Days on the Hard

Last week we took Pesto out of her element. It was stressful, labor-intensive, but worthwhile. Here’s the update.As mentioned before, we have a large list of projects to finish before departing for the Puddle Jump in just over a month from now. And some of these projects required Pesto to be out of the water. The haul out then quickly became a multi-pronged initiative, allowing us to address the following problems:

Problem #1: “Keep The Rudder On” – a month ago, our dear friends at s/v Sarita had their boat’s rudder serviced, for it had a worn out underwater bushing. This bushing keeps the rudder in place. Sarita is a sistership to Pesto, nearly 4 years younger. We knew, then, that there was a high likelihood Pesto’s rudder bushing would also be worn out, threatening serious damages to our rudder. And even though this could turn out into a reasonably big project, we couldn’t cross the Pacific Ocean without having it checked.

Problem #2: “Keep Sea Water Out” – Pesto, like most vessels, have holes on her hull below the waterline level. It does sound counter intuitive, but some systems require sea water to operate, including all engines, the water maker, and the toilet. There are holes also to let water (and other stuff) out. Each of these holes is controlled by a special valve called “Thru-Hull”. The integrity of the Thru Hulls, therefore, is crucial to ensure the boat doesn’t sink. And a few of our Thru Hulls weren’t looking too well. It was time to service and maybe even replace them.

Problem #3: “Keep Those Barnacles Away” – barnacles and other forms of sea life attach to most surfaces underwater, including boats. The bottom of the boat is therefore painted with a special compound that keeps this stuff away. Pesto’s bottom paint was approaching the end of its effective life. Moreover, I have read many accounts of yachts having Goose Barnacles grow on their bottom during the Puddle Jump. If that happens, boat speed can be seriously compromised, thus lengthening a passage which is already inherently very long. We were therefore keen on having maximum anti-barnacle capacity underwater for this passage.

Problem #4: “Keep da beer cold” – the most important of our list ! Our fridge has been a source of concern since the beginning of our journey. While back in Seattle, it once stopped chilling and I had a technician service it. When we reached the Sea of Cortez last year, again the fridge started losing efficiency, until it finally stopped working at all in San Carlos. Again I had it serviced and again it lost efficiency. That was it, it was time to have it rebuilt. While it is not necessary to haul out a boat to service or replace the fridge system, it would be a highly convenient opportunity, for we would not be living in the boat during that time (the yard here doesn’t allow liveaboards with the boats on the hard). So, even before Pesto was lifted out of the water, her fridge system had already been completely stripped out and taken to a technician’s bench for testing and fixing.

Originally we thought of hauling out in Mazatlan. Sarita was serviced there, and we thought we could leverage the same team’s experience for Pesto. Moreover, hauling out there would be less expensive than in la Cruz. However, Mazatlan lies nearly 150 miles to the North of La Cruz. Sail Pesto there, and then back, would cost us at least 4 days, if not more. And we are on a tight timeline. The weather window to do the crossing is finite, and likely to be short this year due to the El Nino phenomenon. Also, we received very good recommendations on the yard team here in la Cruz. Finally, s/v Sarita is also here, and I could tap on Richard’s own experience directly. The decision was made and on a Tuesday, January 12th, Pesto finally dangled above our anxious heads on the yard here in la Cruz.

The haul out is very stressing. Even though the yard here has a massive crane, and a capable crew, it is still very discomforting to see your beloved boat – and home – hanging on air held by just a few cables. Moreover, as soon as Pesto’s rudder was within reach, we attacked it in haste to detect whether it would need to be serviced or not (deep inside I was carrying some hope it might be OK). The suspense didn’t last long though, as the service need was confirmed, and Pesto went straight to the surgeon’s knife.

Pedro Vargas, the contractor that had been recommended to us, stood up to his fame. His competent team attacked Pesto in multiple fronts and worked around her feverishly from the moment she was placed on the yard. Within 24 hours from the haul out, the rudder bushing was stripped out and was ready to be serviced. By day 2 the ugly Thru-Hulls had been removed, and deemed useless. And Pesto’s bottom had already been sanded and readied to be painted. On day 3 she received the first layer of bottom paint while I raced around town to find the missing parts for the Thru Hulls replacements. By the fourth day on the hard, Pesto’s bottom had been completely painted, and we then awaited for the bushing to be serviced.

