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Orca Maintenance And Improvements

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Orca has been in the water for too long which lead us to make the nail biting decision to get her lifted out and checked over. 

Plans where in motion earlier in the year but I spoke to David at Broadsedge last week and was advised she will be coming out the following week!  Considering what happened last time everyone was nervious including David! I'd chosen not to be present when she was lifted and honestly didn't quite to know when. I built up the courage to ask on the NBN and someone kindly mentioned she was out!

Although Orca has been comfortable and very enjoyable since we restored her some years ago she has built up a long wish list and a nice to have list, to make life easier we have planned for some time to get as much completed when out. I won't spoil the plan but get ready for a mini restoration! 

Day 1:

There she is, Orca was sitting happy in the corner of the hard standing still surrounded by the natural glory of the norfolk broads. It was quickly evident that David had aired on the side of caution and done an excellent job at securing her. She had a good 8 chocks under her so she's not moving an inch!   She had also been pressured washed and looking pretty already. Top marks to David!

I slowly went around and removed the fenders, I've already purchased new black fender lines as the white ones haven't aged too well and look a bit odd with black fenders.  The four white ball fenders are also up for consideration as I don't quite like two colours but lets see what happens later.

Dave was quickly looking at the sterndrive which has been doing well but has lately started making a banging sound randomly and refusing to go into reverse too well.  The sterndrive is a sonic sillette which has the gearbox in the leg so clearly it's been a bit worrying.  It was immediately clear that the leg had been infested by fresh water mussels which may explain some of the issues. It's also clear that the special anodes we fitted have done well and there is still some left on them, arguably it maybe over protected but the paints still on the leg and there seems no concerns, I guess fresh water and no hook up reduces electrolysis.

Dave quickly got to removing the swimdeck, we made it using crude canopy bar and fittings and it's been a bit of a pain.  It's on the list for replacement so it was taken off and packed into the car.

Next he drained the oil from the sterndrive, the drain plug came undone with no problems, the oil had emulsified and the bottom bearing is showing signs of excessive wear, which we suspected anyway.  Surprisingly the baffles were like new which is certainly reassuring, we will replace with new anyway though. The leg came undone easily enough from the back plate which itself is looking like new and was loaded into the back of car. Dave will strip it down and replace any bearings but I'll post progress on this.

That's enough for one day. Back in the car for the drive home. Hopefully Dave will get the leg apart tomorrow and see what needs doing, if not too much then we can spend more of the savings on the wish list!






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Come off it Alan, you know you are going to do those  (needed) alterations while Orca is on the hard!

So just do it.

A new bow thruster, electric winch, go slower stripes all need to be fitted while out of the water, it is cheaper now than another lift.

You can always use Ma and Pa's boat while doing the work.



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Dave spent most of the day stripping the stern drive down, it put up a fight but eventually came apart. 

Once again it has been causing a couple of hiccups.. It had randomly knocking without any reason. We suspected that it was jumping out of drive and hitting the gear back in again.  With the top plate off now though it kinda looked like it had been doing that but just one tip was slightly damaged but there's certainly no need to replace that. It was effectively a new unit when we put it on Orca so it's really just run in issues.  Dave noticed there was an issue with one of the linkages which had come loose and a spring in the gearbox which wasnt pushing the thing back to neutral, he's sorted both out and it now moves incredibly freely between forward and reverse.. can't wait for it to go back in now and see for myself.  The bottom end came off eventually too and both bearings have suffered a bit of a wear and will need changing, thankfully unlike enfield legs these are just standard popular bearings and easy to source and replace so this will be done.  The failed lower water seal will also be replaced, thankfully that's all though so not a bad outcome.

So with the leg all apart and condition known, I've done a bit of a looking around on the internet and sorting out the wish list.

