When we last posted, Tropical Storm Matthew was just northeast of Grenada, headed west. Thankfully, Grenada did not experience a direct hit. Matthew skirted just north of Grenada as a Tropical Storm with maximum winds of 60 knots before exploding into a category 4/5 major hurricane on the Saffir/Simpson scale (so far maximum sustained winds have reached 165 knots with gusts to 195 knots). Our preparations were more than adequate for the weather we experienced from the outer bands of the Tropical Storm and we are now breathing a sigh of relief as we watch what has become a massive storm march relentlessly toward Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and other points north that are not yet clearly defined. Our good wishes and prayers are with our many friends both aboard boats and ashore that are potentially still in the crosshairs of Matthew.
We did not want to move on without sharing our experience addressing what should have been routine maintenance for the Pilots’ Discretion. We generally haul our boat out of the water every other year to refresh the bottom paint on the hull. Due to the fact that Pilots’ Discretion lives in a salt water environment, she over time will build up a layer of marine growth on her hull that left unaddressed, results in excessive parasite drag, which in turn reduces her range and increases our fuel bill (ouch). The way that we minimize this is a combination of elbow grease, in the form of a diver cleaning the growth off the bottom (now you guys know why we
decided to teach Ryan to dive!) and the application of very expensive, yet effective anti fouling paint to the hull. The only way to accomplish the painting portion of this strategy is to haul the boat, which brings us to the entertaining part of the story that begins at Spice Island Marine boat yard.
Spice Island Marine is one of two major boat yards in Grenada equipped to handle boats of our size and larger. Since renewing the bottom paint is essentially a calendar driven event, we have been planning for this since last summer. We actually made our reservation for haul out months before we arrived in Grenada. The regularly scheduled haul out maintenance generally takes 3-4 days so to be safe we made a plan for 5 days. The week before we were scheduled for haul out, I made an appointment with the management at Spice Island Marine to go over the specific details of our maintenance to do list as well as to confirm what would be expected from both boat yard staff and Pilots’ Discretion crew upon our arrival at the Travel Lift that would remove Pilots’ Discretion from the water in Prickly Bay, Grenada.
To make sure that we were in position at the appointed hour (originally 9 a.m.), we took Pilots’ Discretion on a short 7 nautical mile cruise from Port Louis Marina southeast to Prickly Bay the night before. We moved our boat in company with our friends on M/V Seamantha, a Krogen 58 who were scheduled to be hauled just before us at 8 a.m. the next morning. We settled in for a nice evening sunset in Prickly Bay, looking forward to our scheduled morning haul out.
Our first indication that things were not going according to schedule came when we got a call on the radio from Seamantha around 8 a.m. telling us that they were going to be delayed being hauled out by about an hour due to boat yard scheduling issues. They told us that a boat had shown up, unscheduled just as the sun set and had positioned himself in the slip where the Travel Lift works to remove boats from the water. The unscheduled arrival announced that since he was a “regular” that he did not need an appointment and Seamantha would just have to wait (along with everyone scheduled after her). After much chatter back and forth on the radio, the boat yard told us that we would be rescheduled to be hauled at 11 a.m. and they would give us a 15 minute heads up to position ourselves off the slip for haul out. Having heard nothing from the boatyard by 11:50 a.m., I called them to inquire about our status. They politely said, “we are sorry, we meant to call you, you can come on in now.” OK, all’s well that ends well.
We undid our mooring lines and idled the 1/4 mile to the haul out slip. As soon as we positioned our boat in the slip, the yard foreman came out and inquired what we were doing in the slip as he was scheduled to launch a boat at 1 p.m. and we would have to wait. I politely explained to him that he must be confused since we in fact were scheduled to be hauled out at 9 a.m. and since it was now after 12 noon, we were going to do our best to help him get back on schedule. I also explained to him that the Pilots’ Discretion would only be leaving the slip one way and that was by Travel Lift to be placed on her maintenance stands. Now you see, we are getting off to a bad start with a guy who would soon be my new best pal.
After a whole bunch of grousing, my new pal correctly came to the conclusion that it would be in our mutual best interest if he spoke less and hauled more. Pilots’ Discretion was safely secured in her maintenance blocks just after 3 p.m. Did I mention to you that the yard closes at 4 p.m. and it was becoming apparent that the yard crew begins to prepare for that event about 3 p.m. Day 1 in the yard slips by with little work to show for it. On day 2, we were unable to be at the boat yard in the morning as “Patton,” our 14-year-old Cocker Spaniel, had a series of appointments at the St. George’s University veterinary clinic. Fortunately, the crew from Seamantha stood in for us at the boat yard to see that work began on Pilots’ Discretion. When we arrived at the yard mid afternoon, the preparation and painting process was well underway.
Day 3 began with the arrival of additional outside contractors that we needed to address some minor electrical issues (we were adding a replacement underwater light for our transom as well as changing our bow thruster from its original design 3 bladed propeller to a new, more efficient 6 bladed design). Zinc plates were replaced and the anchor chain painted and marked. At the end of the day, it appeared doubtful that we would complete the project in the planned 4 days. Did I mention that we were hauled on a Tuesday, now we are coming up on the weekend.
Friday was spent adding the second coat of 3 planned coats of bottom paint. Given that each coat of paint must be allowed to adequately dry prior to the next coat being applied it was becoming impossible to launch before the weekend. What the heck, it is only money and the view from our temporary home at Mt. Cinnamon resort was spectacular! We will be in the water Monday for sure.
After a weekend of rest, everyone arrived back at the boatyard refreshed and ready to accomplish great things. My new best pal proudly walked me around Pilots’ Discretion to show me what a fine job they had done.
When I mentioned to him that the dinghy lift had been stripped to bare metal but had not been repainted he feigned surprise and said ” you wanted us to paint that too?” “Yes we did,” and did I mention that in addition to not painting things that did need painted, they did manage to paint a lot of places that were not supposed to be painted. After another trip to the front office and much grousing, it was determined that we were actually the customer and if we did not think the job was complete, the job was not complete. In the end, we got all of our issues addressed adequately.
It was not easy and the process ended up taking 8 days instead of the usual 4 but Pilots’ Discretion is back in the water. Next stop, additional electrical system modifications and a complete overhaul of the boat’s sanitation system. Did I mention that maintaining Pilots’ Discretion at times feels like a full-time job?