High and Dry at Mackay

We are high and dry at the Mackay shipyard! We were hauled out last Friday and are now perched on blocks as we re-power Anui and attend to an unexpected discovery.

The Haulout

Anui normally gets hauled out on the Sea Lift (a hydraulic tray that fits under the bridge deck and lifts us out on a boat ramp). But at Mackay we came out on the Travel Lift. There, our width matters… to get in the lift out berth, to fit between the posts of the lift, and you don’t want to be swinging around in the air if it is windy, because the boat moves a fair bit… just ask Bengie, she was the only one on board during the haulout and found the deepest, darkest hole to hide in.

Anui on the Travel Lift at Mackay

Anui was put on blocks for support, however that evening Wade noticed one of the supports had missed the bulkhead and the hull was deflecting inwards! He grabbed the yard manager at dawn the next morning and Acrow Props were added. You can see the wooden blocks that missed the mark by six inches! Just as well Wade was on the ball, or damage to the hull would have occurred… Can’t say we were impressed.

But keep reading, there is a lot more.

Out with the old

The new Yanmar gear arrived last Monday: two 54HPs engines and two SD60 saildrives.

First thing first though, the Kubota engines and Selva saildrives had to be disconnected and removed, followed by several days of work to prepare the new engine beds for the Yanmars to sit in.

Wade was the official deconstructor. Over the last weekend he progressively disconnected everything he could from the Kubotas: water maker, hot water system, alternator, battery cables, electrical loom, exhausts, hoses, filters, engine mounts and finally the props, so the mechanics could remove the last bolts and lift out the engines.

Wade disconnecting everything from the starboard engine
Port engine all stripped

We had a series of big days. Last Monday the two engines were craned out and the sail drives taken out. Jim from Mackay Marine Services was in charge while John Sticklan (shipwright) was on the forklift. Both were amazed at how small the engines were for the size of Anui… By noon the two engine bays were empty and we had a hole in each hull! Big clean up job after that for Wade and more stuff to disconnect! The slide show tells the story.

For the rest of the week, John Sticklan and the team from Finesse Marine took over. Now let’s get a bit dorky here. The engine bed is a kind of rigid frame securely affixed to the boat which the engine is then bolted onto. It is designed to fit the engine exactly so nothing goes out of line. The round hole in the picture is where the saildrive goes, the square is for the engine itself.

New engine bed for the Yanmars

The guys’ task was to remove and grind down the old engine beds which was a horrible job with a lot of fibreglass dust flying around everywhere.

They then filled in and re-glassed the holes left by the old sail drives. This photo shows one of the saildrives from the water. The new one will be a bit further away from the rudder.

The old saildrive and propeller

The reason they are not just extending the existing saildrive hole is that the engine will be installed head to tail to maximise the space available, so the saildrive will be set a little further forward in the hull.

Finally the engine beds were cut to size, precisely positioned inside the engine bay and fibre-glassed into place. The next step will be tidying up and painting the engine bays. Here is their handy work to date in a slide show.

Unexpected Discovery

Let’s step back a bit. On Wednesday, the shipwrights needed Anui lifted up in the Travel Lift to move the supports under the hulls and allow the guys to cut out the holes for the new saildrives.

As the Travel Lift raised our boat, the support blocks were moved and the boat lowered back down onto them. This is when we heard an all mightly crack in the starboard hull, water came through the engine bay and squirted out of the through-hull fitting. Oh this can’t be good!

Poor old Anui was lifted up again and John Sticklan drilled several inspection holes in the bottom of the hull to investigate while we were still in the slings. Several litres of salt water poured out. The shipwright had just discovered a seawater ingress into the starboard hull which appeared to have developed through a combination of faulty skin fitting and poorly sealed engine bed. The water had accumulated between two layers of fibreglass foam for god knows how long and compromised them. It smelled like a mix of vinegar and diesel. Far out… that was not on the program! Apparently it is quite common for this to happen but we could have done without.

Change of plan: halt the engine work on the starboard hull for a day and attend to its repair! It involved cutting away the fibreglass and soggy foam until there was no more water dribbling through. It is a bit like cutting away rot in a wooden boat! You keep chopping back till the material is healthy, dry it all out, replace with new foam, re-glass and repaint, then antifoul! More heartache, more work, more expenses, more delays.

Here is what the mess looked like.

There is obviously more work to be done to repair the bottom, but we are making progress. Although we are disappointed, we are grateful this has happened in the shipyard where it can all be fixed.

High life at the shipyard

We are lucky we can stay on board while all the work is happening, so at least we don’t pick up a huge hotel bill. But it is a shipyard so it is dusty, noisy, dirty and the amenities are lack luster. This is not Boat Works with its spotless facilities constructed with cruising couples in mind and we have another trying time to get through. However the teams are friendly and doing their best to look after us. So yet again we grin and bear it.

