Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Pox Upon Your Bottom

So this was the year to haul out and redo the boat’s anti-fouling coating (the nasty stuff that keeps barnacles and sea weed from growing on the boat’s bottom).  Since the boat was going to be out of the water, we thought we take advantage of that and have some of the major dings to the boat’s top coat (acquired mostly from learning how to dock in close quarters and in the wind).

2018-Haulout-003xUnfortunately, top coating is more sensitive to temperature and humidity than the bottom paint so that meant we had to be in an interior work space.  That meant we could not live aboard while the work was being done (liability/insurance concerns) plus the mast would have to come down before the haul out and be raised after we splashed at the end of the process.  Suddenly our hoped for 2-week work package was becoming closer to 3-1/2 weeks.

2018-Haulout-018xScheduling of the inside work area at the boatyard we were using, Port Townsend Shipwrights Coop (PTSC), was a challenge because spring is their busy time (both fishing and recreational boats are trying to get ready).  The date we got in the second week of April was about a week or two later than we would have preferred.

2018-Haulout-020xWe arrived in Port Townsend on Monday, April 9, but between the necessary work for laying the mast down on the boat and some stiff south winds, we didn’t actually get hauled out until Thursday, April 12.  Initially the bottom looked pretty good because there wasn’t much growth on it.  But not long after the pressure washer started taking the green stuff off, bottom paint chips flew and other issues became apparent.  After some scraping at trouble areas and measurements of paint thickness, we knew we had a problem.

2018-Haulout-040xI often joke about our boat being a giant floating chemistry experiment. The boat is made up of many dissimilar metals and bathed in an environment (salt water) that encourages these dissimilar metals to react.  The role of paint (or, more appropriately, coatings) is to keep these dissimilar metals from interacting with each other or the water.  When the coating begins to fail, chemical reactions occur and, in the long run, bad things will happen to the boat.

2018-Haulout-051xThat was the situation we were facing.  The barrier coat we had on the boat was failing and chemical reactions were starting to pop the barrier coatings away from the boat’s steel bottom.  While point repairs are possible, inevitably there would be more and more failures taking more time and money than really fixing it.  We bit the bullet and decided to have the bottom sand blasted back to bare metal and be totally recoated with new primer, barrier coat and anti-fouling coat.  Suddenly the cost of our work statement doubled and its length went to 5 weeks.

2018-Haulout-082xAt the end of this uncomfortable process (not the least of which was living in a motel room for 5 weeks with our cat Maggie), we splashed back into the water on May 17 with robust new bottom coatings.  We hurried back to Bainbridge Island and completed our provisioning activities in record time.  We depart tomorrow, May 25 for our 2018 cruising season.

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