Below is a calendar marking underway and maintenance activities from MV Tortuga.

March – June 2004

All Wow – where has time gone?  Tortuga has been at Monroe Harbour since April and it is working out well.  There are drawbacks to being at a traditional marina versus a boatyard.  As subtle as they may be, folks around you at a marina do NOT expect to hear the sound of sanding, grinding, and the likes on weekends.  And one has to be extra careful to clean up any mess as soon as its made rather than waiting to the end of the day.  I would recommend to wood boat owners who do their own maintenance to explore what is or isn’t allowed before selecting a marina.  I am continuing with water systems installation, but I keep finding problems deeper than expected with every turn.  For example, in taking down the fabric overhead in the master berth to install a new shower head water line, I discovered a major rot problem where there is water seepage.  Now I am delayed completing this job in order to fix the new problem.  I am compiling all of the pictures over the lst two months and will update many section soon

Fenruary 2004

All Again – I have been so busy with new job that I have been delinquent in updating the site.  I do promise more pictures over the month.  Here is what has been accomplished:
– Rebuilt overhead radio console in pilot house to remove old auto pilot and AM/FM radio.  Installed new Icom-602 VHF with DSC, fog horn and hailer.
– Installed new 30-watt speaker on exterior and new VHF antenna.
– Removed old plumbing and wiring for AC cooling water pump and will be replacing and re-routing to accommodate new battery box.
– Sanded and primed (in white this time) the port side below the pilot house.  There is still significant work to fix the rotted wood near the scuppers on the foredeck on both sides.
– New stainless steel engine room floor supports arrived from Atlanta.  Will install over the next few weeks.
– Still planned for April 2nd run down to Sanford, Florida for new marina slip.

January 2004

23rd – 25th Lots of small task accomplished or started.  Here’s a list:
– Removed overhead console above wheel in pilot house to fill holes caused by removal of auto pilot and AM/FM radio, filled with 3/4″ ply inserts and epoxy
– Moved GPS antenna from temp location to starboard side of pilot house
– Installed new fuse panel for electronics behind main electrical panel
– Installed Raymarine ST60 tri-display in temp location next to GPS and wired SeaTalk interface to both
– Removed over 100 feet of bad wiring from behind electrical panel and replaced where necessary
– Cleaned up wiring to search light
– Continued to dismantle autopilot and remove in preparation for new systems
10th -11th It has been a long break since any major work was accomplished.  Lots of little things, but finally we are back on track for major project work.  This week a number of new items arrived.  They include the new ST60 tri-data display from Raymarine, an 11-gallon water heater from Force-10, and the Todd battery box for the dual-8D starting batteries.Our goal is to get Tortuga ready to move south to Sanford, Florida by the end of February.  See our headline story about my new position which starts this month.

The Todd battery box fits almost perfect.  But a previous mod to the heat pump plumbing put the cooling water feed line right thought the area of the battery box.  It also meant I needed to alter the position of the starter power leads which added 2 feet to the wire distance.  That 2 feet cost me $250 since I needed to but 15 ft. each of red and black 2/0 cable at $7.49 a feet.  WOW!

October 2003

3rd – 5th Good weekend for major work on the fresh water system.  My anal attentiveness “caused” me to build a great addition to the engine room.  I designed a method to isolate all of the fresh water systems onto a single removable board that screws onto a tray on the starboard side.  This will facilitate easy removal of the entire fresh water system for maintenance, or worse, when I need to perform any fuel tank maintenance.  The board has the following items mounted to it:
– water filter (5 micron from GE purchased at Home Depot)
– pump with 40psi automatic cut-in switch
– accumulator tank (18 psi)
– water flow meter that display accumulated water consumption
– water pressure meter
– assorted diverter and cutoff valves that feed fresh water to water heater (adjacent removal tray).I completed running all new lines from both water tanks to the underside of the tray.  The majority of the weekend was spent on carpentry just building the tray and supporting brackets for the filter (and waiting for paint to dry!).  I’ll post pictures in a few weeks.

September 2003

23rd – 24th What was I doing this month :) Working perhaps, or better yet – out of money  ???

August 2003

23rd – 24th You may have read in the story about the Sea Tech plumbing that I discovered a major engineering flaw in my fresh water flushing systems.  I had heard rumors that you could not attach pressure water to heads.  But somehow had forgotten that fact.  As a precaution, I wrote to Wilcox-Crittenden and they confirmed my error.  So – this weekend was spent dismantling the water distribution manifold (what a pity) and rebuilding it to accommodate a fresh water holding tank.  I used a Todd 9-gallon tank and built a shelf under the V-Berth starboard side.  It fit perfectly.  The tank will now gravity feed a Y-valve in the water distribution manifold so that we can select fresh or raw water for flushing.  Right now I have to fill the tank manually.  But I’ve run the fresh water line up to the tank and will work on a design to allow a valve handle in some easily accessible place to control the water flow.  I also need to figure out how to know how much water to fill.  One could lift the mattress and watch the tank, perhaps that’s the simplest method.  However, all of this bad news was punctuated with the wonderful sound of a flushing toilet in the master berth.  Steph will be happy and now “no more excuses” about coming down on weekends :)  The head flushes and the water is crystal clear!I completed the build-out of the new engine room floor area in the location for the water pumps, filters, accumulator tank and water heater.  The new white floor really stands out form the rest of the engine room.  Continued work on running water lines (hot & cold) off the main central run to the kitchen and bathrooms.  This allowed me to re-assemble the shelving under the sink in the galley and put that mess away.

Spent three hours cleaning mildew from the boat.  I waited too long this time and some of the paint in the pilot house is now stained beyond simple cleaning.  I think a contributing problem to the mildew was the fact that all of the flooring in the boat over the bilge had been removed and was kept open for the entire month.  The excess moisture allowed the mildew to bloom.

1st – 3rd Ah – the moment has arrived to start installing the new Sea Tech water lines and couplings.  This is actually a fun project.  The immediate results from this very easy to use product is very rewarding.  Rather than go into detail here, please take a look at the story.It the project management business I’m in we call this Scope Creep.  It’s when a project takes on tasking that extends the level of effort and, of course, the duration of the project.  Well, the head restoration project is a perfect example.  Now with the need to install all new water lines in the boat I’ve added two months to the project.  And to make matters worse, when taking apart the fresh water pump lines and water heater lines the poor condition of the heater became obvious and now I need to replace that.  So – for you other trawler owners or “wan-a-bies”  remember to double the estimated length of time and increment the units by one.  That is – for a two day project, increase to four days, then go up in units: four weeks. :)

The starter installed without a hitch and the starboard engine roared to life in a second after pressing the button.  What a relief.  But, having the battery chargers off for the two weeks I was gone allowed the 8D starting batteries to drain to almost nothing.  It’s obvious that now is the time to replace these guys.  They where on the boat when we purchased her and I knew the time was coming.

July 2003

11th – 13th Removed the starter from the starboard engine.  What a breeze.  Simply sprayed PB Blaster on the fly-wheel housing ring and let it soak overnight.  Then loosened the clamp and off she came – all 45 pounds.  Will ship to Joe Duggan in Ft. Lauderdale this week.  Major work in the guest head.  Completely rebuilt the Groco HF toilet including painting, scrubbed with every known cleanser the walls and floor (Oh man!)  Completed the water supply manifold and ran waste line to the rebuilt head including new vented loop (siphon break).  The Skipper toilet is due back this week so on the next trip I will have both toilets up and running (flushing to the outside that is.)  This will allow me to start focusing on installation of the holding tank.  Got to move a muffler for that one!The water wash down is now working.  It will be so nice to have both fresh and raw water up on the bow.  I used a Katz spring-loaded check valve on the fresh water side of the three-way selector valve.  This removes almost all chance of raw water contaminating the fresh water onboard.  The valve spring is loaded for 2.8 psi opening pressure.  So when ever the fresh water pump is on (40 psi) it will supply water correctly.  Completed permanent wiring of the forward bilge pump.  However, I just realized that my use of terminal strips to route wiring near the top of the bilge means that if water ever did get a foot or so deep in the bilge it would start shorting out my pumps.  I guess if it’s that bad – then it’s abandoned ship time :)

And of course spent many hours simply cleaning mildew with my rubber gloves and mask on.  When you are not there every week to take care of this – it can build up even with the ozone generator running.

June 2003

28th – 29th The Huckins team just returned Tortuga back to the slip Friday afternoon – in time for me to work additional hours on the V-Berth plumbing.  Built the distribution manifold for raw/fresh water feed to both heads and the water wash down pump on the bow.  I have inserted a three-way valve down-stream from the strainer so that a selection of either fresh (on-board) or raw water can be made to provide flush water to the heads or to use as a shower on the bow (instead of anchor washing).  The only minor drawback – the valve allows raw water to leak for an instant when switching between sources.  That means one of three things; I build a small holding tank for fresh water so that no contamination is possible, I insert a check valve, or (my favorite) I never rotate the valve without having the fresh water pump running.  I’ll allow you to provide feedback on this issue.  The water wash down system is the Par pump as sold in West marine and other retail outlets.  Having sea cocks that work is such a relief.  I pulled the Skipper toilet from the master head in preparation of shipping to Wilcox-Crittenden for repair.Added a rotary switch to the V-berth light – removing the touch-activated one.  Every time there was a power failure the light would come on in my absence.  Traced the wiring down for the old wash down pump.  The previous owner had disconnected the wiring and was using the circuit breaker to power the primary fresh water pump.  That helped clean up the power panel even more.  Completed re-install of all pipe fittings under the sink as part of replacing the faucet.  Then all of a sudden a crack developed in the PVC tubing run under the sink.  To replace the system would be man-hour prohibitive, so I patched the tube by wrapping fiberglass cloth and epoxy.  I’ll pressurize the system on the next trip and keep my fingers crossed.  Pulled the old toilet from the V-berth head.  Will replace it with a low-cost unit.

The starboard engine starter failed for the Huckins folks on the return trip.  They said it sounded like it was grinding gravel.  I had a nightmare vision of broken teeth on the flywheel.  I jerry-rigged a starter button in the engine room so I could listen while the started engaged.  It sounds like the Bendix assembly is broken.  Now all I have to do is figure out how in the H#*&^$*&# to get the starter off of the engine frame.  I’ll call the Gardner mechanic in Ft. Lauderdale and see what his suggestions are in addition to asking if he has a replacement before calling England.

7th –
Only a few hours to complete tasks this trip.  I was able to discover why the engine instrumentation quit.  It turns out that the primary power line to the instruments was dependent on the alternator output being hot.  Since the alternator had been disconnected for maintenance, there was no power.  I re-wired the instrument cluster to remove that requirement.  I’m actually removing the voltmeter and ammeter from the instrument cluster since that data is displayed on the electrical panel now with the Link 10 and Link 20.Removal of the bilge switch from the electrical service panel allowed space to mount the battery combiner remote control switch.  I completed the installation but have to run the control cable down the the distribution panel in the engine room.

The trip to Huckins was uneventful.  Arrived at 1700 Sunday and spent the night.  We hulled Tortuga out at 0800.  Luckily, the leak was indeed a loose plank just below the kneeboard, about two planks up from the keel.  The board was so loose, that you could move it by pushing on it.  This was a disaster waiting to happen.  So glad that we caught it early.  I’ll get an estimate from the yard by Tuesday  6/11 and will be able to move forward from there.  The hull looks great!  No apparent worm damage at all.  Very minimal marine growth and the zincs are still in great shape.  I’ll have pictures and such later this week.

May 2003

24th –
Another productive weekend, but my task priorities where changed dramatically when I noticed large amounts of water entering from a seam near the bow!  Details on the Stories page.
In spite of the major water leak, other tasks did get completed.  A new antique-style faucet was installed at the galley sink.  Two floor panels where designed, cut and installed in the engine room.  I particularly needed the floor panel on the outboard side of the port engine.  It was nearly impossible to maneuver in that area without serious injury to some body part!  A second dock box (from Home Depot this time) was purchased which allowed me to completely clean up the V-berth and put all tools and supplies away.  What a wonderful change.
3rd –
Very productive weekend.  Completed the 120VAC lighting project in the engine room.  What a difference!  Completed installation of the new stereo in the salon.  It turns out that the port speaker wire in the pilot house had partially shorted at a tight run in the engine room.  Read my story of how it was traced down on the Tips page.  Removed an additional 50ft or more of un-used wiring from the engine room and pilot house.  Part of this was for the old autopilot and the rear intercom speaker for the VHF.  On my arrival Friday night, discovered the bilge pump running (DRY!).  It turns out the float switch had failed.  I took the time to replace the entire wiring assembly in the bilge with the new pump and float.  You know, we need to create an acronym for previous owner (maybe POW –Previous Owner of this Watercraft).  Because I’m at times held as a POW (hostage) by the stupid mistakes the previous owner made in wiring (and such).  Cleaned the bilges again.  Used a scraper and cleaned out about a pound of oily muck.  Can’t imagine why the POW allowed the bilges to get so bad.  Repaired shelving under the sink.  And lot’s of general cleaning!  We’re off to the Bahamas next Friday on our friends 49′ Ocean Alexander.  We’re meeting them at Marsh Harbor then motoring down to Nassau for a 6-day trip.

April 2003

9th –
Well it’s been a long time since I could get down for more work.  To be honest, my company closed it’s doors and I was temporarily low on funding for three months.  But, I have a new position now and funds for restoration will soon be flowing again.  I spent three days onboard in very cool weather.  It gave me the chance to work on a variety of projects as outlined below.Re-set tiles on the bath in the master berth.  Will re-grout them next trip.
Completely rebuilt the cross-frame support under the box for the starting batteries (2 8-Ds).  I used Red Oak (no white oak available), but Home Depot didn’t have the correct thickness, so I epoxied two 3/4′ pieces together then planned them to the correct thickness.  This allowed me to move the batteries back in place.  The remaining task is to build a hold down bar for the batteries that fastens to the floor of the battery box.
Started both main engines.  They turned over in less than three revolutions.  WOW!  They had not run for over three months.  The starboard engine looks great.  The port engine has a minor water leak on the main circulation pump base gasket and the exhaust hose water circulation pump has a minor leak at the shaft.  Both low cost items but very time consuming to fix.
Traced down speaker wiring in the pilot house.  Put wiring back to it’s original design to drive the pilot house speakers from the AM/FM/CD radio in the salon.
Removed the old AM/FM radio from the pilot house.
Began rough design of frame and platform to support new holding tank.  It will require me moving the exhaust hose and water lift muffler along with raw-water intake filter to a new location to allow enough room.  Just another example of 5 hours of work added to an already big task.
Continued effort to diagnose why the main computer causes a re-start at random intervals on its own.  I can not identify the actual failing component.  It’s not the mother board, not the power supply and not the CDROM writer.  The only items left are the hard drives and the main CDROM.

January 2003

17th – More work in the bilges.  Completed installation of raw water filter and distribution system located in the forward berth.  This takes raw water from the starboard sea cock, filters it, then provides a distribution tree that supplies both heads and the fore deck water wash down pump.  Designed and installed a 12VDC light above the stove (below the microwave shelf).  There was a light above the stove but it was ceiling mounted.  With the installation of the shelf by the previous owners, they removed the light, but fortunately left the wiring (just cut and dangling!)  The exhaust blower above the stove was also missing.  I converted a bilge blower (designed for high humidity) using 3″ plastic piping and flex piping and it works great.Big news – I was able to get the old 3-door refrigerator out of the cabinet in  the galley without cutting any wood.  There was less than 1/4″ of clearance to move the unit out.  It required over 15 pieces of lumber to act as supports, using a hydraulic jack and over six hours of maneuvering.  Probably would have been two hours with more help.  I was able to move the unit onto the aft deck where I enlisted the aid of two teenage yards workers to lift her off the boat and carried to the trash.  Of course, the refrigerator had to be dismantled (doors removed, etc.) before this entire operation began.  Now I have a 31″x28″x76″ cabinet I can fill with what ever designed system I choose.  I would still love to have a holding plate system, but the expense is high.  An interesting point, there are two copper tubes (~1/2″) coming up from the engine room and capped off.  These are not water for the ice maker.  There must have been a compressor in the engine room at one time.  On the next visit to the boat I’ll trace where they go.

December 2002

14th – Continued the master head restoration and work in the bilges.  Completed installation of new shower sump.  Drained bilges completely so that I could re-mount the primary bilge pump.  This is a job I should have completed a year ago.  The pump was simply sitting on the wood base without any fasteners.  So a violent pump could have tilted the pump over.  This job actually took two hours since the pump was under a shelf and I had to use an offset head on my Dremmel tool to drill holes for the screws.   The bilge had significant debris which almost completely plugged the weep holes.  No wonder it took  so long for various compartments to drain.

November 2002

30th – More of the same with the master head restoration.  Completed installation of the rebuilt Skipper head.  This included all new hose for both waste and raw water flush.  One the first attempt to flush the water simply backed up into the bowel.  A call today to Wilcox Crittenden indicates that the toilet is indeed the pre-1972 model which means the gasket in the rebuild kit is wrong.  And they don’t make it anymore.  It’s a custom gasket with a bronze weight on the center flap.  So I will have to completely re-engineer a new gasket from scratch.  Should be fun!  Removed the old shower sump, rebuilt the tub drain (wonderful bronze piece), installed a new shower sump and put it back where it was in the bilge area in the original drawings for the boat.  Turns out the outboard drain through-hull is plugged so I will have to clear that on the next trip.  Only one day of maintenance this weekend with the holiday.
9th – Continued the master head restoration.  Completed running the 1 1/2″ sanitation line.  This included a “Y” diverter valve to channel waste overboard or to the holding tank.  Continued line forward to the guest head for attachment at a later date.  Teak came in for building new mounting for 12 VDC light over mirror.  Finally found a source for metric copper tube fittings (see Tips section for details).  Parts where ordered to fix the problem I discussed last month.  Removed the portlight in the head. It appears to be original and seems to be made of aluminum given the large amount of corrosion. Tortuga has 5 lights on the port side and 4 on the starboard.  The main lights are 7×14″ and the forward most on each side are 5×12″.  I ordered the stainless steel replacement units from Pompanette.  See the maintenance section for details on portlight replacement.  Another stumbling block is my anal attention to the flooring.  the teak panel the head sits on had several holes cut for hoses which prior owners long ago removed.  So I’m taking the time to match and patch the parquet design as bet as I can prior to cutting my own two holes for the sanitation line and raw water flush line.

October 2002

12th – Completed re-assembly of the Skipper marine toilet.  I’ll post pictures of this entire bathroom (head) restoration when done.  The Skipper is a beautiful piece of equipment.  Diagnosed electrical problems in head.  Now the overhead light and exhaust ventilator work (new switches).  Installed new faucet on sink and new shower control and head.  The copper tubing which supplies water to the shower had been cut above the port light where it passes up to the ceiling.  A “previous” owner had patched it with a rubber hose and clamps.  There is a wood panel which conceals this area of the ceiling but was missing.  I found it tucked away in the forward head.  But when I went to replace it, the patched tube hung too low from the ceiling to allow fastening.  No wonder it was never put back.  Why do people do these things ???? Well – I found out – what I thought was 3/8″ tube turned out to be a non-standard copper size tube.  So the fittings I bought at Home Depot didn’t work.  I’ll have to cut it again within the bulkhead and run all new copper tubing.  Another 3 hours to the job!  Just think – when I finish this bathroom – only one more to go !

