Monday, April 06, 2009

Refit progress (sort of)

Arabella is nearly ready for the new season. Externally, that is. Her interior will take a while longer.

I really should have learned by now that the marine trades operate to their own, geological timescale. But every year I forget just how awful it was the last time around, just how frustrating it is to get them to do their jobs on time, and leave the boat looking clean and, er, improved, at the end of it all. To be fair, I had been lulled into a false sense of security by the relative speed of fitting-out last season.

I've spared you any shots of the state of Arabella's interior generally, so those of a nervous disposition need not look away. Suffice to say that a very significant clean-up will be required at the end, whenevever that might be. I'm not sure how people can work in such a mess. When I moonlighted as a labourer, I was always taught to leave the work area tidy and clean because it actually enhanced the quality of my work. I'm just very glad I took the opportunity this winter to strip the interior of Arabella clean of anything that wasn't bolted down - at least it's safe, clean and dry in storage, away from the unbelievable mess below decks.

I should just point out that the delay was no fault of Blue Yacht Management, who took over the regular maintenance on Arabella when Boatcare UK folded last year. Will French, who formerly worked for Boatcare UK, has set about creating a really good organization that delivers a quality service on time and on budget. It's well worth checking out his site, as his gardiennage package is a seriously good proposition if, like me, you live a distance from your boat and your lifestyle doesn't allow you much time to make the trip down very often. At least you are free, if you so choose, to just go sailing when you do get down to the boat, and this year I was determined to make that my priority.

Even Will's excellent organisational skills, however, couldn't defeat the traditional marine trades attitudes of his sub-contractors on this occasion. He got a suitable discount out of them, which is more than I've ever managed in the past, and in return I agreed to be patient.

Most of the work shown here is intended to tackle the particular issue of water sloshing around inside the lockers. The irony is that Arabella is an exceptionally dry boat. Water has never entered while she is moored. Unfortunately, repeated attempts to prevent water entering via the forehatch while Arabella is under way have only had qualified success.

The new seal that was added to the forehatch in the last round of work has prevented rain and spray from entering, which is an improvement. However, in the testing conditions of last year's Round The Island Race, Arabella took a lot of green water over her bow, and enough of that found its way inside to make life below very unpleasant. That was the only occasion on which water gained ingress all year, but it was enough to make me want to rethink the cabling arrangements and consider adding divisions into the lockers which are open fore and aft.

I've also located one or two spots in which the forehatch seal is not bedded correctly, and I suspect that would have allowed a fair amount of water ingress. I'll be attacking that separately.

Above: As part of the plan to ensure that any water that enters doesn't slop fore and aft along the lockers, new bulkheads have been glassed in to the locker interiors. This one is to port and corresponds to the aft end of the galley. In last year's Round The Island Race, sea water entered via the forehatch, then ran aft through this point and triggered the hydrostatic valves in the lifejackets stored here, causing them to inflate.

Above: all of Arabella's interior cabling has been re-run along the top sides of the interior lockers, hence - I hope - reducing the risk of it taking a bath in the future.

Above and below: another of the new divisions that have been glassed in to the lockers - this one separates the starboard side locker under the saloon berth from the locker under the V-berth in the forecabin. The primary purpose of this division is to prevent any water from running aft to the battery.

Below: Arabella has been antifouled with hard antifoul once again this year, and her topsides have been polished. The rubbing strake has just been oiled, which accounts for its 'nearly-new' look.

I've asked Will to see if he can get the contractors to finish their work and be off the boat by the end of April...I'm not holding my breath, though.