Progress in the Boatyard

Sailing with Lesley over Christmas was great but it exposed a few problems. First, of course, is the need to finish the stainless steel work at the back of the boat. This is an arch that holds the solar panels, wind generator, a bunch of aerials, the dinghy and a small crane for the outboard engine. It also has a seat with storage for bits of rope and other odds and sods below. This arch is critical to making the boat cruiser-friendly. But our two short cruises exposed some new issues: the anchor chain jumps off the windlass gypsy, the port lazarette is like my mother's handbag (everything is in there but you can't find anything), and the fridge doesn't work when underway.

When you renovate a house you expect to find a new problem behind every project: termites, inadequate framing, rot, leaks, substandard plumbing and electrics, and so on. On a boat it seems you get all the above times ten. For the past several months it has been one project after another, and every one starts out simple and somehow metamorphoses into an ugly three-headed monster that gives you sleepless nights and an aching body from lying in cramped spaces exerting inhuman forces on stuck fittings that my old bones can't take any more. I got a brief interlude over Christmas/New Year when Lesley was here and we actually went sailing - twice! Now it's back in the boat yard.

The stainless steel work is underway but subject to weather. Most of the work now has to be done on the boat rather than in the shed, meaning that Andrew has to TIG weld outdoors. There are several challenges with this: he has to be a contortionist to get at some of the joins; any wind blows his argon away and delivers a crappy weld; and because the boat is in the water it is constantly moving, especially when it is windy or the MONA ferry goes past at a zillion miles an hour sending a tzunami into Prince of Wales Bay. Last week it was windy so nothing got done on this project.

So I started another project to relocate the anchor windlass, which is currently nicely hidden away below decks where there is insufficient room for both the anchor windlass and the chain, let alone any drop from the winch to the chain. In fact, the top of the pile of chain in the locker is higher than the bottom of the windlass gypsy! So I will raise the winch to sit on top of the deck where it will be easier to access and will provide more drop for the chain into the anchor well. So far, I have managed to remove the winch and worked out where the new mounting will go.

Then there is the fridge. The wonderful 'commercial-quality' fridge that worked perfectly in port when running on 240V but didn't function at all when running off the engine as we discovered over Christmas. With help from Martin the local refrgeration expert I pulled out about 200 kg of outdated refrigeration equipment and replaced it with a couple of tiny 12V DC compressors that I can hide in the bilges. This will open up the engine room in a big way, providing much better access to the diesel engine. It will also provide efficient refrigeration that can run off wind and solar, something the old system could not do. It will now be feasible to leave the boat for any amount of time and rely on the elements to keep the fridges cool.

There is a huge lazarette under the port cockpit seat that extends almost to the transom. Well, it's huge for this boat. Currently, it is just one big space and you can just keep dumping stuff in there until you have absolutely no inclination to ever retrieve the first item you buried under all the rest, assuming you could find it anyway. So Lesley came up with a way we can add shelving to the area that will actually make it usable. This project has not yet been started.

Finally, there is a project I don't want to know about. There is some rot under the floor by the mast. It was the first defect I found when I first saw the boat, and because it wasn't structural I've been saving fixing it it for later. The rot was caused originally by the mast not being properly sealed. We addressed this before Christmas and the mast is now water-tight. Unfortunately, the rot weaked the floors under the shower pan, and this allowed the pan to sag, breaking the seal and allowing shower water under the floor and into the bilge. I had been hoping to do nothing about the rot, just dry it out, impregnate with Everdure to stabilize it, and leave till some future date. But with the supports rotted out and the shower pan being impossible to seal, I think I've reached that future date a bit sooner than I intended. I need expert help from Royce here. Rebuilding the whole bathroom/toilet/shower is out of the question, so I am looking for a way to fix the damage sufficiently that the shower pan can be sealed again.

The good news is that, so far, I am within budget. This is partly because there are some very big-ticket items that I have put off, like painting the topsides and decks. But it is also because I've been doing as much as possible myself, getting advice from professionals where I need it, and only when it all becomes too much, handballing it to them. It has been a cost-effective way to work, but because it's so ad-hoc you have to accept that you're not a priority for the professionals and you only get attention when they run out of better-paying clients. That's fine, but it is very frustrating when you have a project that's dead in the water because you need help. So I am trying to keep three projects going at once so that when one stalls I can swap to another project. 


  • Gravatar Image

    Hello Dave,
    Thank you for a most interesting report.
    I must say I admire your capacity, spirit and endurance!
    I hope you soon will see "the light in the tunnel" and be able to sail where ever you want to go.
    Merete and I are leaving 1.3. for Melbourne. Will stay for 2 months.
    Will we meet you?
    All the best with your big Projekt.
    Greetings from Kari.

  • Gravatar Image

    I could only repeat my sisters entry above.
    Building a house on solid ground was difficult enough. Totally rebuilding a boat sitting on water, moving whenever a fish sneezes or a boat passes, is quite something else!

Add a Comment