“Sionna” – A Yacht Enters a New Chapter

I’ve noted – with some surprise – that in the last week four new folks have followed this blog.

Surprise because I haven’t written anything fresh since the end of January, and because my last post spoke of the effective demise of Renaissance and a complete course change for us.

But I also hinted at the next steps for us, so I figured, “Why not?”  Why not write a little about this new path to the old goal?

We closed on our “new” boat on March 16th, and the first task was to look over the survey and the requirements of the insurance company and decide what work we needed to do.

If you haven’t owned a boat, or insured one, you might think it would be like owning a car. Fix it when it breaks down, and insure it by making a phone call.  But boats are different.

Our insurance policy was issued based on the pre-purchase survey – a pretty common method. And listed work we MUST complete in order to have the boat insured for use.  This is called a “Port Risk Policy”, or PRO.  We are insured, but the boat cannot be operated, cannot be moved, can’t even be launched without specific permission from the insurance company until those items which THEY think are important have been completed. It’s an interesting list, since they marked as “critical” items which seem to be trivial (non-structural crack in the finish on the deck), and didn’t even notice things like a loose centerboard pin (a critical piece of hardware if there ever was one!)   But that’s the insurance industry for you.

So my initial worklist looked like this:

  1. Bottom prep – lightly roughening the surface to assure that a new coat will stick, then rolling on one coat of Neptune (water-based) bottom paint.
  2. *Repair two deck cracks at forward corners of aft cabin (exterior surface).
  3. Remove, inspect and reinstall forward center-board pivot pin, patch and fair around pin.
  4. Reinstall bilge drain plug, boat cushions, sails, awning, etc.
  5. *Correct oil leak in Evolution shaft system
  6. *Ground fuel tank fills
  7. Assess and secure steering wheel shaft coupling
  8. *Replace hose for aft sink drain
  9. Install double hose clamps in two locations
  10. Clean and lubricate thru-hulls.
  11. *Remove, inspect, and reinstall 2 main chainplates to confirm good condition.
  12. *Repair main boom gooseneck fitting
  13. *Repair mizzen outhaul track
  14. *Replace nylon and polypropylene running rigging with Dacron.
  15. *Replace forward cabin-house port-light
  16. Install fire and CO alarms in main and aft cabins
  17. *Repair Charlie Noble
  18. Update portable fire extinguishers

All of those are now done, with the exception of the two fiberglass repair items – those are having to wait until it warms up enough to apply resin. IN the mean time, though, the true nature of boats comes out. Each item completed suggests several others that “would be a good idea” – or even MUST be done.

Like the bilge pump. Sionna has – or rather HAD – two.  The manual pump (always a good idea) was installed in the last five years, and looks great. The electric pump was said to be installed, but nobody had ever actually seen it…  I discovered that by kneeling next to the starboard side of the engine, and wedging my head and shoulders between the front of the engine and the water heater, I could actually reach into the bilge far enough to touch a small lump of plastic with a piece of wire on it.  This I pulled out, to discover a very small, very sad electric bilge pump which might – in it’s prime – have been sufficient to de-water a canoe…   …but never a 32′, 12,000 pound sailboat.

Add “replace electric bilge pump and float switch.” Plus the hoses, plus change the outlet so that the new, 2000gal/hour pump is discharging through a large enough hull fitting. And re-plumb the ice-box drain, adding a new sump for that so that the melting ice doesn’t drip into the bilge. And maybe we should also change the fan and water pump belts on the engine. And the impeller on the engine water pump. And since we’ve got the prop shaft out to replace the seals, we really should replace the flex-couplings in the drive because they’re out anyway and it’s been 10 years or more…

This is how buying a boat looks. Every time.  Even when you think the boat is in “sail-away condition” – it’s not.

On the flip side, I’m told new boats are even worse, but I’ll never know.  So far I think I have about 150 hours in these projects, and I’m not done yet. IF I were paying to have the work done, local shop rates are in the $75-$90/hr range, so we’d be looking at a labor charge of between $11,250 and $13,500.  This is when being a handy fellow really comes in handy!


One thought on ““Sionna” – A Yacht Enters a New Chapter

  1. I definitely followed as you “popped up” on a Flipboard page last week…and it looked a great story too. FWIW, I’m impressed by your decision-making and common sense. So many projects start well and end as disasters because people don’t do the analysis you did early enough. Good luck with the new project!

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