Back in California, Re-Fit (2005)

Once the engine was installed and we did the bare minimum to ensure Blue Sky would make it back to California, we sailed her north to Redondo Beach, where we only had a slip at Port Royal for a month. On September 16, 2005 we relocated Blue Sky to Los Angeles Harbor, which is conveniently located to marine suppliers, fabricators and craftsmen. The boat will remain in the harbor until the last "few" remaining projects are complete. This is a very industrial marina in the heart of LA Harbor, the perfect place to do the re-fit and get Blue Sky ready for our Circumnavigation. The marina in Wilmington has some interesting neighbors. Across the channel is the Dow Chemical Company marine terminal, Jim feels right at home, along with a scrap metal yard with a magnetic crane. The Henry Ford Draw Bridge, pictured below, complete with 24 hour trucks and railroad crossing it.


The photo below is a view under our floor boards, the left photo is the new Perkins M90 engine. At the top of the right photo is the Kohler generator, then the Force 10 water heater, and a secondary electric bilge pump and fresh water pump. The two pumps will be relocated vertically opposite the dual racor fuel filters, which are at the bottom of the photo, port side. The eight Trojan T-125 brown batteries, lined up either side, will be replaced with six absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries, for the house bank. In addition, there will be two group 24 starter batteries, for the Perkins engine and the Kohler generator.

One of the major projects was to completely re-wire the boat, to include the main and mizzen mast. All interior lighting and the exterior navigation and anchor lights will be replaced with new fixtures and LED bulbs. RJ Marine Repair was hired to tackle this task. The photos below, will give you a good indication as to why we have decided to undertake this enormous task. Numerous buckets of old wire was disposed of, we found behind the bulkhead a purple 14 gauge wire spliced to a green 8 gauge wire, and butt spliced to a red 12 gauge wire running to a terminal ground on the engine. Some of the wire was named "Brand Rex", which is not marine grade and I am surprised Blue Sky didn't burn to the waterline! "How many butt splices can you put on 4" of house wire?" See below, blue butt splices, located behind a foam/vinyl head liner, which is not flame resistant.


Duane & Dave (Boat Electricians) are installing and connecting all the new equipment. Carlos (epoxy) is finishing the new scuppers and repairing deck holes. The old scuppers, were attached to 1" hose that went into the boat then out the boat by way of 1" bronze scuppers. First, I thought the idea was to keep the water out of the boat. Second, how much water can one inch hoses move? The new scuppers allow water to go straight from the deck overboard. Ramon (painter) is going behind Carlos and matching all of the paint. I love two component polyurethane. (Can you say isocyanate?)


Below is Dave at the Nav Station and Duane down below, (inside) the electrical cabinet. Working their magic you can see the difference in the old panel, on the left and the new Blue Seas AC/DC electrical panel, on the right. The top panel is DC and below that is AC, every wire in the boat is labeled and numbered, on each end, to correspond with the switch on the panel and the terminal block is coded and labeled. They have converted chaos into a professional work of "electrical" art.

A new back-up battery charger was installed to supplement the existing Link 2000, Xantrex inverter/charger. The back-up is a PT-14 three stage 12 volt from NewMar.


The old chain driven auto pilot motor is getting removed and replaced with a new Raymarine. See below left. All the instruments were removed in the cockpit, as they were attached to the boat with painted plywood. After cutting out the plywood and re-fiber glassing the entire area, new holes will be drilled to replace the wind/depth/speed displays and add the STY7001+ Raymarine autopilot display. On the right is the new windlass circuit breaker, house batteries, generator starter battery and engine starter battery selector switch.

The previous owner removed a section of the engine room bulkhead, that separated the engine from the machine room in addition there was no floor of the machine room. This is located directly aft of the engine so the prop shaft runs right through it, leaving it exposed is not a safe idea. Marine grade Starboard, is the best material to use to re-construct that bulkhead and create a floor. This will dramatically reduce the engine noise into the rest of the boat. It will also provide a safe/sturdy platform to stand/work on in the machine room. In addition, starboard is solid and durable it won't rust, rot, chip or flake. You can cut, drill and tap it just like wood. Fortunately refitting a boat in Los Angeles is great, as you can source everything from labor to parts.

Left is a photo of the engine exhaust hose, which carries, Hot seawater from the engine heat ex-changer and Hot diesel hydrocarbon exhaust. (Carbon-dioxide)


Yes, you are seeing galvanized metal. Galvanized metal can not survive in the harsh ocean environment. In the photo and you can see where there is corrosion on the Y hose connector. Thankfully this beauty was discovered while we were re-wiring the boat, hidden behind a teak panel at the back of the aft starboard hanging locker. The panel needed to be removed to run new wires behind it.


The thoughts than ran through my mind when I found this was: When the galvanized pipe failed, (not if) would the carbon monoxide kill us first or would enough seawater be pumped into the boat to sink us? Or would the cedar plug in the "Y" hose connector pop out. Up to this point I thought I had seen every inch of the boat from atop both the mizzen and main mast to crawling through the bilge below the generator and water heater. I hope there are no more surprises!

