The project inside the boat is finished. The rain has abated. Time to get some color on.
Before the rain hit we washed and scrubbed the bottom. It was clean of loose paint. I paid one of the yard companies to grind off the Aqua-Coat at the waterline and to deal with the blisters. That bill topped $2k AUS. Sadly, more blisters appeared after they finished. Like all cruisers, cruisers help each other. I borrowed a grinder from s/v Vagabond and we repaired another dozen blisters. Grind, clean, fill with epoxy mud, sand, add barrier coat for preparation to paint.
The most difficult task was adjusting the water line on the port side. Simon (our painter) thought he had it right on when we had the boat painted in NZ. I tried to tell him it was low but he said he had his numbers taken when the boat was first hauled. It wasn’t worth arguing more, the line would be close. It wasn’t close enough. It was low. Slime formed higher on the hull than we wanted. Also I couldn’t convince him to make the shear stripe at the bow wider so visually it would have been the same on the water.
Thus, we had two changes to make. I needed to move the water line on the port side to have it fall where the water actually is. And I needed to widen the top of the line on the bow; both sides, where the boat stem fitting is.
After a good deal of consternation and some eyeballing by us and other cruisers we were now in the ball park. I used the bottom growth mark to get the waterline correct on the port side before we had cleaned it off. After which we measured and attempted to get the wider sheer at the bow to flow back into the normal width midships. This process took several hours. Laying it out, checking it, moving it, laying it out again. and finally, adding the barrier coat.
Once the barrier coat was on, we added the white line under the sheer, then the brown sheer. And finally, the vinyl clear top coat. Over all, we were both happy with it.
Between all this we needed to service our AutoProp. While at our fiends home I was able to clean up the bronze and lubricate the prop. There is a special fitting for re-greasing each propellor blade. On the Autoprop each blade swings
independently. This independence allows a perfect pitch every rotation. With our new grease gun I lubricated each blade. That completed it was time to install the propeller at the boat. I don’t remember if I mentioned it – the key on the propeller had begun to wear. We needed a new one. And since we are a US boat it was an imperial key.
Luckily, Ian, the machinist that made our Groco part, could make a duplicate key. He measured, cut and trimmed a new SS key. To get the exact width he used a very cool machine to take a part of a hairs width off. It was now an exact replacement key. I put some anti-sieze on, put the key in place and slid the prop on. To finish I attached the special nut and set screw.
The final prop job; apply the PropSpeed. While PropSpeed doesn’t last forever, it is better than coating the prop with simple bottom paint. Bottom paint rarely lasts for a month of cruising. PropSpeed is designed to save on fuel (reduced friction) and keep marine growth at bay. It is a silicone based coating that is completely removed before re-coating. With the prop on and painted I bag it. The final step: we begin painting the bottom.
Slap it on. We are not a race boat. The important part is to have complete coverage and as thick as possible. We used about 21 liters of paint. Twenty of Black and one of Red. The first layer of the bottom is red. Where we had the blisters and where some of the red has worn off we recoated. In general, when we see red that tells us we are through the bottom paint and it is time to haul out. Once dried we apply the black.
Stir / pour / paint. We do this every time. We must keep the paint stirred as the Copper (the real antifouling ingredient that does all the work) will precipitate to the bottom if not stirred and not be evenly distributed. Paint would go on with zero Copper to do the work. W/ painted the lower areas while I did the waterline and mid section. Again another cruiser came by and helped loaning us a roller extension. Wow! That extension made the job easier and the application of the paint much quicker.
The only issue was the water line. Tape would not stick to the Vinyl Aqua-Coat. At the waterline we used a brush and took extra care. One coat on today, another tomorrow, launch the following day. Any extra paint was a waste in the can.We were not going to take it with us. Extra went on the waterline, the rudder, and the keel. We saved a bit for the the spots we could not get under the boat stands and the keel.