Here's the plan from Bow backwards:

Burgee Flagstaff  - We had a cheap flagstaff on the pullpit, well that was until a few weeks back when it vanished, together with the NBN burgee and a lighter windvane on there. Pesky tree's on wild moorings had got a bit too close and used the thing as a brake far too often.. pesky trees.. So basically we need something stronger.. We have ton's of stainless bar left from the swimdeck so I'll get something made up to be lot stronger.

Anchor Winch - a biggy purchase here, we had toiled with the idea of putting a bow thruster in, although I really don't need one, I've mastered how she handles and there's very little times I ever think I need a bow thruster, we also moved moorings last year and now have a side on mooring making a bow thruster pointless really. However there has been times where I've thought an anchor winch operated from the helm would be a nice brake and would make mooring at night on a broad just easy.  I've had a look around and I think I've found the best deal through a supplier to work, therefore the cost for the unit will be good. We need to sit and think how to put it in though, which may include strengthening the front deck, cutting a hatch in the bulkhead, adding a new battery and running all the cables but hopefully it will happen.

Number plaques - One of these vanished recently, I had made them with white plastic hanging off the pulpit.  Being white though these reflect the forward spot lights, I had been thinking of making them with clear plastic although may just stick the number on the hull side, if we ever leave the broads then I can just peel them off although I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Fender cleats - We could do with a couple of fender cleats forward as the fenders are tided to the base of the pullpit which I don't like so I'll have a look around and see what options are available.

Forward cabin hatch - Is getting a new cover.

Cabin windows - All cabin windows are getting new winter covers, with a boltrope on the top to remove any concerns with rain and to help reduce condensation. The front window will also get a mesh cover for the two front windows for use in the summer to keep the sun off.

Heads  - We need to replace the battery in the solar vent as it long died! I want to put another solar vent in the roof to bring air in as the current one takes air out and in the summer, geez it's hot in that room.

Internally - just needs a good tidy.  I may find a peice of teak carpet for the winter but we will see.

Cushions - This may not happen in this maintenance session, but I would like to recover the cushions in the dinnette section, the foam is still good but now being with Trimnet it shows that needs doing. I just need to decide which of the hundreads of fabrics to use and how to get them done!  There's also an issue with the back cushion, basically it's as uncomfortable as it could possibly be, it's not an easy fix as these cushions also make up the table infill.  Talking with my boss we either do softer thiner foam or a reduced back rest. I need to discuss more with my boss and see what we can come up with.  I also would like to sort the front cabin cushions, maybe get a sprung mattress made through work.

Fridge - The old fridge out of the skip sadly died long ago, a new fridge will be installed :)

Wheelhouse Roof

Two new solar panels will go on the wheelhouse roof to fill the remaining roof section and help keep the batteries topped of. These have been purchased some time ago and I forget what settings they are but more details will follow. We have opted for a MPPT setup though with remote monitoring.  

A new roof hatch is going in above the helm section to help cool the wheelhouse in the summer.

The missing second grab rail will be installed.

The masthead light is getting a redesign, at present it's a simple straight bar but I'd like a burgee addition and an area for the TV Ariel and WiFI extender to be added. This may need to be a bespoke commissioned piece as I can't can't find an off the shelf product.

Wheelhouse -

A new helm cover is to be made up.

The non slip dashboard covering is a nightmare to keep clean and work do a neat posh sticky back black leather effect covering which is designed for this, I'm going to grab some of this and get my boss to apply (he doesn't know that yet!)

The new nasa depth gauge which we installed using a in-hull transducer never quite worked, we will drill the hull and get a through hull adaptor fitting, it needs a bit of thought due to the deep vee profile but we will work something out.

We got a dragonfly fish finder some time ago, it was fitted to the old sailing boat and was really brought for the Broom, although it's not being use so it will go on Orca, we have a simple fish finder aboard which I use as a depth gauge and works well, the dragonfly is far more complicated and shows a pretty underwater map, a bit pointless on the shallow broads but better to go on and not be used, I just need to order a new transducer mount and we can get that installed.

