Haulout completed

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.


Aft lifting sling location when doing the lift using a sling aft of the propeller. Lift operators want to see photos like this if you have them, the image shows them what they are working with and where to position their lifting gear. I’m definitely saving this one for the next haulout.

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 travel lift guys set up a strap that connects the two lifting slings, the idea being that the slings cannot slide out from under the boat. Turns out that slings really can accidentally slip out, the strap prevents that.

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.


All dressed up and waiting for water. The work is complete at this point, boat is in the slings, and there’s not enough depth available to float…

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.


Headed through the yard towards the ways. The lift operator is standing in the middle of the roadway, facing the lift, and walking backwards as the lift travels towards him. He wears a fancy belt-pack radio controller to operate the travel lift, hopefully he never falls down on the job!

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!


Headed out of Port Townsend with the ladders lashed to the foredeck – doesn’t everyone carry a ladder? How else would anyone climb the mast.

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.


Happily in the slip at West Sound, with a nice shiny clean propeller and bottom paint.

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.


– rob


Haulout Day 6 & 7

It’s 8AM Wednesday morning, day 7 in the yard.  Yesterday was pretty much a lost day as it rained continously after 10AM but two important things did happen: the yard guys came over and shifted jack stands so I could get at the areas under the pads, which were quickly sanded, three small blisters noted, hit with the Dremel tool, and put in some of the 3M vinyl ester compound.  Fortunately the compound was able to dry before the rain started.  Otherwise it was a quiet day in the boat, putting away tools and organizing for the run back to West Sound.

This morning (Wednesday) it’s dry and solid overcast, at 7AM I was out and running with the Makita random orbital 5″ sander to knock down the 3M divot repairs, and by 8AM had completed a first coat of bottom paint on the pads, plus a third coast of paint at the waterline, leading edge of keel and rudder, and a small bit above the propeller blades where water thrown by the prop strikes the hull.  So now it’s paint drying time and I have a moment to jot this down.

A second coat of paint goes on the pads in an hour, and I’ll pull the waterline tape from the hull.  After that it’s wait for the travel lift – which should be shortly before Noon.  The lift operaters take a 30 minute lunch break from Noon to 12:30PM, and I asked them if I could have the Noon hang in the slings while they took their break – this gives me perhaps 45 minutes to sand the small areas under the two hull supporting wood posts on centerline, plus the bottom of the keel, and slap two coats of paint on.  It seems ridiculous to expect paint to dry in the 15 minutes it will have on the way to the travel lift ways, but so far it always has – there must be a lot of solvent in the paint that can flash off quickly.

A good haulout so far, plan is to hit the water and while Beetle is still in the slings I’ll check for leaks at the galley sink drain thru-hull I worked on and the stuffing box where I replaced the flax.  Once I know those are good then I can take off for West Sound Marina up at Orcas Island.

– rob


Haulout Day 5

Day 5 in the yard was productive, a second coat of bottom paint went on everything and we’ve used the customary 2-1/2 gallons of bottom paint.  The remaining paint ends up applied as a third coat to the waterline, leading section of the keel and rudder, an extra layer on the hull above the propeller, and the leading bit of the hull – along with two coats on the areas hidden underneath the jackstands that I haven’t been able to get at yet.  Paint went on smoothly, didn’t spill any, and remembered not to step in the paint roller tray.  I’m also getting better at not banging my head while ducking under the spider web of chains connecting the jack stands together so they can’t slide out from under the hull.

The initial plan prior to haulout was to be picked up by the travel lift at 11AM this morning and I’d have perhaps an hour in the slings to sand and two-coat the pad areas; there are 10 pads to get to, and an hour isn’t sufficient time to sand and paint and paint and watch paint dry before hitting the water.  I walked over to the yard office and turns out their preference is to move jack stands for you (at no extra cost) such that you can take your time on the pad areas – so that’s what I opted for.  Rather than launching Tuesday Beetle is going to launch Wednesday, with jack stands being rearranged Tuesday.  This gives me worst case Tuesday afternoon to do the work (the lift operators depart the yard at 4:30PM, so I know the jack stands will be moved by then), the paint can dry overnight, and then we’re in the water Wednesday.

It’s now Tuesday morning (which is the beginning of the sixth day in the yard) and I’m waiting for the lift operators to have time to reset the jack stands.  I looked at what they’ve done on other boats, and they place a piece of wax paper between the freshly painted hull and the moved stand, push the stand up against the hull and tighten, leaving a new square foot of hull to work on adjacent to each stand.

