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An introduction and a request for tips/advice/wisdom for an idiot in a 1985 40'

Jul 16, 2018
120
Hunter 40 Boston
Hello everyone!

"The only true knowledge comes from knowing that you know nothing." - Miss Piggy

First, let me introduce myself: I'm a 45 year old guy from Boston who had been kind of daydreaming about being a liveaboard for several years now. I have an uncle who did it on a 23' Sea Sprite decades ago, and I never forgot about that. More recently, my best friend was dating a man who was a liveaboard in Boston's North End (and who went from a 32' Catalina to a 54' Beneteau while I knew him). Every time we hung out on his boat the itch just got worse. I *wanted* this.

Sure, I'd been on boats plenty. My mother's family were all former Navy/Coast Guard and/or fishermen at some point or another and summers always meant boat trips to the islands in Boston Harbor etc. But I'd never had my own boat. And it seemed like a pipe dream as there was no way a normal person could afford to do it, right?

Well, to avoid making the story too long, my rent went up to $1700/mo on my tiny studio condo in Boston and that was the kick in the pants I needed. I started talking to whomever I could find about living on a boat and learned that, at least in theory, I could afford to do it.

So here I am nearly a year later. I've got me a 1985 Hunter 40! She's suffered from a fair amount of neglect, sadly. At least two years abandoned at a yard, and lots of, shall we say, incomplete repairs from the previous decade. But the inspector gave her a conditionally clean bill of health. (more on that later) And my two old-salt uncles agreed the price was good and the boat was sound.

And now I live aboard! I've got my slip in Charlestown, and I'm past the point where it's all academic and I'm reading everything and I'm at the point where the issues are now real and present.

The shakedown cruise exposed a lot of issues. And I'm trying to organize and prioritize everything.

The two size 31 batteries seem fine, but the wiring appears to have been the plaything of a gigantic cat or something. It's all unlabeled, many wires in the battery compartment that are just frayed ends to who knows what. Lots of electronics that should probably work but don't. And, worst of all, the wood under the batteries is rotted. That appears to be the only significant rot on the boat, so it wasn't a dealbreaker (the sole of the salon once delaminated, but previous owner (PO) replaced it all from the bilge forward.)

I've got several components that are probably functional if wired up. There's an old inverter in teh battery compartment under the rear cabin bed, but I think it's obsolete. There's a newer inverter under the navigation table, but I don't think it's wired up to anything right now. There's an obsolete air conditioner I didn't know about (PO didn't mention it, but it was found during inspection). There's a diesel heater that the PO used, but it may not be connected right now. GPS not working. Radar broken but display supposedly functional but not working right now. VHF works, but the mic attachment in the rear deck did not. Stove appears to work (has CNG, but didn't try lighting it). Refrigerator runs, but not very cool and gasket useless. Ice box has a cold plate in it and that works fine (cooler unit under sink).

Additionally, there's two heads. The PO told me he had never used the forward head in 10 years. The forward holding tank is apparently just a walled off bit of fiberglass in the hull, and it is cracked, so yeah, not for use. I think PO just used forward head as storage. The aft/port head supposedly works, and there's a relatively new (and clean looking) holding tank he installed in one of the cabinets in the aft cabin. It is plastic, has all the hoses on top, and has no option to pump into the ocean (fine by me).

Fresh water. I've got a 100 gallon tank under the V berth. It leaks a bit right above the bilge, and I couldn't get the pumps to draw water from it at all (too much air in line?) PO later told me that he would just use the hose from the marina directly hooked up to the system to provide water pressure and didn't bother with the electric pump. That seemed to work when I tested it, but also leaked right above bilge. The galley faucet looks like it's hanging on by force of will only, but it did produce water when the system was hooked up to the shore hose.

Bilge pump works, tho' it leaves 1" of water in the bilge at all times. Also I think it is wired wrong I think (switch it from 'auto' to 'off' and it will still run when the float says to). Remember that forward holding tank that cracked? Yeah, someone tried to fill the fresh water tank but accidentally filled that holding tank (not me, i swear!) and it drained out into the bilge, so now it smells like 12 year old death. It wasn't exactly a clean bilge in the first place, but this was a step backward.

