Winter Refit 2006-2007
Replacing the Heads
We had a lot of trouble with our old heads despite regular maintenance. In fact the maintenance may have been part of the problem. The Jabsco version requires the seals in the pump to be regularly greased, and for us this meant three or four times in the season as we live onboard during the summer. To grease it we had to unscrew the cover of the pump, a rather messy job as sea water tended to get everywhere. Reassembly was not easy either as the pump needed priming - more water everywhere. As the unit was 10 years old, the plastic was becoming brittle, and towards the end of the season the plastic lugs for the screws for the two halves of the pump sheered off one by one. Sealant would hold them in place for one time only, after which nothing seemed to work. The pump then leaked through the lug holes and through the join in the housing where the was no longer an pressure from a screw. As we were intending to replace the unit over the winter we opted for the one-time-only seal it all in solution as shown! Despite a considerable amount of Stikaflex, and many hours waiting for it to set, it still had a considerable leak in use and a drip when not in use.
Removing the heads was straight forward, if rather unpleasant. We hadn't used the heads for six months so it wasn't a sewage smell, but the smell of dead organisms in the stagnant sea water in the pipes. All this in the confined space of the forepeak was not something we want to repeat too often. Thankfully it was a windy day so with all the hatches open there was a good through draft.
The replacement is a Lavac which has a much simpler pipe configuration, we found we could reuse the outlet pipe, but not the inlet pipe. The inlet pipe was so tightly on the stop cock that we had to get a stanley knife to remove it, this should have warned us... The inlet pipe is reputed to be 19mm and the stop cock is ¾", the difference is minimal but enough to make it impossible to fit the pipe. There must be a good way of doing it, we tried heating it to make it soft; using a tapered bung to try to stretch it; and pure brute force. None of them worked, all we ended up doing was splitting the pipe. None of the magazine articles or maintenance books we read prior to starting the job mentioned that this could be an issue, it was always just "connect the new hose and secure with two jubilee clips". In the end we put a 2" length of ¾" water pipe (which fitted easily) over the stop cock and joined that to the inlet pipe with a connector and jubilee clips. There was the same problem with the connection to the heads, so we applied the same solution.
The pump for the lavac is a separate standard Henderson bilge pump which appear to us to be a much more rugged solution, and simpler to maintain. It was simple to insert in the outlet pipe run and screw to the bulkhead. The outlet pipe connection to the base is more flexible than the Jabsco as the base has four possible positions and several degrees of minor adjustment. To allow for a straight a run as possible we opted to have the pipe at the side which meant we needed a new hole in the half height bulkhead to the side. Unfortunately we only had our cordless drill with us which was not man enough to cut the hole, this gave us an excellent excuse to retire to the yacht haven bar and continue another day!
Out of the Water in early April
On the Tuesday before Easter we had booked a lift out and a weeks storage on the hard at Dale Sailing in Neyland. High water was at 07.50, and our time at the hoist was 08.00 so we had an early alarm to give us enough time to get things tidied up, the warps simplified and the engine warm before leaving our winter berth. The haul out was straight forward with the staff at Dale Sailing well practiced. As soon as she was out of the water they pressure washed the hull which quickly removed all the green slime.
Next she was transferred to a four prop stand on a truck and driven along the quay to one of their compounds. The quay is the old railway yard, and most of the track is still in place, although covered in tarmac. It's not often you see a yacht on a railway line!
Then the hard work started. With one of us polishing the top sides, and the other cleaning up the prop and applying the antifoul. The weather was good and we managed to get it completed in a day. She certainly looks pretty when clean, and the navy blue hull creates amusing reflections. It did not feel very stable on the deck, especially towards the front, so we decided to leave polishing the deck until she is back in the water.
Also while she was out, we bent some stainless steel plates to fit to the bow to protect from the anchor scratching the top sides. However, we decided not to fit them until we have tested them in a salt water environment for a while as we are not sure of the grade of the stainless and it would be a pity if they rusted. The other main job was varnishing the fixed sections of the cabin sole and steps - we had already varnished the rest of the floor that can be removed in sections at home over the winter. After a couple of days work we had finished what we needed to achieve so it was back home to pack up and move out of our rented stable conversion on a Cotswold farm that had been our home for the winter months.
While out of the water, we stayed a couple of nights at Neyland Court Guest House which is just up the road from the marina. It was a good choice, the room was pleasant, the bathroom spotless and the breakfast delicious - more than enough to tide us over until dinner. One of these was fish and chips on the quay overlooking the river in the beautiful late evening sun. For the other we walked over to Hazelbeach for dinner at the Ferry House Inn, and what a difference the smoking ban makes (from 1 April in Wales), it was very pleasant to linger on over a pint while watching the tide slowly creeping up the beach.