Elsewise not much to report, just sanding and painting.  I also need to reconnect the transmission shift lever (a two minute task), and otherwise hang out in the boat yard while waiting for the jack stand mover types to do their thing.

Enjoy the day, it will be a simple day here with relatively little to do other than give the paint time to dry.  Those are the good kinds of day in a boat yard.

– rob


Haulout Day 4

Today featured most excellent progress on Beetle’s underside.  The forecast calls for 71 degree sunny weather, which is hot for ’round these parts, and no rain at all – good condition for painting.  First I had to sand back and flatten the blister repairs, and I got going good and early.

The divot repairs are left proud with filler as the epoxy does shrink slightly after drying, so if you make a perfectly level repair with the epoxy and let it dry you’ll find that what was a flat repair is now slightly dimpled low and you get to make a second pass to fill up the divot.  I learned this from Arne, along with lots of other details about working with resins and fiberglass – he built boats for a living and I got to spend some time with him in his shop over the years.  The other detail is with fairing material mixed into the epoxy – you can’t make a perfectly level repair in a divot as the material will be dragged by the squeege as you smear the spooge into the divot, resulting in one side being low and the other side being high.  Add to that the idea that you only want to spend the time filling the divot once, not twice (or even three times if you really didn’t get it the second time).  To that end, put some tape around a small divot to raise the height of the squegee the thickenss of the tape, and carefully mound up the spooge so it is slightly above the tape – this will harden above the divot and then you only sand down to the tape once, remove the tape, and the final sand to match the surface happens super-quickly.

I ran around the boat toting sander, vacuum cleaner, and ladder to zap repairs with the 80 grit paper, pull the tape, and final sand back to the hull shape only takes 3-4 seconds with the random orbital sander.  About this time I re-learned the other thing Arne had told me – don’t miss a divot when adding the fairing, and of course I discovered one hiding out by itself near the keel root – rats!  Good thing 3M has a vinyl ester fast cure filler (it’s premixed with glass bubbles), and I haven’t been to the Church of West Marine lately and it was Sunday and they were open and nearby – a short walk across the yard and for an exorbitant price I walked out with a nice metal can of 3M Premium Filler, that stuff sets in 20 minutes and while not as good as epoxy it does the job.


Tiger Beetle in the Blue period. It’s late in the afternoon, as I wasn’t able to commence painting until 2:30 due to the unexpected hour of paint stirring apprenticeship required to convert lumpy goo into paint.

Divot sanding took several hours, including the now-filled and sanded extra one that I had missed.  Time to paint!  The bottom paint is 53% copper tinted blue that comes in one gallon contains, Z-Spar’s The Protector – it’s a hard epoxy paint that can be sanded, and each can of paint weighs a lot.  Normally it takes 10 minutes in the paint shaker to stir up, there’s no communal paint shaker that I could find here in the Port Townsend Boat Haven, so I figured 15 minutes with an electric drill and paint stirrer should do the trick – wrong! I opened up the can to see a nice film of green solvent, poked in my wooden stir stick and it descended perhaps two inches and stuck hard into a huge lump of hard copper and goo that filled the can, no wonder this stuff is heavy.

An hour later I had stirred that paint into a blue soupy smooth mix suitable for hull application.  I have developed a new appreciation for paint shakers.  I suspect that I could install one here at the yard set up similarly to the showers: insert quarters, turn handle, paint will shake for 10 minutes.  Add quarters for more time.  That paint shaker would pay for itself quite quickly.

To actually stir the paint the best solution is to scoop out a good hunk of solidified goo into a 2 liter paint pot, pour off some of the solvent also into the pot, insert drill at a 45 degree angle into the remaining stuff in the paint can and start the stirrer rotating at low RPMs – this gives a vertical stirring motion to the material in the can.  While this is going on it’s helpful to be sitting down on a convenient block of timber with the can wedged in between your feet, drill held in the right hand and balance against your knee, take your free hand and start scraping around inside the can with the wooden stir stick to kick loose goo stuck around the bottom of the can.  I figured all that out while experimenting with how to stir the first gallon of paint – the second gallon only took 45 minutes to stir.  When the goo in the can looks properly soupy then pour back in the material from the paint pot (oddly enough, the solvent in the paint pot and nicely dissolved the lump of goo in the pot) and keep going to thoroughly mix back in all the solvent from the paint pot.  And don’t spill.

