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Author Topic: My First Year WeBLOG  (Read 8513 times)

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My First Year WeBLOG
« on: October 23, 2002, 06:11:17 AM »

Notes & Thoughts On C34 Ownership Year One
 On 10/25/01 we purchased #75, (tall rig, fin keel) “Abracadabra” (later renamed “Sewanee Belle”).  My first questions to this board were posted before the purchase, and I’ve since used the information on the board to help me figure out what I needed to do, and how to do it, to get #75 in shape.  I thought I’d share with you my first year experiences.  This could be long, but I want to get the information ‘in the record’ so that it’s available to the next buyer of a ‘good old boat’ (as long as he/she formats the right search, which I'm sure Stu will help them with :-) ).
 A bit of background.  We’re in Rochester, NY.  We sailed an O’Day 22 on Lake St. Claire when we lived near Detroit in the late 80’s early 90’s.  We moved to SoCal in 92, hence to Rochester in 95.  There wasn’t room in our life (either financially or time-wise) for sailing since 92, so we’d been ‘boatless’ for 10 years.
 Enough was enough.  We started looking in the spring of ’01 for a 28-30 footer.  From what we’d seen, that size would be comfortable on Lake Ontario for a bit of cruising for my wife and I (our 2 boys are grown), and daysailing with friends.  There were plenty of Catalinas, Pearsons, Cals, C&C's and Hunters available in that range.  We figured we’d buy in the spring of ’02.
 I got a call from a broker – he had a C28 and a Pearson 34 in.  We checked them out - $42k or so for the C28, $80k for the Pearson.  They’d be there in the spring at that price.  While at the lake we checked out the another broker – anything new in?  Why yes, a C34.  We checked it out.  An ’86, very short on maintenance and TLC.  Nice lines.  Gobs of room below compared to the 28-30 footers, more usable space than the Pearson.  The mast was painted dark blue, with scratches all over it.  The wood trim was totally uncared for.  The instruments were shot.  No GPS.  The interior was in decent shape.  This boat was a totally different deal from the 28-30 footers.  And potentially as good or better than the Pearson 34.  And he was asking $35.9k.  We knew this boat wouldn’t be there in the spring.  
 First order of business – what’s the boat worth? showed a range of $35.3 – 39.2k if in good condition.  Web searches showed the lowest asking price for older C34’s at $45k or so.  I called the broker on Monday, by Tuesday we had a deal at $33k.  We took a quick ‘sea trial’.  The owner had stripped the sails, but we motored out, put up a headsail and drifted around a bit.  Absolutely no buyer remorse.
 First order of business was a survey.  The local Catalina dealer recommended a certified surveyor who had a background as the C&C production foreman.  He spent several hours on the boat.  He recommended in his written report replacing a few hoses that were showing cracks, installing GFI AC outlets, and totally stripping and replacing the keel fairing (which was peeling off in sheets).  Verbally suggested putting a garboard plug in the bilge so any moisture that got into the boat over the winter would drain out.  He verified that the hull was sound – dry with no blisters, which was/is my real nightmare.
 So, with a year’s worth of hindsight, what didn’t he catch?
  The main halyard/sheet winch would not take a load.  Maxwell’s been out of the sheet winch business for 10 yrs, no parts available.  Replaced with a new Andersen 28St for $700.
  The head pump would not function at all, needed a rebuild.
  The shower drain switch was bad.  The shower drain hose was kinked/collapsed.  The shower hose itself was kinked/collapsed.
  The alternator bracket was the non-upgraded, ‘could fail at any time’ type.
  The 150 amp alternator was being driven by a 3/8” belt.
  The boat still had the original engine wiring harness.
  The fuel system was plumbed with the filter downstream of the pump
  The fuel pick up in the tank still had the screening on the tip
  4 of the 6 main/fwd cabin opening ports leaked.  All were severely fogged.
  2 of the fixed windows leaked.  All 4 were “crazed” – had zillions of what looked like tiny cracks in them.
  Both of the vented stanchions leaked.
  The traveler was not through-bolted.
 I’m sure the surveyor would say that these things were either maintenance items not affecting the fundamental soundness of the boat, and/or were specific to this model.  And he’d be correct.  Interestingly enough, most if not all of these items are covered on this site.
 What follows is a short description of the projects tackled this year, how this site helped, and what I would add.
 - Winterizing:  that was the first order of business, the FAQ helped here.  I basically followed the instructions and didn’t have any problems.  Proving Murphy right, when I started the engine to anti-freeze the muffler, the impeller totally failed – so I immediately learned about impeller replacements, what type raw water pump I had, etc.
 - Oil change: I went with the no-pump, use the plug into a cup procedure that Herb Schneider described in the tech notes.  Worked fine.
 - Transmisssion oil.  I drained it.  I took the pump out of an old liquid soap bottle, attached some tubing to it, and used it to pump out the old oil and pump in new.  A bit messy but worked.  Overfilled it with new to keep the seals moist, and then pumped oil out in the spring to bring the level down to spec.  Probably won’t do the overfill this winter – got some leakage over the winter, apparently out the shift linkage mechanism.
