The Excitement and Disappointments of Hauling Out!

We hauled SV Take Me There this past week at Herrington Harbour North on the Chesapeake Bay.  BOAT clearly stands for “break out another THOUSAND!”  We came into this maintenance period with a significant budget to deal with these investments.  It goes QUICK!…the money that is!

The wish list of work included:

  • Through-hull service and replacement (15 of them)
  • Hull cleaning, gel-coat repair (gouges), compounding, wax
  • Engine exhaust riser replacement
  • Prop, shaft and rudder post service and bearing/packing replacement
  • Bottom job (Petit Hydro-coat)
  • Bow thruster service (Vetus)
  • Lap-fit spare prop (and key)
  • Replace alternator (main engine)

The “excitement” is clearly the “opportunity” to get these things done.  The disappointments (as one should expect as a cruiser) are those “bad news” discoveries that make your heart sink as you dream of nothing but hemorrhaging money!

We had a hull profile done (since our 40 year old solid fiberglass hull stays in the water year round – only coming out for cyclic maintenance).  I will describe the “profile” procedure in a separate post in our maintenance section of the blog – but the purpose of the “profile” (test) is to assess the condition of the hull from 3 perspectives: (1) Moisture content (via conductivity) of the hull material, (2) Structural health of the glass and (3) Health of the bond between material layers (gel, cloth, matte).  What we found was disappointing but expected of a 40 year old (original) hull – we have moisture at levels that indicate a double-laminate hull job will be in the 2-5 year future of the vessel.  Good news is that this Gulfstar M53 hull is built like a tank and she is safe and structurally sound.  Bad news is that we will need to peel and laminate the hull in the near future (around $30K).  Much like a roof on a house – we are getting close to needing to replace it – fortunately we now know (at least) that the “shingles” have exceeded their effective life but are in surprisingly good shape (original gel on the hull).

We decided to for-go peeling the bottom this season (repaint only) and shop around for estimates over the next year or two as we cruise to areas with lower standards of living (cheaper labor).  The decision to bottom paint and re-splash was based on two things…time available to conduct repairs (by both us and a respectable tradesman who can do this heavy/expensive work) and safety/value of the boat.

The boat is safe and the hull is solid…no doubt about it!  A few pin-hole blisters revealed some resin degradation where water penetrated the gel to the glass but nothing anywhere close to a “pox” condition.  The boat is valuable to us and we are comfortable that it will serve our cruising needs.  We saw (in 1 of 4 test areas) some indication of the start of de-lamination but the test found good glass at 220 mils (deep – but our hull is nearly 1 inch thick below the waterline).

So – we are on schedule to make the above listed repairs and slip back into the water to resume cruising in mid June.  Meanwhile, we will explore Italy until re-splash.