Thursday, May 10, 2012

It was a "boundary stretcher"

Rikki-tikki-tavi was hauled out of the water on October 10, 2011, at Seaview North Boatyard in Bellingham. We are very pleased with how the crew at Seaview handled our 26.5-foot wide multihull. With barely two inches to spare on each side of the slot, they carefully secured and lifted us with two straps slung from their 150-ton Travelift, having left most of the straps laying out the tarmac. The lighter weight straps were much better for us than the humongous ones used on the 300-ton lift at Port Townsend. There is much potential for hull damage to Rikki's 1/2" thick wooden sides due to their being hefty enough for hauling out weighty vessels such as tugs and barges. Seaview's smaller slings removed a great deal of anxiety for us.

As we waited for the boat to be positioned properly, with the weight being taken by the forward and aft aka, our thoughts were running wild. How long Rikki-tikki-tavi would be on dry land? We knew there was water damage, but just how extensive was it?

There were numerous benefits of hauling out in Bellingham: We would be able to retrieve our car, which is stored in Mount Vernon, and have transportation for the duration. All of our favorite stores–Trader Joe's & Costco–are nearby. There is also Harbor Freight and a wonderful, old-fashioned hardware store called Hardware Sales, we soon discovered. We would make good use of all that was available. And we were so glad it was easy to get to! At Port Townsend, we would not have had the car...

When Rikki-tikki was hanging over the asphalt in the lift, we watched as he was power-washed. At Port Townsend, we'd had to do this ourselves, getting soaked in the process. We took advantage of a Seaview special: free haulout with the purchase of Seahawk bottom paint and hull prep by the Seaview crew. 

Once situated on stands in the yard, our first problem to solve the construction of a cover over the boat to protect the deck areas that needed repair from the elements. We bought heavy duty 16' x 20' tarps at Costco to drape over the boom aft the mast and two smaller 8' x 10' tarps to cover forward of the mast, which is stepped in the center cockpit. We used PVC pipe across the boom and tied off the tarps every which way. We laid much rope over the top of the tarps to keep them from buffeting in the wind. This system worked very well–it even held on the night the wind blew for hours between 40-50 mph, gusting into the 70s! The noise was outrageous, however. Fortunately, when this wind storm happened on November 22, Nina was away in Sacramento (from November 1 to January 5) assisting her mother's recovery from knee replacement. She is very glad to not have been on the boat as it was perched atop spindly tripods. She could only check the weather station on the roof the the adjacent Bellingham Cold Storage building. With the live webcam, Nina could see exactly what Clark was experiencing from the comfort of her studio.
Under the wing, rudder & centerboard.

Needless to say, Clark had to deal with some challenging winter weather while performing repairs on our intrepid wooden trimaran. There were many frosty mornings, too, which made getting to the ladder leading down to the pavement treacherous. 

Four major areas of the topsides had to be torn out and rebuilt due to water finding its way into layers of plywood and spreading laterally much farther than one would imagine. There was also wet wood in the bottom of the rudder and the leading top edge of the centerboard where the fiberglass sheathing had been stretched apart to form a fissure where water could seep into the plywood core, despite the epoxy coating and saturation. We were rather disheartened when we discovered the extent of the damage that had occurred over Rikki-tikki's seven years of being out in the weather. This was not a short haul-out to paint the bottom and clean up the prop! Here are some photos that show a quick recap of the work...
My rather forced smile.

We were shocked and dismayed to discover water had wicked into the core of the rudder at the bottom. It has also wicked into the plywood core of the centerboard, which we had to "drop" out of its pivot pin in order to affect repairs.

It was painful for Clark to have to tear apart what he had so carefully constructed just a short while ago. He found himself asking if these kinds of repairs would be something he'd be required to do often? He certainly had not anticipated that, after only seven years, he'd be ripping things apart.

Back to dry wood.
We decided to tear back to dry wood and replace everything. All the damage appears to have been the result of failure of caulking around hardware mountings, such as the winches, a block, and the forward chainplate. We really cannot explain the infiltration of water in the rudder and centerboard other than the wood moves. It responds differently than the epoxy it is coated with and different from the fiberglass sheathing, which doesn't stretch. The sheathing separates along the weave, creating little fissures into which water finds its way. These "zippers" have occurred on edges and corners in numerous spots on the boat. Along with all the large areas needing repaires, there were a few dozen smaller areas undergoing repair simultaneously.

Rebuilt deck, coaming & winch pads.

We stressed over how to deal with what needed to be done and, most importantly, how to keep it from happening again. Rot–a wooden boat's most feared foe (besides worms). I researched online at the Web Locker nearby that had internet access while Clark began tearing into the starboard coaming and the bow.
Repainted, winches mounted on new bases.

Interestingly, I found much discussion about the value of ethylene glycol in halting fungus and rot. We ordered a quart of it to be shipped. Another benefit of being at Seaview–we could order items from Fisheries Supply and have them sent up with the Seaview truck. Clark coated the wood with the ethylene glycol once he'd torn back to where it was dry (or drier) in hopes it would help stop spores from starting an area of dry rot.

I had to leave on November 1st for my flight to Sacramento, but before I left, I stocked the boat with nonperishables so we wouldn't have to fill the Honda with stuff in April, when we returned from California for our summer season of cruising up north.
Tearing into the bow.

Torn out deck.

Rebuilt & curing under quartz work lights.
To combat the cold and give epoxy a fighting chance to cure, we purchased three heat lamps. Clark mounted them on wood based and built wire cages around them. They were aimed up underneath the deck areas that were under repair. We also bought six 250w quartz work lights. These were on constantly, day and night. It was quite a puzzle and struggle to get them aimed properly and moved from one location to the next. It was fortunate that the kilowatts we used were included in the yard fee!

May 2nd, 2012: We have left the dock and no longer have regular internet access. We find it necessary to leave the narrative at this point. Please enjoy the photos until we can finish the story for you. They are worth a thousand words, correct?

To your health!
Clark & Nina

Heat lamps and rain protection.

A lot of deck had to be replaced.

Heating the port side while it cures.
All seven quartz lights as the paint cures.

Completed port aft deck.

It began to snow on January 15th.
Soon we had about five inches of the white stuff.

Final hull color going on.
The Honda sheltered under Rikki's wing.

Going back to the water...
The trial is finally ended.

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