Rebuild of the Yacht VALHALLA      Back to Projects

(Original writing done in 1998 and is in black font .... updates through December 2002 shown in red font.)

A labor of love

VALHALLA is a 1976 Fuji 32 Ketch, built in Yokosuka, Japan, which I have owned since 1980. It is of fiberglass construction with aluminium spars ... hull number 27. I departed Hawaii on an extended cruise in July 1988 after several years of preparation, putting the vessel in as seaworthy condition and cruising-equipped to the extent my pocketbook would allow.

Of the three "R's" which I consider important ... namely Radar, Refrigeration and Roller-furling ... it was several years after cruising through Micronesia that I was able to install a radar and 12V refrigeration system. Departing Guam in 1990 with these newly acquired and appreciated conveniences, I cruised to Australia and back to Guam over a three year period.

During my travels south I met Sandy in the Solomon Islands and we continued on to Australia, to New Caledonia, Vanuatu, the Solomons again (where we were married), then on through the Federated States of Micronesia ... returning to Guam in 1993. Several cyclones in Vanuatu took their toll on the vessel and being struck by a 50 ton dive boat while at anchor in an atoll near Pohnpei, FSM left us with a vessel needing serious attention. Compounding the needed repairs was damage the boat had sustained in 1989 when a typhoon put her on the beach in Truk Lagoon. Though I was able to get her off and sail back to Guam for repairs, only hull and propulsion repairs were done before I set off for Australia. Damage to the interior joinery, including the bulkhead-to-hull joints, was deferred and now , four years later, begged for repair.

THE REPAIRS BEGIN ...

The first priority we gave to the repairs began with the interior. We stripped the saloon interior down to the bare hull, retaining only the cabin sole, and rebuilt it to a new design. The significant change below was the elimination of saloon berths and the quarter berth in favor of a storage cabinet, comfortable seating for four at the foldaway table, increased storage behind the seats, and a sit-down navigation station, which took equal shares of a saloon bunk and the quarter berth. The remainder of the quarter berth behind the navigation station seat, with folding back, became storage. All bulkheads in the saloon were replaced, having broken their joints to the hull, with significant delamination from water seepage. All new joinery was waterproofed with epoxy. The forepeak was stripped of its overhead and sealing, and the sealing stringers which had broken loose from the hull were glassed back in place. Throughout the interior the teak trim was waterproofed with epoxy prior to applying varnish to a smooth finish, gloss in the saloon and satin in the head and forepeak. All bulkhead surfaces were covered with almond colored formica. The interior of the cabinsides was spray painted in a color and matte finish to match the formica. Caning was installed throughout in the new and old cabinet doors enclosing storage areas. The overhead in the forepeak was replaced with automobile headliner, the one in the head with formica, and the original overhead in the saloon, still in good condition, was finished with white epoxy paint. Three overhead handholds were added the length of the saloon. All lockers and storage compartment interiors were finished with white epoxy paint and formica was installed on shelves. The galley renovation included additional insulation around the fridge, a custom-made cutting board top for the fridge, and countertops of Avonite .. a polyester material resembling marble with many of its properties. A new, deeper sink was installed with new foot, electric and hand pumps. The Force 10 stove/broiler/oven unit was rebuilt, sold and replaced with an identical new unit.

