Well, it hardly seemed like the boat was in the shed for long this winter and it was already time to bring her out again. Like a siren song for boaters, the annual Spring Haul-out quickens the heart: the gripping terror of seeing the underwater parts of the old girl after a year of wear and tear, the excitement for potentially expensive and labour intensive discoveries and even if all goes well, as it usually does, there is the joyful anticipation of crawling around under a drippy, wet boat scrapping barnacles off cooling pipes whilst lying flat on my back directly below the pipes. And of course, OF COURSE! the exhilaration of painting the undersides of the ship with stinky, toxic anti-fouling paint. Then, and only then, one can add the extra thrill of having Transport Canada send a new inspector to survey the ship. . . . Drama , , , cardio vascular shock testing. . . suspense . . . potential financial ruin . . .Really, this is the stuff of major character development and there isn’t a Skipper on the coast that would want to be anywhere else come springtime,
Here, grandson, Theo, leans into the big gate in preparation for the COLUMBIA III coming our from her protective shelter.
The shed always looks big with the ship pulled out.
A three hour run to Campbell River and Ocean Pacific Marine is ready for me first thing in the morning. I find it deeply terrifying to see my precious ship wobbling about on flimsy little straps high above the water . . . . its the perfect scenario where I could be blackmailed . . .. “give me your wallet or I’m going to drop her!!”
But everything looked fine, . . .FINE ROSS! JUST FINE! So relax already! Here she pauses as they pressure wash the hull before parking her in our spot for the week.
Ocean Pacific is always great for the personal touch. Here my shopping cart of grocery supplies is lifted with the forklift to save me lugging everything up the ladder!
And my son, Tavish, timed it perfectly to have his boat hauled at the same time so he could help me with my tasks.
In an effort to keep dust levels down, the shipyard has curtailed sanding in the open air . .
So I washed the hull and then hand sanded the water-line gum wood with wet sand paper. 132 feet of water line . . . my arms were sore the next morning.
and a coat of Cetol on the water-line gum wood . . .
And Transport Canada needs to see my anchor rodes flaked out every 4 years
and Tavish dancing back and forth between his boat and mine . . The usual ship yard mess on the back deck . . . I am never sure what I will need so I throw lots on . . I have special plywood covers to protect my fancy hatches from damage.
I do most work myself, but I pay the yard to remove the rudder and pull the shaft in preparation for the 4 year Transport Canada inspection.
This shaft was new in 2016 and shows no sign of wear. The polishing is where the packing gland contacts the shaft keeping the sea water where it is supposed to be . . . not in my ship!!
Tavish prepping the rudder for new zinc anodes
This is the cutlass bearing. A big rubber sleeve that takes the load of holding up the propeller. This was also new 4 years ago. With time, the rubber wears (usually on the bottom from the weight of the shaft pushing down) and the grooves cut in the rubber will become less pronounced at the points of wear.
Here is the part of the shaft that rides inside the cutlass bearing. No signs of wear . . . Transport Canada requires the barrels from the thru-hull fittings to be removed for inspection at this time as well.
The anti-fouling paint is done. I pay the yard crews to paint but it is never a very good job. They are use to painting steel or fiberglass boats and that is a very different proposition. Anti-fouling paint on those vessels keeps the hull from growing seaweed and barnacles which slow the vessel down. If they miss a little spot who cares? There are a few barnacles in a corner some where. No big deal . . . But on a wooden vessel the paint protects the WOOD, which is the structure of the ship itself, from sea life that likes to drill nasty, yucky, terrifying and dangerous and EXPENSIVE and structurally damaging HOLES into the very planks and timbers of the COLUMBIA III !!!!! So any . . . and please read, ANY little missed spot in a hard to reach corner, even when lying on your back (my back!) on a bed of squished and smelly barnacle scrapings with toxic copper paint dripping onto my respirator/face shield and running down my arm MUST GET ADEQUATELY PAINTED! NO ANDS, IFS, OR BUTS! PERIOD!! So I always spend a bunch of time checking the hull and painting all the really hard to reach corners and seams . . . The COLUMBIA III demands nothing short of perfection when it comes to anti-fouling.
Draft marks, done. And then it all gets reassembled. Pouring molten zinc into the propeller anode.
And only a week later . . . away she goes!
Ok. Ok. I am not religious but I do pray a lot when the COLUMBIA III is wavering high above sea level! I also cross my fingers and rub rabbits feet and generally try to remain calm with images of the ship safely back in the water. I’m not a worry wart , , , but personally, I find it best to hedge my bets . . .
And home and back in the shed in time to start the real spring sanding and painting of the topsides.