Sunday, June 5, 2016


That seems the best term to describe the the last few days.  We continue to sit at Dowry Creek marina and weigh options but I have to admit I don't really like the alternatives...kinda reminds me of the current state of what qualifies as politics in this country.

We had a theory.  The theory was that we could take the boat somewhere to have a little work done. A fairly simple task of stripping old layers of bottom paint off the boat and starting fresh.  There are a couple other minor tasks that could also be done.  Ideally we would love to be able to drop the boat off somewhere and then spend a few weeks going back to visit family while the work is done. And if my boat was my Toyota, this would be what I would do.

But, I spent the last couple days fixing damage caused by supposed marine mechanic experts. Apparently in marine mechanic's school (I say as if there actually is one...which I seriously doubt these days) they fail to teach that aluminum is a softer metal than steel.  Or that torque specifications really should be followed when they are provided.  During my engine checks I found both heat exchangers and a related bracket loose.  Upon further inspection, I found that the threaded holes that held the studs on which this stuff was mounted had been stripped.  The fix was a relatively simple addition of Helicoils to restore the threads (and make them stronger).  I then found that another mechanic, apparently after not having an 8mm bolt for a new alternator install, decided to force a 3/8 bolt into the 8mm threaded hole.  The stainless steel bolt cut the aluminum case of the alternator enough that the bolt would hold for...about a year before the compromised threads finally gave way. The bolt failed on our trip to this marina and we were fortunate that the remaining bolts held it in place. Drilling out the threads and then through-bolting the alternator fixed this issue...again probably better than new.

The problem is that this leaves me wondering if I can even trust any boatyard to do a paint job without constant supervision.  Virtually all of my previous experience tells me I cannot, but the theoretical convenience of having work done while we are doing other necessary tasks is a strong argument for giving it one more try.  Paying someone lots of hard-earned money to screw up my boat makes a pretty strong counter argument.

After the work on the boat the past few days, we took the day off and did some touristy things (more on that in an upcoming post).  When we returned this evening, a new weather disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico was upgraded to Tropical depression Colin.  The second named storm in this now 5 day old season.  The current path prediction cone does not include us, but could possibly pass nearby as it crosses Florida and heads northeast. Given how bad the weather service is at predicting things, we pondered the idea of pushing further north to get a bit further away from the predicted path. Of course, knowing my luck, we would move and then the path would change putting is in the path of the storm instead of outside of it.

Decisions...decisions...and I can't really say I like any of the options.


  1. Hi Mike,
    You've had your share of inept marine mechanics and we've both read stories about crooked marine service people. Many monohull cruisers seem to do their own bottom work, but not many catamaran cruisers do it- maybe because of the amount of work on 2 hulls. Seems a belt sander with vacuum attachment is the norm for taking off many layers of bottom paint. Perhaps you could have whomever you have do it, send you daily pics of progress/ have that part of contract. DIY is perhaps a trip to Harbor Freight for sander and belts plus a week's labor. Are you considering Copper Coat or its equivalent? Hard or ablative?
    Doug in VT

    1. Oh, I think both do it in about the same amounts. I've done the light sand and apply a coat two years ago and that was fine. Getting rid of a number of layers where they are chipping away is a much bigger job. The conventional wisdom there is to pay someone to soda blast it down to gelcoat/barrier coat.

      From there we will apply a barrier coat, then likely apply a hard paint in an alternate color (say red) and the final ablative coats (in blue or black). The color change indicates when it is time to reapply...or so I'm told. The painting is pretty easy, so that part will likely be determined by how much they want to do the paint part (tenting and soda blasting is usually subcontracted out anyway).