Spring Boat Maintenance 2024

The Dutchmaster boat

Funny. When I had the Dutch Master, my first commercial fishing vessel – a 1970’s era plywood commercial fishing vessel with pleny of rot here and there- I didn’t worry about through hull fittings. I didn’t even know where they were located in the bowels of the boat. I was in my 30’s and just learning about boats.

At 60, I have a fiberglass boat in great condition, and I’m still learning. I got one of the kids in the scout troop to help me with the through hull fittings while the boat was hauled out for bottom painting and zinc replacement. I had him hop down in the engine room and try to work the handles on the seacock valves while I sprayed lubricant into the through hull hole on the outside into the valve. Two valves never gave and remain seized open, but the valve for the intake to the raw water pump, thankfully, works. Perhaps it does because this valve is the easiest to access, and it’s used more regularly when you need to clean the sea strainer or change the water pump impeller when the boat is in the water.

The engine has never overheated. Always shown right in the middle of the temperature gauge. I noticed that the raw water pump water flow overboard was more like a dribble than a flow, but I didn’t worry because the temperature seemed fine.

After watching some you tubes on regular maintenance, I realized I’d never checked the sea strainer for the raw water pump, so I did that while the boat was out of the water. And wow, am I glad I did. The strainer was full of vegetation. I was surprised the engine has not overheated. Even though the strainer basket is small, it took a good while under the kitchen spray hose at home to get all the gunk out.

When we put the boat back in the water today and I got back to the harbor, I looked at the raw water pump flow exiting the boat now, and it was a thick, steady stream. Now I know what it should look like, and another boat lesson learned.

I started to try to look at the impeller, too, but the access point is not in a particularly easily accessible location and I stopped before I might do something that would prevent me from starting the engine, which I’d need to do when they put me back in the water. Now that I know I can close the seacock, I can work on it anytime, so don’t have to be out of the water. Hopefully it’ll be good another year.

Another good thing I found out today was my high water alarm works just fine. I installed it in the drive shaft alley last year. I forgot to turn the bilge breaker back on after the boat went back in the water, and as soon as I threw the breaker switch back on, the alarm sounded. It took a good while for the bilge pump to pump the water overboard, but eventually the water subsided and the alarm quit blaring. Glad to know it works and good practice to recognize the alarm sound.

I’ve been loading the boat for days now in preparation for the run to Craig. A futon for the Craig cabin, a small kayak for people to paddle around when we’re at anchor, a heavy door for the storage shed in Craig, and a dozen boxes for sending fish home with my family and friends coming up to visit this summer.

Joe drove down from Smithers this morning to take the Taquan Air flight from Hyder to Ketchikan, but that flight was cancelled due to poor weather in Ketchikan, so he didn’t catch the jet to Juneau from Ketchikan as planned today. Hopefully, he’ll get here tomorrow and we can leave the next day. Nice to have a breather til then.

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