How to Leave a Boat For Six Months – Decommissioning Agape in Chiapas

In case you didn’t know already, boats take a lot of work and require not only blood, sweat and tears but also a huge amount of time. After our first season cruising in Mexico, Agape was ready for some love!

Decommissioning a boat is doing a lot of little things, hoping to prevent a lot of “what if’s” from happening. Everything from bugs and leaks, to theft and hurricanes, there is a lot to prepare for and preventive maintenance to do.

We started off with a long list, beginning with systems that wouldn’t be used until next season.

Mr. Perkins got a whole day of love, where I changed the oil and oil and fuel filters, flushed and refilled the coolant, fresh water flushed the cooling system, flushed and refilled the automatic transmission fluid, and treated and polished the fuel. Then I finished up his spa day with a good wipe down with a degreaser and a light spray of WD-40 making sure that he was nice and clean and ready to fire up when we got back. Also, if there are any leaks we will be able to find them when we get back since the engine was clean when we left it. Ok, who am I kidding? It’s a Perkins it will always leak oil haha.

We also changed the oil/filters and cleaned/WD-40’d the Honda generator and our outboard.

Outside there was lots of work to do. The sails needed to come down and were inspected, cleaned, dried and folded to be stored down below. All the lines were washed, dried and stored below as well. The halyards we pulled up to the top of the mast and wrapped and stored in the shade and protection of the sail cover. I also sewed shade covers to shade our decks to help keep the boat cool, since the teak could get over 150 degrees!

  • We removed all the blocks that we could to clean and oil them.
  • Cleaned the dingy and BBQ to store below.
  • Washed and waxed the boat.
  • Cleaned the anchor chain and locker.
  • Went over the teak deck and replaced missing plugs.
  • And Rachel’s favorite…. polished all the stainless!!!!!

Inside it was all about smell, mold and bug prevention!!! We started by flushing our holding tank, then washing the bilge and setting out roach traps (purely preventative).

  • We pickled the water maker.
  • Turned off and cleaned the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Closed sea cocks.
  • Sorted all the food, made a list of the provisions we had on board for next season and gave away open items. 
  • We sorted, vacuumed and cleaned out almost every locker.
  • Oiled all the interior wood and floors.
  • Cleaned all the fans, the stove, microwave, countertops and headliner.
  • Closed the fuel lines.
  • Emptied and cleaned the water tanks.
  • Turned off the propane tanks.
  • Made sure the bilge pump was working.
  • Disconnected from shore power, since we’d leave nothing running and we had enough solar to keep the batteries topped up.
  • Arranged bottom cleaning, marina payments and a caretaker for while we were gone.
  • And finally we left a note with our contact info and a few little requests for our friends that would be checking on Agape over the next few months for us.

It’s ended up being a lot of little jobs crammed into a few days of hard work, but when we left Agape was looking better than 99% of the time we were cruising her. Everything had been wiped down, accounted for, cleaned and organized. We looked at it like our spring cleaning, it helped us to identify anything we needed to get or replace while we were back in the states and it also gave us peace of mind as we said goodbye to her for the next few months. When we come back we hope that she will be just as clean and beautiful as when we left her!

40 Days and 40 Nights

We are finally putting together a few videos of our first season cruising! Here is the first one Josh has made of our time refitting Agape before beginning our journey around the world. It ended up taking forty days on the hard to finish most of the work we wanted to get done before leaving. Josh quit his job two months before our planned departure date in order to work on the boat full time. We hauled out in the Ventura Yacht Yard, but with the help of our friends and family we were able to complete the majority of the work ourselves.

To see more of our current adventures sailing in Central America follow us on instagram @voyagesofagape.

Rewiring Agape

When Agape was being built the electrical requirements and amount of electronics was probably very minimal. My guess would be a couple of 12V pumps, VHF radio, lighting, maybe refrigeration, some outlets and a sparse AC system for charging and power at the dock.

Todays cruising boats carry more and more electronics, requiring larger and larger battery banks, different voltages, and more charging capabilities.

