Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Maintenance Haulout: Oyster Cove, Kettering

We arrived in Tasmania in early January after a great cruise over the Tasman sea.  We seemed to arrive as the best summer in living memory also settled in so we were very spoilt for the four months we eventually spent enjoying the island.

Our first stop had been Consitution Dock for a few days rest after the trip down from Sydney and then we headed off to Kettering and Oyster Cove marina to get on with all the work that arrives with taking her out of the water.  In our minds we had pretty much decided that we wanted this to be the last haul out before South America planned in three years time so we had lots to do and of course more work appears than planned so it turned out to be a very busy three weeks.

The yard team and their support were nothing short of amazing.  We hear stories of hassles and difficulties in yards and here the complete opposite was true.  As soon as the boat was in slings Jerry said 'whatever you want just ask, we want to make your stay easy' and he meant it.  They took over the pressure wash, no charge, so I could help move the wind gen. Trestles appeared and help  to set up was always around.  No charge.  Extra lift to help epoxy the keel was happily forthcoming.  No charge!  Helpful advise always provided and use of the workshop bench drill available.  No charge.  Live aboard as well was no problem and no charge.  The local tradies were around and about and  always happy to chat, support and guide just because they are nice people.  We we left after three weeks very happy we had visited.   

The first fast-ball was the rudder, it was pretty wet inside and had been leaking around the stock.  I had pulled it off two years before to effect some minor repairs so the actual process of taking it off was not too daunting and required the dismantling of the hydraulic connections, quadrant and seals.  We then needed to raise the boat on the crane in order to drop the whole rudder out of its fitting. The 'scratch your head' part was deciding what to do with the rudder to make it secure and knowing who's expert advice to take. 
I got the angle grinder to cut out inspection patches on each side to see how much damage and rot there really was.  It was pretty bad in some places so I cut out and ground back to solid material, checked the integrity of the tangs and generally cleaned of the rudder post before washing clean with fresh water.  It was all very wet and with a lot of hollows in the build, not the best quality lay up - although it had lasted thirty years so far.   
Drying out was slow and I made up a small green house pointing towards the sun to keep it hot and dry.  It worked well and after several weeks sat in the hothouse was bone dry. After that it was a case of mat, resin and filler to repair the job and get her back to the original shape.

Whilst the rudder was off I also ground back and repaired loose patches on the rear of the keel as well as cleaning and sealing the rudder post fittings.  I had run the boat onto a bank a couple of years before and so took the time to get under the keel and cut back and re epoxy the base where there had been chips taken out of it.  The propeller had been cleaned several times whilst in the water and even so was caked in barnacles after more than two years since the last drying out.  So this time we figured we would prop speed to avoid all the hassles.  We are now hoping the build up will be eliminated. 

Whilst out we had planned to spend two weeks only and get the basic jobs done.  Some through-hull fittings to give the rear heads better water supply, new main anode for the engine, anti-fouling and some interior work that would be easier in the yard.  We had in our mind that maybe, just maybe we would roll and tip the top sides.  She was not very attractive and had a lot of damage and dents and scratches.  We got chatting to some of the sprayers and $ numbers were mentioned that were far too extravagant for us.  We had pretty much given up on the idea until we got chatting to Sam who was happily spraying a nearby boat that was looking very impressive.  We talked it through and came to an agreement where I, and my unsuspecting crew Keith and Margaret, would do all the prep, sanding, filling and masking (all the hard work)  and he would get to do the glamorous bit with the spray gun.

Whilst the lines that give her a wood appearance are lovely to look at, sanding them ready for paint was not the easiest job.  We estimated we spent, three of us, three days getting her sanded back properly and ready to begin the process of filling in the various bits of damage in the hull.  I guess half of this effort was on the 'tramlines' as they are now called.  After more sanding back and prep after the base coats we are now proud owners of a very shiny yacht courtesy of Sam and Wattle paints.   Of course we previously were pretty cavalier about scratches and dinks and now are converts to the idea of putting extra fenders and protection out before approaching berths and wharfs. 

After a lot more minor jobs it was time to go back in the water and head up the river to undertake our biggest task yet on the boat.  Replacing the tankage.