some  of the 3/4" in screws would not grip, forcing us to use 1" which presented a danger of bulging the the lining inside of the cabin.  The sealant came in large "sausages" which was applied by Bruce using an air compressor and a special gun.  The worst was the cleanup of the copious amounts of excess sealant using toilet paper and either mentholated spirits of "Prepwash".

On Friday we managed to install three more windows. leaving the two aft port ones to be installed after the weekend.  Yes, we had been slow but were very satisfied that the windows had been properly installed and confident that they would never leak and be very strong.

Bruce had  picked up the repaired water tank earlier in the week and the last thing that we did on Friday was to carry it up to the cockpit for safekeeping.  It was reported that three leaks had been found in the vertical weld of the leaking corner.  In the coming week we will  lower the tank into position and I will re connect the lines, test for leaks, and hopefully sign off on the complete replacement of the boat's fresh water system.

Only top spreaders in place at this point

Looking from radar support past lower spreader brackets
Bruce spent most of the week assisting Steve in the reassembly of the mast.  By the end of the week the steps had been fitted, along with the masthead light, both sets of spreaders, storm trysail track, and various blocks and sheaves.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Mast Reassembly Begins

By 8.30 AM on Monday Mike Foss the painter, Steve Hartley from Taskers, Bruce and I  began loading the painted mast, stump, boom, and spreaders.  Before setting off with the load for the FSC Works area I gave a final thanks to Mike his outstanding paint work.
Result  of Bruce's filling and sanding corroded areas

Bruce and Steve installing the mast steps

We unloaded the pieces next to the boat and at about 10.30 Steve the rigger from Boating Hardware began the task of reassembling the mast with the assistance of Bruce.

The work went well and by the end of the day all of the mast steps (which had been powder coated) had been pop riveted on (four stainless steel pop rivets per step) and work had begun on the other mast fittings.  During the day I had visited Yacht Grot and purchased a new combination steaming and deck light.

I spent my day finishing the removal of the silicone sealant from around the cabin window openings then sanding the remaining parts of the bilge to be repainted.

We expect to receive the new windows and repaired water tank within the next two day.

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