What don’t you do in the name of science?

I’ve been thinking. What will I eat if I sail for weeks, or months, without resupplying? I mean, most food is perishable in one way or another after some time, especially in a boat where moisture can be a factor.

So I thought I would take a look att the local Lidl to see what they had in form of canned food – or more precisely – meat. Yes, I do consume meat, I would say it is a preference even. If I can get a big juicy steak with nothing else, I’d be fine. Just the side order, not so much. And let’s face it, it is called side order for a reason, right?

So, Lidl, what do you have for me? Tuna. Like, ten different versions of tuna in a can. Beans. Yeah, not a favorite really, but I will have to get there eventually. Eventually! Not today, though. I’ve heard about canned chicken, sausages, meat and all kind of things I wanted to try. But no. Nada.

Except meatballs! So, I like meatballs. I actually take some pride in my meatballs and must say that meatballs are on the list of favorites. So I looked at it closely and, yes, as expected. Chicken! Oh, well.. It’s meat anyway. A whopping 17%! Wow.. Mine are more like 98% I’m impressed that they even can call it meatballs in this over-regulated world we’re living in.

And yeah, the “rich tomato sauce” is in there. It got so thin when I warmed it it was more or less like water. So, the big question… How does it taste??

Well, I’m still eating them while writing this. Actually, I started eating them as I started writing and have been analyzing them on the way, so to speak. Am I impressed? No. Am I surprised? No. They taste like 17% chicken “meatballs” in a can with “rich” tomato soup can be expected to taste. Bland. Yeah, that’s a good over all verdict. The sauce is what tastes, which isn’t surprising since the balls are more or less wheat balls. Oh, maybe they misspelled it? Anyway, as emergency food.. yeah, maybe. To have in the bottom of the bilge to bring out when everything else is eaten. But nothing I would bring to look forward to, for sure.

You might be thinking “but what about the keel bolts??” at this moment, and yes, I have been working on them today. I had some unexpected, some surprising and some expected experiences today.

Eww, that last “meat”ball without spagetti was nasty…

I started the day with going to Bandon co-op, to get some penetrating oil that I forgot about yesterday. Well, after breakfast and the usual social media scan of course. The only penetrating oil they had was WD-40, I also got some white spirits to clean it off afterwards, since the rust remover wouldn’t like an oily surface. That bottle leaked in the seat of the rental, so the day started well.

Have you heard the story behind WD-40 by the way? Quite entertaining really. Thank you NASA!

After spraying the bolts with the WD-40 and leaving them to soak in for a few hours I got down to finally inflate my little dingy. It’s been lying under the boat for all this time and it was time to see its state. It was pretty much the same state as Away, it has it’s dings and might not win any beauty contests, patched and worn as it is. It pumped up pretty easily and it was surprisingly high in the bow for a dingy that didn’t have a hard bottom. Unfortunately one of the bottom panels is leaking, so I have another job added to the list to fix before I can splash Away. I’ll give her a good clean tomorrow and show you how she looks, I put her on the deck of Away for the time being. That was a haul! She weighs in at 24 kilos, so lifting her from the ground to the deck was a challenge.

Keel bolts!

Yes, yes! Okay, sorry. So, after the dingy was on board, I went down and looked at the keel bolts. A long time. Then I went off the boat and talked a bit with one of the people in the boat yard, he gave me a 32mm socket and a good handle, then he gave me a pipe and said that it would probably come handy.

He was right.

So, my plan was to remove the top nut of one of the keel bolts to check how far down the thread the rust had crept. The socket was a bit too deep, so I had to put a cap for a PET-bottle on top of the bolt to avoid turning both nuts at the same time, since that could undo the bolt, rather than the nuts. Which I didn’t want to do.

First nut came off with a little struggle, and I saw that the thread was black. The rust had wandered down the thread, so this had been rusting for some time. So, no bueno. The action I had planned for this situation was to undo the lower nut as well, to see if the entire thread was black, since that could mean that it might be all the way down to the keel and who knows what then.

Second nut also came off, easier than the first actually. The thread looked rather good, at least half the height of the nut and the height of the 5mm washer. There was some sort of white sealant in the thread that had stopped the rust in its tracks. The hole around the keel bolt was also filled with this white substance, so I was rather confident that there wouldn’t be any rust down there. Great!

So, my plan was to use some rust remover to get rid of the rust and then I’d be home safe! I cleaned the bolt with some white spirits and brushed on the rust remover. All I had to do now was to wait for it to do it’s thing, rebed the washer and nuts and Bob’s your uncle!

But I can’t wait… So I thought, while that bolt was being treated, I could start with another one. I strategically chose a bolt on the other side of the keel and the next bolt pair, to work me forward in a zig-zag pattern, keeping half of the bolts in.

As I started to torque the upper nut I saw that the lower nut also started to move… Uh-oh.. Not really good. Maybe both was threading off the bolt? I gave it another 1/4 turn and checked. No, it was the bolt that was rotating.


Well, it was loose, so I just had to go all the way with it. And once again I was surprised how easy it was to undo it. And how short it was! I was truly expecting at least another 10-12 cm of bolt to unscrew, but it was more like 6 cm below the washer. and then I was totally baffled, I had made a hole in the boat! In my mind the bolts was internal to the keel, but apparently they went through all the way! I saw the ground through the bottom of my boat… Interesting.

The issue was that this bolt had rusted enough to totally seize the top nut, I tried to remove it after I had removed the bolt, but it wasn’t going anywhere soon.

But now at least I know how they look in the keel, good. I also know how long they are and how thick the hull is. Great things really.

Looking more closely at the bolt you can see how seized it is. At the top the rust is as it was before. I used a hammer to remove as much of the porous rust there was,

But if I turn the bolt upside down you can see that there is a tight black ring around the nut on the underside as well. Since rust expands, this means that the rust has a quite firm grip around the bolt.

So I made a decision from the discoveries I’ve done the last days.

I will replace all the keel bolts with new.

Yes, it will take some time to do it and there will most likely be that one bolt that won’t accept its fate and will give me hell and yes, it will not be easy in the forward compartments where there is no room to work really. But I think it is The Right Thing To Do™. Having rusty keel bolts is not a good start of a long journey. They will probably never break as they look today, but I will never be really sure.

So I rather spend that time, money and effort now rather than in a few years, somewhere where it is warm, sunny and a perfect breeze is blowing and all I want to do is sail, not hauling out and spend a week in a boat yard.

To be continued…

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