Saturday, March 24, 2018

Boatyard Daze - Hope Springs Eternal!

Boatyard Daze - Days 12-17 Making progress!

After another frustrating Sunday - the day of the week on which NOTHING happens on this island - we're taking another stab at progress this week.  Due to a miscommunication on my part with the boatyard, we were placed between two boats with very little room to work.  I have to say that our work crew has been beyond accommodating in their willingness to work in our favour, every step of the way.

Their conscientiousness in taking care that other boats were not damaged has been exemplary!  The decision to keep the boat where it is and thus save us the added expense of having it moved for spraying was much appreciated.  Because of this, the crew had to work beneath tarps stretched along the sides of the boat to keep the dust contained as much as possible in the brisk winds.

This week began with a LOT still to do before they could start spraying gelcoat on our hull and painting the bottom.  It was difficult to keep our spirits up as we endured two more days of gruelling heat locked up inside the boat while the dust flew.  And for our crew it meant two more days of stifling work, suited up like astronauts as they fared and sanded the hull-sides, and ground away the many layers of old bottom paint.

In order to avoid paying the additional $250 it would cost to move the boat, we would need more tarpaulins to cover and protect our neighbours.  Bruce rode to Ace Hardware with Anderson to get them on Monday and they took a detour to CKs - the package store - for a case of beer to offer as a token of our appreciation at the end of each day.  By the time the sun slipped below the rim of sheer hills surrounding the boatyard Monday afternoon, it looked like they might be able to start the gelcoat work as soon as Wednesday!

Lunchtime Monday - we escaped the heat and went to the food truck for a delicious and inexpensive meal.  
Bow repairs from a boat dragging down on us in Culebra many months ago!
Lots of faring still to do!
Our bow was a little beat up, now it's got a new coat of fiberglass and is being smoothed out!
How can this all be finished in time to spray on Wednesday???
For documentary purposes, the other side of the bow repair!
So on Monday, the work on faring out the repaired stress cracks in preparation for new gelcoat continued.  The crew repeatedly applied coats of filler that was then covered with a pigment.  When sanded away, it would leave color which exposed the low spots or holes.  Those would then be filled again and the whole process repeated, until they had a smooth surface.

Some spots had excess filler that had to be sanded down to match the original lull.  I have to say that the guy doing most of the work - Mackey - is an artist!  He shows obvious care in his meticulousness, for which I am truly grateful!

By the end of the day on Monday, we hadn't made the visible progress that I hoped to see - but then I reminded myself that we do NOT want to rush this!  We have plenty of time left in the yard and if it takes longer to get it right... that is far more preferable than just slapping it together!

Tuesday was punctuated by breaks at lunchtime AND the added bonus of getting to see our neighbour moved out!

They applied the filler over the fiberglass repair on our bow on Tuesday morning.  

They also finished the first layer of chemical paint removal on our bottom
Filler covers the fiberglass repair and along the front of the bow.  It's looking smooth!
Now the grinding begins...
Tuesdays and Fridays the veggie truck comes.  We almost missed him today!
Next break came in the late afternoon by way of our neighbour being moved out!  We watched them move the cradle in!

Best seat in the house!  Do they look a little too close to you?
VERY close!
B'Bye neighbour!  See you in the shower room!

Behind one blue boat, was another blue boat!

At the end of the day we crept out once again, this time bearing cold beers for the crew!  They seemed to enjoy showing us their progress and answering my many questions.

The sounds of sanding and grinding had been as relentless as the 98° heat inside the boat for the remainder of the afternoon. My first glimpse of the boat was somewhat underwhelming, but I tried to hide my disappointment while talking to Mackey.  He seemed to be very interested in my thoughts for some reason.

Underwhelming first glimpse
The reason for his interest and the small hint of a smile became clear when I ducked beneath the tarp to see the result of the noisy afternoon! They only tarped the area they were working on and here, their work was very evident in the revelation of our boat's rotund, grey underbelly!

She looked like a beached whale beneath the ballooning tarpaulin!   My huge and spontaneous smile must have been the response the crew was looking for!  They wore corresponding smiles of pride at my obvious and genuine awe!  I can't tell you the relief I felt at the progress made this afternoon and my level of respect for these hardworking young men grew by leaps and bounds in that moment.

Naked rudder!

The veil of secrecy!
Wednesday's work
The happiness I felt at the progress made today was in no way reduced by the news that we would indeed NOT be spraying gelcoat tomorrow as originally planned.  It was evident that there was a lot more that had to be done before moving on to the next step and on the heels of today's huge leap forward, I was completely agreeable with sliding the schedule back a couple more days.

