Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Sailor's Trailer

Pools below the falls
We're not long back from a camping trip to Jourama Falls with our good friends from Double Vision who recently bought a camper trailer for their upcoming land trip to NT.
The camper has been dubbed ``The Sailor's Trailer'' (for those of you not familiar with yachts, the reverse wording (ie a trailer sailor) is a small yacht with a fold-down mast, and the outfit can be readily transported by land via a trailer).
Jourama Falls is a mere hour up the road from Townsville but it felt like we were hundreds of kms from civilisation. The weather was glorious, the falls spectacular and the company excellent.
Jourama Falls

Ahhh the serenity ...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Salvage update

Updating the salvage operation:- the above photo shows the finale of yesterday's efforts, approaching low tide (4.30pm) and with the associated tugboat churning mud.  After a day's work by 10 crew, the crane-held boat was still partially submerged but the gaping hole in the hull had been stuffed with special material.
Shortly after this photo the barge and its cargo were towed by the tug to what is called the Duck Pond as the wind had increased and the swell was rising. The salvage operation continued all today in the Duck Pond - a sheltered area behind the rock wall - it was on the other side of this rockwall where the boat initially came to grief. By late this afternoon the boat had been righted and was being held in two slings, forward and aft, by the crane. As there is a strong wind weather alert for today and the next three days, it will be interesting to see whether the trip is made around to the slipway (involving going out into Cumberland Bay) or whether the whole rig remains in the Duck Pond until the weather calms.
Incidentally, the boat was bought just a few weeks ago and the new owner had hired a skipper to bring it up from the Gold Coast. I'm not sure if this was the new owner's maiden voyage on the boat but he hadn't taken her out very often since her arrival in Townsville a week or so ago.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Not a good look ...

An unhappy end to Easter for this crew. The power cruiser ran aground on the rock wall between the Breakwater marina entry and the mouth of the Ross Creek on Sunday night around 7pm. The four on board were rescued by the Coastguard but the badly holed boat was left to drift and ended up sinking just off one of the stinger-net bathing areas along the Strand. Yesterday we watched a retrieval crew prepare it for re-floating and expect they may try and re-float it for towing to the slipway at high tide this morning. Watch this space - although we are off to the slipway ourselves to help bring Gemini back to the marina. She looks beautiful with her new blue bottom and sparkly props and anodes.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Stress free slipway visit

Wow, it's way less stressful going on someone else's boat to help them come out of the water.
Cat Gemini safely out of the water at the Ross River slipway today and a thoroughly enjoyable trip around to the river for us with a bit of push n pull and rope work at the end.
It helped that it was a glorious day with very little breeze.
A job well done.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Cockles, mussels and other sea life

Sea Piper hasn't been totally stationary since my last Blog update - more like this Blog writer has been a little slack.
While we spent October 2011 on land (In Victoria working and for our eldest grandson's 18th birthday), November saw us return to Townsville and take Sea Piper on several beautiful sails using the marina as a return base. The weather was superb during this month (and we are reliably told for the entire time we were down south in October).
We then packed the boat up for the Wet season - Code Zero and head sail down, along with the wind generator and bbq. The main sail and tender were lashed and every other exterior item either stowed or lashed down. The process took half the time of the previous year - it obviously helps when you know what you're doing.
After an excellent summer in Rochester we returned to Townsville in mid-March to lift Sea Piper out of the water for anti-fouling and the replacement of some skin fittings (the salt water inlets in the hull below the waterline - these provide salt water to cool the engines, and for the deck washes, toilet flushing and kitchen sink rinsing).
For the first seven days of our return the Wet season kicked in and it poured, and poured, and poured some more coupled with a mini-tornado that ripped through several suburbs near the airport (thankfully not near the marina though we experienced very strong wind gusts at the time).
The weather delayed our trip to the slipyards by almost a week. When the call came to bring her around, our good friends from Double Vision came on board with us to take her around the breakwater and into the Ross Creek to the slipway.
Rather than a lift out, this historic slipway uses a steel trolley with four upright posts to lash to the boat. The trolley is mounted on rail line with the whole lot run out into the deeper water via a huge 1920s winch. The winch is used to pull the boat out while the reverse procedure uses a windlass and a snatch block to drag the trolley back in when antifouling/repairs are completed.
Our first attempt to slip her into the trolley was aborted as the structure wasn't quite wide enough. With four hands on board (one on each corner of the boat) this was accomplished smoothly with each of us pushing back on the trolley uprights to glide the boat back out. (There are no photos of this as we were all a bit busy at the time!)
While we tied up at a nearby empty marina berth-end and had a cuppa, the shipyard blokes modified the trailer with an oxy torch and sledge hammer before sending the trolley back out into the water again. The second attempt went as smoothly as could be. Once we were lashed on to the posts the winch took over and gently edged us onto dry land. (My compliments to Sea Piper's skipper who maintained an admirable calm during the whole process. Not a swear word heard!) 
From then on it was sheer hard work. The slipway blokes pressure-hosed the hull to remove the majority of the barnacles and other marine growth, then Royden took to the grinder to remove flaky paint and any other debris that didn't belong. This is a long and dirty process, covering man and boat with tiny particles of black anti-foul.
Oh dear!
It was a relief to move on to the replacement of the anodes and the skin fittings to the two motors and the toilet saltwater inlet and lastly to the application of new anti-foul - Royden on the brush and me on the roller.

There's a lot to be said for a $5 paint-suit
Summarising it here, it doesn't sound like much but the whole process took six days, pretty well non-stop physical work, especially for Royden. Needless to say we were exhausted at the end of each day.
However to see the job completed with shiny props, new anodes and skin fittings, and a smooth barnacle-free black underside was very satisfying.
The final test of course was the refloat which took place on the high tide (5am) in the dark last Friday. As we slowly edged back into the water and before untying from the trolley, we checked the new skin fittings at least 10 times each!
All was well and we enjoyed a beautiful pre-dawn motor out of the Ross Creek and back around  the breakwater to the marina where our good (and early-rising) friends were waiting to catch our ropes and secure Sea Piper in the marina pen.
It was a very interesting experience to live in the blokey atmosphere of a boatyard/slipway for a week but, oh, it was lovely to be somewhere clean again.

Looking good - blue masking tape still to be removed.

Not all work - however at this point the job is finished!