Friday, September 16, 2011

On The Hard. Again.

Posted: August 8, 12:25 pm | (permalink) | (0 comments)
If you’re a cruiser, you already understand the significance of this photo.
In the jackstands
For everyone else, here’s the explanation. First, notice that this picture, unlike most of the pictures I post of our boat under sail or at anchor someplace beautiful, shows our boat on land instead of in the water. Remember I said we had to be towed back to the marina after our visit to Cambridge because the v-drive broke again? And we couldn’t figure out why it didn’t stay fixed? Well, the good news is, now we know what’s been going wrong and how to fix it. The bad news is that we’re waiting for parts to fix it right. And while we’re waiting for those parts, we’re “on the hard,” with no refrigeration, no toilet, no air conditioning. In August.

I described being on the hard two years ago, when we were getting the boat ready for our first trip south. It wasn’t fun that time either, but at least we picked our weather a bit better.

By the way, how do you get a boat onto dry land if that boat is too big to just pick up and carry like you would a canoe, or haul on a trailer behind a car? Well, one way is that there are some places that have 10-foot tides so you can just go near to shore and wait for the tide to go out and leave you high and dry– Maine or Georgia come to mind. Of course, since our boat has a single deep keel, once the water went out we’d be lying on our side – which would be inconvenient to say the least! And anyway, that wouldn’t work here because we only have 1-foot tides here in the Chesapeake. Our tides aren’t big enough to do the job.

Travelift empty ...
We do, however, have a travelift -- a handy way to pluck a bigger boat out of water. It does just what its name says, travels, and lifts. Here’s the empty frame sitting over the haulout slip in our marina. The slings you see are lowered down into the water below the level of the boat’s keel. Then we brought the boat into the slip, and the slings were raised, lifting the boat out of the water. Next, the frame + boat is wheeled over to the location where the boat will stand while work is being done. And finally, jackstands are put in place to support the boat upright, and then the slings are removed and the frame wheeled away. And here we are.
...and with our boat
Once we were out of the water, marina staff powerwashed the bottom to get the barnacles off. It is nice to know that this part of the Chesapeake is good habitat for something,although not a very exciting something to be sure. Believe it or not, it took only about 6 weeks for this growth on the propeller to form - just since the last time we had a diver clean the bottom! The next thing we learned is that the propeller shaft is a bit loose – it wiggled. I’m not very strong but even I could wiggle it. That smug look on my face is pure satisfaction. Hah! We’re closing in on the source of the vibration that caused the v-drive to fail! Not to overwhelm you with details, but at some time in our boat’s 32 year history, someone “fixed” it the lazy way instead of the right way.* Which came back to bite us, years later. Anyway, we’re on the right track now. The marina staff has been competent in the repair, and communicated well. They even took care of us in the little things, like positioning us where we could catch some breezes and be comfortable, yet close to the workshop. They provided a sturdy and comfortable set of stairs to get on and off the boat. Normally, we use a rickety ladder – climbing up and down that many times each day as we work gets old in a hurry.

A very mucky propeller
Power Washing

Aha! The shaft is loose!
The second thing about that very first photo I showed you? Maybe you couldn’t see it in the original, it’s not very big, so here, I’ll give it to you again in closeup.
close-up of the waterline

Well, the green tape masking off the part to be painted is about 2 inches higher than the existing paint. You see, every time we add some weight to the boat, whether it’s a new piece of safety gear or a load of groceries, the boat settles a little lower in the water. And over time, those extra weights add up. Parts that had been painted with the red bootstripe are now underwater, and need instead to be painted with protective black bottom paint. In a boatyard, raising the waterline is a very public statement that over time, we’ve accumulated a significant amount of new possessions. This is kinda embarrassing to admit for the girl who’s all about shedding material possessions. Wonder if I’ll have any credibility left next time I write about downsizing tips?

In any case, with repairs well underway and the heat expected to moderate in the next couple of days, spirits are high here on Life Afloat … er, Life Aground????

*For the tech types: Once upon a time, someone decided to replace the cutlass bearing, but they couldn’t get the old one out, so they just shoved it further up the shaft and put the new one in behind it. But the old one was in the way and prevented the shaft from being properly aligned, so it got a bit of vibration that went on until it shook the v-drive apart.

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