Travel 2015-2016

Launch Day

Some things we did during the winter.

1. Have a skilled carpenter fix the bang rail. There’s a wooden fender that runs down both sides of Red Ranger. We broke parts of it off in Vero Beach. We finally got fixed. It looks great! Pictures later.

That was it.

We didn’t wash and wax the hull. We didn’t scape the goo rubbed onto the hull from a decomposing fender. It’s more important to get into the water than to look nice.


Today there were a few things we did pre-launch.

1. Replace the shaft zinc.

2. Replace the broken circuit breaker. Check the picture: the little white switch is not attached to the actual breaker. 


This turned into a circus because the old breakers had a fairly large hole on the metal tab: a screw could be used to attach the breaker to a bronze buss bar. Very secure. 

The new breaker didn’t have a big enough hole. 

That meant using the sailor’s improvised drill press: a crack in a piece of landscaping timber and a scrap of plywood found by the dumpster. And a drill borrowed from the marina office.

Hole drilled. 

Circuit reassembled.


The little yellow card on the side of the breaker… the one that has the part number and the rating and other useful stuff? 

The new breakers now have this stuck onto the other side. If you line up the little cards (which I did) then this breaker’s switch is upside down. 

So I had to drill out the other tab. Put this one breaker in with the card facing f’r’rd instead of aft. And now it operates like its sisters. Sheesh.

Then the moment of truth:


The first good part? Mr. Lehman started on the first crank. After being idle since November. That means not one bubble of air got into the fuel system. The solar panels kept the batteries fully charged. And — so far — nothing’s dripping from the block that was cracked by the hard freeze. The pink antifreeze seems to have worked.

The second good part? Getting to the dock on the first try. CA was out of commission due to her surgery. I had professional dockhands helping me dock. Few things are worse than looking the fool in front of professionals.

The wind was light. I hit the dock on the first try and managed to back in nicely. Almost like I knew what I was doing. [I barely know what I’m doing; it’s not a humble brag; it still involves a bit of luck to back in on the first try. 3000 miles of travel in Red Ranger has involved precious little docking.]


Once in the water, I could tackle another nagging job. The Whale Gusher bilge pump didn’t. Didn’t pump an ounce of water.

Got a rebuild kit. Got it out of the hanging locker where it’s attached.

Scraped the loose aluminum and saltwater encrustation out of it.

Put new valves in.

And managed to more-or-less put it back where I found it. I think that some of the bolts were metric (11mm) and some were inches (7/16″) The difference is minute. But. You can get a nylock nut pretty well jammed on and perhaps locked in place forever if you’ve mismatched them. In the dark. Where you’re assembling by feel. In a space where you can barely get both arms because it’s so narrow.

I think I need to take it apart — if I can — and replace the three bolts with for-real, no-guessing 7/16” using proper lockwashers and nuts. Skip the nylocks which are hard to fumble with. 

We may be dirty. But we’re in the water. The two electric pumps are clean and work flawlessly. There was no bilgewater left to test the manual pump. Maybe next week.

The fender that left the residue on the hull? The residue we didn’t clean off this winter? That’s in the dumpster. Doesn’t fix the hull, but it prevents further marking.

Visiting The Boatyard


Took some of the family — Niece Hjördis, CA, Sis Nancy, Mom Judy — to see Red Ranger on the hard at the boat yard.

Not shown in the picture are Bro-in-Law Andy, Nephew Sumner, and Nephew Winsor. 

Red Ranger weathered the winter without too many problems.

1. The bilge froze; when it thawed, ice in the plumbing popped a fitting off; the bilge pump then ran (endlessly) running water into the walkway where it ran back into the engine room and out through the bilge pump. Boatyard folks noticed it when they were fixing the bangrail. The woodwork suffered mightily.

2. A circuit breaker switch broke. Clean off. Weird.

3. We think the center hatch has a slow drip. We need to turn a hose on it and see where it’s dripping. There was some water on the floor. But condensation on the inside can look like a slow drip from the outside.

4. The zinc was gone when we hauled out. The solar panels may be producing considerable current to ground and we need much more zincage. Or, it could be some subtlety in the wiring of the inverter. Perhaps it’s (somehow) shunting current to ground even though it appears to be off. We’ll need to get a big multi-pound zinc fish to handle stray current better than the little prop-shaft zinc.

ty  © Steven Lott 2020