They say that when humans make plans, God laughs.
The Pelican had been Bobbing on the harbour for about 18 months and was overdue for a bum scrub. That had given me a long time to think about a few things that needed doing, so I had Big Plans. Yes, as always, I had a spreadsheet. Yes, it contained dates, estimated hours per job, and costs per job. Laughable? Probably.
There was a long list of jobs, but the essential ones were:
- Reseal skin fittings / replace seacocks as required (3 were weeping)
- Cut and polish the oxidised gelcoat
- Discuss the rubrail
The yard would do the antifoul and skin fittings. The gelcoat restoration was the big job with an expert in the area estimating 20 hours of labour, not including set up. The job involves cleaning the hull, wet sanding with 600 then 1000 grit paper before using an electric polisher with a gelcoat compound and then with a polish, before a final two coats of wax by hand. [For those who are interested in gelcoat restoration the process is outlined here and involves achieving a polish by structural means rather than using polishes that include artificial shining agents.]
We booked the haul out with the marina for Friday 21st October and planned to sail up early on the Friday morning so that we could spend the next 4 days smashing through the work. I cancelled my appointments (and income) for the Friday and moved my Saturday clients to another weekend. On the Thursday the marina informed me that their boat lift had broken down; this would delay their schedule by about a week. In the distance, kookaburras laughed.
I couldn’t afford to cancel another Friday’s work so we sailed up on the Sunday, slept overnight at The Basin, and delivered Bob to the marina on the Monday. He went up on Friday. On Thursday my friend, Enrico, who was to help me with a chunk of the manual labour texted me to tell me he was down for the count with the flu. A child walking by our house giggled happily.
We spent Saturday wet sanding. First we removed the waterline scum which accumulates when your gelcoat is oxidised and therefore porous.
We ended up doing two light strokes with 400, half a dozen with 600, and 10 or more with 1000. It made an appreciable difference, cleaning up the hull and leaving it smoother.
On Saturday I had a discussion with the boatyard manager, Corey, about the rub rail. He expressed some alarm, saying he’d never seen anything like it and it had caused some discussion amongst the boatyard staff. We examined it together and decided that the timber really should come off but he was altogether unwilling to advise me to remove it; he wasn’t sure what was underneath nor what it would cost to deal with what was uncovered.
I removed a section to get an idea about what lay beneath. Upon inspecting the join from outside and inside (at a section where the glass join remained unpainted) we decided that the timber was not structural. So we bit the bullet and I spent the whole of Sunday ripping off rotten timber and dirtying our newly cleaned hull. This was not in our schedule. From a nearby radio canned laughter could be heard.
And here is our deconstructed rub rail (full bucket of rotten timber on the left):
So, what’s the story with our deck-hull joint? Most yachts are constructed so that the deck and hull come together directly with the toe rail on the same plane as the hull. The diagram on the right illustrates a typical ‘flange and lid’ joint.
The photo below shows the clearest picture of the profile of Bob’s rubrail and hull. You can see that the toe rail (aluminium rail with holes) and cream deck behind it are both elevated and inward from the top of the hull (which is the turn where that nasty silicon is hanging off).
With my crappy graphic design skills I’ve modified that diagram to show Bob’s deck hull joint configuration as we found it. Our deck edge and toe rail are set maybe 4 inches in and higher than the top of the hull.
Why would this be? Well, we scratched our heads quite a bit during this process trying to figure it out. One guy’s theory was that we had a Joe Adams-designed Mottle 33 hull and an Adams 31 deck; sounded unlikely but I realised I’d never actually measured the hull so I measured the length just in case and it came in exactly as per the Adams 31 dimensions. Damn; I wouldn’t have minded that option!
Then I remembered a conversation with Ian from whom we bought the boat. Ian was a tall man and he mentioned that the guy who built the boat was taller again and had constructed the boat so that it had more than 6 feet of headroom below. That clarified it! What the builder has probably done is to add a dog-leg section between the hull and deck in order to increase the headroom below. I assume he also slightly reduced the width of the deck in the process. I plan to access another Adams 31 in order to confirm this.
After stripping the timber and cleaning it up, ‘Cookie’ at the boatyard cut out all the old bolts, countersunk the holes and replaced them with new nuts and bolts as well as sealing the exposed edge between the hull and dogleg. This is how it turned out in the end. We have plenty of time to decide how to make this edge prettier.
So Monday morning we set up to start hitting the hull with the polisher. I hadn’t used an electric polisher before so I sought some tuition from Mark at the yard who’s the local polisher-dude. However, after about 30 minutes of learning to use this machine above head height my arms were completely ‘pumped’. We had very limited time left to get this big job done and I was physically and mentally hitting a wall. We made a decision to get Mark to spend a day on it instead.
I realised it would be far easier to use the polisher at or below shoulder height so I took to the cockpit gelcoat areas to give them a bit of a lift. It was far easier and I realised that it would have been best to learn to use the polisher at this level first before tackling about 100 square feet of vertical or inverted boat hull. Maybe I’ll do my car during the year before I have another go.
Pics are the results of Mark’s efforts on top of our wet sanding.
Em had to work on Tuesday and I had to work in the evening. I had planned to keep hitting it but when Tuesday morning came around I could hardly move. I lay around for a while before eventually dragging my sorry bones to the boatyard so I could do a couple of hours before heading to work in the afternoon. After 20 minutes Corey decided the boat had to be moved. They set the lift up under it and loosened the supports. Just then he was interrupted for 20 minutes so the whole moving process took about 30 minutes. This time I laughed.
Returning to Sydney Harbour
We planned to sail Bob back the next weekend; however, this time the sub-lift broke down and the prop was still to go back on after installing a new bearing.
There’s this story about God telling a bloke called Noah to build a big boat. I’m not sure how old he was when he began but apparently “Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth.” I bet he thought he thought he’d knock it over before his 50th birthday and that he was still putting the finishing touches on as it started raining.
I suppose God’s gotta get his kicks somehow. Glad I could be of service.