Third time lucky, as they say. And so it proved with our haul-out.
It should have happened in December, but a crazy wind storm pinned us to our berth.
It should have happened in January, then January happened.
This time though, all went well. Almost perfectly in fact.
There was a bit of wind in the forecast for Tuesday, but it stayed down throughout the morning and I was able to manoeuvre ‘Gleda’ out of her tight berth without a problem.
Our stress levels were eased as our neighbour David came aboard to help Gail with lines and fenders. Much appreciated David 🙂
We motored out of the marina and into the harbour and then, after a short wait, into the boatyard basin, the travelift trundled over us and we got the straps in place.
Production boats have clearly marked positions for lifting. There are two things to watch for. First, the correct balance fore and aft. Second, making sure vulnerable gear under the water line doesn’t get damaged.
The second wasn’t a worry with ‘Gleda’. Unlike many monohulls, we don’t have loads of through hull fittings, exposed propellors and shafts and other miscellaneous clutter to worry about.
Getting the balance right was important though. Finding an old image of Jacque’s Tiki 38 ‘Pilgrim’ in a travelift helped me out. With the lifting straps just forward of beams 2 and 3, there could be no slippage and she’d sit nicely.
Nonetheless, with us on the quay and ‘Gleda’ coming clear of the water I was still a tad nervous.
It’s been nearly two years since the hulls last came up for air. That was in the little paradise lagoon of Alvor on the Portuguese Algarve, drying out on the sand between tides. It’s been nearly four years since the first two coats of antifoul were slapped on back in Weir Quay.
Here in the Mediterranean, the water is clear enough to see that we’d been carrying around our own little marine ecosystem for quite a while.
Once ‘Gleda’ was moved over the hard we could see just how extensive it was.
The yard guys got straight onto scraping and made pretty short work of getting the heavy stuff off. The big powerwasher sorted the rest.
Apart from getting the hulls cleaned and re-antifouled there were two other jobs I wanted to get sorted.
First up were the keel strips. Way back in December 2007, as I finished building the lower hulls, I’d had the bright idea of fitting ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethene strips to the keels. I’d thought they’d provide some extra protection if we grounded. Turned out I was wrong.
To be fair, the idea might have worked if I’d used a different fixing method. I used bronze screws thinking they’d be most resistant to corrosion. But bronze isn’t strong. The first time we’d grounded several of the screw heads had sheared, allowing the UHMW to come away from the bedding compound.
The first I knew about that was a few nights later as we sat anchored in the river Fal. A persistent light tapping on the hull had been driving me mad. I eventually tracked it down to a loose piece of the keel strip being moved by the fast flowing tide. After nearly an hour in the water, I’d finally managed to cut away the offending section with a hacksaw.
When we dried out in Alvor I’d wanted to check them again. But the hulls had sunk into the sand making it impossible.
Now, with the hulls clean and lifted high it was easy to see the problems. Apart from the missing sections, the strips had been distorted in other places. The travelift strap had started to pull another piece off. There were some now redundant bronze screw heads sticking out below the keel. The solution was obvious; they had to go.
It took about 30 minutes with a hacksaw. The soft bronze screws were easily cut, what remained of the bedding compound soon scraped off. Job done.
Next up were the rudder lashings.
I’d had to dig holes in the mud to get the bottom rudder lashings in place. It’s hardly surprising I didn’t get them tight enough. Neither had I been able to glue the lashings in place to prevent slippage. So in our first heavy cross-sea, they shifted sideways a few inches.
It’s funny. I’ve lost count how many folks have frowned, gasped and laughed when they spot that our rudders are tied to the boat with bits of rope.
Yet despite my poor first effort these rope hinges have kept the rudders in place and allowed them to steer us safely over some 1500nm of ocean. Another testament to the simplicity and reliability of Wharram catamarans methinks.
As soon as ‘Gleda’ was parked I cut them off.
After all the painting was done I lifted them back into position and Gail popped some temporary zip ties through the lashing holes to keep them in place.
It took a good few hours to redo the lashings, glue them, and then paint over. This time I was able to do the job right.
We were in the yard less than 48 hours. To save money we opted to stay aboard the boat. It’s unfortunate that those two nights were the coldest we’ve had this year (4.5ºC / 40ºF). To save a bit more we’d opted not to connect to mains electricity. So we couldn’t use our little fan heater. Extra blankets were needed on the bed.
The yard is right next door to the Santa Lucia fishmarket. The first catch gets auctioned before dawn. Add in the general noise of a busy commercial repair yard, the dust and dirt, and a persistent cold north wind. For good measure sprinkle in some hard physical work and a little mental stress. After 48 hours we were both more than ready to get back ‘home’ to our berth in Yach Port.
It was well worth a bit of hardship though, just to see ‘Gleda’ looking shipshape again.
All went well on the return journey. It felt like ‘Gleda’ was gliding through the water like a hot knife through butter. I’m looking forward to seeing how she goes under sail.
After a day spent washing the boat down and tidying up we opened a bottle of wine and toasted a job well done.
I slept very soundly that night.
I’ll leave you with this super little video Gail put together.