Washing Day.

I guess this comes under the category of “First World Problems,” but yesterday our laundry machine came to a clanking halt. Checking carefully, we found the drum would turn a few times, then jam. This machine is 25 years old, and although it has been well cared for by people who knew how these things worked, everything dies eventually. We started looking for a replacement.

There were two problems. Our main electrical system on the boat is 220 Volts, so being currently in the USA we are at a disadvantage, but there are some suppliers of 220 Volt appliances. The second problem was bigger: The size. It is tiny. And the space available requires a very small unit. We were not able to find anything that could fit. The good people on the Amel Forum steered us to a modern unit that would fit, but wasn’t available in the USA, and cost about US$1000–before shipping from Europe. Ouch. So… it might be time to try to breathe life into the old girl one more time.

The good news is that this model is a good, old fashioned, electro-mechanical machine. No software. No silicon chips. No mother boards. Just relays, switches, timers, cams, gears, and pushrods. Once you get it apart, the way everything works is right there to see and understand. So we hauled her up into the cockpit, and attacked with screwdriver and wrench.

When you first open one of these up, it is a bit intimidating. Wires running all over. Mysterious widgets. But with a bit of study, you start to see the logic. A pulls on B, and X turns, and before long it makes sense.

A Happy Washer Repair Man.

After a full disassembly and cleaning all the parts went back together–and it WORKS.

We know that this machine, made 25 years ago in Austria, has a finite amount of life left. Parts are no longer available–as far as I can find. But, we have postponed the day of reckoning out into the future once again, and nothing looks ready to break. We can avoid doing laundry in a bucket for at least a bit longer!

In another piece of good news, in taking everything apart, we found that the water hose feeding the washer had chafed, almost all the way through! We could have had a great flood dumping all our fresh water into the bilge. Another example of why taking things apart on a boat is a good thing.

It was entertaining to open the machine up and find notes inside in the pervious owner’s handwriting about how to reconnect the wires. Yes, Don, I do know your handwriting!

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That Worked Out!

I had alluded to the possibility of us needing to move the boat away from this marina due to infrastructure work that was coming up. For a lot of reasons, that would have been a pain in the butt. Well, we dodged that bullet.

Karen worked her network of friends here, masterfully, and managed to secure us one of the very few spots left for a boat of our size. Yesterday we moved the boat out of the way of the construction, and settled in to our new, temporary home on the other side of the marina.

Project Status

We continue to work hard on projects that are not immediately critical, but might just be lifestyle enhancing (like our air conditioners!), or cosmetic and/or value adding to the boat (like refinishing our saloon table). The big, and important, job left is replacing the standing rigging.

The wires that support Harmonie’s mast are now 14 years old. With one circumnavigation on them, they were on our schedule to retire next year, for their 15th birthday. Unfortunately, the need to find a new insurance company requires us to push that ahead to this year. We have pulled the trigger with the local rigger, the parts have been ordered, and assembly started. By the middle of this coming week, they will be going up and down the mast replacing wires.

In the past couple of days, we got our boat speed transducer up and running again, our space all prepped for our new air conditioner so it can just drop in when we pick it up on Monday, our flexible propane line to the stove replaced, the rudder shaft repacked, and a bunch more things done. Karen has been scrubbing her fingers to the bone getting weeks and weeks of boatyard dirt off the deck. For an older boat, she really sparkles.

Also coming up this week is the big Miami Boat Show. In the last few years this show has shrunk dramatically as a sailboat show, but it is still huge, and all of the major suppliers and manufacturers are there with their latest and greatest toys. We have a couple of things we need to look at there to evaluate for future projects, and a few things we’ll be shopping for–if we have any money left after this busy refit season!

Our main saloon torn up as part of our air conditioner replacement
The forward berth is a jumble when things are shuffling out of the way of today’s project.
Trying to avoid making a mess when installing the new side windows.

Insurance Update

Insurance evaluation continues to take a lot of time. Over the past several years the marine insurance business has been roiled by higher than normal losses. Many companies have left the business, or greatly restricted the scope of policies they will write, so we are hardly unique in needing to re-shop something we thought we had sorted out.

We now have two policies in the running. They have different pros and cons, and quite different prices. Both touch down on the right side of most or all of our most significant issues. Once we get everything assembled we’ll post our thinking on this.

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More with Insurance…

We are having had soooo much fun with boat insurance. We are learning a lot, and are rapidly weeding out policies based on what we are learning about insurance companies, their policies, and their brokers. Not a lot of what we are learning is pretty.

