Need a sailing fix?

It’s been nearly five months since I’ve hoisted a sail, and that’s just too darn long. Hope you all are getting out there on the water. Yeah we’ve kept busy with the five little boats, but I also finally focused on figuring out i-Movie so we can share video of the Mexico travels. OK, drumroll please… edited video #1 comes your way tonight!  Holy crap, movie making is hard. You guys get what you pay for here. We’re picking up the story after the 2019 Baja HaHa and my solo sail from Cabo up to LaPaz. Recall we left Ravenswing in the marina just before Thanksgiving. In this video I go back to the boat in February, and with two crew-shifts, we adventure towards Puerto Vallarta. Sailing the Pacific side of Mexico has been magical so far.  Perhaps you’ll agree…

35 knots

We ticked a lot of boxes on the punch list for the SeaFlite ski boat over the past week. The old gas tank was unsalvageable so for now we’ll go portable.

With gas in the tank, the new battery tucked in, and a hose hooked up to water pump feed ‘earmuffs’, the engine fired right up. So I towed a mile over to the Petaluma River ramp, and just like that the 33 years streak of sitting on that trailer came to an end!

No leaks and nothing suspicious. The interior wasn’t installed yet so I grabbed a footstool for a captains chair and pulled off the dock. Made some circles near the ramp, in case there was any trouble. Made bigger and bigger loops, and stepped up through 2,000 and 3,000 rpm. Wow, this is fast with the 120hp outboard! It stalled a couple times and wouldn’t hold an idle, and the wind and current really picked up. So I put it back on the trailer and pulled up to the flushing station (our river is actually a tidal slough). Here the engine ran perfectly, so I relaunched the boat, removed the motor cover and fussed with the spark dwell setting, and got a good idle. I had great plans of giving you guys a first-launch video, but with my new GoPro chest strap I managed to capture ten minutes of the dashboard and knees. We’ll do better for you this weekend!

Anyway, with the idle sorted it was time to open up the throttle. Got a sailing phone app open and saw 35kts boat speed at about 5200 rpm. There’s more speed in that throttle, and probably more top end with a higher pitch prop. This one is only 15” and it planes pretty much instantly. This little boat is a screamer. 35.5kts is 40+mph, so we hit that goal I told Rick a couple weeks back ;). Satisfied, I pulled it out, rinsed out the salt, and happily marched home to do cosmetics.

Got some indoor/outdoor carpet off the 12’ wide roll at Home Depot.

Then spent an evening scrubbing 3 decades of shed grime off the while vinyl upholstery. It’s still serviceable!

And yes, you old timers are wondering if the seats fold down flat… yep, total 70’s day bed loungers.

Got Jeanne out to the driveway and she was inspired to polish up some metal bits. I went after scrubbing the orange paint. We removed what was left of the registration numbers and a deep layer of DMV stickers. Last one in the pile shows about what year it was painted (originally dark olive gelcoat).

You can see in that stern photo the motor is low in the water, and at speed it threw some side spray, meaning the anti-cavitation plate is too low in the water. So we hooked up the chain hoist over the garage again, and it was a fairly easy task to loosen bolts and take the motor up about an inch and a half.

After this, we kept on with some interior trim stuff, and today found a used full boat cover from Craigslist. Not photographed, but definitely sweat over in the heat, was a complete rewire and new fixtures for the trailer lights, new safety chains and winch/retrieval strap. Four rubber keel rollers and the bow stop are rotten, and being replaced at the next launch time. But we’re leaving the hideous 70’s carpet on the trailer bunk boards for the kids. We’ve got one last big cosmetic item, painting the motor, and then it’s time to go enjoy some river time before this little number slips away to the younger Carters in Colorado. Griffin doesn’t know it yet, but after this much work I’m giving it to him with the caveat of anytime I want to drive to Denver and grab it for a trip to Lake Mead or other western hotspots, it’s fair game. I

f you’re local and want a ride, speak up now. Just bring a chin strap for your hat.

Making a place for the outboard

The ‘69 SeaFlite got her beefy transom upgrade in the last couple of posts, and now we’ll recap building the outboard motor well. The theme of this project is “up cycling” i.e. taking old stuff for free or low cost and make it go faster!