Rolling on the paint is actually the fun part, I got out the 6″ hot dog foam rollers and went to town on the hull.  The goal is to leave a little nap as possible and minimize stripes of excess paint at the roller edges, the rounded ends of the hot dog rollers makes this relatively easy though it does take more time that hitting the hull with a 9″ roller with 3/16″ nap – but that leaves a significantly rougher surface and I’d prefer smoother to rougher.


Sexy black blades on the MaxProp – Beetle is the only boat here with such a propeller color scheme. A second coat goes on today.

The fun part was to try out the Black Widow paint on the propeller, that stuff was not quite so gooey as the copper bottom paint, and with just a quart to work on it mixed up quickly.  I poured out a small amount into a paint pot, thinned it 10%, and used a small brush to apply it to the propeller blades – it goes on nicely and dried rather smoothly.  Will be interesting to see if it actually does anything, hopefully it scares off barnacles.


Most propellers in the yard look like this one – polished and ready to back in the water.


Only this propeller is huge – that’s my hand in there to give a sense of scale. I suspect a crane or fork lift was needed to moved this prop into position for mounting on the prop shaft, and the nut is way bigger than any wrench I have.

End of the day my parents called in a pizza delivery order which arrived in a small purple car driven by a fellow with a long white beard, a great way to wrap up the first day of painting.

Monday is second round of paint, everything is stirred up as of last night, and we’re due for another good day of painting weather.  I also need to check with the lift operator to find out how I’m going to get at the spots I can’t sand/paint due to the 8 jack stands, 2 post supports (one fore, one aft) and the bits of the bottom of the keel the boat is standing on.  I’m going to see if I can get an overnight hang in the lift, or if they re-block boats as I haven’t seen anyone doing an overnight hang in the slings.

– rob

Haulout Day 3

With the sanding done,  I spent the day doing smaller detail things to set up for paint application (hopefully on Sunday).

First up was taping and filling the small blisters; I normally use West 407 microballoon fairing compound, but for some reason I decided to check with West Systems to see if they had any other better ideas – and sure enough, they want you to use 406 Colloidal Silica.  I went and bought some at the chandlery, mixed it up, and applied the white material to the blistered areas.  Before the application I had wiped down the ground out area with acetone, wiped off any dust surrounding the dremel-tool-created divot, and taped off the divot.  The tape is important, as it limits the amount of sanding needed to get the shape back to matching what it was before you started, plus it leaves the epoxy/spooge mix slightly proud of the divot; being slightly proud means only one sanding is needed to cut back to the original hull shape as opposed to two passes with the spooge and sanding.


Little divots surrounded by tape, with the 407 spooge squeeged into place. The material is quite sot and sands quickly.

The 406 colloidal silica set up hard, so hard in fact that it popped out of the divots while sanding.  That was not good.  This suggests the material won’t flex with the hull and paint, and if little bits popped out I’d have no bottom paint in those areas plus extra divots to slow the boat down.  Bleah!  I went back and removed all the 406, mostly by simply prying the tape away from the hull and taking the 406 with it, re-taped everything, and went back with the softer 407 fairing compound.  That cost most of a day of nice drying weather and added a couple of hours work late in the afternoon.  But it’s now Sunday morning and the 407 set up well over night and I can hit it with the sander this morning – it was relatively warm last night at 55 degrees and the 105/205 resin mix cured just fine.  But back to yesterday.


The view from starboard – the worst areas for small blistering ard above the keel starboard, that portion of the original fiberglass layup must have been relatively resin-dry when the boat was built. I find I’ve had to hit most of the divots in this area – not so many this haulout.

The waterline is taped for paint rolling, the transmission hub is installed with the prop lined up with one blade feathered vertically aft of the strut – that’s the last drag position for the propeller when sailing and it’s convenient to look inside the motor box and rotate the shaft by hand to line up with the mark indicating vertical blade position.


The MaxProp lined up in low-drag position, with one blade up trailing behind the strut. The silver zinc is special for this propeller, and uses 3 allen wrench machine bolts to attach to the hub. The blades will become black later today when I paint on the Pettit slippery paint.

