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I am completely rebuilding a lot of things on Duchess and I have good information for anyone that is in the process of trying to fix something on a Spirit 28. I had to have the pulpit repaired, I have completely rebuilt the head, I have done considerable cosmetic work and I will be re-soling her and re-doing a substantial amount of wood. If you have any questions about repairing your Spirit 28, please contact me and I will be happy to share anything I know that might be of help.


• Sails are by far the most dynamic of all the changes you will ever make to your Spirit 28. A blown out sail is like trying to drive on flat tires. When I purchased Duchess her mainsail was the original, stock issue mainsail and after 25 years of service, it had to be retired. New sails can be very expensive and since I am a cruiser much more than a racer, a used sail was the best choice for me. There are a lot of lofts that have sails available through the internet but since the Spirit 28 is an old school "high aspect ratio" sail design, it can be difficult to find a sail that will fit the short foot (9.83 feet) and tall luff (31.25 feet) dimensions exactly. The sail plan is in the users manual posted on the documentation page on this web site. I consulted with John Bartlett of Bartlett Sails in Austin, Texas and he suggested that I get a used J-80 main and have it cut down. This proved to be an perfect solution! I now have a 6.5 ounce Dacron racing sail in great condition with a beautiful shape and strong lift that I purchased and had cut down for a total cost that was less than 500 dollars. John did an outstanding job and ships globally so if you need a good sailmaker I can honestly say from experience he will take care of you fairly and affordably. My mainsail is excellent now. Bartlett Sails in Austin Texas - (512) 266-1895


• Bottom jobs are an essential sail boat maintenance procedure and should be done every few years or whenever the boat needs it. Fresh water is much more forgiving than salt water on sail boat hulls but either way, you are going to have to do it eventually. I do not have a trailer but even if I did, I would still have it done professionally in a yard that does haul-outs and bottom jobs. The paint is toxic, the sanding job is toxic and nasty, the blister repair is nasty, and the barrior coat and paint application process is toxic and nasty. I had my bottom job done for 50 bucks a foot (total boat length) and bought the paint from West marine for 180 dollars a gallon. Bottom jobs are expensive. After speaking with many sailors that have done bottom jobs, the unanimous consensus was "I'll never do that again, I'll pay for it next time" so I was happy with my decision.

There are 11 through holes in the bottom of the Spirit 28, two on the port bow for instruments (knot meter and depth sounder), two more on the port bow for water intake and discharge for the head, one on the starboard side aft of the beam under the galley as a sink drain, two on the starboard side in the engine locker for water intake and discharge for the engine cooling system (make sure to keep the intake on the hull clear of debris), one on the stern for exhaust, one on the freeboard from the bilge pipe, and two on the freeboard from the cockpit drains. The stock sea cocks were brass. If you want to know what the bottom of your Spirit 28 looks like, Cody posted some excellent pictures on his site here.

Engine Compartment Access

This Is bit of useful information came from Jerry in Newfoundland - see photos of his boat on the Photos page:
"... Now as far as quarterberth engine access. First take out all the normal stuff you would store in there and remove foam mattress. Now you will see two locker covers with the forward one covering the fresh water sysytem water pump and pressure tank. When looking into the quarterberth around this area, You should see a small panel that blends into the side of the engine compartment. Unless yours has been covered over from past headliner fixes, it should be about there. it is at quarterberth level and about 1' high x 2.6' long. It may be screwed on so just pick an poke around a bit. When you finally find it, and hold your flashlight in there for the first time, you will have an "ah-ha" moment. And It will make your day..."

This did indeed make my day. I did not discover the engine compartment access door until after I had spent a hot, sticky evening crawling into the smelly engine compartment from the starboard lazarette to tighten the packing box up. The layout for the packing and the adjustment nut are in the Spirit Yachts manual on the documentation page of this web site. The layout is on page 59. Accessing the packing box through the engine compartment access door makes this process a breeze compared to crawling through the lazarette to do it.

The resource document on this web site has an excellent list of vendors for sailboat parts new and used.

