Week 2 to-do list… almost check, and more!

We were able to accomplish almost everything on the to-do list and lots more last week. We couldn’t bed the deck organizers, because it rained on Wednesday, which was the only day Harriet could come to work on the boat. We will work it into this week’s schedule.

Last week, I spent all day Tuesday pre-aligning my engine. I needed to at least know where the mounts should end up so I could lift the engine again and drill holes to fill with structurally thickened epoxy.

I had ordered a feeler gauge for this.

First, I needed to align the shaft to the strut, so it wouldn’t grind against the strut while turning. Many shafts sag on the bottom of the strut while on the hard, as did mine. So for my 7/8″ shaft I bought a short length of wet exhaust hose with a 7/8″ internal diameter and slipped it between the shaft and strut.

This lifted the shaft off the strut, although it made it a bit too high in the other direction, so that will need slight adjustment after the boat splashes.

I spent most of the time cutting down more and more of the mounting surface so the engine could fit a fraction of a cm farther to starboard. For the lateral alignment, I had to use the comealong and lift the engine over and over, since my engine doesn’t have mounts that adjust side to side, only vertically. I ended up very sore later that night from this. Not only was I in an awkward position behind the engine, but I had to keep hopping out the companionway and down into the cabin onto a low stepping stool, since the ladder had been removed to access the engine. I must’ve done this 50-70 times that day!

The vertical alignment could be done with the mounts and was physically easier. It was just a long process of twisting the nuts another quarter turn here and there until my feeler gauge no longer fit anywhere, and then I moved down to the feeler of the next smallest thickness, and repeated.

I ended up getting it within .005″.

.005″ might be enough, given that I’ve got a Delrin coupling in between the prop shaft coupling and the engine coupling to allow a little flex. The official Shaft Saver coupling allows for alignment within .009″.

It is empowering to know that I am capable of aligning an engine myself, in case I am ever out there and have to do work that requires lifting up the engine. Still, I would like Meredith to fiddle with the final alignment and check my work, which she will do near the end of the month when the boat is in the water. This will also let us feel how the shaft wants to sit in the water.

Also last week, I re-installed my anchor chain locker bulkhead in preparation for Harriet to install the windlass this week.

First I built up a surface of epoxy putty at the corners and then wetted out some woven roving on top of it, bonding it to the hull and wood. I also put a bunch of epoxy on the front of the bulkhead.

There were some gaps up top. So I cut up some wood pieces and epoxied them into the gaps.

Meanwhile, Harriet bedded a stanchion that had been removed by the previous owner.

She also called Lewmar and got help identifying and taking apart the winch that will be my cabin top winch.

She drilled large holes for the bolts and filled them with epoxy.

She also removed the old Bakelite winches from the steel mounts near the stern, in preparation to install some more functional Barient winches that were given to me by the marina staff. These will go with my other 2 Barient winches, at the mid-cockpit on either side.

I came to the boat several times after work last week and this week too. I stayed till 3am last night and slept 2 hours. I’ll take tonight off so I can be fresh to work on my days off.

But I and a couple other friends got a lot accomplished that I forgot to put on my to-do list, including:

Determining placement of folding padeyes for jacklines.

Making lazy jacks:

Installing mast base plates for blocks (thanks Sam Fiore!)

Adding a real boom topping lift so I don’t have to use the main halyard.

Rigging a 4:1 outhaul and two reef lines on the boom:

And the grand finale…. thank you Meredith Anderson, the diesel mechanic who is also an artist, for painting my boat name!

Harriet will be painting turtles under or to the side of the words, which mean “Turtle” in Spanish. Also under the name on my transom it will say “Seattle, WA.”

S/V Tortuga Splash Potluck

Come join me for the launch of my sailboat, S/V Tortuga. (That translates to “turtle” in Spanish. She’s green, she’s slooooow, and she’s got a tough shell!) When I bought the boat in March 2018, she had a rotten core near the bow. I got right to work recoring her deck, and I finished that project in December. Since New Years I’ve worked more than 20 hours/week rebuilding this boat: all new electrical system, new rigging, and a re-built engine with new pink and gold paint!

Come join me for a potluck to culminate these of months of work, and to cheer me on for my goal of singlehanding the boat around Vancouver Island this August.

S/V Tortuga will launch at approximately 11:00 AM on July 24. We will gather under the boat at 10:30 with a potluck brunch and champagne, and then we’ll watch as the trailer truck hauls her over to the Travelift to lower her into the water.

The boat is located at South Park Marina across the parking lot from the marina office, one boat back and right outside the main tool shed.

Week One To-do List, Check!

