Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bottom Job

  It is December, I have 180 days to go before our loosely scheduled departure to the Caribbean. I'm just plugging away at what seems as a never ending list of projects for our boat "Mirador". It has been 10 years since it's last haul-out! A boat kept in saltwater should be hauled out every 2 to 3 years. She was in better shape than I thought... well, for the most part. I was planning to service the thru-hulls and seacocks, but Neptune had a different idea. As I started to fiddle with the first one, it simply snapped right off! Man, if had tried that while the boat was in the water I would have ended up like that little Dutch boy that found a leak in the dam...plugging the leak with my finger til someone rescued me!
This is Mirador...the morning after, no makeup. I still love her!
For some reason sailboats do not get electrically grounded. That is to say when all metal parts are wired back to a common zinc so that you don't get galvanic corrosion. All of my thru-hulls will now have to be replaced. Sounds pretty straight forward right?? Well think again. All the hoses were hard and stiff and cramped up in tight spaces with no room to maneuver. Some of these hoses are 1 1/2" diameter, it's like wrestling an anaconda  with rigamortis. Well I decided to hire a poor grunt to take the brunt of the punishment. I have bigger fish to fry.
Modifying my semi-skeg rudder.

Well you shouldn't read beauty magazines or boating magazines for that matter. Why, because they make you feel bad about what you have or don't have, like six-pack abs or a skeg-hung rudder. The abs were just too ambitious so lets talk about that rudder. Mirador had a semi-skeg rudder (this is when the rudder just hangs with no support at the bottom), but I always admired the strength of skeg hung rudders that other cruising boats had. Modifying this feature would be a major undertaking, but I didn't know it at the time (I say this a lot) so off I go. It all started 5 years ago while Mirador was still in her slip at the marina. I was able to remove the rudder while she was still in the water. The first step was to find a new rudder post that would extend through the rudder and out the bottom. I was shocked at the price of stainless steel, not so much when I'm trying to sell it as when I'm trying to buy it.
The new rudder post cost about a grand...one thousand dollars. I'm lucky my best Friend owns a welding shop so the welding part's somewhat financially painless. To not go too far off course, it took me a few weeks to fabricate a new rudder to accept a skeg shoe. I installed the new rudder while she was still in the slip and there she sat until this haul-out.

This the new profile being epoxied into place.

Well, is not like I've really done this type of work before, but I've had to build a lot of things where I really didn't know how I was going to get the job done when I started. So, I have sort of developed a knack for assessing my objective and figuring out a way to get there. With this particular project I figured if I could establish the profile I wanted I could just build up to it. And so I cut my profile out of a thick sheet of fiberglass, then I cut a deep groove the hull where it would fit in, nice and deep. It had to be an integral part of the hull.

Here, I'm building the skeg around the shoe to accept the rudder post.

After everything was glassed in solid I filled the void with canned foam.

My belt sander was just what the doctor ordered for sanding the foam into shape.

After the foam was shaped I glassed everything up to the hull with plenty of overlap. I just kept fitting and removing the rudder again and again through out the whole process.
Layer by layer the new skeg became a part of the boat.

I also shortened the rudder a bit so that if I did hit ground the keel would hit first. Notice how tall the keel is compared to the painter.

And here's the finished product...finished being more of a state-of-mind than anything else. you could never tell the boat was modified.

Here I am with Marie, you'd think I'd lose weight after soo much hard work? There is no justice in this world! My daughter says we look like the number 10 when we're together...she's up for adoption.
In all it took 17 days to do all the work. I worked all day, every day. By the end of it I was just numb to the aches and pains. I could have stayed a little longer but the boatyard was closing for Chirstmas and I wouldn't be allowed to work. They would however continue to charge me for having my boat there so it was time to wrap it up.