Punch List Jobs Trying to Wrap Up

With any job, big or small, the hardest aspect is finishing and wrapping up the “punch list” of loose items and redo items. That is where we have been for the past 10 days! The mast was pulled Feb 5, the new mast installed Feb 28. The final jobs are outlined below as we enjoy living here on mooring ball #2 at Sunset Bay Marina. Yes it is far cheaper to be out cruising and anchored out on our 55 lb Rocna, but until we can raise a sail and shakedown this new rig, we simply keep plugging away on the remaining jobs.

Island Spirit has a mast and the IPY Flag is hoised once again!

Job #1 Install the deck collar mast pin. This is 3/8″ stainless steel pin that goes through the bolted down deck collar and all the way thru the new mast. The purpose of this mast deck pin is the stiffen the deck and prevent it from flexing upward when you tighten down the wire rigging. The new wire rigging is loose when installed and then it is tensioned to the published factory specs. The proper tension is measured with a PT-3 Loos Guage. For our Island Packet 35 these settings are 25 for the uppers, 18 for the lowers and 10 for the backstays. It is easy to do, you simply snap on the PT-3 to the wire and then tighten the Sta-Lok until the gauge reads the proper number. Here is a photo of my PT-3 at 25 on the upper shroud.

The PT-3 Loos Gauge

But first, lets get back to this mast pin. Many Island Packet Yacht owners do not know about this pin and some yachts do not even have one because it was left out when rigging. Some people think the pin is to keep the mast in place if the yacht flips upside down at sea. NO, that is not the purpose. The sole purpose is to add strength to the deck. Imagine if you pull and push on the sides of the boat just abeam of the mast. Push hard inward and upward, What will happen to the center of the deck? It will flex upward due to the upward arch of the cabin roof. Now, add a solid bolted down metal collar around the mast, centered on the deck. Drill a hole, insert a heavy pin and now push in on the edges. The deck will flex upward against this pin and the deck will be solid with zero flexing. This pin basically creates a triangle between the two upper shrouds and the deck collar. Once the rig is put under full load and tensioned, this pin is locked into place and can not move. The deck will not move when bashing offshore in heavy seas. It makes the boat really solid. Here are photos of how I drilled the deck collar and fit the pin into place.

Testing if my drill will fit and be able to drill the hole. The rigging needs to be removed to allow the best access
With the rigging off, I drilled into the deck collar and into the mast at the line om the mast. This helped when drilling the other side.
Our original mast pin was too long for this new mast. This is a 3/8″ stainless steel pin. It needs cut! Good luck.
Lucky for me, we cute the pin at Apex with their metal cutter. THANK YOU!
With the pin in place, we now can add a band clamp to hold it in place and finish the job.
I always us boat life caulk to seal around the mast and deck collar. Notice the band clamp around the pin.
Step one working towards the deck/mast seal is now complete. The last step I do is to wrap the mast boot area with 4″ mast boot tape. Then we cover all of this with a custom canvas wrap.

After finishing the mast pin I now returned the rigging wire to full loads and re-tuned the rig for the 2nd time. I like tuning the rig, I do it every year before we set sail for sea. The final task on the rigging is to add the cotter pins into the turnbuckles and then, finally, she is ready for a shakedown sail.

Our other punch list item we have been working on far longer than we like, is the wiring in the mast. We bought and had installed the best wire and very expensive wire for the VHF and the digital TV antenna. The wire is called LMR 400, and it is very thick and very heavy. This wire requires special end fittings in order to mate the thick core to the proper antenna. The LMR- 400 is very thick and it was run to the VHF antenna. The thinner wire core is the 75 ohm and it was run to the digital TV antenna, all new antennas. The issue became that we discovered, after a few hours of troubleshooting, that the bottom fittings were reversed. TV on VHF and VHF on TV wire. Form the job photos we could tell that they proper wire was connected to the proper antenna on the masthead, so that seems good. We just need to cut off the bottom wire fittings and install new fittings with TV fitting on the TV antenna wire and a VHF fitting on the VHF antenna. An easy mistake to make because the wires look the same, but the core diameters are different.

LMR 400 50 Ohm left with the thick core. Digital DV 75 Ohm on the right w/thinner core

During these little punch list jobs, we celebrated Radeen’s and Alan’s birthdays together. Something we have done for years. Thank you, Alan and Kathy for diverting to Stuart to make this happen…

Birthday dinner at Sailors Return

Of course, I spoiled Radeen with a gift of a new Propane Regulator which was still in the original package. Then after installing this, I made her scones and homemade bread. To top it off, I took her out shopping and then to Bonefish Grill. In all, it was a very fun birthday bash for a few days.

What a gift, a propane regulator
Hayden Scones, cranberry and walnuts
Hayden bread, yum yum
Out to dinner after shopping, Bonefish Grill, Radeen’s fav

One more job accomplished is our replaced B&G Zeus2 chartplotter. Our national B&G rep, Steve, was so kind to replace our 2 with a 3 because the screen was not as clear as we expected. This has been in the works for nearly a year, and now, we finally have received our replacement with a Zeus3.

Out with the old Zeus 2
Drill in a new Zeus 3
Fire up the new Zeus 3 and enjoy the bright screen
Import all 1,084 waypoints and our routes into the new unit.

So, as you can see, we are working thru the punch list. Soon we should be able to go sailing and test out this new mast. For now, we do not mind being in Stuart, Fl. We have missed two shipping dates so far, for shipping back to the Caribbean, and the longer we are stuck here, the more the Caribbean sailing season is slipping away. We are not sure what we are doing related to sailing out, sailing back south, going to the Bahamas, or sailing for home. Who knows. One thing is for sure…..we need to finish this job and shakedown…..then we can start our 2018 season!

