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Old 12-12-2020, 19:14   #1
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78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

First of all, I am 78. I have had a wonderful life. For the better part of 60 years I have been an Aerospace Engineer most of which was spent with TRW in the ICBM missile field. Within that 60 years I also started from scratch an Avionics company and owned and managed it for 12 years.

During most of my life I have had power boats. I also have owned airplanes (Mooney M20E), helicopter (Brantly B-2) and misc motorcycles and other vehicles. My favorite boat was a Trojan 27 ft. Sportfisher w/ flybridge. I wintered the boat in a Morrow Bay slip and summered it at Port San Luis Obispo, Ca.

The most relaxing hours of my life were alone on my boat salmon and albacore fishing off Port San Luis. My employer transferred me from Vandenberg AFB to Norton AFB in San Bernardino, Ca. So long to the ocean boating. We are about 1 1/2 hour away from the marinas and the slip costs are so high in So Cal that I never gave any thought to owning another ocean going boat.

In the mean time I have built up a large electronics lab in my home to support my current employment (Director of Engineering at a local Avionics company) and also as a hobby I built up a complete CNC machine shop in my garage.

After having watched sailing Vblogs for about a year, I GOT THE BUG. I have never sailed but had years of experience of power boating, so thought there is a new challenge I have not attempted.

Since most of my engineering has been hands on rather than theoretical and have overhauled nearly everything I have owned, I thought fixing up a sailboat that could be purchased fairly inexpensively would be a piece of cake. NOT!

I ended up purchasing a Columbia 45 Center Cockpit sailboat that is in Portland, Oregon some 800 miles away. While my employer is very flexible with me taking time off to work on the boat, it is a 17 hours drive in each direction which I have made about 5 times so far. The boat was purchased 'as is - where is' and is sitting in a slip.

The previous owner had a passion for doing the work himself. Due to health reasons he had to abandon his dream and sell the boat......or should I say project. As it turns out he had the means to buy the most expensive replacement items for the boat but did not have anything installed. This includes the brand new Perkins 95 HP engine that is just sitting in the bilge and a brand new MASE 7 KW generator that is sitting in the salon. This project quickly turned into a much larger effort than I initially imagined. I still have no doubt I have the capability to complete the installation/refit it is going to take longer than expected.

The logistics is a nightmare. I considered having the boat trucked from Portland to Long Beach where I have a slip reserved, but the cost was over $12K and there were questions about the shipping that the trucking company did not adequately answer. I did not feel comfortable with shipping it for a number of reasons. The boat yard in Portland indicated that I would have to cut all the wires to the main mast and radar mast and disassemble the SS dodger and bimini myself. The boat yard at this end was not sure he could lift the boat without knowing the exact weight. He also indicated that installing the rigging would be $175/hr with no estimate in sight. All in all I decided to not ship it by truck even though it would be much more convenient to work on it at this end closer to home.

Instead, my decision was to finish the engine and generator installation in Portland, make it seaworthy and sail or motor it down to Long Beach. Once here I can take my time to finish all the loose ends and improvements on my own time schedule.


As it turned out, the trips to Portland to work on the boat have been far less productive than I imagined. The owner had a garage full of parts and materials for the boat which I ended up having to rent two storage units to put them in. I found it so difficult to find any help to assist me that I was nearly ready to find a homeless guy in desperation. The boat yard that is part of the marina charges extremely high prices and will not work on the boat while it is in the slip. Also, when on the hard you are not allowed to stay or work on your own boat. What a bummer!

After talking to another C45 owner, I was convinced that my original plan to make it seaworthy in Portland and sail/power it down the coast is still the best plan.

After the last 5 week trip to Portland, the weather got cold and rainy. I finally was tired out and decided to come back home and take a break. This gives me the time to do the engineering for the engine and generator installation, have some custom motor mounts made and source the parts for the missing exhaust systems.

Would I have done this again knowing what I know now? Probably not. It is not because the monetary value is not there, nearly everything new is an attractive element. It is because of the logistics of being able to do the work far away from home and your tools. Not finding any help to hire is also a deterrent.

