Puget Sound Cruising Club talk

I will be speaking at the Puget Sound Cruising Club meeting this Friday, 7:30PM at North Seattle College. From the description on their website:

“Sarah Scott has an inspiring story! A few years ago she watched Maiden Trip on Netflix, the documentary about Laura Dekker, the thirteen year old Dutch girl setting out to circumnavigate. It hooked and intrigued her, and she bought a Catalina 27 to live aboard and learn to sail. Now she is rebuilding a Rawson 30, re-named s/v Tortuga, working at Fisheries Supply, involved with the Coho Ho Ho Rally, and planning her own circumnavigation, first around Vancouver Island later this summer-whew! She will bring supportive stories and lots of project pictures, what a lot of learning, and a real role model! Sarah Scott shares her dream of becoming the first black woman to circumnavigate the globe solo. Download the 48 North Article – PDF.”



How to track my progress around Vancouver Island

I wanted to share with you a public Facebook page I created to track my waypoints when I singlehand around Vancouver Island this August and September. I’m using the Garmin InReach Explorer+ that Fisheries Supply has graciously donated for my campaign to become the first Black woman to circumnavigate the globe solo (the InReach will only post to a public page, which is why I started it). Thanks to the InReach, I’ll feel safe to know that I can communicate not only an SOS, but also send text messages to my diesel mechanic, weather expert, and friends and family in case I need help with anything. And, I can check marine weather reports, too!

I’ll be posting waypoints and other updates about my trip and boat work on this Facebook page as well:


The InReach will also let me post on Twitter if anyone prefers that:


Engine bed modification

I’ve been busy for the past few weeks modifying my engine bed. The reason I had to do this is that the engine that came with the boat has never been in the boat before. The previous owner told me that the old engine was a Volvo, as is the new one, but it was a different model. So the mounts were placed differently. Now the front mounts are about 16″ apart even though the engine beds were only 12″ apart. To accommodate that, I built up the surface on the outside of the bed using Coosa Board.

Since the engine bed was at an angle, I had to stack up several 1″ thick pieces on each side and then fair down the whole surface on top until it was flush, leaving each piece a bit too tall, to account for error.

I will really fair it down flat when I’ve got it all in place.

As for the rear mounts, they were located next to the flywheel, also 16″ apart.

I couldn’t install the rear engine mounts as they are because the hull is so narrow in that place that they would not fit in the boat. The only way to fit them is to have new mounting brackets made so the mounts will be hugging the sides of the transmission, 7″-8″ apart, which should fit on my new surface. I extended the surface back to 1″ in front of the prop shaft coupling and I narrowed it, too.

Since Coosa Board is a softer material than G2, etc. I filled and drilled the holes for the bolts so they would tap better than they would if going directly into the Coosa Board. First I used the West System epoxy but I didn’t like how much it bubbled (first pic). The second below pic is when I re-drilled the holes and used Gel Magic, which is pre-thickened and doesn’t bubble at all. In the second attempt I also changed the hole placement.

I changed the hole placement because there is a piece of metal in between to function as a support that I will be bolting in.

I’ve got seven 3/8″ hex bolts for each side piece. I realized I should place as many holes as possible so that I can reach around the backside to put nuts on as many bolts as I can. The more bolts I can use than tapping screws, the better. Further back than that, I will have to use tapping screws to secure the metal plate.

Here was the test fit of the side pieces with the bolts:

Those bolts will be recessed into the fiberglass when I glass all this in. I got some spade drill bits to make sure I can recess the surface enough so they aren’t sticking out or in the way of anything.

And then I cut some small pieces of Coosa Board and faired it down on the sides to the shape of the Hull, to fill in the space left on the side:

Here is the whole surface right before I began to epoxy everything together.

I’ve since decided that one of the pieces on the right was not cut well enough so I re-cut it.

On Wednesday it was over 90 degrees in Seattle and probably closer to 100 inside my boat. My fan was not hooked up yet. But I had to keep working if I was going to stick to my deadline. I epoxied my pieces in place.

