Monday, July 3, 2017

Bowen Haul Out: Part 2

After the disaster that was getting us out of the water, the rest of the haul out went smoothly. Batty was last out of the water in September 2015 and we can normally get 18 months out of an anti-foul job, so we knew we were pushing our luck. While we were away, someone had been diving on Batty to scrub her bottom and they had told us that she was in pretty bad shape. I have see MUCH worse on other boats, but the growth that was on the bottom of Batty’s keel was the worst we’ve ever seen it get! We came out of the water on Thursday morning and were going back on on Monday morning (Bonus day due to the initial delay!), so we had a strict timeline to stick to to make sure we got all of our jobs done. 
The guys set to work straight away cleaning, sanding and painting Batty’s hull. After a hose down with the pressure washer, the hull got sanded to prepare the existing paint for new coats of paint. Antifoul paint is pretty toxic stuff so it’s best to wet sand it so that you’re not inhaling toxic dust. They applied primer where needed and were then ready to spray on the two coats of antifoul paint that we needed. The brand of antifoul that we use is International Trilux 33.  The sprayer applied the 20L wet-on-wet, after we called the manufacturer to confirm that that was OK.  This is expensive stuff, the 20L of paint alone cost us about $1,600!  

Ideally we would have as few holes in the boat below the waterline as possible! The propeller shaft attaches to the engine inside the boat, goes through the hull and attaches to the propeller outside the boat. To ensure that water does not come into the boat through this opening, we have a shaft seal. Our seal had been leaking every time we ran the engine so we ordered a new one and Bryce needed to replace it. [[[All you worriers out there… don’t worry! It wasn’t leaking a lot!]]] When we bought the boat, the previous owner was kind enough to leave the important things behind.  We’ve found our fair share of crazy looking, random, unknown tools on the boat and one of them was a propeller puller. It was very useful last time we had to pull the propeller off, but this time it wasn’t working so Bryce had to find an engineering shop in town to refashion the prop puller and make it pull. He finally released the prop and was able to check out the shaft seal.  

Part of the problem with the leaking was that the alignment of the engine had changed over time (It’s possible that the new flexible mounts for the engine that we installed a few years ago had sagged a bit).  This meant that the seal wasn’t turning squarely, and hence water was popping out (and the seal was degrading).  After replacing the seal and trying to put it all back together, it wasn’t going together smoothly… definitely not a good thing, and a pretty reliable indicator that the alignment was badly out.  I called in a buddy and the conclusion was that I’d need to take it all apart again, re-sit the new seal, put it back together without one piece that gets in the way of aligning the bits, take it all apart again, and put it back together with everything in place.  Bryce spent LOTS of time on his knees with his head down in the bilge and his back has still not forgiven him.  A great trick that our buddy suggested that saved some time was turning the coupling faces 180 degrees from where they were, which improved things no end.  End result:  It doesn’t leak any more!
While we were out, we also needed to replace Batty’s anodes. Because we are an aluminum boat, we have to worry about electrolysis. Dissimilar metals all trying to eat the ones that are below it on the food chain. Our hull, made from aluminum, is below just about all of the other metals used on the boat, but above zinc.  Therefore, we have zinc anodes that get eaten sacrificially instead of the hull.

Our propeller is made of bronze and the propeller shaft is stainless steel, so we have an anode on the shaft to help protect the the hull. We also have an anode on one of the supporting struts that holds the prop shaft in place, another anode on the rudder and one on each side of the hull. When we are in a marina, we have an additional anode that we drop off the side of the boat to help in case the metal from other boats is using Batty’s hull as an anode (steel boats, we’re looking at you!). We replaced the anode that was on the prop shaft but the other three anodes still had some life in them so we’ve left them for next time. 

The propeller can get pretty grimy and a dirty prop really cuts back on our speed, as well as increasing fuel consumption.  Any barnacles that grow on there needed to come off. Once Bryce had reassembled the engine and the prop was back on, they were able to put a special coating on the prop that is slippery to barnacles.  The theory is that when the prop is still, the barnacles attach, but when the prop spins, they simply slip off the slippery coating on the prop.  The guys applied Propspeed by grinding the prop back to bare metal with a wire wheel attachment on the angle grinder, and then painting the Propspeed on.  It actually looked pretty easy, and Bryce is considering trying it himself next time.

We also had lined up a friend, who happens to be an engineer, do a couple of jobs for us. The anode for the prop shaft was too thick, which meant that it had to be shrunk.  We didn’t want to butcher this, because if it was not ground down squarely, it would result in uneven spinning on the shaft as it wobbled around. This would be bad for just about everything involved.  This friend was also the giant help to Bryce in helping to reassemble and realign the engine. Additionally, one side of the channel that our anchor chain runs through up at the bow has eroded after years of the chain running over it. This is still a work in progress as we didn’t need to be out of the water for it to be done but a fix is in the cards!

Conveniently, there is a caravan park across the road from the boatyard and we rented a little cabin for our time out of the water. This was a good call for SOOOO many reasons. Bryce was able to make AS MUCH of a mess as he wanted on the boat and did not have to clean up at the end of the day. He popped home for lunch during the day and at the end of the day, he had a hot shower, warm meal and clean bed waiting for him. For me, it meant that baby I. and I were able to stick to a bit of a routine in a comfortable space and even enjoy the luxuries of land life as well (washing machines and hot water!). 

All in all, Bowen was a really good place to haul out. Expensive, but what haulout isn’t! But it’s over now, thank goodness, until next time!

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