Agape is a power-hungry, Amp Hour eating monster!!!! Over the course of her 32 years on the water, and owner after owner, she’s been pieced together bit by bit, and sometimes it’s hard to do a proper installation on a cruising boat. You might be in the middle of no where without enough wire, terminals or tools to do a good job, but the job still needs to be done.

Behind the electrical panel there was a total rat’s nest!!!! voyager-diaries-5Burnt, cut, and cracked wires would overload a terminal, or go nowhere at all. The PVC and poor labeling made fault-finding near impossible. So….. We just ended up putting it off and just didn’t open the panel!!!! Everything worked, so we figured don’t fix it, if it ain’t broke!!!! 

That was until it didn’t all work…. then, it was time. Rachel had to leave town for work for three days and that was the perfect time for me to completely destroy the boat. I really thought that in three days I would be able to rewire the boat. How hard could it be? Not only did I have Nigel Calder’s book, Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, but I also had YouTube, and Google!

I started with the 12V and 120V Panel, it was easier just to pull the panel and take the snake of wire into the garage where Bo (our cat), and I could strip it and rewire the whole thing.

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Once the Panel was rewired It was time to start pulling out the old wire and running new wire to all the electronics on the boat. Some of it was still good, in fact most of the wire that would be pulled would be reused. As long as it was cut back to expose new bare (tinned) wire I figured why not.

So, then we just had to figure out where to start……

First I disconnected all power at the batteries, disconnected shore power and solar panels before doing anything. Then I just started pulling, ripping it all out. I drew a little diagram and would label where each wire where each started and ended, it’s length, the color and it’s size. I had hoped that this would make it easier when it came to start pulling the new wire. This ending up taking all three days!!! Sometimes, until eleven o’clock at night when my brain would no longer function. I’m not sure if the wires being previously labeled helped or hurt in this endeavor because half the labels were wrong. When they were labeled I would end up second guessing myself and have to recheck where I pulled it from.

When Rachel came back to the boat she found it a complete disaster!!!!!

There was progress being made but it was slow, and since we were doing it on a budget, it was even slower. Whenever I needed a piece of wire I would search through the pile to see if I could find the right one. I think our boat would have won an award for most butt connectors found on one wire. It seemed to be a trend that every wire we pulled would have been split off to either power other electronics or just end and be wrapped up and taped behind lockers.

There were definitely times in this project that I doubted my capabilities and thought I was in over my head. Luckily I had my Dad to fall back on for technical support and to bounce ideas off of. I think that Nigel Calder said it best when he said, “Once you have finished rewiring your boat, and truly learned how to do it, you will want to do it again the right way.”

Essentially, you start the project knowing the basics and when your finished you have learned how it should be, and this was true for us. Everything works, everything is up to code and so forth but, if I could do it again I would run the wires to the breaker panel slightly different so that it would look more professional. But heck it’s much, much better than before and we have gained invaluable experience. Next time we have an electrical project we can do it with confidence. 

One more item checked off the list!!!!

Top 5 things learned during the Project:

  1. Buy full spools of wire!!! You always end up using more that you think and often you can find a 100’ spool online for near the same price as buying 20’ in store.
  2. Adhesive lined heat shrink, and drip loops. A lot of the ends of the wire were corroded, even the tinned wire would be discolored. We are hoping that by adding drip loops (especially in the bilge and where any wires come inside the boat), and sealing the ends that this will help fight corrosion and make for better, longer lasting connections
  3. Professional grade wire stripper and crimper. The little ones that come in basic wiring kits are fine for terminating a wire here and there, but when you are cutting, stripping and crimping hundreds of connections it pays to have good tools.
  4. Get familiar with soldering. Practice on the bigger wires as much as you can because when you get down to the 22AWG tiny little wires it will help. Oh and watch your coffee intake if you are soldering a bunch of stuff, I got a little shaky!!
  5. LABEL EVERYTHING!!!!! Label the beginnings and ends of the wire, and on longer runs label them multiple times along the wire. This will make following the wire so much easier in the future. The wire makes this easier as you can use an indelible marker to write on the outer sheth. 

