A SHIPYARD STORY –> What it Takes to Keep a Big Hatteras Going….#24

“Groundhog Day Again”

Each morning as Dan and I ride our bicycles into the shipyard, we see some of the same sights. Our team of workers running around getting ready for their day. Flip flops and bare feet are a common sight. Some change clothes under the boat, putting their yucky, sandy clothes back on from the day before. “Hola, buenos dias” we call to each other as we pass. Making sure they know how appreciative we are for their hard work. It’s difficult to believe that the Mexicans don’t get hurt more often. There are reduced safety rules here in Mexico in comparison to the USA. They do work hard to keep themselves and their team members safe. It would never go in the US.


Our project list was on our previous blog Shipyard Work, One for the Boys!…#23 if you are interested. Below Dan calls out the projects that they are working on too. As the work progresses, of course, more items are found and/or we add to the list because we didn’t understand their existence when creating the list. I will let Dan tell the story. He wanted to start from the beginning, from when we purchased the boat. So much lead up to our scope of work here in Puerto Vallarta that he felt he needed to start at the beginning. Hang on… it is long list!

Hi Folks
First off, when you purchase a vessel, there is a survey done, which is much like a home inspection. This is important for an older 1980, 80 foot boat like ours. The Survey had about 100 findings, 25 of which needed to be fixed quickly for safety and insurance reasons.  We got a great deal on the purchase price, but knew we bought a fixer upper. The engines were in great shape luckily. Some of the big things I remember were replacing the main batteries – 8 giant 8V batteries for 2 banks of 32V each. About a ton and half of lead and acid. One of the batteries had cracked and had to be cleaned up and acid neutralized. The boat had a number of 12V batteries for navigation systems that were also replaced. Gensets were checked out and ran ok. Fuel filters were changed and many more stocked up. Surprisingly, BILGE PUMPS were not in good shape – some I had to replace, some needed new switches and lots of new wires and connectors.
The boat was hauled out in Richmond CA in March of 2017 to address the 25 findings, including having basic shaft seal and bearing work done. Also many months of shells and growth were removed and bottom paint touched up. Props were cleaned and checked. 

“Fuel in the Bilge is never a good thing”

A leaky fuel tank was found in May, just before our trip to Portland to bring her home. It made a big mess that took a team of friends to clean it up. Bilge water and fuel etc. mixed together that was unusable and toxic for the environment.  We put all that mess in an unused cockpit fuel tank and dealt with that refurbishment in winter of 2017-18. After the big stuff was done, the boat was safe to cruise home from Oakland to Portland. I had to repair the radar after the trip to Portland – it died off Coos Bay.  Got the parts off of eBay, a proven tactic for older boats. We also enjoyed a trip to the San Juans Islands WA in Summer of 2017 before all the big winter work started. San Juan Islands are one of our favorite places to go. 
After summer up North, the Naiad stabilizers were leaking water and grease into the boat, so did a quick haul out in Bellingham for seals and grease. I was also notified that they would need a lot of work later, but they worked well at that point and did not leak. I had to replace a leaking power steering hose also while we were there as one failed right before getting to the shipyard. Then home in time for our first big party aboard her. We cruised to Riverplace Marina for Emily and Taylor’s engagement party. Best friends of our daughter, Kylie. 

The winter of 2017/2018 was when the big projects started. 
  • We had to ID and buy many different filters – over 2 dozen kinds. That data is so big it now lives in Excel spreadsheet
  • Oil and Coolant Rebuilt both Reverso oil change pumps so I could do the oil changes 
    • Purchased lots of  Chevron Delo 100 oil for Engines and Transmissions, as my  2 Detroit Diesel 650 HP 12V71TIs, that take 9 gallons per engine and another 4 for the transmissions
    • 20 gallons of specially treated engine coolant for diesels plus 20 gallons of distilled water to mix with the coolant took care of both engines
    • Another few gallons of 15W40 oil and more coolant mix for the Northern Lights 32KW gensets
    • Each time I changed oil or coolant. I had lots of buckets of waste oil or coolant and used filters to dispose of
    • Have changed oil and filters in the mains and 1 genset one more time since
  • Replaced all the raw water side zincs and impellers
  • Cleaned the sea strainers
  • Cleaned bilges
  • Replaced 240V Air conditioning raw water pump
  • Rebuilt 240V overboard 3HP macerator pump
  • Calibrated stabilizers
  • Emptied and refurbished 2 cockpit fuel tanks
  • Polished and saved 150 gallons of diesel with a home built system of vane pump, Racor filter and 55 gallon drums. (from the fuel leaking incident mentioned above)
  • Installed new gas station pump for dinghy and waverunner. Yes, we have gas for our toys! Correct ventilation blower installed as well for the lazzerette.
  • Rewired navigation light sockets
  • Replaced many old GFCI outlets
  • Rewired the stereo and TVs after the salon makeover
  • Replaced the broken starboard helm windows and cracked Sapphire deck windows with new glass
  • Installed and Integrated a 10kw 240V split phase Victron Inverter System with Ron Micjan’s help on design and sourcing and Angela’s help with the giant 200AH Telecom batteries on the install. 
  • I am sure there is more but you get the drift.  

While I was working on all this Angela was working on the interior updating.  (Upcoming blog in the works!)

Then on June 2018 we started our cruising for this big trip by going North again.  We did small projects like lights and bilge alarms, when at anchor with Ken Williams  enthusiastic help.  A new fresh water pressure tank was procured and installed in Victoria.  We had a dinghy to keep going too but that saga has already been told in multiple episodes —->   #6  &  #7    &  A Dinghy Saga, lemons in paradise….#8  & Our Dinghy’s Final Resting Spot…#17
On the way south to Ilwaco we noted a pinhole exhaust leak from the port engine riser from the exhaust manifold to the turbo. Damaged oil hose too.  Thanks to Dennis Sackhoff for the use of his nice slip, we were able to do the repairs in a nice location. What a pain the work was for me and my hero Ken Williams.  2 bolts broke off in the manifold while removing the broken part, but we were able to drill and tap them out and get the new elbow and hose installed.  With that work done, it made for a flawless cruise from Columbia river to San Francisco Bay in 60 hours with our Son Chase. 
While in California I replaced a satellite dish part called the “LNB” with one for the USA, and got DirecTV working for a while, but then we went to Mexico out of the footprint of the satellite.  We fought generator and inverter problems on the way South to Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. That let us plan our shipyard work.  Again with buddy Ken, we chose the Opequimar shipyard and Jorge Servin with SYS to lead our yard work in Puerto Vallarta.
Most of the work is painting and preservation to beautify and hold the value of the boat.  A bunch is mechanical drive train maintenance at the detailed level. And of course bottom paint and a lot of prep for that.

Here is the work list with a bit of discussion:

Top side painting, Fly bridge to deck including cockpit and cranes

Remove, restore and reinstall dinghy cradles in new positionsThis was done to renew worn non-skid on top deck flybridge for safety, looks, to stop cracks and leaks and to better arrange the toys on top

Clean, scrape, repair bottom with epoxy coat, bottom paint and boot stripe. The old bottom paint was worn out and needed stripping. Blisters and crack repairs were needed to preserve the hull.  2 coats of West System Barrier epoxy will be applied before the Pettit brand hard blue bottom paint.

Upholstery cushions on bow and flybridge. Updating worn and discolored vinyl cushions with Sunbrella. Along with cockpit bolsters. We haven’t seen these yet just pictures in process. 

Varnish railing, doors, flybridge bench seating rails, sapphire deck bench seats.  Many coats! new veneer here and there. Improves looks and preservation of the teak wood. Rebed and repair Bow spray rails. We had a small leak to stop. These were bolted on and we found hidden damage from previous owners. This was causing problems as both the hull and spray rails were cracked and leaking. After good structural repairs with West System epoxy we will have a nice looking, functional bow again.

Repack and install new packing box hoses on main shafts, rebed one strut.  Poor work by a prior yard is being proven out.  I feel a claim coming. Prop shafts and bearings and couplers all being cleaned up and repaired.

Restore pitted rudder shafts, rebed rudder glands, install new bearings. This was to fixing leaking and poorly repaired rudder shaft seals, and replace worn out rudder shaft cutlass bearings 

Complete overhaul of the Naiad Stabilizer Actuators and seals. Chris Ponce had the lead on this for Lance Lage’s MTU team. The stabilizers had begun to ooze grease once again as forecast. As they came apart we could see a complete overhaul was in order. The shafts and numerous other worn parts were replaced and the good parts were stripped and repainted or refinished to new condition.  This was a couple of weeks of very careful detailed expert work that I greatly appreciate. Chris also was a big help with steering leaks, oil hoses and generator exhaust as well.



