20 November, 2015

Malua Finally on the Hardstand

Coming out the water
While cruising in Europe and the USA I would take Malua out of the water for the winter and return to Australia for the summer.  This worked very well in that the boat only spend six months or so in the water and the anti-fouling worked quite well.  Traveling in the colder climates also helped but when in the Tropics the anti-fouling took a beating from the many things that wanted to hitch a ride either across the oceans of in the sheltered waters inside a coral reef.
While I was in Fiji I took the opportunity to put a coat of anti-fouling on in anticipation of not spending the money to haul the boat the following year here in Australia.  Well things changed.  Firstly, the one of the three blades fell off the self aligning propeller.  This may have caused the shaft to bend or more likely the shaft bent when I hit some piece of wood during the 12,000 nm trip from the east coast of the USA back to Australia.  The result was that I made it into the marina in Batemans Bay but even with a new fixed prop on the shaft I could not venture out of the Marina.


The time had come to take Malua out of the water.  The stars and moon where aligned in that we had a full spring tide in the morning.  I arranged to take the boat out and then four days later to put it back in the water before the tide waned towards the neaps.  That meant that everything had to go according to plan and nothing delay the splash back in the water.
The day arrived and Kevin had adjusted the cradle to suit Malua according to a photo take 10 years previously.  I inched the boat forward between the cradle arms expecting the keel to touch bottom before I was right on the cradle but everything aligned correctly and we secured the boat to the arms .  With a jerk and a bump Malua started to move forward and rise out of the water.  This is always a scary moment as more of the boat and keel is revealed.  Is the keel on the cross members correctly?  Is the boat upright? Will the boat tip either forward or backwards as the cradle moves up the rail tracks?  All questions I have been through many time and as always Malua with it long wide keel sits steady on the cradle.  Batemans Bay marina has a series of rail tracks and cradles firstly to lift the boat out of the water on a inclining cradle, then a transfer to a horizontal cradle and the lastly to a cradle or transferrer that moves the boat across the hard stand.  Finally the boat cradle is pulled off the transferrer on to tracks on the hardstand.  It is quite an operation but Kevin and Mick are now quite skilled at the task.
The first operation is to wash off the growth from below the waterline in a way that does not totally remove the existing ant-fouling.  Unlike many other boats Malua has travel many miles through the water in all sea conditions so the ablative anti-fouling was well worn off and the bottom smooth.  Furthermore I have almost every year sanded the excess paint off the bottom so there is no inactive build-up of useless anti-fouling.  Once that job was complete I was then able to tackle the main task of being on the hard.

The Propeller Shaft

I had sent the Brunton's Autoprop back to the UK to have a new blade fitted and for it to be balanced.  As expected they did a very good job and not that expensive – less than a quarter of a new prop supplied here in Australia.  The next element in this puzzle was the new prop shaft.  I could not take it out to measure it while in the water nor could I rely on the plans because David was not know for his compliance to specifications.  I had obtained from him a certificate that the supplied shaft was 316 grade stainless steel in the form of an invoice from the suppliers.  I used this to go back to J H Porters to ask them to made a shaft exactly the same as the one referred to in the invoice.  They looked up the workbook of 2000 and found the shaft dimensions.  I was confident that they would make the same shaft again but was I confident that the invoice supplied to me was the correct one?
Previously I had made a number of pullers and pushers to draw the propeller off the shaft, pull the shaft out of the boat and to pull the shaft bearing out of the skeg.  I had undertaken the skeg bearing replacement in 2011 so I knew the procedure.  Out came the shaft and the bearing without a hitch but when I lay the new 1 ½ inch shaft next to the new one I found to my horror that the new shaft was 20 mm too long.  What was I going to do in the three days I had left.  Stuart, a good friend who lives locally had a large lathe and was quite able to turn the shaft down to the correct length and to create and extend the 7/8 inch thread for the end nut. 
New shaft too long
We spent an hour or so getting the dimensions right and testing the engine flange and end nut before I return to the boat to slip the shaft through the skeg bearing, through the drip-less watertight fitting and on to the engine shaft.  I then had to connect the rubber vibration coupling and all was good.  Just as the sun set and the call of a cold beer came, the last nut was tight and the shaft was in place.  A well executed plan.  Thanks Stuart for all the help.  I would not have been able to get it right without your skills.

