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REFIT — Replace Factory Installed Electric UMT Davit with Hydraulic Steelhead Unit

As we’ve detailed here, we selected a Steelhead Marine ES Series 1000 davit to replace the UMT unit that was original to the boat.  This entry covers the process we went through once that decision was made.  It’s a long read so you may want to bookmark it and come back 😎

Getting The New Gear On Board

After we had made our choice, the next step was figuring out who was going to install it and where.  Because we were on the move we obviously wanted to wait until we were going to be in one location for a reasonable enough period of time to be able to have the unit shipped and be able to set up installation with the right yard.  Our original thought was that since we had planned to keep OLOH in Beaufort, SC for December we would have it shipped to us there with the idea that we would be able to outsource the installation.  The marina we were staying at had no service facilities but we had a potential mobile installer and a nearby yard that could provide crane service if necessary.  So our new, custom manufactured Steelhead unit made its way down from British Columbia, Canada as a freight delivery (total weight with packing crate was around 750 pounds).  We knew that once it arrived at the marina we would have to figure out how to first get it to the boat and then onto the bridge deck.  If you’ve ever been to Port Royal Landing Marina you know that their easternmost dock (which is brand new and what we nicknamed the Port Royal Megadock because of its size) is easily a quarter of a mile from shore.  We were in the northernmost slip of the easternmost dock.

Jasper knows all too well how far it is from shore to OLOH and he loves every minute of the walk.

The freight service that provided the local delivery was terrific.  Our experiences with freight in New York have generally never gone this well.  The driver kept us informed of his expected arrival time and texted us before pulling in to the marina so we’d be ready for him.  His only responsibility was to offload our crate in the marina’s parking lot but he kindly offered to help us as much as we needed.  We did take him up on his offer and with a few others, we maneuvered the crate to the beginning of the long pier.  Major kudos to ABF Freight out of Savannah and our delivery person Jack for their excellent service.

After disassembling as much of the crate as we thought prudent, Tim, Dockmaster Michele, and her husband Gene strategized a way for us to get the crate down to the dock.  We decided to try a couple of furniture dollies that happened to be squirreled away in the ship’s store.  Thankfully the tide was up so it was relatively easy to control the crate’s downhill descent onto our floating dock.

Michele and Tim begin the crate disassembly.
Now that’s some quality packing.
Gene and Tim and crated davit on the move.

Once at the boat Gene, Tim and A.J.’s Dad put their great engineering minds together to devise a plan to hoist the new equipment while still partially crated onto OLOH’s bridge deck using the boat’s existing davit.  After careful contemplation and a few trials we had a successful hoist and set down the new crate on the forward edge of the dinghy deck.

It takes a crane to lift a crane… A.J. and his Dad join Gene and Michele in the hoist engineering discussion while Tim shoots.
A.J. & Dad retreat to the bridge deck to begin hoisting operations.  A.J. is usually in charge of anything with a remote!
Hoist successful! The partially crated new davit rests on the protected bridge deck ready to fulfill its purpose.

Now, all we needed was an installer.  Unfortunately, it became clear that our original idea to have it done by a mobile team was not feasible for a variety of reasons so we settled into the idea that we’d be traveling with the crated unit up top while we continued our journey south.  At least we had it.  Now we just needed an installation plan.

The Installation Plan

We shoved off from Beaufort at the end of December and made way to Savannah to ring in the new year.  On a yachtie friend’s recommendation, we reached out to Hinckley Yacht Services of Savannah in hopes of having them take on our project.  While they were very accommodating and willing to work us in, the weather had other ideas.  This was just when that virtually unprecedented cold snap and snowfall hit the area and the temps weren’t going to warm up sufficiently within that first week after New Year’s.  Separate from adding to the difficulty of the job, there is a minimum temperature at which the sealant that is used will work.  We weren’t there and the yard wasn’t comfortable not doing it by the book.  And we appreciated that.

New Year’s in Savannah. A bit too cool for the installation.

It was because of that good experience and based on the recommendation of our contact at Hinckley in Savannah that we decided to reach out to Hinckley Yacht Services in Stuart, Florida.  We were going that way and Stuart is the first real major hub for yachting after Savannah.  We connected with the easy-going Project Coordinator, Randy Ward, who took all the time necessary to understand our needs.  Despite it being a very busy time for them, we came up with a plan and a timetable and locked it in.  And this is an important point about our experience there and what we wish was the case with every service provider… they were a pleasure to deal with from first-contact and did whatever they could to accommodate us throughout the process.  When we ultimately arrived at the yard just over a week later we were actually surprised that they were able to squeeze us in given how busy the yard was.

OLOH tucked into the service area at Hinckley Yacht Services in a much more temperate Stuart, Florida.

Scope Of Work

Here’s what needed to happen for us to have our new davit installed:

  • Removal of old davit and standpipe.
  • Widening bridge deck opening from old standpipe to accommodate new, larger diameter standpipe.
  • Installation of new standpipe and corresponding trim.
  • Placement of new davit and routing of hydraulic lines from the new unit through the standpipe down to an area above the master stateroom headliner into a space behind the port stateroom aft locker and under the master berth including the extension of all hydraulic lines to accommodate the distance.
  • Installation of the hydraulic power-pack under the master berth.
  • Installation and routing of electrical cables from power-pack through a switch and heavy-duty fuse to one of our house battery banks.

