Saturday, April 19, 2014

Boat projects update

Posted by Scot

A lot of people think we are on vacation.  I hear a lot of “How is your vacation going?”, or “Sorry to bug you while you are on vacation.”  A vacation to me is lying on a beach somewhere for a couple of weeks with a drink in hand, and putting the rest of your life on hold.  Taking a no-stress time to unwind, relax, and take a break from the rigors of day to day life.  We are definitely not doing that.

I am certainly working a lot less than I do when I am at home, but I am still working a lot.  I just got back from working a week of nights at the Red Deer Hospital, which was as exhausting a week of medical work as I have done in a long time.  But, as Cake says, we've got to have some way to afford this Rock ‘n Roll lifestyle (Cake the band, not the food).

But I am actually doing very little of that kind of work.  Most of the work we are doing involves keeping our lives afloat, well … afloat.  We are still doing all the everyday tasks that you are doing at home, like school, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry.  And those all seem to take twice as long on a boat as they do in a house, when you are on land, with a car to get around in.  But we are also doing what seems like a ton of work on the boat, pretty much all the time.  It is a truism among cruisers that the list of boat projects never gets finished – just re-prioritized.  So, instead of a vacation, we prefer to think of what we are doing as a “sabbatical”.  Taking some time off to explore a different lifestyle, and see some different places, as a family.  But still living our everyday lives, with all the attendant hassles.  Not really a typical vacation.

Over the past 10 days or so, we have managed to shift into high gear with boat projects.  Things have been pretty efficient, since while I was home topping up the cruising kitty, Sara was here with the boat, which we had hauled out of the water to get some things done that have needed doing for a while.

Sara, managing the boat work and cleaning the rust off bolts and washers at the same time.  All with a smile on her face!

In fact, we didn’t really need to get the boat hauled.  Everything that needed doing could have waited until we got back to the States.  The first time we considered hauling the boat was when we heard that one of the local marinas here was having a special on bottom paint.  The price was really good – about half of what it would have cost us to get the bottom painted in Florida.  So we went to the marina and checked out some of the other boats they were painting.  We also met Karen de Lopez, who manages the marina, and Richard, who is the owner.  Richard gave us a personal tour of the place, and showed us around some of the more complex projects they were taking on. The quality of the work seemed good, and the people seemed very professional, so we decided to go for it.

In fact, the bottom didn’t even really need to be painted.  It was painted about a year ago, not long before we bought the boat.  While it is recommended (mostly by people that sell bottom paint) to paint your boat every year, lots of people go way longer than that between bottom jobs.  But we are planning to sell the boat when we get back to Florida, and we wanted it to be in as good shape as it was when we bought it.   Also, when we pulled the boat out of the water, we could see some cracking on the upper edge of the old bottom paint.  The folks in the yard here told us the cracks went right down to the primer.  Apparently they were caused by not giving the paint enough time to dry between coats.  I'm not sure if that is true, but the new paint looks perfect, without any cracking at all.

Monashee all masked up and ready for new striping.
The other reason we wanted to get some painting done was purely cosmetic.  For those that have been following the blog faithfully, you may remember that back when we were in Cuba, we stayed in a marina near a cement plant.  The plant blew brown dots of some unknown particle onto our boat.  The resulting marks on the boat were almost impossible to get off.  The only thing that seemed to work was a pink toilet bowl cleaner that they also, conveniently, sold in the marina in Cuba.  Unfortunately, that stuff was so powerful that when we rinsed it off the deck, it ran down the sides of the boat and peeled some paint off our waterline stripe and the upper edge of the bottom paint.  So poor Monashee looked like she had a case of leprosy along the waterline.  Again, not something that really needed to be fixed, but Sara and I found it hard to look at.  While we were getting the waterline stripe painted, it turned out to not be too much more work to get the blue stripe on the top of the hull painted to match, so we got that done too (I think this is called “project creep”.  Same thing happened to us when we got our house renovated).

New bottom paint and waterline stripe, beautifully applied.
We had some other cosmetic things done, too.  There were some gel coat dings around the anchor, so we got those fixed up.  There were also a few bolts through the bridgedeck, under the locker that used to have the huge 10 person life raft in it.  They were intended to anchor the hardware to hold down the liferaft, but since we don’t have that any more, we got the bolts taken out and the holes glassed over.  The fewer holes in the bottom of the boat, the better.