Although the interior work was done while in the water, it was necessary to drydock for the rest of the rebuild. The Fuji 32 design, by John Alden, incorporates a bowsprit which is formed by a continuation of the toe rail from either side enclosing a platform with teak grating. Stresses from weathering storms (hove-to in a gale in the Tasman Sea and two cyclones at anchor plus racing another one to an anchorage in Vanuatu) and the stress of beating into 25 knot winds with 12 foot seas near the Solomon Islands combined to give us a thrill when the bowsprit broke entirely loose from the port side. We were lucky enough to save the rig and get to an alternate downwind harbor for repairs ... which lasted until we got to Guam the following year. Being struck by the dive boat only compounded the damage. The toerail repair involved scarfing in six foot sections that had splintered, strengthening the platform crossbeams and replacing the teak grating with industrial fiberglass grating. I had fitted a new bow pulpit in 1986 but it had taken the brunt of the dive boat impact. It closely resembled a pretzel. Due to the lack of skilled fabricators in Guam, I foolishly chose to have it straightened and rewelded ... which I was assured by the 'best machine shop in town' (not my definition but another yachtie's) would be fine. $200 and two months later it wasn't ... horribly crooked and rusting welds. Another spare- time attempt by the 'best civilian Navy welder in Guam' (again not my definition) only cost $50 and I got what I paid for ... a bit straighter but still with rusting welds. After two attempts by the third 'expert welder' (and $220) I've settled for a slightly crooked pulpit with just a couple of rusting welds. Interestingly enough, I paid $475 for it in 1986. But as I was once told, "Money spent on a boat is deducted from the entry price to heaven". Every bolt securing the toerail through the hull was replaced with larger diameter ones since the majority had cracked and begun to rust. The original stainless steel genoa tracks, which sit on top of the toerail, had deteriorated and were replaced with aluminum T-track, through-bolted at every 4 inches instead of every foot as originally secured. The deck area under the windlass mounting block was found to have dry rot in the balsa core. This was ground out from the top to the bottom glass and filled with many layers of glass and epoxy resin.

The bottom repairs were more than anticipated. While repairing the hull in 1990 after being awash on coral heads in Truk lagoon, I applied an epoxy barrier coat as a preventive measure. On this haulout I discoverd a multitude of small blisters that were not present during the last haulout in the Solomons in 1991. Though I was relieved to find these were not osmotic blisters, I was disappointed to find that the filler material applied on top of the epoxy barrier coat was delaminating in a few hundred places with semi-circular cracks about the diameter of a pencil eraser. Though the cause is not entirely known, my suspicion is that, even with careful cleaning of the epoxy surface prior to applying the filler, dust particles in the prevailing trade winds blowing over an industrual area (including a large power complex with several diesel generator plants) were trapped under the filler coat and ultimately caused the small delaminations. Weeks were required to search them out, grind and fill with epoxy filler, and fair the hull. Several encounters with reefs had left the bottom of the keel gouged so it received a new barrier coat, filling and fairing. The rudder had hit a reef during one of the cyclones in Vanuatu and this required filling and glassing. For the second time in as many haulouts I raised the water line (it is now 8 inches above design) and used epoxy fairing compound and fineline tape to create an indented waterline to ease future repainting of the bottom.

Refinishing of the topsides, deck, cockpit and cabintop was another lengthy process, mainly delayed by weather typical of Guam's location in 'typhoon alley'. For a 19 month period ending in March 1997, records show an average of two days per month with no more than a trace of rain and winds of 20 MPH or less ... conditions which I consider the least acceptable for spray painting. Through frustrating months, often re-doing surfaces ruined by an unexpected rain squall, an Awlgrip finish was applied. To protect the dark blue topsides several coats of clear finish with UV protector were added. The inability to get enough paint on the cabintop and decks, due to the weather, resulted in deteriorated paint on these areas.  These areas were repainted with an Enamel Urethane and the very top of the topsides, which were also deteriorated from the vertical sun's rays on the horizontal surfaces, were painted as well.   In 1985 I covered the deck with nonskid made from finely ground industrial cork and sealed with enamel paint. This treatment has lasted beautifully and provides the surest wet water footing I've found. Repainting with enamel was all that was required, over 17 years later. I took this opportunity to glass into the cabintop the mounting chocks for the dinghy and liferaft. The following were replaced with new teak: cockpit coaming, lazarette seats, and cockpit grating. The cockpit locker top was rebuilt and the cockpit seats re- caulked. The companionway hatch and dorade tops were replaced with black smoked plastic. I refinished a storage box that sits on the cabintop, of suitable size to mount the solar panel on top and contain flammables such as spare propane tank, paints, varnishes, etc..

After years of trying to keep the exterior teak trim varnished in the harsh tropical and cruising climates, I chose another method this time. I stripped, sanded, epoxy coated, primed and painted the following: handrails, dorade vent boxes, cabin eyebrow, dodger breakwater, cabin hatch, and companionway frame. If, in the future, a teak finish is desired then only a heat gun and scraper are required to remove the paint. Meanwhile, I hope to enjoy years of maintenance- free exterior trim. With the exception of the wheel, all other exterior teak .. toerail, cockpit coaming, cockpit and lazarette seats, and cockpit grating ... are left natural (which I call 'cruiser's varnish'). The seats and grating are safer that way when wet and the other areas take too much abuse to maintain without constant attention ... something you go cruising to avoid.

