Friday, November 30, 2012

Hard on the Hard

The mood is discernibly moribund at the marina come haul-out time. Day after day boats disappear form their slips and reappear in the parking lot on metal stands and blocks of wood. This is known as being "on the hard" and it's hard.

I had scheduled Topanga's haul out date to be as late as possible this year which allowed for some excellent autumn sailing. It was cool but also crisp and with significantly less pleasure craft traffic on the river which allowed for more room to freely maneuver.

In preparing for land the Rushmore team all pitched in for sail removal and folding. This is a job that is pretty difficult to do alone or with just two people.

The day inevitably came when we motored over to the fuel dock to pump out the septic tank and fill the fuel tank one last time. Then on the signal of the marina foreman we slid into the travel lift straps and were hoisted up into the air. I had paid $78 to have the hull immediately power washed; I was reticent because I thought I could do this myself once securely in place with my own power washer but figured I better go with the pros on this one. While the hull was being blasted I asked the guy how much pressure their washer produced and he said something insane like 5000psi and at 95 degrees Celsius. My power washer is give a piddly 1800 psi with no heating so I think I made the right choice on this splurge as the hull is clean as a whistle. I just wish it was included in the price of the haul out and not another marina "extra".

The marina reserves the right to place your boat wherever they choose and this year I was happy to be placed with all the other large sailing yachts. The previous year I was way on the other side with mostly motorboats. Additionally now she's on concrete versus gravel last year which will likely make less mess. Buoy do they pack them in! This guy was like a surgeon with the travel lift squeezing a 35' 15,000lbs boat literally a few inches from other boats.

Now that she's out we can see the full extend of the keel damage from hitting rocks earlier in the season. It actually looks worse that I had seen diving underwater, quite a chunk bitten out. We'll have to see the best repair options.

Once she was securely in place the long list of winterizing commenced. I am a huge believer in checklist and the one I've developed for wintering (among many other boat related checklists) is quite thorough...but can also always be improved. Antifreeze in the engine, antifreeze in the bilge, antifreeze in the head, empty water tanks, foot pumps, etc.

Last year my wintering protection was awful. I had such a hodgepodge of tarps covering the boat tied every which way that it looked like those Occupy Wall Street encampments. Unfortunately the snow and rain would pool and accumulate in the tarps instead of running off. This would thaw and refreeze forming huge heavy blocks of ice suspended 3" above the deck by a thin tarp at risk of tearing and disaster. I would go almost every weekend and from below with great exertion lift these block of ice and dump them off the side ("lookout below!") This was admittedly not one of my proudest engineering designs. This year however I have devised a system that I think will be far superior. Using some flexible pasting plumbing tubbing I am rigging ribs across the boat from stanchion to stanchion that should maintains an concave shape to allow snow / rain to run off. Two giant 40'x20' tarps on either side will create "seamless" protection. To overcome the challenges of the the side stays I will make precise incisions in the tarps to get the by the bales and then use Velcro tape to re-attach them. Thus far this design appears to be working well although not as perfectly as I envisaged. Firstly the tarps are actually too wide and run down to the ground causing all kinds if excess tarp that needs to be managed. Tarps 40'x15' would be ideal.
As usual, much thanks needs to be given to help from angels.

And now to winter thoughts of warmer winds.