Haulout at Carenantilles, Martinique

After having difficulty sourcing a replacement stuffing box in Grenada, we decided to take our French built boat to a French island to get a new one installed. It is by no means cheap to get work done in Martinique, however we have only positive things to say about the experience and the professional and timely work that was performed by our mechanic and painter.

Our fancy new stuffing box without all of the corrosion and, you know, leaking.

Our fancy new stuffing box without all of the corrosion and, you know, leaking.

Our old stuffing box was positively ancient and the threads on the rather unusual nut that held in the packing were worn to the point of stripping. Even after repacking the stuffing box and tightening it as well as we could, it would still drip about 20 times a minute even when the engine was off. While many stuffing box designs are intended to drip a few times a minute while the engine is running, I’m not aware of any that should leak when the shaft isn’t turning. The new one we had installed is a dripless model and is super swanky. The folks from Mechanique Plaisance on Jean Paul’s team performed the work the first afternoon that we were out of the water. We have noticed a 20 degree drop in average engine temperature at our typical cruising RPM, so we suspect that there was more wrong with the old stuffing box than we were otherwise aware.

Aint she purdy with her new bottom?!?

Aint she purdy with her new bottom?!?

Jean Luc of Techni Marine Services met us at the haul out slip as soon as we arrived and informed us that he and his crew would begin prepping our boat for our new bottom job as soon as we were in the sling. He wasn’t kidding. The moment the travel-lift started moving us to our storage spot, they were there scraping the artificial reef off of the bottom of our vessel. I’d imagine they wanted to get as much of it off as possible while on the way there so that they didn’t have to smell it while they painted! They had our bottom cleaned, sanded and primed for painting on the first day. On day two they applied 2 coats of quality ablative paint, and they finished the job on the morning before we went back in the water. We actually managed to get in the water after only two days which saved us a bit of money in yard fees. We are incredibly pleased with motoring and sailing performance of our vessel after the work was performed. Not having an artificial reef on the bottom of our vessel has given us a 50% improvement in average speed.

The yellow Optima batteries are still going strong on the engine side, but we had to replace all of the old black house batteries. The extended battery takes up about twice as much space as what is pictured here.

The yellow Optima batteries are still going strong on the engine side, but we had to replace all of the old black house batteries. The extended battery bank takes up about twice as much space as what is pictured here.

While the mechanic and painting crews were busy, Captain Daddy applied his time to replacing the house battery bank. We’re reasonably certain that the old failing battery bank was only able to provide about 200 amp hours, even though it was rated at 300. We were able to fit six 105 amp hour batteries after expanding the storage compartment, so our new bank is more than triple what we were working with before. Instead of waking up to a virtually dead battery bank every morning, we’re now holding steady at about 75% of the usable capacity of the bank when we get up in the morning. The only sad part is that we weren’t able to get the Balmar 120 amp alternator while we were in Grenada, but the 100 amp alternator seems to be doing a bang up job of topping things off.