SHELTER BAY MARINA, PANAMA
The last time Emma Louise was hauled out was in Nova Scotia in August of 2013. With Sheryl needing a new hip we decided to leave the boat at Shelter Bay Marina for most of 2015. She (the boat not Sheryl!) was hauled out in early March and placed in the marina’s secure storage facility. Prior to haul out we had removed pretty much everything we reasonably could from the upper deck and stowed it below. This included all canvas with the exception of the sprayhood which we planned to replace anyway on our return. The wind generator was turned off and the batteries left to trickle charge from the solar panels. We rented a dehumidifier from the yard and this proved to be very well worth the money, about $45 per month.
Things I didn’t do and should have:
Not many actually but a couple of key things. Remove all batteries from all devices, torches (flashlights for my American readers), remote controls, etc. I don’t think we had one working torch when we got back on board and the DVD remote control was toast. Leakproof batteries? Not in 50C temperatures, which I’m sure the inside of the boat would have been at times.
Despite stowing the dinghy outboard motor inside the boat, the clamps in the mounting bracket seized (steel threads in Aluminium). A simple application of grease prior to stowing would have prevented this.
Otherwise everything else was fine, apart from the cockroaches. We had an infestation. I don’t know if removing all food not in tins, jars or plastic containers would have helped but they had managed to chew into an unopened bag of rice. It took us about six weeks to get rid of them all. Three months after re-launch I am reasonably sure they are all gone.
Whilst travelling in South America we had commissioned two major items of work. These were CopperCoating the hull and replacing all the through hulls and sea cocks with Marelon ones. The work was completed just in time for our scheduled re-launch at the beginning of January. So far (April 2016), the CopperCoat is performing well with only a few barnacles on the hull and no weed. (For the non nautical types, CopperCoat is a type of anti-fouling that is exactly what the name implies. It’s actually Copper powder mixed with epoxy resin).
Update September 2017 – The CopperCoat has not performed as well as I’d expected, nor as well as the same anti-fouling applied at about the same time to our friend’s boat, MEZZALUNA. In consultation with CopperCoat UK it seems likely that the finish was not burnished by the yard when it was applied. After painting the stuff on and letting it dry you have to rub it down with fine sand paper to expose the copper and “activate” the coating. We will do this at the next haul out and hopefully it will work better.
Once back in the water we attended to a whole bunch of other things. Some of these were expected and some not:
New batteries, both house and start. At some time over the summer the batteries started to die. They were on the boat when we bought her and certainly not new then so to get almost five years out of them was pretty good. We now have a domestic bank of five AGMs giving a total of nearly 400 Ah. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about then stop reading now. The start battery is now an 80Ah Gel.
New galley taps, the fresh water tap failed about a week after we re-launched so following a trip to the local hardware store we now have shiny new taps.
A new sea water pump for the galley. Whilst in the UK we bought some replacement and spare parts. The salt water pump was amongst them.
New tank vents. Emma Louise has six tank vents, two each for fresh water, diesel and holding tanks. The old ones were chrome plated plastic, I think. Anyway, she now sports six shiny new marine grade stainless steel ones.
A new sprayhood. The old one had patches on patches and after ten months on the hard under the tropical sun was completely shot. We had a new one made by an itinerant French sail maker in Porto Bello. Probably not his best work but very serviceable.
Repairs to the roller reefing. The foil sections had started to come apart so I spent an afternoon drilling and tapping to screw them back together. This after removing the forestay from the mast. I might as well not have bothered as the top bearings have subsequently failed and we have now bought a new system.
Where does hydraulic fluid go? The autopilot was perfectly serviceable when the boat was hauled, however, not so when we went to sea. The cause was low hydraulic fluid with no sign of a leak. I can only guess it evaporated slowly through the breather hole in the reservoir.
Cleaning, inside and out. The dehumidifier prevented any mould growth inside the boat. However, the cockroaches made a mess and we spend several days cleaning her from stem to stern, both inside and out.
And a whole pile of other stuff including my endless battle with Teak deck plugs, fitting a new (second hand actually) VHF radio with DSC, minor wiring improvements, new LED lights for the bookshelves, engine servicing, etc, etc.
We are now almost ready to set of across the Pacific. There are two new Aluminium Propane cylinders en route from the USA as our old steel ones were so rusty as to be probably dangerous. The forestay needs either replacing or modifying so we can fit the new roller reefing. A new alternator is also on its way from the States which will improve out battery recharge rate when running the engine.