Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The Anchor Locker Is No Place to be In Your Underwear
We like the view from "on the hook" way better than at any marina. Here, Swing Set is at one of our favorite anchorages behind Lumpy Island (Small island in the picture) just off the Dardenne Slough on the Mississippi River on the Alton Pool.
It's not a very good picture, but you can see the windlass that we installed last spring, and you can also see two extra Danforth anchors, along with anchor line that we keep stowed on the bow. I'm not too keen on leaving the anchor lines stowed out in the sun, but they are where they need to be for deployment. I'll replace them as necessary.
The new chain/rope windlass arrived as advertised and we sent the old one back to the Good Automatic Windlass folks in the same shipping package. The windlass came with very good instructions as to the installation. It also came with a "board" made of plastic that was to cover the old windlass holes. One reason for writing this post is to perhaps allow you to avoid one or two of my mistakes that I made during this process.
With the old windlass, only one hole through the deck was necessary. The new windlass, having the windlass motor below the deck, needed not only the hole for the rode to pass through, a hole for the motor shaft had to be made. A template was provided, but the decision I had to make was mainly in the placement of the template. I figured to match the existing hole to the template where the hole for the new windlass was to be. Simple so far, right?
The deck where our windlass is mounted is over 4" thick. The hole needed to be 4" in diameter where the windlass shaft and motor flange had to pass. I bought a hole saw for my drill, thinking that would do the trick, but a hole saw made for a drill only goes through material 2" thick or so before binding up.
I don't know about you, but attacking the deck of your boat with power tools is a little daunting, to say the least, but what needed to be done, needed to be done, so on the attack I went. After realizing that the hole I had just drilled wasn't deep enough, I figured to finish the job with my jigsaw, only the blades were just a little too short to make it all the way through the deck material. A trip to the hardware store to get longer blades gave me time to regroup and get my thoughts together.
Before sealing all the surfaces with 3M 5200 to keep water from soaking into our decking, I attempted a "dry fit" of the windlass. There is an access hatch to our anchor locker in the bow, and it's a very small triangular hatch. I could just barely put an arm through it with a little room left over so I could see what I was doing. That is when I encountered my first speed bump.
I had not considered the clearances within the anchor locker for a different windlass. The instructions clearly stipulate how much room the locker should be to keep anchor lines from getting tangled, but the bulkhead towards the stern of the locker was in the way when I attempted to slip the motor into the holes on the shaft and flange. I could see that once the bolts on the motor assembly were in position, there would be enough clearance, but the studs were about an inch long and the bulkhead was preventing me from slipping the studs on the motor assembly into the flange. My only solution was to move the whole windlass forward to get the necessary clearance. Here is where the phrase, "I'd rather be lucky than good", comes into play.
I only needed to elongate the existing holes about an inch to allow clearance down below in the locker, and the lucky part is that the mounting board for the new windlass was going to cover all the holes with room to spare to apply plenty of sealant. I coated the insides of the new holes with 5200, applied sealant on the deck around the two holes, and mounted the board, using the 3M 5200 in the holes for the mounting screws for this board. The studs for the windlass don't just pass through this supplied board, but go through the thick part of the deck too. The holes for these studs were filled with 5200 as well.
The windlass was secured to the deck, the nuts on the mounting studs were firmly in place and the next phase was the mounting of the motor assembly to the windlass shaft. The motor assembly is not all that heavy, but remember the hatch to our anchor locker is too small for anything but one arm. I could hold the assembly up with one arm and place the studs into the flange holes, but the problem of placing the nuts onto the studs once they were in position seemed insurmountable.
My wife Rosie began to get nervous as I began to eyeball the anchor locker opening and her waist size. I explained to her my need for her to enter the anchor locker to install the nuts onto the windlass motor assembly studs as I held it in place. Not without a little trepidation, she attempted to enter the anchor locker. I want it noted here that I had very considerately vacuumed out the locker before asking her to get into it. I also had to "Cross my heart and hope to die", before she agreed to enter the locker, complete with locking cover. :) Rosie was slipping in feet first and the going was fine until she got to her hips. Not only was the rubber gasket peeling off around the lip of the hatch, her jeans were hanging up on the rubber gasket too. Keep in mind that this was in February. Although we actually had unseasonably warm temperatures that evening, my suggestion for her to remove her jeans for extra clearance was met with the "Are you out of your mind?" look. I've seen that look plenty of times before, and as we were running out of daylight I explained the urgency of the situation. Finally, the jeans came off and Rosie went in.
I had plenty of light inside the locker, Rosie had the washers and the nuts, and an appropriately sized wrench. There are eight studs along with the nuts that hold the motor housing onto the windlass shaft flange, and being up close to the rear bulkhead, space was tight for swinging an open end wrench. Did I mention that up until this point in her life, Rosie had never used a wrench before, open end or box, no matter. Sure, she's used a screwdriver a few times, but things can get tricky in a hurry with a wrench. Stripped threads on a stud are one of those tricky things.
I could place the nuts onto the studs as Rosie held the motor assembly into place and get them finger tight, but a couple of the nuts on the far side from me on the flange were impossible for me to reach with the wrench and clearance was very tight. The small amount of clearance only allowed about 1/4 of a turn of the wrench. Rosie made a valiant effort to tightened these last two nuts, but as she would turn the nut the maximum quarter turn, she would then turn it back a quarter turn to take the wrench off to get another purchase of it. So as she was crammed into the anchor locker in her underwear, I was giving her instructions as to how it was necessary to remove the wrench after each turn and place it again between turns of the nut.
Making full use of the "helper" at my mercy in the small confines of the anchor locker, wiring up the windlass was a snap after another lesson in how to use wire crimpers.
As darkness had settled in, we wrapped up our project and it was time to test our installation. I hit the switch....and got nuthin'. I reluctantly let Rosie out of the anchor locker, fully realizing that I may never get her into it again, and planned on calling the fine folks at the Good Automatic Windlass Company the next business day.
Once I got my call into the technician at Good and explained the problem, he said that the one thing everyone does when they install these windlasses is that they over tighten the nuts on the in line fuse. I had recalled some "play" in the stud on the fuse after I had installed one of the nuts and felt confident that this was the problem. I confirmed my suspicion by bypassing the fuse just to try it. The motor worked, only backward. I switched the wires on the solenoid and the motor worked as it should. I called Good again and admitted my mistake on attaching the in line fuse and I was told that they would send out another fuse, free of charge, ASAP. Contrition at the appropriate times can be to ones advantage.
Setting an anchor with chain is a little different than setting one with rope only. The technique requires "backing down" our Delta anchor with a little more force than I had been using, even in a strong current. It took a bit of practice, but once I had perfected my technique, we were able to set a secure anchor with confidence, allowing for a sound sleep.
A couple of tips may be of use to you: I have a couple of anchor alarm applications installed on my iPhone. Even thought I have an alarm on my GPS on the bridge, I can't hear that alarm from the master stateroom. I can hear the anchor alarm on the phone, but keep in mind that this app eats up the battery life on the phone and it's necessary to keep the phone plugged into the charger. Another tip that I got from one of the many boating publications I routinely read is that to keep algae and barnacles from growing on your anchor line during several days on the hook, is to let out 20-30 feet of line every other day, and then take it in alternately. It's the sun shining through the water that promotes the algae growth, and as the line is alternately positioned deep enough below the surface, the algae won't grow. Conversely, barnacles won't grow on line that isn't in the water, so the idea is to not keep the same parts of the line at the same depth of the water all the time.
The down side to this tale is that Rosie has been eating more than her share of donuts in the morning, in order to prevent any future forays into tight spaces such as the anchor locker.