Simple enough, right!?  Their projection was for up to four full working days to get this done.  This included the first few days with OLOH in the service pit so a crane could be used for the removal of the old equipment as well as the installation of the standpipe and placement of the new davit.  During our first day at the yard, Donny and Jim, two of Hinckley’s top techs, stopped by to inspect the gear and walk through the job.  They outlined their anticipated process and reminded us of something that every boater knows – every boat and every job are different and you simply never know what you’re going to run into along the way.

The Installation

While the job was not without its challenges and surprises, none were insurmountable and everything seemed to go relatively smoothly.  One of the beautiful things about being at the Hinckley facility is that they have an amazing collective of experience with their technicians and the ability to fabricate virtually anything needed to see a job through (or get it shipped quickly).  We were thrilled to have Donny and Jim on the job as not only are they just really, really good at what they do, they’re also really, really good guys.  And while Jasper loved them both he had a special love for Donny and his pocket full of treats.

With the power from the old davit snipped, Donny begins its removal.
Gone! Now about that standpipe…

The old davit came off easily and we were surprised at how incredibly light it was – easy enough for one person to carry.  The old standpipe was another issue.  It was clearly fabricated specifically for this boat and had a metal collar that was welded onto it and solidly sealed to the bridge deck.  After quite a bit of patient prying and manipulating it slid out of the hole it had called home for fourteen years and was off the boat.

Hinckley crane with the assist.
Donny now tasked with removing fourteen-year-old sealant.
The base of the standpipe on the main level aft deck. The electrical wire for the old davit was routed through the base into the master stateroom.
Holes in boats never feel good, even if they’re on the top deck. This will be enlarged to accommodate the new standpipe. Note the Nida-Core honeycomb used in the fiberglass assembly – a strong, lightweight, quality construction material.
With the old standpipe removed and the hole enlarged it was apparent that a wedge was needed to compensate for the slope of the deck. Fortunately Jim is a master fabricator – a real artist who loves that part of the job. A template is made for the new piece which will be used in conjunction with a few shim rings.

While the new wedge was in the paint shop, Donny & Jim insert the new standpipe with the gear in place for measurements as it will need to be shortened from its standard length to fit OLOH properly.
Jim bolts the new wedge to the deck.
Jasper always keeps an eye on things at the yard (or he’s looking for Donny and his pocket full of treats).
With Jasper declaring the coast clear, Jim finalizes the wedge and ring assembly he created.

With the standpipe now cut and in place, it’s time for the gear.
After applying that temperature-dependent sealant, the guys carefully put the gear unit in place, Donny at the ready to clean any overflow before it cures.
Jasper loves a project and Jim was kind enough to let him assist in sorting the hydraulic lines which needed to be carefully fed down the standpipe.
Jasper takes a break and Tim jumps in with the new davit carefully suspended so the lines can be fed through.

There was just enough room to route the hoses through the stateroom ceiling on their way through the back of a locker to the power pack under the berth.
The power pack in place.
This is the receiver for the wireless key fob that controls the davit.
That’s the eight-function waterproof remote next to the small pack of matches. The only thing you have to manually do with this davit is loosen the brake knob that you tighten before traveling and detach the hook from its mount.
New battery switch and fuse in the engine room.
With the hydraulic lines fed, the new davit was set into place on top of the gear – a big moment that was a long time coming. Tim honors this moment appropriately.
There was still work to be done before we’d be operational but with our land-crane needs out of the way we moved the boat to a comfortable floating dock and continued the celebration.

This was a big project with a lot of variables, as you saw, so it’s particularly gratifying to report that we are thrilled with the results.  Most importantly, the new davit is everything we hoped it would be.  It operates as expected, smoothly and quietly executing each command.  It handles our 650 pound tender effortlessly and because it can carry a full load at all limits of extension we can now easily deploy the tender off of our stern in addition to our port side which used to be the only option.  The endless positioning possibilities allow us to replace the tender on its chocks with great accuracy, eliminating our previous need to manually move it around once it was back on deck. We cannot say enough about the quietness of its operation.  The electric winch on our old davit was LOUD.  When you are on deck operating this unit it is virtually silent.  If you are in or near the master stateroom you naturally hear some quiet buzzing from the power pack.  We will be posting a full demonstration video soon so you can see and not hear for yourself.

Finally, we cannot say enough good things about the team we worked with at Hinckley Yacht Services in Stuart.  It is so refreshing to get through a project of this size with its inherent challenges and have everyone remain on the same page throughout the process.  In addition to the techs who were on the job, service manager Andy New was instrumental in seeing this project through to its successful completion.  We recommend them without hesitation and will be sure to return for future work.

If you have any comments or questions please be sure to leave us a note below – we would love to hear your thoughts!

Presenting OLOH’s new Steelhead davit…

Davit Bling. This impressive stainless steel weighted hook is attached to Amsteel Blue synthetic rope and weighs around ten pounds.

The removal of the old setup and placement of the Steelhead in 70 seconds…

And now on to the next project!

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Great blog post on the Davit. I can't believe that I walk that far many times a day and still think I need to get on the eliptical! Can't wait to see the Davit in action and it looks beautiful. In fact, I got chills seeing that SS hook⚓️
    1. Yes - that is quite a walk! We couldn't have gotten the new unit on board without you. And that SS hook IS awesome. So how about another picture?
  2. Love the video, second one. Back ground music on the piano was excellent. Davit looks great, hydraulic is the way to go. We are a month away from launch, getting antsy to say the least. Enjoy enjoy enjoy!!!!!!!!!!
    1. We knew that music would speak to you! Thanks for the davit compliments. If you couldn't tell, we are very pleased. Now let's get the CW splashed already!

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