 - Alternator bracket:  ordered from Universal, needed to do some filing to get it to mate up with the Hehr alternator.  Still not happy with the tension I’m getting on the belt (too loose) – will try a 7/16 belt or filing the adjustment hole so I get a bit more travel.   Tension has been sufficient, however, with the solution to the next issue…
 - Alternator/belt size.  This had me worried.  No way would a 3/8” belt be able to drive a 150 amp alternator, especially with the tension I got with the new bracket.  Sure enough, I could hear the belt slipping the first time we motored in the spring.  However, I had already ordered a Balmar 612 regulator to replace the Powerline regulator that didn’t reliably feed the tach, wasn't programmable, etc..  Turns out the Balmar’s “amp manager” feature lets me program the alternator output I want.  I set it to 50%, so now I’ve got a 75 amp alternator, and the belt doesn’t slip.  Good enough for now.
 - Repair head pump.  I’ve got a Groco – got the rebuilt kit from West (expensive at $70 or so), very straightforward.
 - Engine harness upgrade:  The PO had already wired the alternator so that it didn’t go through the panel.  I called Seaward and got the kit.  They sent me new wiring as well, which was pretty pricey and not really necessary.  But I’ve been able to use it for other things on the boat.  No issues in applying the upgrade.
 - Drain in bilge:  I had to think about this one, but went ahead and did it.  Got a nice mushroom-type garboard plug from West.  Drilled a pilot hole from the bilge out to locate the positioning, then hole-sawed from the outside in.  Sealed with polysulfide.  Epoxied the outside rim when I faired the keel.  This sucker will not leak.  Ran some 3-strand natural-fiber rope through the bilge and out the drain, it wicked moisture right out of the bilge, and kep it dry all winter.  Not easy to do given all the leaks.  It should be easy to drain the water tanks in a couple of weeks.
 - Keel fairing:  This was totally shot – the lead had oxidized under the fairing, and it had peeled off in sheets.  I used the recommendations in the West System guide – cleaned off all the old fairing with chisels, wire brushes and a belt sander, shined up the lead with a wire brush and belt sander, put a coat of epoxy on and wire sanded (by hand) the epoxy into the lead.  Then used epoxy and filler to re-fair the keel.  The only trick here is that when you mix up the fairing compound, use a big paint-stirring stick – that stuff gets thick.  And use a quart container to hold 3 pumps of epoxy – you’ll get a lot of volume once you’ve added the filler.  Thicker compound is better than thinner – you don’t want any runs.  Sand it down smooth and you’re ready for the bottom paint.
 - Refinish wood trim:  I took off all the trim that I could (eyebrows, cabin top, lazarette, handrails, sole) and refinished at home in the winter.  I used the 2 part teak cleaner/brightener (Boat/US, West, StarBright all have versions) that’s not as harsh as Teaka A/B, basically trisodium phosphate as the cleaner and oxalic acid as the brightener.  Worked great.  I then tung-oiled the teak, which I later regretted because it darkened it a bit.  Then 5 coats of varnish (Interlux Schooner).  Turned out very nice.  Did the same for the trim that I didn’t want to remove, but didn’t use the oil base and I like the look of that a bit better.  Maintenance will consist of roughing up the finish a bit and putting on 2 coats/year to refresh the finish and it should stay nice.  By the way, for those of you who’d like to varnish but are worried about longevity – Practical Sailor’s varnish test showed modern varnishes like Schooner (with 3 coats) holding up for 2 years in Connecticut lattitudes.  I know most of you are happy with Cetol, but I’m happy with varnish.
 - Note on removing handrails:  I did, and probably would again but I’d do it differently.  My problem is that when I put the rails back on, bedding with polysufide, I popped out a few bungs getting the bolts back into the cabin top holes (which, by the way, I had sealed with silicon caulk while I had the rails out).  No big deal to replace the bungs, sand and varnish.  But next time I have the rails off, I will remove the bolts, and put threaded inserts in the holes.  Then use bolts coming up from inside the cabin to screw into the threaded inserts.  Much nicer and cleaner, and make it much easier to remove the rails in the future, and MUCH easier to remount.
 - I left off the eyebrows and cabin top trim.  And don’t miss it.  Still need to get around to gelcoating the holes, right now they’re siliconed.  The stbd cockpit bulkhead is particularly messy, since there were two instrument display heads bolted there (5 holes each).  Thank goodness for the jib halyards covering that mess up!
 - Cabin sole:  Sanded down and put 5 coats of varnish on, top 3 are Interlux rubbed effect.  Fwd of the galley the sole looks fine, but the aft-most panels (galley, and galley to head) are just too far gone (these panels get a lot of wear, and water damage at the seam between the two) and I’ll probably replace this winter.  I didn’t help them when I stripped them with a heat gun and scraper and scorched them a bit.  I needed to practice more with the gun.