Luckily this week I have the 4th of July off, because I had a big to-do list. I must’ve worked 35 hours on my boat since Sunday.

On Sunday evening after work, I hooked up the comealong that Ewan from the marina loaned me. I used two 2×4’s and a lot of dyneema rope. I practiced maneuvering the engine so I would be comfortable with the setup when the week’s work began.

On Tuesday morning, I began by epoxying the teak frame together for my engine gauge panel.

While that was curing, I began to work on the engine bed. I wanted to pre-align the engine as closely as possible before Meredith aligns it within .003″ later this month. I needed to pre-align the engine this week because I had to know how much of the mounting surface to cut away or add before glassing in the surface, which was on my list this week. So I spent most of Tuesday getting the alignment close enough so that it looks perfect to the naked eye.

Here’s how it was in the beginning:

It was about 3″ too high which meant I needed to cut down the entire mounting surface under the forward mounts. I did this bit by bit with my multi tool:

Also after consulting with a couple experts, I have realized I don’t need to make the mock-up for new engine mount brackets because the old brackets and mounts will just barely fit in the hull.

Both my sources think it’s not ideal, but ok that they are in this position.

This is also a relief because now I know the mounts will not get in the way of my gear shift, as they might have if I’d made the mounts to fit next to the transmission.

Also, I’ve come to realize that Coosa board was not the ideal engine bed material, because it’s soft and doesn’t tap well. It’s important to have a good tap on the lag bolts holding down the engine mounts so they don’t get loose, ruining the alignment and other issues.

But after consulting with my friend Paul, we’ve got a solution. I will drill large holes under the mounts. I will buy these threaded stainless insert sleeves or something similar.

I will rough up the outside of the metal so the epoxy has more to grab onto and I will thicken the epoxy with sawdust. I will seal the sleeves with putty so when I pour the epoxy around it, it will stay on the outside only. Then the bolts holding down the mounts will screw into the sleeves. That way, I won’t have to worry about tapping the Coosa board at all!

As for the forward mounts, there is no longer any Coosa board to worry about, since I cut it all away. I can tap directly into the thick fiberglass and even put a metal backing plate on the underside of the surface.

On Wednesday, Harriet came to help me (bless her heart!) bed more deck hardware. She drilled and filled the holes for my clutches with epoxy.

Meanwhile, I epoxied the frame onto the engine gauge panel:

While that was curing, I cut three layers of thick woven roving. The first two layers were for support and did not fold over the side. The third layer was larger so it could bond to all the edges for maximum surface area.

Also on Wednesday, I put a fourth layer of chopped strand over the cored deck at the bow, to prep the surface to install the anchor chain locker bulkhead:

On Thursday, the *amazing* Harriet came back again to help me. She got straight to work bedding the stern rail. This is how it looked when she was done:

We put caulk on the nuts and fender washers underneath this time, because the previous things we bedded were leaking. Since this area of the deck is not cored, we don’t have to worry about water getting in through the deck and stopping at the inside washers. It’s not an ideal or permanent solution, but it’s what we have time to do right now.

While Harriet did that, I installed my engine gauge panel into the boat:

It took longer than I thought it would. Since everything was closed on the 4th I had to drive to Tukwila to buy some brass screws. When I came back, I managed to mess up the screws in several ways (stripping, breaking off) since brass is a soft metal. Luckily I bought extra.

Another issue was that the teak frame was just barely tall enough to cover the top and bottom of the hole (it’s hard to find wide slats of plain teak), so I put a ton of caulk to make sure it was all sealed up. Again, a not ideal but temporary solution.

I led the engine harness down through the hole to the engine compartment:

After that, I turned my attention to the final layer of fiberglass to complete my deck core under the anchor chain locker bulkhead. For this I used woven roving, because it is more flexible and is typically used for the outermost layer, when the edges must be folded down outside the whole surface, to glass the whole thing in. Then I wetted it all out with epoxy:

Meanwhile, Harriet drilled holes for and bedded my clutches, also using caulk both outside and inside the boat.

Even though this part of the deck is cored, we drilled through epoxy not core, so the core is protected from moisture.

A huuuuuge thank you to Harriet for spending so much of her free time this summer helping me meet my deadlines!

Lastly on Thursday night, I glassed in the final layer of woven roving for the engine bed.