I used the Gel Magic epoxy putty for the vertical parts to keep it from running out the bottom and I used West System’s lower viscosity epoxy for the horizontal parts because it won’t run as much if horizontal and doesn’t need to be thickened. The advantage of West System over Gel Magic in almost 100 degree weather is that an exothermic reaction will happen slower with thinner epoxy because there is more flowing and movement so more heat can escape. (And it did happen to both epoxies while I was working. I touched the epoxy about half hour after I applied it and it was already hard in every spot I touched.) Also West System is cheaper for the amount you get so unless the other option is better for an application, why not save $?

I have to finish epoxying next time I go to my boat. I also have to cut a big hole to make room for the flywheel. After that I have to create a plywood mock-up of new engine mount brackets. Then I will take the mock-up to Collins Machine shop near South Park Marina, where Mike Collins has said he will make them for a very reasonable price. (He’s also going to drill new holes in my prop shaft coupling so they will match the transmission coupling.)

I was originally thinking I’d have the new brackets made *before* I put the engine in the boat, and also that I’d glass in the Coosa Board with several layers of fiberglass mat and resin before getting the engine hoisted up there. Now I’m thinking it’ll be better to do both things after I’ve got the engine hanging down in the engine compartment from the boom (or sitting supported on some blocks stacked up in the bilge), so I can see where things will line up. Then I can modify the Coosa Board here and there if I need to before glassing it in.

It’s pretty exciting because I’ll have the engine in the boat in a couple weeks now probably, which was the last major thing on my list. After that, everything will just be tweaking, hooking up wires, and other minor projects. Meredith will align it so I don’t have to do that!

Wish List for Vancouver Island

33LB anchor (Rocna or Mantus)

50′ of 3/8″ anchor chain

Bow roller for Rocna or Mantus

Mantus Anchor Mate

Sun Power semi-flexible solar panel, 50W

Victron 75/10 MPPT solar charge controller

Waterproof paint for boat name

Deck organizers and single swivel blocks

Offshore First aid kit

Non-perishable food

Tiller Pilot

Spare Alternator

Labor for installation of above

Cash donations

My GoFundMe

Transmission Rebuild, Take 3

It was a few weeks after Meredith and I had successfully started my engine, and I had to take apart my transmission again to change the shaft coupling. When the engine ran, there was an oily shine on the coupling that looked suspicious like something was wrong with the seal. I knew I should deal with this before I put the engine in the boat.

I had bought a new coupling and installed it the first time I put the transmission back together. When I took apart the transmission for the second time, I stupidly installed the same shaft seal again thinking it still looked perfect. This in spite of the fact that I had pried it out with a chisel. I should’ve just spent ten bucks on another one to be sure.

I removed the raw water hoses from the transmission and… no! There was more milky oil coming out the raw water fitting! WTF was the problem now? This could not be because of the shaft seal because it had nothing to do with separating the oil from the water. There was some other problem. There was no way that braise in my cooling water pipe could have ruptured again because the guy at Seattle Radiator Works told me he had tested his work to make sure it was 100%. It must be something little like the new o rings I had put in. Maybe one was crooked, since the oil was only coming out one side.

So last week, I began the necessary work: I drained out all the transmission oil. This time I used a 60cc syringe with a foot of 1/4″ potable water hose jammed onto the end of it, which just barely fit into my dipstick tube.

This was better than my PELA oil extractor, because I didn’t have time to heat up the engine oil by turning on the engine and the extractor had such a long, small opening it would’ve taken me over an hour to get a liter of cold, thick oil out of it. This only took me around 20 minutes.


After the oil was drained, I pulled off the back of the gear box and separated all the gears. Since it was my 3rd time, I was able to do everything on my own. I used the puller and the chain vice and the big hammer without any help.


When I took the inlet/outlet fitting for the cooling water off the transmission, sure enough, one of the o rings was crooked and was going right across the opening of the pipe. It also slid on and off the pipe kind of loose, and it seemed like it should be snug. Maybe they gave me a slightly wrong size when I got the o rings replaced?

After everything was taken apart, I cleaned it. I noticed tiny dots of what seemed like rust on the gears which was concerning. It must be from the water being in where there was supposed to be only oil. Or maybe I was using the wrong type of grease? I was using red grease.