The wheel became a sentimental project ... it was literally falling apart but too sentimental to replace. The wheel is of typical construction; bronze hub, wood spokes and interlocking circular wood rings. Years of stress from windvane steering, with the clutch attached to the spokes by U- bolts, and a similar attachment for the belt steering autopilot, had taken their toll. The wheel was taken completely apart, new pieces fabricated where needed, then reassembled and finished to a high lustre. To eliminate the previous stress damage, I had a bronze collar fabricated that allows the windvane clutch to bolt directly to the hub. The wheel has been revarnished ... first time in years thanks to keeping it covered when not in use.  The belt steering autopilot was discarded in favor of a home-brew integration of the autopilot drive motor with the windvane. The Aires windvane is one of those rare ones made with bronze-silicon gears and was already five years old when fitted by the original owner. Over twenty five years later it remains in excellent condition and required just cleaning and lubrication to be ready for use ... hopefully for another twenty five years.

LIFE'S REVENGE ..
A philosopher, long forgotten, once said something to the effect that to live well was life's greatest revenge. While we have previously cruised in relative comfort, we took this opportunity to upgrade our cruising home for added comfort, safety, and convenience.

From the efforts described so far, this would qualify just as a refit but this became a total rebuild with the numerous replacements and fitting of new gear. Following are the improvements and some of my rationale for the changes.

AMIDSHIPS TRAVELLER. The inconvenience of a mainsheet with traveller in the cockpit, just ahead of the mizzenmast where it was always in the way, has been eliminated with the fitting of an amidships traveller. A second boom bail distrubutes the load to the main boom. A free- standing turning block on the cabin roof, suitably backed with teak block and stainless steel plate, leads the mainsheet through the dodger's wood breakwater (using a nylon through hull as a grommet) and rope clutch to a cleat.

ANCHOR RODE. Two hundred feet of new 5/16" HT chain followed by a similar lengh of 5/8" nylon rode have been fitted. The chain locker size limits the amount that can be installed.

BOARDING LADDER. A folding stainless steel boarding ladder now replaces a home-made one and attaches to four plates bolted to the port side, two through the toe rail and two through the topsides just above the waterline. Boarding with SCUBA gear can now be done safely. The bottom section of the boarding ladder suffered severe corrosion at the points  where it had been bent.  The lower section was rebuilt in 1999 and has served well, only requiring a repolishing this time.

CANVAS. The dodger windows were replaced, the dodger resewn and all snaps renewed. The lifeline dodgers, sail covers, hatch windscoop, liferaft cover, and cockpit cushion covers were repaired/resewn. New covers were made for the BBQ, water generator and compass. The cockpit cushion foam was replaced with closed cell foam, also used for the new cushions, bottom and back, on each side of the lazarette. I fabricated new white (natural) awnings to cover the cabintop and cockpit areas. These incorporate rainwater collection and use the new Sunbrella Plus fabric with extra waterproofing and mildew resistance. An underway awning (flies over the furled mizzens'l) was replaced and, though a partial 'bimini' is under design, in the past we've had no qualms about losing the bit of extra speed from the mizzen in favor of shade from the tropical sun. Alas, the canvas (extra mildew resistant?) which had been constructed in Guam suffered severly from mold which could not be killed with pure Chlorox! The canvas was stored inside a WWII quonset hut which was demolished by Super Typhoon Paka in 1997.  I think a 50 year old mold spore got into the material and it has become resistant to any and all chemicals ... hope it doesn't decide to take over the world!!!!  Available locally is a vinyl material which, though heavier than Sunbrella, is easy to clean and is very resistant to weathering.  New 'canvas' includes lazarette cushions, lee lifeline dodgers, jerry jug covers, liferaft cover, underway awning, main awning and the top of the mating cockpit awning (the original Sunbrella sides, though stained, were retained due to the complexity of construction).  The cockpit cushions were lost during a squall several years ago and await finding a source of closed cell foarm before being replaced.