 - Mast and boom:  If you think that a dark blue mast/boom might look good, it doesn’t.  I had the yard repaint them white.  It looks right.  They sanded down the original paint, primed over it.  Sanded that, and sprayed white Imron.  Looks perfect for the boat.  I was worried about nicks showing blue underneath, but the few nicks I have go right to the base metal – the bond of the white and primer to the blue is better than the blue to the mast.  A bit less than $1,000.  I did all the stripping and rebuilding of the mast hardware.  Took a lot of pictures of the ‘before’ so I would know where things go ‘after’, which really helped.  If you do this, make sure you have the right taps on hand to rethread everything.  Very easy that way, very difficult trying to thread a screw into a painted hole.  When they were ready to step the mast, I asked them how they would protect it when feeding it through the partner (mast is keel stepped).  Answer:  most of the masts around here are scratched up pretty good.  Wrong answer.  I took milk jugs, cut them up to get the plastic, and lined the partner.  Worked great, no scratches.
 - Roller furler:  Boat had none.  Went with a Harken 1.5.  The yard quoted $100 to install it, which probably worked out to $5/hour for me, so I let them do it.  A new 150% headsail was $2k.
 - New electronics:  Looked at everything, went with a Nexus system.  Lots of transducers (wind, depth, log, compass) and one display.  Good price.  Easy to install.  Log/Depth transducers were smaller than the originals, but only by 1/8” or so – polysulfide (I love this stuff) bridged the gap easily.  Still don’t have the display permanently mounted, will build an instrument housing to mount to the pedestal guard this fall/winter.
 - GPS:  Went with a Garmin GPSMap 76, along with the chart CD for our area.  Used it in handheld mode this year, will put a mount in my instrument housing so I can drive it off of the house batteries and connect it to the Nexus server (and hence to an autopilot).  This thing is really cool – they weren’t around last time we were sailing.  We took a trip to Sodus Bay, arrived at 10 pm, pitch black, and my GPSMap got me to and through the narrow channel, around the shoals, and to the Marina without a hitch.  We had charts, but we’d never been there before, and I’m sure it would have been a different experience without it.  I’m in awe of this thing.
 - Opening ports:  Replaced the lenses with 16 years of oxidation on them.  Replaced the gaskets.  They still leaked.  Got the ”Rebedding Bekson Ports” FAQ, built Captain Al’s port extractor, went to the boat armed to the teeth, removed the screws in preparation for the battle, and the darned thing nearly fell out on top of me.  I guess the factory was moving too fast in ’86 to spend a lot of time and trouble sealing ports, and the PO – who can explain him?  The rest of the ports were similarly ‘sealed’.  Anyway, after 3 tubes of caulk, I defy any water molecule to get past these ports.  If there’s any hint in this space, it’s that I used clear, silicon caulk.  Silicon is safe with plastic (sometime polysulfide isn’t) and clear silicon caulk is relatively easy to clean up, but if you can’t clean it up, at least it’s clear!
 - Shower.  Switch was easily replaced, went to West and got a spst switch with cover.  Had to file the fiberglass panel a bit to get it to fit, but the mounting panel covered that up.  As for the kinked drain line, I followed Ron’s suggestion for cutting an access panel in the hull-liner sole outside the head door.  Didn’t make the first cut big enough or close enough to the drain.  VERY LITTLE room between liner and hull at this point.  You need a hole big enough to get your entire forearm in.  If you’re sensitive to fiberglass (I am), wear long sleaves and gloves.  Even then, the hose is an extremely tight fit between the barbed fitting and the bottom of the sole above it and the hull below it.  Mine is leaking a bit, so I’m going to have to go back at it.  But I dread it.  I was impressed with the hull liner sole though – ¾” plywood with resin on each side.  Very tough.
 - GFI outlets.  I needed 3 – 1 at the Nav station, 1 at the head, and 1 in the fwd cabin (this is the first one in a string that goes down the stbd side – I have 4 there – fwd cabin, fwd main salon, galley, and aft cabin.  Plan on replacing the outlet boxes as well, the little ones that Catalina used on my boat couldn’t hold a GFI outlet.  You’ll need an outlet cover in the head as well.
 - Battery charger:   Went with a Statpower 20+, mounted under the Nav table.  Ran #10 wire from the charger to the 2 terminals on the battery-side of the main switch.  Short, sweet and very simple.  No more humming when charging batteries.
 - Fixed ports:  Just finished this project in time for winter.  Followed the FAQ, took the old windows out, breaking 1 in the process.  Used razor blades, lacquer thinner and synthetic steel wool to get the old sealant off.  Asked the yard who’d they recommend to fabricate new windows, went to their recommendation.  $100 apiece.  Did I need an exact color match?  No, close is good enough.  2 weeks later I go and pick up the windows – they switched material to polycarbonate, which is stronger, but is basically clear.  Ugh, tougher is better, yes, but this is a boat and looks count for a lot, and these will not look right.  The fabricator was willing to credit my charge card, but not make new ones.  Go figure – am I that unreasonable?  Oh well, called Catalina – their price is $53 a window, takes them 2-3 days.  I sent them 2 of the windows to use as patterns.  Got them back in a week and a half.  Dow 795 is the recommended sealant, but there isn’t a local source readily available, so I went with black GE Silicone II caulk, used 4 cartridges.  Epoxied the old screw holes.  