I went to OMNI Packing and Seal Co. in SODO and asked the guy at the desk to give me 2 O rings that had a slightly smaller inner diameter with the same outer diameter, 2 O rings that had the same inner diameter with a slightly bigger outer diameter, and 2 O rings that had slightly bigger inner and outer diameters.

When I was ready to put everything back together, I enlisted my friend Paul to get his opinion on which O ring looked like the best fit. He had trouble deciding and I told him I liked the one with the same outer diameter and the smaller inner diameter. It was nice and snug against the pipe and it filled the whole recessed area in the bronze. Paul said that sounded good. He also let me use his white calcium grease because that was what Coastal Marine had just told me to use over the phone.

Also, Paul showed me the larger o ring he found in his workspace from the last time we took apart my transmission. It was supposed to be up against there bearings underneath the shaft seal. Mystery solved for that oily sheen on the coupling!

Since the new O rings were tighter, we had a hard time getting them to stay on the edges of the pipe long enough to screw down the brass plate, so we both simultaneously got the idea to hold a knife blade over it while we put the fitting over it and then immediately slide out the knife. That worked. When I screwed down the plate, Paul looked through the small opening all around the edge to confirm that he could still see O ring at all angles, which means it didn’t slip over the pipe.

I put the transmission back together. I haven’t filled it with oil yet, but I see no reason for this to happen again. Then again, I didn’t see one last time either. Regardless, I’m putting the engine in the boat, because now that I’ve measured the space I know I could remove the transmission again if I ever have to.

30 hours in 3 days!

I had Memorial Day off right before my weekend on Tues-Wed, and I spent the whole time doing boat work. I started Monday by re-taping my old Vacumaster bag because I couldn’t find the new ones I bought on Amazon several months ago:


Then I cleaned out the vacuum and the HEPA filter so that I could vacuum the bilge under the engine compartment, because I was about to start a big project in there. I was going to build out my engine bed to fit the mounts of my engine, since this engine has never been in this boat before.

Last week, I had drawn out some blueprints for what things look like now, what I want them to look like, and what the engine will look like when it goes in the boat.


I did this because I have enlisted the help of my friend Patrick on this project, and that is what he asked for. Although Patrick is not a boater, he is a retired union carpenter and so he knows a thing or two about how to build up a space and make it structurally sound.

On Monday I scrubbed and cleaned everything I could in the bilge, although in retrospect I should’ve just waited because I was just going to make another mess sanding down the surfaces.

On Wednesday morning, I bought a 4′ x 4′ piece of 1″ Bluewater 26 Coosa Board at Fisheries, which I would use to build out the surface.

I also bought some metal with holes in it which I planned to mount between the engine bed and the panels I would use to build out the surface. This was important for strength.

When Patrick came, he brought an impact gun and a portable table saw.


We spent several hours just strategizing. I had to do some measurements, like exactly how far back the propeller should be from the rudder so we would know how far back to mount the engine. Also I had to know where to cut the hole to fit the flywheel, which would taper down a few inches below the engine bed and would not fit between the sides of the engine bed.

At one point I thought I knew what I wanted to do: I wanted to cut a small piece of Coosa board and attach it to the back of the engine bed and then fill in the corner with epoxy. Then I would epoxy fiberglass over it to strengthen it. So we cut a small piece to that shape. (See the rear dotted surface in the middle blueprint photo above.)

But then Patrick said he thought it was not structural and it looked flimsy. He had an idea. We would cut two large pieces to the shape of the inner walls of the engine bed and install them going the whole length of the engine bed. It was ok if I had to cut out some material later to install the flywheel, because at least everything around the cut would be continuous instead of just having one thing hang on the back.

We put up a test fitting of one side using Patrick’s impact driver to drill the long tapping screws through everything.


We realized it should be moved a few inches back and that it was ok to not start exactly at the front of the engine bed.

By this time we had been working all day even though we didn’t get a lot done physically, because this job requires so much strategy, measurement, and discussion. But at least now we know where we are going and what to do. Patrick is going to meet me at the boat again tonight (Saturday) and we are going to finish test fitting the pieces, and then Meredith will be coming out on Sunday night to also help me.