Grandpa, Bill Mather, came down from Reno, NV to lend a helping hand on some projects. He helped scrap out all the old 3M 5200 from the toe rail and re-caulked it with the 3M fast cure, 4000UV in addition he lifeline stantions were re-bedded. Working from coffee to Cabernet every day. (The wine cellar lost a few friends) I think dad's most memorable event was my dive into and through the bilge. I could only think of the movie, Shawshank Redemtion. The bilge is a foul place. Dad and I removed two dead diesel hoses that should have left the boat years ago. When I emerged from below, every bit of clothing went into a garbage bag and into the dumpster with the decomposing diesel hoses. When I drove Dad back to LAX he said that the next time he visits the boat it better be near palm trees and margaritas. I promised him that I would make that happen.


I replaced the original windlass, which was nonoperational with a new Lewmar. Carrying 300' of chain, we needed a solid, reliable windlass. Above left, Jim is removing the large, heavy old one.

After much deliberation we decided to get rid of the Monitor Windvane. Many cruisers swear by these self steering devices, however, we decided it would be more prudent to have the hard bottom dinghy stored on a dinghy davit system, than over the life raft. In addition, we purchased a new Raymarine Autopilot to steer us. Left photo the windvane, middle is the dinghy being stored over the life raft and to the right is the stainless steel, combination, dinghy davit and mizzen boom traveler. The davits are strong enough to hold the hard bottom dinghy, with the 15hp Yamaha engine left on. No hoisting the engine off the dinghy first and storing it and then hoisting the dinghy. We also had them build a bench seat in the back to add to our living space.


It is now October, and we are getting closer to our departure date. Once again it was, "Shawshank Redemtion" time. I had to tunnel through the bilge to remove the last four remaining diesel hoses. The hoses were first class, but they had a fire resistant sleeve that had seen too much time in the sludge of the bilge. They had turned into a sticky goo and really smelled. I will have to go into the bilge once more to install two ABS pipes that I will run the new diesel hoses through. There are two "hose runs" up and off the floor, on either side of the bilge, this will keep them clean and they will last longer. When the previous owner replaced the originals, they went the easy way and just wire tied them and threw them on the bilge floor. Now that most of the chaos is out of the bilge, it is slightly easier to work in there. The bilge is just big enough to lie down flat, I can roll over onto my back, but I have to go in with my arms forward, above my head as there is not enough room to reposition yourself once your in. There is about 28 years worth of previous owners pet hairs and workmen detritus, with the added luxury of fiberglass slivers and the odor of diesel and sludge. (I spilled the diesel.) Good thing we still had some of Drake's old diapers on board, those things wipe up and absorb anything. Well I think you understand that it is not the most pleasant place. On the same day I also went below the water line and up about 60+ feet above it. I climbed the main mast and lubricated the top roller for the roller furling main. (I know I'll feel this tomorrow)


A new fiberglass hose connection for the engine exhaust was installed, replacing the galvanized steel. The stainless steel all thread still has not arrived so the windlass project is on hold. My sail-maker is off to Florida for vacation, so replacing the vertical battens in the main and getting a quote to replace it, has been postponed. The rigger, who will swage new terminals and insulators on my one stainless-steel back-stay has not returned my call. I hope there is better progress next week. It seems one step forward and two back!

Also in the bilge I found the old shunt, on the right. A shunt tells the Xantrex inverter/charger exactly where the batteries are in terms of charge. The Xantrex can then tell us all kinds of great things like:

-How many hours of power we have left at this rate of consumption.

-Current rate of power consumption.

-Total consumption from the installation.

Seeing how important this information is, the shunt does not deserve to be thrown into the bilge. The new shunt will be located under the floor boards, just under the electric panel off the floor on a starboard panel.


In addition, we are busy installing the new equipment, water tank gauges, windlass remote switches and a light switch in the aft berth. This switch will light up all of the exterior lights on the boat. This way if Emma hears a bump in the night when we are at anchor, we can blind anyone, then switch the lights off and we will have the advantage of night vision while whoever made the bump will be "blind". Hopefully we never have to use it, however, it is a "non-lethal" tool.


The rigger still has not shown up, so I'm just going to do the last standing rigging with the radio isolators myself. We are still waiting on the sail maker to bid the new main. I was looking at all the sails closely yesterday and Emma and I will have them all removed, cleaned and re-sewn. (I still think we can make Christmas in Puerto Vallarta.) Thor (refrigeration) is supposed to come today and begin the re-work of the refrigerator and freezer. He is going to put a wishbone mount to the front of the Perkins and tie into both forward engine mounts. Then he can attach the engine driven refrigeration compressor and re-plumb the copper tubing. I wonder how long that might take? Great news is that the stainless all thread (10 mm) finally arrived and I finished the installation of the new windlass yesterday. The life raft has to be re-packed and the membranes to the water-maker replaced.


On top of getting Blue Sky ready, Emma is packing up the entire house at 317 S Maria, in Redondo Beach. Organizing everything that needs to go back on the boat, getting the children to and from school, doing homework, making breakfast lunch and dinner.


So for a re-cap, Blue Sky has just under 10 people working directly on her. This is not including the suppliers, fab-shops, shippers and friends that are all doing their best to get us going. It's going to get a little more crazy over next few days. Cross your fingers, wish us luck and hope that we don't find anymore surprises!



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