Monday, February 23, 2009

Yamba Surprise

On Friday we hauled Pelagic out at the Yamba yard, across the river from Iluka. Our last haulout was in Alameda, California, which seems impossibly far away from New South Wales. Every now and then it seems like that huge trip must have happened to someone else.

Whenever we haul out I get nervous about what sort of surprises we might find beneath the waterline. This year we found two.

The first surprise was an extra set of bite marks from the shark that attacked our wind vane 170 miles off the Australian coast. Turns out the miscreant elasmobranch also had a go at Pelagic's rudder. The white spots are where it bit in, and the trails below are the scratches as the rudder pulled through its mouth:

The second surprise was very nearly, but not quite, how well things went in the haulout.
When we put Pelagic on the hard, we take our nice domestic boat, the scene of all our most tender family moments, our trusted and comfortable home that has carried us so far, and we turn it into a work site. Everything gets filthy, everything gets disorganized. I sand bottom paint in the blazing sun and leave black greasy fingerprints all over the interior when I come in for lunch. In order to access our tools and supplies I have to move or cover up everything else on the boat, and our home gets so far from comfortable, so topsy-turvy, that I invariably despair of ever putting it back together again.
But not this time. Things are a mess, but all the jobs have gone reasonably well, and as late as today it looked, to my surprise, like we might get the boat back in the water and be done after four days on the hard, which would be a record for us.
Then our rudder split open in the sun.
It's true: the rudders of fiberglass boats are hollow, built of a fiberglass shell over foam over a steel skeleton. And if they're left in the hot sun the water that invariably gets trapped in the foam wants to turn into water vapor, which makes for an expansion force that is satisfied only when the rudder splits open to let the vapor out.
I know that you should shade a rudder from the hot sun, but I forgot to do it.
So the second surprise of the haulout was the foot-long crack in the trailing edge of our rudder that I found this afternoon. And I'll spend tomorrow grinding and glassing and filling and fairing and painting that cracked rudder.

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