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Jazzland

Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2023
Messages
18
Hello everyone!

After wanting a sailboat for many years and not being able to make sense of it, a crazy situation with employment and relocation put me in a position where I needed a temporary residence. Around 2 weeks ago, I stumbled upon a lovely 1984 Mainship 36 at a liveaboard marina and pulled the trigger. I am finally on the water!

I have looked into trawlers before and I have always thought they were great. My reason for wanting a sailboat was that I would like to travel to different countries and see the world with my family. That may still be in the cards at a later time when we get a few of the kids out of the house.

For now, I could not be happier with the Mainship. In two weeks, I have learned that I was vastly underprepared to do any sort of cruising. I know of lots of different sailboat models and designs, but I don't know how fuses and breakers or inverters work, how to identify and get rid of an odor, how to repair a lifeline post that is wobbling, or really how to own and maintain a larger boat in general. My new floating apartment is saving me a little bit of money and showing me what it would be like to go full time. I'm digging it!

I know that the Mainship isn't a full displacement trawler, but she is seems efficient. The notes from the original owners show that they lived aboard and cruised back and forth between Florida and NC. There are also calculations indicating that she will put along at 7-9 knots burning 1.5 GPH @ ~1700 RPM (2 Crusader gas engines) or up to 17+knots if we need to go fast. I haven't been brave enough to untie from the dock yet, but I did have the seller start her up and idle. It was a great deal, and there was no survey or sea trial to speak of. Shame on me, right?

Immediately, there are a couple of issues that I could use help with if anyone has a moment wants to toss a possible solution my way:

-The rear head is VERY full. I ordered a pump out from the Marina and they said that barely anything came out of either tank (2 tanks - large rear and smaller front). I suspect that I will need a marine plumber, but the front head is operational and the shower/water is working. I am not 100% sure that they even tried to pump the rear tank, and I am also not sure if there was anything I was supposed to turn on in the boat to facilitate that. I was at work of course and never spoke to the person who was actually at the boat.

-There is a strong odor in the boat each night when I get home from work. I open the hatches and run the AC and it usually clears out within a few minutes. I thought it was sort of a gas/fuel smell at first, but it definitely isn't. I really think that it is related to the toilet issue and the tank. This one is high on my list for safety reasons. I am currently at work 70+ hours a week so I have not had time to deal with it. That should slow down soon. I poured some White Vinegar in the rear head as I read that it would help to start working through the buildup.

-My interior lights all stopped working about 3 days ago. My other electronics have been operating great, and at the advice of the Marina owner, I have left the A/C running every day even while I am gone. I have also turned off the fresh water supply coming into the boat and only turn on the hot water heater before a shower. Today and yesterday when I got home, the whole boat was off, and I flipped the breaker switch at the dock power station to get everything (except the lights) back on. I used Amazon Prime to get a few wireless LED lights for the time being.

Any thoughts or insights would be great! Please keep in mind that I am brand new at this. I have looked at several panels/switches/devices on board and I really don't know what I am doing :banghead: They do mostly look clean and dry though! The exterior paint and canvas are a little faded. She has been occupied by full time liveboards for at least the last 15 years and was winterized/serviced for the last few years supposedly. I know that she will be a good boat, but frankly I need to get someone on board to show me a few things and get the kinks worked out. This will be a fun project and a really fun family boat once work slows down and the wife and kids move up. I have been devouring the forums, and I am super grateful to have this as a resource.

I look forward to hearing from you guys!

Take care,

Joe
 
Welcome aboard and congrats on your new boat.
 
Make friends with your dock neighbors in the marina. Most people are pretty helpful and really like to poke around boats.

Got any pictures of your panels?
 
Joe
Welcome aboard TF and to Mainship ownership. You will find a number of current & past MS owners here as they were a popular boat.
You will be much better off and get better answers if you post individual questions re problems in a section of the forum best matching the issue at hand.
One potential problem that can cause your aft head pump out symptoms is a plugged vent line. Lots of posts re head & holding tanks so a little searching & reading can help at least identify the basics to get started.
 
Pretty soon you will hear from Peggy, our boat smell Guru. In the meantime buy her book "Getting rid of boat odors". It will answer your smelly problem and probably your pump out issue.

pete
 
Perhaps your interior lights were running on battery instead of shore power ? I'm sure all your bulbs didn't die at the same time so it must be a power issue. Do you have a multi meter ?
 
