Monday, July 20, 2009

It happened (pt.2)

Lucy Maru on the railway, waiting to get hauled

From inside the railway building, I could see Richard, the owner and as far as I could tell, sole marina employee, up to his neck in slowly moving brown water. He was struggling with a small piece of wood that he was wedging into the underwater cradle, attempting to balance Lucy Maru on the center of her keel. This involved a lot of cursing, a lot of pulling on ropes, a lot of hunting for previously mentioned small pieces of wood, and more cursing. This process went on for quite a while as Richard made sure that we were well centered, and therefore well supported. In the intervals that he was out of the water, we caught bits of stories about previous haul outs, including one where the boat was not balanced and the keel buckled under the weight of the hull once the boat was pulled out. This was a horrible possibility that I never considered, and my glow of satisfaction at having made it this far, was slowly being replaced by a helpless kind of stupor.

You can barely see Richard's head sticking out of the water as he works

To soothe our nerves, we left Richard to his work, and took a walk around the marina. This was a beautiful day, and the pine forests around our inlet shooshed pleasantly overhead. We walked the docks mindful of the loose or missing dock planks, listening to the water, the trees, and the sound of wooden boats, rotting in their slips. The steady tinkling of water from various bilges added flavor to this marina's symphony, whose only fitting title would be something like Wooden Boat Blues. There was no mistaking that these floating structures were indeed living things, and this would be the last resting place for many of them.

This was one of many dying boats

When we got back to the railway shed, Richard was still cursing, but Lucy Maru was out of the water, and we got our first glimpse of the bottom. It was pretty well covered with barnacles, but to our extreme delight, most planks, caulk, and fasteners looked very good. I began to relax just a bit, as it looked like this haulout might not be a total catastrophie.

First sighting of the bottom

While Travis, Joe, and myself where inspecting the bottom, Richard was hooking up hoses to the pressure washer, and suddenly with a great hiss, water and barnacles began to fly in every direction. I managed to avoid getting hit by these slimy, furry creatures as they hurled past me, but this was short lived, as soon, a scraper was put into my hand and the unpleasant job of scraping the hull began.

Joe going above and beyond the call of friendship

Travis scraping the keel

I have never been in such close conact with barnacles before and I wanted to inspect them a bit closer. Their green fuzzy outside, made me think of moss, although their smell was anything but earthy. I decided to go for the biggest barnacle, and picking it off, I immediately got a rotten fish squirt to the face. YUCK! Seerriously gross! I looked at the green slime in my hand and realized it was crawling with little, light brown bugs. Now this, was a great test of my self control. I wanted to scream, I wanted to puke, I wanted to cry, I wanted to run! Instead, I looked at the furry hull, realizing for the first time, that the benign-looking "moss" was hiding something much more sinister beneath its fuzzy surface. I
saw Travis and Joe, already covered with green sludge, scraping the thick layer of bugs, shells and slime. So... I picked up the scraper, shut off my mind, and began to scrape the hull, praying that no bugs fall into my mouth. Looks like haul out has officially begun.

Barnacles on the stern, shafts and rudders

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It happened (pt.1)

Us very scared before take off

We were as nervous as two ticks on a frying pan. I would have chewed my nails down to the quick, if it wasn't for the toxic chemicals that have stained them black. The pressure of the preparations was getting to me, as I watched while "the men" turned knobs, tapped guages, and ran around with screw drivers and pliers. Wasn't it a little too late for pliers? The silently waiting motors told me nothing.

Diesel smoke fills the air, ahhhhh

Then, with a roar and a belch of smoke the beasts came to life. The pliers worked! Suddenly, magically, the mighty Lucy Maru was fully awake, shuddering from her own power, every plank and line swollen with the anticipation of a voyage. Her voice, a low deep rumble, was steady and reassuring. She told me, in that moment, that she will take care of us, just like we took care of her. She understood, she really understood.