COMMUNICATIONS/DATA PROCESSING/NAVIGATION. A handheld VHF radio has been added; the old fixed unit has been replaced with a waterproof model installed in the side of the cockpit near the helm. The Yaesu ham transceiver (FT-7570 and manual tuner were sold after 13 years of good use and replaced with a newer model Yaesu (FT-890) with automatic tuner. Insulators have been installed in both of the backstays to provide an antenna for a second HF radio (under consideration ..now added, see below) or, alternatively, to permit strapping together at the masthead for a longer antenna. A mobile antenna ball-mount between the antenna tuner and the backstay antenna is my solution to the loss of an antenna if dismasted. A four- band, stainless steel, ham mobile antenna (Spider) can be quickly screwed into the ball mount if needed. My firsthand experience has proven that the HF SSB frequencies are useless in an emergency and that the amateur bands provide the surest means of contact when you really need it. Digital communications is provided by a new multimode data controller (SCS PTC-II)  (The SCS PTC-II has been upgraded to Pactor 3 - the latest, greatest and fastest digital communication possible over HF radio) and a new PC (Compaq laptop replaced with a newer model). This also gives weather facsimile (using the latest package from XAXERO/CORETEX), SITOR (teletype) and NAVTEX reception for weather and navigation information. In addition, as hams we have the capability to stay in touch via email with our friends on the Internet. (In addition to the Winlink 2000 ham capability, the Sailmail service has been added to give more reliable connectivity in areas where Winlink coverage is poor)  A color inkjet printer, tape backup (now discarded in lieu of CD burner), hand scanner (replaced with a flat bed scanner that can copy from 35mm negatives) and video-to-graphic data converter (discarded .. no longer useful) are new accessories for the PC. A fixed GPS, with updated ROM, (discarded in favor of Garmin GPS III+) is backed up by a new handheld unit and integrated with the PC. The trustworthy '"original" G.P.S. (Grey Plastic Sextant) and Nautical Almanac still provide the ultimate backup. (STILL TRUE!)  A flux-gate handheld compass (Autohelm) and rechargeable handheld spotlight round out the new items.  When the Yaesu FT-890 needed repair several years ago, I shipped it off for repair and, due to the time involved in turn-around, added an Icom M710 Marine radio.  Other computer ancillaries that have been added include a USB expander (4 ports), a com port expander (now a total of 10 com ports), a CD burner, ZIP 250 MB drive, and a Sony Memory Stick reader (for the digital camera).  For navigating in murky waters an Interphase  PROBE (forward looking sonar) has been added.

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM. The 'house supply' remains four Trojan golf cart batteries, although the ones installed 10 years ago in Hawaii required replacement. I was surprised to find that the new batteries were 20AH larger and each one, purchased in Guam, cost a mere $10 more than the originals.  With a total of 480AH for the house and a separate 120AH engine battery the storage capacity seems adequate for the sizeable load. All batteries have been replaced .. the Trojan batteries were even less expensive than in Guam! A new Heart Freedom inverter with 50A battery charger and remote panel provides energy from shore power and charging while alongside. Charging while away from shore is provided by four means: engine alternator, solar panel, wind generator and water generator. The engine alternator is a 100A Balmar with automatic regulator (now the MaxCharge ... allows neutralizing the batteries with the alternator!) , the largest available for the engine. The high output alternator took a toll on the single (7/16" wide) alternator belt.  Black 'dust', stretching, and slipping was common.  This has been solved by upgrading to a double 1/2" belt system.  A double pulley for the alternator  is available from Balmar.  Modification to the engine pulleys was required ... a new double pulley replacement for the fresh water pump and a bolt-on second pulley for the crankcase pulley were fabricated.  These parts and the alternator adjusting bracket and screws were chromed for rust protection.  If the batteries are low the alternator puts a heavy load on the engine ... sometimes too much for a lot of vessel driving power, such as in the middle of the night when you are dragging anchor!  I now supply the field of the alternator with 12VDC from  the engine panel light switch (more convenient than adding another switch to the system).  This gives manual control of the charging state of the alternator for those times when maximun vessel propulsion is required.  A new solar panel (45W) replaces a similar one stolen in Pohnpei in 1993. The wind generator (Ampair 100) is a new item and has been installed on the mizzen mast with an automatic regulator. The water generator I fitted in Hawaii was unserviceable and replaced with a refurbished Ampair/Aquair unit, although I have retained the robust bronze rod/outboard motor propellor combination I made in 1990 in favor of the less efficient Ampair unit. The interior DC panel was rebuilt with waterproof switches and new fuze holders. An E-Meter was installed to monitor the DC system. An AC panel was installed, incorporating a quick change-over switch between shore power or inverter. All new wiring and replacement wiring (Anchor brand) has shrink tubing protecting the connectors. All cabin lights were replaced and roughly half of them use halogen bulbs. The sidelights have been relocated from the cabinsides to the pinrails for better visibility when the tricolor cannot be legally used. Teak 'shadow boxes' protect the sidelights from damage. The combination masthead/deck light was replaced due to corrosion damage. A cockpit panel, handy to the helm, was rebuilt with waterproof switchs for: topmast strobe light, deck light, autopilot and washdown pump.