Yanmar 40HE (I think it's HE, it's the low end model) ran fine the day before launch and mechanic gave clean bill of health on engine and fuel, but lost power 45 minutes into shakedown cruise. I think sediment in fuel tank may have clogged fuel filter, but haven't had a chance to confirm since.

Above deck the rigging all seemed funtional if neglected. I have no doubt that some bits could handle a bit of lubrication (winches, travelers, etc.)

I replaced 2/3 halyards (I have a mainsail and a genoa) 1/3 halyard seemed decent enough to keep for now. And I've replaced all my dock lines. I replaced the mainsheet. And now I'm debating which lines to replace next (almost all look sad and crusty) probably starting with the furler. I'd love to see how someone set up their rigging on a similar boat. While I've got mine functional, it doesn't seem terribly efficient.

Oof. Well, that seems like a lot. But I've put away the sails for now until she is ship shape, so I can focus on interior until Spring I think. I've got a couple space heaters and I'm trying to figure out how to best contain the condensation from the hatches so that it's not dripping all night (it reached 32 degrees last night) and I've got an appointment for some clear shrink wrap to be assembled into a lovely solarium deck bubble sometime before Christmas.

If you're still reading, then thank you for your patience.

As I'm new to boat ownership, and probably an idiot for starting with a 40' sailboat from the age of Marty McFly and Pac Man, I'm accepting that I am an idiot and am therefore happy to receive wisdom in whatever form it takes from whomever has some to offer.

TL;DR: Hi! I'm new!
 

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Rick D

.
Jun 14, 2008
6,892
Hunter Legend 40.5 Long Beach, Shoreline Marina, CA
I think you are doing fine. I guess the first thing you want to do is prioritize. I'd tend to think the wiring mess is up somewhere near the top. After that, just do one thing at a time and stick ruthlessly to that. Also, don't get overwhelmed by the suggestions you get here. There are a lot of people with a lot of miles on them who are happy to help, but may leave you overwhelmed with the sheer volume of suggestions. Good luck!
 
Dec 25, 2000
4,454
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Welcome and congrats on your new to you boat. Nice, the H40. Lots of issues to deal with. It would help us here if you were to pose your most favorite question where you can expect to get lots of feedback. Then post the next question once you have had all the feedback you can absorb.
 
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Likes: ggrizzard
Jul 16, 2018
120
Hunter 40 Boston
I think you are doing fine. I guess the first thing you want to do is prioritize. I'd tend to think the wiring mess is up somewhere near the top. After that, just do one thing at a time and stick ruthlessly to that. Also, don't get overwhelmed by the suggestions you get here. There are a lot of people with a lot of miles on them who are happy to help, but may leave you overwhelmed with the sheer volume of suggestions. Good luck!
I'm already overwhelmed, but yeah, this is good advice. Honestly, the first part was just figuring out how to organize and fit what I needed into the boat so I could go to work every morning. I've finally cleared that hurdle. :D

If I get an overwhelming number of replies, that'd be great! I'll type 'em up in a handy spreadsheet and prioritize 'em. I'm starting to get good at that.

Presently the engine is job#1 because I want to be able to turn by boat around in the slip. But I put the rotting wood beneath the batteries as job#2 and then wiring as #3-17. (It'd be nice to have the use of the rear cabin)

Maybe I can live with the wood being the consistency of pudding for now tho?
 
Last edited:
Jul 16, 2018
120
Hunter 40 Boston
Welcome and congrats on your new to you boat. Nice, the H40. Lots of issues to deal with. It would help us here if you were to pose your most favorite question where you can expect to get lots of feedback. Then post the next question once you have had all the feedback you can absorb.
Break 'em out into pieces? I can do that. I just figured making 14 individual posts as a newbie might be frowned upon.
 
