Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yard Work

Boat yard life has many ups and downs ...

"Yard work" takes on a whole new meaning in the cruising lifestyle.
- up the ladder, down the ladder, up the scaffold down the scaffold, lift up the plank, move down the plank, haul up the tools, and haul down the tools. Do I need to go on? I haven't begun to count how many times a day this series repeats itself, beginning with down the hill from the apartment and then back up the hill at the end of the day. (Our neighbor, a local woman, says she watches the folks who make that daily trek get more and more fit as time goes on. I doubt she is referring to us because we usually stop for a beer on the way home.)

October in Grenada isn't all that different from the fall season in the states. People are doing yard work, chopping their lawns with machetes or weed whackers. It's rare to see an actual lawn mower. But for cruisers like us, yard work takes on a whole different meaning. Sanding, priming and painting have taken the place of raking leaves and planting bulbs, albeit equally gratifying tasks in the end. And that is what we keep in mind during the long hot days in the sun here at 12 degrees north – a shiny new hull.

As Chris predicted in our last blog post (Rudder Rebuild) we won’t get everything accomplished prior to our visit to the states (Oct. 15 – Dec. 1). It’s not so much that the deck is too hot to walk on, and it’s not that we are lollygagging and staring at our “to do” list. It’s that painting our hull is a “first time” project for us and we are learning the “figurative” ups and downs as we go. 
We only had enough scaffold to work on one side of the boat at a time.

After arranging for scaffolding from the boat yard, the sanding down of the old paint began. This project moved along OK, except when we were one plank short to work continuously on one side and would have to stop and move a very heavy 2’ by 12’ x 12’ plank to the next set of scaffolds. Actually we were two planks short, but were told they couldn’t spare any more for us because the yard was getting busy with other jobs.  So we started with scaffolding on a portion of one side of the boat, which did get augmented to a full side with weekend scouting trips (when the yard workers were off) for more planks and scaffolds to haul over to our boat as other boats went back in the water. We’d like to keep a rhythm of going around the whole boat for each step in the process, but haven’t been able to keep up as well as if we had full scaffolding. The only boat with full scaffolding is the boat being painted by the yard workers, a job which starts around $10,000. Such is life.

A great upper body workout!
Once Chris finished filling the holes from the removed thru-hull fittings, and we received our paint and special de-waxing scrub, the washing, de-waxing, and sanding began, followed by filling gouges and scratches, more faring, more sanding. Days go by. 
Troubadour's "patch tests" to determine  if we needed to do
 more sanding before priming.

Since we knew many areas on the boat had touch-up paint, we had to test to see if the paint was compatible with the two part paint we were putting on -otherwise it would just peel and bubble under the new paint, and what a waste of time this project would have been. Don Casey, in his book This Old Boat, prescribed testing paint compatibility by leaving a solvent soaked rag on the old painted area for ten minutes. If the paint bubbled it would show that the old and new paints are incompatible, and the old paint would have to be totally removed instead of just sanded smooth.  None of the tests showed any problems, which started to worry Chris. Since Interlux, the manufacturer of the paint said that their Brightside paint was incompatible with the new Perfection paint; we did a test on an area known to be painted with Brightside. No bubbling. So we left the rag on longer – no bubbling. Finally, after an overnight test we saw some bubbling, so we re-tested other areas especially the boot stripe, leaving the rag taped to the hull overnight. In some places the paint bubbled and in others it didn’t, but we agreed that the boot stripe need to be sanded off completely to the water line. Better to be safe, than sorry.  
Results of a paint incompatibility test meant more sanding in our future.
We walk by this sign everyday on our way home ... is it trying to tell us something?
To build our confidence and not feel like we were slogging along going zero miles per hour, we washed and primed the transom (the curve of which is above the waterline/offending bootstripe). Of course we really wanted to remove the old aluminum vent covers and replace them with new ones because one is dented. It would not only look nicer, but would make the painting much easier (sort of like removing the outlet covers before painting a room). As it turns out, removing them involves a contortionist with six foot long arms to remove the screws from behind the steering quadrant after sliding in from inside the lazarette. It seems they were put on before the deck was joined to the hull during manufacturing. There is something to be said for sturdy old boats, and then there are some other things one could say – but I digress. We opted to paint them in place.
The stern has one coat of primer and the stern vent covers
didn't get replaced as we had hoped.
(Am I crooked or is the boat crooked on the jack stands?)
Speaking of vent covers, Chris was able to remove three of the four water tank vent thru-hulls and we ordered new ones (after noticing the same style in much newer boats near us in the yard). The fourth one is behind the bead board on the starboard side where the nav station and the electrical panel are located. We agreed that the external aesthetics aren’t that important if it means pulling apart the interior of the boat to replace a part. As it is, Troubadour’s interior looks like a Home Depot with tools, sandpaper, solvents and paints located in every conceivable open space.

Our days begin when Chris treks to the boat yard, leaving our apartment at Dougie's Hi Haven about two hours earlier than I do in the mornings to get started. I make lunch and tidy up the apartment, do laundry, sometimes even prepare dinner to heat in the microwave later. I meet him at the boat yard late morning. Around 4 pm we clean up and put away our "toys". If it's been an especially hot or challenging day we stop for a beer and visit with our favorite bar tender Rosa, at De Island Roots Dug out Bar for 3-4-10 Caribs (all day happy hour, 3 beers for EC$10, US$3.70). They have a bottle cap contest to win up to $500, but so far we have won a total of 3 free beers. Whoo!

It's on the way home!

Highs and lows continue. After sanding off the entire boot stripe, and just as we were preparing to prime the starboard side the forecast called for a low pressure system to hang over the area for a few days. Low pressure systems usually bring a lot of rain. Painting and raining don’t mix. So we leave Troubadour in the yard, and will prime and put her shiny new coat on when we get back!

Troubadour's sanded down boot stripe reveals her previous stripes.
We discovered Troubadour once had a cove strip (a strip just under the toe rail);
 sanding also revealed that before she was named Star Chaser,
she was called The Sea Otter's.
A high point to a day of yard work.



  1. Wow. What a lot of work. Enjoy your visit home. You'll get things done when you can and she'll look beautiful and sail fast. Hugs from Trinidad

  2. Chris and Linda - we understand the scaffold problem! But mastering the learning curve is very satisfying ;) Good luck!

    Love from the Flying Pigs


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