Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Still learning things about our boat

BeBe in boatyard at Olympic Marina in Barcelona

When we hauled out in Malta during early May we chose not to perform 2 routine maintenance tasks.  Two things that we had always done on each previous haul-out over the years ----   service the C-drive and the bow thruster.  This decision haunted us.

Our rudder peeing.  Do not get alarmed; it is
supposed to do this.  It is designed for water to fill
the rudder.  Many boats are not designed for this
but it is perfectly normal for this Amel.

The Amel service manuals advise that the C-drive should be serviced every 800 hours of engine use.  That normally means every 2 years for most boats.  But here in the Med the sailing season is cut much shorter because of those winters.  Boats typically sit idle November through April.  Even with all the motoring during summer sailing season caused by the winds rarely being from the *right* direction or being either far too strong or none at all, most boats will not have 800 hours of engine use in 2 years of sailing in the Med.  That was the case for us this year.  The boat had only 300 engine hours, even though it had been 2 years since our last haul-out.

The bad part of having only 45-ton travel lift means we
must remove back stays, whip antenna, and lower
the mizzen boom.  Routine once you have done this
a few times; but I prefer to have a larger travel lift
and skip this part.

So, following advice in the manufacturer's manual, we chose the easy way and did not do this service in May while in the boatyard in Malta.  Heck, it was hot.  We were tired.  The boat was on hard stands which were unusually low, thus making working beneath the boat more uncomfortable than usual because had to stay so bent over.  We took the lazy path and decided not to do this work.  Note:  this is work we always do ourselves; we would never trust anyone else to perform these tasks.

Out with the old.

Well...that manual needs a couple of revisions.  It should read something to the effect that this maintenance should be performed every 800 engine hours OR every 2 years, whichever comes first.  

And in with the new
This decision to be lazy has nagged us all summer.  Bill often checked the oil reservoir for the C-drive -- fully expecting to find water in the oil.  This is called "the milkshake" by owners of Amel model boats which have the proprietary C-drive.  When sea water penetrates past the seals and mixes with the oil inside the drive, that oil changes color and texture and does appear similar to a thin chocolate milkshake.   When Bill checked the reservoir in mid-August, we had "the milkshake."  

Uh-oh!  Time for another haulout!

We did not plug into electricity
in the boat yard.
Safety first!

However, this time the money gods looked down on us favorably.  A bit of research quickly revealed that we really had only 2 choices to haul a boat the size of BeBe.  Here in Barcelona at Olympic Marina or at La Linea (next to Gibraltar).  Those were the only 2 places I found on the Mediterranean cost of Spain capable of hauling a boat of 27 gross tons.  The job could have waited until Gibraltar but we figured since we would be in Barcelona until early September that we might as well do the haul-out here and be done with it.  And Olympic Marina had the lowest prices that we have seen ANYWHERE in the Med.  Lifting, hard standing for 1 day in the boatyard, and launching back into the water cost only 362 Euro!  Total job, including the 9-liters of oil, cost us $504.  We already had the spare seals and wear bushing on hand which we had bought from Amel many months ago.  Also had the parts needed to service the bow thruster.  That is quite the bargain!  

Servicing the C-drive involves draining the 9-liters of oil inside the C-drive; removing the propeller; removing the line cutter on the prop shaft; drilling out the 3 old seals and removing them; removing the old wear bushing.  That draining is the time-consuming part of this project.  Since water had intruded this time, we then added some diesel and drained that through in order to remove any water residue inside the drive.

And the Spurs line cutter goes back on next

Screw back in the drain plug; install the 3 new seals (each filled with grease to help keep out that sea water); install the new wear bushing and pound into place, the collar goes completely into the hole with seals pushed all the way in; then the wear bushing is brought back out 2mm (less than 1/8 inch).  (We think that we forgot to do that last little bit when we did the haul-out in 2013 when we last serviced the C-drive.  And we think this might be why water intruded:  because we did not pound the greased seals far enough in.) 

Then reassemble the line cutter and place on prop shaft; and reinstall the prop.  Then use a grease nipple and grease the bearings for each blade of the AutoProp.  Reinstall the nose cone on the prop.  Done with that project work beneath the boat.  Adding the new oil is done up in the engine room, of course.

Prop back on.  Almost done.
While Bill did all the disassembly I went shopping for the oil.  Had we not separated and each done our respective task then we would not have been able to finish everything in one day.  I returned just in time to assist in the re-assembly.

Then we did the bow thruster.  When it was removed we found a small amount of water inside the bow thruster gearbox.  Water should not be in there.  We drained it and ran diesel through to remove any water residue; then re-filled with the heavyweight oil. Removed the bow thruster prop and replaced the hub and nylon screws.  Replaced the seals and re-assembled the unit. 

Finished with both tasks and still daylight!

Greasing bearing for each blade on the AutoProp
Since we were on the hard stands cooking would be difficult so we went out for dinner at one of the many restaurants that line Olympic Marina.  And enjoyed the best meal we have eaten since arriving in Spain!  I had grilled salmon and it was perfectly cooked medium rare.  Delicious!  And the restaurant served us for no charge several small items which we did not order, including some sort of lemon liqueur which was delightful.  If you are in that area, we would recommend La Taberna Gallega de Marcos for dinner.  It is the 'blue light' restaurant.

Prop completely re-installed after servicing C-drive.

Launching the following morning went smoothly.  Only we got in a bit of a hurry and forgot to re-attach the back stays for the mizzen mast or the topping lift for the mizzen boom.  Those started moving a bit once we were out of the marina breakwater but Bill was able to secure them with lines to prevent any scratches topsides.  Once back in our berth at Marina Port Vell we attached everything back correctly and re-installed the whip antenna for the SSB.  Put the shade awning back up and it was just as if we had never left 26 hours earlier.

Glad that job went so smoothly.  And quickly.  And inexpensively.  Next haul-out should not be until spring 2017 somewhere in the Caribbean.  
Velox hard antifouling for propellers

This time all the usual work really is completed.  And we will not screw-up like this again.

(Sorry; did not take any photos of servicing the bow thruster.)

When we hauled out in Malta we used Velox hard antifouling paint for the propeller.


  1. Bill, I noticed you have antifouling paint (Micron77?) on the propeller. Did you do anything special to prepare the surface of the bronze before painting? Derick SM2K#400 Brava

  2. Derrik,

    It is not Micron77 on the propeller. Micron77 is the new Micron from International, but the EPA will not approve it, so you will not find it in the US, Canada, or Caribbean. In fact, the EPA has not approved anything in 6 years.

    The product on the propeller is an Italian hard paint for the prop. I understand that it is distributed in the US also:

    It is a two part process with a primer coat and several top coats. It seems to work as good as PropSpeed with an added is hard.



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