Jul 16, 2018
120
Hunter 40 Boston
Congrats! I'd get that boat leak proof and dry first!
Apart from the condensation, she's surprisingly dry. I already replaced a port hole gasket and stopped the worst one I found. It's possible that the hull seam is leaking just ahead of the transom too, but I haven't confirmed that yet. I have weathered a couple storms and some rough waves sailing down from New Hampster and didn't take on any great amount of water that an open companionway couldn't explain. It's also possible that my pedestal is leaking into the aft cabin, but I haven't seen a drip (it could be dripping down the side into the bilge tho)

Honestly, I don't think she's leaking much. But all of my hatches are dripping condensation.
 
Nov 6, 2006
8,769
Hunter 34 Mandeville Louisiana
Aug 22, 2017
1,595
Hunter 26.5 West Palm Beach
I admire your spirit. I like the lines of the boat that you chose.

My biggest concern would be keeping yourself from freezing in the Boston winter. Since you mentioned a diesel heater, I am going to assume that a carbon monoxide detector would be a mandatory first priority. Priority #2 would be keeping her afloat. Compared to that, everything else might seem like a detail.
 
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Likes: Will Gilmore
Jan 18, 2016
528
Catalina 30 Dana Point
Do not keep pressure water hooked to the boat - something breaks == sunk boat. Just deal with it till you can fix it.

As others said, one thing at a time - just pick the most important and go. None of what you described is uncommon. Fixing the battery box is a prereq to fixing the wiring - and that could take awhile to do. Wiring isn't hard, it's just time consuming.
 
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Likes: Will Gilmore
Dec 25, 2000
4,454
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
But all of my hatches are dripping condensation.
No live aboard here, but a dear friend of mine lived on his 32' Freedom for years. Not as cold as your neck of the woods, but he would always have lots of condensation much as you do just from cooking and body fluids, especially during the winter months. That is until he installed a dehumidifier. Makes a huge difference in reducing condensation inside the boat while connected to shore power. As I recall he had his drain into the galley sink. https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=marine+dehumidifer&tag=mh0b-20&index=aps&hvadid=77653061909403&hvqmt=p&hvbmt=bp&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_9spkwmmf8r_p

During the winter months I keep an electric air dryer on in each cabin (3), with a space heater set on low while away from the boat. That keeps things pretty dry and also from freezing. While out cruising or on the hook our diesel furnace keeps things cozy inside. All CO2 vents through a stern transom exhaust port.
 
Jan 19, 2010
8,667
Hunter 26 Charleston
A lot of people (myself included) are going to follow this post. There are a lot of people who have dreamed your dream.

Good luck....

As someone who has done several complete wire jobs... run one wire down at a time. Replace and label as you go. Even if you do only one per evening it can't take more than a month.
 
Jul 16, 2018
120
Hunter 40 Boston
Welcome ! Congrats ! That is a good old boat, big sister to the 34 ..there is some great stuff posted by forum member, B757Captain, as he restores his H-40..
https://forums.sailboatowners.com/index.php?threads/repairing-hunter-40-damage-from-hurricane-matthew.182553/page-25#post-1490210
also check out the "General Downloads" section of the forum (Owner Resources tab) for info on many of the piece parts that you'll have to get familiar with .. Good to have ya here..
I saw the post about the hurricane damage and it scared me.

But will definitely check out the general downloads. I know PO has replaced many things but luckily he never threw out a manual.

I admire your spirit. I like the lines of the boat that you chose.

My biggest concern would be keeping yourself from freezing in the Boston winter. Since you mentioned a diesel heater, I am going to assume that a carbon monoxide detector would be a mandatory first priority. Priority #2 would be keeping her afloat. Compared to that, everything else might seem like a detail.
There's a diesel heater, but it's currently non-functional (not sure if just needs power or what), I bought two space heaters and a little dehumidifier. Haven't needed to run both heaters simultaneously yet, it got down to 32f outside and I was warm enough inside, but when it's 7f out and it doesn't get above freezing when the sun comes up, that'll be a different story. Hopefully that's not until after I've got my bubble. The little dehumidifier I got is definitely pulling water, but not overmuch, and I suspect I'd need a more powerful one to make a real impact.

