Surfacing

April rises, the sun teases through the clouds, and our minds go back to poor Island Girl, used precious little since late last summer.

So it goes. She is remarkably well-preserved from when we last left her. A well-maintained boat is a beautiful thing. There are a couple minor deck leaks from likely years past that are coming to our attention, but one is already fixed! A markedly productive work weekend at the top of April has kicked us off in good form.

Priority one is the engine cooling circuit. I look back at my flippant comments last year about the high engine operating temperature with patient forbearance. If you take the time spent worrying about a component of your boat, and consider instead spending it on investigation or repair, I am convinced you would come out ahead. Of course our suspicions were right all along: the raw water cooling circuit has been underperforming for years. It came to a head when we tried to take Evan and Kaylen on a short day cruise at the end of March. The thermostat went up to its higher working range during a low-RPM putt around the Creek. Then higher…higher…I don’t want to think about it. We got it home asap; Dylan and I stuck our heads in the engine compartment and fumed for a bit. Nothing to it: the raw water system had to come apart. This we did last weekend, and it went remarkably well: the thing was done in less than two hours. Every bolt is stubborn in that area, likely moreso than usual because the raw water pump was throwing some water into the mix. Indeed there is some impressive piles of salt just below the pump. More difficult than seized bolts is the lack of access to anything but the most afterparts of our engine. This is the curse of a vee-drive in a smallish boat. We knew this when we bought it, and by god I’m paying the price, being the strongest candidate who can also fit in the cockpit lockers. No matter. All these components require overhauling to really understand how they work, and that understanding is vital. It’s an excellent crash-course in engine maintenance.

The biggest challenge was the bolts which hold the pump assembly to the engine—due to their positioning, they must essentially be attacked blind with creative ratchet architecture. Also the pivot bolt for the alternator is remarkably oxidized and stiff. Again, a working pump ought to keep the scene drier. And indeed, the raw water impeller probably needed replacing well before we bought the bolt. It ought to have 12 fins; when we pulled it out, it had about four.

Answers! Solutions! In a sense, the time spent last year gazing anxiously over the transom at our engine exhaust was merited. The problem was not invented. We’re waiting on replacement impeller parts from eBay. Then we’ll see how quickly it comes back together.

We got Régis to scuba dive and scrape our hull—particularly to verify that our raw water intake was not blocked (it was not). We’re all pleased with our choice of ablative paint on the hull—there was really not a lot of growth on the bottom at all. Barely needed to be done. Next year we will be due for a haul-out to put on fresh paint. But three years of service from one paint job is a handsome deal to us that hauled out and re-painted Velocitas yearly since time immemorial.

We recommend Régis G.--he takes scuba photos while he's down there