Category: Upgrades and Repairs

Getting a little hot down there

Jean and I had spent the evening in Vergennes, Vermont tied up on the community dock after a cruise up from Whitehall, New York. We departed just before 6 a.m. for a seven-mile trek out the Otter Creek River before joining Lake Champlain. The water was like a mirror, and gentle wisps of steam stood sentinel along the bank. If you leave early enough sometimes, you will see wildlife on the shore, and we were fortunate enough to see deer this time. About 25 minutes into our idle out the river I notice a harmonic change in the engine sounds and checked my gauges and saw that the port engine was beginning to overheat. I asked Jean to take over and continue to idle out the river on the starboard engine while I went below to see what could be the cause of the overheat. The port engine has been the most dependable thus far the entire trip, and I was not sure what I was going to find. I checked the valves on the water feed to ensure that the engine was receiving water from the outside and then made sure the engine had not sprung a leak in the heat exchanger. After finding no leaks and no pools of water anywhere, the next check would be to see if the impeller was operating correctly. I had all the impellers replaced before we left on the loop and thought that it was odd that they would be in need of replacing so soon. I had not changed an impeller before and was not sure on procedures but forged ahead anyway since there were no services available in Vergennes. Jean was doing a great job of keeping us in deep enough water on one engine, and we had time before we entered Lake Champlain again.
The impeller housing on the Ford Lehman engine is a straightforward affair with several small screws on a face plate, so I started there. All of the screws came out without any problems, and I was able (this time) not to drop any of them down into the bilge. The faceplate was removed, and I was amazed at the condition of the rubber impeller. Only the hub was left.

Impeller install

Photo by Jerry Coleman

None of the fins were on the hub but laying in the chamber. The hub was removed without any difficulty, the chamber cleaned of debri, and then replaced with a spare impeller I brought along. A gasket was installed, and the faceplate screwed back on, and with an engine restart, the temperature dropped immediately back to normal. A few lessons learned from this experience were: always to have spares onboard, to take your time and assess the problem and then begin with the apparent culprits first working towards the solutions. Trust your co-captain to take care of their part, and to carry on.

Week Five and just a little Crabby!

Week five brings us to Key West and our month long stay at Stock Island Marina Village.  The cruise from Faro Blanco in Marathon to Key West was a wonderful day on the water. We had following seas of three to four-foot waves that gave us a boost

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

from our usual 8 miles per hour to 9 ½ miles per hour.  Our trip was pleasant, and we were able to share memories of the different keys and places we had previously visited.  While reminiscing, we were constantly changing course to miss the innumerable crab-pots strewn along the way.  Crabbing in Florida and the other seafood offerings as well as an economic mainstay for the state. In 2014 Florida ranked seventh among U.S. states for fresh seafood production with 99.2 million pounds harvested with a dockside value of $257.7 million.  Florida however, ranked first by value with grouper, pompano, mullet, stone crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters, and Spanish mackerel.  Florida fishermen caught 92% of the above species.  When we speak with other cruisers about the number of crab-traps, we have to avoid I now see why.  In 2015 Stone

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Photo by Jean Coleman

Crabs and Blue Crabs brought in $36,498,363 million and $12,106,862 million respectively.  In pounds, the Blue Crabs outpaced the Stone Crabs 6.6 million pounds to 2.8 million pounds respectively. I thought we had a lot of crab-traps in Pinellas but was amazed at the number here in the Keys.  While Pinellas County caught 8.1 million pounds of combined crabs with a value of $23.6 million, Monroe County hauled in 12.6 million pounds with a value of $71.2 million dollars.  I have a love-hate relationship with crap-traps; I hate having to constantly course correct to miss the crab-traps but love the dinners they can provide in the evening.


Jean and I are enjoying our month-long visit in Key West very much. We go exploring every day. The Key West Botanical Gardens was a great visit for example, where we learned about the local area environment and its ecological history.   Hurricane Irma made a complete mess of part of the site, but the staff has made many repairs and improvements.

Before we departed on the loop, Jean and I bought two compact and foldable bikes. I highly recommend to those considering the loop or any lengthy travel (RVer’s included) to bring bikes along.  The bikes increase our range over walking by a factor of four as well as the time you can spend at various locations.

Jean and I noticed an odor in the aft stateroom that we could not locate, so we begin to take apart the bunks and closets and found a persistent leak under Jean’s bunk that brought a few gallons of standing water in every six hours or so.  We decided to haul out and have the repairs done at Three D Boatyard a quarter mile from our

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

berth in Stock Island Marina Village.  I thought that I could repair the leak once the transom dried out but found that the port trim tab bolts had rusted out and burrowed a hole in four places.  Upon that discovery I had them remove all the trim tabs and glass over all the holes.  We have never used the tabs nor do we cruise at a speed that the tabs assist us.  When we took off the starboard tabs, we could push four of the attaching bolts through by hand.  It was only a matter of time before I had the identical leaking problem on the starboard side as I had on the port side. We found a marine contractor that knew what he was doing and set about making the repairs.  I have learned that fixing one problem will lead to many others that need correction also.  As we sat on the hard (mariner speak for “out of the water” and on blocks and stabilizers), we saw that Makin Memories bottom was in desperate need of a paint job.  The price quote was extremely reasonable, and we have at least 5000 miles to go yet, and we knew that at some point the bottom would need to be addressed but had delayed for the time being.  Makin Memories now has a beautiful blue bottom.