"...In two weeks, I have learned that I was vastly underprepared to do any sort of cruising..."

I burst out laughing at that line, I've sure been there. Fortunately we bought an older (1985) Carver first, relatively simple systems but that boat sure taught me a lot. I learned so much maintaining that one, and then graduated to EFI 454's and radar and everything else that comes with a bigger boat. I really enjoy boat maintenance, just wish I had more time. The tip about Peggy's book is good advice - for example, we always had an "off" smell on the boat until on Peggy's recommendation, we removed the charcoal cartridge filter in the holding tank vent line and enlarged the vent through hulls so the holding tank got more air. The smell immediately vanished and has never come back.

Welcome and hope you enjoy climbing the learning curve. Now I have to figure out my port engine voltage problem...
 
-The rear head is VERY full. I ordered a pump out from the Marina and they said that barely anything came out of either tank (2 tanks - large rear and smaller front). I suspect that I will need a marine plumber, but the front head is operational and the shower/water is working. I am not 100% sure that they even tried to pump the rear tank, and I am also not sure if there was anything I was supposed to turn on in the boat to facilitate that. I was at work of course and never spoke to the person who was actually at the boat.

-There is a strong odor in the boat each night when I get home from work. I open the hatches and run the AC and it usually clears out within a few minutes. I thought it was sort of a gas/fuel smell at first, but it definitely isn't. I really think that it is related to the toilet issue and the tank. This one is high on my list for safety reasons. I am currently at work 70+ hours a week so I have not had time to deal with it. That should slow down soon. I poured some White Vinegar in the rear head as I read that it would help to start working through the buildup.


Perhaps you mean literally that the head is full, but I suspect you mean that the holding tank is full. If so, what led you to conclude that it is full? The fact that nothing could be pumped out is some evidence that it isn't full. The fact that the other head flushes properly means either that it has a separate holding tank, or if they do share a single holding tank (which is typical) that is more evidence that the holding tank isn't full.
 
Jazzland, this post is in the Welcome Mat section. You would probably get more advice if you were to separate the various questions into several threads and post them in the section that concerns the specific questions. When people see Two Feet In they don’t know what the post relates to.
 
Perhaps your interior lights were running on battery instead of shore power ? I'm sure all your bulbs didn't die at the same time so it must be a power issue. Do you have a multi meter ?

I don't have one yet, but I came to the same conclusion. That one is definitely on my list!
 
Make friends with your dock neighbors in the marina. Most people are pretty helpful and really like to poke around boats.

Got any pictures of your panels?

Thank you. That is good advice. I've been at work during almost all possible daylight, but I should have a day or two off in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here are a few panels. I think I figured out how the main board works showing the load on the electrical system and what is coming in. The top panel with the fuses may have something to do with my lights not working, but I am not sure what to look for. I have not messed with the inverter or whatever the Raritan stuff is. I assume that it has to do with the forward toilet system, and I don't need anymore issues with that stuff right now :lol:
 

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Pretty soon you will hear from Peggy, our boat smell Guru. In the meantime buy her book "Getting rid of boat odors". It will answer your smelly problem and probably your pump out issue.

pete

Just bought the book on Amazon. Good call!

Joe
 
Perhaps you mean literally that the head is full, but I suspect you mean that the holding tank is full. If so, what led you to conclude that it is full? The fact that nothing could be pumped out is some evidence that it isn't full. The fact that the other head flushes properly means either that it has a separate holding tank, or if they do share a single holding tank (which is typical) that is more evidence that the holding tank isn't full.

Well, I guess I would say it is the tank, but after trying to flush the toilet a few times, the water started overflowing. It sat in there almost to the rim my first night on the boat. That shower is having a hard time draining as well. I waited until everything came down, and I added White vinegar to the tank. It hasn't come up that high again, but I haven't touched that toilet since then. I just purchased Peggy's book, and I will direct this toward the appropriate forum section once I get my terminology down and make sure it isn't something incredibly simple!
 
"...In two weeks, I have learned that I was vastly underprepared to do any sort of cruising..."