Spit and Polish

The last time I put any polish on Malua was some years ago when I took the boat out the water for two days for a lick of anti-fouling and a quick polish.  I am not a great supporter of some odd-job fellow hanging around a marina hard stand claiming to be able to polish a yacht.  I either do it properly or not at all.  So this time I had a full day, the equipment and all the polish and cleaners I required.  It is not an easy job even with a good electric polisher.  You will all remember: Wipe on – wipe off.  The same principle applies with a fiberglass boats.  First start with a good wash down to take any salt and grit off. Then with a foam pad apply cleaner and restorer which may have a bit of abrasive compound depending on the amount of oxidation.  This should be applied liberally and polished in until all is gone.  Then a soft cloth to wipe and polish the excess.  The next step is the wax polish with a high content of Carnauba wax.  This is applied with a lambs wool buffer at a slow speed.  Only take on a small area always in the shade and buff until the wax is well applied.  Then wax-off with your hand and a good lint free cloth.  At this point Malua was shining better than new.


The preparation of the underwater surface of the boat is always a challenge.  Take off the unused portion of the anti-fouling, give the surface a good grip for the new paint but don't take too much off to touch the undercoat.  In areas that the anti-fouling has ablated off back to the gel coat then it is time to apply some undercoat.  Malua's underwater surface is in excellent condition with only the aft part of the rudder with any build up of old anti-fouling.  You are required to sand the old coat to give the new covering a good grip but not too rough to spoil the finish.  It is a horrible job because one get covered in anti-fouling dust, so you have to wear a good filter mask and cover your body with a overall.  I have perfected the movement with my orbital sander so I don't strain my arm and don't get dust in my eyes but at the end of the job one is covered from head to toe in blue dust.  Next a good wash down of the hull and oneself to get the dust off then let the surface dry before applying the new anti-fouling.
The application is very dependent upon the temperature.  Too high and the paint  evaporates as do all the active ingredients.  Too cold and the paint wont set.  I had to wait in the USA for the temperature to rise above 10 degree C to apply the last anti-fouling but I can say it worked a wonder unlike the coat applied in France where the temperature was well over 35 C and the wind was blowing.  Deadlines are never good in sailing!
I had purchased two tins of Micron Extra from West Marine when I was in the USA.  I have found the local Australian stuff suits the environment but is next to useless.  Furthermore the only blue available here is light blue and I had previously used Dark or Navy blue.  It suited the boot strap and looks good.  I was faced with the challenge of using the three liters of dark blue remaining however the boat requires five liters to give the bottom a good coat.  The strategy was to paint the water line and then paint down the hull as far as the dark blue would go.  I covered the bottom to almost a depth of one meter before I ran out of paint.  I used the old tin and poured the light blue in to attempt to darken the new paint.  So the process proceeded for the next four hours as I  rolled on the anti-fouling.  I had finished just after lunch, leaving time to touch-up the bootstrap and other small scratches. A multi-shaded ant-fouling.
Shades of blue
Smooth bottom

Now for the launch to go back in the water.  The high tide was at 11:20 am with a 1.71 m above datum.  That would give us about 10cm to float off the cradle.  The launch cradle slowly moved down the incline into the water.  The water rose around Malua and to my great relief lifted off the cradle and floated again.  No pulling lines and no revving astern to move the boat.  Malua was free with new anti-fouling, a top-side polish, new shaft and the great Autoprop back in place.  Now all that was missing was sufficient water over the bar for me to go sailing.

09 November, 2015

Malua in Marina

Malua has not moved for many months not because I did not want to put to sea in a sailing boat but the propeller was not secure and I cant sail across the Clyde River bar.
Things have been progressing on the upgrade of Malua.  The three sails have been taken to the North Sail loft for routine maintenance.  The Genoa and Staysail received the usual treatment and came out looking good.  The main received a poor report.  The sail cover had not been doing its job properly and the UV had entered through the sail bag and harmed a strip of about half a meter along the luff of the sail.  Not serious but concerning.  The loft also restitched the few hand stitching that needed repair.  Anyway all three sails are now Ok to sail.
The generator which will receive a post for itself is now running beautifully after a major upgrade.  The 150 amp direct connected alternator has been replaced.  The major problem was not mechanical but electrical..... can you believe that on a diesel engine but yes the battery cables of about a meter in length had corroded and would not take a full load to start the engine.  After many months of going through the problem I decided the cables and connectors needed replacing and bingo the power to the starter was 100%. The engine turned over at the correct speed and the engine fires up immediately.  The glow plugs work, the automatic choke opens and stays open and the cuff-off/stop solenoid stays open when the engine is running.  Who said all you need in a diesel engine is fuel, air and compression?

