Velic was out of the water last week. We lifted on the only old fashioned dry dock in the Portland area for smaller boats – that is, not ships. And one of the few where you can still do your own work. For boats, this was a quick trip: Lift and pressure wash on Monday. Launch on Friday.
It was a short task list this time. Paint the bottom, repair dings and scrapes in the topsides, replace two instrument transducers, and service the propeller.
Six Inches at a time
Painting the bottom is always fun, sanding overhead while cramped under the boat. But, it has to be done. Pressure washers have been a huge advance in taking off all the mud, slime, and algae.
We then sanded the whole bottom with a 6″ random orbital sander and 80 grit paper, going through a sanding disc about every 10-12 minutes. To control dust the sander was connected to my shop vacuum – which worked amazingly well. Ruth tended hoses and wires, a boring job, but relieving almost half the weight. Areas near the shiny topsides paint and under the keel, around the rudder etc. were wet sanded by hand. This was going really slowly using a bucket until Randy realized he could use the hose and spray nozzle. Not unpleasant in the hot sun. The anti-fouling bottom paint is toxic to marine life to keep the barnacles at bay so the boat can actually sail. Painting is done in full tyvek suits with hoods, gloves, etc. So that is definitely a trade-off for us. One big advantage of prepping and painting your own boat bottom is that it immediately puts to rest any fantasies of buying a larger boat.
Every boo-boo has a name
Tom, our favorite master craftsman, came over to repair scrapes and dings in the shiny topsides. On a boat the bottom is the part of the hull that’s in the water, the topsides are the part of the hull from the waterline to the deck. Tom gave the topsides a beautiful paint job in 2009. Since then, we’ve added texture to the paint job with a few boo-boos, specifically the “St Helen’s dock,” the “Astoria West Basin dock,” and the “Lopez Island anchorage” scrapes to the topsides, and the “Mackay Bay” rock ding to the keel. Every boo-boo represents a traumatic moment, and an error of seamanship to some degree or another (usually on Randy’s part). Each one gets named and logged, hopefully to be objectively dissected and critiqued after the passions of the moment dissipate.
Tools of Violence and Destruction
Two new transducers were installed. These are the sender/receiver end of instruments, one for speed through the water and one for depth sounding. The old instruments served well, but were more than 15 years old and beginning to fail. This project should have been a direct swap-out of the old fittings. But some unnamed new boat owner installed those fittings with permanent sealant/adhesive. Levers, hammers, flame and 24-grit proved to be effective tools of violence and destruction.
Fortunately the industry has standardized on a 2″ hole. But wait, changes and improvements meant that the new bronze depth sounder fitting was too short, or rather Randy’s fairing block inside the boat was too thick, and of course the fitting is conveniently placed under the head (bathroom) floor boards where only one hand can reach. Nothing a high-speed angle grinder and 24-grit can’t fix in a jiffy. Just don’t grind through the hull!!
Back in the water on Friday. The first few minutes are always hold-your-breath ones. First, to see the boat floating again – a boat feels so awkward propped high up on the dry dock. Second, to be sure it stays floating: Is everything water tight? Did we forget to close any valves? Are the new transducer through-hull fittings dry and not leaking? All checks and double checks turn out good and dry. One major project done before departure.