I burst out laughing at that line, I've sure been there. Fortunately we bought an older (1985) Carver first, relatively simple systems but that boat sure taught me a lot. I learned so much maintaining that one, and then graduated to EFI 454's and radar and everything else that comes with a bigger boat. I really enjoy boat maintenance, just wish I had more time. The tip about Peggy's book is good advice - for example, we always had an "off" smell on the boat until on Peggy's recommendation, we removed the charcoal cartridge filter in the holding tank vent line and enlarged the vent through hulls so the holding tank got more air. The smell immediately vanished and has never come back.

Welcome and hope you enjoy climbing the learning curve. Now I have to figure out my port engine voltage problem...

Thank you. I am enjoying it so far. I just need a LOT more time to commit to it at this point. I need to learn in every direction. We will get there!
 
Jazzland, this post is in the Welcome Mat section. You would probably get more advice if you were to separate the various questions into several threads and post them in the section that concerns the specific questions. When people see Two Feet In they don’t know what the post relates to.

Of course, and thank you. I plan on making more specific posts with direct questions in the appropriate sections. I just thought I would share a few of my first few setbacks and see if anyone could relate. I have done a little reading here, but I honestly haven't had the time to properly troubleshoot or document anything. Actually, there are several binders full of receipts and records that will probably answer a few of my questions. There are also tools and parts scattered around the boat. I will try to get my thoughts organized once I get past the initial waterfall of information.
 
If the head is overflowing something is clogged. Either the line or the impeller I’d guess. Probably your tank isn’t full, the contents of the toilet aren’t getting to the tank.
 
Your shower likely has a pump that drains it either overboard or into a sump in the bilge. There should be a switch to turn on the shower pump while you’re showering. If the pump is on but it’s not draining, there may be something wrong with the pump.
 
Congrats on the new boat!

The fact that all your interior lights went out at once says 12v batteries are dead. And this may answer a lot of other questions...

First thing: Given you have gas engines, if there is even a slight smell of fuel on board, you need to open up the engine room and see how strong it is in there. If there is a possibility of a fuel leak somewhere, you need to get a mechanic aboard to check and make sure there isn't, or fix it if there is, before you do anything else. There should be sensors that alert if gas fumes are present, but if they're 12v and the batteries are dead, they're not going to work. Same thing with bilge pumps - they won't work if the batteries are dead.

The shower sump pump and head (if electric) probably have 12v pumps as well, and if the batteries are dead, they're not going to work either. You mentioned having a hose supply fresh water, so I'm assuming you have a dedicated hose inlet, and when it's attached, you don't need the 12v fresh water pump because city water supplies the pressure. Without that connection, I'm sure you would also find your fresh water pump non-op.

That pic you posted is what I assume you're calling the "holding tank" - it's an ElectroScan waste treatment system. Also 12v. https://www.raritaneng.com/en_US/products/electroscan

Check all the batteries to ensure they're good. Replace ones that aren't - or, depending on how long she sat without anyone taking care of things, replace all of them. Find the charger and determine how it's wired and where the breaker is. There's a chance you're like me and have an inverter/charger somewhere in the mix, and if that's wired in line with your shore power and not working correctly, it will need to be sorted.

But again, if you smell fuel at all, get someone to figure out where it's coming from. The last thing you want to do is start messing around with the electrical system if you have a fuel leak.

Locate every through hull and seacock. Trace them back to figure out what they do. At the same time, locate and trace every sanitation hose - you are likely to find one or more Y-Valves in the mix, and you will need to figure out where they ARE set as well as where they SHOULD be set to route wastewater - especially with that ElectroScan in the mix. Make a diagram so you know what you're working with.

If she sat for a long time without anyone tending to her needs, get a diver over there to clean the bottom and check the zincs. The last thing you need is no zinc left and corrosion eating everything else metal that touches the water.

I am assuming you bought her through a broker and had little (if any) interaction with the former owner. If they are still around and you can contact them, do so and ask them questions - they're the best resource because it was their boat, and most of the time, former owners want to help if they can and if they are approached politely with questions.

If this is your first boat, and you don't know anything about how boat systems work, I would strongly advise you either hire a surveyor to help you sort things out or enlist the services of an electrician, plumber...etc.

Also, as someone else mentioned - get to know your neighbors at the marina. Some of them are likely to know the boat and maybe even some of her systems. Some may even be able to put you in contact with the former owner if you don't already have that information. But even if they don't know anything specific, some of them will be willing to help.