ENGINE AND PROPULSION. The Yanmar 2GM20F diesel I installed in 1982 has less than 2500 hours on it and has passed a mechanic's inspection. Apart from replacing a damaged secondary filter (I had stripped the bleeding valve threads) and rebuilding the starter we are taking our chances. The engine finally lost too much compression to be reliable.  A new engine, Yanmar 3GM30F with 50% more horsepower (27 vs 18) has been fitted with a flexible coupling to the shaft. The engine bed rails were reworked to add a section in the middle and retain the nuts welded underneath for the engine mount retaining screws. A jig was made to facilitate exact positioning of the engine bed rails. New engine controls of the two-handle variety replace the single-lever style. I'm convinced that Morse Controls has never tested their products in the salt water environment (mild steel components in a $250 dollar 'marine' item?). After more than a year's effort of complaints and correspondence with Morse Controls (purchased by Teleflex) I have had a new set of controls (now listing over $500) sent to me free of charge.  The same mild steel components are still there but this time I had them chromed to give rust protection. The engine instrument panel had previously suffered from exposure to salt water and the tachometer housing was rusted through due to leaks behind the panel. After replacing the tach I built a recessed compartment in the cockpit (now enlarged  to accomodate the new, larger engine panel) to house the panel (with new tach and close attention to bedding) and engine shut-off control (also replaced) with a sliding cover in teak frame (acrylic has been replaced) for protection. The fuel system was also given attention. An electric fuel pump (now replaced with higher capacity model), to simplify engine bleeding, was installed with a switch in the engine compartment. A relatively new device, De-Bug (now called Algae-X), was installed to clean the fuel of such microbe contaminants. Valves (eliminated for simplicity .. no longer considered necessary) allow the fuel to be routed to the engine or back to the tank after passing through the electric fuel pump and the De-Bug. A new primary filter was installed, the centrifugal water-separating type. The exhaust system has been replaced with new hoses and a Naqualift muffler. The propeller shaft coupling required replacement due to deforming of the keyway and I chose a split coupling for added security. (Now a flexible type) The shaft was turned and a new keyway cut when the coupling was bored by a local machine shop. The shaft required reworking to accomodate the longer engine and the new propeller. I bit the bullet on the cost and installed an Autostream self-feathering 15-inch prop.  See their products by following the link to 'Seahawk' on the website. The Lasdrop shaft seal installed nine years previously was suspect so it was replaced with a PSS coupling. A mistake made and lived with for 15 years was the wrong pitch on the 3-bladed prop installed with the new engine. A prop shop in Hawaii increased the pitch by 2 inches (for added speed) and this has proved to be a significant improvement.

ENTERTAINMENT. An unserviceable TV/VCR unit was replaced with a Sony Multisystem TV and new VCR(s) (the two we have now to build a video library will reduce to one when we get underway again). (One multisystem VCR remains)  A DVD/VCD player has been added.  A Sony cassette deck (for dubbing) has been added. (Now discarded)  A 'boom-box' was replaced with an automotive-syle Kenwood system with AM/FM, cassette and 10-CD changer. New Bose speakers below and Pioneer waterproof speakers in the cockpit complement the audio system. A new satellite digital receiver (Sanyo) has been added that gives 15 channels of news and music using the Asiastar satellites under the auspices of WorldSpace (http://worldspace.com).  It has been integrated with the Kenwood stereo system (using an adapter made by Sony for the Walkman) to give quality stereo sound.  This Sony adapter also serves to play the MP3 computer music files through the Kenwood system and comes with a 12VDC adapter that has the right output voltage (4.5VDC) for the Sanyo receiver ... serenditpity.

