Sunday, November 1, 2015
Hanging In There
Launch day for Swing Set after being "on the hard" for two weeks getting a new bottom paint job. Hope this paint job lasts more than a few months.
We absolutely hated being holed up in a condo on the resort property for most of the two weeks. Not that the two bedroom condo we were in was not nice, or that the rate we were charged was very fair, it was just that we felt like we were not in our element. Holly probably was affected the greatest, she didn't use her potty pad one time during the time we were off of the boat. She had quickly trained us to take her for a walk twice a day as we wanted to be assured that she wouldn't have an "accident" in the condo.
When we pulled Swing Set out, the first thing was that she got a good pressure washing. It was then that I noticed that the straps on the travel lift were marked with paint where the straps came in contact with the chines of vessels being put back in the water. Dry paint does not leave paint residue on the straps, so I told the lift operator that when Swing Set gets splashed back into the water once the bottom painting was completed, I expected pads to be in place on the straps to prevent paint from rubbing off onto the straps. We also learned to inform the yard man to use only two straps instead of four; a vessel of our size doesn't need four and it further reduces the chance of rubbing new paint off the hard chines. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Once the pressure washing was completed, and Swing Set was on the blocks, I noticed that some aggressive power washing stripped off some of the boot stripe decal near our port exhaust. I made sure the yard man was informed, and then took it upon myself to buy new tape and make a repair to the stripe.
We had a pow wow with the marina manager, lift operator, yard man and various onlookers, and agreed that the Prop Speed that was applied ten months ago was virtually gone. We've since learned that applying Prop Speed takes some expertise that was not used in our application. Old paint along the waterline on our boat had craters in it, due to the last two bottom paint applications being applied over old paint that had flaked off and left a pock-marked surface. I made it clear that I wanted a smooth surface at least on the sides of the boat between the boot stripe and first chine, this would at least ascertain that we had removed all of the loose paint and leave a smooth surface for easier cleaning. The bottom of the boat hull had very few craters in it, and the ones there had no loose paint around them.
We were advised by a questionable "authority" that we needed to grind our boat bottom down to bare fiberglass, apply a barrier coat, and then paint the bottom with three coats of ablative paint. You should have seen the looks on the faces of me and the marina manager. I could sense a need for compromise, so even though it may not have been the best move, we all decided to remove any unhealthy paint with sanding, paying special attention to getting the sides smooth, then apply Interlux Primocon, a fairly new underwater primer, onto the whole undersides of the boat; including all metal except the zincs, of course.
We did stand our ground and insist on three coats of Micron 66 on the bottom, with four coats applied along the water line. Micron 66 is a very soft ablative paint; the more applied meant the longer we could go without applying more. So goes the theory.
We had initially thought a week out of the water would have been enough, but more realistically we knew we were looking at two weeks with the extra sanding and another coat of paint. Now we were looking at splashing the boat on the day we were scheduled to arrive in Key West for a month and the dock at A & B Marina had already been reserved a year ahead of time. Had we known how close we were cutting it, we would have waited until our return from Key West to do the bottom job, but by then we might be out of money. Key West is expensive. Again, I'm getting ahead of myself.
There was no sense of wasting time on the blocks when we were looking at two weeks. The hull was waxed between the water line and the gunnels. That job took three days after initially washing the hull first. I don't know how professional "detailers" come in to wax a boat without washing it first, but I see it all the time, especially when the owners are not present. If I had any advice to offer when getting work done when an owner is absent, is not to ever do it.
While Swing Set was out of the water I also used the opportunity to attempt to lessen the dripping around our port side "dripless" shaft seal. A few months ago I repaired the shaft seal on the starboard side shaft and had great success. I moved the dripless seal back, sanded the revealed shaft smooth, and then secured the seal around the newly sanded surface.
Meanwhile, I'm glad we were around to keep an eye on things. Even though the marina manager was trying her best to keep apprised of the work being done on our boat, had we not been there to check up at least twice a day to see how things were going, some mistakes that were made could not have been easily rectified. As it was, the primer was applied over flaking bottom paint along the sides, no less, where I stressed that those areas be sanded completely smooth. Additional sanding and more primer was applied before the first coat of bottom paint was applied.
