These Stabilizers Are Making Me Unstable

We took Magic Carpet to a local boatyard last Sunday, in preparation for a planned haulout for bottom painting and some miscellaneous maintenance.

The 10 mile trip from Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona to Lighthouse Marina at Ponce Inlet was uneventful, except that the winds, which were forecast to be very light, had not listened to the forecast.

When we arrived, the wind was blowing rather vigorously, and of course, it was blowing AWAY from the dock I wanted to end up on, and the tide had not yet fully turned, so it too was pushing me away from the dock. A local SeaTow captain was in the marina and he was kind enough to come over and grab the lines that Janet and a friend of ours tossed to him, and with some grunting by the line handlers and some skillful engine work by the captain of Magic Carpet, we managed to get all snugged up to the dock.

OK, the skillful engine work part is a bit of a stretch, but we did end up where we wanted to be.

Monday morning, the boat was lifted out of the water on a Travel Lift.

Here she is getting ready to be lifted.

It always freaks me out to see something like this hanging several feet off the ground supported by what amounts to seatbelt straps on steroids.

They had to pull the Travel Lift forward and across a local road, and then back into the spot where the work would be done.

No real traffic that day, but this would have been a surprise to anyone coming around the corner.

Once it was in position, they put large wooden blocks under the keel, and then a dozen or so steel stands under the hull, the straps were removed, the Travel Lift was driven away, and there she sat.

All blocked up and nowhere to go.

In the photo above, you can see one of the stabilizer fins. It’s that rectangular shaped thingie hanging off the bottom of the hull, directly below the ball fender. More on the stabilizers in a moment.

First order of business was to pressure wash the hull to get all the critters and slime off. Next, they scraped the loose old paint off and primed and painted the running gear. That took the rest of Monday and most of Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the real fun began. The crew from the stabilizer service company arrived. They seemed like such nice young guys. Little did I know what evil they were about to unleash.

No, that’s not fair…it wasn’t their fault. The problems they were soon to show me resulted from the prior boat owner making a very big mistake when the stabilizers were installed nine years ago.

He didn’t bond them. That means that he didn’t connect them to the system on the boat that is designed to minimize corrosion of the metal parts of the boat. A boat, with different types of metal sitting in salt water, is like a big battery, and like a battery, physics demands that electrons are going to flow from one metal to another. As this happens, the result is corrosion. A bonding system can minimize this effect by introducing some metal into the mix that is SUPPOSED to corrode. As long as it’s corroding, the other metals are safe.

That metal, in most cases blocks of zinc, is attached to the outside of the boat in various places, and the zinc blocks and the boat’s metal bits are all tied together inside the hull with a wire (the bonding wire) so that all of the electron action goes back to the zincs. That’s a rather stylized version of a very complicated system and electrochemical reaction, but I hope you get the idea.

Basically, Bonded – Good. Not Bonded-Bad
(Please don’t write and tell me about the pros and cons of bonding electrically isolated metal fittings…this is a stylized description, not a technical treatise)

Anywho, the metal parts of the stabilizers were not bonded, so instead of sending all their corrosion activity through the bonding wire to the zincs, it was all happening onsite.

That fin you saw in the photo above slides over and is bolted to a shaft that sticks down through the hull.

The shaft is slightly tapered, the fin has a tapered socket, and there is a bolt holding the fin in place and keeping it tight on the taper.

The shaft is about two inches in diameter, maybe about eighteen inches long, and as far as I can tell, the street value of each of them (there is one on each side of the boat remember), is approximately equal to the Hope Diamond.

And with no bonding, and all those little electrons running around corroding things willy nilly, the shafts looked like this when the boys pulled them out.

Can you say Kaaa Chinggggg?

Oh, but the fun didn’t stop there. Oh no, the nice young men then took me into the engine room and showed me what the inside part looked like after they tore into it.

Now we’re getting into super-Ka Ching territory.

Not much to do but sit back and wait for the bill to come, but I’ll tell you this…once this thing is all back together and the stabilizers are working, I’m going to go out and run that boat over every frickin’ wave and wake I can find, just to try to get my money’s worth out of them.

Oh, and if you have a boat with stabilizers, for the love of Neptune, make sure they are bonded!


About TwoCaptains

The TwoCaptains are Jim and Janet, both US Coast Guard licensed boat captains home-ported in Daytona Beach. We recently sold our 1990 Ocean Yachts 56' CPMY "Magic Carpet", and now we're in the hunt for a replacement.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s