Thanks for sailing along…even if we are not sailing….yet….

Watching the sunset from our mooring ball….

Mack Sails Completes Mast Replacement

Team MACK SAILS has completed our hurricane Maria repairs with the installation of our new Charleston Spar #S622 and all new wire rigging with swagged tops and Sta-Lok stainless steel fittings on the bottoms. This team is so professional, and it is very obvious they all have done this hundreds of times before.  With Colin Mack leading his team of 5, and the expert crane operator on site for 3 hours, the mast installation and rigging was flawless.

The crane lifted our new mast (56 feet) from the trailer in the parking to our boat in the water.

Last week the deck opening was cut larger and a new mast collar was bolted down to the deck to allow this new section to fit into our boat. They no longer make the NG-60 Isomat Spar, so this is the recommended replacement. Jeff, the master craftsman, cut the deck and seated the new keel step. Now it was time to step the mast.

Jeff cutting the deck to make room for the larger mast
Island Packet builds a great yacht, this was solid and no gap presented as the hole was cut larger!

Overall, the cutting of the deck and the mounting of a new keel shoe was not that big of a deal. We were worried about this part of the job, but Mack Sails has 31 people on their team with everyone is skilled in different areas, so the work was easily handled. Great job, Jeff!

In with the mast, let’s go! The crane picked up the mast 55+ feet overall, 500 lbs, and lifted it from the new spreaders which have a solid bar thru the mast. The crane rotated around as Colin and his team positioned the mast over the deck. Jose and I went below deck to help guide the mast down into the keel. The 7 wires coming out of the bottom of the mast needed to be fished through a side hole, then fished into the keel and forward thru a chase to the junction boxes. The final process was directing the crane fore, aft, left and right to position the bottom of the mast onto and over the shoe. The mast shoe has a groove and a raised metal ring that matches the profile of the mast. This locks the bottom of the mast into the keel and secures it. At this point, the mast was through the deck collar and onto the keel shoe, so it will stand on its own now.

The view from the boat as the crane lifts the mast
The mast shoe with very special Bahamian coins and a silver dollar earring which belonged to a dear friend for good luck. These were under the mast before, plus we added a new coin from the Dominican Republic from our travels last year!
The mast being lowered into the deck. The wires will be led out the side hole once it is inside near the keel. Very, very dangerous!
The Mack Sails Team and crane operator work so well together. It is obvious these crafstmen know what they are doing.
The view from below deck as the wires lead the way down.
Jose guided the mast down and I helped fish the wires out the side hole and into the keel. You hope and pray the mast does not fall while reaching under the rig!

With the mast NOW in place, it was time to cut the standing rigging wires and tighten down the rig. The wire tops had stem balls swaged onto the wire using hydraulic presses back at the Mack Sails Shop, and the bottom fittings were cut on-site using Sta-Lok fittings. What a great way to rig the wire. These Sta-Lok fittings are easy to repair at sea or in a remote site. They are expensive but they are strong, if not stronger, than swaged fittings. Sta-Lok info here.

The stem ball mast fitting insert
The stem ball inserts into these mast fittings and the fitting is inserted into the mast cutout and secured in place. The rig loads are distributed over this fitting, pulling against the mast.
Sta-Lok wire fittings can be installed on site as the wire is cut to length.
New Sta-Lok turn-buckles ($140 each!) installed on my new (2013) chainplates.

The mast installation wrapped up with the mounting of our B&G 4G radar antenna just below the spreaders. This needed to be drilled and tapped into the mast and wired. They waited to do this to make sure the mount did not hit the rigging wire as it exited the mast. We like the radar up the mast, even though it is more complicated to wire.  One IP owner said, mount the radar as high as the highest waves you want to see over. So, it is up the mast for us. We want to see over 10-15-20 foot waves!

Radar mounted under the spreaders
Radar at the spreaders

At the end of this afternoon, the Mack Sails team had the mast installed, radar mounted, all wiring rigged and cut, new Tides Inn Strong Track installed, new boom gooseneck and new boom vang fittings mounted to the mast. This was an amazing process. Working with a team of people who hustle and simply know how to get it all done was a joy. Again, we cannot imagine trying to do this job in Puerto Rico. Our decision to ship back and to hire this company was the right decision. We have ZERO concerns with their work. Thank you, COLIN MACK and your entire team. WE HAVE A NEW MAST.

Colin Mack and Hayden Cochran on Island Spirit, with new mast installed

Thank you also to Ed who shot video and photography material for use on the Mack Sails website and their YouTube channel. This added even more excitement to the entire job. Great job, Ed!

Hayden and Ed, a selfie as the mast is installed.

The next day, we installed sails and Richard returned to complete the spinnaker car track mounting and winches and cleats on the mast. At the end of that day, we backed out of the service slip at Apex Marine and hosted a Jib and staysail and we sailed down the river. It was wonderful to be sailing again! IT HAS BEEN A LONG PROCESS….but now we can begin the shakedown, stretch in this new wire and begin our 2018 season.

Roll out a JIB
Test out a Jib and a Staysail. Next the mainsail…

Team ISLAND SPIRIT is BACK…..Hurricane Maria knocked us down and Mack Sails rebuilt us back to better than ever.

Now, time to buy Radeen a nice new present, I think a new CODE ZERO would be very nice for her……..go MACK!