While the yard team was working, I had my “Dan” Jobs;

  • Wire aft bilge level switch to alarm bell.  We have a school bell now for too high bilge water!  Safety
  • Install new KVH compass and Garmin display unit.  These were replacements of existing units.  Pretty straight install and rewire.
  • Build and install new reverse engineered wireless remote for our old Robertson AP300 Autopilot (Saved $800).  I uses a remote control, like a key clicker with 50 Meter range. This replaced a wired autopilot control. Now we can steer (adjusting the autopilot) from anywhere on boat!  $12.00US!!!  This was awesome and I can’t wait to try it.
  • Added new zincs on swim platform brackets.  Grunt labor for preservation.
  • Refurbish and install our old swim step ladder as designed under the step.  Prior owner had installed with wrong hardware and installed backwards. It now works as designed.
  • Glue and clamp Sapphire Deck table to fix crack.  More wood and varnish work for Dan and Angela. Glue done, now just need to sand and finish.
  • Install new port generator exhaust elbow, and starboard generator shutdown solenoid. More mechanic wrench turning. Solenoid was just me. I got Chris to help on the elbow, just in case. 
  • Fix electrical issues with 32V bow lights and aft hall 12V lights, and panel lights. OMG. Traced wires and grounds and voltages like mad, Determined I had to run new wires for power. Did it. Lots of snaking and crawling and crimping and terminal strips later, they ALL work. Added some new 12V LEDs too.
  • Build and install new heavy duty battery hold down clamp on house batteries.  Determined existing holders were not enough. Built a giant 2′ x 4′ clamp with some 1/2″ threaded rod to hold all the batteries down hard.
  • Clean repair and lubricate all 6 seawater intake strainers, and fix mount on Starboard GenSet strainer. More grunt work in the bilges for Dan. Found 2 strainer screens needing replacement, did so.
  • Install 3 new Turbo drain hoses on main engines. Replaced old ones that had some damage. Installed chafe protection too. Chris helped here too.
  • Fix steering leaky O-rings and hydraulic hoses aft.  I gave this one to Chris and his buddy mostly. I helped find the right non-leaky o-rings. They did all the hard fitting and rebuild work.  All clean and shiny and not leaking.  Sea trial needed to prove but it is holding 30 pounds of pressure nicely.
  • Fix snaps on bow sun shade.  Replaced all corroded canvas snaps with snap tools. We will have new snaps on the cabin as well.
  • Repaint anchor chain depth marks. Drop them on the hard, lay out chain for easy painting, clean out chain lockers, reel back in. Try not to kill anyone. Thanks Angela for your help here too. 
  • Install 2 new searchlights – the old pedestals fiberglassed in. Just need to drill, bed and run new wires and switches, probably after the yard time. Not enough access.
Yes, this is a crazy list of stuff and if you made it down this far, I commend you for sticking with the whole blog! THANK YOU!

Upcoming articles we are working on…

** Interior Remodeling 


**Our Final Splash Down after all this work, along with Pics too!!

Thank you for your continued support! If you weren’t reading, we would stop writing!



14 thoughts on “A SHIPYARD STORY –> What it Takes to Keep a Big Hatteras Going….#24”

  1. That was most entertaining. I closed my eyes and could almost visualize the processes. Thanks for sharing. You made me tired. Now I’m going to take a nap😴

  2. Wow, what list of duties you folks are covering…. You know what, this is a dream of a lifetime and you will enjoy sitting down with a good glass of wine and say “What an Adventure”… I so wish you all the very best and stay safe….. Joan

  3. Wow! That was such a long list to read, I can’t even imagine actually doing the work! If you ever bring her back to this area again – we look forward to seeing your shiny brand new boat! Continue to enjoy your dream! You both deserve this adventure. 😊

    1. Nice to hear from you, Marie. Hope all is well with you! Interior blog is almost done. So watch for it by end of week!! Miss you!

  4. Good luck with all the updates & repairs. So glad you found a shipyard you trust & can count on. Continued smooth seas & happiness. Cheers & blessings, The Robinson’s

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