I sprayed the Pettit zinc paint onto the propeller – taking care to not cover the zinc anode, grease injection ports, and the dials indicating pitch adjustment at the leading edge of the prop.  Also taped over the slot where the prop hub rotates relative to the pitch adjusters – should be no binding in that area.  The prop now has an unusual 3-color look (gold, grey, silver), it will be interesting to see how weird it looks when the blades go black with the slippery paint – I bet not many propellers look like that!  Maybe next time I should paint a spiraling red stripe across the blades such as one might see on an aircraft engine propeller or jet engine intake, that would create an optical illusion and cause fish to think they are falling if they look at the prop while it’s spinning.

So it’s Sunday morning, Al’s sander is downstairs on the tarp, I’m going to attach it to my smaller Makita random orbital sander for purposes of capturing dust from the 407 sanding.  First step is to swap out to my third Fein vacuum cleaner bag; it takes a second vacuum cleaner (the ShopVac I borrowed from the barn) to clean out the first vacuum cleaner from any excess paint dust inside the unit, plus pull dust and bits from the Fein’s secondary air filter.  Sanding the fairing should go quickly, and I’m hoping to be rolling paint by Noon.

– rob


Haulout Day 2

Had a most excellent 14-1/2 hour day working on the boat.  The morning started with a brief conversaion with the lift operator at 7:30AM about a chain blocking access to prop shaft removal, and wrapped up around 10PM when I got the fourth wrap of flax (actually teflon and graphite) inside the stuffing box nut.

Dave at Boat Haven Harbor Diesel had asked me to have the propeller shaft out of the boat and he would be back at 10 in the morning to swap out the cutlass bearing.  I had the shaft clear of the transmission the night before and upon inspection discovered that one of the chains connecting the jack stands was exactly in the way of the prop and shaft on their way out of the hull – I couldn’t pull the shaft aft far enough to clear the strut before running into the bar-tight chain.  Removing the propeller is a possibility but that’s a big job, especially with a MaxProp where the shaft nut is located inside the propeller body… not something I wanted to get into.


The coupler between the propeller shaft (shiny steel in the center) and the transmission (behind the red disk) needs to be removed first to free up the shaft. It’s mild steel and slightly rusty but all everything comes apart quite easily.

The travel lifts are the first things running in the morning at most any yard, and Boat Haven is no different.  When I heard the first lift’s diesel engine fire up I was across quickly to ask the lift operator if he could shift the chain?  He said, “Sure – let’s do that right now!” and he walked over to Beetle, backed off the jack stand, dropped the chain, and tightened the stand back up.  He told me that people move jack stands and supports all the time even though they are not supposed to, and one morning they had arrived at the yard to see a fellow painting the bottom of his boat *after* he had removed ALL of the jack stands down the side of the hull – fortunately the boat was just slightly leaning the other way and there was time to rush over and push jack stands up against the hull.  He also invited me to back off the jack stand when I was done, reset the chain, and tighten up the stand again.  Never have had a yard invite me to adjust anything holding up the boat.  And the shaft slide out easily, ready for Dave to appear.


I like to mark everything and take notes or pictures so I can install the parts exactly as they came out – Sharpie pens are good for that, and I have a special one that writes in silver. The alignment tolerance between the hub and the transmissionis .004″, I have it aligned to .002″ and I want to put the parts together exactly as they came apart to retain that tolerance.

Then George appears early, he tells me Dave never does anything and instead Dave had told him to do the cutlass bearing change.  He popped out a saws-all, plugged it in, and four minutes later had the cutlass bearing out – he said he’s done thousands of these things and all you need to do is relieve the pressure on the brass barrel of the bearing (cutting through barrel wall along the length of the barrel with the saw did that – so he’s good enough to leave a tiny sliver of metal on the outer edge).  A quick tap with the right diameter socket on an extension drove the bearing out.  And he drove away.

I got busy on the bottom sanding, lots to do there, and kept at it for the entire day.  Al’s Fein sander did a super job with the 3M 80 grit paper – the paper is a mix of ceramic and aluminum oxide and I’d not used it before, it cuts wonderfully on the hard epoxy paint.  When I finished the power sanding it was on to 120 grit paper in hand (for leading edges of keel and rudder) or 120 grit on my little 3M semi-soft foam sanding pad – great for more gradual curves and along the waterline.  The vacuum hookup for the power sander doesn’t work quite as well when hand sanding, and I managed to drizzle of fair bit of blue powder onto me and eventually I looked something like a Blue Meanie, but that washed off later as it was only dust.

