As soon as we left Stuart, Florida on our way north, we decided our new boat needed a little love. So we pulled into Cracker Boy Boat Works in Fort Pierce for a few days of hard and dirty work! (In case you hadn’t guessed, this is going to be another “keepin’ it real” blog post)
We were lucky to find a DIY yard where we could do some of the work ourselves to save some money (Thanks, Bill!) but these three days in the yard would still wind up costing about 3.5 “boat units” – yikes! As we approached the haul out slip on Tuesday morning, we radioed the boat yard to let them know we were here. The office manager replied that the crew was almost ready for us – come in slowly with no lines and no fenders…. What? That’s a first for us, and I felt very nervous standing on the bow with nothing to do. But Capt. Mike drove us into the skinny little slip like a champ. And the crew did a great job of communicating and guiding us in with little more than boat hooks. Phew. It’s always a relief to get into a slip without anything going wrong!
The first job we tackled was replacing the CQR anchor with a new 85-pound Mantus we fondly refer to as “The Beast” ⚓ It’s literally the biggest anchor that would fit on our bow and we will sleep much better through wind, tide changes, and heavy current knowing The Beast is keeping us safe. Capt Mike did a ton of research, including trying to decipher our mystery anchor chain (C4 chain is not the same as G4 chain) and to ensure our windlass could handle the heavy load. While we were at it, we marked every 25 feet of chain with colored zip ties so that I know how much rode I am letting out as I drop anchor.
Next, we replaced all the zinc anodes on the hull. Zincs are intended to be “sacrificial” and to corrode more quickly than other important metal boat parts. On Sanitas, we only had two zincs to deal with. On this bigger boat, with more complex systems, we had tons! Including on the bow thruster and related to the refrigerator cooling system. My turn to do tons of research to try to figure out the right shape and size and number to order. (I was mostly right – only two of the zincs I ordered didn’t fit – oops) While we were at it, we scraped barnacles off the prop and bow thruster blades and painted them with epoxy.
Our main priority was to apply new anti-foul paint to the bottom. We knew of one spot where the bottom paint was scraped off, and we wanted to have a nice clean bottom before leaving her in the water in a brackish river without moving for six months. Sounds easy enough, right? But unseasonable Florida thunderstorms were out to get us, cutting our working hours short each day.
In fact, on Wednesday evening we endured one of the strongest storms I’ve ever weathered on a sailboat…. In the boat yard! Our wind instruments aren’t working, so I can’t tell you exactly the max wind speeds, but Capt. Mike estimated sustained winds of 40 to 50kts. The boatyard measured gusts of 68kts. 😲 The worst part was wind came from the side instead of the bow and really shook the entire structure, while heavy rain and hail fell. Mike went out in the worst of the storm to rescue cockpit cushions that were blowing around AND he watched the blades to the bow thruster (which we had taken apart to paint with anti-foul) catch the wind and start somersaulting across the boat yard. Yes, he sprinted after them and made a heroic rescue. That would have been an expensive loss! For my part, I was dressed in my fouly, with my shoes tied, holding a waterproof bag of our phones and wallets, sitting on the floor at the bottom of the companionway, braced in case the boat fell off the stands. Ready to run through the storm if Mike told me to. Luckily, none of that was necessary and we all survived with only some damage to one of the cockpit enclosure panels and an antenna. Phew!
One more challenge to this stint in the boatyard was our lodging. The yard doesn’t allow anyone to live on their boats overnight so I had to find a hotel or Airbnb. The only reasonably priced place I could find was a dumpy motel about 2 miles away on Rt 1. So each morning, and each evening we had a 2-mile walk to get to work – except for the two times Mike hitched us a ride! Luckily, we walked right by a Dunkin each morning – hurray for ‘Merica!
Between the long commute, the storms, and the long list of jobs, it’s a minor miracle that we finished the bottom paint in time. My back still hurts just thinking about it. But we did it! And scrambled to put everything back together before our 9:30 splash appointment on Friday morning. Yes, I did temporarily lose the bolt required to put the bow thruster back together, but that’s another story. Capt. Mike frantically painted the spots where the stands were, just as the lift crew arrived and stood around watching him, smoking their cigarettes and tapping their feet.
But we did it! Back in the water in time to make the 10:00 bridge opening. Huzzah!