I Got Dem Old DB Blues

DB is, of course, the Dreaded Blisters!

It’s been several months since I’ve blogged, mostly because my day job has been more-than-usually overwhelming. But Barbara and I had planned a long trip to Florida to work on and sail Dream SeQueL during August of this year. Neither of us had been down since the end of March because of my day job commitments and Barbara’s overload with Sheltie Rescue of Utah. Consequently, we were really looking forward to getting a lot of work done and going on a decently-long sailing trip.

I flew to Florida on July 21 to prepare the boat for a bottom job and the every-third-year insurance survey, but I had to be in Toronto for a business meeting for most of the following week. I planned to sail our P40 to the boatyard (Snead Island Boat Works, or SIBW) where the bottom job and survey were to be performed, after which I’d fly to Toronto for my meeting, then return a week later to a boat ready to sail back to her home dock. Barbara was going to join me on August 9 and I would spend the intervening days working on the many tasks I’d planned to take care of.

Everything went as planned…until I got to Toronto, when I discovered a voicemail message waiting for me. The short version of the voicemail is “You’ve got a blister problem. There are a couple of dozen largish blisters and a couple of hundred smaller ones.” OMG! In a bit of a panic, I called SIBW and talked to them about the problem. Then I phoned Barbara and discussed it with her. Mind you, when we purchased Dream SeQueL in late July 2005, we were given documentation showing that she had previously had a blister problem that was resolved by grinding out the blisters and given her a good (Interlux Interprotect) barrier coat. We — naïvely, as it turns out — presumed that the problem was “solved forever”. Turns out that barrier coats have proven effective for about a decade, so the fact that we got 13 years out of it is pretty good. Nonetheless, we had not budgeted the additional $12K (above the bottom paint job itself) to resolve this problem. We agonized for a day or two, then accepted reality and told SIBW to go ahead.

I asked SIBW if it was possible for me to work on the interior of the boat while they were doing the bottom, but got the old “sorry, but our insurance won’t permit customers to be on their boats while they’re on the hard” response. That was not unexpected, but it was disappointing. After all, the committee whose meeting I attended and chaired in Toronto was going to take the month of August off, which would make it much easier for me to be away from my desk for a month. And I have a lot of work to get done before April 2012, when Barbara and I plan to take a couple of close friends to the Bahamas on our first Gulf Stream crossing.

At the end of the week (Sunday), I flew back to Tampa and was at SIBW early on Monday morning for the survey. Happily, the survey went well overall, but a “new” problem was discovered by the surveyor. Actually, I knew about the problem, but two previous surveyors (including the guy who did my pre-purchase survey) missed it entirely. My quadrant had a serious crack in it! All evidence suggested that this crack had been there for several years before I bought the boat, and it had not shown any indication of incipient failure, but this surveyor was going to require that it be fixed ASAP. SIBW had already notified me that the stainless steel muffler (jammed into a tiny little compartment on the port side just forward of the galley) was rusting and was likely starting to leak CO into the boat, which meant that it absolutely had to be replaced. (The estimate for custom-fabricating a new SS muffler was around $600, but SIBW thinks they can fabricate a fiberglass replacement for much less money that will never corrode!)

So, here I am now, back in Utah, facing a $15,000 blister repair and bottom paint job, well over another $1000 for a replacement quadrant and a new tiller arm for the new autopilot I’d planned to install this month, a several-hundred-dollar muffler, and certainly several hundred dollars to free the lower sheaves on my stern turning blocks (for the job sheets, etc.), plus an unknown cost to fix or replace the line clutches on the mast end of the boom and to un-freeze the connection ends on the whisker pole. We’re guessing a total of maybe $20,000, when we’d budgeted about $5,000. That really hurts! And what hurts even more is that the boat will be out of the water for “three or four months” as it dries sufficiently to apply the barrier coat, so we can’t be getting any of the work done that we’d hoped to do.

When SIBW lets us know that the boat’s finished and ready to splash (some time in November, we hope), I’ll go back out and sail her back to her home dock in Clearwater Beach, then get started on that work, plus whatever else I had already scheduled for that later trip. If I were to stay there for the entire month of December, with Barbara joining me for most of the month, it’s likely that we’d be able to complete all of the needed work, but we wouldn’t have much time left for a cruise. We’ll find a way, though, guaranteed!

Here’s an abridged list of what we want/need/plan to accomplish before we’re ready to head off to the Bahamas:

  • Replace the quadrant and the muffler
  • Add a tiller arm and install a new below-decks Raymarine autopilot (ST70 controller, SPX30 corepack, type 2 linear actuator)
  • Add a Raymarine AIS650 AIS transceiver, an ST70 multifunction instrument, and a SeaTalkNG network, along with new transducer pods for depth, speed, and wind
  • Add a fuel polishing system (mostly a second filter, proper valves, and a vacuum gauge)
  • Add netting on the lifelines (to ensure that our Sheltie stays on board!)
  • Install a second (high capacity) bilge pump to supplement the existing bilge pump if the water gets too high
  • Add an anchor lock for our secondary bow anchor and (probably) add a chain stopper for the primary bow anchor; also, add chocks on the stern pulpit to which we can attach a third (stern) anchor
  • Modify our bimini to incorporate a transparent window that allows the helmsman to see the Windex at the masthead; also, replace some existing cockpit canvas with newer components

I think I’ve got a BOATT (Break Out Another Ten Thousand)!

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