Launch day arrived. The yards travel lift ambled over to lift Elysium. They lifted the boat and let it swing for an hour. We used this time for painting the last bit where the stands had supported the boat and where the keel rested. Twenty liters of paint ($900 AUS approx) is now on the boat.
I asked the travel lift operator what Elysium weighed. This is the first travel lift with a reliable scale. 17 metric tons. To the pit (the place they slowly lower the boat into the water) we went. Max speed; about 2 km / hour. 15 minutes later we were hanging over the water. Once immersed and before she is freed from the straps, I checked all the seacocks to ensure there was no water ingress. Perfect. Even the one I disassembled and re-assembled was dry.
With the slings released, and the tow attached, we slowly made way to our slip.
A week ago we left the comfort of the marina and moved to Powerboats. Mostly a boat yard with some slips. We were lucky enough that they had a large travel lift and we didn’t need to remove the backstay. The last time we had hauled I had asked if they had a scale so this time I asked the same thing, and again they said not. Somewhere I’ll get the actual weight of Elysium. But not this time.
I showed Mike (our travel lift operator) the picture of our boat on the travel lift last time we hauled and he needed to see what the bow looked like. We were lucky enough that I had the printer out so I was able to print out a copy of the bow of the boat. Hauling went smoothly till they began to clean the bottom.
They hadn’t used a tie between the two straps. While the yard manager Brent was there with Diane on Jabulani, Mike the lift driver, and some crew cleaning the few barnacles off the bottom, the forward strap slipped and the boat’s bow moved about 6″ lower while all the rigging shook like a dog shedding water. In that second, our emotions took a Magic Mountain roller coaster ride. One of the things about Powerboats is that they’ve NEVER dropped a boat. Today was too close for everyone! Brent immediately grabbed a large rope and they proceeded to tie the two straps together. The boat didn’t slip on the rest of the trip to her spot on the ground. (In the picture the strap moved from the right most chainplates to the left most – about 1 meter along the side of the hull).
After they had cleaned the bottom of hard stuff (about 95%) they moved the boat to a center isle and put her on stands for the sides and blocks for the keel. Then lunch. I couldn’t believe that they would let the bottom dry before they pressure washed it but they did. After all; this is the Caribbean.
During lunch we discovered that an apartment had come available so we grabbed it. Our reservation was for tomorrow and today we were lucky. The boat didn’t HIT the ground and tonight we would sleep in relative comfort. We’d much rather be on the boat in the water but on land being on a boat we considered to be one step below primitive camping. While we moved out of the boat they pressure washed the bottom. That evening we were to meet Chis to discuss the cleaning and waxing of the hull and we connected with another contractor nicknamed “Cow” that had a crew that would clean, prep, paint the bottom. Things were happening.
One quite major difference between yards here in Trinidad and the States is that in Trinidad the yards let you hire most anyone you want and then they simply take a percent of the amt. Powerboats took 10 %.
Then too, none of the contractors have any real supplies. So when for example Chis came to wash the boat I walked with him to the Boat Shed and we purchased what he needed. Fortunately Phedreus (whom we met at a cruiser buffet ) loaned Chris (whom he’s known for 15 years) a polisher. So I purchased some cleaning supplies and a new buffing pad. I helped Chris move some A frames and a large 2 x 12 to move for working on the boat. Chris began the arduous task of first washing, then cleaning, and polishing the boat. All in all, he did a much better job than last year. However in defense of last year, had the yard manager not pulled the man working on our boat off the job I think the job would have come close to how well it looks this year. Remember too; the boat is after all – 30 years old!
Chris worked through the weekend, Saturday washing and cleaning most of the hull, Sunday he began to clean off any oxidation left and put on some wax. By mid afternoon he wasn’t happy with the results on the forward quarter so I suggested he quit early and Monday we’d purchase him any of the additional supplies he felt he needed. Monday am he was there bright and early Trini time (about 8 to 8:30 am) and he and I walked to the Boat Shop and purchased some 3m hull cleaner and a buffing pad. He started working and by about sunset he was almost done. We shared a beer and admired his work. Tomorrow he would finish and I would release his pay from the yard and then we’d be after the last project left to outside contractors.