Last year when work had a quiet day, one of the seamstresses made up a custom seat for us, this will finally go in.

Some more 12v sockets will be installed in the wheelhouse.

The throttle control mount will be neatened up and finished. 

New wheelhouse screen covers will be made and installed, and a mesh screen cover will be made for use in the summer months.

New bench seat cushions, hopefully these will follow soon, I have designed the cushions and am hoping that work will do these for me sometime soon, it may be delayed as work is hectic at the moment, but I'm going for silvertex fabric, probably a light grey, with a front bulster on the base with a neat leather stitch, the bulster will be a graphite colour to give a neat modern two tone colour as you see on new posh boats,  The back will be a similar two tone colour, but with a custom bentley diamond stitch in the center panel, I'll also likely have Orca embroidered on the center of the backrest. 

Upgraded pantograph windscreen wipers will be installed as the originals just aren't upto the job 

Engine bay:

An additional domestic battery will be added for use with the anchor winch and to provide additional capacity.

The solar panels will be all connected up. 

Dave's thinking about changing the drive system as he is concerned about the vibration to the leg, we also struggle to get the boat to go slow enough, one option mentioned is to use the gearbox that came with the engine, at present we are bobtailed to the sterndrive using a flexi-coupling, adding the gearbox will theoretically reduce the gearbox speed, we will need to check with sillette before doing too many changes here but updates will follow.

Hopefully Dave will clean and tidy the engine bay as it looks like a bomb has gone off down there.

Naturally the engine will get a service.

Stern of the boat

Canopy Those who have seen Orca recently may have spotted that the canopy is dying quickly, thankfully a replacement canopy is in developement. I templated the boat using works smart template machine, on friday myself and Ryan our CAD guy did the CAD magic and the materials arrived.  Once again, I've put everything I've learned and all that Trimnet know to design the best canopy posible! I've gone for a new Grey colour from Sunbrella plus. Tinted windows with a built in flyscreen mesh, making it perfect for use in all weathers.  The canopy will be secured with a boltrope and a zip all the way around meaning it can be easily removed in sections.  I really can't wait to see the finished canopy, I hope the grey will look OK but I'm confident! Hopefully it will be installed soon. 

Swimdeck - A new custom made swimdeck will be made up by a neighbour here who is a stainless welder, I need to template the boat using works machine and then the new swimdeck will be shaped to this. This will then provide a strong swimdeck and with additions such as a hatch panel allowing for easy access to the sterndrive. Fendering yet to be designed will be added to assist in damaging the deck, it will also be made slightly larger and maybe a step down from the helm section will be made.  A safety ladder will also be made into the deck to aid with man overboard recovery if ever needed.  Downward LED lighting will be added to the sim to give a funky nightime look.

Engine vents  -Two additional engine vents will be added, and the stern vent will be adjusted to allow more airflow into the engine compartment.

Fender cleats - Two new will be added at the stern.

Aft cleats - The strange small cleats will finally be replaced with larger cleats.

Decks - Will hopefully be repainted with new non slip paint. 

Orca's name - The name on the stern will finally be straightened out and the two timber ones on the side just need to be re-varnished.

The dead air horn will be repaired or replaced.

Black Anti-foul will be reapplied. 

I'm hoping this will all happen over the next few weeks.. gulp!

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I like reading about other peoples updates and visions, and this sounds like a real refurbishment going on in many areas. I will be looking forward to see the finished result in the flesh and that stick on leather effect covering for dash area sounds neat.


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Time for a bit of an update.

Last friday, I was up in norfolk for work and stayed overnight, despite a bit of a headache (joys of working all day in baking hot boats all day) I unwound easily sitting on the back of the boat all evening... The marina is such a peaceful spot. 


It was also nice to slowly wake up on saturday morning, a little strange to look out the window and see land under the boat!


Dave came up late morning and we got straight to work on a couple of jobs. 