No more gel coat dings around the anchor!  For now anyway.  I'm pretty sure they are unavoidable over the long term, as our 55 lb. Rocna comes up pretty close against the front of the bridgedeck.
Alexander, removing the nuts and bolts that used to hold the life raft in place.
While we had the boat out of the water, we figured we might as well get some of the through hulls fixed.  Early on after we took possession of the boat, we went to change the raw water filter for the air conditioning intake.  We closed the seacock, and unscrewed the filter.  To our surprise, water came pouring out of the ocean into our bilge – right through the supposedly “closed” valve.  So clearly that was a problem.  It has always made me a bit nervous to be sailing along with a through hull that we couldn’t close.  I don’t really like holes in the bottom of the boat that I can’t control.  So we wanted to get that fixed.  We also had some sticky valves on the holding tank drains.  These were identified at our survey last year, but since we hadn’t had  the boat out of the water, we hadn’t gotten them fixed yet.  So we got those done too.

New valve and through hull on one of the holding tank drains.

We also had a tiny drip of water coming in around the starboard rudder post.  Not a big deal, but again, I am not keen to be sailing anywhere in a boat that lets water in through the bottom.  So we had that fibreglass taken down and re-done.

New fibreglass on the rudder post.

Let’s see, what else did we do?  Oh yeah, there was some stress cracking on one of the stainless steel supports for our hard bimini, so we had that re-welded.  It looks great now, with a stronger looking weld than was there in the first place. 

We also got upsold on something that again, we probably didn’t really need, but that seemed like a good idea at the time.  There is a special kind of paint for saildrives called Prop Speed. It is supposed to be a superior anti-fouling for saildrives, and also apparently reduces the drag on the saildrive and props, helping the boat move better through the water.  It is pretty expensive, but we saw it on another boat here, and did a little research on it, and figured we would go for it.  Our props had been pretty heavily fouled with little barnacles and worms, and when we had them cleaned by divers in Honduras, the paint on them had been pretty scratched up.  So they needed something, and this sounded like the best possible solution.

While we were working on our saildrives, Sara also took the time to change the oil in them.  I was pretty proud of the fact that she managed to do that by herself while I was in Red Deer.  Neither of us has ever done it before.  I still haven’t, so I guess that will be her job from now on.

The propeller and saildrive were carefully stripped clean down to bare metal...

... and then the Prop Speed was applied.  Looks fast, doesn't it?

In addition to all that, I bought a few boat parts while I was in Canada, and I spent the day today installing some of them.  Our starboard head still wasn't flushing as well as the port side, despite the hours I have spent hunched over the toilet working on it (vacation, you say?  I don't think so).  So,  I put in a new joker valve, and a new macerator pump.  The old one still seems to be working OK, so now we have that as a spare.  And the head finally seems to be flushing properly.

I also bought a new remote control for our windlass.  The old one cuts out intermittently, and you have to jiggle the wires to make it work.  Still seems OK, but I’d hate for it to quit altogether some time when I really wanted to get the anchor up, so we figured an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  I’ll put that in tomorrow.

New windlass control on the right, old one on the left.  You can see the electrical tape holding the wire together at the bottom of the old controller.  We might try to get it repaired and keep it as a spare, now that we have a functioning one on the boat.
Finally, Sara took the helm seat in to get it restitched, as the stitching was coming loose in places.  They also put a new board in the bottom, and cleaned it so it looks like new.  She also took part of our sail cover to the same place to get the zippers reinforced.  They did an awesome job, and were fast and cheap.

Monashee all painted up and looking like a million bucks (I hope all this work doesn't end up costing us that).
So I think that is about it.  You can see why it doesn't really seem like a vacation.  But we will be heading back out to sea with a lot of little issues fixed, and when we get to Florida, we should save a lot of money and time by not having to get all this stuff done there.  All that is left for us is to finish up some laundry, buy some more groceries, wash some of the boat yard off the boat, and head down the river back to the ocean, bound for Belize.

Getting lowered back into the water, ever so gently.

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