GROUND TACKLE. After just 'getting by' with three danforth-style anchors over the previous years... two 33-lb Japanese copies of a Danforth and an original 22-lb, high tensile Danforth ... I discarded the copies and bought, used, a 35-lb CQR and 22-lb Bruce. Lacking facilities in Guam to have the anchors galvanized, I stripped, etched, primed and applied white Awlgrip to the three anchors. The rubber roller on the bow anchor roller was replaced with a custom bronze one for better serviceability. An additional rode roller was installed on the end of the bow for use with a second anchor. Two anchor rollers have been refinished and re-installed at the stern and keep the Danforth and Bruce anchors ready to drop while eliminating a storage problem. The first 25 feet of the new chain was also painted with white Awlgrip. I have found this treatment makes it much easier to locate the anchor on the bottom .. especially in a crowded anchorage. A robust stainless steel swivel connects the chain to the primary anchor. Rounding out the ground tackle inventory is a new Fortress 10 anchor, for added insurance. The Danforth required reworking to replace rusted components. All three anchors were regalvanized, primed and repainted with white epoxy enamel.

INNER FORESTAY. A removable inner forestay has been fabricated and fitted to fly the storm jib closer to the center of effort, rather than on the forestay at the end of the bowsprit, and to add the long desired staysail. Mast hounds at the spreaders allow the aft lower shrouds to act as backstays. This inner stay attaches to a folding padeye on the foredeck, through-bolted to a backing plate in the chain locker. Handles have been fabricated to the turnbuckle to ease tensioning during less than ideal sea conditions. The whisker pole lifting halyard serves double duty as the stays'l halyard.

LIFELINES/STANCHIONS. New lifeline stanchions were fabricated with the lower third reinforced by welding a smaller diameter tube inside the stanchion and welding the stanchion to it's base. The pushpit stanchions were also replaced, retaining the original top pushpit tubing. New lifelines and turnbuckles have been fitted and a 'seaworthy' pelican hook installed on the gate, port side only. A continual problem developed due to the welding of the stanchion bases ... RUST AND CORROSION CRACKING! All stanchion bases were reworked with double thickness stainless steel and polished, the pushpit stanchion-to-rail couplings were rechromed, and a new pushpit tubing fitted.

PROPANE SYSTEM. A 'fancy' propane solenoid control panel was giving intermittent failures and was replaced with a simple red-lighted switch in the galley. The solenoid was replaced and relocated to a more weatherproof area in the lazarette. A tee and hose have been installed and lead through the lazarette to the pushpit for ready attaching to a new Force 10 BBQ grill. A previously fabricated storage cover was rebuilt  (a new cover was fabricated) and contains a 10-lb propane tank directly under the wheel in the cockpit.

ROLLER FURLING. A single-groove ProFurl system was chosen. As a cruising boat, I couldn't imagine a time when I would need two grooves since I had other plans for flying the storm jib.

ROPE CLUTCHES. Clutches for the jib and main halyards have been added to free up the mast winches to be used with the spare foredeck halyards. As mentioned, a clutch has been installed on the cabintop near the cockpit for the mainsheet. A double clutch on the mainboom has been fitted for the first two reefing lines.

RUNNING RIGGING. I have carried rope/wire halyard kits since 1988 and finally replaced the jib, main and mizzen internal halyards. Two spare foredeck halyards have been replaced. All other sheets (jib, drifter, main and mizzen) have been replaced, as well as lines for the boom preventers (two for the main and one for the mizzen). New storm trysail sheets are also fitted.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT. We applaud the recent changes in USCG rules to approve inflatable PFDs. Our home-made Lauffenberger-style harnesses have been replaced with inflatable harnesses and double lanyards. The safety jacklines running from the cockpit to the bowsprit have been replaced with new vinyl-coated lifeline wire. A Category II EPIRB (406 MHz) replaces the old Class B model. The deteriorated fabric cover for the Lifesling has been replaced with a hard case and, as an aside, to accomodate the items such as brushes, fishing gear, etc. that usually clutter the cockpit a matching hard case on the opposite side of the pushpit conveniently stores this 'cockpit-clutter junk'.  The liferaft (SWITLIK 6-person) was previously mounted in front of the mainmast and has now been relocated to the portside of the cabintop (where the inflatable dinghy had been carried).

