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Why the new year is, hopefully, the last year

I'm pretty good with weather, but this cloud waterfall is both baffling and ominous.
Amid the lowering clouds of December I toiled to get the boat further in shape for a late June/early July 2019 departure; hence the title referring to the last winter of refitting, which I realize is probably hubristic. There's a lot left to do, including moving out of an apartment and stowing the contents 160 km. to the east, along with purchases from the upcoming boat show of an EPIRB, a life raft, water tanks, and the finishing of various welding/fabrication jobs.
Ah, speed wheel, you're yesterday's news.
To that end, out came the old speed wheel. This hole will be plated over. Zincs are also to be added. Plus a big change I'll cover off in future weeks. Plus Christmas happened. Goodness, it's a busy time.
Although not without its upsides: Can't take it with me!

After a very pleasant Christmas and New Year, during which the wine cellar was liquated with enthusiasm, we are getting back to work. But we didn't really stop: December saw a lot of progress.

This is not as disorganized as it looks, although with the hydraulic hoses out, I can tidy up and cable-tie the wire runs better.
The hydraulic setup to the helm, as the surveyor remarked last spring, were requiring more pumps to effectuate rudder action. While the hydraulic fluid was sufficient, there was evidence that the hoses themselves were starting to "sweat" and needed replacement. Job one, then, is to remove them and take them to a truck shop or something not "marine" to have them made up to the same gauge and lengths. The fittings are in good shape and may be reuseable. Here's a lucid link for the perturbed to the wonderful world of hydraulic pumps in general, but a lot of this is marine-orientated.
The back of the first of two Marol HRP-38 helm pumps.
It's a messy, cold job, I won't lie. Out of shot is Mrs. Alchemy, down in the engine bay with a bucket to catch the spills.
As I removed the retaining nuts on the couplers, I swaddled the ends in paper and tape to catch the leaks. Spinning the wheel squirted out a lot more into a handy cup.
Pretty clean back here after 30 years. Good.
The mounting system is four Allen bolts and a nut. Easy and secure.
The rare shot of the skipper at work.

If heavy and awkward (see: 90% of the refit process). These are fishing trawler-grade helms and they are about 15 kilos in weight minimum...and empty.

Perhaps Cabin Boy can polish the entire wheel spoke area now!
The rest of the draining exercise took place on deck. Just visible is the "sailing" helm, as opposed to the "pilothouse" or "downstairs" or "power" helm. A secret of sailorly exclusionary language is that a lot of it is completely made up to be difficult.

Needs a paint job as the outdoor life is a hard one. The insides, however, are in good shape. The brown ring is a fibreglass spacer.
The second helm was easier to remove because a) there's direct access behind a metal plate in the binnacle, and b) its wheel is much smaller and lighter, which is easier to handle with an Allen key in one hand.
Also wanting a paintover, but essentially in good shape.
The helm will have some TLC. The nearly rotten wooden box atop it will go to be replaced by a HDPE caddy for beverages, sunglasses and the like. Wood on a steel boat is fine...inside.
That's leaked hydraulic fluid. I'd swab it out, but it will keep the rust at bay until it's warm enough to paint. Or so I maintain.
And some very nice AWAB T-clamps, for the discerning boater's BWL needs.
I have been able to obtain, at reasonable cost save for the detective work, the seal rebuild kits for both helms and for the Marol MRB-75A rotary actuator controlling the rudder ram. Because it's the hoses that were near end-of-life, and not the seals, I will likely save the seal kits as I am not sure Marol makes this helm pump, beefy and capable as it's seemed to us, any more. I know they make the actuator, however, but I have no evidence yet that it's leaking or needs the service. Might be a "Halifax" job for next winter, then. We'll see. Now the job is to find a truck place to replacate these hoses in a bulletproof fashion. Truly, I'm not sure if "rubber" hydraulic lines are not sufficient, given the comparatively low pressures these helm pumps create. Comments on this are welcome.

Doesn't look like much, but it promises a great deal.
Lastly, I received the Lars Thrane LT-1000 heading sensor I need to orient my radar and to improve my plotter's accuracy. I foofed around on this decision for a long time; originally, I wanted the Comnav Vector 2 GPS Compass, but this item is a third the size, half the price and works with both NMEA 2000 (the plotter/AIS net) and NMEA 0183 (what the Furuno radar likes). Adding it will unlock the radar's full suite of features and will, in effect, make the radar a second plotter capable of showing the AIS target information, SOG, COG and all those other data points of interest. This thing even gives baro and temp. Getting one involved some effort; once again, I find my needs are somewhat rarefied at the pleasure boater level.

More to come soon!

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