Where did the winter go . . .?

What?!? March 5th?!?! ALREADY?!?! Where did January and February go? Let alone November? And now the ship is due to leave her shed for the first time in 2024 for her annual haul-out. Like a sneak-attack from behind, the haul-out appears from seemingly nowhere.

So Luke is wrapping up the projects he’s been working on and I am helping him and attempting to get the ship ready for being underway. It will be great to get her moving again and put the rebuilt engine through its break-in period, but there are many small tasks to complete, not the least of which is to clean up after Luke’s awesome though dusty work.

So we did unpack the box from England . . .

and carried the new head down to the engine room. Luke and I removed the old head and installed the new one. . . twice . . . We failed to install one important gasket on the exhaust manifold the first time around, and it got a bit stinky in the engine room . . . but we were so practiced up that the second time through we were amazingly fast!

So shiny!

Luke reinstalling the ancillary bits . . .

Boy, it feels good to finally understand and remedy the decades long problem with the coolant leak on the number one cylinder. Thanks to the Gardner mechanics from England!

While the coolant was drained from the system I changed the coolant-flow alarm. This rings the VERY LOUD general alarm bells if and when the coolant for the engine stops flowing, which is a very serious condition and spells near immediate damage for the engine if this happens . . . it can also sound in the middle of the night, when the engine was NOT running and no coolant was flowing anyhow and when everyone is sleeping peacefully for no apparent reason other than to give the skipper heart failure and a bunch of explaining to worried guests . . . . So I replaced the little bugger!

and another on-going project:  We finally got the replacement fire pump back from the machine shop where they created a custom bearing carrier for the pump and Luke and I took a couple of days to get it installed.

On a separate note. . .  as if one classic wooden vessel wasn’t enough work . . . I have been helping my life-time skipper, Dennis Mattson, now 89, with his magnificent fishing vessel, the B.C. Pioneer. He hand-built her 50 years ago but it is now too much for him so I took it to Campbell River to get it painted, cleaned and listed for sale. Dennis lived 70 years on fishboats; he never owned property or even a sofa, always just a small galley bench and table. I met Dennis when I was 16 and he has lived with us here on Sonora Island for the last 20 years. My son, Tavish, remarked as I steered the B.C. Pioneer away from our dock. “Dad, this is the first time since 1975 that the ship had moved without Dennis aboard.  . . .”

I took the ship to Campbell River and hauled her out. Ocean Pacific crews painted her hull and put new zincs on. I rented a car and lived in a motel for a week dealing with cleaning the ship and listing it with a boat brokerage . . . .

I fished on this ship 45 years ago as a kid!. . . . End of an era.

 

Then i had my own ship to get to the ship yard!  . . . Without further fanfare,  Jonas and Steve arrived at Sonora Island to help get the COLUMBIA III loaded up with tools and supplies and out of her shed for her annual out-of-water maintenance.

We motored the 3 hours to Campbell River the night before haul-out.

Here Steve captures “nervous Ross” as we get our first glimpse at the undersides after 5 months on tour in 2023.

I never like this day for numerous reasons, not the least is having my precious ship hovering 20 feet in the air!

And work starts right away. The life raft comes off with the aid of a fork-lift as it heads to Victoria for bi-annual inspection.

Steve had loaded up the supplies for the shipyard . . .  I don’t think he left much behind!

And the sanding and painting begins. Here Steve touches up some cement on the lower edge of the gumwood to ensure no toredos (ship’s worms) find their way into the planking.

This year I asked Ocean Pacific Marine to assign 2 welders for a small modification to the ship’s fore-foot. At some point before my time the ship had hit a rock and damaged the timbers at the forward end of the keel. The repairs were fine but always a bit messy looking. As the bowstem already had steel cladding I wanted the steel to extend further aft to “tidy up” the fore-foot.

Here is the “box” that was custom crafted. We covered the keep and inside of the box in tar . . .

and then clamped, through bolted and welded the “box” to the the existing steel “shoe”.

then a coat of primer . . .  

I tried to stay out of trouble in the wheel house replacing a non-functioning compass light switch, adding an AIS transmit indicator panel and  . . . .         

. . . being the Big Boss kinda guy, I also tackled some navigation equipment upgrades in the wheel house (adding a new NMEA 2000 back-bone and new heading indicator) I knew you were dying to know . . .

and running the Mothership office in the salon . . .

And by week’s end, the ship was ready to go back in the water. The good weather and good crew made for a smooth time ashore. Here Steve quickly touches up the copper paint after the travel lift picked up the ship exposing the spots where she sat on the blocks for the week.

Hero shot of the big boss . . .

 

And back she goes for our 20th season!

Easy, easy, gently back into the water . . .

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