Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Boatyard Daze - More Stopping Than Working

Promise of a new day
Patience is not one of my virtues.  Over the past few days, I have hosted an ongoing inner battle between the new me, the one who knows that we're in the Islands and nothing gets done quickly... and the old me who wants everything done yesterday and will keep on hammering away at it until it's done!

On one hand, I know that we have an entire month to get this work done.  It's a hot and dirty job and the work crews here are not like those in the US.  People here aren't always compelled to work harder and faster by the almighty buck!  But on the other hand, the longer we have to idly wait, the more time my mind has to create wild and insurmountable problems where, hopefully, there are none.

Don't panic!  With the paint gone, the fibreglass hull is translucent!
When the guys left on Friday afternoon, they said they would probably come work some on Saturday.  I should have known that "probably" was code for "no chance in hell".

The keel inspection and fibreglass work was scheduled for Monday morning to give Bruce and I some time to clear things out of the bilge so that Anderson will have space to work.  A preliminary inspection revealed something I had noticed years ago, but Bruce poo-poohed.  There was some fiberglass in the floor of the bilge that was cracking and flaking.  Now is the time to fix it but we've got to move the pumps and hoses that live down there first.

Those cracks are likely the source of the wet spot on the outside of the keel down below and the reason that the two previous repairs have failed.  And before you ask... "why is there water in our bilge?".  Well THAT is because the rudder post has been leaking steadily since our last haul out due to improper packing and tightening of the nuts.  So throw that onto the pile of things to have done while we're here!

Pretty sure somebody tried to putty this before!
Saturday dawned with our ears straining to hear the sound of scraping on the hull.  Morning melted into afternoon and we eventually gave up hope that any work would be done today.

 Like a rubbernecker passing a car accident, I was drawn to examining our hull in search of other telltale signs of trouble better met now than later.  And of course my keen eye found what appears to be a crack around our rudder post.  We'll show that to Anderson to see what he thinks... if we ever see him again!

Saturday was not a good day.  Long story short, way back when our old Fisher Panda generator died, there was an oil spill.  All of the oil from the generator made its way down into our bilge.  Bruce spent days cleaning it out and he thought he had done a thorough job of it.  What we found when we went looking for the forward most keel bolt could only be remnants of that oil spill...

This is AFTER we cleaned it out!
Removing the flooring near the mast where we keep one of our house batteries, there is a hole cut in the saloon liner.  Down inside that hole lives the first set of keel bolts.  Bruce gasped when he peered down into that hole and found about four inches of sludgy oil.  I am not proud of this, but it is what it is.  Somehow (if this wasn't there from the previous owner) the oil had made its way into this hole and there it has remained until now.

Bruce went through half a dozen rolls of paper towels and every cleaner we've got onboard to get as much of the black oily substance out of that hole so that we could see the keel bolt.  Once he was finished, I took my turn at it to see if I could get it all clean.  I finally gave up because the material surrounding the hole was unevenly chipped and cracked and the oil just clung to those recesses.

I felt an increasing sense of dread about that hole.  I looked down in there and all I could see was dollar signs!  My distress grew and grew...

We worked most of the day cleaning out the bilge and figuring out how to get the flooring up to expose the aft end of the bilge.

When we installed our water maker, we drilled holes in the flooring to allow the hoses and electrical wiring to pass from beneath the floor to the pumps.  This looks very nice, but it does not allow any way for us to pull up that piece of the floor without disassembling the water maker.

By Saturday afternoon I was seriously distraught about this.  I didn't want to open a whole new can of worms by taking the water maker apart.  We decided to sleep on it, so I called Anderson to see if he had a saw we could borrow, while Bruce put the saloon back in order.

Normally hidden by floorboards, I was appalled to see this nasty mess!
Sunday morning,  Anderson came around to check our progress and to bring us a loaner saw to use on that flooring.  He looked everything over and suggested more cleaning.  He also broke the news to us that although he WAS still coming on Monday, Tuesday was a holiday.  The whole country gets involved in their Election day and since his crew is so small, it makes no sense to have one or two people working while others vote... so they were not going to come on Tuesday at all.  Sigh

Well, it is what it is!  So far, there have been more NON working days than work days!  We will press on!  As soon as Anderson left, we got busy taking the hoses off of the water maker and disconnecting the power.

We pulled up that floor section and revealed the mess of dirty bilge hoses and wiring and more translucent spots where there wasn't any bilge paint.  Some things are better left unseen!

