Sense and Flexibility

It’s a good thing we have no stinking schedule right now. We pulled into the dock at Swantown Marina in Olympia prepared to get a ton of stuff done at our haulout. Isn’t that hilarious? Boat owners who think many good things might happen quickly? Truly we are the clowns of the sea. We had the bottom job to do, the rest of the Hydrovane to install, the mizzen mast to pull, the new rigging for the mizzen, and the leak under the mizzen to fix. That’s a lot of things.

Before I go on, let me just make a point that if you are a young person looking at your career choices, please look no further than the trades in the marine industry. Why? Because there are not enough players on that field. The ones who are in the business are very busy. They don’t even advertise. They may not even return your calls because they don’t have time with all the work they have to do. Robots will never steal these jobs. They cannot be outsourced, either. All these fiberglass people, rigging people, general boat repair and maintenance folks, welders; they make a ton of money and get to be creative with their work. And so could you. Run down to your nearest tech school and apply, ok? We need you.

Anyhoo, we thought we had a fiberglass guy lined up. Turns out, we didn’t. And by way of having good sense and being flexible, turns out that’s ok. It gives us some time to do some of the work ourselves, which will save us money. He can’t get to us until July 10. So instead of heading north at the beginning of July, we’ll be staying down in the south sound for a few weeks longer than we thought. That’s fine with us. Claire and Dan are coming home! We’ll be here a little longer to get some visits in with them. Here’s the scoop:

Long term readers may remember that when we bought Galapagos, we knew she had a leak that had damaged the bulkhead and the engine room wall adjacent to the bulkhead in the aft cabin. This is the area where the mizzen mast is stepped. We weren’t sure what caused the leak until we took some time during our last summer cruise to isolate the problem. Unfortunately the leak was underneath the mizzen mast. Not good. That meant the mast had to be pulled. Since we knew we were hauling out before the long trip, we waited until now to worry about it, protecting that area from leaking during the wet winter.

When we bought her, she looked like this.

We had the mast pulled when we arrived and discovered that the entire floor of the fiberglass ‘shoe’ (is that the correct term?) that the mast was sitting in was cracked all the way around.  Water that came down the mast, which has about a one inch hole wide open at the top (Why??) or that collected due to rain in the basin-like ‘shoe’ could pour directly down into the wall of the aft cabin. And it sure did.

The mast step is actually sitting in this basin. How could that possibly be good?

Now let’s pause and talk about how crazy this design was from the get go. Ted Brewer designed our boat. He is famous for designing strait forward, seaworthy boats. I can’t imagine he designed this part of the boat and wonder if it was the builder who did this.  First of all, the mast already has a perfectly good step and could be installed directly onto the cabin top. (When this was discovered, this saved us the money of buying a new step.)

You can see the separation all the way around. And also the 100 Drachma coin below the step! The coin is dated 1994. So the mast was pulled then. We can’t decide if we want to replace the coin with one from this year or not. We want a Greek coin.

Then there is the issue of a copper tube drain that ran from below the mast, through the cabin top,  and down into the cockpit lazarette, where it dribbles out into the gutter of the cockpit and finally drains down and out of the boat. Really? What an over-engineered piece of wishful thinking! So many, many places for things to go horribly wrong, like they did.

The only reason any kind of fancy drain system was needed was due to this weird cup-like shoe that the mast was sitting in; the one that was practically in two pieces when we cut it off the boat. Good lord. No wonder we had a leak. What appears to have happened is that this drain wiggled loose enough to allow water to intrude into the wood. Of course, you can’t see this without taking off the mast. Nice. Over time the wood got saturated and the weight of the mast compressed it just enough to break that fiberglass ‘shoe’ and pop the fiberglass tabbing on that side of the bulkhead in the aft cabin. This is why the doors on either side of that bulkhead stick.

You can see the guilty copper drain. This has been sealed with epoxy until we can get to it. The wood at the top edge and left edge is sound. Those two bolts sticking up were holding the block to the mainsheet. We’ll need to replace the fiberglass mounting this was attached to. It leads the mainsheet to the cabin top winch.

After cutting the fiberglass shoe off the cabin top, we could see rot in the core. We knew rot was in the walls as well, but not how much. We began taking trim pieces off to assess the damage and that’s where we are today. We have until July 10 to get the bulkhead repaired and ready for the fiberglass work up top. Whoopee! We have time!

Meanwhile, Mike almost finished the install on the Hydrovane, and I got the bottom painted and, oh yeah, we got the boat surveyed again for insurance. We sprung for the money to pay someone to do the sanding and I am very glad we did. Sure, we would have saved about 450$ by sanding it ourselves, but that would have been another day in the yard. Take 40$ off that 450$. Then we would have had to buy supplies and rent the sander. That would be about another 125$. Now it’s only costing us less than $300 to have someone else tear their shoulder up sanding this big hull. That’s totally worth it. Plus the guy taped the waterline for us.

Someone ditched a half gallon of blue bottom paint. We went crazy.

So we’re back in the water, right next to Stephanie and David Gardiner on S.V. Cambria! We’ve shared a couple of dinners while we were both in the boatyard, and now we get to be on the work dock with them for a day or two. I think that means we’re cruisers now! It sure is nice to put faces to blog names by meeting them.

By the way, Stephanie and David are selling their beautiful Westerly Ocean 43. This is a stunning boat and impeccably kept. In addition, we are dead jealous of their aft cabin with the centerline standard sized queen bed and ensuite. We could use their large storage space on the bow, big enough to stand in, and their ‘garage’ inside the boat that is NOT their V berth. Sure, David swooned with envy over our engine room, but still. This boat is beautiful. If you are looking for a ready-to-go blue water cruiser, take a look at S.V. Cambria.

Our loose plan is to go see our kids this weekend and leave the boat here for a day. Then we’ll go sit in Jarrell Cove for a few days and assess the damage to the bulkhead and make decisions about whether to replace the whole thing or cut out the bad parts, jack up the cabin top a smidge, and scarf in new wood. That’s still up in the air. Next weekend is the Festival of Sail in Tacoma and the tall ships will be there! We’ll take family out on the boat and have a little fun. It just makes good sense to be flexible.  It’s pretty nice to not have a schedule.



11 thoughts on “Sense and Flexibility

  1. Weird. Seems like that cup could’ve worked well to constrain the base of the mast if it just had a sealed base at deck level or above and a slot in the side to drain out to the deck.

  2. I’m glad you could get back in the water and do repairs there. Living in the yard is not fun. You’re already experiencing the advantages to neither one of you having the 8-5 must do work schedule. It’s great!

    • No kidding. We do love the flexibility. And to top it off, Claire and Dan are home so we get a little more hanging out time with them. It doesn’t hurt my feelings at all that we’ll be here a bit longer. Who knows? We may just hang around south sound until the end of July.

  3. I had to smile when I read about job opportunities in boatyards and at businesses that work on boats. So very true. Maybe that will be my job when I retire from cruising. LOL.

    • Mike thinks about this all the time. The guy who is going to do our rigging has a sweet deal with the Port of Olympia. His workshop is there and they refer to him all the time. He never advertises. The fiberglass guy is booked until Mid-july.

  4. Good work wrapping up the routine stuff [bottom paint, etc.] and establishing root cause and remediation options on your mizzen mast.

    You did a great job of staying focused and not allowing yourselves to feel overwhelmed; laundry included…

    Best wishes with your projects!

    Cheers! Bill

  5. Pingback: This Cruising Life: Olympia Morning | Little Cunning Plan

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