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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

LEAVING ENVOY DURING THE WINTER IN THE WATER VS HARDSTAND

Envoy is on the hard in Lefkas marina, Greece and we will be back there early next week.

Having owned Envoy since late 2006 we’ve now left her unattended for periods ranging from about 5 months to 27 months, mostly on the hardstand but sometimes in the water so what are the pros and cons of each for boats in general?
Next week when we rejoin Envoy she’ll have been out of the water for about 6 months so then we’ll report more on this subject.

Envoy on the Ostia marina hardstand, Italy

Firstly it’s much more pleasant in a marina living aboard while your boat is in the water. You still get gentle boat movement (sometimes not so gentle during gales) and it’s much easier and safer to get aboard your boat and load supplies using the passarelle from the dock compared to a ladder from the ground.
In most marinas we can use our own shower rather than the shore facilities and empty the galley sink, neither of which we can do on the hardstand.
Marina hardstand areas are generally rather litter-strewn and dusty so we always find it easier to keep Envoy clean while in the water. But of course below waterline areas are a different story and while your boat is sitting unused in the water your hull will suffer more marine growth than usual.
So far as safety of the vessel is concerned each option is probably neutral. While in the water there is the risk of damage to mooring lines, cleats and hulls during storms, as well as the risk of taking on water if a leak develops. This is very dependent on the location of the marina since many are subject to surges during adverse winter weather.
On the hardstand there is some risk of damage during travel lift operations or from the vessel falling or being knocked over during earthquakes or severe storms, both of which are prevalent in the Med.
Personal safety is better with your vessel in the water as many accidents occur with people falling from their vessel or ladder onto the hardstand below.
In most marinas security is better on marina piers than it is on the hardstand where there are more people coming and going and public access is less restricted.
Cost is another factor to take into account and this depends on the individual marina and their ratio of berths to hardstand area. Sometimes it’s cheaper in the water and sometimes not. Seasonality also affects this with considerable more hardstand area being available during summer months.
Envoy’s refrigeration system has the option of air or seawater cooling but the latter is more efficient so that’s another plus for being in the water.
There are some repairs and maintenance which can only be performed out of water (for example servicing seacocks and running gear) but on balance there is more that can be achieved in the water.
Another negative for staying in the water is the possibility of galvanic corrosion and/or stray current electrolysis.
Osmosis is another risk for GRP hulls and a spell of several months out of the water can only assist its prevention.

Monday, September 14, 2015

INTERESTING INFORMATION FROM TECHNICAL TRAINING SEMINAR ABOARD NORDHAVN 68 – PART TWO

Envoy is currently in Lefkas marina, Greece and we’re home in New Zealand. But we arrive back in Lefkas late next week and soon after that will give an update on how Envoy's faring having been left for 11 months.

Our last posting introduced the technical seminar held aboard Nordhavn 68, Karajas, in Akuna Bay Marina north of Sydney.

View of Karaja's engine room with single John Deere main plus Northern Lights wing engine

Steve d'Antonio talks to course attendees in engine room

So what are a few key points others can learn from? Here is a flavour of some specifics.
- Always install equipment according to the manufacturer’s guidelines and insist that contractors do so,
as well as supplying a schematic diagram where needed.
- No AC power connections should be exposed or able to be accidentally touched.
- When working on AC power systems always totally isolate the inverter and remove the shore power
cable.
- Stainless steel bolts, nuts and washers should not be used in demanding applications like prop shaft couplings, steering couplings or engine mounts. Nor should they be used in electrical situations due to
the low conductivity of stainless steel.
- Although two hose clamps are supposed to be used for all raw water plumbing applications it is better
to use one properly than two improperly. Ensure hose clamps are marine grade stainless steel and have
solid not perforated bands. To avoid cuts and injuries use “Clamp-Aid” silicone covers on the sharp
exposed tail of the clamp.
- Only use correctly rated and marked hose for raw water plumbing and exhaust systems.
- Operate seacocks regularly to avoid them seizing up.
- Hydraulic steering rams and tiller arms should be regularly checked both at rest and under way while steering lock-to-lock to check for significant leaks and movement in fastenings.
- Test your emergency steering tiller before you need to use it.
- To reduce corrosion on aluminium masts, paravanes, booms, door frames etc bed fittings and hardware
in a PU bedding compound. This can be done retrospectively.
- In the event of engine room fire stop all engines and blowers (to maximise the effect of the extinguishing agent) and isolate the batteries (in case the fire is caused by a short circuit or overload).
- The prop shaft stuffing box temperature should not exceed about 30dF above the ambient sea water temperature.
- There is no need to change primary fuel filter cartridges too often, but as dictated by your vacuum gauge
(at about 5 inches of vacuum). Use 10 or 30 micron cartridges – finer is not better in the primaries.
- Bleeding of the fuel system should not be necessary if the primary and secondary filters are bled
correctly when changed. To ensure any air remaining in the system is passed through run the engine for
about 5 mins at 1200-1440 rpm, not at idle. This rpm range will reduce the chance of the engine stalling while passing air.
- Dry exhaust thermal insulation should be regularly checked using the pyrometer and for potential fire
and safety reasons no section should exceed 200dF. Wet exhaust system hoses should not exceed about 160dF.
- To maximise AGM battery life normally discharge to about 50% of its capacity and don’t routinely start charging much above that level.

I would certainly recommend any serious cruiser to attend a course run by Steve or a similarly qualified industry expert both to learn specifics and to stimulate thought.