Friday I had contacted Fortress Woodworking about fixing the rub rail and replacing the teak slat on the bow sprit platform. Immediately Friday they sent someone over to look at the job and Saturday I would get a quote. Saturday in the am I received a very fair quote for the two pieces and they proceeded to fix the rubrail (remember when the Cruise ship threw me up against the seawall in North Carolina) and the slat we lost off the bow sprit in the storm coming to Trinidad. Saturday afternoon the two pieces were replaced and I was quite happy with the work. That is a surprise to W/ because few contractors seem to be able to work to my expectations.
All this time we were doing small projects of our own on the boat. Remember most all the big projects were completed while we were at the marina. However; some projects that we wanted to do were best done when we weren’t living on the boat. W/ will deny this; but know that I had continually harped on her to put more and more coats of varnish on the wood as we refurbished the boat. She’ll deny that she didn’t put enough on! There were three pieces that had been getting a lot of wear and tear, two edges on the table, one fiddle on the refrigerator, and a fiddle on the sink island. We added some drop cloths, taped all around the pieces and proceeded to sand the wood for recoating. We added approx 8 coats of varnish and a final top coat to the pieces. It looks good and I sincerely hope we receive more then 2 years out of this job.
We also greased all the seacocks, cleaned the engine room, greased the Autoprop, varnished the rub rail (where the repair had been done), did a final double wax added to the waterline, painted the prop with Prop-Kote, replaced the black bleeding border on the solar panels, and went though and re – organized a few lockers.
All the while we gently kept after Cow and making sure we could splash Friday. His guy was wet sanding the bottom and they were making progress; slowly, but progress none the less. Monday at the end of the day he was to grind and begin the repair of the keel. Tuesday the damaged area wasn’t ground out yet. Now he said Tuesday at the end of the day he would grind the damaged area. Wednesday it wasn’t ground out yet. Now he said Wednesday pm he would grind the damaged area of the keel, Thursday it wasn’t ground out. We were getting a little concerned for a Friday launch.
We chose Cow from two recommendations. Diane on Jubalini and John and Jeri on Peking. Cow guaranteed his work and he was meticulous to say the least. But what we didn’t know was that he works best under the “pressure” of a launch date. We would have liked to have all our work completed a day early, not an hour early. Still, he finally had one of his guys grind out the damaged area Thursday am and he completed the repair that afternoon. The epoxy hadn’t kicked enough that it could be sanded and fared by the pm and the guys; really one of them, were now putting on the bottom paint and had just masked off the damaged / repaired area. One guy “Mike” put the paint on while 5 guys (and W/ ) were liming away. (Liming is the Trini term for hanging out with some drinks and telling lies). We purchased some beers for the guys; Chris (our waxer) showed up, Johnny our wet sander and we all hung out to watch Mike roll on the paint; perfectly. Johnny picked up a brush for the detail work and they rolled on two coats that evening. Mike was getting ready to put the third coat around the water line, on the forward edge of the keel, and the leading edge of the rudder when Ma Nature decided work today needed to stop as she dropped buckets of rain upon our heads. Mike said he’d show up at 7 am (Chris indicated that 7 am was Trini time and would he would really be around about 9 am), we all wandered our respective ways chuckling.
Friday am I took the paint to the boat at 7 am. No Mike. About 7:30 am (not bad for Trini time) he rolled in and began to put the last of the paint on.
We were getting concerned. The patch wasn’t finished and they wanted to haul us earlier then we had requested. Fate though would intervene.
We dogged Cow to get the repaired area finished and eventually we had a barrier coat on the patch and paint was going on too. The pads had been moved and the crew wanted newspaper to put under them in the new spot. I found some old Compass’ Magazines and that sufficed. The last thing to do was to lift the boat and paint under the blocks. Mike (the travel lift operator) pulled up about 2 pm to lift the boat for paint. We were getting real close to splash time, or so we thought.
