Boat work! We do a lot of it!

Boat work
January 27, 2018

I’ve updated our THE PROJECT page with what we did for Halcyon in 2017. But so you don’t have to hurt your thumbs by clicking more than necessary — here’s what I added.


This was our first full year out cruising, and apparently Halcyon took a bit of a beating! Get comfy…this list is long.


Pretty stairs

  • When we first bought the boat, we threw down some carpet strips so the dog wouldn’t slip and slide on the way down. It stayed that way….way too long. We finally ripped off the old carpet, sanded and oiled the stairs and added some pretty blue nonskid pads










In San Blas, Mexico, we found some new friends and great workers to help us prettify Halcyon.

  • Over three days, the four of us stripped/sanded/cleaned/primed/varnished the rest of the teak with Awlwood, polished all of the stainless steel and waxed the hull. It was a marathon, but Halcyon had never looked better!

New bed

  • Our old “mattress” was pretty bagged out. So we bought new foam in Puerto Vallarta, transported it by (very small) car to Barra de Navidad, cut it using the old one as a template, and stuffed it in the cover. Voile!










New autopilot

  • We lived and sailed the boat for 6 years before installing our first autopilot. I know, we’re nuts. But we finally got a tiller pilot, and modified it to work on our boat (which has a wheel, not a tiller). It can steer if we are sailing or motoring, and only uses a tiny bit of power to do it.

Sew much sewing

  • I got a little crazy when I borrowed our friend’s sewing machine for a few weeks. I made covers for our jerry cans, propane tanks (and line and solenoid), outboard, gas tank and autopilot. I made cushions for outside. I made sides for our bimini. It was alot of sewing.

New batteries

  • The batteries we installed when we first bought Halcyon treated us well, but they were not holding a charge like they used to. So we replaced them with LTH’s (the best thing you can find in Mexico).
  • We kept the same setup of 6 6-volts in series and then parallel.

The rebedding continues

  • Another stanchion rebed. It seems about the time we’ve done them all, the first one starts to leak. At least we’ve got the process down now (um – but this is not it->).


New watermaker

  • We bought an old used small functional watermaker from a fellow cruiser, then John rebuilt it three times. But then it worked!
  • It is a katadyn (or Pur) 40. It only makes 1.2 gallons per hour, but it also only draws about 4 amps. So our solar panels can keep up with it.

Transmission rebuild

    • Our transmission kicked the bucket on the way into Zihuatanejo. So we found a mechanic, got parts shipped in, and had it rebuilt.

Endless engine work

  • Our leaky mess of a Westerbeke 4107 really started acting up this year (not good timing, Westie!)
  • In hunting down the issues, we did a “poor man’s fuel polish” (in which we pumped the fuel through filters several times and cleaned out the tank, then put it back in), replaced all of the fuel lines, added a pressure gauge and plumped in an electric pump (still mounted from our old diesel heater)

That damn wind arrow

  • Replaced the wind arrow on our garmin unit – for the third time – after a bird carried it off

Winch rebuilds

  • We took apart every winch on the boat and serviced, cleaned and greased all the innards

More engine work

  • Removed and cleaned out heat exchanger
  • Replaced the transmission oil cooler (we were VERY lucky to notice this compromised piece before it filled with salt water and seized our newly rebuilt transmission
  • Replaced hoses going to/from the transmission oil cooler
  • Removed and repaired the injector line, replaced injector washers, fixed a leak in the first injector
  • Replaced gasket in the exhaust elbow


A big ole’ HAUL OUT

    • In Chiapas, Mexico, we hauled out for the season and tackled ALOT of projects. Here’s the short list.

More rebedding

  • the two forward portlights were due for a rebed

Hull painting

  • We painted the topside of the hull (from waterline to deck). This project should really take up more than a single line…it took 6 weeks and every ounce of energy we could muster. And that was with help.

New spinnaker pole home

  • This is a project we’d wanted to do for a long time. We started by grinding off the block at the top of the spinnaker pole track on the front of the mast, then added more track to double the length. Next we made a new block and finally mounted the spinnaker pole permanently on the mast.
  • Now it deploys easily with one person using one line! Go-go-gadget HAMMOCK DEPLOY


New scuppers

  • Valiants have undersized drains in the side decks. One leaf skillfully placed over the grate andour side decks would fill with water.
  • Since we were repainting anyway, we took the opportunity to drill some big new holes in the side of the boat. No more puddles of water!


Windlass service

  • We rebuilt, cleaned, greased and painted the windlass


Lead keel inspection

  • There is always a crack in the paint where the fiberglass hull meets the exposed lead section. We sanded down all of the bottom paint in that area to make sure the cracking was just in the paint (good news – it was!)

Painted bottom

  • Of course! We used ABC-4, the only red bottom paint in all of Mexico, apparently.

Fixed rudder crack

  • Late in the haul out, we discovered a sizable crack on the underside of the rudder. We ground it down, filled it in with epoxy and layered it up with fiberglass.
  • Likely soon we will need to drop the rudder and do a “proper fix”, but this is plenty stout for now

Regular haul out maintenance

  • Replaced zincs, greased max prop, inspected, cleaned and greased thru hulls

Radar troubleshooting

  • Our radar hasn’t been working up to snuff. We took it apart, cleaned it and sprayed lots of CorrosionX inside. And it helped!

More varnishing

  • Everything got a light sand and another coat of Awlwood – we are now over 1 year in and it’s still looking great

Sail patching

  • I took advantage of the big grassy knoll by the yard and spread out all of our sails, patching and repairing any spots that needed it

Bonding system head-scratching

  • Something is eating up our zincs too fast, and we can’t blame the marina anymore
  • We spent time going through our bonding system, chasing wires and trying to understand what’s going on. We found 2 thru hulls that weren’t bonded, so plugged them into the system

Gunnel calking

  • Calked the seam between the gunnel and the hull

So yeah, it was quite a haul out.


You know – there’s a joke that cruising is just doing boatwork in foreign locations. I’m not so sure it’s a joke!


  1. John Robinson

    March 14, 2019

    It’s truly amazing all the work you’ve done yourselves! And a whole bunch of improvements on the original – and the modified original you inherited. I wanted to fix those deck drains for 31 years. I’m sure the new engine/transmission gives you a great deal more confidence in heading out again. My sympathies on re-bedding the ports. Replacing the originals was the worst task I ever encountered since they were originally installed with 5200.

    We always enjoy your blog and articles and look forward to seeing you in Seattle one of these days. Fair winds.


  2. Patrick

    January 27, 2018

    Wow, that’s a lot of work! Hard to believe you had any time for sailing with all that.

    Nice choice of paint colors – you have the same blue and red as our boat now. Is it Awlgrip on the topsides?

    You’ve probably read the debate on bonding systems, but bonding thruhulls is the old way of doing things as far as I can tell. New theory is don’t bond because if you do then your stray current corrosion could destroy the zincs *and* thruhulls (eventually). Real fix is to get to the bottom of whether you have stray current (and maybe add a galvanic isolator).

Comments are closed.

John and Becca Guillote

John is the photographer. He portrays the layers of history, emotion, spirit and culture in each moment through his application of light, perspective, and detail. He also takes pictures.

Becca is the writer. She tells vivid stories of authentic moments, highlighting the beautiful, dangerous, dramatic and hilarious with grammatically correct sentences and her tongue held firmly by her cheek.


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