I will probably make some more trips to the boat and continue the installations and look to Spring bring it down the coast. The weather absolutely sucks in Portland this time of year for working on the boat.

Wish me luck.
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Old 13-12-2020, 06:06   #2
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

Welcome to the Forum, Calmissile,

Ah, the joys of boat ownership!

A journey of 10,000 miles begins with the first step. (Confucius)

You're many steps into it now, so just keep moving forward and realize that no matter how long the re-fit items take, eventually they will all be installed and you will have much more intimate knowledge of your new boat.

Good luck!
Fair winds,
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Old 13-12-2020, 14:24   #3
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

Hi and welcome from Ontario Canada
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Old 13-12-2020, 15:17   #4
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

Welcome, my 2 cents would be to pay a couple hundred bucks for a rigger to inspect the rig. It would be a shame to install a new engine and generator only to have the rig fail and you lose the mast. Also you didn't mention an autopilot. You'll want one for such a trip. Keep us updated and good luck.
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Old 13-12-2020, 17:29   #5
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

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Originally Posted by LLCoolDave View Post
Welcome, my 2 cents would be to pay a couple hundred bucks for a rigger to inspect the rig. It would be a shame to install a new engine and generator only to have the rig fail and you lose the mast. Also you didn't mention an autopilot. You'll want one for such a trip. Keep us updated and good luck.
Thanks for all the comments and encouragement.

Yes, I will hire a rigger to inspect all of the standing and running rigging. As I mentioned, I basically know very little about the sailing components other than what I have picked up on many videos and blogs. Due to my background and experience, it is easiest for me to get all the systems installed and working so it is functional as a power boat first. After that I will have to find someone in the Portland area to assist me with all the sailing related hardware. At that point I will also need to find or hire someone to go with me to learn the basics of sailing.

One of the first surprises I discovered when beginning the clean up and installation of the various systems was that I did not know how to do some simple things such as figuring out how to attach clamps, etc. without drilling holes in the hull. I avoided doing so until I had a chance to see how it is done by others once all the factory supplied attach points were already used up. This is my first fiberglass hull and I have no experience working with fiberglass. Turns out this is/was a huge void in my knowledge/experience base.

After watching a number of boat repair videos it was not long before I discovered how it is typically done. Rather than drilling holes to add shelves, mounting plates, etc like you would in a wood boat, it became clear that the technique is to bond a wood shelf, or mounting platform onto the fiberglass hull or bulkhead. No fasteners required. I did not realize that you could get a very strong structure by bonding glass to glass.

After this revelation, I concluded that there is a whole new set of skills that I would need to learn to do it correctly. After viewing many videos, I discovered one channel that stands out and I have been binge watching it and I highly recommend it to anyone that needs to learn fiberglassing techniques and skills.

https://www.youtube.com/hashtag/boatworkstoday

One of the biggest problems I have with working on the boat projects is having no place to set up the power saws, drill press, sanding tools, etc. other than the boat itself. The storage units I rent in Scappoose do not have electrical power so I can't use them for a workshop.

If anyone on the forum knows someone in Scappoose that would consider renting out a small shop area by the week I would be interested. I will probably be limited to coming to Portland a couple weeks at a time. I also may be interested in renting a room by the week.

The other issue is finding some help. Some of the tasks are simple and nearly anyone could do them such as tracing out wires and hoses and making simple sketches of the configuration. I have to focus on the complex tasks such as the design and fabrication of the engine and generator exhaust systems and mounting hardware at this point. Since there are no drawings of all the many systems that have been added, it is necessary to reverse engineer what is in place and complete the installations.