The floor hatches have been reconditioned and new working latches installed. Not that the hatch come out even during the knock down but I never got round to installing them so now is the time to finish the fiddly bits.
The deck hatch surrounds have been rejuvenated and look as good as new with more than a few coats of varnish.  They have to be installed after the headliners have been cleaned and reinstalled.
The major project is replacing the cockpit table. This has been a great wood working project.  The original is just a standard wooden table with two flaps that swing out to widen the table.  The wood was ply with solid surrounds.   Malua now has a beautiful myrtle table with two flaps and an extension for seat six people.  The wood I specially selected from the remaining wood stack I used to fit out the interior so it matched the interior, the companionway steps and surrounds as well as the granny seats in the aft of the cockpit.  I have given the table about eight coats of the best French marine varnish and it sparkles.  I cant wait to fit it and put the new canvas cover on to protect it.

05 April, 2015

Malua on Slip

After a short sail in the bay I dropped anchor in Chain Bay for the night to wait for the morning's high tide to cross the bar.  I dived over the side to clean off some growth from the bottom and propeller and I noticed that the one blade of the Autoprop was a bit loose.  I had serviced the prop during its haul-out in the USA in February and added grease to the ball bearings in the self aligning three blades.  All seemed OK but I guess the cold had made the items smaller and the locking nuts where not as effective as I had thought but I would have believed that having traveled almost a quarter way round the world the prop would have developed some symptoms prior to this but no.
I motored slowly across the bar and into the marina.  I booked in to be pulled out of the water for a short haul right on the high spring tides.  I had serviced my fixed blade prop and put anti-fouling on it.  All was ready for a quick turn around.  Off with one and on with the other.
We motored to the cradle and started to go onto it but the upright arms had not been set well enough apart so the cradle had to be taken out the arms adjusted and the wood plank on which Malua was to rest removed.  I, mean time, was going forward and astern trying to keep my place just off the slip.  I moved forward and onto the cradle.  The tide was almost at the top and the fit very snug but OK.
We waited as the cradle was dragged up the railway lines and Malua came out of the water.  I climbed down the ladder to find one of the three blades of the Autoprop missing.  What a blow. All I could see was $$$$ thinking of replacing this prop.
I set about pulling the prop off with my pullers and tools.  The new three blade prop slipped on as designed and I put the nut on. Tightened it up and looked for the hole for the split pin to go through to hold the nut in place and low and behold there was no hole.  The Autoprop does not require one and I have never drilled a hole in the original shaft.  What could I do? nothing because time and tide waits for no man and the tide was going out and the water around the cradle dropping at an alarming rate. So give the instruction to let the cradle go back in the water and hope we have not left it too late to get Malua off the cradle.
Back in the water Malua is wedged between the two forward uprights and the water is not up to the boot strap so Malua was not floating but sitting firmly on the cradle.  Out came the rescue line - a 28mm polypropylene line of 120m which I keep in the back locker for just these occasions.  Out is went to a solid pillion down the fairway and I took a turn round the two electric Anderson winches and pressed the button.  The line gets taught but Malua does not move.  Been there done that.  Well rock the boat and as was the case previously hope a large French canal barge comes by and creates a big wake to rock Malua off the hard ground.
With a few turn of the winch handle and a few more revs astern Malua slowly moved off the cradle and into deeper water.  Now back in the pen I need to don scuba gear and search for the lost blade.
Three hour later after scouring the bottom on the marina I could find no trace of my propeller only a electric motor housing off a fellow's submarine who the set about helping me with the search. No luck.
Now to send the Autoprop back to the UK to have a blade added and balanced.  A small price to pay seeing I paid more than $5,000 for the original prop ten years ago. Wait for the update.