Mike (the painter) came by and put the last two coats on the keel and the repaired spot. We were ready to go.
We’re ready to go. We’re ready to go. If I say “We’re ready to go” will it happen? Currently there is a bottle neck at the intersection between the isles and the pit (where they slowly lower the boat to the water).
Another contractor was using a smallish crane (a Cherry Picker) to remove some outdrives from a 35′ cruiser. He ran out of fuel. No problem, just get some more fuel and off they go. Or so they thought. He puts fuel in and the crane won’t start. They get a diesel mechanic to have a look. Still won’t start. They bleed the fuel lines. Still won’t start. They bleed the lines again, they end up with 4 diesel mechanics trying to get this crane started so they can move it. Still won’t start. Two of the front supports are down. Dragging it away isn’t really an option here. Mike (the travel lift operator) suggested that we would be here for the night and that they might comp the time. Damn well better in my book. So I trudged up to the office (they had just closed) and luckily got inside to speak to the lady there. All the rooms were occupied. Damn! Spoiled food? We don’t have any refrigeration on the boat when out of the water. She kindly called the Grocery and they said we could keep it there. OK. Back to relay the info to W/ and hope for the best.
As the Sun set and the crane was still blocking the way we spoke with Brent about leaving us in place for the night, and he came with us to set the boat back down on blocks while keeping her in the slings. We had the food stored in a cold bag (hopefully nothing will spoil but if you don’t here from me in a week or so you’ll know what happened). We plugged the boat back into power and ran the rented AC unit on deck that we have. We showered and had an invite with some friends on Peking, A beautiful motor sailer with the emphasis on motor.
There we shared some laughs with two single Englishers (Susie on Spirited Lady) and Roger (on Golden Fleece), Kaia and Gary (on Kaia’s Song) and of course the owners John and Jeri. Peking and Kaia’s Song are heading towards Venezuela while we’ll head past to the ABC’s and Golden Fleece and Spirited Lady will be hanging in the Caribbean.
After a great evening of laughing and ribbing we departed with light in hand. We walked a slightly wavey line as we made it back to our boat hanging in the slings, fell into bed and slept dreaming of being back on
the water. I find it interesting that while we’ve been on the water so much now that even when the boat is on land both W/ and I have commented that it seems to move. Morning came and with that and a light breakfast on the table we were interrupted by a knock on the boat. Mike was ready to splash us.
He lifted her up and began the slow process of moving like the Shuttle to the launch pad down the isle two 90 degree turns and then a lowering into the water. Out of curiosity I went to check the blind side for him and immediately yelled; “Stop! Stop! Stop!”. Fortunately he stopped about 10-20 cm away from a catastrophy; not for us but for another boat owner. Our boat wasn’t being threatened but the support of the lift was about ready to clip the sprit on a motor cruiser on the hard. I’m sure the travel lift would have either knocked the boat off it’s stands or just busted off the sprit. Neither option a good thing. So he manuevered around the protrusion and off we went at the awesome speed of about 1-2 kph.
10 minutes later we were swinging over the pit and both W/ and I breathed a sigh of relief. The boat was lowered and floating just like she was intended to do. I jumped aboard, checked the thru hulls, checked the stuffing box, and once I was sure water was staying outside the boat I started the engine. We tied off lines, the lift pulled away and both of us were ready to go back to Crews Inn.
One task we never expected to undertake was changing out the engine feet. Not much fun and compared to many of the other jobs a minimal expense. Under $500. Funny to call that minimal.
Autoprop had suggested that one of the several things we had could cause the shaft to “whirl”. One was the engine mount feet. The rubber hardens after years of use and they need to be replaced on somewhat regular intervals. Ours were 30 years old and after doing some research I believe Autoprop was correct. So we set about replacing them. Doing one at a time.