Work, Work, Work…and a Little Play

One day after arriving in Mackay the boat was out of the water and dozens of projects were started. Everyone in the yard seems to know their stuff. In fact, our experience so far is much better than at any of the American yards where we had work done. But we haven’t seen the bill yet…

Because we had a weird bottom paint before (that we didn’t really want, but that’s a Key West story), we are painting with a primer. Then the best possible bottom paint, in black. (Should look cool, but also the yard manager “mentioned” that 75% of collisions with whales occur with red-bottomed boats, which is what we had before…)

Lower shrouds are replaced with larger diameter wire (and they convinced us to use swage fittings rather than our old norseman fittings). Upper shrouds and forestay will be replaced, just because they are 16 years old. Side stays for the screecher sprit will be replaced (because they showed signs of wear, and they were slightly too long to adjust properly anyway). If we can get the parts we will replace the fittings on the ends of the diamond stays, which have been welded together — a no-no as the weld creates a weak spot. Nobody noticed this before… We will modify the rig for the screecher furling line so it will be easier to furl.

We had routine servicing of our engines done. Replaced the oil in the saildrives. Props were not folding easily, and were somewhat wobbly, so they have being serviced. Our outboard got a routine service.

The alarm trying to tell us we have water in the saildrive seems to be due to a faulty sensor, so this is on order. We had a very hot relay in our electrical system; now replaced with one of higher capacity. The electrician impressed us with his abilities, so we peppered him with more questions. Why would our cockpit chart plotter sometimes stop updating (usually just as we are approaching a tricky reef pass)? Probably a poor network connection, and he identified a connection that seems likely to fail when it gets wet. He is talking with the manufacturer about alternative ways to connect.

How about the shunt that measures the current produced by the hydrogenerator? It has never worked. He’s working on this one. How about the bad connection to our horn? No worries…fixed. What about the depth/speed sensor where the plug into the network corroded and failed, and where the manufacturer does not offer any way to replace the connector — you have to replace the entire $300 sensor unit? He said it is good that we already ordered a new sensor, but as a backup (only) he pulled the old cable apart and spliced on a new connector. Okay, what about the fact that when we transmit on the VHF a radio, we get an alarm that the AIS system has lost its antenna connection? Probably corrosion in the antenna cable. He tried cutting back from the ends of the cable, but it still looked bad. So we will be threading a new cable through the mast to the splitter that goes to the radio and the AIS unit.

One of the vinyl strips intended to protect the bows from dings had come loose and was mostly gone. Now both have been stripped, and the dings underneath (hmm, seems maybe they don’t really work) are being filled and painted. Our freezer again works. Although I was convinced that the compressor was toast, it turned out to be corrosion in the temperature sensor. Inexpensive fix!

We’re modifying the mount for the hydrogenerator, to get the propeller a couple inches deeper in the water, to reduce cavitation. Looking into replacing the mount we made to hold the outboard when we’re at sea, as it does not seem rugged enough. Planning to replace the seals in one of the hydraulic cylinders by which the autopilot moves the rudder, as we noticed some hydraulic fluid leaking from it.

The list above is what we’re having the yard do. We also have items on our own list — swapping our anchor line end-for-end. Improving the way the halyards are run at the masthead, because the spinnaker halyard chaffed against the screecher halyard. Replacing the bearings in our wind generator, applying protective spray to the dinghy, replacing our broken fishing rod holder. Replacing the broken galley sink sprayer. Replacing the fuel level sensor in the forward tank. Shopping for various and sundry supplies and parts. We started out with a longer list to do ourselves, but we have passed several items on to the yard, since they can do the jobs more quickly/easily. After all, what’s another $100 added to the expected $10,000 yard bill…?

We sent our blown-out spinnaker to a sailmaker, who got back to us saying it is too far gone to repair. I don’t buy that — so we are trying other channels. This is a pain, and scary because the sail was extremely expensive.

So far there have been only a few surprises. The welds in the fittings on the diamond stays; the wear in the sprit side stays; having to replace the entire VHF radio antenna cable; the amount of wear in the folding propellers; the amount of damage to the spinnaker. And one big surprise: there was no oil remaining in the port engine!!! We checked the oil before leaving Vanuatu, but we did do a lot of motoring on the way here. There’s no oil in the bilge, so we must have burnt it. Yikes! But also incredibly lucky that the engine apparently survived with no damage. We are now back in the water, and the engine seems to be working fine.

Meanwhile, Bob headed out after a few days. He’s been a great crew, and I hope the plans work out for him and his wife to sail with Tim this winter when I come home for ten weeks. This morning Bill headed out. It has been a delight to sail with Bill, and I greatly appreciate all the work he has done on the boat from the beginning, right through his last day here in Mackay. It feels strange to now be on the boat with just my family, and no sailing partner.

In addition to the boat work, we’ve been through visa hell. Jesse had a problem getting his Australian visa, and we had pretty much reconciled that he wasn’t going to be able to make his flight here. Hallie tried to work things out from this end, while Jesse wrestled with the US end, but there didn’t seem to be any way to expedite the process. Then the visa came through the morning he was scheduled to go, and he’s here! He, Tim and I also need visas for Indonesia, which first required that the BPO rep get a sponsor letter and a cruising permit from Indonesia. Then a consulate needs four days to process the applications, and there is no consulate near Mackay. It was uncertain when the documents would appear from Indonesia; they showed up last night. Today Jesse and I swallowed hard and put our passports in registered mail to a consulate. They should come back here before we leave Mackay, if all goes smoothly. Tim’s will be trickier since he needs his passport to get to Australia. If he then mails it to a consulate, it will have to be mailed back to our departure point (Thursday Island), to some as yet undetermined address. All very stressful.

We did mix in some play. Hallie and I stayed in a fancy hotel next to the marina for four nights. Hallie, Bill and I spent a day driving to a park called Finch Hatton. We got to see some of the countryside, and do a short hike to a waterfall. Hallie, Jesse and I went to a movie — something I haven’t done for many months. And in two days the three of us get back on a plane to fly to the Northern Territories to do some sightseeing. We will be traveling for eight days. When we return the focus will shift to finishing projects, provisioning, getting Tim aboard, and setting sail once again.

View from our hotel room overlooking the marina.
View from our hotel room overlooking the marina.
Finch Hatton
Finch Hatton
Finch Hatton
Finch Hatton
Sugar cane field for miles and miles inland from Mackay.
Sugar cane field for miles and miles inland from Mackay.
Jesse tries oysters on the half shell for the first time. Bill double checks that there isn't one more among the empty shells...
Jesse tries oysters on the half shell for the first time. Bill double checks that there isn’t one more among the empty shells…
Back into the water again, with our slick new black bottom.
Back into the water again, with our slick new black bottom.

5 thoughts on “Work, Work, Work…and a Little Play”

  1. Can’t help but ask- if “75% of collisions with whales occur with red-bottomed boats”, what percent of boats have red bottoms?


  2. Glad the family is reunited and gets to have some discovery time together in Oz. Sounds like an awful lot of repairs but of course necessary. Do you and your partners split all these costs evenly?
    thanks for continuing to share your experiences – love it! Vika


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