Wire size calculator: make sure that you are not only safe but efficient. http://circuitwizard.bluesea.com/#

40 days and 40 nights.

After 40 days at the boat yard we are finally back in the water! Our long list of projects have all been checked off and we are READY, ready to finally go cruising!

It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in just a few months. Josh quit his job at the end of July to begin working on Agape full time and I can’t even begin to express how proud I am of this man. He has tackled every project with enthusiasm and dedication, spending almost 10 hours a day working aboard Agape. Reading, researching, studying and preparing for hours before tackling each new project. He has made our home safe, seaworthy and truly beautiful.

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Everyday as time ran down, the stressed increased, and we had to remind each other to slow down and enjoy the process. After all, this is why we’d worked so hard the last few years. Each project, each day, each moment of feeling overwhelmed and totally in over our heads put us one step closer to making our dream a reality.

We’ve learned that perspective is everything, and the key to abundant living is learning how to thrive in every situation. We are so incredibly blessed to have healthy bodies, the time and the support to dedicate ourselves to working on our boat. Together we have accomplished more in one month than most people do in a year.

Here is a list of projects we finished while on the hard:

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  • Pull the mast, measure and order new rigging.
  • Pop, sand and fill blisters on bottom and rudder.
  • Prep bottom and rudder for paint.
  • Pull the engine and send off for new seals and injectors.
  • Fiberglass sump of bilge.
  • Repaint bilge.
  • Re-fiberglass in base of compression post.
  • Strip, sand and re-caulk teak decks, replace missing bungs.
  • Strip, sand and cetol cockpit combing, hand rails, dorad boxes and hatches.
  • Remove liferaft
  • Grind out and fill holes and small cracks in topside.
  • Remove epoxy and reinstall all deck hardware.
  • Sew new curtains, winch covers, dive compressor cover and jerry can covers.
  • Redo galley headliner, (remove, cut new backing boards, glue new vinyl & reinstall).
  • Rewire electrical under headliner.
  • Rip out two starboard seats, build a bench.screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-3-44-29-pm
  • Varnish new bench and all windows.
  • Service all winches.
  • Get propeller serviced.
  • Replace cutless bearing and PSS shaft seal.
  • Paint new non-skid.
  • Rebed and fix small cracks in traveler.
  • Install mast steps.
  • Install new winches
  • Repaint the bottom.
  • Repaint dorads.
  • Reinstall the engine.
  • Buff the hull, polish stainless and lifelines.
  • Change oil in the windless and generator.
  • Install deck organizers and new blocks.
  • Install new rigging.
  • Install SSB antenna

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Josh removing the stern tube flange.
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Josh working on knocking out the two seats/table on the starboard side to build a bench that would also double as a spare berth.

After remodeling the bench area we ordered all new custom indoor and outdoor cushions. We had planned on keeping the old ones to save on expenses, but when Josh accidentally put his knee through one of the satie cushions, we decided it was time to replace the 30 year old cushions with new foam and heavy duty fabric. We are loving the new look! The lighter colored cushions really open up the space.

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The new bench, cushions and curtains!
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New outdoor cushions!

Once most of the projects were finished and Agape was show worthy, we threw a going away party to celebrate this new chapter of our lives with family and friends.

It was a nautical themed costume party and so many people we love came out, dressed up and danced the night away with us!

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My family as the crew from The Life Aquatic!

Every surface was cleaned and polished, inside and out. Every hatch, locker and drawer was re-organized and provisioned. Agape had never looked better! We were so proud to finally show off all our hard work and our boat that we love so much.

Josh and I were overwhelmed by how many people came out to show their encouragement and support.  We ate, drank and danced, celebrating long into the night with a small after party on Agape.

 

We are currently working on a new video sharing more from our time on the hard refitting the boat, and plan to post several more in-depth write ups on a few of the larger projects, as well as a break down on costs for those of you who are interested.

Thank you so much for following along on our journey and we can’t wait to share more!