It’s been a couple of days since Beetle launched, it’s been a busy time and now I’ve got a moment to wrap up the haulout activities.
The original plan was to launch on Tuesday, that didn’t work as I wouldn’t have time (in the 15 minutes allotted between picking up the boat and dropping in the water ) to sand and coat twice the 10 areas hidden by the pads and the bottom of the keel. Turns out the yard will shift the jack stands for you at no charge, so I asked them to do that, and they did; one at a time, and Beetle remained upright throughout – this is a good thing. Tuesday was also a washed out day as it rained most of the day. I did have an hour or so in the early morning before the rain began to sand the pad areas, discover four small blisters, hit them with the Dremel tool, and spooge in some the 3M filler material – which dried before the rain hit it.
Wednesday morning the plan was to sling Beetle at 11AM or later, and I wold have the noon hang while the travel lift crew had their lunch. I scurried around the boat at 7AM and sanded the 3M filler smooth, rolled on a coat of paint, and also hit the waterline, leading edge of keel & rudder, and nose of hull with a third coat of paint – done by 8AM. At 9:30AM I was back at the bottom and hit the pads again with more paint. At 11AM the crew appeared with the lift and asked if I was ready to go, I was, and they lifted Beetle 6″ and pulled out all the supports – now I could get at the areas blocked by the two posts (one at each end of the hull) to sand and paint, plus the bottom of the keel.
The lift operator also said there wasn’t enough water at the lift ways to float Beetle, so I would be in the slings for a while – which turned out to be just shy of three hours (fine by me, more time to have paint dry). This gave me unexpected time to do a better-than-usual job on the bottom of the keel, and the areas under the posts turned out well. I also took a bunch of pictures of the hull showing the sling locations – this will help out the next lift operator so they can position slings well and avoid the propeller and leading edge of the keel.
Then I hung out for an hour or so and watched the water come in. Turns out that today and the next day featured the two lowest tides of the year in the area at -3.5 feet between MLLW (mean lower low water – the normal NOAA chart depth datum). Nobody had water, lots of water was gone missing for the afternoon – according to the office it would be difficult to get in or out of Port Townsend harbor with my 8′ draft, best to wait for the water to come back in and at least get to zero tide.
Waiting for the travel lift to launch pushed back my day’s plans and it wouldn’t be a good idea to push through to Orcas Island leaving that late in the afternoon as that would put me running in the dark through all the driftwood that had floated off the beaches (along with the low tide was a fairly high tide as well, I was told), and fortunately there was one open 50′ slip in the marina so I took that for the night.
The lift operators came back from lunch, off went Beetle to the ramp, I trailed along with my brother’s 3-part extension ladder that I’d used to get up and down from my treehouse apartment on the hard, and in the water we went. I told the lift operator that I had worked on one thru-hull and also repacked the stuffing box, so he lowered Beetle to with a couple inches of the concrete ways and I stepped on board to inspect for water ingress as we hit the water, and down we went.
The galley thru-hull was properly sealed (good thing), the stuffing box needed a turn on the compression nut to set the flax against the prop shaft and that leaked stopped – the operator dropped the slings and Beetle was floating.
One very nifty thing I fixed is the failure of the galley thru-hull to open entirely every time I operate the valley; sometimes the valve only lifts/opens part way and then the sink doesn’t drain well. I had broken that valve once, and had replaced it with a new valve from Forespar (the thru-hull/valves are the Forespar Marelon Flowtech units), and the replacement valve stem had for some unknown reason two stainless steel washers for compressing the O-rings, and the extra thickness of the washer compressed the O-rings just enough to not always let the stem slide up far enough to clear the hose inlet before the O-ring would catch on the lip of the hose inlet hole. I swapped in one of my spare thru-hull valves (I keep two spares on the boat as these thru hulls are not commonly found and sourcing parts would be difficult/time consuming) and noticed my spare stem had a single shiny stainless washer. Hmmm… goes I, I wonder if that’s the problem? Swapped in the stem and everything worked perfectly. Go figure. That solves 2-1/2 years of the galley sink not always draining properly. Yeah team!
Beetle motored quickly Thursday morning to West Sound Marina, I had to depart Port Townsend before 9AM to clear the shoal at the marina entrance before the water drained out on the minus tide, and then I was a downstream-Salmon on the motor across the sound to Cattle Point (between San Juan and Lopez Island – where they want to build the bridge (just kidding on the bridge)), was an upstream Salmon at that point and pushed on through the 2-4 knot ebb, only to arrive at West Sound Marina just in time to meet the -3.5 tide again and could not get to the back of the marina and into the slip. The slip I’m using is well protected, set in the back of the marina near shore, which is great for winter storms but not so great when there’s no water as the mud flats shelve up from the back of the marina and on to the shoreline of the little bay. The boats in that area of the marina need enough water to back out of their slips without running into the mud, and conversely on the way in I needed room to make the turn into the slip without hitting the mud bank. I waited two hours outside the marina and motored slowly up and down the length of West Sound to closely examine all the rocks that are normally covered by the water.
And finally we hit zero tide, I tested out the way in to the slip and there was enough water to make the turn without dragging the nice new keel bottom paint through the mud.
The haulout went well, all that work is done, should be good for another 2-3 years in the water. I’m glad the work is over, the Port Townsend Boat Haven yard was wonderful to work with, and I’m glad I happened across that facility.