Used #6, ¾” rounded hex screws – some of these actually poke through the inside of the cabin, but I figure holding power is more important, and the curtains will cover them up.  Process was:  1) prep the opening, cleaning out old sealant with razor blades, lacquer thinner and synthetic steel wool, 2) epoxy the old screw holes – drill them out, use West epoxy with filler and a syringe, 3) line inside of window pocket with weatherstripping – the FAQ mentions putting some strips of foam in the pockets to prevent the window from seating directly in the bottom of the pocket and squeezing all the caulk out.  I went with a ¼” D-profile stripping all the way around the window opening – which also compresses down to 1/8”, keeps the caulk from making too much of a mess on the window or the frame, and is a last line of defense for any water that gets by the caulk.  Got it at Home Depot, there are lots of options here. 4) mask around the window opening, 5) offer the windows up to the opening, and mark on the protective covering where you want the holes, 6) drill the screw holes in the window, and countersink them – no tricks here, a normal 3/16” bit works fine, and a normal countersink bit.  Use wood blocks as backing while you drill. 7) peel the cover off the inside of the window, hold it in the opening and rub soap detergent on the inside surface of the window and frame where caulk may come out, 8) fill the channel between the window pocket bevel and the weatherstripping with the caulk, 8) fit the window into the opening.  Making a “handle” out of tape attached to the outer paper covering on the window gives you something to hold on to.  Putting reference marks on the covering and the masking tape helps you position the window in the pocket – once the caulk starts oozing out you otherwise might not be so sure about getting it centered in the pocket.  9) Holding the window in place, drill pilot holes for the #6 screws, starting at the top corners, and screw the windows down.  I didn’t worry too much about drilling all the way through, it’s tough to avoid on the lower holes, and a little hole is less unsightly than the screw breaking through anyway.  Alternatively, use ½” #6 screws on the lowers, but that doesn’t give you many threads to work with.    You can torque the screws down pretty good, no way are you going to compress the weatherstripping below 1/8”. 10) pull off the protective paper from the outside of the window – you might want to loosen the cover at one corner before you put the window in the opening, and 11) pull off the masking tape.  12) Leave the whole thing alone until the caulk hardense, then use razor blades or a trimming knife or some-such to remove any caulk that oozes out.  Clean off the soap from the inside, and look out your clear, clean, new leakless windows.
 - Miscellaneous:  Lots of other projects, some of which I’ve already posted on.  Got the fuel pick-up screen out through the aft cabin panel well before it was close to clogging – one less thing to worry about.  Ditto for moving the fuel filter upstream of the pump – although the pump strainer was showing some gunk.  The fwd cabin door rubbed on the sole after it was refinished – a few seconds with a belt sander cured that.  The aft cabin door latch had the door bolt bevel reversed, a call to Perko told me what I needed from West to deal with that.  Catalina and the PO never fully installed the bilge pump – it had no exhaust hose.  20 ft of hose and another through hull (I find it difficult to believe I’ve drilled 2 holes in my boat) fixed that.  The stuffing box had 3 continuous wraps of flax – I went with the green ‘no leak’ stuff, but I’m not getting the right tightness on the box and I’m getting 4 drops/minute at rest.  I think I’ll switch to the Goretex stuff.  I learned how to splice Stay-Set-X from this site.  Don Casey’s and Nigel Calder’s books have been very valuable.
 - Still plenty to do.  Strip and refinish companionway ladders.  Patch some gelcoat dings.  Backstay tensioner.  Upgrade the electrical system (Link 10, gels, Ample ‘Eliminator’, 3-switch setup, upgraded panel – never add water or wonder about the batteries again!), speakers in the cockpit, upgrade engine panel (to get water temp alarm), autopilot, replace head hoses (my nose tells me it’s past time), etc..  I’m sure it will never end.
 Lots of handy tools.  A small wet/dry vac is really handy to leave on the boat.  A 1300 psi power washer is a great deck cleaner.  Got a set of tools at Sears (non-Craftsman) that are better than the ones I’ve been using for 25 years to repair cars.  These get left at the boat, much nicer than hauling stuff back and forth.  Belt sander, random orbital sander are very handy.  Get a good caulk gun and leave it on the boat too.  Heat gun enabled ‘de-naming’, but I’ve still got to practice on the ‘de-varnishing’.  Digital voltmeter is a necessity, long jumpers as well.
 By the way, if you ever decide to save a ‘good old boat’, it helps if you don’t live/work too far from the dock.  Our marina is 30 minutes of so from both my office and home, so I’m able to get a lot done in the evenings if there’s no crew available to go sailing.
 One year later and no regrets.  The sailing’s been great, and even the ‘work’ has been enjoyable.  And every project completed is one less to do, and one step closer to bristol condition.  The key is the foundation – the C34 is an excellent design that’s still fresh after 16 years.  And the C34 Association is an incredible asset on top of that.  With this group available, ignorance is absolutely no excuse, since the amount of available knowledge – available for the asking – is simply incredible.