The Pulpit

• When I bought the boat the previous owner had gotten into some trouble while docking and a large wake from a passing boat slammed the pulpit down on a pile and ripped one side of it completely out of the deck, mangling it in the process. The way to remove the pulpit is from the anchor locker. Remove the 4 inch plastic cap in the front of the anchor locker by unscrewing it and you can get to the 7/16 inch nuts that hold the pulpit on from there. I removed it and had it welded back into shape. Since the deck was all torn up from the pulpit being ripped out I had to grind it out and repair the fiber glass. Once that was done, I sanded it flat and installed varnished hard wood plates between the pulpit and the deck as a dressing to cover the repair. Gel coat is very difficult to color match and there was no way that I could reasonably fix the hole in the deck without having it look like an obvious repair so I put a wooden plate between the pulpit and the deck to cover it up. I put a matched one on the other side to balance it out and it looks fine. The welding for the stainless steel tubing pulpit was done at Advanced Metal Fusion in Austin, Texas - (512) 422-0888

The Packing Box

• If your boat is taking on a small amount of water and you aren't sure where it is coming from, the first place to check is the packing box on the drive shaft in the engine compartment. (The second place to check would be any seacocks on any of the many through holes on the Spirit 28). The packing box is designed to leak a small amount of water when the the drive is engaged under auxiliary power. The reason for this is lubrication of the gland nut around the drive shaft. If there is water leaking out of the packing box while the boat is at rest then it needs to be tightened. The procedure for tightening the packing box is in the owners manual on page 59. Tighten the box until the water stops leaking but DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN. The packing box should be tight enough to stop leaking water when the motor is running and the drive is disengaged but loose enough to let a small steady drip of water (a drip every 10 seconds or so) to enter the boat when the drive is engaged. Over tightening the packing box causes uneccesary drive shaft wear at the gland nut and can cause a need for drive shaft replacement over time. A good way to test this is to tighten the packing box, run the boat under auziliary power for 10 minutes and see how hot the packing box is to touch. It will be warm from friction but if it is obviously hot, loosen it up a little.


• There are 11 through holes in the Spirit 28 and 5 seacocks. You will find two seacocks up in the head in the storage area that goes under the V-Berth accessable through the access locker in the head, one in the storage area under the galley sink, and two in the engine locker. The other through holes you will find are for instrumentation, intake, and drainage. More detail on seacocks is above in the "Bottom Job" section.

Electrical Panel

• The square fuse holders I was only able to find at a salvage yard called Cap'n Mac's in Austin, Texas where they are proudly accepting 20 dollars a piece for them. Their contact info is on the resource document. I have found that the wiring behind the electrical panel is much easier to access through the starboard lazarette than it is to unscrew it and try to pull it out. There is a board with 7 screws in it that covers up the panels from behind. Unfortunately, the easiest way to really get down to business with the electrical panel is to crawl in the lazarette and work with it right in front of you. The best procedure for this contortionism is to stand in the lazarette facing port and then crouch down and twist your body until you face the back of the panel. There are two, large, inline 30 amp fuses that each handle a row of switches respectively. The other fuses (accessable from the front of the panel) are all 10 amp service. The wiring_diagram is posted on the documents page.

Engine Identification

• The plate that identifies the Yanmar Diesel model is in the front of the motor behind the center pulley. It is tiny and often covered with grime. My 2 cylinder is a Yanmar 2QM15.

Changing The Oil

• The dip stick on the left of the engine as you face the stern is the way to get into the motor to change the oil. It is in a tight place and you have to feel your way to it. It feels just like you would expect, tight, awkward and grimy. When changing the oil, do NOT buy a cheapie oil pump-out pump, buy a good one from West Marine or an auto parts store, you will be happy you went ahead and spent the extra 40 bucks. The next time I do it I will be covering everything in the cabin with newspapers and tarps. I found that duct taping a piece of coat hanger to the tube that I stuck down into the oil sump allowed me to get to the back corners of the sump and get all the oil out nicely. I also found that making the piece of coat hanger too short caused it to work it's way completely down into tthe motor. This made me curse and freak out over the idea of having to pull my motor out just to retrieve a piece of coat hanger that I had stupidly stuck in there of my own volition. I had to carefully rotate it while slightly tugging on it just the right way with my left toe cocked just right and saying the magic words for thirty minutes. This is something that I will avoid in the future by making the coat hanger nice and long.

