We were back on Take it Easy on the Melbourne Cup extra-long weekend to continue our boat maintenance marathon. On the program: re-lining the cabin roof after the sail track leaks debacle, hand sanding the fiddly bits around the winches and other deck gear, undercoating, taping and painting. It sounds eminently doable in 5 days; however the weather has to cooperate. Paint and rain don’t mix and it was touch and go for a while.
First, a bit of explanation
Several years ago we were ill-advised and painted the decks with paving paint. Paving paint does not look any good on pavers, so what possessed us to put this on our decks, I honestly don’t know, but we must have been a bit sun stroke that day! It was supposed to be hard wearing and easy to maintain or retouch. Truth be known, it never really looked perfect, with irregular lumps of beads accumulating unevenly in certain areas (the beads were providing the non-slip surface). But our main issue with it was that after a while the paint flaked off, particularly after spending months in the tropics. We were constantly bringing little bits of paint inside and it drove us batty. And worse of all it was leaving milky dribbles along our blue hulls every time it rained or waves washed over the deck. Although easy to wipe away, that too drove us mad. So we bit the bullet this year and a few weeks ago, Wade spent days sanding everything right back to the original white paint, ready for a new coat of Norglass “Weatherfast Marine Deck Paint”. This is the weekend when we correct our mistake!
Friday saw us drive down to the Gippsland Lakes from Melbourne, shop for food, stick the ceiling lining back on and tidy up inside. You would never know we took to the roof with a circular saw a few weeks back!
With the boat left unattended for several weeks, we found a little surprise in one of our engine boxes when we were getting ready to leave the jetty. Welcome Swallows had made their nest as they often do in spring. Only this time there were four tiny eggs inside the feather-lined mud cup. We had made the decision to head off to Emu Bight to anchor away from town and people for our sanding work, and this unfortunately signed the death warrant for those little eggs. We felt really bad.
Saturday was spent sanding, undercoating the speckled deck and going for a two hour walk while that dried. Then with a strong SW change forecast for the next day, we motored back to Picnic Arm and once settled in this protected spot, we taped the deck ready for painting.
When we surfaced on Sunday morning, the sky was ominous and early rain looked like a strong possibility by 10.00 am, with the radar chart showing the front not so far away. We might have had time to paint, but would there be enough time for drying? Not wanting to risk it, we abandoned our painting plans and hunkered down. Wade took the opportunity to hand sand the undercoat, so at least the deck was prepared properly. It was obvious the SW change was going to be serious, with a whole flotilla of little boats coming into Picnic Arm and tying up to the shores. We were happily swinging at anchor in the middle. The weather teased us for hours after that, with the sky less menacing, bright sunny breaks and plenty of warm northerly wind that would have dried the paint in no time. It is easy to be smart in retrospect. Mind you, the strong wind would have flicked paint all over the boat. So maybe it was best to wait.
We busied ourselves somehow: tidy up of the navigation table and the masses of papers we did not need to keep, installation of a towel rack in the bathroom, removal of the old defunct security system, a laugh at Bengie obviously stressed by the events, annual safety check of the life jackets… and waited for the rain!
By late afternoon the storm clouds were building and finally just before 6 pm, a thunderstorm broke, complete with hail and heavy rain. “Thunder and lightning, very very frightening” said Wade throwing the copper grounding plate in the water for good measure (it is supposed to direct electricity from a lightning bolt into the water instead of through the hull). The heavy raindrops bouncing on the lake were an amazing sight and the noise was deafening!
It all quietened down during the night, and on Monday morning, we woke up to a crisp but sunny day. So we waited for the dew on the deck to dry and then finally got the painting done.
After days of preparation, it was all over in an hour and a half, even if both of us were making old people’s noises! We left the cockpit and sugar scoops for after the haul-out, as they will get grubbed by dirty boots in the shipyard! But that won’t take long to do. We spent the rest of the day inside the cabin reading and resting our aching backs.
We got back to our jetty on Tuesday, Melbourne Cup Day, and committed to more tidy up, emptying out cupboards and ridding ourselves of not so useful bits of gear that had accumulated on board. And we checked our food supplies in preparation for the cruise provisioning.
So despite the mixed weather, we managed to do everything we had planned. What a relief! But have we finished yet? Nope! Next comes the haul-out.