Stu Jackson

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Great Job, Steve
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2002, 02:28:07 PM »

Who needs a search engine when you've said it all!!
 Tremendous and well presented review.  Thanks so much.
 If you have pictures of this work, you could get an article published in Good Old Boat magazine, you certainly qualify.
 Good luck on your upcoming projects, may they go as smoothly as those this past year.
 Happy Anniversary!!!

YEAR TWO of Steve's weblog:,1237.msg6483.html#msg6483
« Last Edit: January 30, 2016, 09:21:48 AM by Stu Jackson »
Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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John Gardner

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the Past Year
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2002, 06:12:06 PM »

Many thanks for your news.  You are to be congratulated on your efforts!  
 You were kind enough to respond on my question about cracks in the floors of a boat I was looking at.  The boat became mine about 4 weeks ago, and it sounds as though you have undertaken a project, or projects a little like I am about to do.  However, I think, I hope, I don't have quite as much that needs to be done.  But we will see....  I think I am about to become the Message Board's Lead Questioner.
John Gardner, "Seventh Heaven" 1988 #695, Severn River, Chesapeake Bay.


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Trans fluid drain
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2002, 05:07:04 AM »

Steve mentioned pumping the fluid out of the top hole.  Just wanted to share how I've changed the transmission fluid by using the drain plug from the bottom.  I get a PET spring water bottle, 20 oz size.  With the cap left on, I cut a square hole on the side of the bottle.  Position the bottle, on its side, under the drain hole.  Unscrew the plug and the fluid is caught in the bottle.  Slide the bottle out and unscrew the cap and empty it into another container for disposal.
Roc - "Sea Life" 2000 MKII #1477.  Rock Hall, MD


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Floor Options
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2002, 04:51:14 PM »

Wow, you have been busy.  When you get around to replacing the floor at the bottom of the companionway and galley, you might want to consider what we did.  When we purchased our '86, this floor area was completly rotton due to a long term water leak.  As you know,the floor panels come up very easily.  We used the old floor panels as a template to cut new plywood.  (make sure to get the right grade).  Then we purchased a vinyl flooring material from Defender.  This is not like the household vinyl flooring but more like 1960's Sanitas wallpaper which had the vinyl fibers on the back.  Front has a rough surface.  We are very pleased with both the look and the practicality of it.  No longer slip on wet floor coming down the companionway steps and the light beige color brightens the interior.  Total cost for the vinyl was about $15, including shipping!!!.  No way to get teak/holly for that price.
 Good luck and enjoy your boat
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