Most marine insurance policies are treated as “warranty” policies. Some of the warranties are explicit. For example, the person buying the insurance “warrantees” that all the information supplied on the application is true, and remains true for the duration of the policy. Other types of warranty are “implicit” and are not part of your policy or application, but have been found by the Federal Admiralty Courts to apply to marine insurance as a matter of law without being spelled out in words. For example the “Warranty of Seaworthiness” means the boat is maintained in a condition of seaworthiness suitable for the waters she normally sails in. If not, the policy is void for all losses.

Our most recent learning has been about the way your “home port” and your “cruising region” are treated. You would think that if your policy specified a “cruising region” from Georgia to Maine, and listed a home port of Annapolis, Maryland you would be covered anywhere from Maine to Georgia. Well… yes, and no.

The secret catch is that some parts of your policy are priced based on your home port. For example, the risk of hurricane damage. Although it is nowhere stated in the policy, the assumption is that you are covered for a “named storm” ONLY at the home port described in your storm plan. One of the things you implicitly warrantied was that you would be there during a storm. Did you know that? If not…Surprise! If you are in Maine, and the storm plan you filed with your insurance company lists Annapolis as your home port… you might NOT be covered in Maine for storm damage.

If you are in Maine and a storm approaches, you can call and update your storm plan, and have them reprice your policy for your new location. That’s an option. IF they approve your new storm plan and IF they give you a fair price as the storm approaches…

For 99.9% of all boats the concept of the “home port” isn’t a big deal or a serious limitation. Few boats ever travel far enough from their home dock that they risk getting “caught out” by a named storm, so it’s not an issue. For the tiny fraction of boats like us without a “fixed address” who can’t really predict where we will be when, the whole thing is highly problematic.

Not all polices work this way. Our old policy did not, and so far we have found ONE policy that is written in a way that seems to be about right for us. There is more coming. Hopefully we can sort all this out by the end of the month.

Evicted?

We did get a Surprise! of our own yesterday. At 4:59 PM (on Friday!) the office here at LMC sent an email telling us that they were going to be dredging the east basin of the yard (where we are docked) and we had to move by February 14th. Move as in, “Go away, we have no room for you–anywhere.” Karen has appealed, and gotten our case on the agenda for the Monday planning meeting. The primary issue here for us is that our rigging contractor has promised February 14th as our “done” date for that major project. The expectation that this happens 100% on time seems to be unduly optimistic. As much as we want to leave here, we had hoped that it would be on our choice of days…

In any event, we’ll figure it out…

We continue to make project progress, although it does seem that we add two new for every “Done” we cross off the list, but that’s a boat.

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A LONG List

You haven’t seen a lot of postings here from us for the past several weeks. We have been BUSY. This has been the most intense (and expensive!) maintenance and project stopover we have yet had on Harmonie. She is getting older (like us) and needs more TLC (like us!) and some things were just unlucky timing with several big projects that needed doing at the same time.

There are almost no maintenance or repair projects we postpone while we are here in Fort Lauderdale. The supply and service infrastructure here is better than anywhere else we go, so it makes sense to fix EVERYTHING that needs fixing, or is showing signs of age. Most of these are things we had on our card before we arrived, but there are always extra things that come up when you start taking a boat apart. Then there are the “Surprise!” events–like needing to find a new insurance company–that just add to the fun.

Here for your reading pleasure(?) is what I am sure is an incomplete list of the projects we have been working on since we arrived here in Florida. Not all of these are finished (yet), but it will give you an idea how we have been spending the last 9 weeks. Projects with a (*) preceding them are ones we farmed out to local contractors. Everything else we have done ourselves. I am sure in the time left, we will add a few more. So… in no special order….

  1. Change oil and seals in bow thruster.
  2. Change oil and seals in “C-Drive”
  3. Disassemble, and re-grease prop.
  4. New rudder zincs
  5. (*)New bottom paint
  6. (*)Buff and wax topsides
  7. (*)Rebuild turbocharger on drive engine
  8. New exhaust elbow on drive engine
  9. New transmission on drive engine
  10. New exhaust elbow on generator
  11. Fix raw water leak on generator
  12. Install back up bilge pump.
  13. Replace failing main saloon air conditioner
  14. (*)Insurance survey
  15. New fixed ports in all cabins, and repair sun damaged interior wood
  16. New thermostats for both freezers
  17. New level gauge for aft head holding tank
  18. Replace packing on rudder shaft.
  19. Replace battery in PLB EPRIB
  20. New Main Epirb
  21. Repair cockpit speaker for VHF radio
  22. Change zincs on engine and generator
  23. Update radio registrations and licenses
  24. Renew HMS permit for offshore fishing
  25. Replace thru-hull for aft holding tank vent
  26. Rebed lens in forward cabin hatch
  27. Realign door on fridge.
  28. New hatch, screen and blinds for main saloon
  29. New secondary anchor
  30. Repair steaming light
  31. Refinish forward head hatch frame
  32. New main traveler control line
  33. (*)Various sail repairs
  34. Canvas repairs to dodger
  35. New propane hose for stove
  36. (*)New standing rigging
  37. (*)Major deck repair
  38. (*)Liferaft service.
  39. Annual review of abandon ship ditch bag
  40. New LED screen on autopilot
  41. Replace various hoses and belts on engines.
  42. Improvements to anchor chain lead to winch.
  43. Repair/replace water speed transducer.
  44. Repair mount of aft cabin space heater
  45. Add CO/smoke alarms to each cabin