If someone has some free time perhaps we could exchange some skill sets and both make out. I cannot afford to hire the boat yard personnel for these tasks so am looking for other solutions. Any suggestions?
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Old 13-12-2020, 17:51   #6
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

Quote:
Originally Posted by LLCoolDave View Post
Welcome, my 2 cents would be to pay a couple hundred bucks for a rigger to inspect the rig. It would be a shame to install a new engine and generator only to have the rig fail and you lose the mast. Also you didn't mention an autopilot. You'll want one for such a trip. Keep us updated and good luck.
Had to chuckle at your comments. I hired a marine shop to come out to Scappoose and give me a quote on the installation of the engine and generator. If I remember correctly it cost me about $200 for just the trip and quote. The quote was about $12,000 for the job and the boat would have to be towed to their facility to do the work (about 10 miles) and the towing was not part of the price. Needless to say, this was not an option. When I mentioned the quote to the former owner of the boat, he said "That's nothing, they quoted me $20,000)"

If you know a reputable rigger that would inspect the rigging for a couple hundred bucks let me know. I would even be willing to pay more for a few hours of education on my specific sail setup and how it is used.

As far as the autopilot, I started with the electronics and electrical system and nothing was working. In fact the electronics breaker popped when engaged. I eventually traced the problem to a wiring error on a terminal board and got most of the systems powered up. There are still issues that I need to figure out such as the flux gate compass and wind direction indicator that are way off. The flux gate compass is mounted in the bilge directly above the cast iron keel so am going to take a spare I have and temporarily wire it in to determine if I can find a much better location.

The autopilot (Raymarine) is an under deck system and the previous owner had not installed the linear actuator. Apparently he was planning to connect it to the steering quadrant which I read was a no-no. I have since ordered an Edson steering arm to attach directly to the rudder shaft. It is one of the projects I will do when I go to the boat next time. It will be necessary to drill the rudder post for the pin that secures it to the arm. Also will mount the linear actuator at the same time.
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Old 13-12-2020, 17:59   #7
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

Welcome CalMissile,


My 2 cents. Pay to have the boat moved south and pay to have it stored on the hard. You can work up a quote here. get a couple and compare.



Boat Hauling Rates
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Old 13-12-2020, 18:35   #8
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

A rigging inspection really only takes an hour or two so they aren't that expensive.

Just to qualify my comments. I bought a boat in average condition and I live on it so I fix things and learn as I go along. Personally I would cut bait and run on a project like this. A Columbia 45 is not really a desirable boat and after its all said and done you might get 30 cents on the dollar when you sell. Lots of people come to the forum with a similar story but with fewer qualifications and not many stick with it to completion. In the beginning everyone thinks they will finish.

But.....if you want to see it to completion I have a few ideas and more knowledgeable people will chime in. The bottom line is you are going to have to have the boat hauled out for bottom paint and most of the interior work. Get a good look at the rudder. Most marinas aren't going to allow a major refit at the dock. Then power and space won't be a problem. Whether its better to install the generator and motor (or if its even possible) while in the water, I don't know.

There are a couple wooden boat building schools and marine technical colleges in the PNW. I would call them and see if they have any recent graduates looking for work. Rent a two bedroom apt near the boat yard and offer this graduate room and board plus an hourly rate, maybe $40 an hour (?). Lots cheaper than the boatyard.

Its a little outside the box but it might work.
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Old 13-12-2020, 18:50   #9
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

my 2 cents is to move it to a yard near you or sell it --otherwise its nearly impossible to fix it to move it by sea by working remotely part time .
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Old 14-12-2020, 20:13   #10
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

I ran across some photos that relate to my intro while I was searching for something else. Thought I would drop them in here just for the fun of it. This was the time I was enjoying my power boat.

https://imgur.com/ApSzW6f
https://imgur.com/HiUulBZ
https://imgur.com/sHGOWkK
https://imgur.com/AJa9RS8
https://imgur.com/aw95FpS
https://imgur.com/y6muhia
https://imgur.com/OXi371N
https://imgur.com/TwC9vUH
https://imgur.com/2fXCq2s
https://imgur.com/ci1EqIH
https://imgur.com/WaUKafr
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Old 15-12-2020, 00:47   #11
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