SAILS. My longing for tanbark sails was satisfied by purchasing a 130 genoa (the old 150 was just TOO MUCH sail for cruising), mainsail and mizzen in this deep, rich red color. At the suggestion of the sailmaker's representative I opted for the sensible color of international orange for the storm jib and a new item for our inventory, a storm trysail. I was probably too excited at the prospect of new sails to consider having a foam luff installed in the genoa but later remedied this by buying a 'kit' from the supplier, Lee Sails, and installing one on my own. The old 'drifter' (actually a mizzen staysail from a 55' ketch) remains as our light-air sail. A relatively new small jib was cut down to fit as a staysail and, being black, is acceptable from the aesthetics viewpoint .... At least we think so!

SPARES Our next cruising will be through remote areas ... Micronesia, Philippines, Borneo, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand ... and dictate close attention to spares. The large number of mechanical and electrical systems aboard suggest a large amount of spares, both repair parts and replaceable units. Engine spare units include injectors, starter, alternator, regulator, sea water pump, exhaust mixing elbow, and preformed hoses. Engine repair parts include a gasket set, an overhaul kit for the alternator, brushes for the starter, impellers and a large supply of belts and filters (oil and diesel). 'Cruising kits' for the watermaker and wind generator, water filters, repair kits for the head and all pumps, spare bulbs and fuses, and a large supply of hose clamps have been included. Spares  will be stocked for the new configuration.

STANDING RIGGING. All rigging has been replaced with 316 stainless wire and StaLok terminals. A previous re-rigging had increased all wire by one size which more than compensates for the loss of strength using the 316 versus 304 wire. The double backstays were further increased one size this time for added insurance and HF radio insulators installed in both backstays. Chainplates were inspected and found intact except for the chainplate/bowsprit end fitting and the bobstay fitting (more dive boat damage, perhaps?). The new chainplate/bowsprit end fitting was increased 50% in thickness for added insurance. The new bobstay fitting incorporates an extra eye to attach a chain rode snubbing line at a lower point than the toerail (or end of the bowsprit) to minimize pitching and, perhaps, yawing at anchor. This fitting was doubled in thickness and larger bolts used to compensate for the added stress. Pinrails (ala' Ferec Mate') on both port and starboard lower shrouds have been retained and the former rope ratlines have been replaced with wooden ones. (These lead to the spreaders where folding steps give access to the top of the mainmast). New spreaders were made, sealed with epoxy, painted with Awlgrip, and fitted. A separate sail track for the storm trysail was added to the mainmast. Four double genoa cars have been fitted (the storm jib and storm trysail require separate locations). The original genoa track was long enough to permit using a genoa track padeye forward near the shrouds for the boom preventer, though longer than necessary for the range of jib sheeting locations. The new track is long enough for jib sheeting locations, but not long enough for the boom preventer. Sturdy U-bolts through the deck, suitably backed, have been fitted to serve as attachments for the preventers (3:1 vangs). This also relieves stress on the toerail, and subsequently on the new bolts holding the toerail to the deck.

STEERING. The original worm-screw steerer was sloppy. Inspection by Edson (who, unfortunately had not made it but from whom it seems to have been copied) found it to be worn beyond repair. It has been replaced with a new Edson unit. It took a disappointing three months after the order to get delivered but appears to be 'bullet-proof'. An emergency tiller hasn't been fitted, relying on the robustness of the Edson steerer for security.

TENDER. A new 10' Avon Rollaway dinghy has been christened 'VALKYRIE' ... the mythological spirit that took fallen Vikings to their 'Valhalla'. The rollaway model was chosen since there are few convienent places aboard to stow solid floorboards. Dinghy power is provided by two outboards - a 15HP and a 3.3HP - carried on mounts on the pushpit. The mizzen sheet attaches to a padeye with a snap shackle and serves, with the mizzen boom, as the lifting 'crane' for the 15HP motor. We need the big engine for SCUBA-diving and fishing but it is often too cumbersome for those short runs to shore, hence the smaller one. The Avon Rollaway and 15 HP outboard have been sold.  The 3.3HP OB has been rebuilt.  The tender for VALHALLA is now 'GECKO' ... a nesting dinghy that fits on the foredeck when underway.  See "Building GECKO .." under PROJECTS at the Mooring Page.

