How Do You Spell Relief?

If you’re old enough to remember that little slogan, welcome, fellow middle-aged-TV-watcher-of-yore.  The updated spelling is a little bit longer than the slogan would imply. The new, 2016 year of Galapagos-boat-work way to spell ‘relief’  is ALOFT MARINE.  Boaters know that it is really hard to find anyone who is qualified, knowledgeable, and willing to do work on boats; especially when you are not a billionaire with a huge mega yacht. It can be really hard to find someone you can trust with your vessel. Personal recommendations are the only way to go because the best folks don’t need to advertise. Word gets out and they have plenty of business.

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Thus I was over the moon excited to have attended the South Sound Women in Boating conference back in the spring and to come away with a coveted prize of three hours of boat systems and rigging consultation by Jason at Aloft Marine in Olympia. How did I accomplish this feat? I bought 30$ worth of lottery tickets, put them all in the basket for this prize, crossed my fingers, spit three times, spun in place, sacrificed the nearest virgin, then won. That’s how it’s done, folks. It’s complicated, but I’m kind of amazed at how many things I’ve won since we started this little adventure. Kind of makes me think we’re on the right track when stuff like that happens. Hey, maybe I should buy a lottery ticket!

When I won the certificate, a friend of mine who is a racing sailor in Olympia told me how lucky  I was. She and her husband have had Jason work on their boat and he was really excellent, she said. She assured me I would not be disappointed. A personal reference from someone I trust! Yay! Plus, he is a racing sailor himself and has been on sailboats for many years.  Bonus!

So last Thursday Jason showed up exactly on time at Galapagos’ slip and brought his rigging tools and all his other accoutrements with him. He began with the rigging inspection, which has weighed heavily on me since we bought the boat. I waited anxiously for his report about whether we would need to replace our standing rigging before heading offshore because this would be a financial burden we’d have to meet at a time when we have many other things to purchase. The answer was no. It’s in good shape, with a few minor things we need to either check more thoroughly, or need to correct. He climbed the mast and took a look up top, noting a few things that need changing or fixing, writing them down in his little notebook. He said we can do all of them ourselves.  The rig seriously needs tuning, which we already knew. But no replacement? One sigh of relief.

On to the mizzen mast. This rigging might be original to the boat, so he suggested replacing it. We were not surprised at that, and the expense for this mast will be much less because there is simply less material to replace.

The only major concern, which we’ve been aware of since last summer, is that there is some kind of leak underneath the mizzen mast, in the step. We spent time at a lovely anchorage last year, off Tzartus Island, isolating this leak and confirming that the leak is, indeed, under the mast. Oy.

See the water leaking out where the hatch is held open? That’s been going on for a LONG time. Jason says this design is asking for trouble. I can see his point.

This is a long time problem, as is evidenced by the amount of water damage to the bulkhead in the aft cabin and in the aft section of the engine room. Every time it rains, water leaks into the aft cabin through the attachment point for the lid to the hatch in that area. At least the water comes out rather than just sitting there soaking the wood.  That’s probably what has allowed that area to still be basically sound over this extended period of time. When we bought the boat we, of course, noted that, but the price of the boat was so good, we took the gamble.

You can see water dripping inside, and see there the water has damaged the teak veneer.

The bad news, although it’s not really ‘news’, is that we will need to pull the mast to fix this. Jason’s idea is to redesign this mast step to avoid this problem in the future. All of us will be surprised if we do not find some deck rot in that area. And we will have to check this bulkhead carefully, but tapping around on it doesn’t give you that hollow sound you’d expect with rot.  So that’s a project that will need attention during the big haul out next spring. The good news is that when Jason started giving me an idea of the costs involved in doing that work, they did not feel daunting, especially since Mike and I can do much of the work ourselves if we need to. We recently cut our teeth on fixing wood rot in the anchor/windlass locker. So the idea that this project is actually doable mostly by us is really a relief. Big boats can cost a lot, and we want to do right by ours.

Onward to the engine room, Mike finally got to consult with a marine engine professional about the engine mounts, confirm his plan to keep parts for an extra exhaust elbow on board, and in general, get someone with more experience than he has to lay eyes on the engine room and its systems. All to the good and another big sigh of relief all around.  14237499_902686499835969_5984000133208390165_n

By the end of our consult, we were so impressed with Jason’s professionalism, his communication skills (SO important!), and how down to earth he is. I really appreciated that he understood that keeping costs under control and telling us how to do things ourselves were primary concerns for us.  I also loved it that he has other resources in people he works with who do different things well, like finish work. This is what happens when people are secure with themselves and their business. You can have a real working relationship and not be afraid you are getting gouged in the wallet.  I asked him why he didn’t advertise more, and his response was that he actually didn’t need to. So there it is.

We feel so confident in turning some work over to Jason that we’ve decided to haul out next year at Swantown, down in Olympia, before we leave. That way he will be able to work Galapagos into his busy schedule without having to travel to Tacoma. We feel a big sense of relief in having found found someone we can trust to work on our girl for us and help us prepare her for the big trip.  In the boating world, finding a professional like Jason is the real prize. Thanks, Universe!