But yes, I'm worried about my belongings knowing that they'll be dripped on until I figure something out.

Do not keep pressure water hooked to the boat - something breaks == sunk boat. Just deal with it till you can fix it.

As others said, one thing at a time - just pick the most important and go. None of what you described is uncommon. Fixing the battery box is a prereq to fixing the wiring - and that could take awhile to do. Wiring isn't hard, it's just time consuming.
Oh man, that didn't even occur to me. I suppose I could just not pressurize the system (i've got a valve right at the connection point) unless I need it. But yeah, I'm willing to bet that's what happened to PO and why he needed to re-sole half the salon. I will definitely need to figure out why the water pressure pump isn't moving water.

Thank you for that warning!

I think I moved getting the bedroom liveable has become higher priority than the wiring. All the electricity I need to *live* works, and sailing features can wait until spring.
 
Jul 16, 2018
120
Hunter 40 Boston
No live aboard here, but a dear friend of mine lived on his 32' Freedom for years. Not as cold as your neck of the woods, but he would always have lots of condensation much as you do just from cooking and body fluids, especially during the winter months. That is until he installed a dehumidifier. Makes a huge difference in reducing condensation inside the boat while connected to shore power. As I recall he had his drain into the galley sink. https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=marine+dehumidifer&tag=mh0b-20&index=aps&hvadid=77653061909403&hvqmt=p&hvbmt=bp&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_9spkwmmf8r_p

During the winter months I keep an electric air dryer on in each cabin (3), with a space heater set on low while away from the boat. That keeps things pretty dry and also from freezing. While out cruising or on the hook our diesel furnace keeps things cozy inside. All CO2 vents through a stern transom exhaust port.
I've got to keep it under the 30AMP 110 right now, and with a 1500 watt and 1200 watt heater, I'm worried about adding a beefy dehumidifier (mine's a dinky little one). Sure, those numbers are assuming both heaters running full-tilt, but I'm scared of overwhelming the system.

A lot of people (myself included) are going to follow this post. There are a lot of people who have dreamed your dream.

Good luck....

As someone who has done several complete wire jobs... run one wire down at a time. Replace and label as you go. Even if you do only one per evening it can't take more than a month.
Yup, that's what I hope to do.

1. Locate all the equipment and see if I can find where it connects to the electronics board (half the slots are unlabeled)

2. Figure out how the bilge is *supposed* to be wired, since it appears to go directly to the battery right now (that can't be right)

3. Figure out if my inverter is also a battery minder, and if not, get a battery minder.

4. See if my batteries are both sulfated (I've got a charger hooked up to them now, but running the bilge pump for 60 seconds took 20% off one battery and that seems like a lot, maybe it doesn't hold much charge?

5. Start labeling everything and testing connections.
 
May 24, 2004
6,432
CC 30 South Florida
Yep, just make a list of the pending projects and prioritize those that will make you comfortable for the winter and safe. In a boat any job will cost twice as much and will take three times to finish as a comparable job in a regular home. The electrical system definitely should be given priority and install smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors.
 
Jan 10, 2018
178
Beneteau 331 Halifax
Purchase Nigel Calder's book on electrical/mechanical systems. Very good.
 
Apr 22, 2011
643
Hunter 27 Pecan Grove, Oriental, NC
Your bilge pump should be connected directly to the battery with a fuse within a few inches of the battery. The thinking is that there should be no way to accidentally leave the boat without a bilge pump being able to operate with the float switch. On my boat the bilge pump switch is a manual type and only has two positions: momentarily ON that bypasses the float switch and when the switch is released it defaults to the float switch position. Not sure how your auto switch is wired. It does appear to be wired correctly to the battery though.
 

RoyS

.
Jun 3, 2012
774
Hunter 33 Steamboat Wharf, Hull, MA
+1 on removing fresh water supply from dock.