There are a number of small blisters in the hull at each haul-out, this one is no exception, I got out the Dremel tool and knocked open the blisters – all of them except one were in fairing compound from when the boat was built back in 1983.  It’s annoying to keep knocking open small (dime-size) divots in the smooth hull as then they have to be dried, taped off, re-filled, and sanded smooth.  That’s Saturday’s main job (it’s Saturday today, so that’s today’s job).

With the blisters popped, I had time so I decided to attack the stuffing box.  There are four wraps of 3/16″ square profile graphite & teflon flax packing that is pressed into the stuffing box nut, and it’s a non-trivial exercise to get them all in there and still get the nut to thread onto the stuffing box.  The nut is tapered inside such that as the nut is threaded on the flax is pressed gradually harder against the propeller shaft, and you can control how much water can flow in through the stuffing box by tightening or loosening the nut.  The goal is 1 drop every 20-30 seconds into the boat, that’s sufficient to cool the shaft where it is rubbing against the flax when the shaft is turning – though I can’t set that until Beetle is back in the water.  Two hours later I had cleaned the stuffing box threads, cut and wrapped the flax around the shaft, and pressed the wraps into the nut – one wrap at a time to drive them deeper into the nut.  Working under the transmission is never easy, access is limited, so it takes a long time working the nut in 1/6 rotation increments.   I like the V-drive for access to the prop shaft, I do not like the V-drive for lack of access to the stuffing box – exactly the reverse of a straight-thru tranmission.

On to today’s tasks: wipe out the blisters with acetone, tape them off, get some West 406 filler (colloidial silica) and fill blisters to be just proud of the paint (the thickness of the surround tape) for easy sanding later on.  Tape the waterline, install the shaft hub to connect the shaft back to the transmission, grease the MaxProp.  So a relatively small work load now that the hull is sanded.

One interesting thing I learned from George is that a cutlass bearing is set for .006″ of play between the rubber and the shaft, and he doesn’t like brass barrels in bronze struts as the brass can be eaten away.  So he installed a phenolic-bodied cutlass bearing and I have one of those.  He said brass is good for a glassed-in cutlass, and phenolic is the choice for a cutlass set in bronze.  The installer tool is nothing more than a length of all-thread, two brass nuts, and two large flat washers – as George said, “It’s just hardware store stuff, works great.”

– rob

Haulout day 1 – going well

It was a drizzly wet overcast start to the day, and my appointment with the Travel Lift was at 8AM.  I dumped the fresh water tanks to take weight out of the boat (the less weight while on the jack stands the better), and motored backwards the short distance to the travel lift piers.  It was still drizzling, not so much fun but at least it wasn’t raining heavily.


Making the turn around the yard office from the lift ways – and avoiding all the stuff in the way. Joy-stick travel lift operation is amazing!

The lift was straight on time.  I got the bigger of the two small lifts at 75 ton (the third lift at 300 ton is so big as to not be useful for Beetle) – and that still wasn’t enough to lift Beetle sufficiently that the 8 foot draft keel would clear the ground on the way up before the stern ‘H’ frame carrying the radar antenna and wind generator met the travel lift cross-beam.  I talked with the lift operator a bit, we examined the prop shaft location relative to the boat name letter locations on the hull and he proposed that we run fore & aft lines to connect the slings, he’d lift from ahead of the keel (easy to find) and behind the prop shaft strut (not so easy to find).  If the boat were lifted this way then there’s no need to drop the headstays and all would be well.  Sounded good to me, Beetle had been lifted that way at the yard in Ensenada except that yard did not run connectling lines between the slings and I got yelled at when next hauling at Svendsen’s when Tim (the lift operator) said I was lucky the aft sling hadn’t slipped out from under the boat – never do that again.


Each boat gets its own blue tarp which is nailed to the ground with big spikes through plywood squares. Beetle gets to be nose-to-the-highway (which is a small street at 25 MPH speed limit).

So here we were doing it again, but this time with big hefty straps joining the two slings such that neither sling could slip out from under the boat.


And we’re done, the lift has driven off and it’s time to attack bottom.