In the midst of all of this, we did not think Bengie would be interested in getting off the boat, but she has been taking it all in her stride. There is no stopping our ship cat. She uses the ladders to go and explore the boatyard morning and night. Not too bad for a fourteen year old girl! She is quite a hit in the yard and talks to everybody!

Bengie checking things out!

So there you have it: an eventful first week on the hard stand. Repairs to the starboard hull are progressing and we should be back on track with the engine refit on Monday.

We go through such extremes of emotions: the sick feeling in the stomach at hearing the horrid cracking sound in the hull and seeing the damage, then the relief of knowing the shipwrights have got things under control. It is just another day at the boatyard for them, but another draining wrestle with Anui for us.

Stay tuned for the next instalment.

25 thoughts on “High and Dry at Mackay

  1. Wow, I am so glad that the water in the hull was discovered while in drydock! That’s really bad, the hole they cut is so big. I never thought that the engine mounts would need such a major rebuild either, wow. The Kubota engines do look a bit small for the size of Anui, I’m glad that your new power plants are more capable, and Bengie is an amazing girl at 14 years but still climbing the steps, hug that sweet kitty for me!

    • Hi John, we were told it was a big job and now we are convinced! Pretty messy too!
      Bengie is amazing isn’t she? Big burly blokes come and say hello to her and bring her Schmackos (dog biscuits)! Something to smile about in the middle of this!

  2. Oh Chris! We feel for you. Sending positive thoughts for as quick an exit as possible! Cuddle for Bengie. Cant wait for my next chat with her. xx Trish

  3. HI Chris. Great Keppel Island. Heading your way soon – metaphorically speaking – we don’t expect to be in the ship yard!

  4. What a massive job. Will be great when its all done, but hard work and heartache along the way. Good and bad find on the water ingress. A distraction you certainly didn’t need but a good place to find it. Fingers crossed that the new install goes smoothly.

    • Hi Graham, it is tough, but we are on this boat for the long term so we do what we have to. The guys at Mackay are excellent. Having a multihull builder as the man in charge for the repairs and the prep work for the engine refit is very fortunate and the mechanics are thorough so we are in good hands.

  5. Hi Guys. Wow! Majors going on with Anui. When I looked her over at Boatworks a few years back, I never would have imagined so many issues. The good thing is, you are getting some really important stuff done, and fitting some tried and proven systems. Yanmar stuff is great and used the world over. It will be so nice not to have to worry every time you maneuver! I would look at the delamination issue as a major bonus in that you found it before it became a serious structural concern!! All the best with the continued work. Living in a boatyard is no fun, but the satisfaction once you’re finished will be huge. All the best!!

    • Hi Craig, big stuff getting ticked off… can’t be any more surprises! Please tell us there aren’t any… but we probably won’t believe you 🙂 Anui has to be strong and safe for us to get across the ditch and come and visit you soon!

      • Any time! If you ever need any assistance here in NZ be sure to let me know!! I’m Auckland based. You are going to love yourselves with the new engines and drives.. I look forward to the progress blogs. Really interesting posts for those who own or have owned boats! 🙂

      • Thanks Craig, would rather not have too many of these « interesting » posts and share stories about sailing and the reef!

  6. Wow, this is an exciting post! Felt like I was there lifting engines and grinding glass with you guys. Kind of funny (not the ha ha kind) that the stream of mishaps led to finding that major hull problem. I wonder why there was no external sign of osmosis where the water got in under the glass?
    Surely this has to be your last big sigh of relief in terms of major refits?
    Hope you can get away soon to enjoy the last of the dry season!
    (BTW, we’re holidaying near the Aberdeen coast and finally saw our first Puffins …… much excitement as there were only 2 in amongst a million Guilemots and seagulls …. Claire has pics to post on FB))

    • Hi Elgar – no osmosis involved but a major leak through the saildrive opening and a poorly sealed water intake for the engine. The water accumulated between the fibreglass and the foam. Our fibreglass was fine. When we were lowered on the blocks the water squeezed out of the foam and the foam collapsed under the weight of the boat. Hopefully that’s it as you say but we know there will be more cos it’s a fu$&ing boat! Rigging due in 2 or 3 years!
      We want to see photos of the puffins!

  7. Oh, we feel for you! Cheering you on as we too go up and down the ladder on the hardstand (Shute Harbour). We look forward to floating with you on the other side of all this boat work! xx

  8. Wow. So much of the work that you are having done on the Anui is totally foreign to me, but I have watched enough home renovation television shows to understand how major these projects. One of the things that always struck me in the shows was how often unanticipated structural, mechanical, and electrical problems arose as they got deeper into the renovations–which seems to be what you continue to encounter. Still, you seem to be making significant progress and are in a place where the necessary work can be done. I absolutely love the series of shots of Bengie, who seems to be handling all of this pretty well. She is an amazing cat.

    • Your home renovation parallel is spot on Mike. This refit is all consuming and we are committed! We have to deal with whatever presents itself. It makes it quite stressful because you really are not in control.

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