It is interesting what is NOT on the list. Almost no electrical repairs or upgrades. No significant repairs or upgrades to deck hardware. Almost nothing that we have upgraded or repaired before. It’s nice to see projects and upgrades we have done in the past are holding up and working as they should.

Pretty much as we expected, the survey in support of the new insurance came back with just a few trival recommendations, so that added nothing to our project backlog. Having that in hand means we can move ahead with the last of the insurance quotes and make a decision on that front.

While being productive and improving our boat is a good and rewarding thing, we are very much itching to get out of here. While we do like the local area, the scenery at the boatyard is NOT what we want to be looking at from the deck of Harmonie. A remote and lonely anchorage in the islands is the much preferred choice. Soon. Very soon!

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Insurance Examples

A few days ago we started seriously searching for a new insurance policy because our old underwriters have quit the business. We are shopping with nine different insurance companies and been learning a lot. Reading through policy language is tedious, but important. Here are similar clauses from two insurance policies that we have been quoted:

We will not cover loss or damage due to: Wear and tear, gradual deterioration, inherent vice, corrosion, damage due to changes in humidity or temperature or mechanical or electrical failure.

Policy Number One

This insurance does not cover: any cost of repair or replacement of a part which fails directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, as a result of a latent defect in manufacture or construction; however, we will cover consequential property damage that results from such failure if not otherwise excluded;

Policy Number Two

Some complicated and legal language here. I am not a lawyer, and nothing here is to be taken as legal advice, but there are some very important things here you need to understand if you are shopping for policies.

The terms “inherent vice” and “latent defect” are very similar. Basically they describe a flaw in the design and/or construction of the vessel or its equipment that is not immediately apparent to a knowledgable person using normal tools.

Let’s imagine a scenario: There is an underwater fitting on your boat that has a casting flaw. It is not visible to the naked eye, or to any simple test method that might normally be employed. On a dark night, while tied to the dock, the fitting cracks, and the boat floods and sinks. When the boat is salvaged, and inspected the cause of the sinking is now easy to see. The fitting had an “inherent vice” or a “latent defect.”

The company that wrote Policy Number One says: “So Sorry. Not Covered.” Your boat just sank–though no fault of yours–and you get nothing, zip, zero, bupkis. The entire loss due to an “inherent vice” is not covered, period, full stop.

Think about this for a moment. This is exactly the kind of event that you THINK you are buying insurance for, and it is fully excluded from any payment by language that is unintelligible to the average boat owner. (You just read this, you aren’t average any more!) What makes this really important, is that it is a really common exclusion to coverages in marine policies.

Policy Number Two says: We will not pay to replace the broken fitting because it had an inherent defect, but we WILL cover the damages that are a CONSEQUENCE of the failure, i.e., the sinking and it’s associated costs. The is the kind of thing we are actually looking for.

Both policies are honest about what they cover, but only a VERY educated consumer or lawyer might understand the difference. Which one would you rather have?

Oh, and Policy Number One is MORE expensive than Number Two. Go figure.

Here is another tricky one to watch for. Almost all marinas and boatyards require you to sign a contract that waives their responsibility for your boat. If you want to have your boat hauled you typically have little choice but to sign or walk.

Unfortunately many policies expressly forbid you from signing such a contract. Policy Number One has the following clause:

Ensure the yard and/or other contractors impose no contractual exclusion(s) or limitation(s) of liability, nor any waiver or other limitation(s) of our subrogated rights of recovery.

Policy Number One

Imagine you sign such a contract, your boat is being hauled, and the boatyard drops it. They refuse to accept responsibility for it, and send YOU the bill for removing the resulting wreck. The insurance company that wrote Policy Number One would then REFUSE your claim because you waived their right of recovery. Surprise! You have no boat, AND a huge bill to pay with a lawsuit against the boatyard as your only recourse. Ouch!

