To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Back in the Water Again

Looking almost good. Almost.

✔ We're afloat. ✔ New paint. ✔ New chainplates. ✔ Fixed up woodwork. ✔ New Solar Panels. ✔ New Anchor Snubber. ✔ New bilge pump plumbing. ✔ Restitched Yankee.


About that drip. And the Propane.

At some point last year, CA noticed that our bilge pump had run.

On some boats the bilge pump is expected to run. On some boats the pump is expected to run several times each day. We have an Aqualarm digital bilge pump counter so that we can monitor that kind of thing.

A traditional "stuffing box" shaft seal keeps the ocean (mostly) out by imposing a tight, but not too tight, seal around the shaft. Too tight and there's friction which will damage the shaft. Too lose and there's annoying amounts of water. Just right and the water intrusion acts as a lubricant for the Cutless bearing. (Also known as a stave bearing.)

We have a dripless shaft seal. There are two low-friction plates jammed hard against each other. One is surrounded by blue rubber and is attached to the hull of the boat, keeping water out. The other is attached to the steel drive shaft; it acts as a cap on the rubber tube. Further, we have a hose to force some exhaust water out through the Cutless bearing to lubricate it.


We have no good reason to see any water come in.

When the bilge pump ran, CA checked around to see where the water was coming from. That's when she noticed the drip from the seal. This can't be good.

It's a slow drip.

But it should be a no drip.

Expert Opinion

As part of the launch, we had the mechanic that installed it look at the seal, both on the hard and in the water. He rode around as I put the transmission in and out of gear and ramped up the RPM's.

He saw that Red Ranger has a problem.

Her shaft is "whipping". There's a motor mount out of position. This means the shaft is not precisely aligned with the Cutless bearing. That causes wear on everything: motor, transmission, shaft, seal, bearing. All bad.

Next step is a motor alignment.

That should (hopefully) also dry up the seal. If it doesn't, it means something is screwy with water exiting the Cutless bearing. That's a weird problem to have.

Sail Stitching

The massive SailRite LSZ1 sewing machine isn't so helpful for making Floating Leaf Tiny Quilts. It's okay, but it's overkill for 4 small 10″ seams.


But for replacing blown stitching on the yankee, it rocks.

It's sort of awkward lugging it up into the cockpit, but that's the easiest place to work on sewing a sail.

Shop-Vac Shenanigans

Mini-Me (our one gallon shop-vac) may have been destroyed by the sanding operation. I cleaned it as best I could.

I ran it for a while to be sure the dust was blown out and the filters were reasonably clean.

But CA ran the poor vacuum today. The wildly fluctuating RPM's and smell of ozone meant that the brushes had finally succumbed to the fine particulate from sanding. Oops. Sometimes these are fixable. Sometimes it's easier to replace the whole thing.

I suspect the sander is not long for this world, either.

Lesson learned: Don't Sand. Just scuff the old paint up.

Propane Problems

We finally burned through our 20# propane tank. We had it filled in St. Augustine, week 21, about nine months ago. At the time, the propane dealer was unhappy with the tank. We couldn't get propane out of it. It weighed a ton (it wasn't even close to empty) and he couldn't get propane into it.

The valve or float seemed to be jammed.

Eventually he bashed it around enough that it finally freed up. He topped off the propane and it's been working right well ever since then.

Now that it's empty, we can replace it with a simpler Blue Rhino tank.

Simpler? How can Blue Rhino be simpler?

First, our aluminum tank has reached it's service life and needs an inspection. While that's no real problem, the float did jam on us last year. We're not interested in the risk of having that go bad again.

Second, filling is annoying. Many marinas and most grocery stores can swap out a Blue Rhino tank for cheap. Getting a ride to a propane dealer is sometimes challenging. Also, some public transportation companies frown on carrying propane tanks on the bus.

Other boaters caution us that cheap Blue Rhino steel tanks turn into horrifying rustballs. An aluminum tank is the only logical choice for sailing across oceans.

For the next few years, we think we'll be coastal US cruisers with some wintering in the Bahamas. When we decide to make the big jump past the Bahamas to the Caribbean, we'll reconsider our propane situation.

Since our locker is configured to hold a 20# and a 10# horizontal tank, I've got some work to do so that it will comfortably hold two 20# vertical tanks. Mostly, I think I have to take the Fein tool and cut out the little wooden blocks that secured the brackets for the old tanks.