Thursday, March 24, 2011

Haulout - the dirty details

[Kyle]Day 2

Since it was late on the day of the lift, as soon as Footprint was secure, the yard staff left us for the night. Maryanne came home from work to a boat scattered with tools and supplies. Yard dirt was tracked all over the decks, along with a winter’s accumulation of algae, bird droppings and grime. The bottom was especially horrible. Our black bottom paint had mostly faded to the blue under layer, making her look horribly bruised from her last year’s fight with the Irish Sea. The water in the Preston basin is not exactly the cleanest and the whole waterline was ringed with dried brown and green scum, like the ring around an ancient bathtub that had never been cleaned. The whole mess looked completely insurmountable. It was very depressing.

We're hoping she'll scrub up nice!

But help was on the way. The first thing the next morning (a Saturday), Chris showed up with the power washer and gave us a brief tutorial on its use. I donned the full foul weather outfit and set to work. Oh, what a marvellous thing a power washer is! If they ever make one that weighs 2 ½ pounds and fits in a cutlery drawer, we are definitely getting one! What a great wet time I had spending the rest of the morning blasting away at a winter’s accumulated gunk while Maryanne stayed dry running errands and fixing countless things inside. It turns out Footprint is still (mostly) white underneath it all. She’s definitely beyond boat show condition, but she looked a lot better afterwards.

Once the top couple of layers were off, we spent the rest of the remaining daylight getting as much done as we could. When it finally got too late to work, we staggered to the showers for a wash, returned to the boat, cleared off some space to sit and eat and then went to bed. The next day, I headed off at 3:30am for another week in the U.S. and left Maryanne to chip away at our haulout list without me.

Maryanne called me during the week and told me she had arrived home to find the boat gone. A brief wander around revealed it to be on the other side of the crane at the water’s edge. The marina needed our spot so they moved us during the day. They had done the same careful job with shoring as before and had even gone to the trouble of moving the little pyramid of heavy wooden and concrete blocks that I had built the week before as a way to climb on board (a staircase).

When I got home, it was right to work. Maryanne had prepared the boat the previous weekend and taped off the waterline so I would be ready to go. Usually, after a long workday and then a long flight home, I allow myself a couple of hours nap before doing much, but this time, I just didn’t have the luxury. I immediately covered myself in protective gear and set to sanding our old bottom paint off. Typically, all the prep that’s needed before applying a new coat of paint is a good clean of the current layer, maybe a light hand sanding. This time, our old paint was not compatible with the new (or any other available), and had to be completely stripped off.

The grand entrance, and one grubby husband

It was horrible. It was all overhead work while lying on the ground or squatting. There was dust everywhere. It even got in the ventilation holes of my safety goggles. By the time the sun went down, I had been up for 36 hours and had little to eat. I was knackered. Despite all the protective gear I was so covered with filth that I looked like I just stepped out of a mine at the end of my shift. There was no way I was going to bed like that, or even sitting down to eat, or even going inside. I had to get to the showers. Rivers of gray mud went down the drain. I took three complete showers one after the other before getting down to clear water and then I took another just for good measure.

Day 3?

I had planned to start painting the next day, but the forecast called for intermittent showers so we decided to try and get as much of the hulls waxed as possible, plus a few other jobs. Of course, for waxing to be done, the boat needs to be clean and she was now covered in dust. She actually looked worse than the first day. If you’re thinking we should have power washed after sanding, we thought of that too. We actually needed to blast the bottom clean to prepare for sanding, so that wouldn’t have worked.

The dust was less worked in than the previous grime and came off with just a brush and a hose. We managed enough of a dry weather window to get everything below the rubrail waxed as well as prime the parts of the bottom that had gone down to bare gelcoat.

We finished as usual about half an hour after the light ran out, straining to see in the late twilight. Then came the routine of the shower and the clearing of space for a quick meal and the collapse into exhausted sleep.

Also, while in the yard we weren't using our holding tank, so the need for any middle of the night tinkle necessitated getting dressed and making a ¼ mile walk to the marina office in the cold for relief. The yard was really starting to get old.

Day 4?

The forecast was finally for some dry weather for the next few days, so it was time to start painting. The first coat was our usual blue. This is meant to alert us when the upper black layer is wearing off. We always get strange looks from people when we finish the first coat and have a boat with a carefully painted blue bottom. For some reason, it just doesn’t look right. Usually, nobody says anything until we cover it with black the next day, then they all congregate appreciatively and confide in us that they thought there was something wrong with us when they thought we were going to finish with the blue. I had a similar thing happen with my last marriage.

Back in

Maryanne was back at work and left me to put on the black layer as well as all of the final touch-ups.

The following morning after eleven days perched on blocks and a flurry of last minute jobs, Footprint was finally lowered gently back into the water. We had managed to chip away job by job from sun-up until dark and had managed to get her looking and feeling shipshape again. She actually looked kind of…nice.

The weather that day had improved to partly sunny and people were strolling along the waterfront in small groups. A small crowd had gathered to watch the show of Footprint going in and the subsequent bridge opening. Once again, I somehow managed not to do anything embarrassing as I pulled away for our berth. I just backed her away from the wall slightly and did a little pirouette to reverse direction, all like it was on purpose. At the dock a different crowd watched me swing her into place with the stern a couple of inches from the pontoon where I casually stepped off and pulled her in like I was walking a well behaved dog. Oh, this was just too good to be true. Two in a row? With an audience? I am just asking for it next time.

I still had a few hours before Maryanne got home from work. I used the time tuning our rig to the specs for real sailing and not just sitting around a marina. I filled the tanks and scrubbed the decks of all of the tracked yard dirt. Then I gave the inside a good cleaning including a treat of fresh, clean, new post-haulout floor mats. I ended up with just enough time for a shower and shave before she got home.

For the first time in a long time, it feels like we’re ready to go somewhere again. We still have a few more jobs to do, but most are minor and should be easy to accomplish in the next month or so. The bulk of them are no longer hanging over our heads. It finally does feel like it’s downhill from here, at least boat wise. Of course, we still have a couple of languages to learn, routes to plan and weather to worry about, but I’ll take that over lying on my back getting covered with toxic paint dust any day.

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