I cut the side out of the hose access hole in the flooring and Bruce made the hole where the wiring passes through a bit larger to accommodate the connectors on the ends.  We installed new connectors and re-attached everything before we had time to forget how it all went!  Then we went to work cleaning and organizing that bilge.

We thought it would be nice to replace the bilge hoses because they were so grungy, but when we traced their path it became clear that this was a project for another day (or maybe never).

We wiped up handfuls of gumbah that has been sloshing around down in the bilge for years... It was disgusting!  Although we hated every minute of this exercise, we couldn't help but feel like we would be so happy when it was all over and we knew our bilge and keel were in good shape going forth!

All of this will come out when Anderson goes to work!
Eventually we had to finally call it quits.  We put everything back together once again, reattached the water maker electricity and made sure it all still worked.

We were both filthy and a shower never felt as good as it did this hot and windy Sunday afternoon!

Monday morning we were super excited to see Anderson get to work on the bilge and keel bolts.  We got everything ready for his arrival and waited.  And waited. And waited.  Finally Bruce went to work on removing the growth from our prop.  It would save the work crew some time and get us that much close to bottom paint.

Making patterns of these spots to make fiberglass cutouts
Eventually the work crew did show up.  They arrived and put up some scaffolding so that they could make plastic patterns of all the hull spots in preparation for purchasing the fiberglass materials.
Ah there's Anderson!  No bilge work today!
A borrowed tool sped up the job of cleaning the prop.  Looks NICE!
We look like a spotted cow!

These stress cracks have caused me stress for a long time!
Not quite tall enough to reach the bow!
Anderson showed us the light-coloured marks where our keel has been flexing.  All that will be fixed!
He's poking at it.  Will glass it over!
So Monday we made some progress.  I had a chance to talk to Anderson about all of the things we've got going on.  He gives thorough, understandable answers that go a long way toward soothing my nerves.  It's just when he leaves that my terrors return!

I Showed the rudder crack to Anderson and he said he could glass that up to add strength.  We will have the technician doing the rudder post work give us another opinion as well.  Can't have our rudder falling off, now can we???

Needless to say, no work was done on the bilge, but Anderson assured us that, even though it was Election Day, he would get right to it on Tuesday... right after he was done voting.  (Insert music to the tune of "Ain't Never Gonna Happen") Yeah.

So now we're up to Tuesday.  Wednesday will be a week we've been in the yard and there hasn't been much ticked off of our long list.  Actually NOTHING has been ticked off of the list, but I'm beginning to feel a little ticked...  Guess what.  No Anderson.

Tuesday was sort of a drag all around.  There was a broadcast warning that Kick 'Em Jenny was experiencing an increase in seismic activity.  Great!  That's just what we need.  An earthquake with us all propped precariously on spindly stands on the LAND!!!  Normally when earthquakes happen, we're on the water so we never feel them. This could get interesting... and it sure added to my anxiety level.

Our sick baby
Next on our list of things-that-we-don't-need-today is the cat.  She started exhibiting symptoms of what I can only hope is a stress-induced UTI.  She had one back in St. Martin and had a week of antibiotics.  That was miserable for all concerned.  We called the Mobile Vet (YES!  There's a mobile vet here!) and he promised to come out in the afternoon after he voted.  This voting thing is really beginning to get on my last nerve!

Bruce peruses the laundry room book exchange while I sort laundry
I was able to turn it to my advantage when I found the laundry machines free!  I've been trying to do laundry for days but there always seems to be someone in there.  Today - that someone was off voting and I had my chance!  I was able to get four loads done... one of which was our bedspread that got a bit of cat urine dribble... Cruising is such a glamorous life!

I tried reading but the Irish humour didn't make sense to me.
Back at the boat, Bruce watched Jezabelle and waited for the vet...while I did the laundry.  It was a long, hot couple of hours and the dryer did a barely adequate job, leaving about half the clothes still in need of line drying.

Not always a great idea when you're in the boatyard with your neighbour grinding bottom paint next door... But the wind blew it away and I couldn't see any powder on the clothes we dried.  The didn't have to stay out there very long...

Dr. Carter arrived soon after the laundry was finished.  He had the inked finger, so I know he really did vote.  Yes.  When you cast your vote here in Grenada, they have you dip your finger in ink so that you can't come back and vote again.  Simple but effective.  Also gets you discounts at many of the local entertainment spots!

He climbed up our ladder and did an examination right on our saloon table.  Jezabelle didn't seem to know exactly what to think about all of this.  Dr. Carter gave her an injection to ease her discomfort and reduce inflammation, then left a 10 day supply of huge antibiotic pills.  Instructions:  crush half in food twice a day.

