Milagros in a Sandstorm

We discover a proper solution for the next steps in our hull project. With it come with a few days of free time in Puerto Peñasco, which leads to a couple of interesting experiences. After, we enter the next round with the removal of the rudder.

Before we could look for a solution to our sanding problem, we first had to answer another question: Do we just sand the antifouling or do we go “all in” and sand down to bare fiberglass? While the first option is faster and cheaper, it‘s at the same time less of a long-term solution. If our boat is to live another 40 years, then the second one certainly is the better choice. The bad condition of the layers of colour and the many small osmosis blisters finally made us decide to go all the way and sand the bottom of Milagros down to bare fiberglass. We wanted to know in what condition the hull really is. Curiosity wins!

Should it be sandblasting?

We started investigating, and compared 3 possible options according to duration, costs, advantages and disadvantages: continue sanding ourselves, hire local workers for the sanding work and sandblasting. The clear winner was sandblasting. It was Thursday and we asked Salvador Cabrales what the next possible sandblasting date would be. “On Monday” we received as an answer. All right, a full Cabrales sandblasting experience was ordered immediately.

The preparations

We now had 3 days to prepare the boat. We had to mark all the places where we suspected osmosis blisters so that they could still be seen after the sandblasting. This meant that Dave couldn’t avoid lightly sanding the rest of the antifouling to make all the bumps visible and then drilling them. After, the boat had to be made sandstorm-tight. After all, we didn’t want to live in a desert in the cabins of our boat, too. In the middle of our preparations we received the message that the sandblasting work on Milagros could not start until Tuesday – the yard manager had noticed that Monday was a public holiday.

Dave drilling holes
Dave drilling holes where we suspected blisters

Our temporary accommodation

We only decided where we would live during the sandblasting process – living aboard wasn’t possible – after we had accompanied Milagros first with the small, then with the large travel lift to the Spa area on the other side of the street. Spontaneously I booked the cheapest hotel I could find for one night. If we didn’t like it, we could easily change hotels. An hour later we pedaled the 350m to the Pearl Point Hotel on our bikes without big expectations.

Good and cheap

The small motel awaited us in a side street of Calle 13, where the Puerto Peñasco nightlife takes place. The young gentleman at the reception spoke good English. Room No. 5 on the ground floor was ours. Small and simple. The plastic cover of the mattress under the sheets and only one large blanket for 2 people (we need one each to avoid night time fighting) felt weird at first, but it was only for one night after all.

Holidays in Puerto Peñasco

So while Milly was getting a peeling, we went on vacation. Not that we needed holidays already after only 3 weeks, but it wasn’t bad either. But we didn’t know in advance that it would be 3 nights. Well. Many Americans from Arizona, near the border, come to Puerto Peñasco for vacation or weekend visits. Puerto Peñasco is also called “the beach of Arizona” and can be compared to what Mallorca or Ibiza are for us Europeans. The offer is: Cheap food, entertainment (Malécon), a ton of bars, strip clubs and “local” restaurants. Anyone who knows us knows that we tend to avoid such neighborhoods and places. Since there are hardly any tourists here at the moment due to Covid, it’s alright.

The tourist program

At first we didn’t really know what to do during our boat-free time. It was too cold to swim in the Sea of Cortez and we didn’t want to rent a quad bike to explore the city either. So we strolled along the empty Malécon, had good coffee to go from the Old Port Coffee Roasters, walked along the almost deserted beach and tested a few restaurants. Even though the sandblasting went quickly, it took time. And since we wanted to sandblast down to bare fiberglass, it took even a little longer. So we extended our hotel stay.

Hey Suizas!

We were just on the way to Milagros with an ice cream in hand to check the progress on the sandblasting, when someone waved at us violently and shouted “Hey Suizas!”. That someone was standing at the gate at one of the many boatyards for tshrimping boats. We stopped in amazement – how did he know that we were from Switzerland? “We spoke to each other in front of the Ley Supermarket a few days ago!” he said. Two weeks earlier we had cycled to the supermarket about 2 km away. After shopping, two guys complimented us on our bikes in front of the store. We hung out with them using a mixture of Spanish and English for a while, and talked about why we were here, where we were from, and about music. And now we met one of the two again – his name was Luis. What a coincidence!

Moving forward

After our second night at Pearl Point Hotel, we packed our things in the hope that this would be the day we could move back on Milagros. Around 2 p.m. in became apparent that this would not be the case. Milagros was almost naked, but at 3 p.m. the boatyard workers stop working.

Not enough time to finish sandblasting Milagros and put her back to her spot in the boatyard. Although we had good experience at Pearl Point Hotel, we wanted to test the Hotel El Faro, which is right next to the boatyard. The common opinion is that it is an hour hotel for tourists. Was our decision a mistake?

