According to Plan

If you work on boats, you quickly learn that the best laid plans of sailors when it comes to repair projects mean very little. The boat gods delight in humbling us with unexpected surprises. So it was with more than a little satisfaction that we completed a complex dance today on time, on budget, and with no surprises.

Our problem was with the main seacock in the engine room. Since it was installed in 1996, Harmonie has had a lot of miles under her keel. The internals of this valve has corroded to the point it was so hard to turn we seriously worried we might not be able to shut it in an emergency, or the force needed to turn it would lead to failure of the valve stem. Just routine operation was needing so much torque we had already bent the handle. It was time to change it out.

Our problem child on the left. The red handled valve on the right is the main fuel cutoff and is in excellent condition.

The threads on these fittings are odd-balls. One and one half inch British Standard Pipe, Parallel. (BSPP) None of the major chandeliers in the Caribbean had one, and the only manufacturer in the USA did not have any in stock. Luckily, there was a dealer on Amazon who had one and could ship it to our customs broker in Miami.

It is theoretically possible to do this job with the boat in the water. But it is also possible that things can go suddenly very wrong and leave you with a gapping hole in the bottom of the hull. That is always a bad thing. We decided that taking the boat out of the water was the smarter, albeit more expensive, option.

Tyrell Bay Marina on the island of Carriacou has a 150 ton travel lift, and had space in their schedule to accommodate us. We were the first boat out of the water this morning, and were blocked and at work by 9:30AM.

It took some time and effort to get a 24” pipe wrench on the valve, and then enough leverage on it (with a meter long piece of aluminum pipe) to get things moving, but once broken free, everything was downhill. The new valve was fit in place, and the hoses reconnected without incident.

The new valve installed and ready for the next 25 years of service.

We were back in the water by 15:30. No leaks, no drips. Everything as it should be. Tyrell Bay Marina did a bang-up job at a very reasonable price. We are seriously considering having our next bottom job done here.

I am actually really happy with the change. The new valve from Groco, is a better design than the original. A quality bronze casting, a stainless steel handle, with provision for lubricating the valve while the boat is in the water, and a place to make clean connection for the corrosion control bonding wires. The original wasn’t bad, but this is the best available. Harmonie deserves it! She takes good care of us, as long as we take good care of her.

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2 Responses to According to Plan

  1. Theresa Hill says:

    How many thousands of miles have gone under that keel?
    Blessings and safe travels to you both.
    Will and I do enjoy reading your log.


    • Karen says:

      Theresa, we have put over 20,000 miles on Harmonie. She has been around the world twice before she became ours. She’s pushing 150,000 or maybe 200,000.


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