Unfortunately Jezabelle is such a picky eater, I don't hold much hope that I can get her to eat any of this... but we will see.  Tomorrow is another day.

Oh yeah... did I mention that there will be NO WORK done tomorrow if the ruling party wins the election tonight?  Well guess what!  They won!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Boatyard Daze - Grenadian Blizzard

Day 3 - Blowing a Blizzard!

Twice weekly fruit/veggie truck comes Tuesdays and Fridays at noon
Did I say it hasn't been too hot?  Well perhaps I was a bit hasty.  While it is not as hot as summers back home in Texas, it is a blustery 87° with BLIZZARD conditions!

Of course it isn't really snowing here in Grenada... but you can't tell that by looking out the window!

All morning we've been trying to tune out the sound of a million bees buzzing in our bilge.  There's been a guy using a grinder to expose the areas around our keel that need repair.  The sound transmits through the hull so that we can almost feel the buzzing in our bones!  Any plans we had to work outside have been abandoned.

About mid-morning I realized that I was slowly being covered by a thin layer of dust.  NOOOOO!!!! I knew it would be dusty and dirty living in the yard, but maybe I hoped for a miracle.  Yesterday didn't seem too bad, but then the wind wasn't blowing quite as furiously as it is today.

In an effort to reduce the amount of dust coming inside, we reluctantly closed up all of the overhead hatches and the ports on that side of the boat.  Life goes on... but it's getting warm.

Lunchtime came and the sound suddenly stopped!  Hooray!  We can open the windows and get a little breeze while we have lunch!  Anderson stopped by to tell us the fruit truck was in the yard.  We grabbed a wallet and hurried over to see what they had!

A small crowd beat us there but we got some nice things; lettuce, grapefruit, bananas and some coconut water, all for about $6.50 US.

I made us a nice lunch salad and was just starting to peel the grapefruit, when I heard the sound of someone climbing aboard our boat.  That's a thing here.  Nobody knocks, this is their work area.  They just climb up and do their thing and it's probably a good idea if we remain dressed... I must constantly remind Bruce of this because every time I turn around he's stripped back down to his underwear!  Old Guys!  Sheesh!

A pair of legs appeared outside the window.  Looks like they're repositioning the tarpaulin skirts...  Wonder what's up with that.  I didn't have to wonder for long.  The giant bees began buzzing once again below the keel.  I guess it's time to close the windows again.  Then a new sound completely eclipsed the giant bilge bees!  It seems that the stress cracks on the sides of our hull are the next item on the to-do list.  And so it begins...

The sun rose higher and it grew progressively warmer inside.  All of that lovely breeze blowing outside was wasted as it carried clouds of the dreaded paint/gelcoat/fiberglass dust that began to surround us.  We had to close ALL of the ports.

We were too warm to do much of anything, so we languished the afternoon away, thankful for internet!  By 3:30 we gave up and headed for the door!  It was just too warm to remain inside.  We made our way toward the transom to climb down, only to realize that our ladder had been removed.

The crew had finished the hull sides and keel, and were ending the day with the transom.  We were able to make a hasty escape and enjoyed the cool waterside restaurant for another hour. We returned just as they were finishing up and we went over all the crew did today.

This little weepy spot worries me a LOT!
All of this is a mystery to me and because of that, my mind makes it a huge deal.  Speaking with the guys about what they've done and what comes next really calmed my fears.  They seem so confident that I can't help but be comforted. This is just another day at the office for them!  Maybe I'll sleep better tonight!  Or maybe NOT!

Aft keel port side.  This was a previous repair that cracked again.
All of the stress cracks have been ground out.  These were all present when we bought the boat.

We might have put some of these dings on the bow... All gone now!

Anderson thinks he can fix this without removing the bow pulpit.  I sure hope he's right!

Pretty sure this happened when a boat dragged down on us in Culebra...

This side isn't so bad.  Much less to fix here.

This concerns me.  There's something going on with the keel.  We will get to the bottom of it.

These cracks happened because there were no nuts on the inside of the mounting bolts for the swim ladder.  
This was a deep ding.  Many smacks here.  All better soon!
Pretty flowers from the restaurant
In one way it is a bad thing that the crew is off for the weekend.  It gives me two days to worry about things and build up monsters in my mind.  But maybe there really ARE monsters here!  Even if there are, we'll deal with it and worrying isn't productive.

