Watching Paint Dry

When you live afloat it’s painful to see your home sweet boat held captive in dry dock. Happy Dance simply can’t do her happy dance while balancing all 25,000 pounds on her keel! So it was with great excitement when the paint was finally dry and Happy Dance was ready to be splashed after 12 long days on the hard.

Our first evening on the water was full of our favorite sights and sounds; water gently lapping on the hull, the sound of a turtle taking a breath nearby, the flags flapping in the breeze, the setting sun painting the clouds pink over the mountains, and the lovely clean air blowing through the boat. Ahhhhh…

If you care to hear all the dirty, grimy, sooty details of our visit to the hard land of dust and paint fumes, read on!

Happy Dance was hauled out on Monday, with an expected launch date four days later. Greg Rhew and his crew from Puerto Escondido Marine had already proved his expertise with some awesome work on the generator a few weeks earlier and was now going to do bottom painting. Unfortunately (as is usually the case with boat projects) the planned work became more complicated and took longer than anticipated. We originally planned to have the two layers of ablative paint removed, and hard paint rolled on. Well, when you sand the paint off that’s when you find the real Da Vinci under the Da Vinci, a.k.a., you can see any issues in the hull, keel or rudder, and that’s exactly what we found – issues.

The keel had some rust spots, the rudder had some cracks, the caulking around the top of the keel was loose and needed to come out, there were spots on the hull where the webbing of the fiberglass was visible where the gel coat had been scratched off, and the opening for the propeller shaft had a crack…Yikes! It’s enough to make a girl lose sleep and I did!

We think that the bottom of the keel and the sides of the hull were damaged when Happy Dance slid off the hydraulic trailer during her launch in San Carlos last year. You may remember a past blog about the bounce/crunch heard ‘round the world when Happy Dance hit the cement ramp from a two foot drop…ouch…it still makes me cringe. At any rate, since we had the boat on the hard and we had Greg’s happy crew ready with their grinders we had the keel brought down to metal, and the sides sanded down. The keel received a layer of Rust Block, and the sides would get some Marine Tex, and the top edge would be resealed with 5200.

The cracks along the prop shaft opening and on the leading edge of the rudder were a bigger concern (and more lost sleep). Thankfully, after having them ground out, we could see that they were all superficial and the cracks didn’t go into the structure. The crew ground them down far enough so that Marine Tex could be laid into the grooves, sanded smooth, and voila – ready for paint.

While all this was going on, there was a two day blow which meant that the boat yard was closed for any paint sanding to avoid all that toxic dust from blowing into the area. Then the electricity in the entire area, including Loreto, went out one day causing another delay. That put the job behind schedule for three days, and the additional jobs of grinding on the keel and rudder also added a couple of days. The Marine Tex had to be delivered from La Paz, so that of course was another day! Ahhh, Bienvenido a Mexico…things take time!

During all these delays, Greg was constantly monitoring our job, juggling the schedule in any way possible to keep things moving along. One night he had his guys work well into the night to finish the sanding after the winds had died. When the bottom of the keel had to be ground we had a limited time frame in which to have the travel lift hoist Happy Dance higher for access to the keel, and Greg joined his crew down in the dirt grinding away to make sure we used the time to full advantage.

When all the prep work was done, the grinding completed, the Marine Tex dried and sanded, Happy Dance had a lovely smooth bare bottom…whoohoo! Now it was time to paint. First a coat of Rust Block on the keel, some Barnacle Buster on the propeller and shaft, then a coat of primer, two coats of black hard paint with a third coat on the water line. Then we watched the paint dry. Once all that was dry, Happy Dance was hoisted up again on the travel lift to have the stands removed so that the squares that were missed on the first round of final paint could be completed, as well as another coat of paint on the bottom of the keel. Sand a few rough spots, repaint and watch the paint dry a little longer. She does look pretty!

Then, voila! Happy Dance was ready to be launched. The travel lift operator gently drove her across the yard, we boarded her while she hovered over the water, and then lowered until the straps were finally loose and Happy Dance was floating again…ahhh. Start the engine, back out of the slot, try to miss the new dock and the boat heading into the fuel dock, and tie to a mooring ball.

Happy Dance and her happy dancing crew are full of smiles and a huge amount of satisfaction at a job well done. The work performed by Greg and his crew was excellent in every way and we couldn’t be happier. Had we been in another yard, it’s doubtful whether the issues we found during the sanding process would have been addressed to such detail and with such an eye for doing things right. We are very happy to know exactly what is beneath us and to know that we are all set for more happy adventures afloat.

Now if I could only get Marty’s head out of the bilge so we could leave Escondido and head south! But that’s another issue, for another blog, and hopefully another happy ending…

Marty and his #$@ water maker!!