Maiden Voyage of the Free Yacht




About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific...

Our crew of adventurers sets sail on our little ship for the first time.
continues the saga begun at How to Get a Free Yacht

Nick Papadakis, Patrick Buckley, Lorraine Superhero, and Tim Anderson.

words and music by Pat assisted by Tim,
Photos by Pat - great job - I didn't even know you were taking these!

continues the Free Yacht saga begun at How to Get a Free Yacht

Here's the table of contents of the whole saga:
Chapter 1: How to Get a Free Yacht
Chapter 2: Maiden Voyage of the Free Yacht
Chapter 3: Fix Broken Stix and other Trix
Chapter 4: Outboard Motor Mutilates Foot
Chapter 5: It's sinking and it's on Fire.
Chapter 6: How To Give Away a Free Yacht
Chapter 7: Get an Even Better One and Fabulize it.
Chapter 8: Celebrate Freedom
Chapter 9: Technicolor Dreamboat
Chapter 10: Privateer Knot
Chapter 11: Dismasted!
Chapter 12: Kiteboat!
Chapter 13: Mast Raising

Step 1: Houston, We Have a Problem

Our exhaust tube was bulging and pulsing with every crank of the little diesel,
spraying water from holes that seemed more numerous with every minute.
The bulging innards of our exhaust tube. The entire tube was decaying from the inside out. An internal hernia was plugging the exhaust tube.

Step 2: Holes in the Boat, the Leading Cause of Sinkings

Also known as through-hull fittings so as to seem less crazy.

A plastic bag wadded up in the exhaust pipe to keep the boat from sinking while we ran to the store. Your free boat may be kept afloat by similar means. Look at that prop, nice and clean thanks to Tims scrubbing.

Step 3: Off to the Chandler for a Replacement

Sizing out the exhaust tubing. Floor tiles are usually 12" squares and so can be used as a rough tape measure for lengths. Tim got down and dirty to compare tube diameters.

Step 4: Chew a Ragged New End on It With the Special Tool

Cutting the tubing with some strange west marine tool made special for the job. A pocket knife could have done the job.
At the register: "That will be one milliion dollars. Per foot."

Step 5: The Exhaust Hose Repair Team.

Step 6: Main Thruster Is Repaired, Sir

Its actually a jet boat, no just kidding, this is the new exhaust tubing in action. The water is used to cool the exhaust of the engine, from what I can remember of thermodynamics I beleive that this helps increase the efficiency of the engine.

As soon as it was fixed we found another million-dollar hose just laying on the dock.
A neighbor with higher standards had just replaced theirs. Oh well.

Step 7: Opening the Necronomicon

Our diesel engine expert, Nick checking the manuals to try and figure out what the mystery coolant valve did. We decided it was suppose to be closed while the engine ran. It is a good idea to try and get as much information and any manuals you can from the previous owners. Our boat came with alot of this stuff making it easier for us to figure out how things worked.

Step 8: I'm Da Frickin King a Da Woild!

Some boats have carved wooden pieces under their bowsprit, we have a flying Tim on the top of our bow sprit

Step 9: And Then Suddenly...

This is a shot of Tim as he breaks our rudder by standing on the handle, the nautical term for this handle is tiller. Usually you want to avoid breaking this as it is important for steering the boat. Don't be surprised if you break lots of stuff on your free boat the first time out. I would recommend taking your boat out on a calm day the first couple times out. Start a list of the things you want to repair or fix

Step 10: The Intrepid Crew

Lorraine was our sailing expert and when not hiding in the cabin to avoid being seen on our boat by other people she sailed with she was a huge help with guiding and advising us.

Step 11: Sailing Under the Bay Bridge



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    14 Discussions


    11 years ago on Step 4

    That's a hose cutter. You can actually buy them at plumbing supply stores, and the like. Don't know if there's a more 'formal' name for it. We use them in injection molding when we need to cut hose for watering the molds.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 4

    This makes me wonder how many items for purchase in the boating world are exactly the same as items for purchase in the normal world, but four times as expensive.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Actually, the water is to cool the engine. After it has cooled the engine, it passed the water mantled exhaust manifold (in order to keep the manifold from becoming a real fire danger) and is from there "digested" out into the exhaust stream, allowing for the use of rubber hoses to divert the exhaust gases. It is called a "wet stack", compared to a "dry stack" when the exhaust gases are discharged like on a car, normally via a chimney that goes relatively high up. Since the gases exiting the engine, all the piping (as well as the exhaust manifold) needs to be fairly well insulated to prevent a boat from catching fire - or simply be too dangerous.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Ahhh, the two happiest days in the life of a boater! You got it for free so you missed the bliss of the first one but you still have the other happiest day in the life of a boater to look forward to: the day you sell it! You are currently at the black-hole-in-the-water-into-which-you-pour-money stage! It's still a wonderful story and a great experience...enjoy it!

    1 reply

    I will agree on the above saw pertaining to powerboats. Sailboaters cry when they sell boats. I even know one guy who sold his sailboat as he had a new one that was larger. He had tears in his eyes and ran his hand down her sides as if he was saying goodbye to a beloved pet that was soon to be put down.


    11 years ago on Step 7

    Ahh, the titles. You, sir, write an enjoyable read.


    Ahh the joys of West Marine, the most expensive store on the planet. I really like the boat. Bring Over Another Thousand That is what it sounds like each tome I get a call from the Marina.


    13 years ago

    i love the story! i love to sail but only get out quarterly...mainly inland time i'm looking for a larger vessel, i'll keep your good fortune in mind. best of regards and luck!


    13 years ago

    I want to be a joyful native! Take me along on the next voyage!


    13 years ago

    Dear Tim, In Step 8: it's bowsprit, one word. Pedantically, me.

    1 reply