In case you haven’t guessed by now, Policy Number One is off our list for consideration. That leaves eight!

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Keeping the engine ticking

We arrived here in Fort Lauderdale knowing we needed either a new or rebuilt transmission. That was as expected. Getting a new one was the cost effective thing to do. Of course, it’s a boat, so there is ALWAYS something else to do.

Removing the old transmission meant moving the engine a few inches aft. This was pretty easily accomplished with a small bottle jack. One of the things I found as I moved the engine was the bolts that held one of the mounting feet to the block were loose–very loose. That is not good at all. It is possible that the failure of the transmission seal was due to excess vibration from this cause. This wasn’t something on my routine check list, but if you learn from others, maybe you should add it to yours!

The engine installation on an Amel Super Maramu is totally different than on any other boat I have seen. The engine bolts to a galvanized steel frame, and that frame in turn rests on flexible engine mounts. That style of installation made this job really easy. No lifting of the engine, just an easy slide along the frame. Since the transmission was a like for like replacement, it was a very simple job just putting everything right back where it came from.

As part of the process, it was easy to pull the exhaust elbow and turbo charger for inspection. More fun… the exhaust elbow needed replacement, and the turbo needed rework.

We got a shiny new stainless steel exhaust elbow from HDI Marine. Not cheap, but half the cost of a cast iron one from Volvo. Everglades Diesel rebuilt our turbo, and that is good. Add a couple feet of new exhaust hose (at $40 a foot!) and Harmonie‘s intake and exhaust system are as good as new.

Today we got everything finally reconnected and bolted down where it should be, and fired things up again. Our old Volvo is running smooth and happy.

We are still working on the final details of the new window install. We are past the hard and messy parts of that job, and are on the tedious and time consuming bits. It is REALLY looking good!

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2019 Harmonie Service Awards

You will (almost!) never read here bad things about a business we have had dealings with. We prefer to say nothing if we have nothing good to say. On the other hand, there really are some great businesses out there who stand out from the crowd, and they deserve a bit of praise. None of the businesses on this list have given us any promotional consideration, they are just good outfits who did a good job for us. With that said, here are businesses we dealt with this year that we can wholeheartedly recommend, in no particular order:

P&S Yacht Services. http://www.psyachtservices.com

There are not a lot of people we would trust to cut our boat open like this…

Based in the yard at Lauderdale Marine Center, Silvio and his son John have been on our “A-List” for years. They work hard, they do excellent work, and their prices are fair. For painting, fiberglass, and miscellaneous boat detailing services these guys are first class. We are not their biggest customer, by any means, and we always try to be as flexible with scheduling as possible. In return they take very good care of us. Unlike many of the boat service companies we see, Silvio has a full-time, year-round, staff of knowledgeable regulars who work on our boat year after year.

Karen and “Rosey” Rosete (954)336-3711

Karen and her husband “Rosey” do free-lance varnish and paint work here in Fort Lauderdale. They tackled a delicate refinishing job for us and did a great job at a great price and, as an extra bonus, they are great people to deal with. If you have varnish or paint projects, call them!

Transmission Marine, Inc. http://marinegears.com

This is a business run the way businesses should be. When you call, a real live person answers the phone. They call back when promised. They have technical experts who know their stuff and take the time with you to actually help by phone and email. All that, and the price they gave us for our new transmission was at least 15% lower than any we could find.

If you need a new transmission, or any kind of part for your boat’s transmission or drive train they should be on your list to call first. If nothing else, visit their webpage for the best guide to how to properly align an engine and transmission you’ll find anywhere.

Everglades Diesel http://evergladesdiesel.com

There is a sign outside the front door telling you to leave your parts for service in the cart. I had never seen this before, but what the heck… they asked, so we dropped the bag with the turbocharger we brought for rebuilding in the cart, and walked in.

Once we got inside, it became obvious what was going on.


They do not want any of your greasy, dirty, engine parts in their shop! This place sparkles. Bright and clean–like doctor’s office clean. There is a shelf of rebuilt injection pumps and turbochargers waiting for customer pickup that looks like a row of surgical instruments.

The rest of the shop all looks like this. This is really something to look for when you want a shop to work on something as sensitive to dirt as a diesel injection pump.


Our turbocharger came back to us looking like a factory new part. Years of accumulated carbon and rust on the exhaust side were gone. The rotor spun on new bearings smooth and free. A factory quality paint job was the cherry on top.

It saved us a significant amount of money over a new part, and it should be good to go for years.df

The picture is of Joe with our rebuilt turbo. I offered to arm wrestle him for a discount, but he chickened out!

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