The old motor cover donated itself as panels for the motor well
Didn’t have quite enough width from the old stuff, so the front face is leftover plywood from the transom thickening
The sides come together. The yellow squiggles are old glue that held crappy “sound insulation” around the Merc inline 6
Tying the motor well to the transom gussets
Had to rebate some of the old engine bed to get the new 3/4” floor panel to fit.
This 50 year old boat now has a bit of modern carbon fiber foam core bulkhead panel composite structure in it! (We has some scrap pieces available)
This is under the new motor well; we’ve left a bilge where the old transmission was. Will put in a pump and keep the original drain plug hole.
Finished product, ready for some fairing. Didn’t take any photos of the monotonous fairing passes. Mainly because I wasn’t as particular back here like we were with Ravenswing;)
Pulled up the filthy old carpet and found the original plywood floor had been left untreated. So we did an epoxy skimcoat. That old plywood drank the epoxy like an Annapolis cadet on shore leave. So we’ll probably fill gaps tomorrow with some putty before painting it.
Yea! Glassing work done and first primer applied. I think once we mount the engine this thing will look pretty close to a factory original outboard model.
Yesterday I dove in to the electrical and removed the entire old system. We’re not saving the stylish dashboard and gauges, but hopefully some restorer will buy it all! The tape is around the old MerControl throttle. Sadly I had to cut the old unit because they installed it before bonding that interior panel to the hull. Damn, those old units get $150 on eBay and this one was in good shape.
Making the 3.5” hole for a 1990’s throttle assembly
I’d really like to use the old chrome Merc handle but it just won’t retrofit. Trying to figure out how to “sixties-ize” the used stuff we bought. Stay tuned.

Next up is a bit more primer then hopefully our International Orange from Ravenswing is a good enough color match. I spent Sunday in Sacramento pulling a 90’s Evinrude 120hp V4 from a going-to-recycling boat. mid 90’s heat and it took from 9:30am to 2, including throwing my chainhoist over the old guy’s front yard tree, but we got everything we need including gauges, shifter, a nice Teleflex steering system and the full wiring harness. The motor had recent work by a reputable mechanic, and it fired up and ran well, so FINGERS CROSSED!

A lot of orange

We’re seeing orange these days. You guys will cut to the final scene here, getting the new transom ready for the motor install.

That’s actually the second paint job. Using Ravenswing’s int’l orange Awlgrip was not even close on color matching. Looked kinda silly to have a different color tail. So the nearby Kelly Moore paint store made a decent match with their toughest enamel, then we also sprayed three layers of automotive clear coat. It’ll do, and if we like this boat, it’s going to need a pro repaint someday anyway :)

Ok, just above the garage doors are the usual big header beams. I’ve bolted on a sturdy piece of aluminum angle with a hole big enough for a huge shackle.

That’s our anchor point for my hillbilly chainhoisting adventures.

No problem, except I noticed a bit of oil leaking from the lower unit. Hmmm, it was serviced and hasn’t been run since. That’ll need investigating before we launch :(. On to the install! The boat was staged just outside the garage for a quick swap of the two trailers, to minimize ‘hang time’ of the motor in the garage doorway.

We sized the well expecting to find an inline 4 cyl motor, which are quite narrow. Ended up with a wide body V4, so when it’s tilted up, the side to side range is limited. Not a problem, but before I hooked up the steering it flopped over and scratched the fresh paint, of course. Oh well.

The motor fits this boat really well, and as RickWS says, it’s all going to look ‘period correct’.

It’s funny how the very easy stuff ends up taking forever. This is the new control box that came with the motor.

Actually, that’s the guts of it that none of us should be seeing. It’s a universal retrofit unit; nothing is labeled and i could find no instructions. The gear selector wasn’t moving and there are many holes / different combos of ways to set it up. This turned in to a six hour ordeal, chasing down ball and roller bearings that weren’t seating well, getting throttle but no gear, then vice versa. And on about the ninth try of various little configuration choices, it all suddenly worked. Phew. It’s averaging upper 90’s here this week, so I was a sweat drenched cussing fool.

After showering and calming down, we got the dashboard going.

Today was wiring day, and this went smoothly.

It’s a good mix of old and new. The 50 year old switches cleaned up very well, but the fuse holders shattered as I twisted off their caps to check fuses. Things that were reused all got proper cleanup.

Learned from a radio guy in Puerto Vallarta to smear Vaseline on the electrical connections, to fight marine corrosion. But because this is a fresh water inland boat, I didn’t do full heat shrink protection on all connectors. It’s more like a factory wiring job, vs. our hard core offshore job on Ravenswing.

We’ve also spent some time cleaning up the shiny bits, and I look forward to the weekend when hopefully we’ll be adding back a bit of bling. Inspired by the amazing detailing we saw in MX of Cam & Vicky’s big tri. We all watched the Marina LaCruz guys spend three+ days polishing all that metalwork and it looked fantastic.

Also in the mix last week was retrieving boat #5 of the Five Little Boats odyssey, doing some cleanup, and getting it quickly moved to a new home. I’m thrilled that 14 yr old Liam up in Lake County is really in to sailing and needed more than his family’s Capri 13. This Coronado 15 will keep him and a friend busy, with its racing hull and double hike-out trapezes. I had to say no to the two senior citizen guys that wanted it – they need a mellower O’Day or similar! The faded red C-15 only stayed in our driveway 6 days. That’s pretty good movement for a scrounger like me.

Well, I just went back outside after dark to check the day’s work. All the electrics work. Motor key kicks over, cell phone (USB) charger good, horn – check, bilge pump, check. The last switch … you guys can see for yourselves :)

PS, those are 50 year old bulbs in the bow and stern lamps!. We’ll probably get some LED swap outs.