Good luck!
 
Congrats on the new boat!

The fact that all your interior lights went out at once says 12v batteries are dead. And this may answer a lot of other questions...

First thing: Given you have gas engines, if there is even a slight smell of fuel on board, you need to open up the engine room and see how strong it is in there. If there is a possibility of a fuel leak somewhere, you need to get a mechanic aboard to check and make sure there isn't, or fix it if there is, before you do anything else. There should be sensors that alert if gas fumes are present, but if they're 12v and the batteries are dead, they're not going to work. Same thing with bilge pumps - they won't work if the batteries are dead.

The shower sump pump and head (if electric) probably have 12v pumps as well, and if the batteries are dead, they're not going to work either. You mentioned having a hose supply fresh water, so I'm assuming you have a dedicated hose inlet, and when it's attached, you don't need the 12v fresh water pump because city water supplies the pressure. Without that connection, I'm sure you would also find your fresh water pump non-op.

That pic you posted is what I assume you're calling the "holding tank" - it's an ElectroScan waste treatment system. Also 12v. https://www.raritaneng.com/en_US/products/electroscan

Check all the batteries to ensure they're good. Replace ones that aren't - or, depending on how long she sat without anyone taking care of things, replace all of them. Find the charger and determine how it's wired and where the breaker is. There's a chance you're like me and have an inverter/charger somewhere in the mix, and if that's wired in line with your shore power and not working correctly, it will need to be sorted.

But again, if you smell fuel at all, get someone to figure out where it's coming from. The last thing you want to do is start messing around with the electrical system if you have a fuel leak.

Locate every through hull and seacock. Trace them back to figure out what they do. At the same time, locate and trace every sanitation hose - you are likely to find one or more Y-Valves in the mix, and you will need to figure out where they ARE set as well as where they SHOULD be set to route wastewater - especially with that ElectroScan in the mix. Make a diagram so you know what you're working with.

If she sat for a long time without anyone tending to her needs, get a diver over there to clean the bottom and check the zincs. The last thing you need is no zinc left and corrosion eating everything else metal that touches the water.

I am assuming you bought her through a broker and had little (if any) interaction with the former owner. If they are still around and you can contact them, do so and ask them questions - they're the best resource because it was their boat, and most of the time, former owners want to help if they can and if they are approached politely with questions.

If this is your first boat, and you don't know anything about how boat systems work, I would strongly advise you either hire a surveyor to help you sort things out or enlist the services of an electrician, plumber...etc.

Also, as someone else mentioned - get to know your neighbors at the marina. Some of them are likely to know the boat and maybe even some of her systems. Some may even be able to put you in contact with the former owner if you don't already have that information. But even if they don't know anything specific, some of them will be willing to help.

Good luck!

Thank you for all of that! I appreciate the insight.

Joe
 
Head Pump out

I'll try on your pump out issue.

First, was it a portable pump out mechanism? That is a unit which is moved down the dock to do a pump out in your slip or did you go to the fuel dock for a pump out?

We are in a new marina and had a dock side pump out attempted. It didn't work very well and the dockmaster then suggested we go to the fuel dock which had a stronger pump with more suction. That worked great.

Second, if it has been a while since the boat was pumped out you may need to use some chemicals. A holding tank treatment like (https://tinyurl.com/43bsumzm) this will help. I'd open the pump out deck access and put some water in on top of what is there then add the treatment. Wait a day or 2 and do a pump out at the location of the strongest suction.

After it seems to have removed some/all of the tank add more water and treatment and go for a cruise. Hopefully you will get some agitation. Go back to the pump out and see if you can get more out.

Third, start using the treatment as often as called for on the directions.

Fourth, IF Peggy chimes, forget what I said and do what she says.

Good luck.
 
Welcome! In addition to the help that you will find here, I highly recommend, once you have digested Peggy's excellent book, that you find a copy of Nigel Calder's books on boat electrical and mechanical systems. They are written for a complete beginner and talk you through basic principles to help you understand what you are doing.

Here is one for sale at less than $20
https://www.americanbookwarehouse.com/284771/?msclkid=8260d7947ce910160681b377c83dccfe


~Alan
 
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