Firstly, we got the new roof hatch installed on the wheelhouse, nice easy job and it actually feels like it's been there for some time already! 35493962_10155262295891504_7992774631360561152_n.jpg.ca67c6b3a36fb2ef7fffe330bba06427.jpg

Next straight onto the solar panel, the instructions was pretty good and clearly describe installing from the battery end and working up to the panels.  We put the 3rd leisure battery in first which makes best use of the solar panels, we have connected both panels together in parallel and connected to the leisure bank. The engine start battery is just small and is only used on the engine.  The extra battery will also be used to run the windlass when installed.  The panels are only 30 watt panels (so 60w in total) but despite it being a cloudy day they was showing a charge of 1amp hour which isn't too bad really. 


Next we installed two new rope cleats on the stern as the old ones which came with the boat was just too small. I'm sure the new ones will be a lot nicer and will stop the lines come off the cleat which has been a right pain. 


The sun thankfully decided to show itself so time to carry on washing the boat.. I got bored half way around unfortunately but there's no rush really!

I decided to install the two extra engine bay vents which was quick enough, I didn't feel too nice using a jigsaw on the hull though but at least it's done.


Finally I gave the teak carpet (which we have in the wheelhouse) a good clean which got a lot of interested from others in the marina but it cleaned up well despite someone putting bloody grease on it in places.


Day done, into the car off to our favourite Chinese restaurant in lowestoft. (yummy as always).

Sunday morning, was a sunny morning and the solar charge controller showed the batteries had further charged and was putting in a upto 2amps which we was pretty surprised with considering these are only small panels.


Dave had a play with seeing if he can improve the connection to the sterndrive, It seems like he's considering moving the engine back a bit to limit moving parts and gain more space in the engine bay.

Sadly time to run home quickly came around but it was a productive weekend!




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This weeks update.

Dave's been working most evenings on the leg, it went back together easily enough and is all free and moving. He's been talking to Sillette who have been helpful enough and they worked out between them that she could do with a different Propeller, same size but just different pitch.  I must admit, I'm not overly keen on changing the prop as I've got use to how she handles and despite it not getting full rev's it never really bothered me, however they know what they doing.   He just needs to get the sterndrive painted one evening.

We are back up the boat next week for the full week, it's really our early summer holiday however we should get all the bits sorted that week really ready to go back in.

My colleagues have been working really hard on the new canopy in the week. Although it's a simple shape I have complicated it because I wanted fly mesh sewn in and a bolt rope installed as it make it a little more watertight, so they have been screaming at me but are doing a brilliant job, it's looking good and is just what I wanted. I understand it will be all finished early next week.  The grey fabric does look very nice indeed and the tinted windows are also fitting in well. I spotted a new Broom with the same fabric in the week and it looked good. I picked the colour without really thinking about the complete look and I must admit quite liked the look of the blue canopy on the boat but time will tell. It's being fitted this coming friday (together with another forums members canopy, finally! ;) ).

Now the canopy is almost done, we could get on with the window covers we wanted, so yesterday we took over the firms workshop and got all the window covers made up, we have a complete set all done on the same day, including a mesh windscreen cover and two hatch covers, they are made in the same fabric and will therefore all match up neatly. 

We also got the bar bent for the replacement swimdeck, it looks like Dave will weld up the other bits as time is getting so hopefully he will do this week at work.

As we will be up all week this evening has been spent on planning and getting some bits ordered.  I have decided to order a windlass and have dropped the chandlers a message to get ordered.





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I'll post a better update later. However me and my boss are in Norfolk and my boss has fitted orcas canopy today. Pictures don't do justice really and he was still fitting as I took pics but it's just what I wanted. Have to share for those not in Facebook. 





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Fink ours is better matey .........................................................................................




yer did well pal

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Nice work Alan, canopies as well as teak carpets. Looks great. Must admit so does B2P, love the window in the forward roof on that one.

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