Patience isn't my strong suit, but the guys do very hot and dirty work and they deserve their days off.

At the end of the day, we showered and made a dish for a little pot luck aboard Grateful.  Niki and Jaime have their boat on the hard close-by so we've got company in our misery!  We spent the evening forgetting about our boat projects and sharing stories!

The rum flowed as did the laughter.  A story about my mother's family led Niki to break out in song.  She was so cute singing "I Am My Own Grandma" that I wished I had her on video.  The song was so funny I had to Google it and guess what?  Somebody has already posted it on Youtube - many times.

Good times... Anyway... the crew may be off relaxing, but our weekend will be spent cleaning out the bilge so that Anderson can come on Monday and investigate.  It isn't pretty.  But that's a whole other story...

Boatyard Daze - Settling In

Day Two: Settling In

There have been some issues in the past I guess...
We slept like babies our first night on the hard.

My first shower was heavenly.  The washroom facilities are very clean and modern and they're open all night so we don't have to bother with requesting a key to get in every time we need to go...

Cracks at the aft end of the keel!
Today we met with Anderson and took a look at the bottom together.  Unfortunately, there are some surprises.  Two spots previously repaired will need a re-do.  One at the spot where the aft end of the keel meets the hull repaired in 2012, and another partway down the forward edge of the keel where the lead keel begins, previously repaired in 2015. The unsettling thing is asking ourselves WHY these spots failed in the first place, and WHY they have failed again!
The crack continues along the joint

This is the forward part of the keel where the lead begins.  The paint layers are flaking away!
Weeping crack leading back from the forward edge of the keel where the lead begins - starboard side

Pretty snazzy skirt she's wearing!
After talking to Anderson, we're going to prep the bilge for him to come back on Monday and take a look at the keel bolts.  The last thing we want is to try saving a few dollars now, only be the next viral sailor news story when our keel falls off!  Our preliminary look inside reveals that there was also a previous patch applied inside the boat.  This escaped the two surveys we've had but when we looked closely, we saw where filler has been applied to some spots that could have been more extensively repaired.  Our plan is to get them really fixed so we don't have to worry about them again, and so that when we sell the boat, the next owner won't be cussing us when he/she finds this stuff!

The yard has strict rules about how work must be done.
We've also decided that instead of just doing the normal bottom job sanding, we're going to take it all the way down to the fibreglass and start over with new barrier coat.  Our boat has NO blisters or water intrusion, (except where the keel cracks are) but it has thick layers of paint that have chipped or worn off in places leaving our bottom uneven and unsightly.

A peek under her skirt!
We're also going to have the stress cracks in our hull above the waterline, as well as the many dings we've inflicted on our girl repaired.  Many were were present when we bought the boat and we've lived with them all this time.  Others were added during our watch.  We could just leave them as most are cosmetic, but now we're thinking of the future when we might decide to sell the boat.  We want it to be in good shape, especially since we're heading to the Western Caribbean where services might be less available.

Add also, while we're at it - repaint the stripes!  They look pretty shabby with much of the red color worn off and dull.  We had it polished last bottom job, but they still look awful.  Anderson is going to prep and paint them again, this time we're going with blue to match our new blue bottom!

They've started grinding and chipping away at the filler that was used to fill this in back in 2012

They worked most of the day to get this done!
This is the forward repeat repair.  They've taken it down to fibreglass and lead!

Today was a roller coaster.  My mind does terrible things when I don't know how we will get from here to there.  As we looked over everything and talked it out with Anderson, it seemed that the list just grew and grew.  These jobs seem daunting to me, but I was comforted by Anderson's calm and efficient manner.

He assured me that he could make this all right in the end... and the few things he wasn't confident in doing, he did not hesitate to refer us to someone who could do them.  (Those had to do with the cutlass bearing maintenance and tightening the rudder post.)

At the end of the day, we were dirty, sweaty, hungry and tired.  That shower really felt good!  We talked it over and assessed the situation.  We've got a new splash date.  It went from March 23rd - to now being scheduled for APRIL 9TH!!!  That's a whole month in the yard!  But so far, it isn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I'm adjusting to the height and the ladder.  (Yes... we're peeing in a bucket during the night!  But Bruce is a wonderful man and he takes it to empty in the morning!)  I'm already feeling my arm and leg muscles aching from the climb, but that's a good thing.  It isn't too hot and we've only seen a couple of mosquitos and NO rodents or roaches!!!

We are working hard with the end in sight.  Our boat will be more sound and better looking when this is over!  We've got this!