Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Haul Out and Much More

The last month has been a whirlwind - a trip up the Hudson River to White's Marina in New Hamburg, NY, a trip to England, a haul out, return trip down the Hudson, Memorial Day weekend at Mystic, CT and finally just now flying to Savannah, GA to pick up a boat for a delivery to Connecticut.

There's no real wonder I didn't post earlier. But here goes.

I decided to bring Pelican to White's Marina for several reasons. The first is that they are extraordinarily nice people who are honest, hard working, and extremely fair. It's a rare marina these days that actually wants to help boaters - that take the boater's needs into account. That's not to say they give away the farm, but they are fair and that's all we really want.

The trip up the Hudson was with friends. We left Stamford, CT on a Friday afternoon with the idea that we'd get to City Island for dinner. Well, best laid plans and all that. About an hour out, the engine started to overheat requiring running slower and slower (what little wind there was was on the nose - big surprise there). So we arrived an hour later than we wanted. As it turned out because of traffic everyone else arrived an hour late too!

So, after a terrific meal at the City Island Yacht Club where the new steward is absolutely top notch, we all toddled off either home or to bed depending on where we came from.

The next morning, the plan was to go to the City Island Diner for whole wheat pancakes but as we had to make the tide through the East River and Hudson we took the time to replace the raw water pump. Guess what? That wasn't the problem; and this is key: If you've had zincs disappear in your raw water heat exchanger then there's a really good chance that the zinc oxide (the white stuff that falls off the zincs) is plugging the tubes. In fact, 3/4ths of my tubes were plugged with that white paste. Running a coat hanger through (gently) fixed the problem and we were good to go with a half hour to spare!

I'd like to say that the trip up the river to Haverstraw was magnificent with great sailing and beautiful scenery. But it was a gray and cold day and the leaves weren't all out. But we made it to George's Island in Montrose and anchored for the night. Susie made some delicious shishkabobs and salad and we had a grand old time - there wasn't another boat around!

The next day was totally sunny and we travelled slowly up river past Tomkins Cove, Indian Point, Peekskil, the Bear Mountain Bridge, Garrison, West Point, Constitution Island (and World's End), Cold Spring and Storm King, Breakneck Ridge, Newburgh and Beacon, Chelsea and finally White's Marina in New Hamburg. Although all motoring, it was a beautiful trip. The stripers were running and the river was thick with little fishing boats. The Hudson Highlands is one of the most beautiful places in the world in any season.

Bob and Suzie went home to Connecticut and I stayed on the boat - I left for England the next week for a week and returned to help with my haulout.

Once Pelican was out of the water I had a bunch of projects I wanted to get done - the foremost being moving the boottop stripe to where it belongs. The previous owner had decided to lower it (most cruisers raise it every year or so!) and had curved it as well so that it was down at the bow and stern. This resulted in it being continuously under water.

Pearson had left a score in the molds so that you could easily see and tape where the line was. Using that as a guide, I taped off where it should go and wiped it down first with a hull cleaner (they come either as phosphoric acid or oxalic acid) to get rid of the brow staining, then wiped it with acetone to remove waxes that the acid doesn't remove and then painted it with Interlux one part urethane paint with Teflon - especially for boottop stripes. After the acetone, I sanded with the recommended 320 grit wet-or-dry paper and then wiped with acetone once more.

I found the best way to apply it is with a foam or really short nap roller and then tip it off with a brush. It requires at least two coats and preferrably three. You must wait 16 hours between them and sand with the wet-or-dry 320 grit paper between coats. So basically, it takes three days for this project.

I recommend that you use the fine-line tape for the edges you want and then extend the protection with 2" blue masking tape. I know that I'm an accident waiting to happen when it comes to painting. So the more protection I afford myself, the better it goes.

After the last coat, I removed the tape and retaped with the 3/4" fine-line tape below the boottop stripe to keep the bottom paint off the gelcoat. This would leave a nice 3/4" white line below the stripe and the bottom paint for a little definition.

Next, I bottom painted with Petite Ultra plus which is their top-of-the-line paint. It's expensive at $200 per gallon, and here's the key - do not apply it with fuzzy rollers. Apply it thinly with a very short nap roller. It goes a long way if done right. One gallon did the whole bottom with a little left over for the poppet pads.

I spent a day waxing the hull - removing the previous owner's boo-boos and scuff marks and scratches as well as I could, then waxing with Royal wax with Penetrol added like Herb does. It really works great! The wax lasts for a season.

Finally, I was truly tired of living aboard out of the water and wanted to go back in. As I was being picked up by the travel lift, I noticed water coming out of the keel at the bottom - and really smelly water at that. Upon further inspection I found that there was a crack about two feet long aft of the ballast that was weeping the full length. I also discovered that the smelly water was coming from leaking fittings on the top of the holding tank that was over-full. Yuck and more yuck.

Well, my friend, Leigh, came up to provide moral support (and incidentally figure out what the problem was) and I went to work. First, you need to know that the initial impulse is to use a hot air gun to dry out the crack and epoxy over it as a pretty quick repair. Don't do it. It will remain wet and it will continue to leak and epoxy doesn't bond to wet stuff. You'll probably try it anyway, but I warned you.

Ok, so now the correct way to fix the problem. I ground out the crack to be about 3/4" wide by as long as it was on the keel - about two feet - beveling it outwards at a 45 deg. angle. I probably could have gone farther but there was a really good bonding surface. Using rags, water, and finally acetone I cleaned up the hole and made sure that there was no water in the bilge that could leak out.

With epoxy and mat I bridged the hole and added about three layers overlapping the previous' edge by a bit. Leigh was cutting strips as I needed them. I let the first layers set up until they were stiff, but still tacky - about 25 minutes. Then I started in earnest laying strips one to the left and one to the right overlapping by a half inch or so.

Once I built up a half-inch that way I made a putty of chopped strand and epoxy and filled the remaining space until it was to the right level at the bottom of the keel. I let it set some and then put three increasingly wide layers of mat to finish it off. Finally, I made a paste of epoxy and filler and put on a skim coat for fairing.

This sounds faster than it is, believe me - this kind of work requires patience. Don't rush it. Wipe the area between coats with acetone to remove the blush. Once the skim coat set up, I did a quick sanding to smooth it out and then bottom painted the repair.

As it turned out I was the third person to make this repair but the first one to make it properly. I think the boat will fall apart before this repair does - or at least I hope so!

The next morning was a Sunday and I didn't expect to get launched but son of a gun, Chris White came down around 8:00am and kindly dropped me in the water! It took me about and hour to get the holding tank pumped and re-rig the headstay and babystay and head down the river lickety-split. I had the current with me from New Hamburg all the way to Alpine, NJ!

I had to anchor for six hours for the tide to change again at the Battery and left around 9:30pm for the rest of the trip. Once again, it was all motoring but going around the Battery at night and up the East River is a really special treat. Once out past the Throgs Neck Bridge it was just a slog to Stamford where I arrived at 5:00am. Oh, and it was COLD on the Sound that night!

Although I was tired, I went to work and got home at my regular time. So I can function for well over 24 hours without sleep - this is important for a cruiser, I think, especially for longer passages. The downside, of course, is that when you do sleep it's long and hard. I went to bed at 6:30pm and didn't wake until the alarm went off the next morning. That's less useful for cruisers...

Pelican looks absolutely stunning - like a new boat! So it was all worth it. Also, the bilge is staying dry now - something it didn't do before (water apparently leaked in, too).

Next up - Memorial Day at Mystic Seaport!

The season's here and I hope to see you on the water!