THROUGH-HULLS/SEACOCKS. With the exception of the engine intake, I was pleased to find the bronze through-hulls still in excellent condition after over 20 years. While prepping the bottom I used epoxy filler to fair around the mushrooms which stand proud. I had replaced most of the seacocks 10 years ago with brass ones since I couldn't afford the proper bronze ones at the time. That was remedied this time by replacing all seacocks with bronze models. All drain hoses were checked and two that were suspect were replaced, with double hose clamps at the seacocks.

VENTILATION. The seven fixed and one opening (head) portlights were replaced with Lewmar opening ports. The 4-inch plastic cowl vents were replaced with 12-inch stainless steel vents on the two dorades. Though we use AC fans while on shore power, the Hella DC fans are our choice when 'away' ... two in the vee berth, one in the main saloon, one above the navigation station,  and one in the galley have been installed.

WATER SYSTEMS. Tankage on VALHALLA is limited to 40 gallons and this has always been a source of concern as we used rain collection and shore sources for supply. Bathing has previously been done with salt water in a bucket and a fresh water rinse. We have had the disappointment of leaving a magic, isolated anchorage due to low water supply. The solution is the new watermaker, a Pur 35. An electric washdown pump has been installed and plumbed to two locations, the foredeck and the cockpit. A valve allows this pump to access either fresh or salt water. Installed on the foredeck is a water hose fitting for washing the rode and anchor and, in the cockpit, is a 'disappearing' hose and shower handle (Whale) ... goodbye buckets! An electric pump with knee-operated switch was installed in the galley on the salt water supply (in series with a hand pump), and a foot pump for the fresh water provides some measure of conservation. A duplicate of the watermaker intake filter has been installed on the fresh water supply to the galley -- the bracket has been chromed for rust protection. A new electric bilge pump (The bilge pump and switch/alarm units have been replaced.) with check-valve and anti-siphon has replaced the hand pump formerly located below. The cockpit bilge pump (Whale Gusher 10) was replaced. New hoses and AWAB clamps have been installed throughout.

WINCHES. The original two cockpit winches have been replaced with Lewmar Self Tailing models and a similar smaller one has been added for the ProFurl furling line. This necessitated adding a mounting bulge alongside the cockpit coaming, for which a Rubbermaid plastic water pitcher made an ideal shape to fiberglass and fill to match the others. A cockpit coaming box has been installed to hold the new 'spinner knob' winch handle. A small winch on the main boom was added to assist in furling the main,which has three reefs.

WINDLASS. An unserviceable electric windlass, of minimal power when new, was replaced with a Lofrans Tigres model. It is through-bolted to a stainless steel backing plate on the underside of the deck, now solid fiberglass. A sturdy bronze cleat was fitted on a bowsprit crossbeam and serves as a chainstopper to relieve strain on the windlass gypsy.

THE RATS  A total of eight rats made it aboard while undergoing the 2002 refit and while berthed at Pinoy Boat Services in Danao, Cebu Island, Philippines.  Seven were caught quite quickly using a cage-style trap.  The eighth one was too smart to take any bait in the trap .. including pieces of the things it was eating ... clothing, acrylic material, fiberglass, wood, wiring insulation, plastic bags, etc.  In desperation I used a poison which blinds the animal and, after several weeks it ate enough to finally die ... fortunately in a lighted area which is this poison's claim to fame!  Until it's demise the boat suffered damage to wiring that was difficult to find and repair ... transducer cables for speed and depth, stereo speakers, computer interconnect cables, lighting ... plus one hell of a mess in food storage lockers!  Take THAT you dirty RAT!

THE FUTURE??? What next? If there is a space for it perhaps we MIGHT consider putting it aboard! After all, we can ALWAYS raise the waterline again ... grin, grin. But, as Nigel Calder said recently (though not so "recently" but still true) in Cruising World magazine ... "Enough is enough; it's time to go sailing".

Back to top