Leaving the dock

As promised, we slid thru the water at an easy 6 knots, idle speed. Heading in between channel markers and crab pots, I thought of the differences between motor boating and sailing. 6 knots was fast sailing, while aboard this motor vessel we were hardly breaking a sweat. Am I gonna be able to give this up? Can I truly follow the unreliable, invisible force known as wind, to move me across the world? Can I give up the control and luxury that comes with a motor yacht, for something as unpredictable as a sail boat? While all that remains a mystery, I offered a silent THANK YOU to the universe for allowing me to even ponder those possibilities.

Drawbridge ahead

It was time to get nervous again, as we were nearing our unknown destination. Joe was at the helm, asking questions like, "what's the number of that marker?" and "where the hell is this place?" Soon we approached a dock with three men waving, ready to grab our dock lines. This was the place, now only to squeeze into the slip without damaging the good side of the boat.

Our friend Joe driving L.M

Joe, morning tequila shot and all, was steady at the helm, expertly guiding our boat into the narrow slip facing the railway. The men on the dock grabbed our lines, and within minutes we were securely nestled into our spot. Lucy Maru rolled off the last of the water that splashed onto her deck, and floated, gleaming in the sunlight. Her first trip in over four years, and our first trip ever, went smoothly. More them smoothly, smeauthly... and I swear she was smiling as we stepped off deck. Perhaps she knew what lay ahead...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm not afraid of a haul out

What has seemed impossible is about to happen. I am of course speaking of our up coming haul out. For the non-boaters, a haul out is when you lift your boat out of the water and paint the bottom, before splashing back in. Ideally this should be done at least every other year, to prevent marine growth and to make sure the submerged bottom is in good shape. The last time our bottom was painted was in 2005, and really we have no idea what we are going to find there.

We are preparing for the worst, meaning we have wood on hand in case planks need to be replaced, our stock of speciality fasteners that hold the planks to the ribs has been replenished, and we will drill about a thousand bungs today to replace the ones that are no longer holding. We have the special (this means expensive) anti-fouling bottom paint, scrapers, tons of sandpaper and caulk. We have turned on the motors and generator, T changed the oil (13 gallons total) and our mechanic friend gave the two Detroit's Diesels two thumbs up. We studied the charts and plotted our course, made registration number boards, and today I will graffiti our boat name on the transom. The goal is to be finshed with the haul out in four days at the most, as we don't want Lucy M to dry out too much and cause us more problems. Her saving grace is that she has been in the water most of her 41 years, and her swollen planks make for tight seams, which is what you want on a woody.

All these preparations were done in addition to the work already started. T and I have both been in GO mode, working like machines to get the port side paint job finished. All told I spent roughly three weeks sanding from the raft, and it took us three days to get the final primer coat and two coats of paint on. Now she is floating with only one ugly side, as we indeed made our July 4th deadline and finished the port side paint job! I wish I could revel more in that accomplishement, but the whirl wind continues, and our celebration and mini-vacation has to wait until after the haul out. The good thing is I'm no longer terrified or mystified as to how this hauling out will happen, and only pray that we will be back in the water asap. Sorry for the lack of pics, just too busy right now to mess with them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Survival of the Fittest

Instead of going to the gym, I put on my sports bra and dusty shorts, and head over the railing of our boat and onto the floating raft. Everything I need, bondo, sandpaper, sander, paint thinnner, rags,primer, is already scattered about the raft, as I was too tired to put anything back the day before. I put in my headphones, and start my "workout". I find that it helps me to think of this work in terms of execrise, rather then what it really is; sanding, filling, sanding, primering, sanding, sanding, sanding...

Standing at the stern, I don't look to see how far I still have to go, but rather focus on the spot in front of me; the rest is just too overwhelming to consider right now. I feel small next to the beastly hull, small and somehow awed that this is now my third time touching every curve, crease, and hollow down Lucy Maru's port side.

The raft sways beneath me, and I move with its rhythym. I adjust my sanding according to the motion of the raft, it goes left I sand left, etc., as resisting it is futile and frustrating. Our neighborhood ducks have grown accustomed to me, and now sit on the raft even when I am sanding. This is cute at first, but since they left a bunch of their poo behind them, I now shooo them off. Its not cool to step in duck poop, its slippery.