Why do Heidi and Aaron bust their butts to do work on me that they can pay someone else to do? We get that question often. The major reason is peace of mind.
I’m not just a pleasure craft for weekend sailing. I am Home. Boatwork is very specialized and we want to make sure it is done to our high standards. It’s not like having a new roof put on and then discovering that it leaks and calling a company to come fix it. We won’t have that option in the middle of the ocean if I take on water because of a poorly installed thru-hull. Knowing that my bottom is sturdy and sealed tight is essential to our peace of mind.
Every three years I need to be put on the “hard” so my hull, keel and rudder can be inspected, repaired if needed, and painted. It’s also a good time to check out the propellor and all through-hulls. Being on the “hard” is taking a boat out of the water via a hoist and propping her up on stilts in a boat yard.
For each of our haulouts, we have chosen Berkeley Marine Center in Berkeley, California. It’s a 90 minute drive from Alameda and the only yard in the Bay Area that allows owners to do the work themselves. Instead of paying the yard to do the work, we pay for the yard maintenance workers to haul me out and position me securely on stilts. We then pay for each “lay day” that I am in the yard while the work is done, then to have me “splashed” (returned to the water).
Heavy duty canvas slings are lowered from a crane positioned over the water. Aaron then drives me over the slings and the yard workers adjust them snugly. The hoist lifts me up so my keel is above the ground and I am given an initial washdown to knock off any loose growth, then driven to my space in the yard.
Heidi and Aaron always experience anxiety as I am lifted and swinging on the slings. It is extremely rare for an accident to happen, but seeing your boat out of water is not a natural thing and Aaron calls it a “pucker moment.”
The pics above are “before” … I’m securely positioned and ready for work to begin! This includes everyone donning painters coveralls (unless you don’t care about destroying your clothes), safety goggles and a breathing mask. Now the fun begins … My bottom is fully inspected to find any damage caused by hitting flotsam (driftwood, garbage, etc.) or going aground, blisters caused by water getting under the paint, or loose fittings on the rudder post.
Then, depending on the state of the bottom, sanding commences. On my haulout over Memorial Day weekend 2017 my bottom paint was in remarkable condition. It had been hauled out in February 2014 and Aaron and his dad stripped my old layers down before applying new paint. We also have a diver come every three months to give me a good clean and I go out often enough to not get much growth from sitting stagnant in the berth.
So this recent haulout wasn’t so bad. Once again, Dad (aka Jim Stagg) drove in from Tracy and worked alongside Aaron and Heidi for eight hours, had a quick dinner and went home, to get up and do it again for four straight days. Aaron, Heidi and Tiki stayed on Dad’s boat, Cool Change, during the work. Prep before haulout includes cleaning out the fridge (as it is turned off for the duration) and removing all the stuff we normally keep on deck (kayaks, bean bags, etc.).
It is hard, physical labor standing on a ladder or scaffolding with an electric sander for hours. This time we only needed to “scuff” up the paint to take on more coats, fortunately. This allowed Aaron, Heidi and Dad to lay up three coats of new blue bottom paint to cover the previous red. Aaron and Dad waxxed my hull between coats and also repainted my boot stripe. On the last day, the yard workers reposition my stands so the area where the square pad was placed can be painted.
During my previous haulout, Aaron and Dad replaced all the thru-hulls, so an inspection and cleaning was all that was needed this time around. Thru-hulls are fittings attached through the hull to which a sea cock and hose, a transducer or other device is attached. Thru-hulls are used to expel grey water from our sinks and shower, to let sea water in to cool the engine and allow for placement of sensors such as depth gauges. An extremely important function is to expel water via a pump, should we ever take on water in the bilges. Aaron and Dad spent an entire day removing my original brass thru-hulls in 2014 … all 9 of them! Those suckers were in tight and took some creative engineering to get them out and refitted with new ones.
Once the paint is dry, the hoist comes back to position the slings, removes the stilts and take me to the water for lowering. And it feels sooooo good to be back floating where I belong!
Living the Dream isn’t all sunshine and rainbows … It’s hard work to maintain a cruising boat such as myself. We are blessed to have Dad in our life, who has been there for us every time we needed a hand or a hug. He will eventually reap the benefits of all this labor when he comes along for legs on our circumnavigation … Sailing in the South Seas, Australia and the Med.
The next time I go on the hard will be in Mexico, after Heidi and Aaron have sailed me down the coast and we prepare to cross the Pacific Ocean on a course for the Marquesas. This will be an important haulout as once we depart Mexico it will be anywhere from two to four weeks before we see land and can affect any repairs. So all work done now is contributing to our peace of mind.
Vivo O Sonho … Living the Dream!