Thursday, February 28, 2013
First night on the hard
Posted by Sean
We are on the hard at Thunderbolt Marine in Thunderbolt, Georgia. I'd love to post a map link, but I need to come up with some new way to generate them -- the ones I used to post from the bus came from the GPS built into our satellite Internet system. For those new to marine terminology, "on the hard" means the boat is out of the water, sitting on a combination of wood blocks and what look like oversized automotive jack stands. The blocks take the boat's weight, by way of the keel, while the stands keep it from toppling over on either side. To get on and off the boat we climb eight feet up a ladder to the swim platform.
The boat was on the hard when we started the survey process back in December. But last night was our first night living aboard in this condition. We have a 50-amp shore cord connected, but one consequence of being out of the water is that the heat, which comes from reverse-cycle air conditioners, does not work. We have our one little household electric space heater that we've been moving around the boat with us, and fortunately that's been sufficient. Better this, I suppose, than being on the hard in the heat of summer.
After all the work I did on the phone Friday to get the thruster parts, we were dismayed to open the package Monday afternoon to find they had sent the wrong thing. Now, mind, you, this was not just the three-pound part we needed, but an entire 50-pound thruster system that had been sent next-day. The surplus place in Florida was very apologetic, and when we told him we had a haulout scheduled for Tuesday morning, he agree to send the parts we needed (the drive leg and the propellers) by priority overnight, for a 10:30am delivery, with the rest of the system via ground that, at this distance, showed up later than same afternoon. The correct system, incidentally, was much heavier than 50 pounds, so they had undercharged me for the shipping to begin with.
Although we had the parts in hand in time, it turned out to be far too windy to haul the boat out Tuesday. Just getting the boat over to the lift in those conditions with no thruster would have been a real challenge, but the winds were too high to sling us even if we could. So we had to sit out another day, which I used to get some more projects done around the boat. Today marks a full week that we've been at the yard, and at over a C-note per day, we're spending a fortune for the privilege.
The drive leg went right in yesterday with no trouble. We had to transfer the coupler from the old unit, because the new one uses a different coupling system, but otherwise it all just fit. The old drive leg is definitely toast; at some point I will open it up to see what happened. There is no damage to the props, so it was not foreign-object ingestion. After installation they had to prime and paint the leg and the props with antifouling, and as long as we had the boat out of the water we are having them touch up the bottom paint wherever needed, including where we wore it down to bare metal when we grounded. It will take another day for the paint to dry, so we will be on the hard again tonight and splash the boat tomorrow. We'll try to make Hilton Head on Saturday.
As long as the yard had to take some of the wiring off the thruster to get the motor out of the way, I took the opportunity, after the motor was back in place, to clean up some of the wiring down there. It was amateur hour wherever it was installed, possible self-wired by the first owner of the boat. Without the ability to "check my work" (the thruster can not be operated with the boat out of the water), I was loathe to make too many changes, such as replacing the tired reversing contactor, which is 24-volt, with the fresh one from the replacement thruster, which is 12-volt.
But I have my work cut out for me, and last night I drew out the circuit diagram for a wholesale rewire down there which will get the new contactor in place, remove some unnecessary wires (including a pair of massive 2/0 locomotive cables), and properly connect the whole assembly to the control breaker at the helm, which is currently bypassed. I'll do this after we splash, but before we put the forward stateroom back together in guest-ready condition.
We are once again in expensive company. I was not comfortable bringing the boat to the lift myself, so I asked Kevin to drive; right after we were in the air he had to run off to take lines for the 160', $17m yacht that came up to the dock right after us, Karima. I heard from one of the yard guys that she'll be here for months. Also in the water nearby are superyachts Mary A. (formerly Northern Light), Daybreak, Seascape, and the aforementioned Feadship Beija-Flor. The beautiful 172' ketch Tamsen is with us on the hard; her masts are so tall that they need to keep the red masthead lights on at night as FAA tower lights. We are such small potatoes in this yard; the thrusters on some of these other yachts have bigger propellers than does our main engine. As Karima docked, Louise saw two of the crew pointing at Vector in the slings and making the international hand gesture for "tiny." She called up to them, "Hey! That's my boat you're talking about!" In his heavy French accent one of them said, "It looks like a big boat that shrank."
Even here among the Travel Lift crowd (the big boys have to be hauled out with the much larger Syncrolift), we are outgunned by the sleek Sunseeker to our starboard or the swoopy Hatteras sportfish two boats to our port. Only the little trawler between us and the Hatteras is smaller. As a side note, the Hatteras' hull is a gorgeous powder blue.
Winds as I am typing are whipping through here and we are rocking in the cradles. I hope we have calmer weather tomorrow for the splash, and if all goes well we should be underway Saturday morning around 9:30 for Hilton Head. I'm sure the marina staff there will be relieved to see us, as our packages have been stacking up in the office for a week.
For those who are wondering about how the cats are settling in, here are a couple photos of their first trip circumnavigating the walk-around decks while we were still at the dock:
(Louise adds: Even though the wind whipping through the yard is chilly, the French crew seem oblivious to the cold as they work outside on Karima. Sean says one of the guys wearing long pants dropped them right on deck to change into his shorts, revealing red briefs briefly. I'm sorry I didn't have the opportunity to point at him and make the international hand gesture for "tiny.")