Our refit progessed on all fronts like a freight train. The hull and the freeboard were painted and a new thru hull was installed. We were glad that we hadn’t found any defects unknown to us during the rebuild – until now. Milagros had her first nasty surprise in store for us.
The nasty surprise
When we were preparing the mast for painting, we discovered a crack about 1 inch long at the gooseneck (where the boom is attached to the mast). Milagros doesn’t have a classic gooseneck, as she was once converted to a furling mainsail. For this purpose, an extension was welded to the mast, to which the boom was attached. And whoever converted back to a “normal” mainsail simply left this extension on. It is precisely this relic that was now causing problems.
This could end badly
When the mainsail is hoisted, great forces act on the gooseneck. I don’t want to imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t discovered this crack and the boom had suddenly hung somewhere in the air while sailing. So we were glad to have discovered the problem now and not on the water. Nevertheless, the discovery did not fit into our plans at all and could mean a delay in splashing.
A solution was needed
So we had to come up with possible solutions. Basically, there were two options: patch the extension or clean up the system. We quickly decided on the second option. Welding on an aluminium plate to reinforce the fitting sounded quite simple, but it would only be a patch-up job on an already suboptimal system. Besides, we didn’t know if there was anyone here who could weld aluminium.
It was gone quickly
Armed with the angle grinder, Dave set about cutting off the extension. We soon realised that our “small” angle grinder wasn’t gonna do the job. So we borrowed a bigger one from Pancho. I could hardly watch as Dave started to work with it. A powerful machine and no protection – neither for the fingers nor for the face nor for the legs. After the rough cut, the fine cut could be done with the smaller machine. Then it was the turn of a 40-grid grinding wheel to grind as close to the mast as possible, and with the 60-grid wheel the small remainder could be removed.
A custom-made fitting for us
As the manufacturer of our boom and the respective fittings has ceased production, we now need a custom made fitting. We have found a company in the US that can make the fitting for us for $120 with a lead time of 3 weeks. We’ve taken measurements on our sister ship Dogfish and now we just have to send a copy of the mast profile and production can start. It seems we have discovered the problem just in time and there will be only minimal delay.
After all the mental stress, it came in handy that the crew of SV Skookum V had rented a flat in a complex with a huge pool. While we splashed around in the water, we took the opportunity to use the washing machine (with hot water!) and the tumble dryer. It felt good to leave the boatyard and change scenery. Because it was so nice, we repeated the whole thing two more times.
Thru hull #2
Before leaving for Switzerland, Marga from SV Dogfish and Dogfish Boatworks had installed a new thru hull for us resp. with us. Now the second one needed to be installed as well, but we had put this task off for a while. Although we knew what had to be done – we had watched closely and noted down the procedure – we had great respect for it. It was a hole to be drilled in the hull and an installation that had to fit 100%. If done wrong, it could sink the boat. But we had to bite the bullet.
Step by step
Step by step we followed the procedure. Fabricate a suitable backing plate for the thru hull. Make sure that the backing plate lies flat on the inside of the hull. Sand the surface at the desired location inside and outside and clean with acetone. Drill a hole from the inside with a small drill and check the position on the outside. Drill the large hole from the outside with a hole saw of the right size and drill the same size hole in the backing plate. Measure the total thickness and cut the thru hull fitting to the right size. Check that everything fits together. If not, adjust it. If it does, prepare for installation. Put 5200 (a super strong marine sealant) on the inside of the hull, the bottom and top of the backing plate, the outside of the hull, the hole around the inside, the thru hull and the bottom of the seacock. Tighten and you’re done.
In the meantime, we tried to remember everything we hadn’t written down. How much 5200 do we have to use? Where not to put any sealant? How did she do this and that again? How tight do we have to tighten the thru hull fitting? We realised that we had probably waited a bit too long with the second thru hull installation. But we managed to fit it – or so we think. Whether something went wrong will probably only show once we we splash. It certainly won’t be due to too little 5200.
The bottom is next
As soon as the thru hull was installed, we could continue working on the bottom. Everything was faired and sanded and ready for painting. We decided to apply a coat of Interlux 2000e barrier coat first, then fair again where necessary, and then proceed with barrier coat up to the first coat of antifouling. The optimum temperature for this was early in the morning. Therefore, we had to get up as early as 4 am. Before painting, we cleaned the hull and mixed the first gallon. After about a quarter, a mishap happened to me. I had on the respirator, gloves and a full body suit, but no goggles. And promptly some of this two-component epoxy paint splashed into my eye.
A little accident
I rinsed my eye with water for about 10 minutes as instructed by the manufacturer. Afterwards, my eye felt quite irritated. Visually, I couldn’t see any damage, but I wanted to play it safe. While Dave finished painting the bottom, I grabbed the car and drove to a private clinic. I was the only patient and was examined immediately. The doctor was not particularly motivated to treat me. But she did and could find no reason to worry. She thought my eye was simply irritated because I had rinsed it with water from Puerto Peñasco and prescribed two different eye drops for five days. The treatment cost 500 pesos ($25) including the eye drops. Pretty arbitrary if you ask me, but I didn’t mind.
So, I was fit again and we faired the last little holes on the bottom that same day. Afterwards, when I wanted to cook dinner, the gas was empty. I was surprised as normally the gas doesn’t just go out, but the flame suddenly gets smaller. So I changed the gas bottle, and when I turned it on, a whole lot of gas escaped from the pressure regulator. I had smelled gas when I was taping the waterline at the stern, but didn’t think anything of it, because that happens here from time to time. So the pressure regulator we had installed last October was already broken. Great.
Even worse was that it was already after 8 pm and we wanted to get out early the next day to paint the remaining layers of barrier coat and the first coat of antifouling. The small gas bottle of the camping cooker was empty, too, of course. So, no new pressure regulator, no new gas bottle for the camping cooker, and so no coffee for us. We couldn’t even get coffee to go, as nothing was open yet at 4am. Oh well. Still, Milagros had to be painted.
Milagros turns red
So we painted coat after coat for 6 hours without coffee. Finally, at 10 am, Milagros’ bottom shone in an unusual bright red. Black will be the final colour of the bottom – red only serves as a signal coat. However, we will apply the final coats at a later date. We were very pleased with the result. The many weeks we invested in fibreglassing, sanding and fairing were worth it. To counteract the coffee deprivation, we got a new gas pressure regulator right after the painting and were soon able to quench our coffee thirst. Now we could get back to painting the freeboard.
Milagros gets shiny again
After we had sanded the freeboard by hand, Milagros was ready for the penultimate coat of paint. We chose a windless day and ordered Pancho for 6 am so he could spray the paint on. Dave and Pancho were a well-oiled team and less than two hours later Milagros was shining again. Not like the first time, but she looked really great. However, on closer inspection we noticed that the paint had some orange peel and in some places too much paint had been applied so that streaks had formed. Pancho told us that the paint had drifted in these places when he sprayed it on, so he had applied more paint. We took note – the runs weren’t really bad because they could be sanded back down.
The joy was not long lasting
We then made a rather silly rookie mistake. While the paint was drying, we went shopping and didn’t notice that the wind had picked up. In some places the wind tore off the plastic covers and blew them into the drying paint. This left unsightly stains. This was not a big deal, but it meant that this second coat had to be touched up before we could apply the final coat. Unfortunately, things turned out quite differently than we had imagined. The next, even more unpleasant surprise was already waiting for us.
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