Thursday, February 7, 2013

Refit Finished Product

Time Fly's!  Where have the months gone since we left Trinidad? I meant to put some "finished product" pictures on the blog but once the family boarded Sweetest Thing for the journey north...  Hey I guess I should start there!

After spending the whole hurricane season on the hard at Peakes Yacht Services in Trinidad working on both Wandering Dolphin and Sweetest Thing.  (Two boats on the hard is not to be recommended by the way.)
Sweetest Thing Passing Wandering Dolphin (on the left with primer grey on her)

The whole Burton Family boarded Sweetest Thing to sail her North to Saint Thomas.  This was the first time Becky and the boys had sailed offshore on any other boat than Wandering Dolphin.  I was a little concerned that, after spending a fortune refitting Wandering Dolphin, the family would never want to sail offshore on a mono hull again.  These fears were put to rest.  Though the passage was quiet and fast there was no real desire to move onto a cat.  Part of the reason is that after years of offshore sailing on a mono hull you tend to get used to the feel of the boat under sail and Sweetest Thing never feels that way, the motion is different as well and the kids missed the feel of our boat.  Beck missed how quiet Wandering Dolphin is offshore.  Because she is an aluminum boat there is no hull flex.  She is also packed tight so there is not banging of stores or pots and pans.  Sweetest Thing, on the other hand, flexes and slams and rattles constantly.  When you are not used to the noise it can be a little disconcerting.
(The boys offshore on Sweetest Thing)

On the way north we kicked back, did some fishing, and watched some movies.  The weather was beautiful.  I was a good time to spend as a family but it really didn't feel like an offshore passage to us.  It lacked the drama we are used to hehehe.

(Benny caught this big Barracuda with a hand line on the voyage North this year)

Once we arrived is St Thomas Beck and the kids holed up at Island View Guest house while Emily and I flew back to Trinidad where we finished off the final projects on Wandering Dolphin, put her in the water and headed out to sea.  We tested our new engine n the day we launched the boat and it seemed to be running a little hot... nothing to worry about I thought... we were just outside the bay heading with the current out the Dragons Mouth when the over heating alarm went off!  BRAND NEW ENGINE!!! I thought about turning around and having it checked and decided, "No Way!!!!"  I was so done with Trinidad and boat work.  We sail offshore so it doesn't matter, I don't need an engine to sail from Trinidad to St Thomas.  She heeled over and began to do what she does best.  Both Emily and I looked at each other with the same thought in our head... "Now THIS is sailing!"  After about an hour sitting back in the cockpit enjoying the feel of our boat on the water I started to really puzzle through the engine overheat issue.  The engine had been factory tested and it had run great on our test when it was on the hard... the only variable was the water heater which uses engine coolant to heat the water. On both the paperwork for the engine and the paperwork for the water heater it warns that if the coolant system has any air in it it will over heat the engine.  I decided that the easiest way to test this offshore was simply to kink the hoses where they exit the engine and return to the engine, effectively eliminating the whole water heater from the system, I kinked the hoses and put heavy pull ties on them to keep them kinked, topped off the coolant and started the engine... PRESTO... problem was fixed!  The engine purred along at 3000 RPM (we don't cruise her at that even though the manual says we can, 2800 is our max) no overheating.  After we turned the engine off (again we sail offshore) I thought about taking my kinks out and just filling the system all  the way up... I decided to wait for the anchorage.

Emily sleeping on the passage north on WD
Four days later we pulled into Crown Bay Marina.   Wandering Dolphin looks like a new boat, and for all intents and purposes she is.  In the last two years we have rebuilt her bottom with new sheets of aluminum, rewired the entire boat, added a new engine, water heater, battery bank, charging system, and head.  We have refinished all the wood on the interior and exterior, repainted her hull topsides, bottom and deck, redone canvas and a number of other little things that we have always wanted.  She arrived in Trinidad being towed to the dock, a crusty, salty lady, and left a beautiful princess... but not without a lot of work and a boatload of money.  In the end though we are proud that we poured our money into something we already owned rather than buying another boat, carrying a boat loan and a whole set of unknown problems.  Here are the pictures we promised.

oh!  and new cushions throughout!

(Beck redid the interior woodwork!)
(this is about Half the wires we removed!)
(engine before)
(engine during)

(engine After!)


(New Engine in the Box!)

(WD before!!)

(WD After!)

Pretty Princess huh?

There you go!  Sorry to all of you who were looking for this update for a while... I will try to do better!

Captain Tofer