The oil filter is a FRAM PH3593A

I use Rotella Diesel Engine Oil

The Gearbox

• Changing the oil in the gearbox is easy through the engine compartment access door. I used a hose with a coat hanger taped on it to keep it straight so it would go all the way down to the bottom of the gearbox, a hand powered oil pump, and an empty liter Sprite bottle. Using this method I managed to get all the ATF out and refilling was just as easy.

The Yanmar 2QM15 gearbox uses Mercon ATF

A note about the gearbox ... The clutches in the gearbox are wet type clutches and it is very important that the transmission is completely engaged when under way. Failing to have the transmission completely engaged will make the clutches overheat and start making awful noises and possibly failing completely. Since the Shift lever is in the cockpit it gets kicked easily and can get moved accidently without your knowledge. I intermittently reach down and ensure that the transmission is completely engaged when I am under auxiliary power. If you hear terrible whining noises suddenly start coming from your gear box it is likely that you will find the shift lever was not completely in either the forward or reverse position. If this happens disengage the transmission immediately and turn off the engine to let the clutches cool down. Doing this immediately can mean the difference between going on your merry way after things have cooled down or getting towed in for costly engine repairs.

The Stove

• The factory issue of the stove is a Kenyon 209G alcohol burning stove. If yours needs repair or cleaning, my advice is to take the stove completely out of the boat by removing the four holding screws on the corners on the top of it. Of course, I didn't do that until after I had nearly torched the boat, but I'll go into that later. Suffice to say, denatured alcohol is extremely flammable and should be handled with respect. It is also quite poisonous for that matter so stick with the beer. If the stove is working properly you light it by pumping up the fuel tank and then opening the wheel type knob just slightly allowing a tiny amount of alcohol into the little flange (called a cup) under the burner and then closing the knob so the burner is off, and then lighting it. Let the tiny amount of alcohol burn until the burner is hot. When it gets the burner hot, slightly open the valve and let the alcohol begin flowing into the burner. The hot burner will vaporize the alcohol that is going into it through the tube coming from the tank and it will come out of the burner as a gas thus allowing for controlled cooking. That is how Kenyon explained it to me when I called them up asking how to properly light my stove, and that procedure works.

If you do it my way, you will pump the tank up nice and full, let the alcohol dribble copiously all down under the burner, flick a bic on it and watch it ignite voraciously, inadvertently grab the rag that you have been using to mop up any spilled alcohol and throw it on the stove in an attempt to smother the suddenly raging fire, throw the instantly inflamed rag off the back of the boat with one hand while grabbing a towel with the other hand to do the rags appointed task while both cursing loudly and praying quietly that the towel will do the job. The towel in my case fortunately did the job, but my feeling about alcohol stoves is that they are more dangerous than propane due to problems that can arise from fuel handling.

The people at Kenyon are very helpful with the stove and they still carry a full inventory of parts. I opted to go to propane because my stove was in very bad shape and propane was an upgrade in my opinion. Another thing to consider in comparing stoves is that alcohol does not burn as hot as propane and it produces a lot of moisture when it burns. Kenyon will completely rebuild your 209G for 190 dollars all parts included as of June 2005.

More Information Than You Ever Wanted To Know About: The Head

• Taking the head out for a complete overhaul was interesting to say the least. Much more entertainment than I ever wanted from a boat head. The tank was leaking when I got the boat and the head itself was in disrepair so I decided to rebuild the whole mess. Most of you would probably figure this out real fast but I am one of those people that has just enough brains to take a problem and make it incredibly complicated - it is NOT neccessary to spend a couple of hours removing trim and pulling staples out of the bench to get to the holding tank. If you remove the trim from around the front of the bench at the floor and carefully remove the panel, the tank will slide right out.

The hoses for those old boats get really funky. They now have stink resistant hoses that are available for an unreasonable price because they are "marine" head hoses. The other option is to plumb it with 1.5 inch flexible PVC pipe which is difficult to work with but very thick and thus stink resistant. My boat is plumbed with the PVC and it never stinks.