Boat To-Do List/My 5-week Plan

Week 1 (June 30):

Make mock-up for engine mount brackets and take to machine shop

Glass in mounting surface

Prepare cored deck for bulkhead reinstallation

Install engine gauge panel

Install drip pan

Harriet Evans: bed clutches, stern rail

Cary Kaczowka: replace corroded jib Hanks

Week 2 (July 7):

Re-install anchor chain locker bulkhead

Test transmission seals

Install new engine brackets and mounts

Connect and buy starter/alternator wires and connect panel

Harriet: bed deck organizers, winch, mast base blocks

Week 3 (July 14):

Connect/buy engine thru hull hoses

Seal hoses against leaks

Fill engine with oil and fluid

Install temp fuel tank and extra jerry cans

Meredith Anderson: engine alignment

Harriet: bed padeyes for jacklines, install windlass

Week 4 (July 21):

Install solar panel and charge controller

Make sure everything has the right fuse and ground wire

Install DC outlet

Install bilge pump

Re-connect chart light

Connect Vesper, transducer, AIS antenna

Have boat put in water

Harriet: install bow roller

Week 5 (July 28):

Assemble lazy jacks/mainsail

Buy food and stove alcohol

Stick on tabs and sponsors’ stickers

Practice maneuvering boat

Harriet And Meredith: paint boat name/turtle

Borrow Sarah Elmore’s inflatable kayak

Remember passport!!!

August 1: Leave!

Thanks, mom!

My mother deserves a special thank you blog because she has volunteered to do my laundry from now until August 1, when I leave on my Vancouver Island trip. This will do a great deal to make my life easier and to feel that I don’t have an endless amount of things to worry about, all the time!

Thanks, Harriet!

My girlfriend has helped me so much in the past couple weeks. She has installed two Genoa tracks and also my traveler track. She drilled through the deck to see how thick it was. Then she went to Tacoma Screw to figure out what size bolts, nuts, and washers were needed. She drilled holes and applied caulk. The only thing she needed me for was to have me go inside the boat and screw on the nuts while she kept the screws in place with a screw driver.

These are the Genoa tracks she installed last week.

Here are some pics of the nuts going down into the cabin:

Also, a shout out to Ewan from South Park Marina for giving me the 12′, 1 1/4″ Genoa track that he had laying around at the marina, as well as two very nice twin sheet Genoa cars that just need a little lubricant on the sheaves. (I cut the track in half with my oscillating multi tool before Harriet bedded it.)

I think soon, following the advice of a sailmaker friend, we will replace those regular washers with fender washers, to distribute the load across more backing surface.

Here are the pics of the traveler track system, which Harriet installed yesterday. For this, we did use fender washers.

When she was all done, I was the one to crawl into the stern lazarette to put on the fender washers and nuts while she held screws, because I am much shorter and smaller than Harriet and it was a tight fit. I’m still sore from stretching in such weird ways!

Engine is in!

I worked for the past 2 days to finish my engine bed modifications. I cut spaces to make room for the flywheel, bottom of engine block, and forward mounting bracket.

The next task was to ready my engine to fit through the access hatch in the cockpit floor, since the marina would be hoisting it in with a crane on Wednesday at 3:30pm. With the starter, heat exchanger, alternator, forward mounts, coolant reservoir, and freshwater pump, the width of the engine was 2′. However the width of the hatch was 1′ 6″. So on Wednesday morning, I removed all these accessories from my engine to bring the width down to 1′ 3″.

Then the length from the back of the transmission coupling to the front of the engine was 2′ 4″, but the hatch was only 2′. There was no way I was removing my entire transmission from my engine. I had already taken apart the gearbox several times and that was enough! The last thing I needed to do was ruin the gasket between the transmission and flywheel and then not be able to get another one before my trip! So the guys at the marina had to tilt the engine backward to get the transmission through. It was actually pretty easy for them to do. Here’s a video of it going in!

And here is a pic of the engine inside the boat. It fits like a glove!

What I have to do now is measure the space where I want the rear mounting brackets to go and make a mock-up out of plywood, take the mock-up to Collins Machine Shop, and have them made. I also have to glass in the mounting surface with several layers of woven roving. To do this I will have two 2x4s stacked on top of each other and spread across the seats of the cockpit. From that I will hang a pulley system of four double blocks to adjust the engine. Four doubles will give me a purchase ratio of 8:1. In other words, if the engine weighs 200LB-ish without the accessories, it will feel like I’m lifting 25LB.

BTW, Collins Machine Shop did a great job making me a spacer coupling for my shaft out of Delrin.

I was going to use a Shaft Saver coupling my friend Robert Neefus donated (thanks again!), but we found that there was no way to make it align with the grooves in my shaft and transmission couplings.

Thanks again, Fisheries!

Fisheries and Vesper have donated to me a stand-alone AIS transponder for my trip! For those reading who don’t know what AIS is, it will show me where the big container ships are after dark or in foggy weather, whether we are on a collision course, etc. This one has a bunch of other features like waypoint radius tracking.

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: