Looking Good Again!
We finally got Blue Angel home after holding off just in case one of the recent hurricanes chose to venture up Chesapeake Bay. Lewis Hardy of Composite Yacht told me she could sit in the trailer until we were ready to splash the boat. We took her down to Composite Yacht for a new paint job, as I mentioned in a previous post. Eleven-year-old gelcoat doesn't last forever, especially flag blue. No amount of elbow grease was going to get her looking anywhere near new. It became embarrassing when one could clearly see the previous name and hailing port on the transom.
Lewis told us he was going to use Awlcraft to paint the boat, rather than Awlgrip. Awlcraft can be repaired, while the hard finish of Awlgrip cannot. We went for Star & Stripes blue for the color, as I am a bit tired of the dark blue boats that are so common these days. When sailors come to the dark side, it now seems they mostly opt for the Downeast look in a boat that is flag blue. I am not sure why that is but even my broker friend, Chuck Grice, tells me it is hard to sell a boat that isn't flag blue.
Jim Ellis came with me for the trip home. His wife Lori drove us the hour-long road trip from Annapolis to Composite Yacht's Trappe facility on the north side of the bridge into Cambridge.
I am thrilled with the job they did. Really outstanding work. I definitely recommend Composite Yacht if you want to make your boat look really good.
One of his guys, BJ, hooked the trailer up to one of the company trucks and drove the boat over the bridge to the Cambridge launching ramp, where we lowered the boat into the Choptank River for the 40+ mile run back to our home on Ridout Creek in Annapolis. I have never owned a boat that fit on a trailer, but following the truck showed me how viable it would be to take this boat on a road trip, perhaps up to the Thousand Islands, or down to the Keys.
And here is where the story gets funky. The batteries, two heavy AGM monsters, were essentially dead. The engine starter didn't even click. What was up with that? I had the battery switch on OFF as well as at the instrument panel. The only hot wired equipment would be the two bilge pumps, but as the boat was in a building most of the two weeks she was at Composite Yacht, that certainly didn't explain the dead batteries.
BJ called over to the yard and we got a fresh battery and some heavy jumper cables. We got the engine started and got underway soon after. The run up to Annapolis was wonderful on a brilliant day on Chesapeake Bay, and reason enough for people to want to cruise on these waters. (It still confounds me when I meet people doing the Great Loop and do the Chesapeake Bay in three days, not seeing much of anything. I have never seen the point in that.)
When we got home and Blue Angel was back on her lift, I plugged in the dock power and the batteries charged back overnight. But how they were drained down to such a low levels demanded some investigation. A parasitic load was obviously present, and something I had not thought much about as the boat is usually connected to dock power.
BJ had asked if the boat has a CO detector, which the gas-powered boat of course has as a requirement. We found it was wired in such a way as to bypass the instrument panel and battery switch. I could not find evidence in the ABYC documentation that states it must be energized even when the battery switch is off. Anyone know something I don't? I can't imagine why this safety device would need to be on if the battery switch is off. Even if I decided to sleep aboard the 25-foot Harrier during some extended trailer cruising, I just don't feel that this parasitic load is justified. I am going to ask around at the upcoming boat shows. So we rewired it to only be on when the battery switch is on.
But the draw of a CO detector is minimal, milliamp minimal. Other wires on the batteries indicated there was something else to check out. (One of the issues with buying a used boat is finding unlabeled wires that disappear somewhere.) Seems a module of some kind was mounted off to the side of the batteries, inside one of the transom hatches behind the seat cushions. I had forgotten about it. Turns out it too is energized all the time.
I incorrectly assumed that it was some kind of corrosion isolation device for the stern drive, which would explain why it was on all the time, but when I looked up the part number, I found it was the tilt sensor module for the Volvo OceanX sterndrive. The year before I bought the boat, the owner had Hunt Yachts replace his damaged sterndrive with the newer and much improved OceanX unit (a big reason I bought this boat). I can think of no reason why this sensor would need to be on all the time, but I am still researching this. One can only tilt the drive when the battery switch is on, so would that not also be the case with the sensor?
It seems obvious now I discovered yet another example of a shortcut taken by the folks at Hunt Yachts. The module is mounted next to the port-side battery, so why not just hook it up there, rather than spend the time to do it properly and reach the battery switch? I have to say that I am pretty tired of certain New England boat builders who think they are better than they really are. Is it too much lobster? The quality of their work, from what I see on this boat, is below what you would find on a production Mainship, and nowhere near the quality level of builders like Zimmerman Marine in Mathews, VA. I have uncovered several, truly unbelievable examples of poor workmanship since I bought the boat, and if I published photos without any description you would think the work was done by an amateur in his back yard. I had the local service manager of Hinckley Yachts come over to look at the boat (same company that now owns Hunt Yachts). He just shook his head at what I showed him. This stuff astounds me, given the upper end prices of these boats, and I have been around a lot of boat builders. I still love the boat and the Ray Hunt design, but wish it had been built by a quality boat builder.
Take a look at this image below of where a windshield wiper motor was installed. The two wipers never worked properly, and as they are somewhat pointless in my opinion on a boat like this (RainX works much better), I finally removed both motors. This is what I found underneath both units, and explains why the motor didn't sit properly. The ridiculously large rectangular hole was cut simply to run four wires. Note the left edge of the hole compromised the screw's ability to hold the left side of the wiper motor unit, so it never stayed flush. It is the same on the right side wiper. Notice the duct tape? What's up with that, or the piece of scrap wood stuck in between the outer deck and inner liner fiberglass surfaces?
Back to the trim sensor module. For now, we installed a switch next to the module to turn it off when the boat needs to be truly off, off, off. I will figure out the best way to wire this after I speak to the Volvo guys at the shows. And I will continue to fix or improve the things I find that were done wrong.
So now Blue Angel is home, and life is good. I love the look with the new color. I learn something new ever day with this boat. Going to wire up a 360-degree video camera soon, which should be a cool thing. Stay tuned.