The head holding tank is a 13 gallon port side polyethelene tank made by Kracor. They are still in business and they still have the mold (though it is a different number, the old mold was a 5113 and the new one is a 5096) but as of May 2005 they only sell holding tanks to Lewis marine based in Florida. Lewis marine only sells to the public from one of their locations (they are a dealer supply house) and they will order your tank for you if you don't want to pay the "Special Order" price of 200 bucks that Kracor commands to set up the mold and make a tank for you personally. The tank costs 195 dollars as of May 2005 if you order it from Lewis Marine and 400 something if you order it from Kracor. The downside to the Lewis marine order is that you have to wait for them to order it on their time frame (it took me several months to get mine). The upside to having to wait for the order is that you don't have to tend to a head while you are waiting. We use a bucket named Jethro (I live in Texas, you have a John, I have a Jethro) and he gets personal attention from whoever it is that is hanging out with him at the time, which is a nice feature that frees me from latrine duty and doesn't cost me a dime from head pumping fees.

• A Note About The Holding Tank: After waiting for months to get my tank I received it with all of the ports on it in the wrong place. Kracor (the tank maker) said "well, we got the order from Lewis Marine, talk to them if you want it fixed", and Lewis Marine said "well, we ordered the tank from Kracor so talk to them if you want it fixed". Bottom line - I wound up eating the screwed up tank. I had to get the ports moved and welded into the right places for an additional 100 bucks at a local plastics fabricator which brought the total of my polyethelene potty tank up in excess of 300 dollars. This whole mess of waiting, dancing with parts people, and fabricating the tank could have been completely avoided if I had just gone to a local plastic welder and had them build a tank to my specs in the first place. As it turned out, within a few months the welds started leaking on the one of the ports that had been moved. I took the tank out and replaced it with a sturdy polypropylene tank built locally to my specifications. It cost me 175 dollars, it was much more of superior quailty compared to the original roto-molded tank, and I had it made and installed within a week's time. It was made in Buda, Texas at Plastic Fabricating and Welding Ltd. - (512) 295-6412

The head itself is a "Head-Mate" model head made by Wilcox-Crittendon and there are plenty of places to order pump rebuild kits. The rebuild is easy. Pay close attention to the way the pump gasket comes out of the pump so you don't have to puzzle over it when you replace it. The weight on the flapper goes on the top. When installing, the water intake hose goes below the hose above it that goes from the pump to the head.

Another option to rebuilding the head with a 70 dollar rebuild kit is to purchase a new, cheap Jabsco head for 170 bucks and be done with it. The Head should last for several years and then you toss it and buy another one. I rebuilt mine, but after doing it I willl go the Jabsco route next time because I have decided that it's worth a hundred bucks to me to not have to rebuild another old foul boat head.

VERY IMPORTANT - The stock plumbing arrangement has the outflow pipe going slightly upwards and around the back wall of the head through a hole that was cut for the pipes. Since fluids seek their own levels and the inflow pipe to the tank is almost dead level with the outflow pipe of the head, it is very important to be sure you have positive drainage. It does not take much, but it must be there. I ensured that I had positive drainage by cutting away some of the support board under the holding tank.

The waste pump out port can be easily removed from the deck of the boat for the attachment of the new pump out pipe. Be sure to rebed the fitting or you will develop a topside leak there.

Lots of 3M 4200 goop and hose clamps are recommended for every fitting in the whole system.

Make sure to install the pipe from the head on the top port of the tank and the pipe for the cleanout on the bottom port.

Make sure the vent pipe is cut to the proper length with no excess so that the hose itself goes straight up above the waterline of the tank with no curvature. This will ensure that it doesn't get sewage in it and become useless.

Fill the whole thing up with nice clean water for leak testing before you start using it. Most of all - Have Fun!

The Fresh Water Supply

• Up under the V berth there is a tank for fresh water. There is also a fresh water tank on the port side of the boat aft of the holding tank under the settee. I removed the port side fresh water tank because it was old and leaking. The plumbing has a supply pipe that runs from the V berth water tank down the port side of the boat into a water pump that is under the port side quarter berth under the cockpit bench. The pump has a pressure switch built into it so it goes off when a certain psi of water pressure is reached. I moved my pump so that it has more of a convenient access for maintenace purposes but I left it in the same storage area. I set my system up so the pump is on a manual switch to conserve battery power. I also removed the old "Whale" brand foot pumps and installed faucets in the galley sink and in the sink in the head.