Wednesday was a repeat - hot and noisy inside the boat, but jubilation at the end of the day!  The work was coming fast now and I had sympathy for these hard working individuals.  I can't imagine how they have the strength to get home after the long, hot hours they put in.  The cold beer must have amazing restorative properties as they seemed to get their second wind with the bounce returning to their steps toward home.

The waterline at the bow
Grubby waterline further back.  Still some layers of paint to be removed here.  Just look at that thickness!
Checking out the smooth work they did on that bow!  Feels like the proverbial baby's butt! And the shape of the edge is a nice touch!
They finished just in time for a brief rinse!
The long dry days we've enjoyed since hauling out came to a brief end as we walked toward the showers.  While we had ours, the boat had hers and I was relieved that the weather waited until the most opportune time for a wash!

We've fallen into an acceptable routine - We get up and wash the dishes, clean the catbox, listen halfheartedly to the net and then trek to the washroom for morning ablutions and to empty the piss bucket.  Upon return to the boat, we assume the position we will occupy all morning.   Lunchtime is signalled by the ceasing of noise that is our cue to open the windows for a breath.  We either eat a sandwich or pick up something at the food truck.  Then we close up for the afternoon.  It seems as if we are pushed to the brink of our endurance each day by the heat as the day wears on... and then just in the nick of time, we are freed from bondage!

The evenings are cool and delightful in contrast to the heat of the day.  And for that we are thankful.

Thursday the routine was broken by the arrival of various vendors.  We've got one guy working on replacing the boot on our prop shaft and more measurements were needed.  We had to remove our bed to expose the rudder post so that he could get in there and clean things up in preparation for replacing the packing.  He took some bits and parts away, leaving us working on removing the green stuff on the rudder base.

Evidently this was caused, not by the seeping salt water as we had assumed, but by the lack of proper grounding.  At some point in the boat's history, the ground wire was removed and not replaced.  We'll be remedying this situation before going back into the water.

We've also got some major parts on order for the Yanmar.  Sim over at Palm Tree Marine looked over our engine and has advised that not only do we need to replace several of the old hoses that will surely fail before long... but he advised that we should replace the oil cooler and an exhaust elbow that could cause us grief in the not-so-distant future.  With our planned departure for the Western Caribbean, where services may be more scarce, we want to be as proactive as we can about preventative maintenance.  This little project will add in excess of another $1,500 US to our total, but the peace of mind it brings us will be worth it!  News Flash:  This year's Cost-of-Cruising numbers will NOT be down as we had hoped...Now you know why!

The last spot!

We're going through a few sandpaper pads!
Ready for the last bit of sanding and some fiberglass work!

Examining a few little imperfections.  We're getting to know our girl like never before!
While we entertained the engine and rudder vendors inside, the crew was engaged in the final push on the bottom prep outside.

The end of the day was welcomed by all and at this point, we were still hoping to start spraying tomorrow - Friday.  These guys deserved their weekend off!

All of the prep work on the bottom was finished except for moving the jack stands so that the paint beneath them could be sanded...  Then the topsides would get a final sanding and the letters indicating our name and hailing port will be removed.

The sounds were different on this day and I can't tell you the number of times silence fell causing us to spring hopefully to the rail, only to learn that the work continued on...  Come ON!  Be done already!

Beginning to look the same?  I KNOW!  They just keep fine-tuning!
Shiny lead sparkles!
Finally!  No more excuses!  The day for spraying the gelcoat has arrived!  We are seriously lucky in that it isn't raining and the wind has even moderated to make things easier.

All morning the crew worked on the final preparations for spraying.  They had to tape off all the stripes and the toe rail.  They taped everything that touched the hull sides.  That was the most time consuming job of all.  Then they had to put plastic over our lifelines to keep spray from coming up onto our deck!

Since there would be no scary noises or dust, we left the windows open and came outside to watch the process.

OK I lied!  There was SOME last-minute sanding!

Cracks repaired, smoothed out and ready for gelcoat!

We've got a ninja removing our hailing port!
This guy had to keep fixing the skipping CD!  We've got a disco!  Crew was singing and dancing!  
Anderson got out there and helped with the final steps!
Mackey is the artist!  He is blowing off the dust and wiping the area in preparation for spraying gelcoat!