But we weren’t scratching ourselves while we waited. To the contrary, we took the opportunity to advance on our pre-passage to-do list. It was an intense, full-on, action-packed 15 days, and I was exhausted at the end. But when Pesto went back on the water earlier this week, we had accomplished:

  • new underwater rudder bushing, which hopefully shall last another 15 years
  • three all-new thru-hulls, including clean intake grates (an intake grate clogged with barnacles had been one of the causes for our main engine’s overheating a few weeks ago).
  • we also eliminated two thru-hulls completely, and had their holes fiberglassed
  • new bottom paint, which hopefully shall keep barnacles at a healthy distance for most – if not all – of our stint across the Pacific
  • the propeller was disassembled, cleaned, greased, painted, received new bumpers and anode, and put back in place
  • replaced the shaft’s cutlass bearing
  • removed and serviced the sump’s drain plug, and gave a good rinse to the bilge
  • installed new, custom-made bow rollers for the anchor, chain and snubber
  • repainted the anchor chain (we have marks at every 20 ft), checked all links, and gave a good rinse to the anchor well
  • built and installed five independent, all-new flush systems for the main engine, generator, air conditioning and fridge/freezer cooling systems. This will enable us to reduce formation of deposits inside these systems, thus – hopefully – keeping their efficiency for longer
  • a new fresh water intake for the water maker, enabling us to run it while in marinas with a dual benefit: keep the membranes clean and provide purified drinking water on the go
  • a completely rebuilt fridge system, including new compressor, new digital controller, and a thoroughly serviced coolant line and plate
  • tracked down a leak on the watermaker, removed the pressure gauge assembly (where the leak was), had it thoroughly cleaned and put back together with sealant
  • removed our two autopilot rams (the autopilot sometimes disengages the rams while underway, and annoying problem). Had them disassembled, cleaned, and lubricated
  • new racks for the paddle boards
  • and since I wasn’t feeling busy enough, I cleaned our stovetop with acid, and it is now looking almost like new !

We still have a lot on the plate to be ready for the Jump, but this haul out allowed us to advance significantly on the list of projects, and morale is high on board ! We are glad to have chosen La Cruz, and Pedro Vargas and his competent team, for it. Nevertheless, the true success of this initiative comes from elsewhere – the invaluable support of dear cruising friends, who came to the yard to share experiences, provide ideas, and took care of our kids during the days while we were busy at the yard. But this will be subject of another story.

Stay tuned.

On the way to the yard
On the way to the yard
Pointing Pesto to the slot where the crane will lift it out of the water
Pointing Pesto to the slot where the crane will lift it out of the water
Raquel poses with her home being lifted on the background
Raquel poses with her home being lifted on the background
Checking the rudder, and accepting the fact that it indeed required servicing
Checking the rudder, and accepting the fact that it indeed required servicing
pesto at the yard, where she stayed for 15 days (and where a number of projects were undertaken)
pesto at the yard, where she stayed for 15 days (and where a number of projects were undertaken)
Designing the fresh water flush systems ... this project became a Pandora Box, and I found myself running around town on a mad search for hard-to-find bronze fittings
Designing the fresh water flush systems … this project became a Pandora Box, and I found myself running around town on a mad search for hard-to-find bronze fittings
Parts of the Flush System being put together prior to being installed definitely
Parts of the Flush System being put together prior to being installed definitely
One of the Thru Hulls (or lack thereof) ... it is eerie to see these holes well below the waterline level
One of the Thru Hulls (or lack thereof) … it is eerie to see these holes well below the waterline level
The cabin became a workshop, and was a constant mess on a daily basis. Not capture on the picture is the massive amount of fine dust collected everywhere outside and in
The cabin became a workshop, and was a constant mess on a daily basis. Not capture on the picture is the massive amount of fine dust collected everywhere outside and in
The rudder shoe arrives back from the metalwork shop. The bushing hole was partially filled with phosphor-bronze weld, and then drilled back to the exact diameter of the rudder shaft
The rudder shoe arrives back from the metalwork shop. The bushing hole was partially filled with phosphor-bronze weld, and then drilled back to the exact diameter of the rudder shaft
The final adjustment between the bushing and the shaft was made by hand
The final adjustment between the bushing and the shaft was made by hand

4 Replies to “Days on the Hard”

  1. 🙂 que trabalheira, Alexandre!
    Pesto agora deve estar agora tinindo e pronta para a grande nova aventura…
    Enquanto lia seu post fui mentalmente fazendo imagens, imaginando e quase vendo você no acompanhamento e fiscalização do trabalho, ao final da leitura as fotografias ajudaram a complementar a compreensão da maratona que foi todo o processo. Gostei das fotos, a Rachel já está quase uma adolescente e a Adriana está ótima.
    Bjos para vc e querida tripulação!

  2. Oi Guida, foi um trabalhao mesmo. Mas, como as pessoas dizem por aqui, é um “labor of love”. E no final o resultado dá muita satisfação.
    Ainda faltam uma coisinha ou outra, mas no geral o Pesto está “quase” pronto. Ele tem cuidado muito bem de nós (Roberta e Luisa incluidas) neste cruzeiro curto pela Costa Alegre. Vem um update logo, logo. Bjs

  3. Oi Pai, obrigado … De pouquinho em pouquinho vou aprendendo como cada parte do barco funciona. Tem muita gente experiente em LaCruz, e eles são muito generosos em compartilhar o que sabem. Bjs

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