It’s about the experience

So for 500 Pesos (same price as in the first hotel) we stayed at Hotel El Faro. The direct comparison quickly showed: the price-performance ratio was definitely worse here. A faint smell of cigarette smoke, no blankets at all and the mattress was put on a concrete foundation. And the WiFi advertised on the outside of the hotel didn’t exist either. Well, it was only for one night. So we sat outside on the front porch of our room and had a couple of beers until it was bedtime and the owner oft he hotel got us a blanket. At first light day we left the hotel with one experience more.

Moisture of the hull

After Milagros was back at our spot, we were able to examine the result of the sandblasting. We found a fairly deep hole in our rudder and more osmosis blisters that we did not spot previously. We were and still are happy with our decision to go for bare fiberglass.

The various measurements of the conductivity (an indicator of moisture) that Dave had made all over the hull showed that it still had to dry out a bit. There‘s values between 8-12% in most spots, which is good. The rule of thumb is: the lower the readings, the better. Nevertheless, we also found spots with up to 30%, which is definitely too much. So we leave the underwater hull aside for the time being and devote ourselves to other projects.

The rudder has to go

According to a description by a Kelly Peterson 44 owner, removing the rudder of our boat should be pretty easy. Firstly, remove the steering quadrant attached to the rudder post inside the boat and loosen the rudder stock gland seal. Secondly, loosen the 5 screws on the lower part of the rudder and remove the gudgeon that holds the rudder in place. In addition, you need about half a meter of free space under the rudder, as the rudder shaft is about 50 cm long.

A classic

The first question marks came up when I was looking for the 5 screws, but only found one. “Am I stupid or do we have a different rudder?” I asked myself. Armed with a screwdriver, I began to scratch the surface of the suspected area. Lo and behold, well camouflaged with sea growth and filler material, I found four slotted screws. What follows now is almost a Milagros classic. Even our largest screwdriver was too small for these screws, and the screws also sat motionless and unmovable.

It’s always the last screw

Dave from SV Cavu once again provided us with all sorts of necessary tools (thanks!), with which we could loosen 3 of 4 screws. Dave’s screwdriver was too small for the fourth screw, as the screw head was already a bit screwed up. The shipyard workers were just nearby and helped us out. A screwdriver that didn’t quite fit was made to fit using a grinding wheel. Strength paired with experience also loosened that screw.

Brute force

The rudder quadrant was quickly dismantled, unfortunately nothing else was. Not only did we have an additional, non-standard bearing, the screws of which were painted with bilge paint and didn’t look like they should or could be loosened. The two large nuts on the stock gland seal didn’t move a millimeter either. We were about to give up when Marga from SV Dogfish (one of the other two Kelly Peterson 44 here on the yard) came to our aid. With a hammer, screwdriver and brute force, she went to work (thank you!). Dave and I took care of the rudder from below and Marga screwed and pounded inside.

Hammering into the night

This way, we were able to lower the rudder a mere 7 cm, but not more. The rudder pole must have become wedged. We shook, knocked, hammered wedges and pieces of wood between the rudder and the hull, hung ourselves from them, but the rudder wouldn’t budge. Marga also brought a tensioning set that we attached to the fence behind us and with which we pulled the lower part of the rudder away from the boat in order to align the rudder pole vertically. It was already getting dark and our noise attracted more yard residents, who actively supported us and/or even brought beer! Somehow and at some point things suddenly happened quickly: the rudder started to move and, booooom, the rudder was removed.

All you need is fun times

Together with our helpers from SV Cavu, SV Alegría and SV Dogfish, we celebrated the success with tacos and beer. The community here at the boatyard is really great. People are super nice and no matter what, there is always a helping hand or useful advice to be found.

Taco Gang

Nothing is finished

Time here goes by incredibly quickly. We have been on the boatyard for a month now and have not yet completed a project. This is not a problem, as each of our large projects will take several months. And we have already been able to tick off many small things here and there and initiate others – multi-project management that is. Nevertheless, we look forward to being able to tick one of the large projects some time soon.

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5 Comments

Toll gemacht, konsequenter Vorgehensentscheid, schöne Zusammenfassung!
Feuchte im Ruder schon gemessen? (wg. Gewicht)
Besteht schon ein Fabrikat-Trend fürs Antifouling?
Gruss vom kalt-verschneiten Gempen

Hoi Hans,
Danke für deine Gedanken. Die Feuchte im Ruder scheint i.O. zu sein. Wir haben auf den Flächen gemessen und das Ruder angebohrt um den Wasseraustritt zu beobachten.

Als Antifouling wäre Coppercoat toll. Es geht uns hierbei vor allem um den ökologischen Gedanken. Das liegt aber noch in weiter Ferne. 🙂

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