1st., Welcome to the forum. 2nd. You should have done your homework before purchasing the boat as to the cost of what it might need. Without an engine, you are at the mercy of yard and Marine related owners. That is why they do not allow do it your-self-ers. Your best bet is to forget the generator for now and focus on the engine. Forget about the rigging and get the hell out of there closer to home. Hire a captain if you have to. I have built 2 steel sailboats of my own from scratch and brought back 4 f/g boats that were derelict. So I can tell you that everything will cost twice as much as you think and take three times longer. There is a reason my sailboat projects get shorter in length as I get older.
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Old 15-12-2020, 01:34   #12
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

Celestialsailor has a good suggestion. Focus on the tasks needed to get the boat mobile so it can be relocated to your home port. That means an engine, fuel, and (for me) an autopilot. Don't worry about sailing except to inspect rig for soundness.

There are a couple underlying assumptions in your story. First, being only 1-1/2 hrs away from the boat will make it easier. It will, but that's still a long distance so it's only easier compared to 2 hrs, or 3 hrs, etc. You still won't have a workshop when you get to the boat. Second, that Portland is inherently expensive and you will find low cost alternatives in SoCal. Doubtful.

The other option is to sell it and abandon the project. You're 78 years old, is this really how you want to spend the next 2-5 years? If your goal is to restore a boat and you enjoy tinkering and solving difficult logistical problems, you've chosen well. If your goal is to journey on a sailboat, you're at risk of running out of highway before you finish your journey.

You have 20 years on me and I cannot tell you how much I respect your drive and energy. I have been tinkering and building stuff since I was 16 when i bought my first motorcycle. I've rewired, replumbed, repowered, remodeled, and rebuilt countless houses, condos, boats, barns, motorcycles and cars. When I was younger I was broke and had no choice. As I got older, I simply had trouble finding people to do the work at a fair rate which is where you are.

But at some point, the currency of life changes.Time becomes the valuable commodity. At some point there is no denying you are over the halfway mark and there is more highway in the rear view mirror than the windshield.

I'm guessing that the engineer in you wants to rise to the challenge. But it sounds like you have made a mistake. If so, pull the rip cord on this and bail. Consider the money to be tuition and reload with a more manageable project. You've learned a lot. Time to revalidate the project and reassess your path forward.

Regardless, it's inspirational that you have the energy to take this as far as you have. My drive to do stuff has greatly diminished. Thanks for sharing and best of luck with whatever you decide.

Peter
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Old 15-12-2020, 01:52   #13
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

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Originally Posted by calmissile View Post

........

If someone has some free time perhaps we could exchange some skill sets and both make out. I cannot afford to hire the boat yard personnel for these tasks so am looking for other solutions. Any suggestions?
Iím in a similar situation to yourself in that I just bought a boat that needs a bunch of work. My two suggestions are as follows:

1) a boat yard that does WNY let you work on your boat when itís on the hard? Did I understand that right? That makes no sense. Why are people supposed to put it on the hard, to admire the keel?

2) what Iím doing to solve the labor problem is to post an ad on Craigslist for by the hour labor. I will try to do as much as I can with 5 guys over two days and then if there are any snags, then I will pay the boat yard. As you pointed out, a lot of this is just simple labor.
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Old 15-12-2020, 05:09   #14
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, calmissile.
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Old 15-12-2020, 05:37   #15
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Re: 78 And Starting Over - From Power to Sail

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1) a boat yard that does NOT let you work on your boat when itís on the hard? Did I understand that right? That makes no sense. Why are people supposed to put it on the hard, to admire the keel?
My guess is you heard this right. I don't know if it's liability, environmental issues, DIY hassle factor, or that it's more profitable to work on a boat than just store it, but yards are moving away from allowing DIY labor. When I hauled and painted my bottom at Berkeley Marine Center (SF Bay) two years ago, they had a very limited number of DIY slots and had a healthy wait-list for those. My understanding was even that accommodation was becoming unusual, at least in the Bay Area.

Peter
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