September 2002

27th – Purchased a wonderful spray painter from Home Depot.  It is a high Pressure Low Volume (HPLV) type.  It looks like an airless unit but truly provides atomized paint.  Completed spraying the master head and the results where perfect.  We used commercial latex paint with mildew control additives.  Started re-varnishing all wood surfaces (trim, drawer fronts and cabinet doors).  I’ll post pictures when the job is complete.  We’re taking our Skipper head and removing all paint from the bronze base and spraying it with clear coat.  Should be an interesting look.  This weekend we got underway for the first time for a pleasure cruise since arriving at Ortega.  Took my ex-business partner and wife and Steph (and dogs and kid) to the “Landings” in downtown Jacksonville.  The boat performed flawlessly!!!!!
7th –
At the Huckins yard for transom painting.  Replaced the black water overboard seacock. Removed remaining black water plumbing in forward section of boat (what a mess!).  Prepared all of the painted surfaces in the master head for re-painting.  Removed old fresh-water wash down pump getting ready to plumb new one.  Continued cleaning bilges (this will be ongoing for months until all oil and residue is removed).

August 2002

24th – Completed installation of GFI outlets in galley.  Completed wiring of engine room lights on port side.  Replaced engine wet-exhaust hose above water muffler on port engine.  This hose had been cut to remove the black water tank.  Cleaned up and capped the fuel fittings where the black water tank was tied into the port fuel system.  Remember – this was the genset fuel tank on the original design.  Replaced two large floor panels with the new polished aluminum material.  Purchased a 7′ dock box and moved most of the large tools from the V-berth so I could start cleaning that room.  Motored down to Huckins Yacht to get ready for painting the transom and lettering.
3rd – Continued installation of new 120 VAC engine room lights (kitchen wiring done and main switch installed), completed build out of new computer system and cleaning mildew (again)!  I’m buying an ozone generator next trip!

July 2002

13th – This weekend (Friday through Monday) was additional work on the new Seatran holding tank – installation of new lamps in V-berth, test of remote panel for the Pathmaker battery combiner, start of installation of new 120 VAC engine room lights, experimentation with onboard camera, and misc. things like cleaning mildew!

June 2002

23rd – This weekend (Friday through Monday) was dedicated to removing the old black water tank.  See the related story.  The Pathmaker battery combiner came back from the factory.  It worked like a charm after re-installing.

April 2002

6th – Found the problem with the 2nd battery bank and the Link20 monitor.  I wired it wrong!!! Scraped the teak deck to remove stains and starting replacing bungs that where missing or loose.  Removed all of the rotted wood on the port bridge wind exterior panel and started patching.  Removed and painted the anchor locker ventilator on the foredeck.

March 2002

23rd – Started major tasks of finishing exterior panels on the port Portuguese bridge wing.  Required filling and major sanding.
9th – Completed sanding and priming of the bulwarks from the transom to the rear doors.  Return Tortuga to her slip after a very productive maintenance stop at Huckins.
2nd – Cleaned batteries, started sanding the aft deck overhead in preparation of painting next weekend.

February 2002

18th – 98% completion of new power wiring tasks – still need to debug the starboard current sensing in the shunt
8th – Started the complete restoration of the power panel in the engine room.

November 2001

12th – Arrived at Ortega River Boat Yard in Jacksonville.
9th – Started the third leg of our journey down the ICW heading to Jacksonville.  Tom Hannaford who is a faculty member at AIU went along as First Mate this trip.

August 2001

10th – Found a covered slip at the Ortega River Boat Yard in Jacksonville.
6th – Repairs are going smoothly.  Some additional work due to hidden rain water damage but it was somewhat expected.

July 2001

29th – Left boat with Zimmerman for repairs and restoration.
22nd – Underway at 0630 for Zimmerman Marine at Mobjack Bay, Virginia.  Arrive around 1630.
21st – Underway at 1300 for Solomons, Maryland.  Arrive around 1730 with failed starboard fuel lift pump.
18th – Arrived at Kent Narrows to prep the boat for getting underway.  GPS install and electronic charts are high on the list

June 2001

29th – Coast Guard Bill of Sale arrives this morning – the trawler is officially ours!  Bank wired funds to Charlie.
26th – Survey arrives via e-mail from Mike Kaurfman.  A careful review shows no unexpected problems (lots or little ones though!).  We call Charlie Scott (owner) and tell him we want to move forward with purchase.
23rd – Stephanie sees boat for first time.  What was I thinking showing her the boat before it was fixed up ? !@#%&
22nd – Survey conducted at Lipincott marina.  She looks so impressive out of the water.


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