Our marine contractor said they would be done today and we should splash (mariner speak for “dropped back in the water”) tomorrow at 10:30. I am looking forward to being back at the dock and then can begin the clean-up.  Any time your boat is in the boatyard, she will become dirty, dusty, and just plain grimy.  We have friends coming to visit this weekend and would like to have Makin Memories ship shape.

A Month To Go

IMG_2877Jean and I are in the final phases of preparation for the Grand Depart on January 6th.  A few of the items in the final stage include; installation of the y-valve in the forward head as we replace the old hoses with new ones.  We have been painting shelves and bulkheads as well as floorboards in the engine room.  We are changing the forward berth curtains and bunk spread with something lighter in color.  Left to the last few weeks for completion are a custom dinghy cover, a Furuno 1830 radar plug adaptor, chaffing gear for lines, minor fiberglass repair, and porthole sealant.  We continue to sort out the clothes we will need to take and where they will reside.

We took Makin Memories over to River Energy on the Anclote River near the end of the sponge docks and fueled her with a hundred gallons.  The day was so beautiful that we went on a cruise out to Anclote Island and back.  I am happy to report that the new swim platform and the dinghy performed flawlessly.

Jean and I plan on moving on board right after Christmas as the couple who will be living in our house while we are away, begin to settle in.  We look forward to having the time to settle in ourselves aboard Makin Memories and still can go back and forth to the house and make sure we are relatively set for our departure on January 6th.

Swim Platform is home

SwimPlatformAttachedMakin Memories is back in her slip at Turtle Cove after a week of maintenance and cleaning. The swim platform turned out as planned and the engines received new water pumps each. Attaching the ladder from the aft deck and bringing the dinghy onboard have yet to be done (hopefully this weekend) as well as adding additional batteries for the house electrical load and a valve cover gasket for the starboard engine. I will change the oil in the diesel engines the first of December as well as change all the oil and fuel filters (jeez, sounds like a lot to do yet!).

We will begin moving the items we need to live aboard for a year in the coming weeks as well as finish arranging administrative items here so that we can manage them remotely.  We feel fortunate that we have a young couple living in the house while we are away knowing they will care for the home till we return.


DinghyRamps Installed

SwimplatformDinghyrampsWe installed the DinghyRamps yesterday afternoon as well as the telescopic swim ladder and cleats. The blow-out panels, stainless steel supports under the swim platform, d-rings, and ladder from the aft deck to the swim platform are the only items left to do on the stern. We will install two new water pumps on the diesels and a valve cover gasket on the starboard engine, as well as add two additional house batteries (they provide power for lights, etc. when at anchor). I will finish buffing today (supposed to rain this weekend, of course) and a few fiberglass repairs here and there and that should be it. Hope to splash her on Monday or Tuesday of next week!

Last Haul-Out prior to Great Loop (hopefully!!)

I wanted to post a couple of last shots of the swim platform before the boatyard begins attaching it to Makin Memories. We will attach the cleats and telescopic swim ladder as soon as the main platform is attached to the transom. We plan on installing the DinghyRamps once we can perform a final measurement to make sure all fit according to plan (d-rings in the optimal position, etc.)!! Afterwards, the ladder from the aft deck to the swim platform will be modified and reattached and all should be ready. We have a few other items that will be addressed in the engine room and a few minor cosmetics on the deck and hull to complete, and then ash  her and then the cleaning and packing for January can take place





Version 2Makin Memories is scheduled for haul-out today; weather permitting. It is exciting for both Jean and me as we anticipate the final touches in preparation for departure in January. The boat is not the only item that needs attention in preparing for a journey of a year’s duration. The house, the cars, banking, to name a few need attention too. This weekend we spent time reviewing household operations with the couple that will be moving into our house while we are away, as well as packing and storing. With two months left before we depart, it is incredible how much there is still to do!

Learning to Fiberglass

SUP BeforeFiberglass work always alluded me in the past. Now that I own a few watercraft, fiberglass and it’s repairing demands that I learn how to or go broke having others do it for me. It began on a Saturday after several hours on stand up paddle boards when I was hoisting them back up in the garage to where they hang above the cars from the garage ceiling. As I was hoisting, the line broke, and they both came crashing down, damaging the rearward end of both of thSUP afterem (likewise dinging my wife’s car in the process). Off to the marine store in town to purchase epoxy and fiberglass cloth. Then I did what many of us now do when faced with a project never attempted before, I watched a few YouTube videos and sallied forth mixing my first concoction of epoxy and kick (an experienced “fiberglassers” word for accelerant). With a little more sanding, they will be ready for the water.

Swim Platform with blow-out holes cut-in

Swim Platform Oct 11 17We are getting closer to hauling out Makin Memories and preparing her for her custom swim platform. Today we discussed cleat position and non-skid application. The swim ladder location will be on the port side and measures 18 1/2″ L by 12 1/4″ W and will fold up and lay neatly Swim Platform Oct 11 17on the topside of the platform. It is a “four rungs” telescopic type for a less stressful climb aboard. For the ladder from the aft deck to the swim platform, we are hoping that we can repurpose it and by leaving a twenty-inch height gap between the last step and the platform, we will still have plenty of standing space between the transom and the dinghy tube. The dinghy ramps are in their location and will be bolted in once we bring the dingy by to make sure their positioning is correct.




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