28 April 2015

Pre-trip Haul Out: 10 days ‘On the Hard’

Katmai being lifted out
One of the big chores prior to departing on the Fremantle to Bali Rally requires spending some time ‘on the hard’.  Being on the hard refers to the time the boat spends out of the water in stands in a boat yard. This makes it possible to work on the parts of the boat below waterline.  

Chores include cleaning the bottom of marine growth, sanding, repainting with ‘antifouling’, buffing and waxing the ‘topsides’ and servicing the propeller and shaft.  These are big chores, generally done by cruisers themselves and but when we were working we had the luxury of hiring someone to do the heavy work. Now that we are retired, we do it all.  However, we did hire out one bit this time, the application of 'propspeed' to the propeller and shaft after we cleaned them.  Propspeed really seems to prevent growth of marine life on the metal surfaces, so worth a rather expensive application by a specialist.

The view from 'on the hard' was awesome
Now we find it a pleasure to do work on Katmai ourselves.  It is after all, a lifestyle. One lesson we learned is to work on the boat in the yard during the spring or autumn in Fremantle.  We have been out of the water before during the height of summer when temperatures exceeded 100F every day, and with the sun and hot asphalt, well we simply roasted….add the pleasure (not) of a steep climb down 15 steps from the boat to the pavement and hike to a remote restroom at night and back up those steps, and well, I was not a happy camper.

This time, weather was perfect, days much cooler, in the 70’s (F).
As I write this, we are just back ‘in the water’ always a big relief after the stress of ‘haul out’ and 'put in'.
Eric painting the rudder
We are also trying a new bottom paint, Juton, which is highly recommended by many sailors here in the harbor, and roughly half the cost of the Micron 66 we used the last few times. Yeah! Bottom paint we use is self ablating, meaning it slowly wears away as you move through the water, to discourage the marine life such as barnacles, corals etc that desperately try to make your hull their new home.  

The new Juton paint application went really well. In the photo, you can see Eric here doing some touch up on the rudder….also gives you an appreciation for the scale of things…he is on a ladder to reach the top of the rudder.  Katmai has a 3 meter draft, so lots of ups and downs on ladders and scaffolding, and then there is the work of having an electric buffer above your head polishing all 50 feet of each side of the boat.  It looks amazing!  We will never complain about waxing our car again, ever.

Katmai in her stand and our car 
loaded with spare parts for sale
We also had a bit of a 'yard sale' in the work yard.  We had a storage shed here with spare parts and surplus from our refit of Katmai. We are determined to lighten that load, clean out the storage unit and close it down before we leave. Two weeks ago, our club sponsored a 'treasures of the bilge' event, basically a group garage sale for sailors.  Between that event, some well placed adds on www.gumtree.com.au and our 'yard sale in the yard', we have made our goal of being shed-less (I know, a frightening state of being for some!).

More later, Laurie

20 April 2015

Three Weeks in a Cubic Meter

Eric working in the stern locker.
As an example of what we have been doing here on Katmai these last months, we would like to share some details from one of our larger projects which took place in one of the tighter/smaller physical spaces on Katmai. (This is probably why this work was last on the list!)

The stern area on Katmai contains fair bit of complex equipment:  The NKE autopilot hydraulic ram, the quadrant at the top of the rudder, the Webasto heater and related glycol tanks, the SGC antenna tuner and related equipment, as well as a lot of ’boat plumbing’(various hoses and wiring).  The space is also very small, therefore needs to be well organized and of course very sturdy for items like the hydraulic ram which mechanically turns the rudder and is under a great deal of lateral force.  The space is so small to work in that Eric, and I to a lesser degree, have become contortionists. 

There basically is room only to sit, or kneel in a contorted way, and of course reach here and there, grind, fiberglass, turn wrenches, screw drivers and cut.  Working in such a small space is very tiring to say the least, and brutal when it is hot and sunny.

top of the rudder post with attached quadrant,
rudder angle sensor and business end
of the NKE ram that drives the rudder. 
Eric basically removed the heater, auto pilot ram and all related equipment and rebuilt from scratch their supporting structures.  This entailed building new marine plywood for-aft bulkheads and using fiberglass to secure the bulkheads onto the boat structure for strength.  A new platform for the autopilot ram was then constructed, the ram bases (we have a spare ram) mounted with substantial backing plates etc.

Heater the starboard side of the locker. 
White cylinder is an 'ugly balun' that Laurie
made for the HF antenna feedline.
The Webasto heater had been out of service for the last couple years as we needed to move the glycol storage tanks when we installed the generator.  The heater was also due for a major maintenance/rebuilt  as well.  

Largely, this was an Eric job, although I spent a several long days in the locker myself doing the related wiring jobs that the heater and autopilot ram required as well as many hours working on our High Frequency (HF) radio installation.  We’ll write another entry about radios one day, but it certainly has been fun as I learned a great deal about marine single side band (SSB) and HF radio installations.  Fun in a very technical, geeky sort of way!  All working great now!

Fortunately, we are done in the stern locker, the seat cover has been re-installed and we are on to other details of our preparation to leave for Indonesia in mid May.  -Laurie

19 April 2015

Welcome to Laurie and Eric's Blog !

Hi Everyone!  Welcome to Laurie and Eric’s new blog.  We are currently in the final stages of preparation for the Fremantle to Bali sailing Race/Rally, departing Fremantle, Australia on 16 May 2015.  The trip is approximately 1500 nautical miles, and should take us about 10 days, depending on weather/wind conditions. With a total of 20+ sailboats participating, it should be an interesting adventure.   We plan on spending several months Indonesia, focusing our sailing area east of Bali.  We’ll then sail back to Australia in August 2015.
Likely route to Bali from Fremantle

Our motivation to join the Rally was multi-fold:

1. We recently retired from busy, full-on careers so this was a great way to transition to sailing part of each year, which has been a dream for a long time.

2.  The structure of the rally brings with it great opportunities for safety training, such as courses in safety at sea, first-aid, medicine for sailors, as well as a rigorous set of standards that the boat must pass.  (see reference).

3.  We really enjoy the Fremantle Sailing Club, where we have been members for nearly a decade.  It is a fantastic organization, with world class facilities, activities and wonderful set of friends.  We are proud to be participating in one of their major events.

4. We have always wanted to see more of Indonesia.  Eric’s father was born in Indonesia to a Dutch colonial family near the turn of the century, so for Eric, it will be wonderful to see the places his father knew as a child and wrote about as a young man.

Our sailboat Katmai has been here in Fremantle since early 2008.  You can read about Katmai and the trip Dick and Peggy made to bring her to Australia from Alaska.
We have been here in Australia for the last few months, preparing Katmai for long distance sailing and spending time on the ocean with great friends who traveled down from Alaska. We also had a great couple weeks sailing locally with a cousin from the USA.  It also has been a time to reconnect with many wonderful friends we made during our years living in the Perth area and to make new friends.

So now, we are in the final stages of preparation:  Anyone want to help shop and pack on the boat food for 4 months ?  And of course there always is the final ‘haul out’ of the water to do the annual maintenance on the bottom of the boat.

More to follow, Laurie