At the beginning of the second week we were informed that the boatyard laborer was going on vacation mid week. That left us no one to paint. We were told that the travel lift operator would be available to paint, so when I popped over to make sure he was on the same page as everyone else in regard to how we were approaching the job, he apparently was not made aware that bottom painting, and also some grinding, was going to be part of his upcoming job description. I think I almost scared him off as an employee of the marina. He may have been planning his escape back to Cuba before the marina manager came up with a plan B for who was going to finish up the painting.
Plan B was me and another employee whose duties consisted mainly of housekeeping and landscaping, but her husband is a very knowledgeable boater and was going to supervise. It also did not hurt that she loved to paint and was very good at it.
We were under the impression that the running gear had all been sanded, but found out otherwise. I grabbed a sander and finished sanding the running gear, Jamaican style. Jamaican style is sanding without eye protection or a dust mask. Barefoot too, if you are wondering.
Me and the other conscripted painter worked together very well. As it turned out, I'm now glad the yard laborer went on vacation, as now we knew firsthand how much paint was applied and also knew the condition of the surface before painting. As it was, we used two gallons of Primocon and EIGHT GALLONS of Micron 66 which alone retails at nearly $375 per gallon. Painting the underwater metal with a brush just eats up paint in a hurry. Only a few drops got on my flip flops. Now I look like I work for a living.
Two days before the intended completion of our work, we were informed that we had to vacate the condo we were staying in as there was a conflict in the booking of the unit. Usually possession is 9/10ths of the law, but there was no sense on complaining about the issue. We knew we were going to get a very fair rate for our stay, and a customer paying full fair would take precedent if one was any kind of businessman, so we booked two nights in a local flea bag motel and sucked it up for those nights.
The day came to splash the boat and pay our bill. Judy, the dock master and marina manager, called us into her office to go over the bill. I was reminded of the time we bought our first home as the details were laid out for us. As promised, Judy was very fair in the charges, considering that we had just had bottom paint done ten months ago. Many items normally charged for were done au gratis, and the paint was sold to us at cost. Profit margin was non-existent, or very low, and we did get a very good rate for the nine nights we stayed in the condo on the marina property.
The only complaint I'd say we had was in the quality of work done by the yard laborer. But being realistic, we know those jobs are really hard jobs to do, especially when it's hot. Keeping any employee doing hull sanding and painting coming back day after day is quite an accomplishment. Next time if we have work done at our marina, we'll just do a better job of supervising the work, even if it isn't our job to do so. You know what they say about assuming anything.
Back in the water, I checked the bilges and found out my shaft seal repair was ineffective. Water was pouring through the seal. I wound up moving the seal back to the original location and got the flow back to where it was initially. My opinion is that the seal on the "new" part of the shaft needed time to "seat in". Worse comes to worse, I can install the new seal already in place on the shaft, but I only want to do that as a last resort.
While troubleshooting the leaking seal, I found out the the water line feeding the port side shaft seal was plugged coming from the port engine. There is a crossover line between both seals, so our port side seal was still getting water, but just not as much. I removed the line from the seal and the engine and got it unplugged by beating the hose against the concrete dock and blowing it out with compressed air from our Hookamax. At least our Hookamax is good for something.
The next morning we left for Key West a day late, no matter because we called A & B and was told that our month long stay would start on the day we got there. That was good news and the call by us was greatly appreciated.
We had a following sea with a 15 knot wind, making a slow cruise very uncomfortable. Even though we wondered how much the three coats of bottom paint on the props and shafts were going to affect our cruising speed, Swing Set jumped up on plan and with the trim tabs adjusted to even out our running attitude, we clipped along at a pleasant 25 M.P.H., spinning the Cats at 2500 R.P.M. and only rang the ships bell once coming off a four foot wave. Even though the engines sang happily at 200 degrees for the whole two hours and ten minutes to Key West, we didn't set off any alarms or get much salt spray on the topsides. When we arrived at A & B marina we were also very pleased to find that the new bottom paint had not worn off already.
It's hard to take paying rent here at A & B Marina and at our home port of Marathon Marina, but it's what we had to do if we wanted to have a slip to even go back to in Marathon. Slip rental in the Keys is unbelievably high, and even more so here in Key West. We're not sure we'll reserve a slip here next year at this time, since we're considering a move further north. We might save a trip down here for when it gets colder way up toward mid-state in the middle of the winter. Two hundred miles makes a big difference in winter temperatures in southern Florida, but with lower rent further north, we get to keep our options open.
For those of you who pay attention; Holly did fall back into her routine of using her potty pads once she was back on the boat. We are all now happily back in our element.