The lifts at Port Townsend are operated by remote control – the lift operator wears a belt-pack fancy controller and walks backwards from a position perhaps 50 feet in front of the lift and controls speed, direction, turning and all the other goodies (incuding up, down on the slings) with his thumbs on joy sticks on a yellow box held at his waist.  It’s a great system as he can stop the machine and check all around before beckoning the machine towards him some more.  The lifts I’m used to have the operator (such as Tim at Svendsen’s) standing at the controls in an open cab aft of the engine on one of the lift legs – and the boat’s keel blocks his view of the opposite corner.  That makes Tim entirely dependent upon a second person walking the opposite side of the lift and using visual signals to let Tim know that the lift isn’t going to drive into a building, off the the rails, or into another boat (Travel Lifts are quite loud as the diesel engine has zero sound proofing).  With a remote control setup the operator can see everything that is going on with while slowly moving things about.


Evil nasty barnacles on the bronze propeller are the first to go. I had this entirely cleaned three weeks previously in West Sound when I dived the boat, and already these guys are back.


An hour or so of work and the result is a sparkly bronze propeller sans barnacles. Hopefully the fancy zinc and slippery bottom paint on the prop will minimize barnacles in the future – will be interesting to see if the idea works.

Beetle was set in spot 205, nose towards the ‘highway’ (which is often full of stopped cars when the ferry drops everyone in town at once), and it was still raining.  My theory was “if rain do thruhull and propeller/shaft, if sunny go sanding”.  It was rain – so I got going on the MaxProp 3 blade feathering propeller and removed many small nasty barnacles, plus the protein glue they use, plus extra bits stuck in the glue.  Someone needs to figure exactly how it is that a barnacle can glue itself so solidly to things underwater – then we could all glue stuff together even when wet or underwater and never have to think about it again.  But I persevered and the barnacles went away – mostly due to an Xacto chisel knife, a bronze wire brush wheel chucked in a drill, and 400 grit sandpaper.


Evening time, Beetle partly sanded on port side, it’s after 8 o’clock so I stopped sanding and went for a walk around the yard. Good stuff today.

It stopped raining mid-day so I pulled out Al’s sander, hooked it up with 80 grit and tried out his wonderful Fein random orbital sander.  The thing is amazing, at 6″ diameter the pad covers a lot of area, the 3M paper cuts through the old epoxy paint layer brilliantly, and the vacuum sucks up all the dust.  I spent more time moving the ladder around then I did sanding the hull – that’s how fast the sander worked. Then it started raining again and the sander had to go back inside the boat so I went back to the prop shaft and cleaned it  – which lead to the (semi-anticipated) realization that the rubber cutlass bearing which supports the Nitronic 50 stainless prop shaft in the strut had worn and should be replaced – if you can wiggle the prop shaft around inside the strut it’s time to swap in a new cutlass bearing.

I don’t have a cutlass bearing press, nor do I have a spare bearing – hopefully somebody in the 100+ businesses in the yard did.   I made a couple of phone calls around and found Dave at Haven Boatworks Marine Diesel, he walked over with his calipers, measured the bearing (1.25″ ID, 1.75″ od, 5.0″ length), announced he would have one available in the morning and it would save a lot of time and money if I could have the prop shaft removed so he wouldn’t have to do that; off he went and I started in on getting the shaft clear of the transmission coupling.  Pulling the prop shaft is never fun, usually it’s a big argument and tussle with watertight glands, Loctited bolts, etc…. but I’ve played this game before and have the tools to extract the transmission coupling, stainless key, stuffing box, and clean the Nitronic 50 so it will slide out of the boat.  I’ve gone so far as to pull the shaft with the boat in the water, that is especially exciting as you have to slide in a slug as the shaft exits the boat or else you have a great big hole in the bottom of the boat.  Two hours later I had success!

Then the sky cleared, so back to sanding – I have perhaps 1/3 of the hull sanded down to the nice dull blue of the underlying epoxy paint layer.


Hawaiian Chieftan is hauled out here as well – this boat used to run around San Francisco Bay and have cannon battles with another tall ship. The boat looks both smaller and bigger here in the yard – the rig looks gigantic, the hull comes off as oddly under-sized. Lots of metal work going on with this boat.

Tonight I’m living high up in my own personal tree house, balanced on the keel with jack stands to prevent Beetle from falling over.  I overheard one of the jack stand crew say, “Well, that might work” as he banged in a wooden wedge to support the keel.  I mentioned this to the lift operator and he replied, “No – you’re not going anywhere.  At least not until the wind blows hard sideways through the yard.”

So we’re way up in the air tonight and it’s been a good day.

– rob