Final measurements for replacing the letters afterward
Sanding the area where the letters were recently removed
Bruce and I took a break and had lunch at Adrift, the onsite restaurant
Still a bit of masking to go!
What's Anderson doing???
Different samples - they look the same to me!
Upon our return, we noticed a lot of progress... and something else.  Anderson was mixing the pigment into the gelcoat.  He just about had it done when we got back and asked for our final approval.  He used minute amounts of yellow and brown to mute the pure, stark white of the gelcoat.

They are wrapping the chain in plastic to protect it from overspray!  

While the final bits were being taped topside, we noticed something else going on down below.

The repairs on the keel were just about done!  They laid some extra fiberglass all along the join where the keel and the hull meet.  Remember there were some signs of flexing and some prior repairs had failed.

The failure of the previous fixes was due to water getting in and causing the paint to separate.  This time we're not messing around!  Everything has been taken down to the hull and a new layer of fiberglass has been applied.  Then they coated the entire keel with epoxy to form an impregnable barrier coat to keep moisture out - and to give the primer something to grab onto.

Aft keel repair of previous repair back in 2012!  That should do it!
Starboard side keel forward repair-redo.  This baby isn't going to fail again!

New layers of fiberglass all along the hull to keel join.
Now that's what a fiberglass job looks like!

Prepped and ready!
Blue boat two spots over to starboard
Last of all, the crew cleaned up the area below the boat and then got to work covering our neighbouring boats with tarps.

This is the Oyster on our port side
You might want to move your van Anderson!
And the two boats behind us!
No more cracks!

Taping the transom.  They're going to paint this first so that it can dry, allowing us to use the ladder again.

Covering the transom with plastic, the final touches!

I can barely contain my excitement as the crew gathers here and begins to prepare the gelcoat.

Mackey is going to do the spraying and he suits up like he's going into outer space.  I am torn between pity - that the crew has to use torn old pieces of t-shirts and masking tape to make protective footwear - and being impressed by their no-fuss resourcefulness and simplicity in finding low-cost solutions to life's everyday problems.
NASA, we're ready for countdown!
What a HAM!
Painting begins.  I like that there's a spotter to ensure uniform coverage!

Sun is setting and they're not half done!!!

Refill please!
The repaired areas get extra coats so that they can sand it down without exposing the patch!
Moving right along...
You can definitely see the big patches, but Anderson assures us that all will be smooth as silk when they're done!

Almost done!

Put some extra coats on that ridge there at the front.  Might bang into something else down the way!

The finisher put a few more coats on the bow ridge.
As the setting sun is the precursor for bad news... we learn that the job will not be finished today.

It seems that Anderson has underestimated the amount of time AND gelcoat required to finish this big girl.

They are laying it on thick enough to provide good coverage and the two gallons on hand are nearly gone.  They'll save the last of this to use in the finishing process and get two more gallons on Monday for the other side.

The shine didn't stay, but they'll buff and polish it out during the final step
These poor guys had to take down all the tarps, only to put them back up again on Monday!  Such a wasted effort!
After a shower, we can remove the plastic and put the ladder back!
I think Anderson and his Crew were more disappointed than we were about not finishing!  They really wanted to be done!  But we are so happy that they are taking their time and doing this right, without rushing.

Bruce and I are beyond excited to see this much progress made this week!  It's a little frustrating that nothing happens on Sundays, but we just can't bring ourselves to begrudge these guys their day off! We're over the hump and the end is in sight!


  1. What a lot of work. Those guys deserve a treat when they get finished. So do you for all the suffering while the work is going on. I remember the build up to getting my hull painted. Prep, prep, prep. It was so tiring. Keep the faith, one of these days you will be back in the water and this will all seem like a (bad) dream.

    1. It is! Bruce used to do his own bottom jobs, but that was on smaller boats and at a much younger age. I can't imagine doing all of this ourselves. It is a monumental task! The prep work was ridiculous! So many hours prep for an hour of fun!

  2. What an ordeal...but you're looking wonderful. I can't wait to see the finish product. I'm impressed they wrapped the other boats. Hooking Bull in Rockport could careless. We were lucky to get out when we did...they were going to start painting the boat south of us soon. I can only imagine the over spray on our boat. Hang in there...looks like things are done quick now.

    1. The end is in sight! These guys are very concerned with their clients, present and possible future ones! I think everyone knows someone with an overspray story. We've told these guys plenty of stories from boatyards back home. I know our neighbours are nervous, but I hope they realize how extraordinary this is!

  3. Tammy what make and model is that blue boat in second to the last photo with the green bottom paint?

    1. It's a Westerly Overlord. I think that's copper coat on the bottom.